| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 7, 21 July 2003
Choice in Linux distros is healthy
Or so says Linus Torvalds as quoted in this article by linuxworld.com.au: "A lot of these 130 distros are a little oddball. Some are only used by Bob and his five friends. But that's okay -- because sometimes Bob did something right and his 5 friends become 50. Then five thousand, and so on. Clearly 130 distros is not practical for a middleware vendor so in that sense what everyone does is just to ignore most of them, and end up with just a few things. Even with the top 2 or 3, mind you, folks working in the enterprise space find it confusing to have a choice."
This is another way of saying that while there are plenty of distributions which simply modify an existing one and release it under a different name, there are also many great ideas, some of which might eventually evolve into extremely popular products. Take Knoppix as an example - few people heard of it as recently as one year ago, but it has since become a darling of the distribution world and an indispensable tool to have around at all times. It can be used to demonstrate Linux to those who have never seen it, as a rescue tool and even as a way to read password protected Microsoft documents on any computer. Knoppix is a great Linux advocate.
Which brings us to a distribution called Blue Linux. After seeing very little activity for an extended period of time, a customary warning that "this distribution appears dormant" seemed like a reasonable statement to place in the status line of the Blue Linux page. But Matt Jezorek, the Blue Linux developer was quick to email us saying that "this distribution is not dormant; it is actually in a long development cycle". The arrival of Matt's email coincided with the sudden disappearance of the bluelinux.org web site and worse, all email to Blue Linux bounced due to the fact that "distrowatch.com is not on the list of allowed domains to communicate with the bluelinux.org mail server"! Needless to say, the email from Blue Linux did little to alleviate concerns about its current status.
A note to all distribution authors and developers
In the context of the above paragraph, it is only appropriate to clarify the "dormant" issue to all distribution authors and developers: if you are creating a distribution and find that its status has been set to "dormant" on DistroWatch, please don't waste time emailing us and saying "no, it's not dormant". Update your own web site instead. Publish a news item, show us a changelog, produce a road map. Most importantly, create a community of users by providing mailing lists and forums for them to share their experiences and help each other. It still amazes us how many distribution neglect these simple things, yet the developers seem offended when their distribution is called "dormant"! Rest assured that we visit your site every day and note the progress. If your web site hasn't been updated for three months, you provide no change log and no active development tree, your are dormant! Simple as that!
Have you been playing with the new test kernel 2.6.0-test1? The kernel is still far from production quality and seems to suffer from many problems in this early stage, but more eyes find more bugs and it should slowly find its way to many systems, at least to those used by more experienced Linux users. There certainly are many exciting new features (see this technical overview), which will not doubt please the technology enthusiasts. Red Hat has already released an RPM package of the new kernel for the adventurous souls and a discussion about its features has been ongoing on the Shrike mailing list. For nVidia graphics card users, see this document for further information about how to get the nVidia driver work with the 2.6 kernel. As it improves, we should start seeing more distributions include one of the 2.6 test releases as an experimental kernel. Interesting times ahead!
|Released Last Week
Red Flag Linux 4.0
Red Flag Linux 4.0 has been released. Featuring a re-designed user interface, faster system boot and improved application responsiveness, this version of Red Flag Linux provides the usual range of desktop applications for both home and office use, including Internet connectivity tools, graphics and multimedia software, games and MS Office compatible office suite with the ability to edit and print documents in Chinese. A four-CD plus manual boxed set is available from retailers around China for the equivalent of about US$12. The ISO image can be downloaded from one of these mirrors (page in Chinese). However, the downloadable edition is not full-featured - it is missing an office suite (a customised version of OpenOffice ships with the retail edition). Also, simplified Chinese is the only language supported by the downloadable edition, which makes it impractical for potential users in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The ADIOS Project has released ADIOS Linux Boot CD, version 1.30. ADIOS is a Red Hat based live CD with excellent hardware auto-detection, option to install the system on hard disk and option to save configuration files to floppy or USB storage devices. Created by the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, ADIOS comes with a choice of KDE, GNOME or IceWM desktop environments and support for LIDS (Linux Intrusion Detection System) and User Mode Linux. Find out more on the ADIOS project page.
GNOPPIX Linux version 0.4-2 is out. As you have probably guessed, GNOPPIX Linux is a GNOME-centric live Linux CD based on Knoppix and designed for those who prefer the GNOME desktop environment, rather than KDE. The first version of GNOPPIX was announced only two weeks before, so this is probably a bug fix release; unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate any changelogs, release notes or package lists (running 'dpkg -l' returns an error). The GNOPPIX Linux web site is in German.
The MoviX project has released MoviX2, version 0.3.0: "Since the 0.3.0rc2 turned out to be pretty stable and no big bug was found in the last three weeks I promoted it to 0.3.0 with just a few minor fixes." Work has started on version 0.3.1: "Since now I've got an EPIA M-10000 I immediately started a new "experimental" version 0.3.1pre1 that supports that beautiful MB!" The MoviX web site has some nice new screenshots.
After extensive beta testing, Kurumin 2.0 has been released. Known as Kurumin 1.5 during its beta phase, the new release has many updated packages (including XFree86 4.3.0 and KDE 3.1.2), bug fixes, improved hard disk installation procedure and new user-friendly enhancements and icons in its default user interface. The release announcement (in Portuguese) is available here. Kurumin is an increasingly popular Brazilian Linux live CD based on Knoppix.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Red Hat Linux 9.0.93 (Severn)
Yes, it's the start of another beta testing period for Red Hat users once Red Hat Linux 9.0.93, code name "Severn" is released later today (no, we are not going to speculate on what the final release is going to be called). Don't expect too much new, however, as the beta release appears to be more of a consolidation release of Red Hat Linux 9, rather than a release full of cutting edge features. Severn has been spotted on many Red Hat mirrors, but the directory is still locked. If you can't wait until the official announcement, read the Severn release notes.
The release will likely be accompanied by further announcements. Many of you have seen the usual attention-grabbing headline from Linux and Main: "Red Hat to abandon retail channel" which was later "updated" to "Red Hat to change development model, abandon shrinkwrap". The full story is here. We'll wait for the full announcement before making any comments, but things rarely look as bad as journalist make them look and you will certainly be able to buy the Red Hat Linux distribution in the future. In fact, the experimental launch of the Red Hat Linux magazine in Germany and Italy seems like a great success and similar models might be on the cards for other parts of the world. There will be more on the subject in the next weekly edition of Linux Weekly News, including an interview with Red Hat's Matt Wilson.
Gentoo Linux 1.4
The long awaited Gentoo Linux 1.4 will be out early in August, or so says the Gentoo web site: "Gentoo Linux 1.4 will be officially released at LinuxWorld Expo '03 in San Francisco, CA (August 5-7.) The Gentoo Linux crew will be at the show in .org pavilion booth #1. Please make plans to stop by, chat, and pick up your favorite build of Gentoo Linux 1.4 for free :)" If you can't make it to San Francisco, you can order the official CD set directly from the new Gentoo store: "Our new Gentoo Store is now online at http://store.gentoo.org, and we are now accepting pre-orders for Gentoo Linux 1.4 for x86, i686, Pentium III, Pentium 4 and Athlon XP, with other architectures coming soon. Each 2-CD set allows Gentoo to be installed without the need for an Internet connection, contains a large selection of pre-built packages (XFree86, KDE, GNOME and many more,) and includes printed installation instructions. Gentoo Linux 1.4 will be officially released (and will ship) on August 5, 2003." Of course, with a source-based distribution such as Gentoo, there is no reason to wait for the final release before installing it, but an increase in version number creates a psychologically important reference point.
|Web Site News
Aurox Linux has become a new sponsor of DistroWatch.com and you might have noticed a disclaimer accompanying the Aurox Linux news published last week. A similar disclaimer will accompany all news items where a sponsor is involved. This comes after the often questioned Yoper sponsorship deal which saw Yoper climb up steadily to the number one spot in the page hit ranking statistics and which resulted in many false accusations that all had not been fair and square. This wasn't the case and we will continue to provide unbiased coverage of all distributions, big and small, commercial and non-commercial, but all future news related to sponsors who help to pay our bills will be accompanied by a similar disclaimer. If you haven't done so, do check out Aurox Linux, which is a free distribution released under GPL; French, Spanish and German editions were made available for free download last week. Aurox Linux was one of the recommended distributions in a recent distribution roundup by linuxfrench.net.
Two new distributions were added to the DistroWatch database last week - these were ADIOS and GNOPPIX. Both of them happened to release new versions, so check out the "Released Last Week" section for more information about them.
New on the waiting list
Five new projects have been added to the DistroWatch waiting list:
DistroWatch database summary
- BlackRhino GNU/Linux - a free Debian-based GNU/Linux software distribution for the Sony PlayStation 2.
- Lambdaux - another Debian (and LinEx) based distribution by LambdaUX Software Services, a company established in February this year in Madrid, Spain.
- Kix - a German project, a mini live Linux CD, based on Debian and Knoppix.
- Pilot Linux - a bootable cd with just a client for a MS terminal server. Just boot the cd, enter the name of the server and you're off. Based on Debian, Knoppix and Damn Small Linux.
- Sunrise Linux - a new secure Linux distribution using RPM package management. It is currently in early development, but the first alpha releases are available for testing.
- Number of distributions in the database: 156
- Number of discontinued distributions: 21
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 50
Good idea. I would even take it one step further and suggest that you contact the developers directly and ask them whether they'll be willing to answer a few questions. If they agree, go ahead and ask to your heart's content, send us the complete interview for formatting and publishing. In other words, feel free to conduct the entire interview in the name of DistroWatch; you'll get credited as the author of the story. Failing that, send in some concrete suggestions, together with a few questions you wish to ask; these can be published here and other readers can contribute their own questions in the discussion forum.
- "I wonder if it would be a good idea for DW to do regular interviews with developers or management from interesting distros, specially the emerging ones, to see what the focus of the distro is, how they differ from others, how they compare to others, etc. That is, to make interviews from a DW point of view: to sort out the distro mess :-)"
On DistroWatch icons, logos and banners
More logos/banners were submitted last week - this is what we have so far:
- "I have created a banner, not sure where i should send it in to, I'll give you a link, tell me what you think."
All opinions are welcome.
About Ron Garland's Lindows review
I agree. At first glance, it looked like a lot of work has gone into the review, but the length can be misleading. I have removed the link from the Lindows page.
- "I'd like to ask distrowatch to have at least a quick look in future before recommending a review to its readers. I have never seen such a poorly written review: amateurish, tons of factual mistakes, confused and confusing. Regardless of whether you like Lindows or not, reading such a review can only be a pain."
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday,
1 • Banners and logos (by Penguin Domesticus on 2003-07-21 14:29:13 GMT) |
IMHO: I think all the banners are very nice (hard to decide which one is the best? a vote would be a good idea), but the small logos sent so far might need some re-design.
Personally I'd like to see the typical Distrowatch colors: light yellow & light green used together with black & white, but that's just my opinion. It could make the design look more consistent.
In my opinion, I wouldn't put too much efforts to the redesign of the DW Weekly logo. Something very simple and in line with the overall style of DW site might be the best choice (as a proof of that, and if I remember right, nobody complained about the very first and the most simple DW Weekly logo...). But the current DW Weekly logo is ok too.
2 • Kernel 2.6 (by DaveW on 2003-07-21 16:16:05 GMT)
Thanks for the great link to the Kniggit site. It's the most complete and readable detailed summary of the upcoming Kernal I've seen. It's found a spot on my bookmarks list.
There seems to be a disappointment in the kernel news, tho, that I thought people here might have more info about. There had been talk of greatly improved CD-writing functioning at the kernel level (including drag and drop copying), but I haven't seen this mentioned as the real kernel gets closer to final release. Anybody know if this has been dropped for this version, as it appears?
3 • Red Hat Beta (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2003-07-21 16:23:00 GMT)
As always, I'll test out the new Red Hat Linux, but what happened to Galeon? Why is OpenOffice.org so old? I can kind of understand why the 2.6 kernel is not being used, since they can practically backport the new 2.6 features to the 2.4 kernel, but they created plenty of mess for developers with Shrike when they made a kernel that *looks* like a 2.4 but sometimes acts like a 2.6. Being that any stable kernel they incude would essentially be re-tested with Red Hat Linux Beta, why not use the 2.6 test1 kernel?
Evolution's up to date. You're right, though, it really doesn't look like there's anything new. We'll see what proprietary packages Red Hat comes up with. That could make all the difference.
4 • Linux 2.6.0-test1 (by Butters at 2003-07-21 21:47:20 GMT)
Over the past 3 or four days I have been running nothing but various 2.6.0-test1 - based kernels under gentoo linux. I have run the vanilla -test1 with Con Koliva's OX interactivity patches up to O5int. I also ran -test1-mm1 (Marcelo's patches) patched up to O7int, and now run -test1-mm2, into which all of CK's patches have been merged. I have not been able to test the fabled sched-softrr patch, because I could never get the patch (made for 2.5.74) to apply cleanly to any of the 2.6.0 kernels. That said, here is my two cents:
There are some common problems with 2.6, largely because the configuration options have changed noticeably and certain options that could be safely omitted in 2.4.x are now necessary (/dev/pts support, VT support, input devices, etc.) Another problem is the nvidia module for XFree86. I'm not sure what the status is on other distros, but the latest ebuild of nvidia-kernel in the gentoo portage tree has a workaround that gets the 2.5.x version of nvidia.o to work with 2.6.x. Some people have also been having problems with ATI drivers, but I can't comment on those since I don't have one. The most recent bleeding edge release, -test1-mm2, has a problem mounting the root filesystem if it is reiserfs, but there is a workaround changing "root=/dev/hdan" to "root=30n" on your bootloader's kernel boot line.
The good: ALSA is now in the mainline kernel, with support for any card that the alsa-driver package used to support, plus OSS emulation (real OSS is now deprecated with the 2.6 kernel). ATAPI/IDE CDRW does in fact work. I had no problems with it, xcdroast does it all when I tell it my burner is at /dev/hdd. Now I can roll my kernel without any SCSI support at all. More filesystems are now supported, including CIFS, and others which have already been backported into 2.4.
The great: For a major release, there really isn't very much doing in the way of new features, as you can see above. The real advantages to 2.6 lie in the anticipatory scheduler for IO, the O(1) process scheduler, and the rewrites of the VM and IO subsystems. Things scale much more linearly in this kernel, with NUMA support for beyond-SMP supercomputing clusters, 64-bit memory addressing on 32-bit systems, etc. There are still some regressions (tasks that run slower on 2.6 than 2.4), but for the most part everything feels much faster, with lower latency on the desktop. As judging from CK's patches and their introduction into the mm development sources, I can only see the new schedulers getting better and better as the kernel moves toward a final 2.6.0 release.
I can run a 'make -j50' on the kernel source, play mp3's streaming off a mounted samba share, compile some random source (such as Abiword), and drag my browser window around really fast on opaque dragging without xmms skipping, the browser window sticking, or digging into any swap space on my 1.4 GHz T-bird with 512MB DDR2100. There's nothing I can do to load down this kernel to where it no longer interacts smoothly.
There is no reason to fear trying a 2.6 kernel as long as you don't overwrite your old kernel. If you have successfully compiled a 2.4 kernel before, you should definately try your luck with 2.6.
5 • (Offtopic) Apt4rpm (by L Gandolfo at 2003-07-21 22:53:17 GMT)
I believe that end users are not getting enough information about apt4rpm and what that means for them: it means making their life easier, it means EMPOWERING them (and sometimes I wonder if some distros are afraid of giving end users so much power). On the other hand the more forward thinking distros have already adopted it.
6 • Aha!! (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2003-07-22 00:47:42 GMT)
"The most recent bleeding edge release, -test1-mm2, has a problem mounting the root filesystem if it is reiserfs, but there is a workaround changing "root=/dev/hdan" to "root=30n" on your bootloader's kernel boot line."
Aha! Thank you, Butters!
"I can run a 'make -j50' on the kernel source, play mp3's streaming off a mounted samba share, compile some random source (such as Abiword), and drag my browser window around really fast on opaque dragging without xmms skipping, the browser window sticking, or digging into any swap space on my 1.4 GHz T-bird with 512MB DDR2100. There's nothing I can do to load down this kernel to where it no longer interacts smoothly."
I did exactly that with a K6-2-500 with 256MB RAM using the 2.4.18-14 Red Hat kernel and had no problems. However, when I upgraded to the 2.4.20-18 Red Hat kernel, even my XP 1700 doesn't handle moving windows or scrolling text. Everything does *seem* faster, though, and hdparm -tT shows a small speed increase. Now that I know how to get the 2.6 kernel to work, I'll be quite pleased to return to what multitasking ought to be.
"I believe that end users are not getting enough information about apt4rpm and what that means for them: it means making their life easier, it means EMPOWERING them (and sometimes I wonder if some distros are afraid of giving end users so much power). On the other hand the more forward thinking distros have already adopted it."
I don't get the context, hehe. In any case, be sure to check out my similar SourceForge project DLIP. (http://dlip.sourceforge.net/) (I hope you don't mind my plugging, Ladislav.)
7 • Interview with Arch Linux (by ladislav at 2003-07-22 04:31:01 GMT)
I've just received an email from Judd Vinet, the creator of Arch Linux and he is more than happy to answer a few questions.
So... ask away :-) You can either post your questions here or send them to me privately.
8 • RE: (Offtopic) Apt4rpm by L Gandolfo (by Penguin Domesticus on 2003-07-22 16:38:22 GMT)
"I wonder if some distros are afraid of giving end users so much power."
Maintaining large reliable apt repositories demands lots of work, however, especially as customers would probably then expect that they could reliably upgrade their distros using Apt4rpm too, and for free.
But also, think if customers could just apt-get most software they need easily and for free, it would make it more difficult for commercial distributors to make money by selling extra software and updates to customers... I've been wondering if that is really the reason why the commercial RPM-based disros may not like Apt4rpm (or similar solutions like YUM) so much? Also most customers wouldn't probably accept if they were tried to charge money for using Apt4rpm for installing software and updates.
9 • Reader Response to Articles and News. (by Isamoor at 2003-07-22 17:24:39 GMT)
I really enjoy reading the responses to your Weekly Report. I was wondering if you could easily add this feature to your regular news articles and release articles?
If it would cause you too much trouble, then how about at least getting a thread going a a popular forum (like justlinux or linuxquestions) for each story?
This doesn't need to be slashdot mayhem or anything, but I do like seeing readers' input.
10 • Arch questions: (by Isamoor at 2003-07-22 17:39:53 GMT)
I'm asking these out of memory of my little dabbling in Arch about a year ago.
I always look at package management, and I think there app is pacman. What makes it different? How easy is it to compile a third party app outside of their repository (I've never seen anyone beat Slack for this)? Will it recognize third party apps into the pacman (a la checkinstall) so I don't have to hang onto the source to uninstall it?
And how about stability. Not just "is it stable?" but what is your approach? Do you have the debian extreme where you split everything up and have a stable tree that is generally way out of date? Or do you run on the bleeding edge like Gentoo, where many of your main apps are betas? Or is it somewhere in between?
How about platforms? I always have a cute iMac laying aroung.
Upgrading releases? Is it possible? Again, is it debian style, where it's entirely possible, but is done in one fell swoop? Or is it like Gentoo where you have gradual increments to stay on the edge and release numbers are trivial?
Dynamic installer? Can I install from the net over ftp? Can I resize ntfs partitions?
The first two questions are the only ones I really cared about. The others were just to through out ideas.
11 • More Arch Questions (by DaveW on 2003-07-22 19:18:37 GMT)
Isamoor covered it pretty well, but here are some similar ones, stated more from the users' point of view:
Earlier Arch versions had a kind of "don't bother with this unless you're a Linux adept" message. Is 0.5 the release that regular old users might try as a working Linux?
The downsides of rpm are pretty clear to everybody. But debian and gentoo's packaging/update systems are seen as big improvements. What does Arch bring to the table that's better than those systems?
What kind of use should be using Arch, and who would be better off with debian? Gentoo? RedHat/Mandrake/Suse?
12 • Another Arch Question (by DaveW on 2003-07-22 19:35:58 GMT)
The "get a CD" link on your site doesn't seem to work. Do you have CD distributors that give you some cash from their sales of Arch CDs?
13 • FYI about Red Hat 9.0.93 (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2003-07-22 22:41:52 GMT)
I'm a Red Hat fan. I've always had much more success with Red Hat than any other distribution for what I use it for.
Red Hat 8.0.93 (beta before Red Hat 9) was great! Then, Red Hat 9 was released, and suddenly a bunch of insurmountable bugs appeared. Red Hat 9.0.93 makes me worry. It looks like we're about to see the worst Red Hat Linux ever.
In the release notes, Red Hat says that Galeon's being replaced by Epiphany, because Galeon is not being actively developed. Taking a quick glance at SourceForge shows that they're still in active development and their last release was about a month ago. And as for Epiphany, it doesn't measure up to Galeon. It doesn't even measure up to plain ol' Mozilla! I hope I don't upset the Epiphany crew, it would be ill advised to remove Galeon.
One possibly serious problem is Reiserfs. I use the Reiser FS almost exclusively. I installed it with Red Hat 8.0 and 9 (by typing "linux reiserfs" when the installer boots), Slackware, SuSE, Mandrake, and a number of other distributions I have on my system. I've *heard* that it's faster, but the reasons I switched to Reiser include that at about 9pm every day, my Ext3 filesystems go whacky for about half an hour, and that I've lost several of those so-called most-reliable Ext3 filesystems to simple kernel panics, power outages, and CD-writing and ripping errors. The scary news *seems* to be that Red Hat 9.0.93 does not include Reiser support in the kernel. I didn't read anything about this in the release notes, so it could simply be that it's installed in some different way.
The worst part of all this is that there's really nothing new. There's a graphical boot, but Mandrake and SuSE seem to have the best graphical boot screens. Red Hat's boot screen is really dull and makes the already long bootup feel longer. For some reason, it's in X screen 1 (ctrl-alt-F8), where the boot messages *might* be in VT 0 (ctrl-alt-F1). I would have preferred that pressing escape would bring up the kernel messages.
In my opinion, Red Hat should have arbitrary production and release dates. The Linux community itself doesn't proceed smoothly; there are jumps and lags. I would have waited with 9.0.93 until at least the 2.6 kernel were released as stable. Only release a new distribution when there's really a good reason. Don't release a distribution in order to have the highest version number.
(In a sick twist of irony, I'm writing this in Internet Explorer in Windows 98.)
Number of Comments: 13
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|• Issue 586 (2014-11-24): Scientific Linux 7.0, Debian and systemd, Ubuntu MATE, application-level firewalls|
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|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Full list of all issues|