| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 12, 25 August 2003
A new edition of DistroWatch Weekly is out and let's make it a less serious issue, shall we?
RE: SuSE's dangerous arrogance
I hope that nobody got offended by the parody which I wrote for PCLinuxOnline and which is re-published here in the "User Feedback" section. It was a joke. It was prompted by a surprisingly high number of posts, both here and on Slashdot and OSNews forums, who's authors argued with a (presumably) straight face that SuSE's CEO is right and that the top enterprise has pretty much no other choice besides using Red Hat Linux or SuSE Linux.
Now, come on folks! The top enterprise got to the top for a reason. They did not get to the top because they believed the first salesman who came their way and told them that they don't have any other choice. They got to the top, because they did a careful research of all their options and chose the best one. You have every right to agree or disagree, but if you still maintain that Mr Seibt is right, then please leave your telephone number. I have a few bridges I'd like to sell you.
But SuSE's CEO second interview was in fact more worrying. His statements are akin to urging hardware vendors not to consider any distribution other than Red Hat and SuSE. This is wrong, wrong, wrong and if you still don't see how this is not in the best interest of the Linux community, then it is probably because your are a Red Hat or SuSE user. Even the interviewer felt perplexed by Mr Seibt's attitude. I believe that as a Linux community, it is our duty to guard against any attempts by one commercial vendor to manipulate the market and hijack our software for its own benefit. I don't have to remind you how real these dangers are.
Page Hit Ranking changes
Many of you have noticed the changes in the page hit ranking statistics. This is in response to many queries, comments, suggestions and even instances of suspicion associated with the gathering of data and you will find the explanation in the "Web Site News" section below. I would appreciate your further comments and suggestions about how to make the Page Hits data more objective, more representative and more accurate.
|Released Last Week
Damn Small Linux 0.4.4
A new release of Damn Small Linux is out. What's new in 0.4.4? "For DSL 0.4.4 there is not a lot of cosmetic changes, but some added functionality. New for 0.4.4 is Mount.App, a handy app for quickly mounting and unmounting drives. Also new for DSL 0.4.4 is telnet (highly requested), less, un/zip, autos, and a new version of Links-Hacked." Find out more from the release notes and package list.
The kmLinux project has released kmLinux 4.0. This is a German distribution based on SuSE Linux and designed for schools and educational establishments. The latest version is based on SuSE Linux 8.2 and it is the first time that the distribution comes on two CDs. 3GB of hard disk space is required for installation. Some of the more interesting packages include Linux Kernel 2.4.20, KDE 3.1.3, OpenOffice 1.0.3, Mozilla 1.4, Scribus 1.0.1, QCad 1.5.4, Wine 20030709, Kdevelop, Lazarus, Eric and hBasic. Read the full announcement (in German) for further details.
A new ByzantineOS ISO image has been released. Changes in version 20030820: "In this release I hope that I have fixed the problem with the PS/2 and USB mouse support. Changes: Encap Package Management System v2.3.8 (encap.org), DirectFB 0.9.19, metacity 2.5.2, JRE 1.4.2, Mozilla 1.4, alsa-driver-0.9.4, Gaim-0.67." The full changelog.
Libranet GNU/Linux 2.8.1
Libranet GNU/Linux 2.8.1 has been released: "2.8.1 has passed the rigor of beta testing and the CD masters have been sent to the manufacturer. Libranet 2.8.1 is now available for download and CDs can be ordered for delivery in early September. The largest difference between 2.8 and 2.8.1 is updated KDE and GNOME. There are some improvements to the install and to adminmenu and some packages have been upgraded. 2.8 systems can be upgraded from the new CDs. The procedure will be in the install guide. As usual, existing Libranet users will receive a reduced price. As always, we are grateful for your continuing support of Libranet." The Libranet's features page has all the details and links to screenshots. The download edition of Libranet GNU/Linux 2.8.1 can be obtained from the Libranet store for US$64.95 (full price) or US$44.95 (upgrade price).
Slackware-Live Linux CD 22.214.171.124
Version 126.96.36.199 of Slackware-Live Linux CD has been released. Changes: "Some of the main feature enhancements: added kernel 2.4.21, KDE 3.1.3, mplayer 0.91, kopete 0.71, k3b 0.9, apache, php, mysql, mutt and procmail, apm support is started automatically after boot and initrd uses only 13 MB of RAM for ramdisk now, configsave was rewritten and it's faster then ever, etc... There are also some new cute wallpapers in KDE :-)" See the complete changelog.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Lycoris Amethyst Update 3
Lycoris has announced the final release of Lycoris Amethyst Update 3 is now available for pre-order: "Lycoris is now accepting pre-orders for the much awaited Desktop/LX Amethyst Update 3. Amethyst Update 3 includes many new features and much more roboust hardware support. Lycoris is also offering a fabulous upgrade deal. If you already own a version of Desktop/LX, there's a LycorisDirect Deal for you! You can pre-order Amethyst Update 3 CD's for only $10.00, shipping included. To pre-order your own copy of Desktop/LX visit the Lycoris Store". According to the announcement accompanying the RC1 release, the final product is expected to ship in early September.
LinuxInstall.org launches Web Service
LinuxInstall.org launches a premium service called Web Service powered by Open Webmail. This is a monthly subscription service which costs US$5 per month for 10MB of space. It includes:
- WebMail which allows to check email anywhere
- WebDisk which allows to backup your data
- WebCalendar which allows to track your schedules.
For a limited time until the end of September, LinuxInstall.org will send you a free copy of LinuxInstall.org CD.
|Web Site News
Page Hit Ranking changes
At the time when the Page Hit Ranking (PHR) statistics were launched, the concept was very simple. We counted how many times each distribution-specific page is visited and rank the "popularity" accordingly. In the beginning, it was great fun, it was a light-hearted attempt to create a popularity contest among the dozens of distributions listed on DistroWatch. But as the web site grew, the PHR has slowly transformed itself into a tool and into perhaps the most comprehensive barometer of popularity of Linux distributions on the Internet. And since everybody else seems to be taking the ranking very seriously, perhaps it is time that we took a serious look at it too, cleaned up its image and made it more resistant to external manipulation. What follows is a brief discussion about certain issues and some ideas for improvements, but everything is still open to suggestions and ideas.
Let's take last week's ranking of top ten distributions, where we'll immediately see two surprises - Yoper at number 3 and Damn Small Linux at number 10. Both of them are relatively new, rarely reviewed distributions and have a fairly low user base. Especially Yoper has been a thorn in the eye. Its public forums have 306 registered users who have posted some 1,700 articles. Now contrast this to Gentoo's public forums, which have over 26,000 registered users and about 475,000 posts! Yet on DistroWatch, Yoper is ranked higher than Gentoo! No wonder many people have accused DistroWatch of taking bribes to influence the ranking.
Similar situation exists with Damn Small Linux. Until recently, few people have even heard of it, but suddenly it is at number 10. Why? The answer is simple. Damn Small Linux has a frequent release schedule of about one new release every 1 - 2 weeks and all these releases get reported on the main page. Many people visit the Damn Small Linux page to find more information, so the ranking remains consistently high. Also, once a distribution gets to the top 10, it is hard to displace it. During a 5-hour experiment last weekend, I have replaced the PHR table on the main page with an alphabetical list of distributions and monitored the page hits. While the Red Hat and Mandrake pages saw no significant drop in page hits, visits on the Yoper page suddenly dropped from about 10 - 15 per hour to an average of 3 per hour.
The above examples illustrate why the current way of gathering page hits and ranking distributions is far from perfect. Other factors also play a significant role. As an example, consider that the number of visitors to DistroWatch has been increasing quite dramatically - from about 2,000 per day in January 2002 to about 11,000 - 15,000 per day at present. It follows that those distribution added to DistroWatch recently would generate high average hit count - simply because they weren't around during the low-traffic times.
Many readers have written in and suggested various workarounds to eliminate the above problems. In the end, I have settled, on an experimental basis, on a solution where only distributions which have completed 52 weeks of page hit data collection will be ranked on the main page.
Unfortunately, my inbox has already started filling up with cries of protests, especially from fans and developers of those distributions that are gone from the ranking. Yoper Limited was kind enough to sponsor DistroWatch earlier this year and the LinuxInstall.org developers have helped with translating parts of the site. Unfortunately, both of them are relatively new and no longer ranked. Knoppix is also gone, because it was only included in DistroWatch in October 2002 and it still has a few weeks to go before it is ranked again. But if you look at the new ranking, you have to admit that it looks a lot more realistic. The ranking is probably biased towards desktop and home use, rather than server use where Red Hat and Debian would most certainly be the top two choices. In certain circles there are still doubts about how widely Gentoo is used and whether it has really overtaken Debian. It is hard to say and Gentoo has certainly introduced many great new ideas, but what is its retention factor? How many of you have tried it, but did not keep it? How many of you have tried Debian, but switched to something else later?
So we have the top six distributions of Mandrake, Red Hat, Gentoo, Debian, SuSE and Slackware, immediately followed by the three newbie-friendly distributions of Lycoris, Xandros and Lindows. All in all, based on the presence of these distributions in the media, the number of posts and users on their mailing lists and user forums, as well as comments, feedback, support requests etc, I'd say that this is about right. (And before any of you suggests that China's Red Flag Linux must be the most widely used distribution, simply because of the sheer size of China's population, then please don't. Indications are that even within China, Red Hat and Mandrake are still far more popular than Red Flag Linux or any other domestic distribution.)
Other suggestions are also under active consideration; one of them was to replace the ranking with an alphabetical list of all distributions and move the ranking away from the main page on to the statistics page. As always, your opinions are welcome.
New on the waiting list
- GeeXbox is a full operating system, running under Linux and based on the excellent MPlayer. No need of hard drive, you just have to put the GeeXboX bootable CD into the CD-Drive of any Pentium-class computer to boot it. Moreover, GeeXboX is a free software, created thanks to many open-source software. This means that everyone can modify it and build his own release of the GeeXboX. At the time of the first development releases (Dec. 2002), it was only able to play DivX movies, but for now, nearly every kind of media files can be played from GeeXboX
DistroWatch database summary
- HRID is a Croatian distribution based on Mandrake Linux.
- SystemRescueCd is a Linux system available from a bootable CD-ROM in order to repair your system and your data after a crash.
- Salvare (from the Latin "to rescue") is a small Linux distribution designed for small, credit-card sized CDs which typically hold around 34MB.
- Number of distributions in the database: 168
- Number of discontinued distributions: 22
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 59
On SuSE's dangerous arrogance
- "Seibt's statement about it being SuSE, Red Hat and nobody else is merely a statement of fact. As good as other distributions are, the only ones actively considered by businesses are SuSE and Red Hat. Anyone arguing otherwise has not been paying attention to commercial buying trends."
Following the feedback to "SuSE's dangerous arrogance", as well as posts on Slashdot, OSNews and other sites, I've done some serious thinking. I have concluded that my analysis of Mr Seibt's talk was completely wrong and that there are, in fact, only two distributions - Red Hat and SuSE. As a result of being enlightened by Mr Seibt's interview and also by many readers who wrote to me and kindly pointed out my gross misunderstanding of the whole situation, some important changes on DistroWatch will come into effect next week.
- "Commercial customers cannot use Gentoo, they cannot use Debian, they cannot use LFS, they are stuck with RedHat or SuSE, like it or not."
Firstly, I am going to migrate this site to SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8. The truth is that DistroWatch.com is a business and as I have been kindly reminded by many readers, I cannot run the DistroWatch.com server on Debian or Linux From Scratch - I can only run it on either Red Hat or SuSE. Luckily, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 costs only $749.00 and this price includes a generous Maintenance Program valid for one whole year! Even better, after the first year, the cost of the Maintenance Program drops to $699 per year, but I am sure that by then SuSE will have released a new version with some special pricing for its valued customers.
The bad news is that I will have to find a new web hosting company, because my current one does not offer SuSE Linux as a choice of OS (although astonishingly, they still offer Slackware and Debian). I will search around to see what I can get, so if you find DistroWatch.com off-line in the near future, please don't panic. I don't expect the downtime to last for more than 6 weeks, but I will keep you updated via the forum on PCLinuxOnline.com.
The second big change on DistroWatch.com is the removal of all Linux distributions, except Red Hat and SuSE. There is no need to cover the rest any more, really. From next week on, DistroWatch.com will specialise in Red Hat and SuSE only and it will bring you all the exciting news from the industry's only two players. We will follow every move and every word by the senior executives at Red Hat and SuSE and these will be duly reported and analysed by our staff. These will be exciting times and I expect the readership to at least triple once we start bringing you the exclusive coverage of all the happenings in the world of Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux.
The migration of DistroWatch.com from Debian to SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 will of course mean extra expense and as a result of this you will see an increase in advertising on this site. I doubt that either Red Hat or SuSE will be willing to provide us with some advertising revenue, since they will be covered exclusively anyway, so I will be contacting advertisers in the gambling and pornographic industries to compansate for the increased cost associated with the planned migration. Yes, I know - this might offend some visitors and I'd hate to lose them, but I am sure that many of you will understand that because there are only two distributions for the enterprise, I can no longer use Debian to host DistroWatch.com.
These are exciting times on DistroWatch.com and I really want to thank everybody who have sent in their feedback and made me see the light. The changes will come into effect shortly. If you still haven't joined our great Timesavers Programme, then now is the time as we will soon bring you all the great features, including detailed comparisons between Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server so that you too can make an informed decision about your company's Linux needs.
Once again, thank you all for your feedback.
Put the fun back into computing. Use Red Hat or SuSE.
PS.: Great news - I have found a new web host, less than 24 hours after posting the above story: "My name is V. N. I read your comment on http://www.distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20030818 that you are loking for a Web hosting company offering Suse Linux based hosting. Our service providers are usually installing Redhat, but as I am German and using Mandrake , Redhat and Suse everyday at work I agree, that Suse is by far the most stable and best working (also Mandrakes menu is better). We have some servers near New York whith supperb connection. The access will be lightning fast from nearly all over the world. I will have to double check with the Suse OS, so I will come back on that. Let me know what your requiremets are , I am very positive that we can work something out. Best regards. V. N."
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
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