| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 18, 6 October 2003
Turbolinux turns 10
Turbolinux still has a name behind it. After reporting about the upcoming release of Turbolinux 10 Desktop, many other English language news sites picked up the story and deemed it newsworthy enough to run it on their own sites. This was somewhat surprising, considering that Turbolinux is now nothing more than a Japanese distribution catering almost exclusively for their domestic market (and China). Gone are the days when Turbolinux was a respectable player on the global market place (last time I heard, the company's US office was reduced to one support person). However, even in Japan, the distribution is an increasingly marginal player -- that's despite their effort to develop specifically for high-end users, while focusing on server and AMD64 editions of Turbolinux.
Will Turbolinux recover their former glory? A careful look at the release announcement shows signs of desperation. Firstly, Turbolinux went from version 8 (released in July 2002) to version 10, skipping 9 altogether and giving themselves a dubious honour of being the first well-known distribution to enter the era of double-digit versioning schemes. Secondly, they have made a risky decision to ship with a pre-release 2.6 Linux kernel (2.6.0-test5 to be exact). While Linux enthusiasts will no doubt applaud the decision - after all the product is a less critical "Desktop" edition - there will be those who will call it irresponsible to base the product on a poorly tested, pre-release kernel version. Thirdly, the release announcement goes out of its way to stress that the product is the ultimate Windows-to-Linux migration tool, clearly targeting those businesses which have never used Linux on their desktops before.
All in all, Turbolinux's version 10 marks a critical point in the distribution's long history. A quality release, coupled with effective marketing could indeed revive the distribution. Failing that, the first double-digit distribution version might be Turbolinux's last.
Distributions playing name games
Last week, the parent company of the Trustix Secure Linux distribution announced bankruptcy. This is an extract from a story, as told by one of the main Trustix developers, Erlend Midttun: "On July 25, Christian [Haugan Toldnes] got laid off and I went down to a 25% position. About a month later, I got laid off too. We have since maintained Trustix Secure Linux totally on a voluntary basis. The distribution as such is open source but the name is the property of Trustix AS, so we must continue the development under another name. We have found Tawie Server Linux (aka TSL :) to be the name we prefer." It is always a pleasure to report that a project is still alive and well, even if the company behind it goes out of business. This is one of the wonders of GPL.
But Trustix wasn't the only distribution undergoing a name change last week, even the much more popular SUSE AG found a valid reason for a name adjustment - from SuSE Linux to SUSE LINUX: "As part of the overall effort to update our look, it was felt that upper casing all of SUSE LINUX brought more attention to the name.", asserts Joseph Eckert, SUSE's VP of Corporate Communications. Let's take a look at some other distributions that have changed their names, continued under a new name or where the developers of an original project were forced to start a new project under a different name:
If you know of any others, please mention them bellow.
- Best Linux --> SOT Linux
- Caldera Open Linux --> SCO Linux
- Enoch Linux --> Gentoo Linux
- FreeLoader Linux --> eLearnix
- Kondara MNU/Linux --> Momonga Linux
- miniwoody --> Bonzai Linux
- Red Hat Linux --> Fedora Project
- Redmond Linux --> Lycoris Desktop/LX
- SuSE Linux --> SUSE LINUX
- Trusted Debian --> Adamantix
- Trustix Secure Linux --> Tawie Server Linux
|Released Last Week
The Dyne:bolic project has released a new bugfix version of Dyne:bolic GNU/Linux: "Version 1.1 is already out as a bugfix release, including fixes to the nesting mechanism and to the openmosix clustering, encryption support back in the mail program and better handling of X resolutions. Every user is encouraged to upgrade thru the 'spawn' tool present in dyne:bolic." See the announcement on the distribution's web site and a complete changelog in this mailing list post.
Definity Linux 2.0
The final version of Definity Linux 2.0 has been released. That's according to very brief messages on the distribution's home page and its mailing list (both links in Portuguese). Definity Linux is a commercial Brazilian distribution based on Slackware Linux.
Quantian 0.4 has been released: "The most recent version 0.4 is the result of three test releases since version 0.3, and corresponds to the last release 0.3.9.3." From the ChangeLog: "Comprises newer 2.4.22 kernel, a new OpenMosix patch and updated software throughout. Added RPy, ipe, giac, gap-character-tables, kile, lush, felt, mpb, wajig for the Gap CAS, kile, ent, added fonts for texmacs, and removed comedi as we do not have a matching kernel module for it." Check out the Quantian web site for more information.
Oralux, a Knoppix-based distribution for visually impaired persons, is now available: "Based on Knoppix 3.3 (2003-09-24). Emacspeak Festival MBROLA (EFM) is included. It supplies an English or French software synthesis. The Castillan Spanish or German files of the DECtalk software can be automatically installed. If the alsa driver is required, the alsa cheatcode will be typed once, and will be automatically restored for the following boots. The introductory menu is now available in 4 languages (Castillan Spanish and German have been added). Selecting another item in the menu: up or down arrow keys. Repeating an item: left or right arrow keys." See the announcement on the distribution's web site.
A community contributed, PPC edition of CRUX 1.1+ is now available. From the README file: "CRUX 1.1 for PowerPC platform with packages updated to September 2003. Some packages are added or modified to support special PPC features and some others are added from the CRUX 1.2 tree (e.g. gtk2, atk, pango and xchat2). The system boots on NewWorld machines. Updated install.txt to reflect the needed changes. Note that CRUX-PPC includes support for cvsup and httpup because it can use cvsup for the clc ports or zhware ports, but httpup is needed for the official 'base' and 'opt' ports."
stresslinux is a new distribution in out database: "stresslinux is a minimal Linux distribution that runs from a bootable CDROM or via PXE. It makes use of some utilities such as stress, cpuburn, hddtemp, lm_sensors, etc. It is dedicated to users who want to test their system(s) entirely on high load and monitor the health of these systems." Version 0.2.6 is now available; visit the distribution's web site for more information and its changelog for a complete list of changes.
- Sorcerer 20030930; this is a new Install/Rescue ISO image, Sorcerer's first stable release since May 2002.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Turbolinux has announced the release of Turbolinux 10 Desktop. Skipping version 9 and inventing a term "High Windowsability" in the process, some of the notable features in Turbolinux 10 include complete Japanese support, interoperability and file sharing with Windows, and Turbo Update. Turbolinux 10 is the first distribution shipping with the new 2.6 kernel series (2.6.0-test5) as the default kernel and it also comes with KDE 3.1.3 and GNOME 2.4 desktop environments, as well as a number of commercial applications, including Acronis Partition Expert, StarSuite 7, ATOK X Japanese input server and a range of Japanese true type fonts. Turbolinux 10 will be available in two editions - Desktop, retailing at ¥15,800 (US$143) and Desktop Basic, selling for ¥3,980 (US$36); both editions are available for pre-order. Find out more in the official press release, on the distribution's product page and in this brief review with screenshots by ZDNet (all of the above links are in Japanese). Turbolinux 10 Desktop will start shipping on 24 October 2003.
SuSE Linux 9.0
SuSE Linux has officially announced the release of SuSE Linux 9.0, which will become available on 15 October in Europe and 24 October in other parts of the world. What's new? "Q: What are the three most important new features of SUSE LINUX 9.0? A: The installation tool of SUSE LINUX now enables resizing of hard disk partitions containing Windows 2000 and XP systems in order to make room for Linux. OpenOffice.org has made a giant leap ahead, and the support of Athlon 64 brings the advantages of 64-bit computing to your home office." The above comes from a brief interview with SuSE's Director of Distribution Development, Chris Schläger (also available in German). Read the official press release - in English or German.
|Web Site News
Many thanks to Eric Roosendaal for his effort to translate parts of the site into Dutch. The popularity page of the statistics section has now been updated to include the latest side-by-side page hit ranking statistics. This section be updated automatically every Saturday. There is an issue which prevents the main page from being displayed correctly on screen resolutions of 800x 600 pixels. Please bear with us while we are trying to find a suitable solution to accommodate both the visitors and the site's sponsors.
New on the waiting list
- Aurora. Aurora SPARC Linux is Red Hat-based Linux distribution ported to the Sun Microsystems' SPARC architecture.
- stresslinux. stresslinux is a minimal Linux distribution that runs from a bootable CDROM or via PXE. It makes use of some utilities such as stress, cpuburn, hddtemp, lm_sensors, etc. It is dedicated to users who want to test their system(s) entirely on high load and monitor the health of these systems.
Removed from the waiting list
- DietLinux is a distribution based on dietlibc. It contains a 2.4.x/2.6.x linux kernel, minit as init, embutils and some GNU stuff.
- The BBLCD Toolkit is a toolkit for building your own bootable Linux CD from your favourite distribution.
- knopILS is an Italian modification of Knoppix.
DistroWatch database summary
- MiniCD - its web site has not been updated since 17 March 2003.
- Number of distributions in the database: 179
- Number of discontinued distributions: 24
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 67
As you can see from the above, there is no way I can please everybody. The solution? As suggested by one of the readers, I have removed all font-size specification from all CSS files. In other words, the font size is no longer specified on any of the pages on this site. If it appears too large, too small or whatever, please check your browser's preferences as the font sizes are now solely the function of your web browser's settings. One possible reason for the fonts appearing too large for some people is that DistroWatch uses Unicode (UTF-8) encoding on all of its pages. You need to find the Unicode or UTF-8 specific font options in your browser's preferences dialog and adjust the font size there. If you still have a problem with font sizes, please make a constructive suggestion below. Complaints that fonts are too large or too small will lead to nowhere.
- "Thank you for changing the default font size. I'm one of the many who never wrote in when the fonts were too small. You spend more than enough time providing such an amazing service without people like me clogging your mailbox with design critiques. However, with this recent change I wanted to be sure to voice my support."
- "Just wondering if anyone else has emailed you about the huge fonts. It looks the same whether I use Mozilla, Netscape, or Opera. You can't read the far right column on your website."
- "I know the font is browser controlled, etc, etc, but like (2) days ago the font got huge, I did not change anything, I recall reading in a forum that you guys might change the font, any chance it will go back to normal size?"
- "Thanks for upping the font size, it's much easier to read."
Distributions are generally very keen to send out free review copies (except for their enterprise-level offerings) to reviewers; all you need to do is write to them and ask. If you don't have a web site or if you don't feel comfortable asking for a review copy, let us know and we'll try to arrange one for you, in which case, we'll reserve exclusive rights to publish the review on DistroWatch. However, before asking for a commercial product to be shipped to you, consider writing a review of a non-commercial or a freely downloadable distribution as a reference of your writing style. Other web sites, such as OSNews also accept review submissions and can arrange product shipment.
- "I would like to write some distribution reviews. My question is how to obtain 'the latest and the greatest' distributions? I don't have the connections to arrange myself a pre-release of the upcoming SUSE LINUX version for example. How do other reviewers get this fancy stuff?"
As for review guidelines, there are two important things you should include in your review: hardware specification and a conclusion with recommendations. A few screenshots can spice up a review. Some reviewers develop a rating system (on a scale from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10), but it's not compulsory. Other than that, just enjoy writing it. Oh, one word of warning - no matter what you write, somebody will find fault with it or even call you an idiot. That's normal, no need to worry about it :-)
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
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