| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 40, 15 March 2004
Welcome to this year's 11th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. It comes somewhat rushed due to the fact that the hard disk with my main production system gave up on me last weekend, which meant a complete system re-install. This was the third IBM hard disk that crashed during the past three years (is this normal?), so I decided to go with Maxtor this time. Things are up and running again from a 120GB disk (plenty of space for installing new distributions ;-), so let's get on with the regular programme.
Mandrakelinux 10.0: love it or hate it?
Early reviews of Mandrakelinux 10.0, the first major distribution shipping with kernel 2.6 and KDE 3.2, appeared last week on Linux Tips For Free, OSNews and MadPenguin. Although the overall sentiment in the three reviews was overwhelmingly positive, there is no denying that Mandrakelinux 10.0 is not without its bugs. This was also reaffirmed in the discussion forums following the reviews, where many users expressed emotions ranging from a complete delight over the new release to enormous frustration when trying to install and use it. The following quotes from the OSNews forums illustrate the widely varying experiences of users:
How is it possible that the experiences vary so widely? And why is it that some of the bugs only appear on some systems, not others?
"With some concern I upgraded my heavily customised Mandrake 9.1 machine that runs mail, web, smb and ldap servers plus a heap of desktop tools. To my relief, the upgrade went without a hitch; it even managed to keep the layout of my desktop and upgrade all the icons and decorations around it. Very cool."
"Currently my Linux machine is reinstalling SUSE 9.0. That about sums up my experience with Mandrake 10. I didn't notice any speed improvements, and the system crashed several times in an hour worth of use. It felt unresponsive and sluggish. On the other hand, SUSE runs perfectly on the system."
"I have deployed Mandrake from last Saturday and I have not one issue. Everything runs just great. Great job, Mandrake Team!"
"I tried installing Mandrake 10 yesterday and it was a long, frustrating evening. It crashes when I try to set the regional settings to Norwegian at the end of the installation, it crashes when it tries to start KDE... for me this version seems rushed. Too bad because I enjoyed Mandrake 9.1 a lot."
"Installed Mandrake 10. Now it's the third machine I've installed it on, and the only problem I've had was having to change out the CDs in the proper order. This is the most trouble-free distro I've encountered."
Personally, my experiences with Mandrakelinux 10.0 were decidedly positive. It is fast, good-looking and highly useable as a desktop system. I made an effort to try and reproduce the bugs that Eugenia Loli-Queru reported in her review on OSNews, and some of them, like the Kontact bug or the BitTorrent GUI scrollbar problem, I could certainly confirm. But some others I could not. I have Frozen Bubble working great, with sound and all. I've had no problem changing the GNOME desktop theme, configuring the time zone and time server, booting from the first CD or setting up the fax. All in all, Mandrakelinux 10.0 proved to be a superb release, especially when considering that this is not the Official edition.
But others will disagree. A good example would be comparing Mandrakelinux 10.0 with Fedora Core 2 Test 1, which for me, was a total disaster, a really poor effort on Red Hat's part. Yet, the experiences of others were completely different. This is another quote from the OSNews forums:
To reiterate the original question: how can two persons' experiences differ so widely? Anybody cares to comment?
"I just tried the development Core of Fedora2. Even I do not like the new philosophy from Red Hat, I must say that no comparison can be done: faster, better worked around etc (except for GNOME 2.6 which is still in early stage) - it looks already in a better shape than the 10.0 from Mandrake."
Creating new distributions
If you are thinking of creating a new distribution, then think again. Not counting various floppy and embedded Linux projects, there are already more than 300 active distributions in existence today. Unless you have a really cool, innovative idea, don't expect to get an enormous number of followers with a yet another remastered edition of Knoppix. Instead, why not join an existing project? Here comes an open invitation from CollegeLinux:
"You've always wanted to do more on Linux, to be part of it, perhaps making your own distribution or your own package. Perhaps you didn't know it, but your very own distribution exists: CollegeLinux. The CollegeLinux development team is looking for new talent for the next release, package creation, and documentation. If you want to join a small team of developers willing to listen to your proposal or assign you a number of packages as a maintainer let us know! We are currently looking for project leaders, package developers, contributions for the new installer, documentation help (write your own how-to tutorials), support/forum moderators. Whilst for code contribution you should be familiar with C (especially for the installer) anyone can help (regardless of your coding skills). We really want to hear from you."
Visit the CollegeLinux web site for more information.
|Released Last Week
Trustix Secure Linux 2.1
Trustix Secure Linux 2.1 has been released: "This is to announce the release of Trustix Secure Linux 2.1, nicknamed "Horizon". It is the second release in the Trustix 2 series. Its main purpose is to serve as a stability release, and it is the natural successor of Trustix 2.0. In addition, we have added a few more features including Samba 3, IBM's stack protector and the XFS file system. We have also updated most of the packages to the latest stable versions." Read the rest of the announcement for further details.
Lunar Linux 1.4.0
A new version of Lunar Linux has been released: "Lunar-1.4.0 (General P. Fault) ISO is released. Large changes in this ISO compared to the 1.3.3 version. A small list of the major changes include: linux-2.4.25 kernels. gcc-3.3.3 is the default compiler supported in Lunar now; ncurses-5.4 is installed on the ISO; perl-5.8.3, gettext-0.14.1, openssh-3.8p1, coreutils-5.2.0, updated lfirsttime.8, curl-7.11.0 added and more. For a full list of changes see the ISO.Changelog. No xdelta is available from the 1.3.3 ISO as the xdelta would be around 90Meg, while the iso.bz2 file is only 114Meg." The full announcement.
A new version of the OnebaseGo live CD is out: "With the high success of the first release of OnebaseGo portable OS with its capability to add/remove applications, this version comes with olm-go-1.1, a few fixes including kernel and lots of customisations. Users who utilise OnebaseGo as a portable OS, are recommended to get this new version. Please support the development by purchasing it from the store ($9.00)." The announcement.
Screenshot: OnebaseGo 1.1: a flexible and customisable live CD with a hard disk install option.
(full image size 150kB)
A new version of BLAG (BLAG Linux And GNU) has been released. From the release notes: "BLAG9002 (trike) is a significant update of BLAG9001. The major changes are lots of Red Hat updates (kernel, XFree86, apache), many BLAG package updates, and piles of new packages. A new desktop, XFce, is now on the CD. It is lightweight, but user friendly and cute. BLAG now includes more wireless kernel drivers so more gear works out-of-the-box. Airsnort & airtraf have been added. Winmodem drivers (hsf, ltmodem, slmodem) added...."
Quantian 0.4.9.5 is a new development version on the road towards stable Quantian 0.5. From the changelog: "Updated R packages based on the first pre-release of the upcoming 1.9.0 version, updated CRAN packages and a few new CRAN packages: multcomp, mvtnorn, relimp, and the uebercool rgl. Updated Octave packages based on the just released 2.1.56, and a matching octave-forge release. Improved support for Scientific Python, though scipy.test() still moans, we hope to sort that out shortly. The ftnchek package for Fortran'ers..."
A new stable version of Rubyx has been released: "New stable release 42. It contains loads of new packages; Mozilla, Firefox, Thunderbird, Epiphany, Gnomemeeting 1.00, Kde 3.2.1, Gnome 2.4.2, linux-2.6.4 ... There have been some important bugfixes and improvements to the rubyx script itself, so please upgrade!" Rubyx is a new source-based distribution written in Ruby; it is, in the words of the Rubyx creator, "the most progressive Linux distro out there, with features people have yet to grasp. The package management system is, to say the least, revolutionary. If you haven't tried it yet, please do!" Find out more on rubyx.org.
Feather Linux 0.3.8
Feather Linux 0.3.8 has been released. What's new? "Fixed Sylpheed size; added MPlayer config files; added Arno's iptables script and fwb-run; fixed xterm menu colours; added online manpages and HOWTOs links on the Fluxbox menu; added wman, an online manpage viewer script; added Getting Started HOWTO; changed Opera script to work properly from HD; made small changes to the HD install script; added Mutella, fbset and Chipmunk Basic; feather now runs as user knoppix; rewrote restoration system - now you need to type restore=sda1 restore=hda1, etc; added script to install the Gimp."
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Rubyx is a new source-based distribution written in Ruby. The developer of Rubyx is Andrew Walrond and he has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his project for DistroWatch. If there is anything you'd like to know, please ask in the forums below or email me directly. The interview will be published next week.
|Web Site News
Submitting new distributions
If you'd like to see your distribution listed on DistroWatch, please fill in the Submit Distribution form in full, including the package list. Incomplete submissions will simply go on the waiting list, together with 60+ other distributions. The form was created in order to eliminate the tedious work of looking up the information, often in foreign languages, so please try helping out if you can. If you fill it in full, your distribution will be listed within 24 hours, otherwise it might take months. Also, please check that the distribution does not already exist in the database before filling in the form. You can find the complete list of all listed distributions on the Statistics page.
Order your own official DistroWatch T-shirt from Hackerthreads.
New on the waiting list
- Slavix. Slavix is an operating system based on Morphix, Knoppix, Debian GNU/Linux. Its purpose is to make it easy for anyone to switch to GNU/Linux and start using free (as in freedom) software. Slavix is oriented towards a home computer user. It is a live CD system, which means you can run it off CD-ROM without having to install anything to hard drive. All you need to do is burn the Slavix image file to a CD, put it in your CD-ROM and reboot. It will start up, auto configure itself and in about 3 - 5 minutes it's ready to use! Slavix will not touch your hard drive or mess with you data! Hard disk installer is included and it is fairly easy to use.
DistroWatch database summary
- Linux Octoz. Linux Octoz is a French distribution in early development.
- SciLix. SciLix is a Morphix-based live CD developed by the Faculty of Science at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia.
- Number of distributions in the database: 272
- Number of discontinued distributions: 31
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 65
On Linux package management
"With the variety of Debian builds springing up, debs and the apt utility are also becoming unreliable. Bootable CDs with the Knoppix engine are major offenders. It's very easy to acquire enough missing dependencies and broken packages to totally disable apt. Often the only reasonable option is to rebuild (I'm doing that now).
I have to operate both Windows and Linux systems. In other respects Linux is very close to parity with, if not superior to, Windows. But, I have to note that, the typical Windows 'user' would never accept this kind of unreliability. The whole situation really needs to be resolved if Linux is to survive as a desktop OS.
That's all for this week, see you next Monday :-)
1 • on different views over distributions (by Peter Damoc at 2004-03-15 13:30:09 GMT)|
My oppinion is that hardware might make a difference. Maybe the distros react different to hardware. From my past experience I can say that Slackware 9.1 install on a old celeron box went smooth BUT when I tryed the thing on my new box everything went wrong. Maybe it was my emmbeded video addapter (nforce2 MB) maybe it was my brand new Logitech MX Duo or maybe it was my lack of experience but the two installs differed substantially.
2 • Joining an existing project (by Scott on 2004-03-15 13:53:21 GMT)
The open invitation from College Linux is truely what _many_ Linux distributions need. With that said ...
Onebase Linux has some really great, innovative ideas like
-> it's OLM (Onebase Linux Management) advanced multithreaded package manager.
-> it's OnebaseGo LiveCD with incredible customization capabilities
-> Support for both binary and source packages.
-> Click-n-Pick gallery portal
This is the first free distro that I've had a strong feeling of supporting.
3 • Mandrake 10 (by Ronald L. Gibson at 2004-03-15 14:00:55 GMT)
Mandrake 10 will not boot up on my 200MHz machine with the Award v4.51PG BIOS. It boots up fine with my other machines. I have been able to boot up on previous versions of Mandrake, Red Hat, & Knoppix.
4 • mandrake (by maceto on 2004-03-15 14:04:23 GMT)
the reason MD fails on some and work on others are at least what I have found: the latest screen were one can change settings, buggy on 2 computers I have tested it on, what happens it hangs up if one does it "to fast" bouth running nvidia cards.
kernel 2.6 is making problems still on some hardware, the new intel 100 driver starts for me, but that`s it, it does not get assigned an ip, it sends recive packages etc, the old becker driver works fine. I can mention alot about this, but others are going to write here to
5 • Mandrakelinux 10.0: how can two persons' experiences differ so widely? (by brodders at 2004-03-15 14:22:09 GMT)
Easy - it's the hardware mix.
I've installed this on 3 boxes now:
1. Old HP Omin-series laptop - everything works.
2. Asus barebone system (512M ram, AMD 2400, integrated SiS everything - chipset, video, sound, LAN. Toshiba CDrom, + 2nd separate soundcard, Hitachi deskstar 120gig HD with 8M cache). Everything worked 1st time, could even select which sound card I wanted.
3. Asus nForce2 with integrated LAN & sound, GeForce FX5600, WD Caviar 80gig HD with 8M cache. LG 4120B CD-RW/DVD Combo, 512M ram. Will not boot. Can boot with CD2 and start CD1 installer. Install freezes at random points during system installs (tried several times) using both ext3 and RieserFS.
-but wait! This same box but using an old Maxtor 8gig drive from 1998 installs cleanly! It does not like _something_ about the WD (? the fast ATA, the chipset, the WD itself ?)
Conclusion: install sucess depends upon your hardware. Try to use the same hardware the distro was tested on....
This will always be a problem alas.
6 • Hardware is only one part (by Scott on 2004-03-15 14:46:12 GMT)
"Easy - it's the hardware mix."
Hardware is certainly one aspect of differing experiences, but what about the software bugs/glitches? How can this be explained?
Like Ladislav said ... "I made an effort to try and reproduce the bugs that Eugenia Loli-Queru reported in her review on OSNews, and some of them, like the Kontact bug or the BitTorrent GUI scrollbar problem, I could certainly confirm. But some others I could not."
That doesn't seem like hardware related, does it?
7 • Rubyx (by Penguin Domesticus on 2004-03-15 15:30:42 GMT)
Some questions for the Rubyx interview:
How does the source/package management work exactly? Are there some Rubyx binaries too or is it all about compilin from source? Is the Rubyx installaton equivalent of the Stage 1 style installation of Gentoo, i.e. everything must be compiled and configured manually? Is Rubyx targeted for experienced system admins only or does it aim to make things easy even for relatively unexperienced users?
8 • Mandrake 10 and 'testzilla' (by Troy Dawson at 2004-03-15 15:49:34 GMT)
Mandrake 10c (what I like to call it) is technically not their final release, it is a glorified release candidate, so I expected a few bugs. I found a few, but I also found a really nice release behind them.
Are there a few software bugs. Yep. But I'd like anyone to name one Operating System release that didn't have them, linux, opensource or proprietary. But for me, there hasn't been one show stopper.
I've installed it on 5 widely varying machines, and been able to experience all the various forms of emotion. My first install went absolutely perfect. My second hit the NVidia bug. Third, perfect, Fourth, network problem. Etc... (I plan on testing on more machines).
But something I haven't seen mentioned is Mandrakes new 'testzilla'. This is different than 'bugzilla' because you run your machine through a set of steps, and if it works, that particular piece of hardware get's marked as working, if it didn't work, you can open a bugzilla bug, and they already have all your hardware info.
Although this testzilla does have some flaws, I haven't seen any of the mainstream distro's doing this, and I do hope it catches on. (One of the flaws is the machine where the network card isn't able to be setup, I have no way of uploading the hardware info.)
My overall opinion. Of the rpm based distro's, Mandrake 10 is going to be hard to beat. I don't really consider the communitry release a real release, but it already raises the bar for other distro's to try and reach.
9 • ML 10 Community: NOT a Release Candidate (by Leo on 2004-03-15 16:12:55 GMT)
Ok folks, lets call things by name. Mandrake Community is NOT a release candidate. It is what Mandrake 10.0 would have been if they didn't change the release cycle scheme ... but they _did_
Mandrake 10 is the first release in a "stable" branch that has been actually stabilized for a while in the Cooker tree (which was frozen for a while, and it had its own beta/RC cycle).
Oh, I am running it in 3 machines, and I had to revert two of them to kernel 2.4.* because of different kernel issues. It is true that 2.6 is more responsive. But is is not quite there yet. Other than that, it is running great, I am enjoying Kontact and what not. Very very nice, as usual.
Some bugs ? Yes, sure. I am reporting them in qa.mandrakesoft.com ...
10 • Rubyx (by Sceptic on 2004-03-15 16:47:56 GMT)
I've seen Rubyx advertise itself as a progressive and revolutionary distro but I've yet to figure out if this means anything for the ordinary end user. System developers may get excited over an installation script written in ruby language but for the end users this doesn't necessarily mean much. What are Rubyx's innovations from the end user's POV? Well, perhaps the forthcoming interview will bring some light on this issue.
11 • Rubyx v. Gentoo (by butters at 2004-03-15 18:49:56 GMT)
After reading the Rubyx manual, it seems to me that Rubyx is simply a Gentoo analogue. Whereas Gentoo uses Python for Portage, Rubyx uses Ruby. Both have revamped init scripts, both support flexible and distributed builds, fake builds, and support global and package configuration options (USE flags or Rubyx attributes). The main difference is that Gentoo has a massive headstart on Rubyx