Thursday, September 11, 2014

Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 1 Released

Today we are pleased to release the Beta 1 release of Black Lab Linux 6.  This release has been in planning over the last several months and while we have been slaving away over it we have introduced some unique features.

 With this release we changed the core system we have also changed our default desktop environment .  Many of the core packages have remained the same and have been updated to newer versions.

1.  Heavily customized GNOME 3.10 interface
2.  Ubuntu 14.04 LTS base
3.  Firefox 32
4.  System Restore
5.  Abiword and GNUMERIC
6.  Scribus
7.  Inkscape
8.  Openshot
9.  DVD and full multimedia codec playback
10. Java 7
11. VLC
12.  Audacious
13.  Pidgin IM client
14.  Updated WINE packages ready for installation
15.  Full LSB compliance and all basic development packages installed with a focus on letting people with custom kernels install them with minimal fuss and issue.

Now there have been some issues fixed since the Preview releases that needed to be addressed.

1.  Virtual Machine performance with GNOME 3 has been improved.
2.  The issue with Sun Microsystem USB keyboards not being picked up has been fixed.
3.   RAM consumption on bootup has been improved.  It was using over a gig of RAM but we have trimmed it down to 535 mb.
4.  DKMS would fail when building the modules for VirtualBox, that has been fixed.
5.  All of our Expansion kits and the Black Lab SDK have been adapted to work with Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 1 and still work with Black Lab Linux 5.x

You can download this release from our sourceforge page or can be ordered on a USB key for those with bandwidth restrictions.  Those who order the USB key will get a free USB or liveDVD shipped to them when final gets released.  The Beta release is 64 bit only.

Download Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 1 (Sourceforge)

If you wish to donate to the Black Lab Linux Project during our Fall Fundraiser you can do so through this page which lists all our plans and what we need.  We especially have a focus on acquiring hardware.  All donations are accepted and appreciated.

Black Lab Linux Fall Fundraiser

Monday, September 1, 2014

Black Lab Linux 5.1 Released

Today we are pleased to release the next in the 5 series of Black Lab Linux.  Black Lab Linux 5.1 contains many updates, new features and enhancements to the Black Lab Linux distribution.

Since this is an incremental release we are also making it available for download immediately instead of waiting the 30 day period in where we normally deliver it.

Here is a list of some of the new features of Black Lab Linux 5.1

1.  Linux Kernel 3.11
2.  Firefox 31
3.  Thunderbird 31
4.  Mixxx DJ software (Requested)
5.  Updated XServer with newer hardware support
6.  System Restore
7.  Updated Steam Client

We have applied all security and application fixes throughout the system.

We have also tweaked the UI with the same look and feel that you will find in our future XFCE releases as well as our upcoming GNOME 3 release.

You can download Black Lab Linux 5.1 today, or if you are under bandwidth restrictions you can purchase Black Lab Linux 5.1 on a USB key or LiveDVD

Get Black Lab Linux 5.1 (32 bit and 64 bit)


We have also launched our Fall fundraiser.  If you are interested in helping us out and making sure Black Lab Linux continues to be freely available please visit the Fall Fundraiser page.

Black Lab Linux Project Fall Fundraiser

Friday, August 29, 2014

Black Lab SDK 1.8 Released

Today we have released the new Black Lab SDK 1.8.  With this release we added a lot of new tools for developing applications for Black Lab Linux and Ubuntu.  The Black Lab SDK 1.8 has been tested and is supported on the following distributions:

Black Lab Linux 5.x/6.x

Ubuntu 14.04

Kubuntu 14.04

Here is a list of tools included with the Black Lab SDK 1.8:

QT Creator - for QT 5
Gambas 3 - Visual Basic for Linux
Ubuntu Quickly - Quick and dirty development tool for python
emacs and Xemacs - Advanced Text Editor
Anjuta and Glade - C++ RAD development tool for GTK
Netbeans - Java development environment
GNAT-GPS - IDE for the following programming languages.  Ada, C, JavaScript, Pascal and Python
Idle - IDE for Python
Scite - Text Editor
xfce4 developer tools - Development tools to aid in developing and writing addons for the XFCE environment
Monodevelop - IDE for the MONO and .NET programming languages on Linux
Code::Blocks - supports multiple compilers, including GCC, MinGW, Digital Mars, Microsoft Visual C++, Borland C++, LLVM Clang, Watcom, LCC and the Intel C++ compiler. Although the IDE was designed for the C++ language, there is some support for other languages, including Fortran and D. A plug-in system is included to support other programming languages. Some of Code::Blocks features are targeted at users migrating from other IDE's - these include Dev-C++, Microsoft Visual C++ project import (MSVC 7 & 10), and Dev-C++ Devpak support.

You can download the Black Lab SDK from

Black Lab SDK 1.8 (Works with PowerPC, ARM, 32 and 64 bit)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Black Lab Linux Project Fall fundraiser

Today, August 22, 2014 - October 1, 2014 we start the Black Lab Linux Projects Fall Fundraiser.

Goal: $1,500.00 USD

Purpose:  Replace aging equipment.  The build servers are quite aged and 2 are in need of replacement. How much is needed $800.00 USD.  We are also up for hardware donations from any company or public hardware donation

Net presence, the URL's are coming up for renewal in December of this year and so they need to be renewed.  $150.00 USD

Advertising:  Advertising the distribution and getting recognition for Black Lab Linux.  $100.00

The rest of it gets split up between the main developers.

If you donate $10.00 or more you get listed on the site

If you donate $25.00 or more you get listed on the site you also get a USB key with Black Lab Linux 5.1 or a preorder of Black Lab Linux 6

If you donate $100.00 or more you get a free starter kit.


How much should I donate?  we accept any donations from $1.00 to however much you wish to donate.

How do I know that my donation went to the project and not in your pocket?  On October 1, 2014 when the Fall Fundraiser ends we will list ALL donations that have been made as well as provide receipts publicly for everything that was purchased via donations.  NOTICE:  Purchases will be based upon actual amounts of donations, the above figures are estimations, actual costs may be different than what was spent.

The Black Lab Linux Team and how its built

Some people have asked about the "team" that works on Black Lab Linux and how the system is built.  So I thought I would take the time to break it down and tell people how we create Black Lab Linux.

First, we take two ISO's.  Ubuntu and Fedora/CentOS, only one of them is made available to the public.  We remove everything GUI wise.  We remove Unity, we remove all apps, until we break it down to a command line system.  The same for Fedora.  We break it down to a command line system.  Then we start auditing, and bug recording the kernel.  We then start building it back up.  We add the desktop system, XFCE, GNOME or KDE and then we start testing applications, recording bugs.  Fixing bugs, testing a wide variety of hardware.  We test hardware thats either donated or we purchase.  Then we start building deb and RPM packages.  The Fedora release is a specialized release for a handful of people.  Its release schedule follows RHEL's release schedule and is tested for compatibility against certain commercial applications.  The XFCE layout is the same between both bases so what you see with the Ubuntu release is the exact same you see with the Fedora/CentOS base just one is using RPM as its packaging system the other uses DEB as the packaging system.  We have an experimental build thats based on FreeBSD and the desktop for that one is strictly KDE based which we are pondering a public release or just keeping that internal for right now.  Some people think we just throw Ubuntu on a system, add a couple of packages and remaster.  It goes far beyond that. We alter kernel code, we make commits to the kernel and other open source packages that we use.

Now, how does the development team break down.

Cristobal and Jordan - They do all the desktop stuff.  They work on icons, wallpapers and themes as well as desktop selection.

Myself, Layla, Mike and Simon - We handle all the lower level work.  Kernels, drivers and CLI solutions.

We also have 5 different people who check language packs, modify language packs and work on localization.

So thats pretty much how the team breaks down and how we build Black Lab Linux.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Black Lab Linux 6.0 Preview available

Today we are pleased to announce the public preview of Black Lab Linux 6.0.  With Black Lab Linux 6.0 we make some significant changes to the Black Lab Linux 6.  These changes are highlighted below.

Switch to GNOME 3, our default desktop switches to a highly customized release of GNOME 3 as our default

GNOME Classic, while Black Lab Linux 6 will be primarily available with hardware we are going to continue to make our community edition available and users will be able to use GNOME Classic with older hardware.

Mate 1.8 Repositories enabled.  For users who want a classic GNOME 2 type experience you will be able to use MATE

Base system based on Ubuntu 14.04

FFmpeg, while Ubuntu removed FFMPEG from the 14.04 repositories we will be making it available

Timeshift System Recovery and Restore

Along with these changes we have made massive changes to the core kernel and other packages.

You can download the Black Lab Linux 6 Preview from Sourceforge:

Black Lab Linux 6.0 Preview

Known Issues:

Older NVIDIA cards may not work during install.  We are working on this issue and hope to have it fixed by Beta 1

Defaults to a login screen:  Leave the username as is and leave the password blank.

Details lists Ubuntu 14.04 as the distro, we have changed that with preview 2

This Preview is not meant to be used on production machines.  We offer no warranty expressed or implied from data loss incurred from your usage

Friday, July 25, 2014

E-Mail Questions July 2014.

Alright guys, we are going to go over our e-mail questions for Black Lab Linux.  a bunch of these questions are in regards to Black Lab Linux 6 since I have been promoting it so heavily on the web, Facebook, Google +, etc.  So without further ado, here go the 10 questions for the month of July.  Something new Im doing is that I gave the team your questions so they also chime in to some of them because they take a very active role in the decision making.  Now, if I dont list your question here make sure you check your mail because I think I replied to all the questions I had.  If I didnt reply, send it back to me.

1. Steven Cochrane asks: When can we expect to see Black Lab 5.1 and Black Lab 6.  We keep seeing different dates?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  Our release dates are approximate, so when we say October or November we will release a more secure date the closer we get.  Black Lab Linux 6 is right now scheduled  for release in February, but Im looking to do a christmas release.  But that depends on the team and how soon they get this stuff done.

2. Michelle Roister asks: Why are you doing a GNOME 3 release for Black Lab Linux 6?  Isnt your distro XFCE only or are you looking at the modernization factor?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  We listened to our partners and our mutual customers.  Red Hat who is a partner, along with mutual customers have told us that they wanted a common desktop environment.  Its very hard to sell to commercial customers when they have two user paradigms that they have to consider.  So with GNOME 3 we heavily customized it to be easier to use, and for those that have lower system requirements we also have GNOME Classic, which is the RHEL default desktop, but even our default GNOME 3 configuration uses less than a gig of RAM and is less resource intensive than a stock GNOME 3 setup but if you like certain features of GNOME 3 they are available.  We dont remove anything but rather make them non-active.  GNOME 3 will take the place of XFCE on our Enterprise and Education releases but, those customers that subscribe to custom configurations will continue to get the XFCE and KDE desktops as their default at their choice.

Will XFCE continue to be the default for our community editions?  That depends on a couple of factors.  1.  User feedback  2.  Community contributions 3.  Financial's.  Sales and donations from the community.  Which is very important.  But right now, we are planning for an XFCE, KDE and GNOME 3 release.

3. Nicholas Evans writes:  Isnt the 3.8 kernel series a little out of date?  Why is it the default in Black Lab Linux 5.1?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:   What we do is take a snapshot of the most stable kernel and we incorporate that into the release.  kernel 3.8 which is pretty stable has already reached end of life from the kernel community but we will continue to support that kernel, but Black Lab Linux 5.1 will have the 3.11 kernel instead.

Layla Davidson writes:  One thing many members of the Linux community forget is that Linux kernel development is so rapid that they release new versions every 3 months so at some point we have to stabilize and maintain one kernel.  We are not a cutting edge distribution but rather one that focuses on stability and performance.

4. Sandra Corens asks:  Who does your icons and wallpapers?  You have some beautiful works as part of your distribution?  What desktop OS do they use?  Are you like Microsoft which uses a Mac for image development?

Cristobal Molina writes:  That would be me, for Black Lab Linux work I use Black Lab Linux for everything with the GIMP and Inkscape.  Some of the wallpapers are chosen from the web under a free license.  For work I use Mac OS X so I use a Macbook Pro dual booted with Mac OS X 10.9 and Black Lab Linux.

Simon Lincoln writes:  I help with some of the artwork and I help choose the wallpapers.  I use a Black Lab BriQ and a Lenovo Thinkpad.  All with Black Lab Linux.

5. Evan Krause asks:  What release of GNOME 3 are you using with Black Lab 6 and what extensions do you use?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  The experimental builds use GNOME Shell 3.10 but we will be shipping GNOME Shell 3.12 for the Alphas, Betas and final.  The extensions we use are as follows:  Impatience, Taskbar, Caffeine and Topicons.

6. Andreas Dorrand asks:  I came across Black Lab Linux from your posts in the Linux kernel mailing list and being a kernel developer how do you make your distro so kernel developer friendly?  Linus himself has said Debian and Ubuntu by default are inadequate for kernel development but Black Lab Linux serves me rather well.

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  Well, Black Lab Linux is LSB compliant but we also provide headers and binary kernels that are based on the stock Linux kernel so developers can go in the same direction that the core Linux kernel development teams goes in.  On our sourceforge page we also provide the stock Linux kernel source code as well as the modified Debian/Canonical kernel sources.

7. Steven Norman asks:  What features are you most proud of in the new releases of Black Lab Linux 5.1 and Black Lab 6?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  The new system restore and recovery feature.  Windows and Mac converts have asked us for that functionality for a long time.  Its also nice because hoppers can restore their old system rather easily without having to reinstall everything.  All they do is take a snapshot of their system as they like it.

Layla Davidson writes:  Spotify, definitely Spotify.

Cristobal Molina writes:  Steam, Springseed, webapps and Kindle Fire sync.

Simon Lincoln writes:  Everything, I really like that even though Black Lab Linux is considered a stability distro we stay relevant and provide updated packages for everything.  Most distros dont do that

Daniel Burcaw writes:  Easy to use backups and good business quality software.

8. Paul Cruz asks:  Will Black Lab 6 still have Gambas, Mono and Netbeans?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  Yes, the Black Lab SDK contains those three as well as a few others.

9.  Charles Orene asks:  Will the price go up for Black Lab 6?  Will you continue that stupid as hell practice of charging for Black Lab Linux for the first 30 days?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  The price will remain the same across the board.  The prices you see now are what we will continue to charge.  Yes that practice will continue to be utilized.

10.  Tom Greene asks:  As a business customer what can I expect from Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6?  Will we still have the same schedule even if we dont upgrade?

Roberto J. Dohnert writes:  Lower TCO, new management tools, better hardware support and new features that surpass whats available today.  For people with mixed environments we are including tools so you guys can manage every one of those environments from within Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6 and Black Lab Education Linux 6.

We will continue to support Black Lab Enterprise Linux 5.x until 2019, and Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6 will be supported until 2025.

I want to thank everyone who sent in questions and we hope our answers are satisfactory.  I think we offered a good mix of whats ahead and whats here and now.