Release Notes [1]

Release Notes: Release of aptosid 2012-01 Thanatos "Θάνατος"

Contributed by slh on Dec 01, 2012 - 05:38 AM

We finally have the pleasure to announce the immediate availability of the aptosid 2012-01 "Θάνατος" release, shipping in the following flavours:

  • KDE-lite, amd64, en/ de, ≈635 MB.
  • KDE-lite, i686, en/ de, ≈630 MB.
  • KDE-full, amd64+i686, en/ de (cz, da, es, fr, it, ja, nl, pl, pt, pt_BR, ro, ru, uk through liveapt) ≈2.1 GB.
  • XFCE, amd64, en/ de, ≈515 MB.
  • XFCE, i686, en/ de, ≈510 MB.

aptosid is a full featured Debian sid based live CD with a special focus on hard disk installations, a clean upgrade path within sid and additional hardware and software support. The ISO is completely based on Debian sid/main, enriched and stabilised with aptosid's own packages and scripts and adheres to the Debian Social Contract (DFSG) [2].

Release notes for Θάνατος

New features in aptosid 2012-01 "Θάνατος" are in particular kernel 3.6 and numerous integration and stabilisation fixes. Special focus has been cast upon improving system compatibility with new hardware platforms like AMD Bulldozer or Intel Ivy-Bridge and reworking the live system environment. Kernel 3.6 doesn't only improve and stabilise hardware support for newer devices, it also adapts ASPM heuristics for better power-saving and improved battery runtimes. Another topic has been the kernel's entropy gathering framework, both improving its performance and quality for systems providing little entropy by themselves.

The ext4 file system has gained "Big Allocation Blocks", reducing the overhead for saving large files by collating many smaller 4K blocks in up to 1 MB large clusters. Further improvements have been focussed on speeding up online resizing and assuring data integrity through CRC32 validation for ext4's meta data. CIFS profits from several optimisations improving its throughput.

Intel Ivy-Bridge graphics profit from advanced power-saving features (RC6) and (limited) triple head support. Very initial support could be added for Intel's GMA500, GMA600 and GMA3600 "Poulsbo" graphics. Nouveau has gained support for the new nVidia chipsets of the NVC1, NVC8, NVCF, NVD9 and NVE4 families. While radeon now supports the "Evergreen", "Southern Islands" and "Trinity/ Aruba" generations (Radeon HD5xxx, HD6xxx, HD7xxx) and enables hardware acceleration up to the r900 family. Furthermore support for USB DisplayLink cards has been implemented using the new "udl" driver.

Improved byte queue handling, "TCP buffer size controlling" and "CoDel" now reduce latencies and improve throughput for network transmissions, thereby reducing "buffer bloat". Open vSwitch offers a kernel assisted virtual multi-layer network switching framework to be used in combination with kvm and other virtual machines.

Atheros has added support for its AR6003 based USB and SDIO wlan cards through ath6kl and the new ar5523 driver takes care of older 54/ "108" MBit/s USB wlan cards using the previously unsupported AR5523 chipset. The new brcmsmac (BCM4313, BCM43224, BCM43225) and brcmfmac (BCM43235, BCM43236, BCM43238) drivers provide hardware support for newer Broadcom 802.11n wlan cards. Additional hardware support for RaLink RT536x, RF537x and RT539x could be added to the rt2x00 driver family.

Many new drivers have appeared for previously unsupported webcams and DVB TV cards.

GPT and UEFI reliability have been improved, which allows hard disks exceeding 2 TiB and their use for booting on new systems using UEFI instead of the traditional PC-BIOS.

As usual, a large number of individual functionality enhancements and bug fixes have been applied to the full package line up and aptosid's own packages, in order to improve the general distribution infrastructure.

We'd like to thank our sponsor Webtropia [3] (part of myLoc managed IT AG), who provides hosting for our development– and web infrastructure. The servers from myLoc managed IT AG [4] provide a proper technical solution for our needs, running our own server variant of aptosid.

Our special thanks go to the aptosid art- and manual teams and especially [5] and all mirror [6] hosters for their efforts regarding aptosid.

Minimum system requirements:

Now to the interesting topics, like what's on the menu for now:

Frequently asked questions


It is recommended to set key maps, locales and time zone before booting the live system to be installed, by selecting them from the boot menu [F2], [F3]. This way, locale settings propagate to all required places for the installed system and don't require cumbersome changes at several places.

The 64 bit "amd64" editions should be preferred on modern hardware supporting it.

Kernel based Mode Setting (KMS) and cirrus-drm/ intel/ matrox/ nvidia/ radeon graphics

KMS support is required by xserver-xorg-video-intel, which means kernel parameters like "i915.modeset=0" or "vga=791" are no longer valid and actively break starting X on intel graphics cards. Given that i915/ xserver-xorg-video-intel doesn't require any kind of firmware, there should no longer be KMS related bugs in relation to intel graphics.

For KMS to function in combination with ATi/ AMD radeon graphics, firmware images (firmware-linux-nonfree, see below [13]) are required, which can't be shipped on aptosid live media, while should transparently fall back to vesa on problematic cards, special attention might be needed in rare cases. If X doesn't manage to start on ATi/ AMD radeon graphics cards, it might help to supply "radeon.modeset=0" as boot option for the live CD and to install the required firmware package "firmware-linux-nonfree [14]" on the live system, before installing to the hard disk. Once firmware-linux-nonfree is installed, kernel parameters like "radeon.modeset=0" or "vga=791" should not be used anymore, as they might interfere with KMS operations, which are needed for radeon to work properly.

Nouveau doesn't require any kind of firmware and supports KMS natively, framebuffer kernel parameters like "vga=791" are no longer valid and break starting X on nVidia graphics cards.


While grub2 offers increased flexibility for installations, like UEFI support (optional), new file systems (ext4) or advanced installation options like software RAID (mdadm), LVM2 and improved detection capabilities for other distributions and operating systems, it is limited to a textmode menu. A new theming effort is currently under development and may become available in the future. Even though support for plain wallpapers would be already supported by grub2, it is still fragile and prolongs the system boot. Internally the configuration system for grub2 uses scripts snippets under /etc/grub.d/ to create its configuration file "grub.cfg" in a way that allows many self updating features, such as automating fromiso support with the help of "grub2-fll-fromiso" (optional).


With isolinux supporting gfxboot, it is possible to use isohybrid, which allows writing an ISO directly to USB storage or sd/ sdhc/ mmc memory sticks to make these bootable. isohybrid adds an MBR to the ISO and sets up a partition table with one active entry, the partition containing the ISO. This allows writing aptosid ISOs directly to USB storage devices of sdhc memory cards in addition to the well known possibility of using "install-aptosid-to-usb" (install-usb-gui). This option is particularly useful if there is no existing aptosid installation available and if an installation medium needs to be created from another distribution or operating system. It is important to note that this method overwrites the whole USB medium and restricts the available storage to the size of the aptosid ISO; install-usb-gui is not subject to these limitations and therefore the recommended option in case an existing aptosid system is available. Further partitions can be added to allow access to the unused part of the storage device.

$ cat /path/to/aptosid-*.iso > /dev/usb_raw_device_node

Further information about the aptosid install is available from the aptosid manual [15] at Installation options [16].

Wireless regulatory domain settings

The regulatory domain framework for cfg80211 based wlan cards requires crda to allow access to wireless channels above ch11 (2.4 GHz or their 5 GHz equivalents), without crda only the "world domain" (channel 1-11) is available.

# apt-get update
# apt-get install crda

The default region for crda can be configured under /etc/default/crda, while temporary settings can be accomplished via "iw set <country code>".

Network booting aptosid

Network booting aptosid over PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) and NBD (Network Block Device) is supported, the required settings can be configured from within the boot menu [F4]. Instructions about how to set up an example PXE+NBD boot server can be obtained at aptosid netboot introduction [17].

UEFI booting

Preliminary support for booting with UEFI has been added to the amd64 editions for aptosid since 2011-02 "Ἡμέρα". While the installer GUI has not been finalised yet, the boot loader will be an EFI program installed to /efi/aptosid within your "EFI system partition" and mounted below /boot/efi/ on your installed system, provided the following conditions are met:

At the moment aptosid only offers UEFI booting for its 64 bit edition (amd64), 32 bit UEFI (such as older Apple systems) is currently not supported.

UEFI bootable removable devices

In order to create a UEFI bootable device, such as a USB stick, the contents of the aptosid ISO can be extracted to a vfat formatted partition and the partition marked as bootable. Optionally this removable medium can also be made compatible with PC-BIOS booting by installing a traditional boot sector in addition to the EFI boot loader (assuming /dev/sdz1 to be the target partition on the USB stick).

syslinux -i -d /boot/isolinux /dev/sdz1
install-mbr /dev/sdz

UEFI Secure Boot

There are currently no plans to support UEFI Secure Boot. In order to allow dual-booting with other operating systems, this option needs to be disabled in the system firmware.


A special feature of kde-full releases is the ability to select other languages than German or US English from the boot menu (F2), which automatically installs localisations for the desktop and many applications while booting. This ensures they are also present after installing aptosid, while only installing the required languages for the given system. The amount of memory required for this feature depends on the language and aptosid may refuse to install the given language packs automatically with insufficient RAM and the boot sequence will be continued in english language but with the desired locales-settings (currency, date/ time format, keyboard charsets). 1 GB memory or more is supposed to be safe for all supported languages, which are:

The language selection depends on the availability of aptosid-manual translations, get involved to add your language.

Additional help is urgently needed for these languages, before their translation status degrades too much.

Hints for Upgraders:

aptosid tries hard to provide seamless upgrade path for debian and aptosid's own packages, nevertheless a few things remain that could be improved with manual interaction.

Transitional packages and obsolete libraries can often be identified by "deborphan". While this tool is very convenient for ongoing system cleanup, its results should always be checked before using it as input for removals.

$ deborphan

The following command is able to find packages not available from any active apt repository and may hint at obsolete packages, be careful about manually installed packages though. apt-show-versions is a separate package and isn't necessarily preinstalled. Before using apt-show-versions, it is absolutely mandatory to fully dist-upgrade the system and carefully check manually installed packages.

$ apt-show-versions | awk '/No available version in archive/{print $1}'


This is experimental software. Use at your own risk. The aptosid project, it's developers and team members cannot be held liable under any circumstances for damage to hardware or software, lost data, or other direct or indirect damage resulting from the use of this software. If you do not agree to these terms and conditions, you should not use or distribute this software.

How to get involved

Getting involved in aptosid is easy, just join us at our Forum [18] or even better on IRC (, port 6667, channel #aptosid [19]) and discuss your patches/ proposals or additions.

We will gladly discuss any dfsg-free patches and contributions, especially regarding alternative window managers (GNOME, LXDE), general cleanup tasks or translations/ localisations.


Please understand that the following roadmap is a rough estimate regarding our release schedule and is affected by the status of upstream Debian sid, major system components like, KDE, the linux kernel and our own developments and is subject to changes.

Special thanks go to the entire aptosid team.


Rick Battle (detaos)
Joaquim Boura (x-un-i)
Roland Engert (RoEn)
Chris Hildebrandt (slam)
David Kalnischkies (DonKult)
Aedan Kelly (etorix)
Stefan Lippers-Hollmann (slh)
Kel Modderman (kelmo)
Trevor Walkley (bluewater)
Niall Walsh (bfree)

Documentation and Manuals:

Joaquim Boura (x-un-i)
Alpha Mohamed Diakite (alphad)
Stefan R. Eissens (eislon)
Roland Engert (RoEn)
Alessio Giustini (alessiog75)
Markus Huber (hubi)
Pavlo Libovych (polix)
Janusz Martyniak (wiarus_old)
Mutsumu Nomura (muchan)
Rasmus Güllich Pørksen (ragupo)
Dawid Staropietka (DaVidoSS)
Bruno Torremans (btorrem)
Lluís Tusquellas (Luis_P)
Robert Ulatowski (quidam77)
Dorin Vatavu (dorin)
Bram Verdoodt (Bram0s)
Petr Vorel (pumrel)
Trevor Walkley (bluewater)

Art Team:

Rick Battle (detaos)

Web design Team:

Rick Battle (detaos)
Chris Hildebrandt (slam)
Stefan Lippers-Hollmann (slh)

Forum Moderators:

Ralph Hokanson Jr. (piper)
Markus Huber (hubi)
David Kalnischkies (DonKult)
Mutsumu Nomura (muchan)

Thanks to [20] for sponsoring

On behalf of the aptosid team:
        Stefan Lippers-Hollmann (slh)