| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 7, 21 July 2003
Choice in Linux distros is healthy
Or so says Linus Torvalds as quoted in this article by linuxworld.com.au: "A lot of these 130 distros are a little oddball. Some are only used by Bob and his five friends. But that's okay -- because sometimes Bob did something right and his 5 friends become 50. Then five thousand, and so on. Clearly 130 distros is not practical for a middleware vendor so in that sense what everyone does is just to ignore most of them, and end up with just a few things. Even with the top 2 or 3, mind you, folks working in the enterprise space find it confusing to have a choice."
This is another way of saying that while there are plenty of distributions which simply modify an existing one and release it under a different name, there are also many great ideas, some of which might eventually evolve into extremely popular products. Take Knoppix as an example - few people heard of it as recently as one year ago, but it has since become a darling of the distribution world and an indispensable tool to have around at all times. It can be used to demonstrate Linux to those who have never seen it, as a rescue tool and even as a way to read password protected Microsoft documents on any computer. Knoppix is a great Linux advocate.
Which brings us to a distribution called Blue Linux. After seeing very little activity for an extended period of time, a customary warning that "this distribution appears dormant" seemed like a reasonable statement to place in the status line of the Blue Linux page. But Matt Jezorek, the Blue Linux developer was quick to email us saying that "this distribution is not dormant; it is actually in a long development cycle". The arrival of Matt's email coincided with the sudden disappearance of the bluelinux.org web site and worse, all email to Blue Linux bounced due to the fact that "distrowatch.com is not on the list of allowed domains to communicate with the bluelinux.org mail server"! Needless to say, the email from Blue Linux did little to alleviate concerns about its current status.
A note to all distribution authors and developers
In the context of the above paragraph, it is only appropriate to clarify the "dormant" issue to all distribution authors and developers: if you are creating a distribution and find that its status has been set to "dormant" on DistroWatch, please don't waste time emailing us and saying "no, it's not dormant". Update your own web site instead. Publish a news item, show us a changelog, produce a road map. Most importantly, create a community of users by providing mailing lists and forums for them to share their experiences and help each other. It still amazes us how many distribution neglect these simple things, yet the developers seem offended when their distribution is called "dormant"! Rest assured that we visit your site every day and note the progress. If your web site hasn't been updated for three months, you provide no change log and no active development tree, your are dormant! Simple as that!
Have you been playing with the new test kernel 2.6.0-test1? The kernel is still far from production quality and seems to suffer from many problems in this early stage, but more eyes find more bugs and it should slowly find its way to many systems, at least to those used by more experienced Linux users. There certainly are many exciting new features (see this technical overview), which will not doubt please the technology enthusiasts. Red Hat has already released an RPM package of the new kernel for the adventurous souls and a discussion about its features has been ongoing on the Shrike mailing list. For nVidia graphics card users, see this document for further information about how to get the nVidia driver work with the 2.6 kernel. As it improves, we should start seeing more distributions include one of the 2.6 test releases as an experimental kernel. Interesting times ahead!
|Released Last Week
Red Flag Linux 4.0
Red Flag Linux 4.0 has been released. Featuring a re-designed user interface, faster system boot and improved application responsiveness, this version of Red Flag Linux provides the usual range of desktop applications for both home and office use, including Internet connectivity tools, graphics and multimedia software, games and MS Office compatible office suite with the ability to edit and print documents in Chinese. A four-CD plus manual boxed set is available from retailers around China for the equivalent of about US$12. The ISO image can be downloaded from one of these mirrors (page in Chinese). However, the downloadable edition is not full-featured - it is missing an office suite (a customised version of OpenOffice ships with the retail edition). Also, simplified Chinese is the only language supported by the downloadable edition, which makes it impractical for potential users in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The ADIOS Project has released ADIOS Linux Boot CD, version 1.30. ADIOS is a Red Hat based live CD with excellent hardware auto-detection, option to install the system on hard disk and option to save configuration files to floppy or USB storage devices. Created by the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, ADIOS comes with a choice of KDE, GNOME or IceWM desktop environments and support for LIDS (Linux Intrusion Detection System) and User Mode Linux. Find out more on the ADIOS project page.
GNOPPIX Linux version 0.4-2 is out. As you have probably guessed, GNOPPIX Linux is a GNOME-centric live Linux CD based on Knoppix and designed for those who prefer the GNOME desktop environment, rather than KDE. The first version of GNOPPIX was announced only two weeks before, so this is probably a bug fix release; unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate any changelogs, release notes or package lists (running 'dpkg -l' returns an error). The GNOPPIX Linux web site is in German.
The MoviX project has released MoviX2, version 0.3.0: "Since the 0.3.0rc2 turned out to be pretty stable and no big bug was found in the last three weeks I promoted it to 0.3.0 with just a few minor fixes." Work has started on version 0.3.1: "Since now I've got an EPIA M-10000 I immediately started a new "experimental" version 0.3.1pre1 that supports that beautiful MB!" The MoviX web site has some nice new screenshots.
After extensive beta testing, Kurumin 2.0 has been released. Known as Kurumin 1.5 during its beta phase, the new release has many updated packages (including XFree86 4.3.0 and KDE 3.1.2), bug fixes, improved hard disk installation procedure and new user-friendly enhancements and icons in its default user interface. The release announcement (in Portuguese) is available here. Kurumin is an increasingly popular Brazilian Linux live CD based on Knoppix.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Red Hat Linux 9.0.93 (Severn)
Yes, it's the start of another beta testing period for Red Hat users once Red Hat Linux 9.0.93, code name "Severn" is released later today (no, we are not going to speculate on what the final release is going to be called). Don't expect too much new, however, as the beta release appears to be more of a consolidation release of Red Hat Linux 9, rather than a release full of cutting edge features. Severn has been spotted on many Red Hat mirrors, but the directory is still locked. If you can't wait until the official announcement, read the Severn release notes.
The release will likely be accompanied by further announcements. Many of you have seen the usual attention-grabbing headline from Linux and Main: "Red Hat to abandon retail channel" which was later "updated" to "Red Hat to change development model, abandon shrinkwrap". The full story is here. We'll wait for the full announcement before making any comments, but things rarely look as bad as journalist make them look and you will certainly be able to buy the Red Hat Linux distribution in the future. In fact, the experimental launch of the Red Hat Linux magazine in Germany and Italy seems like a great success and similar models might be on the cards for other parts of the world. There will be more on the subject in the next weekly edition of Linux Weekly News, including an interview with Red Hat's Matt Wilson.
Gentoo Linux 1.4
The long awaited Gentoo Linux 1.4 will be out early in August, or so says the Gentoo web site: "Gentoo Linux 1.4 will be officially released at LinuxWorld Expo '03 in San Francisco, CA (August 5-7.) The Gentoo Linux crew will be at the show in .org pavilion booth #1. Please make plans to stop by, chat, and pick up your favorite build of Gentoo Linux 1.4 for free :)" If you can't make it to San Francisco, you can order the official CD set directly from the new Gentoo store: "Our new Gentoo Store is now online at http://store.gentoo.org, and we are now accepting pre-orders for Gentoo Linux 1.4 for x86, i686, Pentium III, Pentium 4 and Athlon XP, with other architectures coming soon. Each 2-CD set allows Gentoo to be installed without the need for an Internet connection, contains a large selection of pre-built packages (XFree86, KDE, GNOME and many more,) and includes printed installation instructions. Gentoo Linux 1.4 will be officially released (and will ship) on August 5, 2003." Of course, with a source-based distribution such as Gentoo, there is no reason to wait for the final release before installing it, but an increase in version number creates a psychologically important reference point.
|Web Site News
Aurox Linux has become a new sponsor of DistroWatch.com and you might have noticed a disclaimer accompanying the Aurox Linux news published last week. A similar disclaimer will accompany all news items where a sponsor is involved. This comes after the often questioned Yoper sponsorship deal which saw Yoper climb up steadily to the number one spot in the page hit ranking statistics and which resulted in many false accusations that all had not been fair and square. This wasn't the case and we will continue to provide unbiased coverage of all distributions, big and small, commercial and non-commercial, but all future news related to sponsors who help to pay our bills will be accompanied by a similar disclaimer. If you haven't done so, do check out Aurox Linux, which is a free distribution released under GPL; French, Spanish and German editions were made available for free download last week. Aurox Linux was one of the recommended distributions in a recent distribution roundup by linuxfrench.net.
Two new distributions were added to the DistroWatch database last week - these were ADIOS and GNOPPIX. Both of them happened to release new versions, so check out the "Released Last Week" section for more information about them.
New on the waiting list
Five new projects have been added to the DistroWatch waiting list:
DistroWatch database summary
- BlackRhino GNU/Linux - a free Debian-based GNU/Linux software distribution for the Sony PlayStation 2.
- Lambdaux - another Debian (and LinEx) based distribution by LambdaUX Software Services, a company established in February this year in Madrid, Spain.
- Kix - a German project, a mini live Linux CD, based on Debian and Knoppix.
- Pilot Linux - a bootable cd with just a client for a MS terminal server. Just boot the cd, enter the name of the server and you're off. Based on Debian, Knoppix and Damn Small Linux.
- Sunrise Linux - a new secure Linux distribution using RPM package management. It is currently in early development, but the first alpha releases are available for testing.
- Number of distributions in the database: 156
- Number of discontinued distributions: 21
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 50
Good idea. I would even take it one step further and suggest that you contact the developers directly and ask them whether they'll be willing to answer a few questions. If they agree, go ahead and ask to your heart's content, send us the complete interview for formatting and publishing. In other words, feel free to conduct the entire interview in the name of DistroWatch; you'll get credited as the author of the story. Failing that, send in some concrete suggestions, together with a few questions you wish to ask; these can be published here and other readers can contribute their own questions in the discussion forum.
- "I wonder if it would be a good idea for DW to do regular interviews with developers or management from interesting distros, specially the emerging ones, to see what the focus of the distro is, how they differ from others, how they compare to others, etc. That is, to make interviews from a DW point of view: to sort out the distro mess :-)"
On DistroWatch icons, logos and banners
More logos/banners were submitted last week - this is what we have so far:
- "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."
All opinions are welcome.
About Ron Garland's Lindows review
I agree. At first glance, it looked like a lot of work has gone into the review, but the length can be misleading. I have removed the link from the Lindows page.
- "I'd like to ask distrowatch to have at least a quick look in future before recommending a review to its readers. I have never seen such a poorly written review: amateurish, tons of factual mistakes, confused and confusing. Regardless of whether you like Lindows or not, reading such a review can only be a pain."
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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