| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 262, 21 July 2008
Welcome to this year's 29th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Things picked up a bit this week, especially in developmental releases. In the news this week Mandriva announces their new netbook OS and Ubuntu geared up their community QA team. Our feature story this week was contributed by Steven Lake of www.raiden.net. Steven is a versatile writer penning software and hardware reviews, howtos, and opinions. I think he even has a book or two going on his site. We're pleased he's submitted an in-depth look at the latest Sabayon Linux for us today. This week in reviews of lesser covered distributions includes Myah OS, Blag 90000, and Simplis GNU/Linux.
All this and more in this week's DistroWatch Weekly - happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (14MB) and mp3 (13MB) formats (many thanks to Russ Wenner)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Review: Sabayon Linux 3.5
(by Steven Lake)
Just a little less than a year ago I reviewed Sabayon Linux 3.4a, and found it to be
a good distribution that was more or less a jack of all trades in many ways. The
ability to do multiple different desktop environments was quite a nice feature and allowed
it to be a one stop solution for more than just one particular group of people. So
what's new in version 3.5? A lot surprisingly enough, especially since it's only
grown by one subversion number.
For those curious about whether Sabayon will run on your system architecture, you may
be slightly disappointed to know that it only runs on x86 and x64 architectures. But
that's not a bad thing given its target market. And now let's get a look at what
Sabayon 3.5 offers.
To start things off I'm going to look at the LiveDVD as usual. One interesting
difference between 3.5 and 3.4a is that the ISO is smaller. 3.4a had a DVD ISO that
weighed in at a hefty 4.13gb. The newer 3.5 is slightly skinnier, weighing in at
only 3.9gb. That may be a meager 230 megabytes, but that's still a sizable bit of
trimming and slimming given that there's now two new features available on the install
that weren't available in the previous version, as well as other new software and tools in
the installed system. The boot screen starts off similar to the 3.4a boot screen,
but with some differences. Most notably is the addition of an EeePC boot
specifically for Asus' new wonder UMPC. Here's a complete list of what to expect
from the boot menu.
- Start Sabayon Linux 3.5
- Start without music (same as before)
- EeePC Boot (640x480 boot) <- this is new.
- Start Graphical Installation
- Start Text Installation
- XsistenCe (Persistent Home)
- Play with Sauerbraten (Game)
Two things you'll discover that are missing this time around is that Savage is no
longer a playable game in the boot menu, and Anonymous Internet Browsing is gone as well.
I suspect that either they weren't used enough, or enough problems occurred that
these were dropped. Everything else is pretty much unchanged, with everything right
where you'd expect it. At least on the boot level anyways. The graphical installer and the text installer are both nice, and they work quite well. If
you're in a hurry to install Sabayon, these would be the best, and most direct way to get
to the install screen and get Sabayon installed.
Initial loading time on the LiveDVD is decent, but nothing to write home about.
But I think that comes from having to process so many things as its booting up.
One of the evidences to this is that as it gets near the desktop it determines if your
machine is beefy enough to run Sabayon in all its glory (advanced mode) or if it's stuck
doing the regular stuff (standard mode). As hard as I tried, I couldn't convince it
to let me have the advanced graphics mode, so I really don't know what is in there, but I
suspect it's some pretty impressive Compiz based special effects.
Upon loading fully, the LiveDVD defaults to KDE for it's Desktop Environment at login,
but you also have the choice of using Gnome, Fluxbox, XFCE, and Metisse on either Gnome or
KDE. So there's definitely no shortage of choices for what desktop environment you
want. There's also a blank password for getting in, which baffles me, since I don't
understand why you need to login if the default user has no password. But I guess
that's not for me to decide.
Once on the desktop you're greeted by an interesting array of programs and games.
This time around the list of games is different. Gone is Savage and Danger
from the Deep, but in their place are a few new titles, including Battle for Wesnoth.
There is also a whole truckload of generic KDE and Gnome games for you to choose
from if you really feel bored. The LiveDVD environment itself is very snappy and
easy to use with a truckload of programs for you to choose from and some great names mixed
in there, including Firefox and Open Office.
Program load times are also impressive. You can also either partition drives
and/or install Sabayon right from the desktop if you find you like it well enough.
Another thing I loved about the LiveDVD was how well it handled hardware detection.
In many ways I think it did a far better job than even Ubuntu has, and that is saying a
lot since Ubuntu has one of the top five hardware detection systems in the entire Linux
biosphere. Interestingly enough, I think Sabayon just handed them their hat on that
one. But even though they got beat, it doesn't mean that they have to just take it
and live with it. Competition between distributions is what makes Linux so
interesting, and helps things improve. It's when there isn't any competition that
Overall though, given the huge list of applications (I'm not going to list them all,
but I will say that there are a lot of major names installed on the system, including
Firefox, Open Office, Picasa, Amarok, Gimp, Inkscape, K3B, Mplayer and more) that come
with it by default, I'm very impressed with the LiveDVD. Some might consider this to
be bloat given what's there, but I think it's great because it means that all I have to do
is boot the LiveDVD, and I'm off. No configuring, no installing, nothing. Just
boot and start using it, and never have to worry that your favorite programs are present
and ready for action!
Sabayon 3.5 offers several default Desktop choices
(full image size: 468kB, screen resolution: 1048x819 pixels)
Installing the system was just as easy as last time. Just click on the installer
and essentially just keep clicking next until you run out of screens. One of the
stops you will want to make in your flurry to install is to choose what desktop
environment you want to use by default. As mentioned earlier, you have the same
choice of using KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Fluxbox and a customized EeePC setup designed for use on
UMPC's, as you do when booting the LiveDVD environment. You can also run Sabayon as
a naked core Linux environment perfect for use as a server. This will leave you with
an install of Sabayon devoid of any desktop elements, but rich with useful server tools
and applications you can quickly put to use.
One thing to note thought during the install, if you choose to use KDE for your desktop
environment, you will find that it is using the new multitab KDE menu (not the new kicker,
but it's intermediate predecessor created by Suse) despite the fact that Sabayon 3.5 still
using KDE 3.5.9 for it's KDE desktop. You're also given the choice to install a
whole bunch of advanced features and extras, including Gnome and XFCE (Fluxbox is in there
by default), to allow you lots of choices when booting into your desktop.
Another nice addition is that the installer sets up all the necessary dependent
services, packages, and other elements you'll need once you boot into your installed
system. This includes access to Samba shares as well as printing via CUPS.
After you're past these parts, unless you have a reason to tweak your install any further,
you can just keep clicking next to complete the initial steps and begin the install.
Once it starts however, you may want to consider going and watching a movie, eating dinner
or doing something else. My install took over an hour to complete. But once
it's rolling, you have nothing to worry about. Final install size is about the same
as last time, weighing in at about 9 gigs with all features implemented, or about 1.5 gigs
on its leanest settings.
Boot time for Sabayon 3.5 is pretty good. You're up to the login screen typically
in about one minute or so. Once at the login screen, you have your typical choices
of sessions, as well as a few others. They include Acceleration Manager, Fluxbox,
Gnome, KDE 3.5, Metisse on Gnome, Metisse on KDE, and XFCE. This is of course
assuming you installed all the bells, whistles, and the complimentary kitchen sink with
hot and cold running water. If you haven't figured it out yet, Sabayon Linux is
essentially a Swiss Army Knife distro in that it has something for everyone.
One of the first things you'll find when you first load the desktop is that the icons
have changed. Now obviously this isn't a big deal, but what's changed might interest
you. All but one of the games is gone and it's a bit more tightly organized with a
link to the Spritz package manager, but it's nothing to panic over. Another thing
that caught my attention right away was that Sabayon wasted no time updating its package
lists, and getting me a complete list of all files and components that needed to be
updated. Updating is also very painless and easy to do. So the first time you
load Sabayon, be sure to update as soon as it tells you to. It's just good security
practice to ensure that you're using all the latest components.
Now if you're a KDE purist like myself, you might find yourself a bit put off by the
fact that the KDE panel is broken into two parts, with half the features in a smaller
panel at the top, and the rest on the standard panel at the bottom, as well as the new KDE
menu. But that is not something that's too hard to adjust, and with a few clicks you
can have a standard KDE taskbar once again, minus the old menu of course. Gnome
users will also find a few adjustments in their session as well, however XFCE and Fluxbox
There also appear to be some minor feature differences between the four desktop
environments, none of which are major, but they are noticeable. There are also
overlapping programs between the different environments. For example, in Gnome
you'll find applications such as Kalarm and numerous other KDE apps, the XFCE Thunar file
manager, and other things such as that. Of course if you don't install KDE or XFCE
along side of Gnome, or Gnome and XFCE alone side KDE, you won't see any of these other
applications in your respective program menus. They only show up if the other
environments are installed.
And really that's not a bad thing. I've found the mixture of Gnome, XFCE and KDE
applications to be quite useful and in many ways helpful, even if I am a diehard KDE user.
Another thing that might be interesting to some people is that Wine is installed as
well, as well as Wine-Doors, which makes installing Windows applications quick and easy.
Installing a printer in Sabayon is surprisingly easy. It's essentially just
point, click, add. Samba is also configured and ready to use, so that you can also
just point, click, and start accessing network shares with little trouble at all.
Browsing is still a bit shaky, but direct access to samba and NFS shares is drop dead
I did a bit more poking around in the system and tinkered with the Compiz
configurations. While I couldn't get them to work (likely due to the fact that my
system couldn't put out enough to meet the Acceleration Manger's minimum requirements),
there is a number of options available for some pretty serious eye candy if you're
interested, and your machine is capable. Configuration of wireless was point and
click easy, and there's also a new bluetooth configuration panel in the event that you
have any bluetooth enabled devices you need to use.
Sabayon 3.5 desktop features a bright new theme
(full image size: 118kB, screen resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
Sabayon 3.5 is a definite step up from 3.4a, despite only being a single subversion
higher. The improvements and changes allow for a very complete, complex, yet simple
and easy to use Linux distribution that can serve the needs of everyone from the UMPC and
older PC users to those with the latest, greatest hardware. Sabayon Linux 3.5 really
has a something for everyone, and it does an excellent job of fulfilling their motto of
"Dreams we can believe in." And Sabayon 3.5 is more than a dream I can
believe in, it's a reality I can use and trust.
You can find out more information about Sabayon Linux by either visiting their homepage or viewing their Distrowatch page.
You can download the latest
Mandriva's netbook OS, Flaw in Package Management, Ubuntu's Community QA, and Linus Interview
Rob Tiller, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, IP for Red Hat published the settlement agreement with Firestar this passed week. He said, "The free and open source software community is a spirited, independent-minded group of people who think for themselves. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have been numerous questions about the agreement and requests to make it publicly available. In the spirit of freedom and openness, we are happy to make the agreement public today." See their Reader's Guide for more information.
* * * * *
Justin Cappos from the University of Arizona ran an experiment to test the integrity of various package management solutions. He tested APT, APT-RPM, Pacman, Portage, Ports, Slaktool, Stork, Urpmi, Yast and YUM. His experiment consisted basically of setting up servers to act as repositories and then easily being listed by the distributions as repositories. His servers were then contacted by thousands of package managers trying to download and install software onto unsuspecting users' computers. The security implications are obvious, but they weren't unknown. You can read all about it here and openSUSE published their answer here.
* * * * *
Fedora ran elections for their Engineering Steering Committee last week and ending today. Results should be available shortly. In other news, the Fedora Privacy Statement was amended last week. Fedora collects personal information when you create a user account, participate in a survey or contest, and submit questions or comments to them. You can read the full policy here.
* * * * *
Debian reminded developers of the upcoming Lenny freeze this week. Some listed goals for 5.0 include full IPv6 support, switch /bin/sh to dash (Debian Almquist shell), support for python 2.5, and full large file support (LFS). The total number of release critical bugs currently remaining are 1559, minus 311 that have a patch available and 50 that are fixed awaiting upload. 95 are being ignored. Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 is expected in September.
* * * * *
simple-talk.com published an interesting interview with Linus Torvalds last week where he said that it would be sad if the Linux kernel wasn't someday rendered obsolete, but doesn't see it happening for a while. Does Linus think there are too many distributions? What distribution does he use these days? Doesn't sound like he cares too much for Gentoo or Arch, so what does he look for in a distribution? What does Linus think about Ballmer's "cancer" aphorism? Will there ever be a "Year of the Linux Desktop?" Find the answer to these questions and more on simple-talk.com
* * * * *
Mandriva announced their venture into the netbook arena this week. Early teasers have been circulating about GDium for a while, but Mandriva's announcement confirms it. Specs of the laptop include a 10", 1024x600 display, 900 Mhz 64bits Loongson 2F CPU by STMicroelectronics, 512MB DDR2 RAM, Silicon Motion SM502 graphics, a 4 to 16GB Flash G-Key, and a set of licensed multimedia codecs. See Mandriva's full announcement for more on that.
* * * * *
Ubuntu announced their new community quality assurance team this past week. Their mission is to develop "tools, policies, and practices for ensuring Ubuntu's quality as a distribution. It also provides general advice and oversight of QA activities within the Ubuntu project." Specifically, they will be doing bug triage, application testing, policy management, and development. One commenter on my site said, "Of all the dumbest things you could think of to off load to a bunch of untrained unmanaged [personnel], QA has to top the list." What do you think? Comment below. More at the QA Team wiki page.
|Released Last Week
BLAG Linux And GNU 90000
Jeff Moe announced the release of BLAG Linux And GNU 90000, a single-CD desktop distribution based on Fedora: "It has been a while since I've sent out an announcement, but quite a bit has happened since our last release, 70000. Alpha releases based on Fedora 8 and 9 made regular appearances. Linux-libre, a project to make a branch of the Linux kernel with non-free software removed, has flourished. This is the first "major" release of BLAG to include this kernel by default... We have a new repository tracking Fedora rawhide, with always the latest and greatest, it's BLAGHEAD: Software from the Future. A new mailing list has been added." Read the complete release announcement for further details.
Gibraltar Firewall 2.6
Rene Mayrhofer announced the release of Gibraltar Firewall 2.6, a Debian-based firewall distribution: "We are pleased to announce Gibraltar release 2.6. It will be the last version based on kernel 2.4, the next Gibraltar release 3.0 will use kernel 2.6. Major new features in this release include official support for "Snort" as intrusion detection system and full integration of the Puresight Enterprise variant for advanced user-based authorization and reporting. Additionally, this release: now allows SSL Explorer (TM) plugins to be installed; substantially improves traffic shaping performance; supports transparent virus scanning for HTTP, POP3, and FTP even without a harddisk; and includes the beginning of full WLAN access point functionality. At this time, Atheros-based cards are supported and can be configured via the web interface. Future releases will expand on this to e.g. include full 802.1x support." See the full release announcement and changelog for more information.
CentOS 5.2 Live CD
Patrice Guay announced the release of CentOS 5.2 i386 live CD: "The CentOS Development team is pleased to announce the availability of the CentOS 5.2 i386 Live CD. This CD is based on our CentOS-5.2 i386 distribution. It can be used as a Workstation, with the following software: openoffice.org 2.3.0, firefox 3.0, thunderbird 2.0.0, pidgin 2.3.1, scribus 220.127.116.11, xchat 2.6.6, k3b 0.12.17, gimp 2.2.13. It can also be used as a rescue CD with the following tools: memtest86+-1.65, Full set of LVM and RAID command line tools, QTParted, Nmap and NMapFE, traceroute, samba-3.0.28 with cifs kernel support to connect to Windows file shares, System Log Viewer, GUI Hardware Device Manager." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
The first update to the 0.7 release of BeleniX, a live CD based on OpenSolaris, is now available: "This update brings in the latest development OpenSolaris build 93 and updates to KDE 3.5.9 among other changes, bugfixes. Since this release also includes the latest Caiman installer, upgrades from this release will become possible going forward. A complete list of changes is below: Based on ON Build 93 that has new drivers (like ATIgfx) among other stuff; Included the rum driver; Nvidia driver updated to 173.14.05; OSS updated to 4.0-1016; Updated Fully Open X bits; KDE updated to 3.5.9 and some upstream patches removed; Firefox 3.0.1; /sbin/sh is now ksh93; Sham's RAM based Boot integrated - In Grub screen select more options to see that boot option..." Read the full release announcement for more.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Reviewed Last Week
Last week Myah OS got tested by two sites with differing results while Arch lured a user away from Ubuntu. Red Devil likens BLAG GNU and Linux 90000 to Che Guevara and Dr. Saleem Khan introduces us to Simplis GNU/Linux.
* Linux.com believes Myah OS is not quite ready:
The makers of Myah, by creating the package manager and building the distribution from scratch, have built a distribution with great potential for a certain niche. With a few minor bug fixes and a simple change in the installer to switch passwords, it could be ready for less experienced Linux users. At the moment, however, Myah OS is not ready for anyone but beta testers.
* * * * *
* However Steve Lawson of Red Devil's Blog didn't quite agree. He said of Myah:
In the week or so I have had Dragon running, it has never faltered ? no bugs in the software, no crashes or freezes ? so Myah OS scores highly in terms of system stability. I am finding it hard to find something major to criticise in Dragon. So the only major question I was left asking myself was: Is this a distribution which will endure once that cartoon cute factor wears off? And the answer, in my opinion, is a resounding 'Yes'.
* * * * *
* antonywilliams.com was impressed by Arch Linux because
it's more stable, faster, updated more frequently and more customisable. Arch is intended to be simple. Not simple meaning easy, but simple meaning clean. By minimising unneeded modules and Daemons I'm able to boot Arch Linux in about 17 seconds. Isn't that amazing?
You'll never need to reinstall again. You just have to run 'sudo pacman -Syu' every now and then, and you'll automatically be updated to the latest version.
* * * * *
* Linux.com looked at Arch Linux as well. They conclude:
Arch Linux is a distro designed for users who like to be in control of what apps are installed on their systems. Unlike other distros with similar objectives, Arch doesn't sacrifice ease of use completely. It uses BSD-style init scripts, which eases configuration tasks, and a dependency-resolving package manager that helps keep the system updated. All in all, Arch is a nice distro for users who wish to learn about Linux and mold their Linux systems without breaking into a sweat.
* * * * *
* Red Devil's Tech Blog also tested the oft overlooked BLAG Linux And GNU 90000 last week. It wasn't a traditional review, but it is an interesting read. He says:
Suffice it to say that BLAG 90000 is based on Fedora, uses the outstanding Anaconda installer and is really easy to use and maintain. What I want to focus on instead is what I hinted at earlier: BLAG 90000's attitude. Every time I use BLAG 90000, I cannot help thinking of Che Guevara. Che campaigned and fought against inequality, monopolistic capitalism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. When you first launch BLAG 90000, the boot splash contains a message: "Novelty is oblivion". It is a precursor of what is to follow...
* * * * *
* Dr. Saleem Khan took a look at a new distribution yesterday. In his blog post he said of Simplis GNU/Linux:
I personally feel that Simplis team has adopted Vixta.org as base and added their own graphics and included the commonly used packages and multimedia support so that the end users don't have to worry about getting these later. There is an additional point to note here that Simplis team has avoided saying that Simplis resembles in looks to Windows which identifies them from Vixta.org.
Ladislav is still on his vacation this week and I'm still filling in. Again, if you'd like to share any good distro news with me and the Distrowatch Weekly readers in the next couple of weeks, you may email me at srlinuxx at gmail dot com. I want to thank Steven for the wonderful review and Dr. W T Zhu for his invaluable assistance.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next installment will be published on Monday, 28 July 2008.
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
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