| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 359, 21 June 2010
Welcome to this year's 25th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Besides being a popular buzzword of technology circles, the "cloud" is also a useful concept that is available to Linux users today. Today's feature article introduces a new distribution, Peppermint OS, which has elevated cloud computing to a new stratum - by combining the traditional desktop with a set of applications that are hosted on the Internet. As our reviewer finds out, the result is an interesting, albeit sometimes confusing experience. In the news section, the international Mandriva community writes an open letter to Mandriva, openSUSE continues discussion on the distro's future strategies, and Debian announces a completion of several major package transitions and a possible freeze of the "testing" repository in August. Also in this issue, more on the upcoming DistroWatch package database update, an opinion on the lack of up-to-date Slackware-based live CDs, and a collection of links to various solutions for eliminating the sound of vuvuzelas from your media player. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (39MB) and MP3 (56MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
An introduction to Peppermint OS
Earlier this year a pair of developers put out a new distribution called Peppermint OS. The new distro, which has close family ties to Ubuntu, is an experiment in combining the traditional desktop computing model with cloud-based applications. Usually this combination would be enough for me to lose interest (there are only so many cloud-centric and Ubuntu-based projects a person can look at before their eyes glaze over), but the Peppermint OS project has a few things going for it.
First off, Peppermint OS has one of the most appealing, visually, websites I've seen. Some projects focus heavily on technical features while others throw around hype and pretty graphics, while the odd few strike a useful balance. Peppermint's site is one of those balanced few, where the hype and graphics greet new users and there is still plenty of technical talk and support on the inside. The second item working in its favour is hardware support. Peppermint OS is, as you may suspect from its name, closely related to Linux Mint, to date the only distribution which has correctly detected and configured all of my hardware. Finally, Peppermint seems to have attracted a large and vocal user base, considering the project's short life thus far, and my inbox has been filling up with requests to see this operating system get the attention they feel it deserves.
Prior to firing up the project's live CD, I had a chance to talk with Peppermint's founders, Kendall Weaver and Shane Remington.
* * * * *
DW: Why did Peppermint get started? What does it provide that other distributions might not?
KW: Peppermint was actually started back in January after Shane Remington and I had a few too many at the bar and decided we needed to build a new Linux distro. We wanted clean integration with social networks and that was about it. Our initial builds were using KDE and were quite big. After taking a look at a lot of what seemed to be coming up in Ubuntu 10.04 at the time, we decided we needed to re-base and try to offer something fresher and faster. The name Peppermint came from us wanting the polish of Linux Mint, but a lot spicier.
We decided to go the route of offering clean integration between web applications and native desktop applications. I decided on Mozilla Prism for its ease of use so I threw together an ISO image based on Lubuntu, but with most of the local apps replaced with web apps and we put it into a private beta. Within a few days of starting the beta we realized we were onto something with a lot of potential so I wrote a custom front-end for Prism to directly integrate web apps with the LXDE menu and started spinning ISOs to test for a public release.
Essentially what we're offering is a light and fast system that gives you quick and easy web app integration but without sacrificing the traditional desktop model. It seems that almost every system currently available is trying to focus exclusively on either being a better desktop system or a better cloud system. We asked ourselves why it had to be one or the other, why couldn't these two approaches for an operating system fuse into one? That's where we come in.
DW: Peppermint has a long family line, going back through Mint, Ubuntu and Debian. Why did you decide to base Peppermint on Mint?
KW: Actually, Peppermint is a Lubuntu fork, coming from Lubuntu 10.04 alpha 3, to be more specific. It does use some of the Mint tools and some of the lower level configuration files, but it's not based on Mint. As you may not know, I'm also the maintainer of the LXDE and Fluxbox editions of Linux Mint. Having seen first-hand the level of quality control that goes into testing the Mint tools and the drive for user friendliness, it seemed an obvious fit to take advantage of some of the components. For example, Mint uses a custom implementation of APT that combines many of the most common and most powerful commands from apt-get, aptitude, and dpkg together into a remarkably efficient system that covers everything from basic installation to package building and maintenance. We're also making use of the Mint software and update managers, along with a simple keyboard/mouse settings tool I developed for Mint Fluxbox with the help of my friend Ikey.
DW: Peppermint seems to have a lot of focus on cloud computing. Yet there are also instructions on the site for removing all cloud-related software. Do you feel there is a lot of demand for cloud applications and storage?
SR: Absolutely. As humans we are evolving along with technology and this trend is leading us into advanced mobility which means that tools and applications will need to be developed to transition us to that place. Having an omnipresent network or cloud is not such a new idea and has been alluded to by many science fiction authors over the years. Some see this as scary but we see it as the next logical step in how we will all interact and exchange information. It will be the norm and we expect Linux to play a major role in creating and maintaining its infrastructure.
As far as the web and cloud applications that ship with Peppermint, we were accused in the beginning of bundling web and cloud apps into the menu options and somehow passing them off as real applications. What we saw as a necessity to educate new users was to simply offer a small buffet, a sampler platter, of popular web and cloud based applications so you could test drive Prism. Remove them or keep them if you like them. They exist on Peppermint as a preview of what you can create yourself by using our custom Prism front-end. We got many many laughs over the accusations which technically, in their own words, described precisely what a cloud application is: an application that lives in the cloud/web and masquerades or, in their own words, passes itself off as software that is installed locally on your machine.
DW: The distro is lightweight out of the box - I believe your site claims Peppermint will run in 256 MB of RAM or less. Are you targeting older hardware, or just trying to stay fast and out of the way?
KW: Staying fast and out of the way is definitely the intention here, but we are happy to report about Peppermint running well on some systems with 192 MB of RAM. By keeping it fast and simple we're making it easier for people to get on and get things done. You don't need a bunch of special effects or a bunch of heavy applications to be productive, you need speed, simplicity, and mobility.
DW: Your site's stated philosophy of appealing to the non-geek crowd and keeping Linux simple sounds similar to the philosophies behind projects such as Ubuntu and Igelle. How do you feel Peppermint compares to those projects?
KW: I've always really liked Ubuntu as it's always represented what "Linux with ambition" can bring to the desktop market, but I do think that very often they reach farther than they can grasp. Even with features such as the MeMenu and Ubuntu One, they still seem to be focused on being primarily a traditional desktop system. What we're doing with Peppermint shouldn't be perceived as competition to that, rather we're simply targeting the market between cloud and desktop and offering a simple solution that is perfectly capable of handling duties on either side.
I can't really comment on Igelle as I have only very limited experience working with it.
DW: Your distribution hasn't been out very long. How have people responded so far? Can you give us some examples of things people feel you're doing right or things you should be doing differently?
KW: You're certainly correct in that we're new. In fact we're just now celebrating one month of being publicly available. We've been quite surprised at what has been an overwhelmingly positive response thus far. We have a lot of people taking web applications more seriously than they had been, and a lot of people really appreciating the speed and simplicity of what we're offering. We've had a lot of people very vocally opposed to our choice of default browser (Firefox), but we're making it very clear that defaults are in fact defaults and anyone is free to pick and choose exactly what they want for their own system.
DW: Now that the first stable release is out the door, what comes next? What do you want to see in the next release and will you be sticking close to your Ubuntu/Mint base?
We're on schedule to respin the ISO at least once a month in order to incorporate updates, bug fixes, new features, etc. We'll stay as close to the Ubuntu/Mint base as is necessary, but we're likely not going to exactly follow in their footsteps regarding release schedules and new features. Personally I would like to stay on top of the LTS code base and roll with that for the next couple of years, incorporating major application updates as they become necessary.
In the near future we'll be releasing Peppermint Ice. It will feature Chromium as the default browser and will likely be even more cloud focused as we'll likely drop printer and scanner support for it and replace more of the default applications with either smaller ones or cloud-based alternatives. Once we launch Peppermint Ice we will be working towards bringing integration with Google Cloud Print
as the next logical step in development for Ice and all other Peppermint versions. Essentially, we were finding a large group of people who were experimenting with the combo of Peppermint and Chromium
and getting great results. We listened to these skilled users of ours on the forum, picked their brains a little, and now we can offer Peppermint Ice as a crowd sourced or "cloud sourced" product. Testing started this week and we plan on launching it very soon. All we can say is that Peppermint is fast. Peppermint Ice is stupid fast.
DW: Your project accepts donations. Are there other things satisfied users can do to help the project? Do you need translators, coders?
KW: We've been fortunate in having very quickly built a strong and enthusiastic community. Almost all of our support thus far has been done via community members. We will be needing package maintainers in the future as our repository continues to expand at a much faster rate than I initially expected. If we do opt to stay on the LTS base, this will very quickly become a priority as a lot of application updates don't seem to filter down to the LTS releases. Personally I would like to see more applications coming from vanilla source code as opposed to depending upon potentially patched versions for Ubuntu and Mint. This way we can better isolate what are bugs in the application versus what are bugs in the packaging and patching.
DW: Is there anything else you'd like to add? Thoughts on Linux in general or Peppermint in particular?
We really want to encourage direct social ties with all of our users and anyone interested in Linux and its advancement. Great ideas are spawned from direct contact and we are firm believers in being open to everyone. The official Peppermint Twitter accounts are @PeppermintOS for the main account and @AskPeppermint for support questions. Kendall Weaver's Twitter account is @Kendall_Tristan, Shane Remington is the notorious @roadhacker, and Nick (our support lead) is @Asheguy. You can also find us on Facebook
, and our community forums
are always available as well.
DW: Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.
* * * * *
Installation and first impressions
The Peppermint OS One image file weighs in at about 470 MB, making it a fairly small download for a modern operating system. The disc boots into a live graphical desktop environment (LXDE) with a red and black theme. The screen is mostly empty with a taskbar running along the bottom, an application menu in the bottom-left corner and an icon for the installer in the upper-left.
The installer is, for all practical purposes, the Ubuntu system installer and I won't spend a lot of time covering its functionality. It does a fine job of guiding the user through the steps of selecting their locale, partitioning the hard drive and creating a user account. I'm not thrilled that the Ubuntu installer feels the need to grab the current time and various packages from the net without asking first, but otherwise it's a smooth and intuitive ride.
Peppermint OS One - running the installer
(full image size: 145kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Software and package management
With installation complete I rebooted the machine and was presented with a simple graphical login screen. One of the first things to catch my attention was a small update notification applet sitting next to the clock. Peppermint uses the mintUpdate tool which connects to Ubuntu and Mint repositories and filters updates by their perceived safety to the end-user. For adding and removing software, Peppermint comes equipped with mintInstall, a package manager which presents the user with a web-like interface where packages are broken into categories. Each package comes with ratings and some come with reviews. Software can be added or removed with the click of a button. For people who prefer more traditional methods of package management, Peppermint also comes with Synaptic, Aptitude and the apt-get command-line tools. So there's no lack of options when dealing with the 30,000 available packages.
Peppermint OS One - flavours of package management
(full image size: 112kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
The application menu is a mix of local applications and web-based programs. Among the local items are a file manager, calculator, text editor and archive manager. Firefox 3.6, a BitTorrent client, PDF viewer and CD ripper are also included. Rounding out the selection are a webcam application, media player and disc burner. There are also some great utilities for configuring the system's look and behaviour to your preference. But if you're interested in the Peppermint distribution, it's probably because of their approach to web-based solutions. Links in the application menu point the user to programs for Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Reader, an image viewer, media player and net radio.
Having played around with this arrangement, where the web applications are mixed in with the local programs, I find myself in agreement with the people who weren't happy with the way Peppermint bundles these choices together. I'm fine with the web-based solutions sitting in the menu next to local applications, the integration of web and local is what Peppermint is about after all. What annoyed me is that, in some cases, there's virtually no way to tell one from the other. Peppermint comes very close to getting this right with the use of tool tips. For example, if I go to the Graphics menu and move my mouse over pixlr I see a tip telling me that it's a cloud-based image and photo editor. This is good, as is the tip for Google Docs, which tells me it's an Office Suite in the cloud. But the Google Calendar item is shown as being GCal for the Desktop, which strikes me as a poor description.
Some other descriptions are a bit vague, leaving the user to experiment to discover the nature of the program in question. And I find myself wondering why the link to YouTube needs to be bundled as a web app rather than just opening a link in the local web browser. If the user has a fast connection and isn't doing anything else on the network, this mixing of programs works fairly well. But if the connection is slower or if the user is downloading updates or has torrents running, etc, then there's a noticeable lag, made all the more apparent by LXDE's responsiveness. Having the cloud-based solutions more clearly marked would have made the mixture more appealing.
Behind the scenes, Peppermint comes with Flash and codecs for playing popular video formats and MP3 files. Some common tools which I didn't find installed by default were the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), Java and vi/vim. This combination isn't really surprising when one considers Peppermint's image size.
I installed and ran Peppermint on two physical machines, a generic desktop (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA graphics card) and my HP laptop (dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Intel video card). The medium-sized image file installs about 1.2 GB of software on the local hard drive. I found on both machines the operating system was quick to boot up and was very responsive, at least while running local applications. When running in a virtual machine, the distribution ran very well in 512 MB of RAM and continued to perform well with 256 MB. I found from 256 MB and down, the system was still functional, but would increasingly use swap space. Peppermint has its roots in Ubuntu and Mint, giving it excellent hardware support and it is the second distro I've used which has properly detected and used all of my hardware without any additionally tweaking on my part. My screens were set to their maximum resolutions, sound worked properly and my mobile modem and wireless cards were handled automatically.
Peppermint OS One - work and play with the web
(full image size: 325kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Putting aside the recent release of Peppermint for a moment, the developers are also (at the time of writing) working on a new spin of their distribution. This work in progress is called Peppermint "Ice" and is very similar to plain Peppermint, with a few key differences. Ice uses the Chromium web browser by default, dropping Firefox. The theme has been changed to mix light blue and black. And some items, specifically print-related programs, have been removed from the application menu. The download image for Ice is a little bit smaller, saving about 20 MB. By itself, Ice isn't much different from plain Peppermint, but it shows the development team is listening to feedback from their users and willing to try different approaches.
I've been using Peppermint (and Ice) for several days and on one hand I find it an interesting experiment, a sort of proof of concept that web-based and local applications can live side-by-side. On the other hand, this style of ultra-light desktop with very few built-in applications isn't the sort of environment I usually use. I think Peppermint's boot-up speed and responsiveness are impressive, but I find myself constantly returning to the package manager to grab more items, such as a local office suite, the GIMP, a compiler and different multimedia programs. The configuration put together by Peppermint's team is probably better suited to a netbook used on the road than my day-to-day computing needs. While it's not my cup of tea, I think the developers have put together something interesting and they appear to be doing their best to adjust it to better serve their users.
Stepping away from Peppermint for a minute, I'd like to say a few words about cloud-based applications in general. I don't think running programs over the Internet is really a good fit for desktop Linux. I'm a big fan of running thin clients on a LAN and I've often used web-based data solutions (such as web mail or document sharing services). But I can think of very few cases where web-based applications, running on servers outside the local area network, would be useful to Linux users. The two main benefits to running cloud-based apps are having one central location for updates and having the benefit of being able to access those applications from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Linux distributions already offer these features by way of software repositories, giving the end user the ability to keep up to date or, optionally, stick with older versions of software.
Many of the big name distributions also offer tools to install their product on Flash drives, allowing users to take their operating system with them anywhere. This combination, in my mind, is superior to cloud-based applications in speed and flexibility and it removes the need for a steady, fast network connection. I don't have anything against making use of cloud computing where it is appropriate, but I think most desktop Linux users already have solutions in place which make web applications redundant. When your operating system receives daily updates and can fit in your pocket, is there really any reason to turn control of your programs over to other people? Judging by the interest surrounding Peppermint, some users think so and are excited by the fresh approach.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Open letter to Mandriva, openSUSE strategy proposal, Debian release update, anti-vuvuzela filters and plugins
When Mandriva first published the development and release schedule for its upcoming release, version 2010.1, the date of the final delivery was fixed on 3 June 2010 (which was late by Mandriva standards - usually it is the first among the major, independent distributions to bring out a new version each release season). Now, with more than two weeks past the due date, the release date on the relevant page of Mandriva Wiki remains conspicuously empty. Obviously, the release has been delayed (possibly) pending negotiations with a potential buyer as rumoured recently. This uncertainty, reminiscent of Oracle's current treatment of the OpenSolaris community, has led to a group of concerned Mandriva community leaders to write an open letter to Mandriva (scroll down for the English translation of the original French document): "The Mandriva Linux French-speaking Users Association and MandrivaUser.de (German speaking Mandriva community) ask Mandriva board to state its position and particularly to present possible projects of continuation and to clarify an official position of Mandriva SA about the current identified projects with Wallix, Ieurope (idoo.fr), lightapp and Linagora. We ask for a clear message, especially about community support, free and public distribution of Mandriva Linux, and Cooker."
* * * * *
No such release trouble at openSUSE which delivered the first release candidate of the distribution's forthcoming version 11.3 last week. Everything is now set to be ready on 15 July as scheduled, after one more release candidate between now and the release date. In the meantime, it's interesting to follow the ongoing discussion about the project's future strategy that is taking place within openSUSE and of which information is published on the distribution's web site in regular intervals. Here is an extract from last week's update: "The openSUSE Board and its Strategy Team have worked on three strategic proposals to define the direction of openSUSE's future, as a Project, Community and distribution. Each strategy proposal includes the same community statement. We will therefore discuss the community statement and the three strategies separately. To have a focused discussion, we like to handle the discussion as follows on both opensuse-project mailing list and the openSUSE forums. What do we want to achieve with these discussions? Refine the proposals, e.g. remove or add activities, discuss what needs to be done for each strategy proposal, figure out which strategy proposal is best, pros and cons of each ones."
* * * * *
The Debian release team has published a new release update detailing the progress towards the upcoming stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 "Squeeze". The report discusses the recent and imminent transitions, such as the update to eglibc 2.11, Perl 5.12, Python 2.6, KDE 4.4.3 and GNOME 2.30, along with a rough estimate of the release process: "Some of the transitions that have been discussed in this release update were not planned when we published our last freeze estimate. While considerably improving the user experience by providing newer upstream releases and a faster boot process, they imply that we will need some more time to prepare Squeeze. We will declare Squeeze frozen once the switch to Python 2.6 as the default version and the other transitions mentioned above are completed, which we currently anticipate will be during late August. If we all work together then we may able to finish some transitions more quickly than our estimates. Thanks for your attention and your assistance in making Squeeze a great release!"
* * * * *
Finally, somewhat off-topic, but sometimes it can't hurt to add an amusing twist to the serious world of free software. During the last couple of weeks the infamous vuvuzela, obnoxiously accompanying every single match at the ongoing football world cup in South Africa, has become a source of irritation to many football fans around the world. The sound of the tuneless horn is reportedly not so bad when absorbing it in a stadium, but it tends to spoil the experience for those who watch the spectacle on TV. If you are among those who can't stand the racket but enjoy watching sporting events on a computer, a number of solutions exist to help you keep sane during the matches. Fedora users can filter the unpleasant sound by following this simple guide, while Ubuntu fans could use a VLC plugin called VuvuzeLAUTLOS. There is also a devuvuzelator for Mac OS X users. But perhaps the most elegant solution has been provided by André Dieb who suggests an excellent one-liner (for GStreamer on Debian-based distributions to filter out the unpleasant sound frequencies. The code looks like this:
gst-launch-0.10 autoaudiosrc ! audioconvert ! audiochebband mode=band-reject lower-frequency=223 upper-frequency=243 type=2 ripple=50 ! audiochebband mode=band-reject lower-frequency=456 upper-frequency=476 type=2 ripple=50 ! audiochebband mode=band-reject lower-frequency=922 upper-frequency=942 type=2 ripple=50 ! audiochebband mode=band-reject lower-frequency=1854 upper-frequency=1874 type=2 ripple=50 ! audioconvert ! autoaudiosink
We haven't tried this solution so use at your own risk! Now, does anybody have a solution to filter out the poor performances of some of the star-studded teams that play at the tournament? ;-)
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Slackware-based live CDs
Checking-Slack's-pulse asks: Can you think of the reason why almost everything is released as installable live images now except Slackware-based things? It might be me, but it sucks that things are so limited and what's available is always old. More to my point, it's more inconvenient to test drive any of them because they need an installation.
DistroWatch answers: Honestly, this isn't something I'd thought about before receiving this question. So I went over to Wikipedia and the DistroWatch search page and took a look at the Slackware-based options. And there are some distributions which offer live CDs, but of those, most of the live discs lag behind the rest of the project. For instance, at the time of writing, Salix OS is a step behind on their live disc, Zenwalk's live CD is a few versions behind their Standard edition, we haven't seen a release of Slax for about nine months. VectorLinux seems to be up to date and NimbleX, well in a bit of a reversal, their latest version is a live disc out without an installer.
So it does seem that, for the most part, the live CD editions of Slackware-based distributions lag behind or plain don't exist. Why? I don't maintain a Slack-based project, so I'm not in a good position to say. However, I can think of a few reasons:
None of these explanations help you though. If you're interested in trying a Slackware-based distro and don't want to install it first, what are your options? Well, if you have some spare time, you could get in touch with the distribution maintainers and offer to help them put together a live disc. This would be helpful for you and the community at large. An easier approach would be to set up a virtual machine and test-drive the distribution that way. You won't get the full benefit of testing your hardware, but you'll get to discover other aspects of the operating system. Or you could try talking the distro maintainer into creating a live disc, either directly or though programs like Google's Summer of Code. If you have the money to spend, offering a bounty for a feature has been known to work too.
- A lack of developers. A lot of the Slackware-based projects are small operations, sometimes with just one or two developers involved. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep a distribution going. Maintaining multiple editions takes even more.
- It's also possible there isn't a lot of perceived demand for live discs in the Slackware-based community. Slackers tend to be a special breed of Linux users, some of whom aren't interested in features such as live CDs and package managers. It's entirely possible there aren't people clambering for live editions of these projects.
- As I said, I don't maintain a Slack-based distribution, but JP Guillemin from the Zenwalk project does. In his own words as to why the Zenwalk Live edition lags behind the Standard edition: "We are actually looking for a new maintainer for Zenlive." So it seems to be a lack of person hours.
|Released Last Week
Parted Magic 4.11
Patrick Verner has released Parted Magic 4.11, a utility live CD with various data rescue and disk management tools: "Parted Magic 4.11. This version of Parted Magic updates FSArchiver 0.6.10, gDisk 0.6.7, LFTP 4.0.7, OpenSSH 5.5p1, Chromium 6.0.424.0, Linux kernel 184.108.40.206, Parted 2.3, NTFS-3G 2010.5.22, syslinux 3.86, udev 157. Xarchiver was removed in favor of using File Roller for the archive manager. To be as useful as possible while keeping the same lightweight philosophy these programs were added: lm_sensors 3.1.1, Perl 5.10.1, Clonezilla 2.3.5-21, unrar 3.9.7, vmfs-tools 0.2.1. Some major effort went into this release and I hope you enjoy it. Next release will most likely include a newer X.Org and Linux kernel. I would also like to thank burdi01 for his efforts improving the init scripts and his future work on the keyboard selection program." The full release announcement is available on the project's home page.
Anil Gulecha has announced the release of NexentaStor 3.0.3, an enterprise-class storage solution built upon the foundation of the OpenSolaris-based Nexenta Core Platform: "On behalf of NexentaStor team, I'm happy to announce the release of NexentaStor Community edition 3.0.3. This release is the result of the community efforts of Nexenta partners and users. Changes over 3.0.2 include: many fixes to ON/ZFS back-ported to b134; multiple bug fixes in the appliance. With the addition of many new features, NexentaStor Community is the most complete and feature-rich gratis unified storage solution today. Quick summary of feature: ZFS additions -deduplication (based on OpenSolaris b134); free for up to 12 TB of used storage; Community edition supports easy upgrades; many new features in the easy-to-use management interface; integrated search." Here is the complete release announcement.
Ben Gras has announced the release of MINIX 3.1.7, a new version of the UNIX-like computer operating system based on a microkernel architecture: "MINIX 3.1.7 is released. Major features: userspace scheduling and a scheduling server; proper support for multiple Ethernet cards of the same type; bug fixes (such as workaround to run on recent KVM); debug features ('verbose' boot monitor variable, access to debug registers DR0-DR7 in kernel); boot monitor allows loading images larger than 16 MB; root partition size increased to 64 MB (and setup script can now more or less safely deal with root partitions with non-default sizes); buildsystem support for building MINIX with GCC; source tree reorganization and clean-up; new ports - Git, GCC updated to version 4.4.3; secondary FS cache layer in VM that uses all available memory, reducing I/O wait time a lot." The full release notes can be found on the project's release page.
Greenie Linux 7L
Stanislav Hoferek has announced the release of Greenie Linux 7L, a user-friendly, Ubuntu-based distribution designed primarily for Slovak and Czech speakers: "The seventh major version of Greenie Linux, an Ubuntu derivative for (primarily) Slovak and Czech users, is available for free download. What is new? New logo, new versions of software applications (like current Ubuntu, but updated with all official updates), much simpler look with all Greenie-specific features added to the Applications menu, new and useful applications (PiTiVi, Ailurus, Tucan, Bluefish). Also, many dropped applications from Ubuntu (Pidgin, GIMP, Glchess) are included in Greenie. Improved Greenie center, more Bash aliases and many other improvements. Special thanks for Dušan Halický, who helped a lot with the new concept." Here is the complete release announcement (in Slovak, scroll down for a brief English summary).
Greenie Linux 7L - an Ubuntu remix optimised for Slovak and Czech users
(full image size: 1,466kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Sabayon Linux 5.3 "SpinBase", "CoreCDX"
Two specialist editions of Sabayon Linux 5.3 were announced yesterday. "SpinBase" is a minimalist Sabayon which can be extended and re-mastered into a custom installation or CD/DVD image, while "CoreCDX" is a small graphical Sabayon with X.Org and Fluxbox: "Directly from our server department, two new Sabayon editions officially thrown to the crowd. They are called SpinBase and CoreCDX, but what are they about? SpinBase was formerly known as CoreCD; the Sabayon team decided to change its name for these reasons: SpinBase can be used as a base to make new Sabayon spins; it contains the new Anaconda text-based installer; it is very lightweight. CoreCDX is built on top of the SpinBase module and features X.Org and Fluxbox, our favourite tiny environment." For further information please read the full release notes.
The latest release of SystemRescueCd, a Gentoo-based live CD designed for data rescue and disk management tasks, comes with the brand-new version of GParted (0.6.0) and updated network card drivers. From the changelog: "Updated standard kernels to 220.127.116.11 (rescuecd + rescue64) and alternative kernels to 2.6.34 (altker32 + altker64); updated GParted to 0.6.0 (support for devices with sectors greater than 512 bytes); updated xfsprogs to 3.1.2 (XFS file system userspace utilities); updated Ethernet network drivers in the standard kernels (tg3, bnx2x, e1000e); fixed problems with the tg3 Ethernet driver (mostly used by Broadcom cards); recompiled Parted so that it works on system with glibc before 2.11; improved usb_inst.sh (sysresccd USB installer script for Linux); added customization options to the sysresccd USB installer for windows; disabled isohybrid which breaks isoloop and which is not really necessary...." More details in the changelog.
Scientific Linux 5.5 "Live CD/DVD"
Urs Beyerle has released a new version of the "Live CD/DVD" edition of Scientific Linux, a distribution built from source packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but enhanced with extra applications for use in academic environments: "Scientific Linux Live CD/DVD 5.5 has been released for i386 and x86_64. Features: live CD can be installed to local hard disk; live CD runs from USB key; changes can be stored persistently on an external device; live CD can be mounted over NFS (diskless client). Software: Linux kernel 2.6.18, OpenAFS client 1.4.12, X.Org 7.1, ALSA sound libraries 1.0.17, GNOME 2.16.0 (standard desktop), GIMP 2.2.13, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, Firefox 3.0.19, Thunderbird 18.104.22.168, KDE 3.5.4 (only on live DVD), Evolution 2.12.3 (only on live DVD)." Here is the complete release announcement.
Zenwalk Linux 6.4 "Core"
Jean-Philippe Guillemin has announced the release of Zenwalk Linux 6.4 "Core" edition, a minimalist, but extensible Slackware-based operating system: "Zenwalk Core 6.4 is ready. Zenwalk Core is a one-of-a-kind complete 300 MB base Zenwalk system designed to build high-performance and high-security non-GUI Linux servers, or to be used as the base of a custom light-speed desktop system. It can be installed in just 10 minutes using the auto-install setup option on a dedicated disk. Zenwalk Core 6.4 provides the 22.214.171.124 kernel with the new BFS scheduler, designed for the best interactivity on multi-core CPUs while taking the most of lower specification machines. You'll notice better responsiveness of many applications, better real-time performance (very low latency), and efficiency of 'niced' commands." Find more details in the release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Package database update|
Last week's call for suggestions about updating the list of packages tracked by DistroWatch resulted in several suggestions. Besides Shotwell, lzip and Wordpress, some of the other packages that have received multiple votes included Google Chrome, MythTV, Privoxy and Tor. This week gives you one more chance to request packages that you think should be included in the distribution tables; please email your suggestions to distro at distrowatch.com or comment below. The package database update will be finalised next Monday (28 June).
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
- Superb Mini Server. Superb Mini Server (SMS) is a Slackware-based server distribution with web, DNS, DHCP, file, print and fax servers, iptables firewall, mail server with spam filter and anti-virus scanner, and BitTorrent station. It also includes Webmin, a web-based administration tool, but no graphical desktop. SMS, which comes with Slackware's text-mode system installer, is built using Linux-Live scripts (from Slax) and can be used as a live CD for testing purposes.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Emninia Linux. Emninia Linux is an easy-to-use, Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution.
- Ubuntu Tutik Remix. Ubuntu Tutik Remix is an Ubuntu-based distribution designed to be light and fast without compromising usability.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 28 June 2010.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|• 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|
|• Issue 505 (2013-04-29): First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04, Saucy Salamander, Remastersys and System Imager, Linux containers|
|• Issue 504 (2013-04-22): Look at Bodhi 2.3.0, Ubuntu 13.04 features, building OpenBSD ports, opening large files|
|• Issue 503 (2013-04-15): CentOS versus Scientific Linux, PCLinuxOS 64, Lucas Nussbaum, ZFS/Btrfs versus ext4|
|• Issue 502 (2013-04-08): Look at Mint 201303 "Debian", Ubuntu versus openSUSE, comparing ZFS and Btrfs file systems|
|• Issue 501 (2013-04-01): KANOTIX 2013 and GhostBSD 3.0, openSUSE Rescue-CD, Haiku package management, computer forensics|
|• Issue 500 (2013-03-25): Look at openSUSE 12.3, Ubuntu release changes, Debian backports, growing divide|
|• Issue 499 (2013-03-18): MINIX 3.2.1, openSUSE 12.3 on desktop, Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin, distros for musicians, KolibriOS|
|• Issue 498 (2013-03-11): Sabayon Linux 11, Ubuntu's Mir, Linux malware|
|• Issue 497 (2013-03-04): Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline", rolling-release Ubuntu, Arch vs spin-offs, justification and diversity|
|• Issue 496 (2013-02-25): Review of Chakra 2013.02, The Book of GIMP, Ubuntu and privacy, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free|
|• Issue 495 (2013-02-18): SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra", Fedora 19 schedule, Xubuntu on DVD, cloud privacy|
|• Issue 494 (2013-02-11): FreeBSD 9.1, web server stats, Anaconda, rolling-release PC-BSD, fixing broken packages in Arch|
|• Issue 493 (2013-02-04): UberStudent 2.0, OmniBoot 1.0, MariaDB, Enlightenment 0.17|
|• Issue 492 (2013-01-28): Fedora 18 review, systemd, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Unleashed|
|• Issue 491 (2013-01-21): Fuduntu 2013.1, Fedora 18 desktop choices, Consort, accessing encrypted drive|
|• Issue 490 (2013-01-14): Look at Manjaro Linux 0.8.3, openSUSE on Chromebook, Able2Extract 8.0|
|• Issue 489 (2013-01-07): PC-BSD 9.1, Arch spin-offs, rolling-releases, year-end PHR stats, removing applications|
|• Full list of all issues|