| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 14, 8 September 2003
Re-thinking the "distribution" model
Traditionally, September is a good month for releasing new versions of Linux distribution. The big commercial trio of Mandrake, Red Hat and SuSE have always considered this month to be vital for their profit margins as this is about the right time to get the boxed versions out to big chain stores ahead of the Christmas shopping season in Europe and North America. These have always been the major sources of income for the Linux companies.
But times have changed. The three largest distributions are no longer dependant on sales of boxed products to generate revenue. In fact, the box sets are often seen as too much hard work to get it produced and shipped to stores just to have profits eaten away by all the middlemen and service companies. Red Hat has already indicated that it will no longer deliver their distribution to stores in a box, concentrating their resources on attracting big customers who are more likely to provide the company with a steady revenue for years to come. Similarly, Mandrake's product have not been particularly visible on the shelves in recent years; instead they encourage all their fans to join the Mandrake Club. This seems to be working fairly well, thanks to the fact that the company has succeeded in creating a large user base of loyal fans and followers. This leaves SuSE as the only one of the big three pursuing the traditional model of "distributing" their distribution. But even SuSE has been actively courting the big business, income from which surely has to be a lot more interesting than the few euros earned from those heavy boxes full of thick Linux manuals.
Perhaps a better model is to distribute the CDs as part of a "magazine". The idea was pioneered by Aurox Linux, which has done exactly that, getting their distribution to a substantial number of software stores, book stores and even supermarkets in large parts of Europe. This is a great way of getting Linux exposed and tempt impulsive buyers who rarely venture into big software stores, but might be attracted by a low-cost Linux distribution found in a local grocery store. Of course, the fact the producer of Aurox Linux is actually a large publishing house with years of experience, plenty of contacts and delivery channels certainly helps. Still, it takes some effort to get the infrastructure in place, to get the magazine translated into many languages and, most importantly, to get it to places where Linux has never been before.
|Released Last Week
The ByzantineOS project announced a release of a new ByzantineOS ISO image and buildsystem. From the changelog: "Changes for byzantine-i586-20030901.iso.gz: kernel 2.4.21, alsa-driver-0.9.6, metacity-2.5.3, xmms-1.2.8-pre1, bug fixes (mplayer, sound). Changes for byzgl-buildsystem-4.1-r2.iso.gz: based on LFS-4.1, kernel 2.4.21..." See the full changelog for a more complete list of changes.
Onebase Linux 1.2
Onebase Linux released two quick bug fix versions of the earlier 1.0 release: "The CD-device selection has been avoided making the installation easier and this also resolves issues with certain CD device nodes. Other than this it contains minor fixes and improves the stability of 1.0. For those who had problems with 1.1, download or buy 1.2. Unfortunately this happens to be the third 1.x release in as many days. With this we may be closing the 1.x branch and start development with the 2.x." The announcement, changelog and system requirements. Onebase Linux is a new source-based Linux distribution with a web-based package management.
Damn Small Linux 0.4.6
Damn Small Linux 0.4.6 was released. From the changelog: "Dillo with more patches! Andreas Kemnade was kind enough to modify his SSL patch to make it compatible with Frank de Lange's frames and tabs patch. The binary is only 337k! Also, I added traceroute, fixed a rendering problem with netcardconfig, and modified startx so that it will save your selected settings for the next X session -- run 'xsetup.sh' as root if you want to change it."
MEPIS is a new desktop Linux distribution based on Debian/Knoppix, with a fresh release announced yesterday: "Today, MEPIS LLC announced the release of MEPIS Linux 2003.08 for Pentium processors. MEPIS Linux is a desktop Linux that is designed for both personal and business purposes. MEPIS Linux offers a live/installation/recovery CD, automatic hardware configuration, NTFS partition resizing, ACPI power management, WiFi support, anti-aliased truetype fonts, personal firewall, KDE 3.1.3, OpenOffice 1.1, and much more." See the rest of the detailed announcement. MEPIX LLC has also become the newest sponsor of DistroWatch.com
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Eagle Linux 3.0
Eagle has announced that its 3.0 release planned for August this year will be dealyed: "Due to the recent SCO Unix happenings, Eagle Linux 3.0 will not be released until October 2003. Being a non-revenue generating product, it was not in our interest to continue development until it was assured that no negative effects would result in any fashion. Development has resumed, and we look forward to producing a product which is comparable to the previous versions of Eagle Linux."
Aurox Linux 9.1
Aurox Linux 9.1 will be released on 15 September: "Next version of Aurox Linux -- 9.1 (Fire) will be available from 15 September. Aurox will be attached to Aurox Linux Magazine. The magazine is issued in 5 language versions (Polish, Czech, German, Spanish, French). You can buy it in 12 countries, or via Internet. Aurox is free, GPL licenced distribution, you can download Aurox via FTP. The distribution is on 7 CDs: binary packages on CDs 1 - 4, sources on CDs 4 - 7. CD no. 4 includes binaries, sources and extras (nVidia drivers, Flash plug-in, J2RE, partitioning tool)."
SuSE Linux 9.0
It seems that the next release of SuSE Linux will be version 9.0. How do we know? Take a look at this NVIDIA installer HOWTO, which makes references to "SuSE Linux 9.0 (Preview/Beta)". SuSE does of course have beta versions of their releases, but the company claims that there is no evidence that a large-scale public beta testing of its product would result in a better quality distribution than the current closed beta testing, and it has never offered the beta releases to public.
|Web Site News
Page Hit Ranking time span options
New in the way Page Hit Ranking statistics are presented on the main page is the ability to choose a time span for the data. Currently there are options to select the data collected during the most recent 1, 3, 6 or 12 months, as well as the data for the entire year 2002. The data collection has now been completely automated, although it still needs some more testing.
Serbian and Rumanian translations
Many thanks to Andrej Lukács for his effort to translate the site's navigation system and introduction into Serbian. Those of you who are visiting from Rumania will notice that many parts of the site have been translated into your language - this is thanks to the enthusiasm of Ghita G. Serban and Adrian Belciug. Great work!
New on the waiting list
- EduLinux. Based on Mandrake Linux 9.1, EduLinux is a specialized distribution for education and office use. It is aimed at the general public as well as educational and community environments. It was developed and compiled at the Université de Sherbrooke's Faculty of Engineering and is intended to be easy to use and perfectly adapted to Quebec's linguistic environment.
- Quantian. A Knoppix/Debian variant tailored to numerical and quantitative analysis, Quantian is a remastering of Knoppix, the self-configuring and directly bootable CDROM that turns any PC or laptop (provided it can boot from CDROM) into a full-featured Linux workstation. The most recent version is based on clusterKnoppix and adds support for openMosix, including remote booting of light clients in an openMosix terminal server context. Quantian is an extension of Knoppix and clusterKnoppix from which it takes its base system of about 2GB of software, along with fully automatic hardware detection and configuration. However, Quantian differs from Knoppix by adding a set of programs of interest to applied or theoretical workers in quantitative or data-driven fields.
- MEPIS Linux. MEPIS Linux is a desktop Linux system that is also easy to configure as a dedicated server. It is designed for both personal and business purposes. It includes cutting-edge features such as a live/installation/recovery CD, automatic hardware configuration, NTFS partition resizing, ACPI power management, WiFi support, anti-aliased TrueType fonts, a personal firewall, KDE, and much more.
DistroWatch database summary
- ZENIX is a new LFS based Linux Distribution. It was built directly from scratch, to stand for a reliable Server-OS.
- Shark Linux is a powerful Linux-based operating system designed for simplicity, security, and functionality.
- WOMP, a micro linux distribution focused on multimedia, it takes only 13 - 18 MB on a bootable CD and allows playing multimedia files (video/audio/image) without installing any software on the computer's hard drive.
- Number of distributions in the database: 172
- Number of discontinued distributions: 24
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 63
This sounds like an excellent idea. However, I am going to need some help in drawing the "old hardware" line. Is anything older than Pentium II considered "old hardware"? Or should we go still further back in history? The next question is of course how we deal with the X Window System. Apart from the latest versions of Red Hat Linux which will not install on anything with less than 128MB of RAM, most other distributions, like Slackware or Debian will be quite happy on a Pentium 90 - if you don't care much for a clickable interface, that is. But including all distributions which will run in text mode will probably result in a huge page which would kill the objective of providing a list of distributions designed to run on old hardware. These are just some of the dilemmas; as always your suggestions and a possible list of included distributions are more than welcome.
- "Given the large number of inquiries showing up on newsgroups from people wanting to install linux on a 486 or Pentium 90, etc. it might be helpful to add a 'distros for old hardware' selection at the top of the page..."
Robert Storey's Debian GNU/Linux - Not Just Another Pretty Face article we published last week was generally well received, with one exception - DebianPlanet.org. This was a little disappointing at first, but luckily, the author of the above post has since exchanged emails with Robert, detailing all inaccuracies in the article. The promised second part of the Debian review should be up shortly and it will have all the corrections from Part I, as well as further talk about Debian. But this episode has made us realise a simple truth - writing a review of a geek distribution is a lot harder than writing about distributions designed for non-technical users. No wonder we rarely see reviews of Debian or Slackware in the mainstream Linux media!
- From DebianPlanet.org: "Although Distrowatch is currently carrying an article about installing a Debian from a new user's perspective, I recommend you skip this and go straight to the much more comprehensive and factually correct Debian Install Manual which is (hopefully) available in your native language and in whatever format you wish."
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
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