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Have GNU/Linux distributions fallen into a dull routine of refresh and release? It would be easy for a casual user to get the idea that Linux distros aren’t innovating. Indeed, years can pass between major releases for long-standing distros such as Debian and Slackware. As you’d expect, it’s behind the scenes where there’s constant work on improving, securing and bug squashing.

For many users, swan-like stability is key: keep everything on the surface calm and smooth, with frantic development activity well out of sight. There’s no doubt open source distros do offer this, but if you crave new horizons then there’s a continuous swarm of newly developed distros buzzing around the flowering core branches of the distro family tree.

In a way, this issue is a tale of two distro types. On the one hand we have the newly released and refreshed Mint 19: we love it, and you can read the full review and then go give it a whirl. While on the other you have the ever-updated rolling release distros in our Roundup. They’re all examples of how the open source GNU/Linux ecosystem enables people to experiment and launch things off in new directions.

If you’re happy with your distro then we have plenty of projects for you to try. We explain how to get an email server up and running without incurring the wrath of your ISP. There’s a guide to video encoding with Handbrake; explain simple steps you can take to secure your system; enter the world of amateur radio; and try our hand at coding some online bot spotters. As always, this issue of Linux Format feels packed to rafters, so enjoy!

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