| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 2, 16 June 2003
|JAMD Linux for Home Users
It's official: Red Hat Linux is not the best distribution to run on your home computer. In its June edition, the Linux Format magazine provides comprehensive reviews of all three major commercial distributions released earlier this year - SuSE 8.2, Mandrake 9.1 and Red Hat 9. While SuSE 8.2 is declared a resounding winner and given the publication's "Top Stuff Award", the reviewers were not sufficiently impressed with Red Hat when compared directly to either SuSE or Mandrake. Some cited gripes include lack of a graphical partitioning tool during installation, less than sufficient support for notebook users, poor multimedia support and limited life span of the product. Red Hat fans will argue that installing apt4rpm and pointing it to FreshRPMs will cure some of the problems, but the point is that the out-of-the-box impression with Red Hat is simply not on par with the other two distributions.
However, there are many users who have valid reasons for using Red Hat - some might have invested into a Red Hat certification programme, others might use it because their employers have standardised on it. If this is the case, then consider a Red Hat-based alternative - tweaked for home users, but still fully compatible with the latest Red Hat release. One of them is JAMD Linux.
JAMD Linux has been around for almost one year and the latest release, version 0.0.6 has received some serious praise from users: "You have created the best, most up-to-date desktop/laptop distribution. It installed on my home system and laptop with no problems at all. Everything is up and running and doing well.", wrote one satisfied user on JAMD's user forums. Another agreed: "I have to say that JAMD is the best distribution I used to date, and I think I have tried them all." It seems that JAMD Linux has attracted many former Lycoris users, especially those who got tired of waiting for a new Lycoris release with more up-to-date software packages. In short, if you like Red Hat, but prefer a more KDE-centric distribution with apt-get and optimised for i686, give JAMD Linux a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Have you noticed how often SuSE has appeared in the headlines recently? It seems that SuSE is actually driving the current Linux desktop sentiment (with the usual help from Steve Ballmer), even manipulating the stock markets! It's not hard to see where SuSE's confidence is coming from - they've created the most praised desktop Linux distribution ever. The Linux Format magazine goes as far as suggesting that SuSE 8.2 should be able to compete successfully with distributions catering for less technical users, such as Xandros or Lindows, providing a lot more for a lot less than either of the two. At US$40 for the SuSE Personal Edition, it is the bargain of the year.
Speaking about SuSE, speculations about its possible merger with Turbolinux have suddenly appeared in the media. It would make sense, many of them concluded, to merge a major European Linux player with a major Asian Linux player. Sounds logical, except for the fact that Turbolinux is not a major Linux player - in Asia or anywhere else. In fact, Turbolinux is no longer a player of any scale and the only power that remains from a once mighty distribution is the grip on the Western media that keeps claiming its imaginary magnitude without checking the facts. Just visit the Linux section of any bookstore in Tokyo, Hong Kong or Taipei and do your research. The rows and rows of books about Red Hat give a good indication of who really is the major Linux player in Asia.
Knoppix is releasing a DVD edition. However, before you get too excited about the prospect of having 4.7GB of compressed software available on a bootable DVD, this is a one-time product, which will only be available to visitors of LinuxTag 2003 (10 - 13 July) in Karlsruhe, Germany. But the idea sounds very interesting, so putting some pressure on Mr Knopper to provide regular DVD editions might bear some fruit. Even if it is not free, many users will probably find it worthwhile to buy a bootable DVD containing just about the entire Debian unstable tree. Find more information in this forum thread at knoppix.net.
|Released Last Week
Lots of development releases last week. Red Flag has released a beta of its upcoming Red Flag Linux 4.0 and here is a screenshot of it sent in by Charles Bandy:
Red Flag Linux 4.0 Beta
As you can see, the Red Flag developers have gone further than anyone else to date to make Linux look like Windows XP. Do they perhaps plan a "Linux coup" by replacing all Windows installation with Red Flag Linux overnight, hoping that the government's office workers won't notice the difference? Contrary to a common belief in the Western world, Red Flag Linux is not a widely used distribution in China and most users prefer Red Hat or Mandrake (Mandrake has become very popular over the last year or so), while the geeks use Debian. All three have excellent Chinese support and have enjoyed a much larger user base than any of the domestic Linux distributions. Of course, not everybody has a choice and the Chinese government clearly prefers to use Red Flag Linux. The boxed version will ship with RedOffice, a modified version of OpenOffice with support for all aspects of the Chinese language, including printing.
Other development releases seen this week included ROCK Linux 2.0.0 beta4 (final release expected by the end of June), TA-Linux 0.2.0 beta4, IPCop 1.3.1 alpha3, Source Mage 0.6 beta3, MoviX 0.8.0 rc1, ClarkConnect 2.0 beta (final release expected in two weeks, but don't be surprised if it gets delayed) and e-smith SME Server 6.0 beta1. New releases were announced by SuSE, Quantian and ByzantineOS. SuSE's new SuSE Linux Desktop is an enterprise level product, sold only as part of a 5-year support bundle. Details about the Knoppix-based Quantian 0.3 are available here, while ByzantineOS, a Linux and Mozilla-based live CD distribution with a home entertainment bias, released version 20030614 on Sunday.
|Expected This Week
SmoothWall's 2.0 beta 5 did not arrive last week and its home page still displays the "coming soon" message. Maybe this week?
LindowsOS 4.0 was originally expected at about this time, but the latest edition of Michael's Minutes gives a subtle indication that it won't be out until next month. Expect a massive marketing campaign leading up to its release.
|Web Site News
Damn Small Linux was the only new addition to the DistroWatch database this week. Created by John Andrews in California, Damn Small Linux is a live CD distribution based on Knoppix, but its size has been reduced drastically to fit on a 50MB business-card shape CD. This is only the second "business-card size" distribution in our database, the first one being the better-known LNX-BBC. The main difference between the two is the fact that LNX-BBC is more of an expert rescue tool with a collection of utilities to repair damaged installations or recover data, while Damn Small Linux is a general purpose distribution to carry around in your wallet. It comes with XFree86 and Blackbox as the only available window manager, while other light-weight applications for email, word processing, instant messaging and playing music are also included.
The current waiting list was expanded with the addition of CDLinux. Spectra Linux, a less well-known distribution from Finland, was moved into the Discontinued Distributions section; its web site has been inaccessible for over two months and it seems that Probatus, which previously developed Spectra Linux, has decided to focus on other projects.
Number of distributions in the database: 149
Number of discontinued distributions: 18
Number of distributions on the waiting list: 29
|First of all, thank you for all the kind words you wrote in our experimental forum last week. I did suspect that many people find this site useful, but it's always nice to hear it again :-)|
On the subject of tracked packages, please visit the packages page to see a preliminary list of new packages that will be added to the existing list next month. If you still have some favourites, suggest them now, but you should have a very good reason to have them included. I've received requests to include about 150 new packages and I tried to include all packages that got more than one vote, but it is impossible to please everybody. Also, removing PHP-Nuke is under consideration - this package seems to be at the receiving end of user dissatisfaction and anger due to its licensing changes. I don't know how much of it is FUD and how much is genuine concern, so if somebody cares to shed some light on the subject, please use the space below.
BSD distributions will not be included in DistroWatch. A few voices for and against their inclusion were noted, but overall it seems that the interest just isn't there. Only 4 readers were prepared to put their money where their mouths were (if you don't know what I am talking about then re-read last week's forum posts), so the request has been declined.
That's about it for this week, see you next Monday,
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|• Full list of all issues|
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