| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 14, 8 September 2003
Re-thinking the "distribution" model
Traditionally, September is a good month for releasing new versions of Linux distribution. The big commercial trio of Mandrake, Red Hat and SuSE have always considered this month to be vital for their profit margins as this is about the right time to get the boxed versions out to big chain stores ahead of the Christmas shopping season in Europe and North America. These have always been the major sources of income for the Linux companies.
But times have changed. The three largest distributions are no longer dependant on sales of boxed products to generate revenue. In fact, the box sets are often seen as too much hard work to get it produced and shipped to stores just to have profits eaten away by all the middlemen and service companies. Red Hat has already indicated that it will no longer deliver their distribution to stores in a box, concentrating their resources on attracting big customers who are more likely to provide the company with a steady revenue for years to come. Similarly, Mandrake's product have not been particularly visible on the shelves in recent years; instead they encourage all their fans to join the Mandrake Club. This seems to be working fairly well, thanks to the fact that the company has succeeded in creating a large user base of loyal fans and followers. This leaves SuSE as the only one of the big three pursuing the traditional model of "distributing" their distribution. But even SuSE has been actively courting the big business, income from which surely has to be a lot more interesting than the few euros earned from those heavy boxes full of thick Linux manuals.
Perhaps a better model is to distribute the CDs as part of a "magazine". The idea was pioneered by Aurox Linux, which has done exactly that, getting their distribution to a substantial number of software stores, book stores and even supermarkets in large parts of Europe. This is a great way of getting Linux exposed and tempt impulsive buyers who rarely venture into big software stores, but might be attracted by a low-cost Linux distribution found in a local grocery store. Of course, the fact the producer of Aurox Linux is actually a large publishing house with years of experience, plenty of contacts and delivery channels certainly helps. Still, it takes some effort to get the infrastructure in place, to get the magazine translated into many languages and, most importantly, to get it to places where Linux has never been before.
|Released Last Week
The ByzantineOS project announced a release of a new ByzantineOS ISO image and buildsystem. From the changelog: "Changes for byzantine-i586-20030901.iso.gz: kernel 2.4.21, alsa-driver-0.9.6, metacity-2.5.3, xmms-1.2.8-pre1, bug fixes (mplayer, sound). Changes for byzgl-buildsystem-4.1-r2.iso.gz: based on LFS-4.1, kernel 2.4.21..." See the full changelog for a more complete list of changes.
Onebase Linux 1.2
Onebase Linux released two quick bug fix versions of the earlier 1.0 release: "The CD-device selection has been avoided making the installation easier and this also resolves issues with certain CD device nodes. Other than this it contains minor fixes and improves the stability of 1.0. For those who had problems with 1.1, download or buy 1.2. Unfortunately this happens to be the third 1.x release in as many days. With this we may be closing the 1.x branch and start development with the 2.x." The announcement, changelog and system requirements. Onebase Linux is a new source-based Linux distribution with a web-based package management.
Damn Small Linux 0.4.6
Damn Small Linux 0.4.6 was released. From the changelog: "Dillo with more patches! Andreas Kemnade was kind enough to modify his SSL patch to make it compatible with Frank de Lange's frames and tabs patch. The binary is only 337k! Also, I added traceroute, fixed a rendering problem with netcardconfig, and modified startx so that it will save your selected settings for the next X session -- run 'xsetup.sh' as root if you want to change it."
MEPIS is a new desktop Linux distribution based on Debian/Knoppix, with a fresh release announced yesterday: "Today, MEPIS LLC announced the release of MEPIS Linux 2003.08 for Pentium processors. MEPIS Linux is a desktop Linux that is designed for both personal and business purposes. MEPIS Linux offers a live/installation/recovery CD, automatic hardware configuration, NTFS partition resizing, ACPI power management, WiFi support, anti-aliased truetype fonts, personal firewall, KDE 3.1.3, OpenOffice 1.1, and much more." See the rest of the detailed announcement. MEPIX LLC has also become the newest sponsor of DistroWatch.com
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Eagle Linux 3.0
Eagle has announced that its 3.0 release planned for August this year will be dealyed: "Due to the recent SCO Unix happenings, Eagle Linux 3.0 will not be released until October 2003. Being a non-revenue generating product, it was not in our interest to continue development until it was assured that no negative effects would result in any fashion. Development has resumed, and we look forward to producing a product which is comparable to the previous versions of Eagle Linux."
Aurox Linux 9.1
Aurox Linux 9.1 will be released on 15 September: "Next version of Aurox Linux -- 9.1 (Fire) will be available from 15 September. Aurox will be attached to Aurox Linux Magazine. The magazine is issued in 5 language versions (Polish, Czech, German, Spanish, French). You can buy it in 12 countries, or via Internet. Aurox is free, GPL licenced distribution, you can download Aurox via FTP. The distribution is on 7 CDs: binary packages on CDs 1 - 4, sources on CDs 4 - 7. CD no. 4 includes binaries, sources and extras (nVidia drivers, Flash plug-in, J2RE, partitioning tool)."
SuSE Linux 9.0
It seems that the next release of SuSE Linux will be version 9.0. How do we know? Take a look at this NVIDIA installer HOWTO, which makes references to "SuSE Linux 9.0 (Preview/Beta)". SuSE does of course have beta versions of their releases, but the company claims that there is no evidence that a large-scale public beta testing of its product would result in a better quality distribution than the current closed beta testing, and it has never offered the beta releases to public.
|Web Site News
Page Hit Ranking time span options
New in the way Page Hit Ranking statistics are presented on the main page is the ability to choose a time span for the data. Currently there are options to select the data collected during the most recent 1, 3, 6 or 12 months, as well as the data for the entire year 2002. The data collection has now been completely automated, although it still needs some more testing.
Serbian and Rumanian translations
Many thanks to Andrej Lukács for his effort to translate the site's navigation system and introduction into Serbian. Those of you who are visiting from Rumania will notice that many parts of the site have been translated into your language - this is thanks to the enthusiasm of Ghita G. Serban and Adrian Belciug. Great work!
New on the waiting list
- EduLinux. Based on Mandrake Linux 9.1, EduLinux is a specialized distribution for education and office use. It is aimed at the general public as well as educational and community environments. It was developed and compiled at the Université de Sherbrooke's Faculty of Engineering and is intended to be easy to use and perfectly adapted to Quebec's linguistic environment.
- Quantian. A Knoppix/Debian variant tailored to numerical and quantitative analysis, Quantian is a remastering of Knoppix, the self-configuring and directly bootable CDROM that turns any PC or laptop (provided it can boot from CDROM) into a full-featured Linux workstation. The most recent version is based on clusterKnoppix and adds support for openMosix, including remote booting of light clients in an openMosix terminal server context. Quantian is an extension of Knoppix and clusterKnoppix from which it takes its base system of about 2GB of software, along with fully automatic hardware detection and configuration. However, Quantian differs from Knoppix by adding a set of programs of interest to applied or theoretical workers in quantitative or data-driven fields.
- MEPIS Linux. MEPIS Linux is a desktop Linux system that is also easy to configure as a dedicated server. It is designed for both personal and business purposes. It includes cutting-edge features such as a live/installation/recovery CD, automatic hardware configuration, NTFS partition resizing, ACPI power management, WiFi support, anti-aliased TrueType fonts, a personal firewall, KDE, and much more.
DistroWatch database summary
- ZENIX is a new LFS based Linux Distribution. It was built directly from scratch, to stand for a reliable Server-OS.
- Shark Linux is a powerful Linux-based operating system designed for simplicity, security, and functionality.
- WOMP, a micro linux distribution focused on multimedia, it takes only 13 - 18 MB on a bootable CD and allows playing multimedia files (video/audio/image) without installing any software on the computer's hard drive.
- Number of distributions in the database: 172
- Number of discontinued distributions: 24
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 63
This sounds like an excellent idea. However, I am going to need some help in drawing the "old hardware" line. Is anything older than Pentium II considered "old hardware"? Or should we go still further back in history? The next question is of course how we deal with the X Window System. Apart from the latest versions of Red Hat Linux which will not install on anything with less than 128MB of RAM, most other distributions, like Slackware or Debian will be quite happy on a Pentium 90 - if you don't care much for a clickable interface, that is. But including all distributions which will run in text mode will probably result in a huge page which would kill the objective of providing a list of distributions designed to run on old hardware. These are just some of the dilemmas; as always your suggestions and a possible list of included distributions are more than welcome.
- "Given the large number of inquiries showing up on newsgroups from people wanting to install linux on a 486 or Pentium 90, etc. it might be helpful to add a 'distros for old hardware' selection at the top of the page..."
Robert Storey's Debian GNU/Linux - Not Just Another Pretty Face article we published last week was generally well received, with one exception - DebianPlanet.org. This was a little disappointing at first, but luckily, the author of the above post has since exchanged emails with Robert, detailing all inaccuracies in the article. The promised second part of the Debian review should be up shortly and it will have all the corrections from Part I, as well as further talk about Debian. But this episode has made us realise a simple truth - writing a review of a geek distribution is a lot harder than writing about distributions designed for non-technical users. No wonder we rarely see reviews of Debian or Slackware in the mainstream Linux media!
- From DebianPlanet.org: "Although Distrowatch is currently carrying an article about installing a Debian from a new user's perspective, I recommend you skip this and go straight to the much more comprehensive and factually correct Debian Install Manual which is (hopefully) available in your native language and in whatever format you wish."
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
1 • older machines (by sclebo05 on 2003-09-08 16:07:40 GMT) |
as the user of an older machine (pentium 200mhz) i would like to see some sort of comprehensive list of distros that would run on this kind of hardware. after lots of searches on a forums i chose slackware, but having this information on your site could save someone a lot of work.
2 • Reviews of Geek Distros (by madhunter at 2003-09-08 17:12:00 GMT)
Yeah, I know MadAdmin basically builds his own cross and hands the hammer and nails to the critically minded every time he write a review for anything- whether it's a distro, new software, etc. Opinions are like buttholes, and apparently everyone can have one EXCEPT for the guy writing the article!
3 • Re-thinking the "distribution" model (by bhhenry at 2003-09-08 18:26:35 GMT)
How about a "DistroWatch Magazine"? Included each month is a CD-ROM with a distro or two.
4 • Wi-Fi (by Gary Higgs at 2003-09-08 21:16:52 GMT)
Really like this web site for keeping up with Linux distros..is there a distro that I might expect to work with my Siemens SpeedStream WAP router?....would like to go back to Linux on at least one box here, but what to know if I can make it fly first.
5 • Page Hit rankings (by Andrew at 2003-09-08 21:30:23 GMT)
Congratulations on finding an excellent solution to the Great Ranking Dillema! Let's hope everyone will be satisfied with this system - I know I am.
6 • Re: Page Hit Rankings (by Amresh on 2003-09-08 22:09:32 GMT)
Personally I believe that Page Hit Rankings(PHR) should not be taken too seriously. By this I mean no disrespect to those who treat the PHR of a distribution as a measure of its popularity :)
If a distribution A, for example despite being one of those with a high PHR, cannot be suitable for my needs(for whatever reason), I will look for one that IS. The only role PHR will have to play in this process is that I would tend to look down the list till I find a 'suitable' distro. I dont think my choice of a distribution would be influenced by its PHR in any way.And I fail to see why its generating so much talk. Don't take it too seriously.
OTOH, I think its time someone came up with a 'scientifically correct' method of PHR. Something that will not be so controversial. It could also make an interesting research thesis. Any takers?
(Having worked in a related field - performance based ranking - I think I could :))
7 • Mephis Logo (by Anonymous on 2003-09-08 23:33:30 GMT)
I'm sorry, but to me the Mephis Logo looks like an ant with a giant hard-on.
8 • Old Hardware (by AlanS at 2003-09-09 01:38:55 GMT)
For the purposes of an old hardware page I'd draw the line at Pentium MMX/Pentium II. When they went from i586 to i686, just what makes sense to me.
9 • Old Hardware (by lucas at 2003-09-09 02:01:52 GMT)
i think the line problem can be solved just the way you have set the PHR, let us choose the line, if it won't be too troublefull.
10 • Old Hardware (by Julle on 2003-09-09 06:22:52 GMT)
I think that it is impossible to draw a line between old and new hardware. At least one that will satisfy all. :) Some kind of listing where distros would be ranked according to their harware requirements would be best solution.
This kind of lists advantage would also be that people could easily find the kind of distro they are looking for. If you are looking for distro that will run smoothly in your current hardware you would choose distro that is reported to work in "older" hardware then your curent one. If you don't mind little slow system but want more eye candy you could pick distro that just barely runs with your current hardware.
11 • on old hardware distros (by Peter Damoc at 2003-09-09 12:31:54 GMT)
IMHO what people need is a list with distros that could offer a desktop solution (think graphical browser) for computers with CPUs in the 586 class (or older) with 32 Mb of RAM (or less)!
An alternative to Win95 if you may. :D
12 • Old Hardware (by David Montminy at 2003-09-09 14:57:14 GMT)
You should consider a time frame, like 3,4 or 5 years ago , to seperate old from newer computers. 5 years ago, we saw the very first Pentium III. Anything pentium II and down is second grade and should be considered "Not that old, but not quite recent", Finaly, anything from 6-10 years ago is really old hardware. (Pentium 200mmx was THE top in 1996, if i remember correctly)
It would also be useful to know if there are "client distros" that could be run to make the very old ones graphical terminals.
13 • Re-thinking the 'distribution' model: about Suse (by L Gandolfo at 2003-09-10 00:58:03 GMT)
Indeed, Suse could show more flexibility.
Once a customer has bought a Professional edition with 900 pages of documentation, he/she doesn't have much interest in having those books again in the near future.
Therefore Suse could offer a wider choice, as Mandrake does.
What about a CDs or DVD only edition, maybe with a booklet updating only what is new.
I believe it would be in the best interest of both Suse and its customers.
14 • Old hardware (by Robbage at 2003-09-10 02:12:00 GMT)
I agree with David Montminy, although I'd set the timeframe to 3 months, since it seems no sooner have I upgraded to'the latest, coolest hardware' than it's already old hat :)
(But seriously.. 5 years seems like a good timeframe.. but this might need to be scaled as we approach the sentient computer age a la 'Terminator')
15 • old hardware (by warpengi at 2003-09-10 03:59:35 GMT)
I would like to see distros that use a GUI on older hardware. In that case there are plenty of distros that will run on PII's. Once you get to Pentium MMX and down to 486 fewer distros will run with acceptable speed. There are probably several classes; 386/486, 486/P1, P1/Pentium Pro/Pentium with MMX, PII.
There are plenty of P1's and PII's headed for the landfills these days. It would be great to get new computer users started on these older systems using a linux distro that allows them to surf the net and do word processing and e-mail.
16 • Old PCs ram and HD constraints (by monkymind on 2003-09-10 05:10:42 GMT)
Old hardware could be sorted by ram size/type and/or video card size. HD size is also another limiting factor for old PCs.
Old = EDO 72 pin (32meg +)
Really old = 30 pin simms (8-16 meg+)
Anything that has 168 pin sdram 64-128meg is modern enough to run most linux flavours.
Does anyone know if any of palmtop (qtopia) like environments and browsers can be used on old hardware??
17 • Linux for Old Hardware (by John Gabriel at 2003-09-10 15:16:05 GMT)
Rather than focus on the processor or other technologies, I think the most important factor for running Linux on older PC's is memory.
If you want to run a modern Linux with KDE or Gnome, 128 MB of RAM is about the minimum, with 256 MB or more recommended.
My recommendation would be to feature a list of Linuxes designed to run in less than 64 MB. You could make it 32 MB, if you really wanted to keep the list small, but having 64 MB of RAM on a Pentium I wasn't uncommon. From there, anyone perusing the list could check out memory and other requirements for distro's that would suit their needs.
18 • Magazine Distribution (by DaveW on 2003-09-10 16:25:00 GMT)
Your idea could turn out to be the next big thing, as Linux and the rest of the open source/free software community moves away from the older Microsoft generation's way of doing things.
Of course, Britain-based Linux Format magazine has been including distro disks for some time (It's where I got my first Mandrake.)
But a magazine dedicated to one distro would have a shot at really opening up a market for Linux. A live-style distro like Knoppix would seem like the likeliest candidate for such distribution, since the user-reader could simply pop the cd into the machine and get started, with guidance from the print magazine.
The biggest problem I see would be ongoing content: You have the first issue with the distro attached and probably most of the print content dedicated to how to install/use it. Then what? New readers would need the first issue to get the basic distro, but once they have it, they want the next issues to contain additional apps. Getting bookstores and the like to keep Issue One around for a long time would be difficult. Or, if the base distro is as small as Knoppix, I suppose the latest version could be in every issue, with apps on additional disks. But then you're back to the problem with the print content: nobody wants to see most of that taken up with intro/installation stuff every time.
So there are some concepts to work out, but I think this could be one of those simple ideas that turns out to be amazingly fertile.
19 • Knoppix's fate?! (by maurice on 2003-09-10 17:52:13 GMT)
That's not a good news:
Closed because of "Software-Patents"
In the next few days, the European Parliament will decide about the legalisation and adoption of so-called "software patents" in Europe, which are already used by large companies in other countries to put competitors out of business. This can lead to the termination of many software projects such as KNOPPIX, at least within Europe, because the holders of the over 30,000 already granted "software patents" (currently without a legal foundation) can claim exclusive rights and collect license fees for trivial things like "progress bars", "mouseclicks on online order forms", "scrolling within a window" and similar. That way, software developers will have to pay the "software-patentholders" for using these features, even in their own, completely self-developed applications, which can completely stall the development of innovative software for small and medium companies. Apart from this, the expense for patent inquiries and legal assistence is high, for even trying to find out if the self-developed software is possibly violating "software-patents", if you want to continue to market your software. Contrary to real patents, "software-patents" are, in the current draft, monopolization of business ideas and methods, even without any tangible technical implementation.
More about the current major problem at http://swpat.ffii.org/index.en.html
20 • Re-thinking the 'distribution' model: about Suse (by L Gandolfo at 2003-09-10 0 (by Daniel M. Stadnyckyj at 2003-09-12 02:13:42 GMT)
L. Gandolfo makes some valid points. SuSE and the other major distros might want to offer the documentation in a binder format. That way it can be updated with the newer information 'addendums" and also have the core material for newbies. The new documentation along with the discs can be offered in a packet that can just be added to the binder.Certain PC games were packaged in this format.
Just a thought.
21 • Page Hit rankings (by James on 2003-09-12 20:25:10 GMT)
Why not keep the default view the original 12 months like it used to be rather than the 3 months it is now.
I know it lets you store a cookie with your preference, but shouldn't those not changing the value see what it used to show?
22 • RE: Page Hit rankings (by ladislav at 2003-09-15 09:53:13 GMT)
Why not keep the default view the original 12 months like it used to be rather than the 3 months it is now.
That's what choice is about. If you don't like the default, by all means do exercise your right to choose a different default option.
23 • Well... (by Sam at 2004-07-20 23:45:29 GMT)
I would really like to have a linux capable of running a graphical interface on 32mb ram. It would make alot of useless computers useful...
Number of Comments: 23
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