| 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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(The Podcast edition is provided by Shawn Milo.)
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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.
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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.
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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 ;-).
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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.
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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 (188.8.131.52), 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
(full image size: 113kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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
(full image size: 362kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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 184.108.40.206, 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 220.127.116.11. 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 18.104.22.168." 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 637 (2015-11-23): NixOS 15.09, Antergos introduces ZFS support, MINIX shares new features, copying an OS to a new computer|
|• Issue 636 (2015-11-16): openSUSE 42.1, Fedora uses Wayland by default, Debian replaces live CD project, Steam consoles launch|
|• Issue 635 (2015-11-09): Fedora 23, Cinnamon 2.8 released, a Fedora KDE packager quits, Red Hat signs deal with Microsoft|
|• Issue 634 (2015-11-02): Ubuntu 15.10, Chakra upgrades to Plasma 5, OpenMandriva plans new editions, MINIX plans conference|
|• Issue 633 (2015-10-26): GhostBSD 10.1, Bodhi Linux to get new settings panel, Fedora 23 delayed, creating live image of existing OS|
|• Issue 632 (2015-10-19): Linux Lite 2.6, 32-bit build of CentOS, OpenBSD turns 20, Bodhi Linux releases AppPack|
|• Issue 631 (2015-10-12): Parsix 8.0, Manjaro seeks new artwork, sending commands to multiple servers, Debian drops LSB support|
|• Issue 630 (2015-10-05): Android-x86 4.4-r3, Ubuntu's new installer, Raspbian defaults to GUI interface, cleaning out dot files|
|• Issue 629 (2015-09-28): Open source desktops and touch interfaces, locking down user accounts, OpenMandriva opens gaming documentation|
|• Issue 628 (2015-09-21): Neptune 4.4, changes to pfSense, Pinguy OS releases updated ISO images, accessing hard disk images|
|• Issue 627 (2015-09-14): Mageia 5, Snappy co-exists with Debian packages, creating PDF/A documents, Antergos previews Poodle|
|• Issue 626 (2015-09-07): Status of Wayland and Mir, Cinnamon improvements, an OpenBSD hypervisor, HAMMER2 gets deduplication|
|• Issue 625 (2015-08-31): OpenELEC 5.0.8, Fedora's new Wayland features, Tails releases update, the LILO boot loader|
|• Issue 624 (2015-08-24): Zorin OS 10, Sabayon's new features, Solus seeks funding, Debian turns 22, new PC-BSD repository|
|• Issue 623 (2015-08-17): VectorLinux 7.1, Ubuntu One source released, Moksha Desktop ships in Bodhi, Fedora developers debate Chromium|
|• Issue 622 (2015-08-10): antiX 15, Fedora tests kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI issues, word processors for the CLI|
|• Issue 621 (2015-08-03): Point Linux 3.0, Debian drops Sparc, Fedora package stats, VirtualBox 5.0|
|• Issue 620 (2015-07-27): Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Linux Bible, Ubuntu MATE gets new Welcome app, Telegram on Fedora, Plasma Mobile|
|• Issue 619 (2015-07-20): SolydXK 201506, Tanglu's new bug tracker, FSF and Canonical negotiate licensing, Haiku unveils new init system|
|• Issue 618 (2015-07-13): Semplice Linux 7, openSUSE derivatives, Debian adopts GCC 5, Docker ported to FreeBSD|
|• Issue 617 (2015-07-06): Alpine linux 3.2.0, Fedora on MIPS CPUs, Solus offers daily builds, Ubuntu migrating to Snappy|
|• Issue 616 (2015-06-29): MidnightBSD 0.6, openSUSE's "42", encryption added to the ext4 file system, FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 615 (2015-06-22): Raspbian 2015, Fedora works around Intel driver issue, openSUSE adopts GCC 5, frozen desktop while copying files|
|• Issue 614 (2015-06-15): Chromixium OS 1.0, Debian 8.1 released, OpenBSD running in the cloud, sudo myths|
|• Issue 613 (2015-06-08): Fedora 22, Cinnamon 2.6 released, FreeBSD's history, working around Secure Boot|
|• Issue 612 (2015-06-01): Manjaro OpenRC, Debian, Devuan and systemd, Fedora 22 released, Mandriva closes its doors|
|• Issue 611 (2015-05-25): Kubuntu 15.04, openSUSE adopts Plasma 5, Ubuntu's Snappy, words from Debian's Neil McGovern|
|• Issue 610 (2015-05-18): NethServer 6.6, interview with Neil McGovern, CentOS supports AArach64, Foresight discontinued|
|• Issue 609 (2015-05-11): OpenIndiana 2015.03, LXLE 14.04, PC-BSD Current, creating ISO images, Ask A Leader with Peter Ganten|
|• Issue 608 (2015-05-04): Debian 8.0, Bodhi forks Enlightenment, new Debian GNU/Hurd release, distribution release frequency|
|• Issue 607 (2015-04-27): Ubuntu 15.04, Chapeau 21, Debian 8.0 features, Fedora 22 Beta details|
|• Issue 606 (2015-04-20): Linux Mint 2 "LMDE", Matthew Miller, Debian's new Project Leader, Evolve OS name change|
|• Issue 605 (2015-04-13): SuperX 3.0, HAMMER2 features, Linux 4.0, Vince Pooley, Google Code closing|
|• Issue 604 (2015-04-06): Void 20150221, Haiku's commercial partners, Debian release date, Tumbleweed features|
|• Issue 603 (2015-03-30): Tails 1.3, LibreOffice Online, Linux Firewalls book review, Kubuntu with Plasma 5|
|• Issue 602 (2015-03-23): Bodhi Linux 3.0.0, distro popularity, OpenBSD's new web server, GNU Manifesto turns 30|
|• Issue 601 (2015-03-16): Ubuntu MATE 14.10, modern distros for old hardware, AppArmor in Debian, Fedora 22 Alpha|
|• Issue 600 (2015-03-09): Korora 21, distro diversity, Ubuntu gets systemd, PC-BSD security features|
|• Issue 599 (2015-03-02): Sabayon 15.02, creating good passwords, new YaST modules, LMDE preview
|• Issue 598 (2015-02-23): Netrunner 14.1, Vivaldi web browser, Debian election, Cinnamon improvements|
|• Issue 597 (2015-02-16): MakuluLinux MCDE 2.0, Ubuntu phones launch, m0n0wall ceases development, live Linux updates|
|• Issue 596 (2015-02-09): ArchBSD 2014.09.04, encrypted e-mail, Fedora upgrade stats, FreeBSD's support policy|
|• Issue 595 (2015-02-02): ExTiX 15.1, Destroying encrypted data, openSUSE election, OSDisc statistics|
|• Issue 594 (2015-01-26): KaOS 2014.12, Commercial distros, Snappy Ubuntu, PackageKit fixes|
|• Issue 593 (2015-01-19): ReactOS 0.3.17, Unity on Mir, Bluetooth support, openSUSE election|
|• Issue 592 (2015-01-12): Mint 17.1, load averages, binary logs, GNOME Software|
|• Issue 591 (2015-01-05): Manjaro 0.8.11, systemd, Devuan, Torrent Corner|
|• Issue 590 (2014-12-22): Fedora 21, Ubuntu phone, expanding ZFS storage, Able2Extract|
|• Issue 589 (2014-12-15): Parsix 7.0, Ubuntu "Snappy", PC-BSD upgrades, How Linux Works|
|• Issue 588 (2014-12-08): PC-BSD 10.2, rolling-release Ubuntu GNOME, Bitrig, systemd|
|• Issue 587 (2014-12-01): Trisquel 7.0, Kubuntu 14.10 "Plasma5", FreeBSD on 64-bit ARM, Jolla and UbuTab|
|• Full list of all issues|
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