| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 20, 20 October 2003
"Free" versus "Commercial"
The release of Mandrake Linux 9.2 last week marked an important point on the MandrakeSoft's road. It happened for the first time in the distribution's 5-year history that the final product was withheld until retail boxes are ready for shipment. While most users can understand this policy of a company which has a duty to report to its stakeholders, from a purely user point of view, it did take some fun away. The usual rush to search for fast download mirrors, the excitement of installing from the freshly burnt CDs or the thrill of waiting for the first boot to complete - for many Mandrake users, last week was nothing but a nostalgic reminiscence of the good times when Mandrake Linux releases were available immediately, free for all.
This brings up the old debate of choosing a distribution, not just based on features, but also on its status in terms of "free" (beer). In the past, this distinction was often blurred - Mandrake was a prime example of being a commercial company, yet giving the product away for free - until they learnt the hard way that the two concepts are in severe conflict. Some companies, such as Xandros, Lindows.com and even SUSE knew this from the beginning and chose not to give their work away, at the expense of surrendering market share to those who did. As with the recent release of Lycoris Desktop/LX, an increasing number of Linux companies are trying to restrict or delay the availability of their new products. In fact, of the major and established Linux distributions, the only commercial company that makes the product freely available immediately after release is Slackware.
Will this trend lead to increased migration to non-commercial distributions? While many small distributions are indeed free in both senses of the word, of the major ones there isn't that much of a choice. Enough has been said about Debian and Gentoo - wonderful as they are, they are far from being the most user-friendly products on the market. Are there any truly free distributions for those who have little interest in tinkering with their operating system? One of the more promising ones is Ark Linux. Although still in heavy development, the product has attracted some highly skilled developers with great new ideas. Don't be surprised if Ark Linux becomes one of the top Linux distributions in the not-too-distant future.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the Linux operating system and free software is the world-wide developer community, working out of sheer interest. This has been demonstrated by a massive and ongoing volunteer effort at translating popular applications and documentation into many languages, including some obscure ones or some which have a complex writing system. Arabic and Farsi (Persian) are two languages that have attracted much volunteer effort in recent months. And the results are becoming more and more visible. The Arabic Linux community has a unifying umbrella under Arabeyes.org (web site in English), with one of the projects being the Arabbix distribution. Arabbix is a modified version of Morphix and the first public release, version 0.8, was announced last weekend. Still in the Middle East, the Iran Linux User Group is currently working on another live CD project called Shabdix (web site in Farsi). While the distribution is not yet available for public download, a first review (in Farsi) with a handful of screenshots has been published by Technotux.
Screenshot: Arabbix Desktop (full image size 837kB)
|Released Last Week
Office optimized Linux 17.00o
antitachyon - Manalo & Willner OEG have announced a release of Office optimized Linux (OoL) 17.00o: "OoL - Office optimized Linux 17.00o, a new Linux distribution series based on Server optimized Linux was released today. OoL 17.00o is a distribution customized and optimized for office use, with the easy-to-use KDE desktop with lots of programs for document-, appointment-, e-mail-, and media-management. As a special highlight, OoL 17.00o is presented with Open Office 1.1.0. The distribution OoL - Office optimized Linux can be downloaded for free or bought at a low price in the SoL-shop." Visit the above links for the rest of the press release and further information.
Damn Small Linux 0.4.9
Damn Small Linux 0.4.9 has been released. From the changelog: "For simplifying the restoration of apt after a HD install, I wrote a small script that will do the work of restoring the dpkg database so people don't have to do it manually. To use it type 'sudo dpkg-restore'. I brought emeLFM more into the DSL system, now it should launch installed programs when items are clicked on; also, now it will open with $HOME on one side and '/ ' on the other. Also added is nfs-common (lockd, statd, showmount, and nfsstat) and protmap which should allow DSL to act as a thin client (thanks for the suggestion Robert S.)..." More in the changelog.
Mandrake Linux 9.2
The much awaited Mandrake Linux 9.2 has been released: "Mandrake 9.2 is now available (press release here)! Celebrate this five-star new release with us: discover all its features and all new Packs, including the very new "Discovery" office/multimedia desktop pack. Mandrake Club Members and all 9.2 contributors (developers, translators...) can download Mandrake 9.2 ISOs at MandrakeClub with the BitTorrent technology. Additionally, Mandrake Club Silver Members and above can even download the first three ISO images from the PowerPack! If you aren't a Club Member yet, either you can subscribe right now, or download Mandrake 9.2 from the raw tree, or wait the public release of Mandrake 9.2 ISO images, by the end of October, when all packs will be available in retail. Last but not least you can pre-order your pack or your DVD now at MandrakeStore.com to be among the first to receive it when it begins shipping." The announcement says it all.
A new version of GNU/LinEx has been released. Version 3.0r2 marks an important transition in the development of GNU/LinEx - from now on only software released under GPL or GPL-compatible license will be included in the distribution. Some of the important changes in this release include: upgrade to OpenOffice 1.1; new OpenOffice QuickStart applet; new configuration tools for setting up network, users and printers; upgrade to MPlayer 1.0rc2; inclusion of some LinEx-edu files currently under development; removal of Java and NVIDIA drivers; bug fixes; updated Spanish translation. Existing installations can be upgraded via 'actualizar-linex'. See the full announcement (in Spanish) for further details.
SUSE LINUX 9.0
SUSE has updated the web page detailing features of the new SUSE LINUX 9.0: "We would like to invite you to get to know SUSE LINUX 9.0 before you decide to order it. The new SUSE LINUX 9 boasts a number of innovative technologies that greatly facilitate the system migration for Linux newcomers. Experienced Linux users benefit from additional system administration and system tuning features. Click here to read the interview with Chris Schläger, Director of Distribution Development, in which he explains the most important new features in detail. The time is ripe for SUSE LINUX on the home PC. SUSE LINUX is more than an efficient and stable operating system. SUSE LINUX comes with all applications you need for the Internet, office, images, audio, video, and network. Check out ten good reasons why you should migrate to SUSE LINUX as soon as possible." Visit the above links for all the glory details. If you are still hesitating, you can test drive the new SUSE 9.0 by downloading its new Live-Eval CD from one of the mirrors.
Arabbix is a new distribution in our database. Developed by Anmar Oueja and based on Morphix, Arabbix claims to be the world's first Arabic live CD. The release was announced on Arabeyes.org: "Arabeyes would like to announce the first full public release of Arabbix. Version 0.8 will be distributed (courtesy of the Saudi Computer Society) at Gitex in Dubai (Oct 19 - 23) and is, as always, available for download free of any charges. Arabbix includes most applications an Arab user might require or need. Arabbix is not only intended to attract new users and to cement the virtues of Open Source and Linux as a fully functional Arabic desktop medium, but is also hoped that it will engrave into people's hearts and minds Arabeyes' 'can be done' and 'results oriented' attitude and goals." See the Arabbix project page for more details and screenshots.
Local Area Security Linux 0.4 MAIN
A new stable version of Local Area Security Linux (L.A.S.), MAIN branch, version 0.4, has been released: "I am pleased to announce the release of Local Area Security Linux 0.4 MAIN! Many additions and bug fixes have been made since the beta version. Over 60 new packages have been added. As well as existing packages being updated to the current releases. Another addition of importance is Fabian Franz's 'toram' linuxrc routine to copy the CD image into RAM. This allows the utilization of CD burners etc. All that is required is enough physical RAM to load the image (185MB). Many additions to the website will go along with this release are slated to be added over the coming days as well. Please feel free to use our forums to report issues, make comments, or seek help." Read the complete announcement.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Oralux has published a roadmap leading to its 1.00 release, with outlook towards version 2.00: "We wish to follow a humble and pragmatic approach. First with Oralux 1.00, targeting users who know GNU/Linux or who are able to learn it. Release 2.00 will more concern the persons who have no particular skill to use a computer, whereas the computer would be useful for them. The intuitive interface will help the newcomer to go towards the Emacspeak and Emacs world." See the rest of the roadmap for further details.
OpenNA Linux 1.0
After many months in development, the server oriented OpenNA Linux 1.0 is ready for release."The new Official OpenNA Linux 1.0 (VSLC) O/S is now in its stable and working stage and is listed as a new product on our e-commerce for USD $47.95 to be introduced officially on October 31, 2003. We count on our loyal customers to support OpenNA during this tough period by purchasing at a pre-official introduction price of USD $37.95 our new OpenNA Linux O/S. Remember that your participation will help us to continue to support and serve you continuously." ISO images will be available on 31 October.
Eagle Linux 3.0
Eagle Linux, a bootable CD toolkit based on Debian, will also be released on 31 October: "Eagle Linux version 3.0 will be released on October 31, 2003. As you may know, Eagle Linux is developed by a single individual (with the assistance of a handful of beta testers). A family issue has kept Eagle from furthering development until this time. My deepest apologies to those of you who have been awaiting this release, and my deepest gratitude to those who have. If you would like to subscribe to the Eagle Linux mailing list, please send an email with the word subscribe in the subject."
LinuxInstall.org now supports Fedora Core 0.95 on DVD
LinuxInstall.org has announced support for the Fedora Project: "The Fedora Project is a Red-Hat-sponsored and community-supported open source project. LinuxInstall.org now supports Fedora Project by offering Fedora Core 0.95 Test Release on DVD for only $10 including basic installation support. LinuxInstall.org still offers Fedora Core 0.95 in 3 CD-SET is for only $5."
|Web Site News
Many thanks to Stanislaw for translating parts of the site into Polish.
New on the waiting list
- Burapha Linux. Burapha Linux is a free Linux distribution developed from Slackware. The Burapha Linux project is developed at the Burapha Linux lab, computer science department, Burapha University, Thailand. The primary purpose of development is for the computer science students to learn the infrastructure of a UNIX system, and apply the acquired knowledge in their research and projects. The installation program was first developed by Mr. Ham, and other custom packages were further developed by computer science students at the Burapha linux lab. While Burapha Linux is a derivative of Slackware Linux, it now contains a completely different installation system, a different feature set, and some additional custom packages. For example, Thai language features, database management system packages and different network feature sets have been added to meet user requirements.
- AbulÉdu. AbulÉdu is a French Linux distribution, specifically designed for data processing in educational establishments. Originally based on Mandrake Linux, the most recent release is based on Debian/Knoppix.
- Berry Linux. Berry Linux is a bootable CD Linux with automatic hardware detection and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. Berry Linux can be used as a Linux demo, educational CD or as a rescue system. It is not necessary to install anything on a hard disk, although this option is also available (it needs 1.2GB of hard disk space). Berry Linux is based on Red Hat Linux and Knoppix.
- ThePacketMaster Linux. ThePacketMaster (TPM) Linux Security Server gives you a full toolkit of open source security software to perform vulnerability assessments and penetration testing. Forensic analysis tools are also included. TPM Linux boots and runs from the CD-ROM - this allows any machine to instantly run TPM Linux, without having go through an installation. Just put the TPM Disc into the CD-ROM drive and boot from it. TPM Linux has a wide selection of open-source security auditing utilities and computer forensic toolkits. Since the programs can all be run from the CD, nothing needs to be installed on the system in order to collect evidence, helping to ensure the evidence isn't damaged in any way.
- BlackRhino GNU/Linux. BlackRhino GNU/Linux is a free Debian-based GNU/Linux software distribution for the Sony PlayStation 2. It contains over 1,200 software packages to aid in using and creating programs for the Sony PlayStation 2 Linux kit. The programs range in functionality from simple games, to text editors, compilers, web servers, windowing systems, database systems, graphics packages, mail servers and a variety of other tools and utilities. The software distribution was created by xRhino for a commercial Sony PlayStation 2 title. It is released in the hopes that the distribution will help hobbyists create their own games and applications that utilise the advanced programmable hardware of the PS2.
- Drinou Linux. Drinou Linux is an operating system of the Linux family, based on Slackware Linux distribution and on kernel 2.2.x. It can be installed both on an ext2 filesystem (on a dedicated partition) or on a DOS filesystem (as a loopback device). It can be installed from DOS, Linux, in umsdos mode or via FTP. Basic installation requires a 486 PC with 8 MB RAM and 105 MB minimum hard disk space. During the installation another 150 MB will be used.
- Arabbix. Arabbix is the world's first Arabic Live-CD (run-from-CD) distribution that showcases Arabeyes' and others' accomplishments and results - it includes most of the applications an Arab user might require or need. Arabbix is not only intended to attract new users and to cement the virtues of Open Source and Linux as a fully functional Arabic desktop medium, but is also hoped that it will engrave into people's hearts and minds Arabeyes' "can be done" and "results oriented" attitude and goals.
- Local Area Security (L.A.S.) Linux. Local Area Security Linux is a 'Live CD' distribution with a strong emphasis on security tools and small footprint. We currently have 2 different versions of L.A.S. to fit two specific needs - MAIN and SECSERV. This project is released under the terms of GPL.
Removed from the waiting list
- Ankur Bangla Live! CD is a Knoppix-based live CD with support for the Bangla (Bengali) language.
- BioBrew Linux is an open source Linux cluster distribution that is enhanced for life scientists. BioBrew automates cluster installation, includes all the HPC software a cluster enthusiast needs, and contains popular bioinformatics applications.
- Console Linux is a commercial Brazilian Linux distribution.
- MUMi-LinuX is a server-specific distribution made in Turkey.
- Gentooish Security Toolkit i386 LiveCD is Gentooish Linux LiveCD with many security tools, usable in any i386 and above.
DistroWatch database summary
- PlumpOS, which has not released any files during the past 6 months.
- Number of distributions in the database: 188
- Number of discontinued distributions: 24
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 65
On Elx Linux 3.0
On old Red Hat releases
- "I contacted the people at ELX and they said that 3.0 will be released very soon. While not much has been going on, it seems to be alive as well as I got a very quick response."
Red Hat removed their earliest releases from FTP servers a long time ago and they are very hard to find. If any of the readers know where to find one, or if any of you have some old CDs (or floppy disks) lying around, please let us know.
- "I'm interesting not in the newest, but in the oldest ones. Since you should know a lot about Linux distributions, I decided to ask this question to you: Do you have an idea where to get old Red Hat Linux releases (Mother's Day or 2.0/3.0?). I've looked through ftp.redhat.com and mirrors and ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/historic-linux but things I've found there can be hardly seen as a complete distro. Any help will be greatly appreciated."
A note of absence
Please note that I will be taking a short break away from my computer for a few days this week, during which news updates will come slower than usual - sorry about that. All should be back to normal by the end of the week.
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
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