| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 9, 4 August 2003
The innocent looking article on linmagau.org attempting to benchmark application speed on Gentoo, Debian and Mandrake opened a can of worms on Slashdot and other forums. It is one of those mysteries of our competitive nature which immediately raises a self-defence mechanism in cases where our choice is challenged. The world of Linux distributions is and excellent example of this - many of us spent months or even years on settling down on a particular distributions, just to be reminded every now and then that our choice might not be the best.
For those of you who didn't read the article, the simple benchmarks of launching applications or compiling a stock Linux kernel indicated that the source-based Gentoo was outperformed by either Mandrake or Debian (or both) in all of the conducted tests. While this raises a valid question about the testers' efforts to optimise Gentoo before conducting the tests, it also brings up another question: how many of the 24,000 Gentoo users registered on Gentoo forums are running their favourite distribution in an optimised state? Just because you are a Gentoo user, can you claim with confidence that your compiler options are exactly right for your hardware? Or did you just copy them from a forum post? The multitude of available options with cryptic names require some solid understanding and involved studying, which not everybody has time for.
On the other hand, even a superficial effort to understand these options, together with the pains required to install Gentoo will undoubtedly lead to greater understanding of your system - both your hardware and software. In this light, what really is the greatest benefit of Gentoo? Speed? The immediate availability of software? Or the "portage" package management? Maybe none of them. It's quite possible that the greatest benefit of a source-based distribution for most users is in its educational value.
Of course, some of us will never admit that Gentoo is not substantially faster then any other distribution, ever. Here come some amusing quotes from Slashdot and Gentoo forums:
- "This test is wrong and prooves nothing - I run Gentoo and I can see it's faster."
- "Either the authors of this article were completely ignorant on compiler optimizations, or they have an anti-Gentoo agenda, because they set it up to fail."
- "An owner of a Hummer once told the owner of a motorcycle that his Hummer got better gas milage. The motorcycle owner said this is ridiculous, and challenged him to a contest. The would each drive the same hundred miles of road and see who used more gas. They did, and the motorcycle used less gas. The Hummer owner immediately pointed out that the test was unfair 'Your motorcycle weighs far less than my Hummer. That's part of the reason you're getting better milage. Also, you're using a different engine with less horsepower. If your motorcycle weighed as much as my Hummer and used the exact same engine, you would see that I get better milage.'"
- "The best way to optimize gentoo is to bootstrap it yourself. This yields impressive performance gains. In my case I settled on these flags: -mcpu=pentium4 -march=pentium4 -mmmx -msse2 -Os -fomit-frame-pointer -pi pe -fforce-addr -fforce-mem -ffast-math -mpush-args -mfpmath=sse."
- "I think you'll find you forgot -O9 and -fomit-instructions. It might crash every now and then, but I swear bash is responsive in ways I never thought was possible."
|Released Last Week
Xandros Desktop 1.1
Xandros, Inc has released an update of Xandros Desktop Deluxe Edition: "Xandros, Inc. has released a 1.1 edition of Xandros Desktop Deluxe. Version 1.1 enhancements include: support for Microsoft Office XP and Adobe Photoshop 7.0; Mozilla 1.3.1 with spell checking and spam filtering; OpenOffice.org office suite 1.0.3; Evolution groupware client 1.2.4; Enhanced hardware detection; Intel i830/845/855 graphics drivers. Current users of Xandros Desktop can simply click the Xandros Networks icon on their desktop to obtain free updates of most of the items in the version 1.1 release. This free upgrade policy provides customers with the latest updates and enhancements, and resolves various support issues that have turned up since the initial release." See the release announcement for more details. The new Xandros Desktop 1.1 is available from the Xandros Store for US$99.
Damn Small Linux 0.4.2
Less than a week after releasing version 0.4.1, the developers of Damn Small Linux have released version 0.4.2. From the changelog: "After using GNU strip on some of my custom-compiled binaries I was able to make room for some nice new apps. I replaces XFMail with Sylpheed. Also new for 0.4.2 are Xpaint for image editing and Xzgv for image viewing." See the full changelog and package list for further information.
- Lycoris Amethyst Update 3 Release Candidate 0. Annouced on the Lycoris community site, this long awaited beta includes plenty of package updates, although as expected, KDE will remain at 2.2.2 until after the final release of Amethyst Update 3.
- Vector Linux 4.0 rc1 is now available for download and testing. More information here.
- SME Server 6.0 beta3, the announcement includes a full list of changes.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Xandros Desktop 2.0
Xandros has updated their news page with three new items dated 5 August 2003. The first one is the announcement about two new beta programs: "Xandros, Inc., today announced the opening of the beta program for the 2.0 release of its award-winning Xandros Desktop. Users interested in testing Xandros Desktop 2.0 are invited to apply at the Xandros web site. Xandros is also looking for IT administrators considering mass deployment of the Xandros Desktop to test the forthcoming release of Xandros Networks Enterprise." The complete press release is here and you can register for beta testing of Xandros 2.0 on this page.
Xandros has also announced the release of a Spanish edition of Xandros Desktop: "Xandros, Inc., provider of the award-winning Xandros Desktop, has released the Spanish Edition of Xandros Desktop. In conjunction with the release, Xandros has teamed up with Pixart Argentina, a leading South American software distributor, to market Xandros products throughout the southern cone of Latin America."
|Web Site News
I hope you've enjoyed the interview with Judd Vinet of Arch Linux published over the weekend. I am still working on a full review of Arch Linux and I have just received the promised review copy of LindowsOS, so we'll cover both an advanced and a newbie distribution with the next two articles. You might also see a few new interviews in the near future, but this depends on the readers who are working on them. As always, feel free to conduct any interview with distribution maintainers on behalf of DistroWatch and send in the complete story for publishing.
Two distributions were removed from the waiting list. Plop Linux was removed at the request of the developers who cited lack of time for continued development. The MIOLUX distribution's web site has not been updated for over 6 months and no stable version has been released since 1.0 beta in January this year. It was also removed from the list.
Jollix is the only new distribution added to the DistroWatch database last week. Jollix is yet another live Linux CD with hardware auto-detection, cloop file system and KDE as its default desktop environment. It is based on Gentoo Linux. I haven't been able to locate the package list or find out how to list the versions of included packages - if anybody can help with this, I'd appreciate it.
New on the waiting list
Three new distributions were added to waiting list last week:
DistroWatch database summary
- clusterKNOPPIX is a modified Knoppix with the openMosix kernel.
- RUNT (The ResNet USB Network Tester) is Slackware Linux designed to run off of a 128 MB USB pen drive.
- ViruX is a live Linux CD based on Linux From Scratch and Knoppix; the web site is in Swedish.
- Number of distributions in the database: 162
- Number of discontinued distributions: 21
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 53
On DistroWatch icons, logos and banners
Thanks everybody who commented on their banner/logo preferences. One more banner was submitted last week, so let's call this list final, before everybody gets tired of voting for banners :-)
- "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.
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|• Issue 639 (2015-12-07): OpenBSD 5.8, openSUSE gathers Summer of Code proposals, running WINE on a live disc, Enlightenment adds Wayland support|
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|• Full list of all issues|
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