| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 75, 15 November 2004
Welcome to this year's 45th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. After moving to a new server, we have a pleasure to greet you from a brand new location, machine and operating system (more details below). Happy reading!
Gentoo Linux for G5 processors
A new version of Gentoo Linux was made available at exactly midnight GMT on November 15th. This was the fourth and final Gentoo release of the year 2004. In line with most major distributions, the frequency of future releases will be reduced to just two per year to reduce the pressure on the release engineering team. Frankly, four releases per year did seem rather excessive for a project that supports seamless and continuous updates of the included software, which is one of the main reasons why many users were attracted to Gentoo in the first place.
Those of you who did not read the official announcement, might have missed a very interesting part of it - the newly included support for the ppc64 processor platform. This means that, for the first time, there is a free Linux distribution specifically designed to take advantage of IBM's 64-bit PowerPC processors (such as those found in Apple's PowerMac G5 and iMac G5 systems). This is exciting news indeed and hats off to the developers at Gentoo who have made this possible. Although the Fedora-based Yellow Dog Linux 4 also claims to be compatible with G5 systems, Gentoo has an edge over Yellow Dog in terms of available online documentation, as well as its development model, which is completely open. Let's face it, Apple's hardware is much more affordable than it used to be, so it makes sense to invest in one of its good-looking and innovative machines, and dual-boot Linux with Mac OS.
Do any of you run Linux on a G5 or any other PowerPC machine? If so, what are you experiences? Please discuss below.
* * * * *
ZDNet UK has published a short article introducing the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux, code name Sarge. The story quotes the Debian project leader Martin Michlmayr as saying that Sarge will be released "at the end of this year, or the beginning of next year, depending on how quickly the remaining bugs are fixed." The article also introduces some of the new features and included software, and also mentions another Debian derivative - Ubuntu Linux. You can read the full article here.
If you have been itching to try the latest X.Org release on your Debian system, but were reluctant to compile it yourself, you can grab the Ubuntu Hoary (the Ubuntu development branch) packages and install them on Debian Sid. This is, reportedly (article in Spanish), a workable and tested solution. All you need to do is to add the relevant Hoary repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list file, then run "apt-get update" and "apt-get install xserver-xorg" to install X.Org 6.8.1. As always, only do this if you are capable of fixing any potential problems!
* * * * *
Finally, for audio and video addicts, a quick message from StartCom Linux about the distribution's updated multimedia add-on CD: "The MultiMedia Productivity CD lets you transform your Linux system into a productive music recording studio by using your existing hardware (minimum a soundcard is needed) and the provided set of applications. It includes ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) drivers for most soundcards, Jack Audio Server for advanced application interaction, Audacity and Ardour Recording Studio, 24 Track Midi Sequencer, Hydrogen Drum Machine, various synthesizers and samplers for sound manipulation, to mention only the most important features." Read the rest of the announcement. The CD is meant to compliment StartCom MultiMedia Edition, a Red Hat-based multimedia distribution, which is available for free download from the distribution's web site.
|Featured distribution of the week: Yggdrasil Linux
No, we haven't been smoking anything unusual lately. The reason for including a long-defunct distribution in this section is to reflect on an interesting piece of history for the benefit of those readers who are relatively new to Linux, and for nostalgic reasons. After all, Yggdrasil Linux was one of the first Linux distributions in existence, while Yggdrasil Computing, established in California in 1992 by Adam Richter, was the first commercial Linux company ever created.
The distribution's initial release was produced in February 1993. Tentatively called "LGX Beta", the CD-ROM functioned as a live CD (in text mode), as well as an installation CD containing Linux 0.99.5 and the X-window system. It even claimed to have "multimedia capabilities", but we don't remember what those words used to mean in 1992. Here is the release announcement, together with the order form:
"Yggdrasil Computing, Incorporated is now shipping a beta CDROM release of a bootable Linux/GNU/X-based UNIX(R) clone for PC compatibles, tentatively named LGX. The system uses version 0.99.5 of the Linux kernel, which is being developed from scratch by Linus Torvalds and an international group of skilled contributors working over the internet to complete the GNU project."
In the following years, Yggdrasil (incidentally, the term "Yggdrasil" was derived from a tree of life found in Norse mythology) continued to produce regular CD-ROM images containing all the latest and greatest software applications as written by Linux, GNU and other open source software developers. Although its ISO images were never released for free download, the content of some of Yggdrasil's CD was (and still is) available for download from some FTP mirrors. To compliment their software, the company also wrote what was probably the world's first comprehensive, commercially available Linux book - The Linux Bible.
Unfortunately, Yggdrasil's business of selling Linux CD-ROMs and books did not seem to result in sustained profitability. Its final attempt at achieving financial success came in the year 2000 when the company released a Linux Open Source DVD, containing some 23GB of compressed software and documentation:
"The value of every product we have ever shipped is convenience", said Adam Richter, President of Yggdrasil Computing. "The growth of free software has increased the size of our Archives product to eight CDs. If you have to switch among that many discs, it's not very convenient. So, we decided to really push the technology to address this problem."
After this, we never heard from Yggdrasil Computing again. The company's web site became dormant shortly after the DVD release and was eventually taken off-line. But despite its relegation to the dustbins of history, Yggdrasil's early contribution to the Linux movement is indisputable.
Yggdrasil's Plug-and-Play Linux.
|Released Last Week
Mandrakelinux 10.1 PPC and X86-64 Editions
Mandrakelinux 10.1 for PowerPC systems has been released: "Finally there's a new Mandrakelinux to install on your fruity, metallic, white, black or beige PowerMac. 10.1/PPC has many new and updated programs, some new features, and probably also a few new bugs, so something interesting for everyone. Software updates include Linux kernel 188.8.131.52,X11R6.7, OpenOffice.org 1.1.3, Mozilla 1.7.2, GNOME 2.6, and KDE 3.2. A notable new feature is the ability to install on and boot from FireWire and USB devices." Read the full announcement at Mandrakeclub. The x86-64 edition of Mandrakelinux 10.1 has also been released: "Mandrakesoft has just released Mandrakelinux 10.1 for x86-64, a version of its Linux operating system that runs on AMD x86-64 and Intel EMT architectures. Linux has always been ahead of the competition in this area: it was the first operating system to support 64-bit architectures. This new release of Mandrakelinux, featuring EVP and mixed software support, will help ensure Linux is the only reasonable choice when it comes to 64-bit - the future of computing." For more information, please read the official press release and visit the product page.
Trustix Secure Linux 2.2
Trustix Secure Linux 2.2 is now available: "It's official! Linux is the world's fastest growing operating system, and with version 2.2, Trustix continues to demonstrate day on day why this is so. Bringing together enhancements in speed and security, Trustix Secure Linux 2.2 now offers support for Serial ATA disk drives and the leading open source antispam and antivirus solutions - SpamAssassin and ClamAV. Trustix remains committed to the open source community with Trustix Secure Linux 2.2 being the next step in the evolution of the world's most secure commercially supported Linux distribution." Read the rest of the release announcement for more self-glory.
Fedora Core 3
Fedora Core 3 has been released: "Fedora Core 3 is now available from Red Hat and at distinguished mirror sites near you, and is also available in the torrent. Fedora Core has expanded in this release to four binary ISO images and four source ISO images, and is available for both x86-64 and i386. Please file bugs via Bugzilla, Product Fedora Core, Version 3, so that they are noticed and appropriately classified. Discuss this release on fedora-list." See the release announcement on the Fedora Project page and read the release notes (i386) for more details.
SAM Mini Live Linux 1.1
SAM Mini Live Linux 1.1, a Mandrakelinux-based bootable live CD, has been released. What's new? "Included is the Firefox 1.0 (final) release, the first preview of GIMP 2.2, Gaim 1.0.2, some new and exchanged games (now 13), Ctorrent and some more updates. You can use 'transset' to check out the transparency effects of X.Org 6.8.1. Also new is Zenity to give bash scripts nice GUI dialogs. The first one included is a GUI for SAM's 'configsave'." Here is the full release announcement.
Kurumin Linux 3.31
Two new Kurumin Linux releases have been announced by the distribution's developers. The stable branch (kernel 2.4) has been updated to version 3.31, while the development branch (kernel 2.6) has a new alpha release of the upcoming version 4.0. Kurumin Linux 3.31, a maintenance and bug fix release with no new features, will be the last version from Kurumin 3.x series. Here is the release announcement (in Portuguese). The second alpha release of Kurumin 4.0 comes with newly included drivers for wireless networking and modems - read more in this announcement (also in Portuguese).
Damn Small Linux 0.8.4
The development of Damn Small Linux continues at a fast pace, with version 0.8.4 now available for download. Changes since the previous release: "New Siag Office word processor; new Siag Office spreadsheet; dropped Ted; dropped ABS; adjustments to smbclient GUI; adjustments control panel for backup; adjustments to mydslgui color legend; some cleanup and removal of old files." You can find the full release notes here.
RUNT Linux 4.0
Version 4.0 or RUNT (ResNet USB Network Tester), a Slackware-based distribution designed to run from a 128MB USB pen drive, has been released: "It's late in coming, but it's worth the wait. This is the biggest advancement RUNT has ever had! Here's a few of the new things RUNT 4.0 has to offer: new logo (thanks to Ken Elliot); scripts to make USB booting easier then ever; the bootdisk can be created from the pen drive, you don't need to download the floppy image separately; keyboard layout selection by typing keymap at the boot prompt; based on Slackware 10.0 with kernel 2.4.26; now has support for nForce built in ethernet devices; forum online; Bugzilla for bug reporting online." Read the release announcement and installation instructions on the project's home page.
OpenLab GNU/Linux 3.2
A new version of OpenLab GNU/Linux has been released: "It gives me great pleasure to announce the release of OpenLab GNU/Linux version 3.2. OpenLab is a different approach to the design of a GNU/Linux distribution, built on the premise of 'working out of the box'. Version 3.2 makes significant strides toward an ever greater user experience. For example, OpenLab makes the setup of a thin-client server easier than it has ever been before. All you need to do is say 'yes' when asked if you want it. No further user input is required. ... Our prime focus has always been, and will always be education, and OpenLab includes many unique innovations and designs that allow it to function ever better in school environments." Read the rest of the release announcement.
Gentoo Linux 2004.3
As reported in the latest issue of Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, Gentoo Linux 2004.3 has been released: "This is the fourth and final release of Gentoo Linux in 2004, with its main focus on bug fixes and making the release tools more robust and easier to use. Releasing for 2004.3 are all the major architectures supported by Gentoo: amd64, hppa, ppc, sparc, x86, and an initial ppc64 release. ... 2004.3 has been pushed to the mirrors in the past few hours, and is also available via BitTorrent. Delivered to the public as scheduled by 0:00 UTC on Monday, 15 November 2004, it marks the last version in the quarterly schedule adopted for 2004 that is going to be replaced by six-monthly releases next year, with 2005.0 and 2005.1 to be expected in early and mid-2005." More information on the release pages and ChangeLog.
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The developers of MEPIS Linux have announced an internal beta release of ProMEPIS, a distribution designed for Linux enthusiasts and professionals. Besides standard software included in SimplyMEPIS, the ProMEPIS edition will come with a full complement of development and server applications, as well as GNOME packages. The internal beta test will be followed by a public release candidate. You can find out more about ProMEPIS in the beta release announcement.
Libranet GNU/Linux 3.0
A roadmap of the upcoming Libranet GNU/Linux 3.0 has been published on the distribution's web site. The current work revolves around package upgrades and improvements to the Adminmenu system administration module. The first beta release is scheduled for December 8, with a final release shortly after that.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
DistroWatch has moved
As many of you know, we moved DistroWatch.com to a new server late last week. The old Celeron 1.7GHz with 512MB of RAM was struggling during peak hours with over 70,000 visitors per day recorded on the main page during most working days in recent weeks. After evaluating several possibilities, we settled for a dedicated server by NetSonic.net, a company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The specifications of the new machine are impressive: dual Xeon 2.8GHz, 2GB of RAM, 160GB of hard disk space, and 1TB of bandwidth per month. This should last for a while.
We switched operating systems too - from Debian 3.0 Woody to FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE. The reason? After pondering various options, we found a strong inclination towards a more recent version of an operating system, something that won't need a major upgrade for several years. Some would argue that Debian releases are easy to upgrade, so we could have continued using Woody and upgrade as soon as Sarge is released. However, doing a major upgrade on a remote server is always risky, especially if it includes a kernel upgrade (we would feel nervous about the possibility of ending up with an unbootable system with no physical access to the machine). Furthermore, the Woody installation on the old server was no longer "vanilla", it included several new packages from backports.org, such as PHP and Postfix, which could possibly complicate the upgrade.
This highlights a major problem with Debian - long times between stable releases. While a two-year release cycle is not unreasonable for a pure server environment, anything more than that is bound to make people hesitate about its deployment. The world of software development is moving fast, and excellent new features, designed to save time and effort required to accomplish our computing tasks, are being implemented all the time. With Debian developers now talking about stable Sarge coming out as late as in January next year, it would mean that nearly 2.5 years will have passed between Woody and Sarge. That's unacceptably long.
Luckily, we happen to be living in an era of plenty, at least in terms of great operating system software available to us at no cost. We shortlisted a few distributions with Ubuntu Linux as one of the strongest contenders, but it was the maturity of the FreeBSD project and its reputation for being an extremely reliable operating system that eventually won us over. DistroWatch.com is now served by Apache 2.0.50 (compiled with the worker.c module) with PHP 5.0.2, all running on top of FreeBSD 5.3.
Unfortunately, migrating our PHP and (especially) Bash scripts from Debian to FreeBSD wasn't as straightforward as one would expect, given that both are essentially UNIX operating systems. There are a number of important differences between them, which had us stumped for a while. Many commands have different switches and some of our Bash scripts containing "stat", "date", "sed" and other commands needed to be re-written to conform to FreeBSD's implementation of those commands. Crontab too behaves differently on FreeBSD - it does not care about user's environment variables, so commands that are meant to run by crontab need to be specified with their full paths or the variables have to be defined within scripts. We had other (non-OS related) issues with some of our PHP and Bash scripts - some old "features" in PHP 4 and Bash 2 were deprecated in PHP 5 and Bash 3, so these scripts also needed attention.
Overall though, things have worked out quite nicely and we are happy to serve your favourite distribution web site from such a powerful machine. As always, it is likely that some bugs still remain on the site, so please email us if you spot any.
New distribution additions
Because of the server move, no new distributions were added to DistroWatch last week.
New on the waiting list
DistroWatch database summary
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 356
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 9
- Number of discontinued distributions: 42
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 76
That's all for today; see you again next Monday!
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|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
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|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
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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|