| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 6, 14 July 2003
Linux Journal Reader's Choice Award - a Joke?
Are you going to vote in this year's Linux Journal Reader's Choice Award? Unlike many other web sites which bend over to send visitors to vote in the survey, I say don't bother. Why? Because the choices given in the survey were put together several years ago and the Linux Journal editors haven't kept up with the ever changing Linux world - instead they mostly maintain the same survey choices as last year and the year before. Take the "Favorite Distribution" section as an example. No less than 16 (that's over one third!) of the distributions listed are long dead or unmaintained (Antarctica, Armed, Caldera, Corel, Jurix, Progeny, Stampede, Storm...) and should have not been kept on the list, while others have changed names (Best, Redmond), but their names have not been updated. Some extremely popular distributions (such as Knoppix) are missing and so are some reasonably widely-used ones (Xandros, LindowsOS). Curiously, a new Knoppix-based distribution called Mepis has somehow managed to sneak onto the list!
Similarly, the "Favorite Linux Web Site" section lists sites that no longer exist (Linux Applications, segfault.org), while last year's most popular "write-in" site - PCLinuxOnline - has still not been given a proper voting option. All this shows that the Linux Journal editors don't take the Reader's Choice Award seriously enough to give it a thorough revision each year and neither should we. If you are going to submit a vote, I suggest you scroll down to the bottom of the page and give the magazine a wake-up call - a two-year old survey is not the way to go!
Categorising Linux Distributions
One excellent way of categorising Linux distributions (at least the binary ones) is by their package management. This document offers a comparisons of all main package formats - RPM, DEB and TGZ, together with Stampede's SLP (no longer in development) and UNIX's PKG formats. The table compares many aspects of each format, including security features, usability and metadata, to name a few. Certainly worth a bookmark.
|Released Last Week
One of the more interesting distributions released last week was DeLi Linux. Immediately after the announcement on the front page, the page hit count on the DeLi Linux page soared spectacularly, approaching levels that Mandrake or Red Hat pages get shortly after new releases. This makes me wonder - is the old PC a neglected market? How many of us have an old computer lying idly in the cupboard? Unfortunately, Red Hat 9 won't even install on anything with less than 64MB of RAM (double that for a graphical install) and many other distributions no longer bother with these low-end systems. Has anybody tried DeLi Linux 0.3? Any opinions are welcome.
On the other end of the spectrum is the latest SuSE Linux 8.2 for AMD Athlon 64, the beta of which was released last week and, unlike SuSE's ix86 branch, it is freely downloadable. Out of curiosity - are these 64 bit systems getting deployed? Anybody has any experience with them? Most importantly, would you like to see future release announcements about them on the front page? Let us know...
Lindows has released a live CD distribution called LindowsCD. The US$30 price tag is disappointing - a couple of weeks ago there was a message on the Lindows user forums indicating that this CD would be offered to all as a free download. However, users report that there is a way to obtain it for free - all you have to do is to sign up for the 15-day trial, which gives you download access to the LindowsOS installation CD, live LindowsCD and unlimited access to Click-N-Run for the duration of the trial. You do need a credit card to sign up, but it won't be charged if you cancel within the trial period. Sign up by visiting this page and creating an account - it's a risk-free way of trying out LindowsOS without a commitment.
Two new releases were announced last week - Morphix 0.4 and Plamo Linux 3.2. This release of Plamo Linux was specially prepared for inclusion in the August issue of the Nikkei Linux magazine, which also features a comprehensive review (in Japanese) of this distribution. Plamo Linux is a Slackware-based distribution, which has been in development since 1998; visit the distribution's web site (Japanese only) for more information.
- Arch Linux 0.5 beta - a quiet release, the ISO is available from the download page.
- Vector Linux 4.0 beta was announced on the Vector Linux announcement list - if you'd like to test it, get the ISO image by following the download link on Vector's web site.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
"LinuxInstall.org would like to make two announcements. Firstly, LinuxInstall.org is re-organizing release numbers. Release 1.0 becomes Release 1.1, Release 2.0 becomes Release 1.2 and Release
3.0 becomes Release 1.3. Secondly, LinuxInstall.org 1.4 will be released on July 21st. It will include Mozilla 1.4 and Evolution 1.4 as well as OpenOffice.org 1.1RC. Mozilla 1.4 RPM package included in this release was recompiled only with xft option to be fully compatible with existing FlashPlayer, RealPlayer and Java plugins. In addition, MPlayer
will be added with QuickTime Plugin enabled for Mozilla. For current LinuxInstall.org users, these new core packages will be available for free."
Mandrake 9.2 Beta
According to a rough schedule released last month, the first beta of Mandrake Linux 9.2 should be released shortly, while the 9.2 final release is expected in the middle of September.
Red Hat X?
An observant member of a Red Hat mailing list spotted a new item on the Barnes & Noble.com list of new books - Red Hat Linux X Bible. Scheduled for publication in October this year, the title has given rise to usual speculations about future naming schemes and release schedules of the Red Hat distribution. Unfortunately, Red Hat has become a lot less predictable when it comes to various aspects of their distribution, so the book might just be a publisher's guess, subject to last minute changes. But what about the release date? Red Hat indicated some time ago that a less frequent (annual?) release schedule might be a more practical way of producing community releases. If we don't see a new beta version within the next month or so, it will be fair to say that this is indeed the case.
Xandros Desktop 1.1
According to this forum post, Xandros Corporation has apparently informed their resellers about a new upcoming release - Xandros Desktop 1.1. The product will retail for US$39 and will include Crossover Office 2.0, OpenOffice.org 1.0.3, Mozilla upgrade to version 1.3.1 and Active Directory authentication. A Spanish OEM version will also be available. A Xandros employee confirmed the release in a later post and explained some of the raised concerns: "There is no reason for current users to purchase this upgrade unless you want the new CrossOver. Everything else on the CD is either already available through Xandros Networks (device drivers, etc..), or will be available quite soon (we're working on that right now). This is essentially equivalent to a service pack. This is not a major release that requires news posted all over the website." I suspect that most Xandros users and fans will strongly disagree with the last sentence.
|Web Site News
The package list has been updated. A total of 22 new, frequently requested packages have been added to the database and these will be tracked from now on in the usual manner; the new packages are: apt4rpm, BitTorrent, blender, cinelerra, coreutils, db, eclipse, exim, freetype, ipvsadm, jakarta-tomcat, k3b, lftp, libvorbis, NetBeans, qtparted, quanta, scribus, synaptic, tcpdump, vsftpd and zlib. (A hint to all those readers who have requested the addition of quanta and other packages - there is no reason why you should delay your joining the Timesavers now, right?) The number of tracked packages has risen to 174. Additionally, a new feature giving a brief package description has also been implemented - if unsure about the purpose of a package, just hover your mouse over its name on any of the distribution tables and a pop-up message will give a brief hint (this feature should work in most browsers).
The related links page has also been expanded. It presents long lists of links to Linux distributions and projects that are currently excluded from being listed on DistroWatch, such as floppy-based or embedded Linux distributions. The page will be continuously updated and if you know of a distribution that should be listed there, please email me directly or mention it in the discussion forum below.
- LRs Linux has been discontinued: "LRs GNU/Linux is no longer available, this project is closed. Thanks to all our user and developer it was a nice time with you. Bernd Eller aka berell."
- Madeinlinux has also been moved onto the Discontinued Distributions page. Although their web site is still reasonably active and it has been promising a new version 5.0 for over 6 months, their last release dated January 2001 is just too outdated to be usable.
No new distributions have been added to DistroWatch last week.
New on the waiting list
Another good week for new distribution submissions; the following projects have been added to the waiting list:
DistroWatch database summary
- AbulEdu - a French educational distribution based on Mandrake.
- Berry Linux - a Japanese live CD project based on Red Hat 9 and Knoppix 3.2.
- Drinou-Linux a French project, a minimal distribution based on Slackware 7.1.
- guadaLINEX - a live CD developed by the Spanish regional government of Andalucia, based on LinEx and Debian.
- Locust Mesh AP Linux - a live CD project, currently in development.
- stresslinux - a minimal linux distribution running from a bootable cdrom or via PXE. It is designed for users who want to test their system on high load and monitor its health.
- ThePacketMaster (TPM) Linux - a live CD distribution with security and forensic utilities.
Number of distributions in the database: 154
Number of discontinued distributions: 20
Number of distributions on the waiting list: 48
About the waiting list|
Based on my experience, about half of them won't survive the 3-months waiting period. As an example, take the PlumpOS project at - the author emailed me with a request to list his distribution, but 3 months later, the project page has a blurb about some other interesting projects taking priority over PlumpOS. This is usually the first sign of the project being on life support, so don't be surprised if the current release candidate never matures into a final release. Other projects appear to be in a similar situation. I'll keep them on the waiting list for another 3 months and if I don't see any new activity, I'll drop them from the list.
- "The waiting list is growing and growing. Distros are blooming, some of them very small and specific. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised to see more distros in the waiting list than being tracked some time soon. Do you have any ideas on this respect?"
On DistroWatch icons, logos and banners
- "I have created a banner, not sure where i should send it in to, I'll give you a link, tell me what you think."
Anybody else with some ideas? Having a choice would be nice :-) All reasonable efforts will be rewarded with a free access to DistroWatch Timesavers, so if you have a graphics design talent, please fire up your favourite image editor and get creative! Thanks a lot :-)
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday,
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