| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 159, 10 July 2006
Welcome to this year's 28th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! As the Debian Weekly News celebrates its five years of existence, some of our readers will be pleased to learn about a renewed effort to port the world's largest Linux distribution to the MINIX kernel. On the not so positive side, the Debian/Ubuntu world was rocked by a Debian developer's revelation that there is still much tension between the two projects. Good reviews continue to follow the recent development release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, while a new FreeBSD-based live CD project should cause some welcome excitement among the BSD geeks. In the First Looks section, we'll evaluate a commercial Linux distribution from Japan - Turbolinux 11 "Fuji" International edition. Happy reading!
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Five years of DWN, Debian GNU/MINIX, Fedora and DejaVu, TrueBSD|
As noted in last week's Debian Weekly News, the weekly newsletter of the Debian GNU/Linux developer and user community has completed five years of existence: "The DWN is a weekly online edition which informs about what is going on in the Debian community and was first published in 1999 by Joey Hess." The first issue, which was published in January 1999, has some interesting information about the start of the 2.2 kernel development series, a story about Richard Stallman's experience in installing Debian (together with a predictable complaint about the easy availability of non-free applications in the distribution), and news about the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 "slink", which eventually shipped in March of that year. A nice read for the nostalgic amongst us.
* * * * *
As widely reported on many Linux news sites, tension between Debian and Ubuntu developers continues to brew underneath the blanket of seemingly peaceful coexistence between the two projects. Explains Martin Krafft, a Debian developer and the author of the excellent The Debian System - Concept and Techniques: "In discussions with Mark Shuttleworth and other Ubuntu developers during Debconf6, I was able to spell out the main criticisms of the way Canonical/Ubuntu is handling things from the Debian perspective." The author provides details and also solutions for the main points of friction between the two projects, namely some technical issues, such as the way Ubuntu presents patches which are often incompatible with the way Debian works, and philosophical issues, e.g. jealousy between the two development groups. Worth a read if you are interested in the current state of affairs in the two distributions.
* * * * *
Some interesting news for those of you who took part in our recent discussion about MINIX in DistroWatch Weekly. According to this mailing list post, Debian's Jaldhar H. Vyas has done some initial work on porting Debian applications and utilities to the MINIX kernel: "I've done a lot of compiling of packages over the past few months, but avoided the hard parts of a full port; also my build machine has become severely limited in disk space. Next week I'm getting a replacement and at that time I'll tidy things up and hopefully start making faster progress." Called "Preventa", the author has set up an initial project page to track the port's progress. There is nothing to download yet, but at least there is intent, which will no doubt please the many MINIX fans among DistroWatch readers ;-).
* * * * *
The Fedora project has issued a call for testing of the DejaVu font family, which is scheduled to become the default font in the new Fedora Core 6: "DejaVu is the most popular FLOSS derivative of the Bitstream Vera font family. DejaVu is currently consolidating the Vera forks initiated after it become clear Vera would not be updated or fixed any time soon (the last Vera release was done April 16, 2003). The main DejaVu aims are quality (fix all the problems of existing Vera glyphs) and coverage (extend Vera beyond its current Latin-9 limits: Cyrillic, Greek, Armenian, Arabic, etc)." DejaVu is already used as the default font in a number of major distributions. While it is certainly a beautiful font for displaying text written in the Latin alphabet, some Fedora developers are concerned that it is not yet ready to become the standard font for users of several Asian writing systems, notably Arabic, Chinese and Persian.
* * * * *
Mad Penguin continues its series of comprehensive reviews with a thorough evaluation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10: "The attention to detail is evident at every turn, right down to using the right icons for mounted devices. For instance, if you were to plug a white iPod into the system, and then plug in a black one, you will see two icons: One depicting a white iPod. One depicting a black iPod. See what I mean? ... SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is a very capable, industrial strength desktop which is ready to take on basic desktop chores in the corporate environment, and for the price you simply cannot go wrong. Two thumbs up to Novell for redefining the way I look at the desktop operating system." This is another highly positive review of the latest desktop Linux product from Novell, which is turning out to be a real winner!
* * * * *
Our recent roundup of the BSD live CDs has attracted much feedback. One of the more interesting emails we received on the subject was from Edson Brandi, FreeBSD User Group in Brazil, who pointed out a factual error in our article: "I'm the founder of FreeBSD User Group Brazil (FUG-BR). Reading your article i see that you made a little mistake - in your text about FreeSBIE you say 'FreeSBIE 1.2 - the original live CD based on FreeBSD'. This is incorrect. FUG-BR was the first group in the world to release a FreeBSD live CD; our project was born in 2001 as a rescue disk, and in 2002 we also released a set of shell scripts to make it possible for anyone to create a FreeBSD live CD. In contrast, FreeSBIE was only launched in November 2002 and was created with the help of the FUG-BR scripts." Although FUG-BR no longer develops its FreeBSD live CD, its early work was responsible for helping to launch FreeSBIE and possibly other BSD live CDs available today.
* * * * *
And while on the topic of BSD live CDs, here is some information about a new project called TrueBSD. Launched by a group of Russian developers (correction: the developers of TrueBSD seem to come from Belarus), the project's first official release, version 0.1-RC1, is based on FreeBSD 6.1 and uses XFce and Ion window managers. Besides several popular desktop applications, such as AbiWord (version 2.2.8), Firefox (184.108.40.206), Gaim (1.5.0), MPlayer (0.99.7) and Sylpheed (2.2.6), the live CD also comes with a handful of server software, including Apache (1.3.33), PHP (4.4.0) and MySQL (4.1.18). The project's web site is currently in Russian only and so is the default desktop and some of the included configuration utilities; nevertheless, those of you who can find your ways around a UNIX system will no doubt appreciate this new toy. The project's download server has severe limits on the number of simultaneous connections, but hopefully the TrueBSD developers will set up new mirror sites soon.
TrueBSD - a new live CD based on FreeBSD
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Turbolinux 11 International Edition
Although Turbolinux 11 "Fuji" was originally released in Japan in November last year, it wasn't until the end of May 2006 that the Japanese distribution maker announced availability of the "International" edition. The product, which sells for US$39.00 and which can be ordered from a US-based online store, is one of the few commercial distributions available today. But is it worth the asking price? And more importantly, with the large number of Linux distributions available on the Internet free of charge, is there anything in Turbolinux that makes it a product worth recommending?
The International edition of Turbolinux 11 arrived wrapped in a CD-size plastic container with three CDs and a single A4 sheet containing "Release Notes". The distribution is built on top of a slightly older kernel 2.6.13, and includes glibc 2.3.5, X.Org 6.8.2, GCC 3.4.3, KDE 3.4.2 and OpenOffice.org 2.0.2. Besides free software, the product also comes with a number of non-free applications, such as Acrobat Reader, RealPlayer and Flash Player. I installed Turbolinux 11 on a 5-year old system with Intel Pentium 4 1.4 GHz, an ASUS P4T mainboard, a Matrox Millennium G450 graphics card, 384MB or RDRAM, a Realtek 8139too network card, an on-board Intel sound card, and a 17-inch generic LCD monitor.
The installer is the venerable Mongoose, originally based on Red Hat's Anaconda, but bearing little resemblance to its more famous parent after several years of independent development. The installation starts with language configuration (English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are supported), then continues through the usual steps of selecting partitions, creating users, setting the root password and configuring hardware. Most of the hardware configuration is done automatically. The Turbolinux installer is excellent and does the job of getting the operating system to the hard disk with minimum of fuss, but without taking away choice.
"Fuji" offers an intuitive desktop with many of its elements and terminology borrowed from Windows XP
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After the installation and the initial reboot I found myself looking at a standard KDE desktop with a Turbolinux wallpaper and slightly altered taskbar and menus. Especially the K menu had been simplified and some items renamed to resemble those found in Windows XP, while some of the folders (e.g. My Computer, My Documents) had also been re-branded to make Windows converts more at home. The system tray contained a networking applet and a "Turboalert" icon indicating the availability of security and bug fix updates.
For Turboalert to work, however, it was first necessary to "obtain a license". And this is where I started noticing some similarities between Turbolinux 11 and another commercial distribution released recently - Xandros Desktop 4. In both cases the product would work, but access to software updates required the extra registration step. Turbolinux's registration was more straightforward than the one thought out by Xandros, as it only required inputting the serial number found on the rub of the CD pack.
Once registered, I was able to start Turboplus - the distribution's software management program similar to Xandros Networks. Turboplus provides an intuitive way for installing and uninstalling software and plugins, as well as software updates, but unlike Xandros Networks, it does not give access to extra applications; in other words, what you get on the three CDs is all that's available; beyond that you are on your own. And although Turboplus worked as advertised, it doesn't quite compare to Xandros Networks in terms of information it provides, access to software and advanced features.
Turboplus - a utility to manage software and receive updates on Turbolinux 11
(full image size: 69kB, resolution: 832x726 pixels)
Turboplus is the only "in-house" program supplied in this edition of Turbolinux. Unlike Xandros Desktop 4, which includes a number of proprietary applications and enhancements, Turbolinux 11 is almost exclusively free and freely available software; in fact even the "Turbo Media Player" is just a re-branded edition of Kaffeine 0.7.1. And while the distribution offers support for MP3 playback and gtkpod iPod communication utility, playback of encoded DVDs is not available out of the box.
After spending a weekend investigating the latest release from Turbolinux, I couldn't help noticing a few bugs which indicated that, unlike the distribution's earlier releases, the product did not go through a very rigorous testing procedure. As an example, I installed Turbolinux three times to three different partitions, but the installer failed to configure the bootloader on all three occasions. Also, the DVD drive in /dev/hdb was incorrectly set up, so inserting any CD or DVD into the drive would fail to mount automatically (the CD-RW drive in /dev/hdd was configured correctly though). And an application crash resulted in a core dump right in my home directory - a rather unsightly stain on a distribution that was designed for non-technical users.
Despite the admittedly short time I spent putting Turbolinux 11 through its paces, I couldn't help asking myself the purpose of this commercial Linux distribution. Yes, it looks nice and is stable enough to become an operating system of choice for some users, while it is certainly very intuitive to entice new Windows-to-Linux converts. But so are other Linux distributions, many of which are free to download and use. Besides, if somebody prefers a commercial distribution with technical support, Xandros Desktop 4 seems to offer a lot more bang for the money.
There is one particular speciality of this product that some users might find useful - its support for Japanese and Chinese input. While most mainstream distributions offer the functionality, there is a difference between integrating it into the system and simply providing the tools, as those of you who have tried using the complex Asian languages on some of the main distribution can attest. Turbolinux has been a leader in support for Japanese and Chinese input on Linux and although it uses free tools to achieve this, the company's know-how and experience are still head and shoulders above most other distributions, whether free or commercial.
The "langsel" tool offers on-the-fly switch between four languages, but notice the missing Chinese character on the highlighted line.
(full image size: 69kB, resolution: 732x636 pixels)
In conclusion, the US$40 Turbolinux 11 Fuji "International" edition is a fairly decent product, especially for new Linux users and those who need good support for Chinese or Japanese input under Linux. Nevertheless, it suffers from bugs, lack of attention to detail, out-dated applications, and absence of useful enhancements that would make it worth the asking price. In the commercial distribution space it doesn't compare well with Xandros Desktop 4 on features, while even many free distributions, such as Ubuntu, SUSE or Fedora are possibly better options for the majority of Linux users.
For more information about Turbolinux 11 International edition please visit the product pages at Turbolinux.com.
|Released Last Week
The project developing Gentoox, a Gentoo-based operating system for the Xbox, has announced a number of new releases: "New release: Gentoox Home v5.0. Summary: Gentoox Loader v6.04; updated software as of 29th July 2006; fully synced with magic as of 29th July 2006; on screen keyboard in GDM activated by hitting 'B' 5 times; KDE 3.5.2 and XFce 4.2.x; ext3 file system; junk moved out of local.start and local.stop; checkroot / checkfs bug fixed; Sparkle 2.0; ALSA and kernel ebuilds made to be more compatible with Gentoo; Linux kernel 2.4.32." Besides Gentoox Home, the project's Pro, Sparkle and Resctoox editions have all been updated; see the release announcement for more details.
StartCom Enterprise Linux 4.0.2
An updated version of StartCom Enterprise Linux has been released: "The updated release of the StartCom Enterprise Linux AS-4 series received the YUM Extender as its new package and software updater, as well as the 1.5 Firefox browser and Thunderbird mail client. This, together with additional 200 updated packages, makes this stable and proven operating system the work horse for your mission critical enterprise applications. The YUM Extender, a graphical front-end application for YUM, makes the installing, removing of software packages and updating of your system even more easy." Read the brief press release for further information.
Michael Zanetta has announced the release of Mini-Pentoo 2006.1, a Gentoo-based mini live CD with the Enlightenment desktop and a selection of tools designed for penetration testing. From the changelog: "Added WiFi injection support for Madwifi-ng, Hostap, wlan-ng, rtl8180, prism54/GT; integrated portagedb so no need for the module during install; created an MPlayer module; added some Firefox extensions (Live-Http-Headers, Temper-data, ShowIP, No-Referrer); updated Nessus, Yersinia, bluediving, metasploit, nmap, kernel (2.6.16); added Kismet auto-configure script based on airmon-ng, Pentoo installer, Wifitap, tcpdump, Bluetooth stack smasher...."
Marcel J. Zwiebel has announced the availability of a new release of Nonux, a Slackware-based desktop-oriented distribution and live CD (with Dropline GNOME as its desktop environment) designed for use in Dutch-speaking business environments. What's new in Nonux 3.1? Upgraded Linux kernel to version 220.127.116.11, upgraded GNOME to version 2.14.2, upgraded OpenOffice.org to version 2.0.3, upgraded Evolution to version 2.6.2, and upgraded Mozilla Firefox to version 18.104.22.168. Ekiga, GnuPG and Liferea have also been upgraded to newer versions. Find a complete changelog on the distribution's news page (in Dutch).
GParted LiveCD 0.2.5-3
Patrick Verner has announced the release of a new version of GParted LiveCD. What's new? "I added some goodies people have been asking for: Partimage, GRUB, rsync, fdisk, cfdisk, and sfdisk. Links has also been included to view LarryT's documentation while running the live CD and live USB. Some other stuff was upgraded like adding a shut-down menu and the entire layout of the root file system. The entire root file system is compressed with SquashFS and the boot process has been vastly changed. This saved almost 5 MB to add extras. The kernel was also updated to Linux 22.214.171.124." Here is the full release announcement with changelog.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- EDU-Nix. EDU-Nix is Gentoo-based live CD with KDE. The project's main goal is to provide US public schools with an open source alternative to proprietary software products.
- Shift Linux. A project by Neowin.net, Shift Linux is a new Debian/Morphix-based Linux distribution with Fluxbox and the goal of serving the (mostly) Windows user community at Neowin.net.
- TrueBSD. TrueBSD is a new general purpose live CD based on FreeBSD, using XFce and Ion window managers. The project's web site is in Russian.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
It's that time of the year when your DistroWatch maintainer takes a break from his everyday routine of reporting about new distribution releases and writing DistroWatch Weekly. Although I am not planning to touch a computer during my much needed 3-week break in South Pacific, DistroWatch will continue as normal - the news section will be maintained by Dr W T Zhu (who has been helping with the site for nearly four years), while DistroWatch Weekly will be in the hands of an experienced reviewer and Linux enthusiast - Susan Linton from Tuxmachines. See you all later!
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Issue 518 (2013-07-29): MidnightBSD 0.4, Razor-qt, Ubuntu Edge, mounting infected drives|
|• Issue 517 (2013-07-22): Zorin OS 7 "Lite", Slackware turns 20, UbuntuForums compromise, Raspbian as home server, Tor|
|• Issue 516 (2013-07-15): Review of Fedora 19 "KDE", Shuttleworth on Mir, Seth Vidal, Kingsoft Office for Linux|
|• Issue 515 (2013-07-08): Whonix 0.5.6 and Deepin 12.12, MintBox, processor capabilities, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 514 (2013-07-01): Peppermint Four, Mir, Mandriva forks, ThinkPenguin on libre hardware|
|• Issue 513 (2013-06-24): Look at ROSA, PC-BSD updates, Xen4CentOS6, Slacko vs Precise, Mageia interview, shells|
|• Issue 512 (2013-06-17): Trisquel 6.0, RHEL 7 with GNOME Classic, from Linux to FreeBSD, first look at Wayland|
|• Issue 511 (2013-06-10): Mint 15 impressions, GNOME Classic, Ubuntu Community portal, Absolute OpenBSD|
|• Issue 510 (2013-06-03): Impressions of aptosid 2013-01, Wayland comes to Raspberry Pi, maintaining DNS settings|
|• Issue 509 (2013-05-27): Mageia 3, Debian GNU/Hurd, RebeccaBlackOS with Wayland, ports|
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Full list of all issues|
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