NetRun­ner Rolling 2017...

Af­ter a nice cup of tea and a few qual­ity bis­cuits, Jonni Bid­well has fi­nally got over his ir­ra­tional fear of rolling re­lease dis­tros – and thinks you should, too.

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Jonni Bid­well has long aban­doned his ir­ra­tional fear of rolling re­lease dis­tros and thinks you should, too

Arch-based dis­tros are be­com­ing all the rage now. And it’s easy to see why: it has re­pos burst­ing at the seams ( repos­i­to­ries­don’thave seams–Ed) with the new­est pack­ages and it’s highly cus­tomis­able. It’s also much more sta­ble than peo­ple give it credit for, so once you throw in an in­staller (the pop­u­lar Cala­mares in Netrun­ner’s case) and a ready-to-roll desk­top, then there’s po­ten­tial in­deed for Linux great­ness.

The De­bian-based, fixed re­lease edi­tion Netrun­ner has been pop­u­lar for a long time, but it’s Man­jaro-based, rolling re­lease sib­ling hadn’t seen any de­vel­op­ment since Jan­uary 2016. Such was the length of this fur­low that it was forked, giv­ing rise to the Nu­run­ner project. But Netrun­ner Rolling (NR) has re­cently been re­booted, and now Nu­run­ner is no more. Such are the hatches and dis­patches of Linux dis­tros, (and may this serve as a warn­ing to pro­po­nents of sen­sa­tional spellings).

In Jan­uary, Netrun­ner re­based its fixed re­lease dis­tro on De­bian’s test­ing branch. This as­suaged users frus­trated by old ver­sions of soft­ware in De­bian’s sta­ble re­pos (his­tor­i­cally Netrun­ner was based on Ubuntu, but this was forked and be­came Maui Linux). This Man­jarobased rolling re­lease will en­able things to be even fresher, though not quite as fresh as Arch, since there’s some paucity in get­ting pack­ages from there to Man­jaro to NR. At the time of writ­ing Netrun­ner sports Ker­nel 4.9, whereas an up­dated NR gives you 4.11.12, and Arch has 4.12.6.

The vanilla Plasma setup that’s on Arch is cer­tainly in­of­fen­sive and in­tu­itive, but we like to tweak it here and there for op­ti­mal sat­is­fac­tion. Man­jaro’s KDE edi­tion fea­tures some stylish the­me­ing, but doesn’t make any sub­stan­tive changes be­yond the Arch con­fig. NR has opted for a strik­ing dark theme, and the fullscreen ap­pli­ca­tion dash­board rather than the tra­di­tional menu.

This is en­tirely rea­son­able, and will help Unity refugees feel a tiny bit more at home, but per­haps more could’ve been done to show­case Plasma’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Then again, maybe it’s bet­ter to leave this fine tun­ing to your users – that is the Arch way, af­ter all. A nice touch is the in­clu­sion of the pop­u­lar KDECon­nect ap­plet, so you can see phone no­ti­fi­ca­tions from the com­fort of your desk­top.

Pro­grams ga­lore

NR comes with lots of soft­ware that Arch users would have to in­vest ef­fort to install and main­tain: Skype, Flash, the b43-fw­cut­ter pack­age (for ex­tract­ing firmware from Broad­com driv­ers), Steam. The lat­ter adopts Arch’s favoured ap­proach of us­ing a na­tive run­time rather than Steam’s bun­dled one (which is still based on Ubuntu 12.04). This may cause prob­lems, but may equally well im­prove per­for­mance. Any Steam is­sues you en­counter will likely have been en­coun­tered by gamers in the par­ent dis­tri­bu­tions’ com­mu­ni­ties, so you shouldn’t be stuck for too long.

Fire­fox is the de­fault browser in NR, and it ships with some pre­loaded ad­dons, namely the An­tVideoDown­loader and uBlock­O­ri­gin. Plasma re­cently added sup­port for icons on the desk­top and NR comes with some (in­clud­ing the dreaded My Com­puter) to get you started. We can’t con­done this hea­then prac­tice, but each to their own. We did like that Yakuake, the drop-down ter­mi­nal, was en­abled by de­fault, so any time you’re feel­ing lost, F12 will bring you com­mand-line so­lace.

Mar­ble, in­cluded in the install has some fea­tures you won’t find in Google Earth. This is Be­haim’s Er­dapfel (earth ap­ple, lit­er­ally). Some­thing is miss­ing.

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