| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 386, 3 January 2011
Happy new year and welcome to this year's first issue of DistroWatch Weekly! We start the year 2011 with an interview with Matthias Scheler, writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the NetBSD Foundation, accompanied by a brief first-look review of the recently released NetBSD 5.1. Although the project is best-known for its extensive support for exotic processors and architectures, as the interview reveals, it does offer interesting and unique features even for more common hardware. Read on to find out more. The new year also means the usual statistical look at some of the data we have collected over the past year, a long list of releases that took place during the last two weeks and a Questions and Answers section which offers some advice for new Linux converts looking for good online resources to learn more about their new operating system. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the DistroWatch.com December 2010 donation is the gtkpod project. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (19MB) and MP3 (40MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Learning about NetBSD 5.1|
The NetBSD project isn't one which I've given much thought to over the years. Its reputation of being able to run on just about any architecture is something I consider amazing, but not specifically useful for my purposes. The project's famed flexibility, when placed against the backdrop of the rest of the open source community, brings to mind a contortionist in a room full of gymnasts: impressive, but not so much as to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps that's unfair, I am very much an outsider where NetBSD is concerned. Aside from my pleasant brush with Jibbed last year, I've never taken the time to properly investigate the project. Some prompting from readers after I reviewed OpenBSD caused me to take the latest release of NetBSD, version 5.1, for a test drive.
* * * * *
Before grabbing a copy of NetBSD I had the pleasure of exchanging some e-mails with Matthias Scheler who was kind enough to answer questions on behalf of the Board of Directors of the NetBSD Foundation.
DW: Could you start by giving us a little history on NetBSD? Where it came from and why the project was created?
MS: NetBSD took its roots from the original UCB 4.3BSD via the Net/2 release and 386BSD. The NetBSD project was founded by Chris Demetriou, Theo de Raadt, Adam Glass and Charles M. Hannum.
Frustration with the quality of patches in the wild and the inability to get patches included in 386BSD led to the founding of the NetBSD project in 1993. NetBSD's original focus was quality and architecture independence. Since then, in addition to the many developments within the project, NetBSD has imported changes from other sources, including 4.4BSD Lite. NetBSD has also been used as the basis of other derivatives, including Apple's Rhapsody and Force 10's FTOS.
DW: We recently saw the release of NetBSD 5.1. What new features were included in this release?
Some of the highlights were:
- RAIDframe parity maps which reduce parity rewrite times from hours to minutes after an unclean shutdown
- X.Org updates for improved desktop experiences and support for more graphics hardware
- Improved support for non-graphics hardware
- Xen PAE dom0 support allows using NetBSD as the host machine
- Xen PCI pass-through support provides access to PCI(e) hardware for guest machines.
A full list of the changes can be found here
DW: Aside from being very portable, what other attractions does NetBSD have? Who typically runs NetBSD (academics, server admins, researchers)?
MS: People building products especially value the well-designed nature of NetBSD. Our source code has a tendency to be stable, and vendors are not forced to rework their product source trees frequently. This leads to time-saving which leaves more resources for product development instead of keeping up with outside changes. Many people use NetBSD on embedded devices without realizing it because of the liberal licensing terms. It allows using NetBSD in device firmware without fanfare or hassle.
DW: In the past year we have seen efforts to lower the bar to trying the BSDs. The Jibbed project, for example, provides a live CD based on NetBSD. What do you think of these efforts? Are they attracting more people to your project?
MS: The Jibbed project receives a lot of positive feedback because it makes it very easy for people to try out NetBSD. It is also very popular with system administrators because it provides them with a powerful recovery tool. There are plans for a USB stick edition of Jibbed which will solve the space constraints and therefore provide a larger software collection. This will make it even more attractive for new users.
DW: Is there an advantage to running a server or desktop with NetBSD over FreeBSD or OpenBSD?
We think NetBSD is attractive for a number of reasons:
- NetBSD has excellent support for SMP since the 5.0 release. It also supports more than 4 GB of memory on suitable architectures like AMD64 or UltraSPARC. Users are therefore able to get maximum performance out of modern hardware platforms.
- It is an excellent reference platform for developing portable software.
- Correctness, consistency and backwards compatibility are important design goals. As a result, users get a stable and dependable operating system.
- NetBSD provides extensive virtualization support using the Xen hypervisor. It can be run as a dom0 or para-virtualized domU of the amd64 or i386 port (with and without PAE support). It also supports PCI pass-through for direct hardware access by guest machines. Support for SMP in para-virtualized machines is planned for the NetBSD 6.0 release.
- NetBSD has full cross-building support for the base operating system and the bundled 3rd party software. This in combination with the small size of the core operating system makes NetBSD an ideal choice for embedded environments.
- NetBSD's basic distribution aims to provide a good compromise of resource usage and a rich feature set. For example, it provides LDAP support and the Lua scripting language.
DW: Do we know how many NetBSD users there are out there? Or how many developers?
MS: We honestly don't know how many NetBSD users are out there. But as we already noted above there are a lot of people who use NetBSD and don't even know it because NetBSD serves unobtrusively on one of their appliances. The NetBSD project has more than 200 active members at the moment. Those members have signed membership agreements with The NetBSD Foundation, and are able to contribute directly to the source code repository. However, there are many more external developers who contribute patches or features.
DW: What can we look forward to in NetBSD 5.2 or 6.0?
NetBSD 6.0 will provide a lot of new features. The following are already available in the latest developer version, known as NetBSD-current:
- improved kernel modules supporting demand-loading
- kernel scalability improvements
- 64bit time_t. As is well known, a 32-bit time_t will roll over in the year 2038. This is starting to affect people already, since time_t is often used in calculations which go far into the future. A common example is mortgage calculations. NetBSD 6.0 will have a 64-bit time_t for all architectures, including 32-bit processors. What makes this impressive is that old binaries built with a 32-bit time_t will continue to function in NetBSD 6.0 and onwards. This is a good example of something made possible by clean design. It also demonstrates how design is perceived by users: things just work -- system design is noticeable only when it is not on a solid basis.
- DTrace, enhanced kernel debugging and profiling support
- Logical Volume Manager for flexible management of disk space
- automated tests
- much improved support for running kernel code as userland applications (puffs(4) and rump(4))
- native terminfo support
- NetPGP, a BSD licensed PGP/GPG program
- Xen balloon driver, for increasing/decreasing the available RAM for a domain while it is running
- UltraSPARC III(+) support (e.g., SunBlade 1000 and 2000)
- improved Linux emulation (compat_linux) now emulates a Linux 2.6 kernel and is compatible with glibc 2.10.
- MIPS 64bit support
- new and enhanced drivers
- a lot of updated and new 3rd party software (OpenSSL 1.1.0, OpenSSH 5.6, BIND 9.7.2-P3, X.org 1.9.2)
Features under development:
- ZFS, a port of the famous next-generation Solaris file system
- NILFS, a log-structured file-system
- in-kernel Lua support
- in-kernel iSCSI initiator
- NPF (New Packet Filter), a multiprocessor-safe network packet filter
- Thread Local Storage for enhanced Java Virtual Machine support
- Xen multi processor support for the host and para-virtualized guests
- ChewieFS, a flash file-system
- support for booting the kernel via HTTP
- GPT-aware boot loader for booting of hard disks larger than two terabyte
- SASL support for authenticated mail delivery
As the release cycle for NetBSD 5.2 is still in a very early stage it hasn't been determined what its feature set will be.
DW: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers concerning the project?
The NetBSD project has successfully taken part in the Google Summer of Code for the sixth year in a row. The list with this year's projects can be found here
. We are very pleased that all of our projects completed successfully.
To anyone out there who is interested in contributing to the project but isn't sure where to start: pkgsrc is a great way to get involved. There are so many packages out there, and only a finite number of developers to import and maintain them. Consider submitting PRs [problem reports] against pkgsrc and joining the pkgsrc-wip project. You can find more information here
I would like to thank Matthias Scheler for his time and informative answers. It's obvious there is a lot of new work going into the NetBSD project.
* * * * *
I began my experiment with NetBSD by launching the install disc in a VirtualBox virtual machine. The CD brought up a menu asking if I would like to perform an install, attempt to install with no ACPI support or, alternatively, install with no ACPI support and no SMP support. Regardless of which option I selected, the virtual machine would then lock-up. This wasn't entirely surprising as I had a similar issue when I tested the latest OpenBSD release last month.
Next I decided to try NetBSD on my HP laptop (dual-core 2GHz CPU, 3GB of RAM, Intel video card) and things got off to a better start. Booting from the CD launched the system installer (sysinst), which guides the user through the installation process with text menus. While the layout is fine, I found some of the steps a bit unusual, or maybe it's just the terminology. At any rate, readers may recall that when I reviewed OpenBSD I found the installer was very simple, just text prompts and typing out answers. Yet, with OpenBSD, the user can almost get away with pressing Enter at each prompt and make it through. NetBSD's installer is, at a glance, pretty much the opposite. It has nice menus and a clean layout, but there were times I found myself reading and re-reading a question to make sure I got the gist of it.
The installer starts out by asking for our preferred language and keyboard layout. We then choose whether we want to perform a fresh install, an upgrade or re-install the same system. When asked whether I wanted a full, minimum or custom installation, I opted for "full" and then got into partitioning the hard disk. The partition manager is one of the pieces of the installer which has an unusual layout, but I found it worked well enough. The next step is to confirm we want to install a boot loader and then we provide the location of our install packages (in my case, this was the CD drive). From there, the installer asks us some more questions, requesting the local time zone and the kind of hash we want to use to store passwords. The process concludes by requesting we provide a root password and select a shell for the root user. There is no creation of a regular user account.
Once the installation had completed, I rebooted my laptop and discovered the machine would not boot. I got as far as selecting NetBSD from the boot menu and then things came to a stop. Running through the installer again, taking the defaults wherever possible, did nothing to cure my laptop of its paralysis. My next step was to try out NetBSD on a desktop machine (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card). As before, I went through the install process and, this time, NetBSD booted from my hard drive. I logged in and received a message suggesting that I create a non-root account and use the "su" command, rather than operating as root on a regular basis. Following the advice, I set up a new user, manually created a home directory for the user and set a password.
Looking around, I found NetBSD had installed just under 500 MB of software on my system and, while running from the command line, I was using a bare 10 MB of memory. Further, there were about a dozen processes running, a remarkably low number when we consider a modern Linux distribution often runs in the range of one hundred processes in the background. The trade off, of course, is that NetBSD isn't doing anything for us out of the box. For instance, NetBSD comes with X installed, but if we want to use a window manager as a non-root user, we have to do some configuring. There isn't any desktop environment with the usual conveniences, not by default, but we do have a simple window manager.
The Internet connection is not enabled by default, and this is where NetBSD's documentation is handy to have. In places the manual is a bit sparse, it's assumed we know our way around a command line and how to edit configuration files, but the documentation available is to the point and covers the important topics. The package manager isn't set up for us, we need to point the system to the proper server and remote directories where NetBSD keeps its packages. Fortunately the steps to do all of this are also covered in the documentation. Compared to some other repositories, NetBSD's list of packages is small (there are 9,523 packages available), but it contains the popular software and the basics needed to run a modern OS.
Unfortunately my experience with NetBSD was cut short. As I mentioned earlier, NetBSD didn't enable my network connection by default, this is something which had to be set up manually. And, following the documentation, things seemed to progress smoothly. I set up my network interface, got an IP address and was able to connect to the outside world. However, the connection wasn't stable. Pings to remote hosts would often drop packets and downloads would lose their connections, making installing new software impractical. I had a similar issue with OpenBSD at one time and I think the problem stems from my hardware. To date I haven't been able to get a steady connection.
At any rate, I was left to explore what I could of NetBSD from what was available at install time. As the whole system, X and all, takes up less than 500 MB of disk space, it's obvious there won't be a long list of features. Most of the install is the usual collection of UNIX tools that are available on any Linux/BSD machine. We also find GCC (version 4.1.3), which is a bit dated but still very useful. The OpenSSH tools are included, which provide secure shell and (my specific case aside) secure file transfers.
Having tinkered with NetBSD for the past few days, I feel that the project's highly valued flexibility may also be one of its biggest drawbacks for desktop adoption. The system is so flexible and so willing to shy away from being bogged down with extra packages and assumptions, that it doesn't do much of anything out of the box. This minimalist approach does allow NetBSD to run on an amazing number of architectures (57, if I counted correctly) and it requires surprisingly few resources, but these points also mean a person who installs NetBSD must be willing to spend time configuring and installing everything he or she wants. This isn't the sort of operating system you slap on a PC in twenty minutes, it turns into more of a full afternoon project. If having an incredibly light, highly flexible system that you build on from the ground up sounds appealing, then I am happy to report NetBSD may very well be the system for you.
|Statistics (by Ladislav Bodnar)
DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics in 2009 and 2010
With the end of 2010, here is a quick look at the movers and shakers of the past year, with the help of our Page Hit Ranking statistics. At first glance there isn't much that has changed over the last 12 months - Ubuntu and its derivatives (notably Linux Mint) continue to dominate the charts, while Fedora, with its strong effort to involve the community and the addition of "spins" to its line-up, comes at a somewhat distant second spot. Indeed, at times it does seem that the distro world is a two-horse race between these two heavyweights. The other main distributions with regular releases, openSUSE and Mandriva, which used to belong to the "big four" group, are slowly but surely starting to fall off the radar (even though they still attract a noticeable following). With openSUSE, uncertainty surrounding the sale of Novell and slower release cycle are probably the main factors behind the slide, while Mandriva's resurgent financial troubles, developer lay-offs and eventually a fork under the name of Mageia will likely result in further drops in interest in the coming year.
Looking through the tables, an interesting thing is the rise of distributions that use the lightweight, but full-featured LXDE desktop or the Openbox window manager. As an example, Lubuntu now comfortably beats Kubuntu in terms of page hits, while CrunchBang Linux, a lightweight distribution with Openbox is still in the top 25 even though it failed to produce a stable release for well over a year. Many other distributions started offering LXDE-based editions of their products, further contributing to the dramatic rise in popularity of this relatively new desktop environment. One other note of interest - Red Hat Enterprise Linux has climbed to the top 25 list for the first time in five years - largely due to its long-awaited release of version 6 in November 2010.
As always, the DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics shouldn't be taken too seriously - they are a fun way of looking at what's hot and what's not among this site's visitors, but they probably do not reflect install base or distribution quality. For a look at what DistroWatch visitors use while browsing these pages please see the Awstats output of our web server data.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Online Linux resources
New-in-town asks: I just completed my first Linux install. Where do I go to learn more and get help?
DistroWatch answers: I got this question a little while ago and I'm sorry to say it's taken me some time to respond. Now, with the new year rolling in, this seems like a good time to answer. Unfortunately I found myself a bit stumped. It's been over ten years since I wandered into the Linux community. At the time I mostly relied on textbooks and IRC. Many of the helpful websites and distributions which we have now didn't exist then, so I'm not sure where newcomers generally go. My suggestion is to first visit your distribution's forum. If you've picked a distro and managed to install it, then the forum associated with your distro of choice is probably the best place to start asking questions. I find browsing through a general section of a forum is a good way to find out about common issues and their solutions.
For people who haven't picked a distro to install yet, you can go over to this website, answer a few questions about your computer experience and what you're looking for, and it will give you a short list of recommended Linux distributions.
Bruce Patterson, whose name you may recognize from the DistroWatch Weekly Podcast, told me he found LinuxQuestions.org to be a helpful resource. Bruce also mentioned Linux Basix as a place where people can go to learn more about Linux and open source. Though Linux Basix is a fairly new community, they have friendly forums and some interesting podcasts containing discussions on all things Linux.
For specific cases, I find plugging an error message into Google can be very helpful. If you don't mind some extra traffic in your inbox, project mailings lists can be helpful too. A little while back I asked a new-to-Linux user where they went to learn about their operating system and they told me, I suspect a bit tongue-in-cheek, that DistroWatch is a good place to learn about Linux. Last, but not least, if someone you know introduced you to Linux, feel free to use them as your first-tier tech support.
|Released During the Last Two Weeks
Chakra GNU/Linux 0.3.0
Phil Miller has announced the release of Chakra GNU/Linux 0.3.0, an Arch-based distribution and live CD showcasing the latest KDE desktop. From the release announcement: "This release features the brand new KDE SC 4.5.4 plus the option to install our popular Click'n'Run applications through 'tribe'. We updated all our tools and fixed lots of bugs you and we found. Tribe can now create more than one user account again. This time you can add your personal avatar to each account. For the first time you can customize your installation. We added two lists of our popular packages and bundles to choose from. Tribe got translated to Catalan, German, Italian and Spanish. Good news about CCR, our community repository: you can find now over 378 packages added by our users."
Chakra GNU/Linux 0.3.0 - an Arch-based distribution with KDE
(full image size: 848kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Zorin OS 4
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 4, an easy-to-use Ubuntu-based distribution designed for Linux beginners: "The Zorin OS team is proud to announce the availability of the 'Core' and 'Premium' editions of Zorin OS designed for Linux beginners. In addition to the easy-to-use interface and our unique Look Changer, Zorin OS 4 incorporates such new tools and features as the improved file manager, file previews and the redesigned sound menu which help you to get more done in less time while our splash screen manager, our Internet browser manager and the refined software center make performing customization tasks even easier. We have made changes to the core system which makes Zorin OS 4 even faster than Ubuntu. We have created new desktop and splash screen themes to further improve Zorin OS' appearance." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Zorin OS 4 - an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution with enhanced usability
(full image size: 1,193kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Sabayon Linux 5.4 "Gaming"
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 5.4 "Gaming" edition. From the list of features: "Based on Sabayon Linux 5.4 GNOME; featuring Linux Kernel 2.6.36 and all the bells and whistles that are in our repositories as of today; remastered thanks to Sabayon's little helper called 'molecule'; filled with gazillions of games - the best free and open-source games of the Linux land, including 0ad, Alien Arena 2011, Battle of Wesnoth, FooBillard, Freeciv, Frozen Bubble, GNOME Games, M.A.R.S. a ridiculous shooter, Micropolis, NeverBall, Nexuiz, OpenArena, Pingus, PyChess, Scorched 3D, Simutrans, Spring, Stepmania, Torcs, Tremulous, Warsow, Warzone 2100 and Wormux." Read the festive release announcement for further information.
Heidi Vilppola has announced the release of Zentyal 2.0-3, an updated version of the Ubuntu-based server distribution for small and medium-sized companies: "The development team of Zentyal, the Linux small business server previously known as eBox Platform, is glad to announce the availability of Zentyal 2.0-3 installer. This is a new compilation of all the latest Zentyal packages as well as the last system updates from Ubuntu. Please note that this installer comes with a new Zentyal Cloud-based feature - you can see a new 'Disaster Recovery' entry in the installer menu. This option allows users with a free Basic Server subscription to automatically install the modules from a previously stored configuration backup. Another mayor change in the installer is the switch from slim to LXDM as display manager." Here is the full release announcement.
Mandriva Linux 2010.2
Eugeni Dodonov has announced the release of Mandriva Linux 2010.2: "Welcome the Mandriva 2010.2 release which is coming to a mirror nearby you right now. As announced previously, Mandriva 2010.2 is an incremental update on top of Mandriva 2010.1, incorporating all the security and bug-fix updates since its release. Just to give you some statistics about what changes in 2010.2 when comparing to 2010.1, these are some of the numbers. Since the 2010.1 release, the security team has released a total of 5,055 RPMs via official updates, counting both security and bug-fix advisories, across 272 different packages. With such a big number of updated packages, we decided to release an updated version incorporating these packages." Read the complete release announcement on the official Mandriva blog.
Yann Le Doare has released LinuxConsole Linux 1.0.2010, an independent distribution with the goal of being as easy-to-use as a game console. Features: "Very fast boot - using Dash instead of Bash, using initramfs instead of initrd, modules management completely rewritten (no more cache, all modules mounted once), LXDE is started in 4 seconds when booting CD in VirtualBox; LXDE/PCManFM now default session; IceWM/Rox Filer can also be used; LXLauncher will be used for the game center; new module management with lcmtool; new tools - select time zone, wicd can be used to set up wireless connexions; install it on live CD or live USB; applications - latest Firefox, Thunderbird, Flash player, X.Org Server 1.9.2, Linux kernel 22.214.171.124, BusyBox 1.17.2, NVIDIA driver 260.19.29...." For further details please see the full release announcement.
Klaus Knopper has announced the release of KNOPPIX 6.4.3, a popular Debian-based live CD/DVD (featuring the lightweight LXDE desktop) which has recently celebrated its 10th birthday: "The anniversary edition of KNOPPIX is now available as a DVD and CD image." New features in this release: "The current version has been completely updated from Debian 'Lenny', 'Testing' and 'Unstable' and uses Linux kernel 126.96.36.199, X.Org 7.5 for supporting current computer hardware; experimental free nouveau graphics modules supporting NVIDIA cards; accelerated graphics via kernel mode settings (KMS); OpenOffice.org replaced by LibreOffice 3.3.0; Process Control Group support for terminal shells." Read the rest of the release notes for a list of new features, known issues and boot options.
KNOPPIX 6.4.3 - a new version of the popular Debian-based live CD and DVD
(full image size: 675kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Linux Mint 201012 "Debian"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the availability of a new build of the "Debian" edition of Linux Mint, a rolling-release distribution based on Debian's "Testing" branch: "What a better time than Christmas to bring all the best from 2010 into an updated release of Linux Mint 'Debian'. All Mint 10 features; 64-bit support; performance boost (using cgroup, the notorious '4 lines of code better than 200' in user-space); installer improvements (multiple HDDs, GRUB install on partitions, swap allocation, Btrfs support); better fonts (using Ubuntu's libcairo, fontconfig and Ubuntu Font Family) and language support; better connectivity and hardware support; better sound support (addressing conflicts between Pulse Audio and Flash); updated software and packages." The release announcement includes a brief FAQ and additional release notes.
Ryan Finnie has announced the release of Finnix 101, a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian's 'testing' branch: "Today marks the eggnog-induced release of Finnix 101, the seventeenth release of Finnix since its beginnings over ten years ago. Finnix 101 includes major behind-the-scenes architectural changes, the re-introduction of PowerPC support, new features, and minor bug fixes. After a show of public support, Finnix is once again producing PowerPC releases. While using Finnix still has its same familiar look, much of the core infrastructure which comprises Finnix has been re-engineered. Many of the changes are intended to make development and re-development (remastering) easier and more powerful, and to help with deployment by Virtual Private Server (VPS) providers." For further details please read release announcement and the detailed release notes.
MoLinux 6.2, an Ubuntu-based distribution sponsored by the Spanish regional government of Castilla-La Mancha and deployed extensively in the region's public administration offices and schools, has been released. Some of the most important features of the new version include: based on Ubuntu 10.10; new window design for the log-in screen; new icon theme (GNOME-Wine); hardware compatibility improvements; latest versions of applications included in the distributions; new applications and utilities such as JDownloader, a download manager, Gnome Subtitles, a subtitle editor, support for 7zip file compression in File Roller; miscellaneous improvements added to existing applications such as Nanny, a parental control utility or Hamster Applet, a time manager. Please refer to the release announcement and the comprehensive release notes (both links in Spanish) for a detailed description of the new release.
MoLinux 6.2 - the latest version of the Spanish distribution is based on Ubuntu 10.10
(full image size: 1,061kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Salix OS 13.1.2 "LXDE"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix OS 13.1.2 "LXDE" edition, a Slackware-based distribution featuring the lightweight LXDE desktop environment: "One year after our first 64-bit release we are proud to announce the release of Salix LXDE 13.1.2. This is a triple release and it includes a 32-bit installation image, a 64-bit installation image as well as a 32-bit live CD. The most evident change in Salix LXDE 13.1.2 is that it is the first release in the LXDE series that comes with a 64-bit image. Another important change is the inclusion of slapt-src, a new tool that makes the process of downloading and building software packages from SlackBuilds.org simple and easy. Thousands of extra packages are now available through this new tool for our users." Read the rest of the release announcement to learn about other changes in this release.
Stefan Lippers-Hollmann has announced the release of aptosid 2010-03, a Linux distribution based on Debian's unstable branch, but using a newer Linux kernel with improved hardware support: "Now that kernel 188.8.131.52 has entered the archive with many KMS-related bug fixes, we have the pleasure to announce the immediate availability of the final aptosid 2010-03 'Apate' release. New features are in particular kernel 184.108.40.206 and numerous integration and stabilization fixes after the rename. Kernel 220.127.116.11 doesn't only improve and stabilise hardware support for newer devices, it also features improved KMS support for ATI Radeon and Intel graphics cards and performance improvements for Intel Westmere graphics chipsets. WLAN support has been consolidated, with rt2x00 now supporting Ralink rt28x0/ rt30xx/ rt35xx officially." Read the detailed release notes for more information.
aptosid 2010-03 - a Linux distribution and live CD based on Debian's unstable branch
(full image size: 438kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Mario Colque has announced the release of Tuquito 4.1, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution from Argentina. The biggest change of the new release, now based on Ubuntu 10.10, is the availability of a lightweight, CD edition of Tuquito featuring the LXDE desktop with the Openbox window manager. Other improvements include: update to GNOME 2.32; new welcome screen with the possibility of switching between different editions of the product; better selection of default applications; Linux kernel 2.6.35; faster boot; support for touchscreens; improvements in CPU and RAM consumption in applications and during system boot; new control centre with new modes (normal and advanced); re-introduction of Pidgin as a replacement of Empathy.... Please see the full release announcement (in Spanish) to learn more.
Puppy Linux 5.0 "Wary"
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux "Wary" edition, a distribution for older hardware. Despite the name, this is NOT an Ubuntu-based distribution, but an independently developed distro with support for installing packages from Ubuntu repositories. From the release announcement: "Puppy Linux 'Wary' is a parallel development to our other flagship Puppy, Luci Puppy, but with a different target market - older hardware. Puppies built with recent Linux kernel and X.Org may not work properly on older computers. In particular, some analog dial-up modem drivers cannot be compiled with recent kernels. Another major area is old video hardware not working with latest X.Org drivers. Wary is built with an old kernel (currently 18.104.22.168) and X.Org 7.3 so as to provide better drivers for the older hardware. However, Wary is in all other respects at the leading-edge like the other puppies, with recent applications, and support for all modern peripherals."
Parted Magic 5.8
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 5.8, a specialist Linux-based live CD designed for disk partitioning and data rescue tasks: "After several months of work, a new version is ready for release. Many bugs have been fixed and many core programs have been updated. You will notice the Linux 2.6.36 kernel and the newest version of the Gnome Partition Editor (GParted). There is also a mess of new stuff as well. Parted Magic now includes the SciTE text editor. For the first time the ISO image can be fully loaded into RAM and booted. This means, for example, that the default syslinux menu can be used for a PXE boot. The following programs have been updated: Clonezilla 1.2.6-40, Linux kernel 22.214.171.124, BusyBox 1.17.4, SimpleBurn 1.6.0, ClamAV 0.96.5, e2fsprogs 1.41.14, GParted 0.7.1." Visit the project's news page to read the full release announcement.
Andrew Gillis has announced the release of VortexBox 1.7, a Fedora-based Linux distribution with the ability to turn an unused computer into an easy-to-use music server or jukebox: "We are pleased to announce the release of VortexBox 1.6. One of the most common feature requests we get is for the ability to rip DVD movies. VortexBox users have already ripped their large CD collections to VortexBox now they want to add their DVD collections as well. VortexBox delivers. VortexBox can now auto-detect CDs or DVDs and rip accordingly. All you need to do is insert a DVD movie into the VortexBox and it will be automatically ripped to MKV format. This is great for all the new media players such as Logitech Revue, Boxee Box, Windows Media Center, and XBMC. We have also added the latest version of SqueezeBox Server (7.4.2) and a bunch of other fixes and upgrades." Here is the brief release announcement.
Dragora GNU/Linux 2.1
Matias Fonzo has announced the release of Dragora GNU/Linux 2.1, a multi-purpose operating system built with free software: "I am pleased to announce the version 2.1 of Dragora GNU/Linux. Dragora is a powerful and reliable GNU/Linux distribution created from scratch with the intention of providing a stable, multi-platform and multi-purpose operating system. Built with 100% free software. The latest version is now available in a 64-bit edition. Featuring Runit as the default init scheme, a simple and powerful package system, Linux 'libre' 126.96.36.199, the GNU C Compiler Collection 4.5.1, and the GNU C library 2.12.1. Also, X.Org 7.6 with Xfce 4.8pre2 with patches, IceWM, and Scrotwm. The Bluetooth subsystem has been added, better printing support, along with scanner support. This version comes with Java through IcedTea 6, GNU IceCat 3.6.13 with Tor, Polipo and the development version of Gnash." A more complete changelog is available as part of the release announcement.
Linux Deepin 10.12
Linux Deepin 10.12, a Chinese Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the GNOME desktop and numerous usability enhancements, such as Mint menu and the Mac OS X-like Cairo-Dock panel for application launch, has been released. Some of the more interesting new features in this version include: a much improved Chinese input method called Yong; Yozo Office 2009 SP1, a locally developed office suite with a look and feel of Microsoft Office; new font selector offering a choice between the default WenQuanYi font and the Windows XP-like ClearType fonts; introduction of the space-saving "global menu" feature, neatly integrated into the top panel with window controls; a brand-new icon theme. Please see the detailed release notes (in Chinese) which contain several screenshots to illustrate some of the concepts.
Linux Deepin 10.12 - a Chinese distribution based on Ubuntu
(full image size: 765kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Michael Prokop has announced the release of Grml 2010.12, a bootable live system based on Debian with a collection of GNU/Linux software especially for system administrators: "Grml 2010.12, code name 'Gebrueder' is available. New features: new Linux kernel version based on 188.8.131.52; config-less X to take advantage of X.Org's automatic configuration; support for Kernel Mode Setting (KMS); grml-rescueboot / loopback.cfg feature and grub-imageboot for ISO boot; initial release of Kantan, an automated testing suite for continuous integration and a test environment; incremental grml-rebuildfstab triggered by udev events for faster execution time; improved serial console on multiple devices; vnc_connect boot option allowing to connect to an existing listening VNC client...." Read the rest of the release notes for further details.
Chanrithy Thim has announced the release of moonOS 4, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution with a custom file hierarchy and a new experimental application framework: "The team is proud to announce the release of moonOS 4. New features: updated software, refinements and new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use; uses GNOME as the default desktop environment; own file hierarchy system; new applications framework - an software that uses the Appshell framework will be standalone so everyone can download a single package and install and share with friends via a Flash driver (this is in experiment so there are limited application ports at the moment); includes the popular '200 lines' kernel patch to boost the speed; careful selection of applications for daily use; Docky and Synapse for life even more easy...." Read the release notes for more details and some screenshots.
moonOS 4 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with some interesting experimental features
(full image size: 1,986kB, resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
François Dupoux has released version 2.0.0 of SystemRescueCd, a Gentoo-based live CD designed for data rescue and disk management tasks. What's new? "Standard kernels based on the long-term supported 2.6.35 kernel (184.108.40.206); alternative kernels based on the more recent 2.6.36 kernel (220.127.116.11); the Squashfs file system is now compressed using XZ instead of LZMA; updated firmware in both the initramfs and in the main file system; nouveau is the new default video driver for NVIDIA cards; updated GNU Parted to version 2.3 with patches from Ubuntu 10.10; updated GParted to 0.7.1 (fixes names with dmraid and mount points paths); updated FSArchiver to 0.6.12 (fixes possible problems to save the rootfs); updated initramfs software (programs involved in the boot process); updated Aufs file system to version 2.1; updated X.Org Server to 1.9.3 (graphical server and drivers)...." Here is the full changelog.
Zorin OS 4 "Lite"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 4 "Lite" edition, a lightweight, Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the LXDE desktop: "The Zorin OS team is proud to announce the availability of the first version of Zorin OS 'Lite'. This new edition of Zorin OS was designed to provide one of the fastest and most feature-packed interfaces for low-specification machines thanks to the lightweight LXDE desktop environment. We have included many exclusive programs and features such as our new look changer tailored especially for the LXDE environment which includes the Windows 2000 and the Mac OS X looks, the Internet browser manager, the desktop theme and many others." Read the release announcement and release notes for additional information.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
December 2010 DistroWatch.com donation: gtkpod|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the December 2010 DistroWatch.com donation is the gtkpod iPod Manager project, an easy-to-use graphical software application that makes it possible to manage files on an iPod under Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems. It receives US$250.00 in cash.
For those readers who use Linux and own an iPod, gtkpod is an indispensable application; it allows Linux users to manage their sound, video and photo collection on their iPods from within a nice graphical user interface: "gtkpod is a platform-independent graphical user interface for Apple's iPod using GTK+. It allows you to import an existing iTunes database, add songs, podcasts, videos and cover art, and to edit ID3 tags." Besides gtkpod, the project also releases libgpod, a library allowing direct access to the iPod's contents. Currently the latest version is 1.0.0 released in August 2010, but the developers work actively on a much improved gtkpod 2.0.0, which will be a substantial code rewrite. More information can be found on the project's home page.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$26,630 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($250)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Saline OS. Saline OS is a lightweight and fast open-source operating system built on the Debian GNU/Linux repositories and using the Xfce desktop environment. Saline OS is still in beta, working towards its first release.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 10 January 2011.
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|
|Free Tech Guides
NEW! Agile for Dummies
NEW! Agile software development is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development.
FREE 74-page eBook