| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 23, 10 November 2003
SUSE acquired, Fedora released
What an exciting week this was! After several days of quiet speculations, SUSE LINUX A.G. was officially acquired by Novell. It is too early to say what this means for the future of the SUSE LINUX distribution, although chances are that, for the average user, not much will change. SUSE will probably continue with its twice-a-year release schedule of the Personal and Professional editions, while only the company's more lucrative enterprise editions will likely be effected by the big event last week. Those in the know seem to be of the opinion that Novell's acquisition of SUSE is a good thing for Linux, so let's just take their word for it and enjoy the publicity ride.
The excitement didn't end there as Red Hat also clamoured for attention. Firstly, the company announced that it was to discontinue its Red Hat Linux product line, only to release it a few days later under a different name - Fedora Core. Secondly, it was Red Hat's CEO Matthew Szulik, who was widely quoted as saying that: "for the consumer market place, Windows probably continues to be the right product line". So there you have it - right from the CEO of the most influential Linux company in the world. If you are still running Linux on your desktop computer, then hurry while stocks last and order your copy of Microsoft Windows XP Professional for only US$269.99. Not only a bargain, it is also the "right" product to have on your computer!
But seriously, what do you think of the new Fedora Core? The first reviews are positive - while Fedora Cora 1 is perhaps only an incremental update from Red Hat 9 with few notable new features, the availability of Red Hat Networks to every user without having to register every three months is certainly a pleasant aspect of the Red Hat to Fedora transformation. The new screen hiding kernel messages during boot is another noticeable change. Overall the first Fedora release seems well designed and pleasant to use, with the only main caveat being the traditional lack of functional multimedia software in the distribution.
Trouble in Redmond
No, not that part of Redmond, but rather in a small Linux company called Lycoris. Last week's stand-off between the company and its user community was a rather unpleasant event on the generally well-behaved and friendly Lycoris forums. What happened? The company released its Lycoris Desktop/LX Update 3 for free download, as promised some two months ago when the product development was completed. However, several users reported that the downloaded product was only a 45-day evaluation edition. Additionally, the company also withheld the CD containing development software and kernel sources. This caught the community by surprise because this was the first time the the company had implemented such restrictive measures. The resulting discussion was not pleasant.
It is rather obvious that Update 3 did not sell well. But blaming it on those who prefer to download the product for free without ever contributing to the development cost is short-sighted. Could it be that Lycoris Update 3 is perhaps a disappointing product? Could it be that those dozens of ignored requests to upgrade to KDE3 and to include GNOME libraries drove large parts of the community to competing products? "No, our target market doesn't need KDE3", was the often repeated line comming from Lycoris. The result? Lycoris is now in the same category as Xandros and LindowsOS, with one significant difference - Xandros and LindowsOS have become great distributions with many user-friendly enhancements, easy installation, excellent hardware auto-detection, wide range of available software and highly polished products that anybody can use and enjoy, during the time when Lycoris developers were working on, er, KDE2.
"Desktop/LX is an alternative Desktop OS, based on Linux. It's not a Linux distribution.", claimed Lycoris's President and CTO Joseph Cheek in his long, angry, and rather naive post last week. To which I would reply this: beware of anybody who maintains that a Linux-based operating system is not a Linux distribution. Statements like these are a clear sign that the company is changing - to become less open, less transparent and more profit oriented. A far cry from the ideals that Redmond Linux was known for in the very beginning of its Linux journey.
|Released Last Week
A new build of Knoppix 3.3 is released. From the changelog: "V3.3-2003-11-03 (3Sat release). New background picture; the usual lot of updates; OpenOffice 1.1 (English and German); KDE 3.1.4 (partly, some packages still missing); removed compressed changelogs for space reasons; known bugs: Some ISO8859-15 fonts do not work correctly in the KDE console.".
Fedora Core 1
The Fedora Project's first official release - Fedora Core 1, code name "Yarrow", is out: "The first release of Fedora Core is now being made available. Please be patient as mirrors update over the next 48 hours or so. Everyone is encouraged to download it and participate by either submitting bugs or submitting fixes. All bugs, requests for enhancements, and fixes should be submitted via Bugzilla. Please keep up to date via the Update methods. To learn what has changed and been improved, read the Release Notes. Join the fedora-test-list mailing list or chat with other participants on IRC." More information on the Fedora Project page.
Linux From Scratch 5.0
Linux From Scratch 5.0 has been released: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS-5.0. This major milestone features a new method with strong emphasis on building a correct compilation environment and base libraries independent from the host system. Release 5.0 features the Linux kernel version 2.4.22, the GNU C Library (glibc) 2.3.2, the GNU Compiler Collection (gcc) 3.3.1 and a bootloader change from LILO to GRUB, amongst other package upgrades. The book's explanatory texts have also been enhanced, providing an even richer learning experience while you build your own customised, hand-crafted Linux installation. You can read the book online, or you can download the book to read locally. This marks yet another great leap for Linux From Scratch, and we hope that it will bring the benefits to more users, sysadmins, and developers than ever before." The full announcement.
Beyond Linux From Scratch 5.0
Beyond Linux From Scratch 5.0 has been released: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of BLFS-5.0. This features our first concurrent release with LFS-5.0. Release 5.0 features XFree86-22.214.171.124, KDE 3.1.4, GNOME 2.2.2, Apache 2.0.47 and OpenOffice 1.1.0 plus a wide variety of current libraries and support programs. The book's layout has also been improved from the previous release. All to provide you with the best applications to install on top of your LFS 5.0 system to create customized web servers, desktops and/or multimedia workstations." The Beyond Linux From Scratch book is available for online reading or for download.
Onebase Linux 2.0
Onebase Linux 2.0 has been released: "After two months of intensive development and testing, Onebase has undergone a major change in its technology with a new OLM that now supports both source and binary packages including other features. We are happy to present this simply powerful and flexible OS today. Read the full announcement. Please buy the product to support its development. (Price has been reduced from 30$ to 20$ until Nov. 14/03). Download. Change-log. Base-packs."
Gibraltar Firewall 1.0
The Debian-based Gibraltar Firewall project has released its first stable version, 1.0: "After several months of intensive development we are very proud to announce release 1.0 of Gibraltar Firewall. The commercial version of Gibraltar now comes with a user-friendly and comfortable web based configuration tool called GibADMIN. GibADMIN supports many features of the free version of Gibraltar and makes administration a piece of cake. See a detailed feature list here." Read the rest of the announcement. A commercial of Gibraltar Firewall edition costs €990, but a GPL edition with disabled GibADMIN can be downloaded freely from one of the mirror sites.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Yellow Dog Linux for G5
As announced on the Yellow Dog Linux website, an experimental release of Yellow Dog Linux for G5 will soon be available: "Terra Soft has shipped a beta (experimental) version of Yellow Dog Linux pre-installed on G5s since September, and will soon release public ISOs with improved 32-bit beta support for these incredible computers. Subscribe to the Announce List in order to be informed of this release."
|Web Site News
Many thanks to VahapDEMiR from Çukurova University in Turkey to translate parts of the site into Turkish. If you are interested in translating the site's introduction and navigation menus into your language, please see this page for details.
DistroWatch.com mail server listed on spamhaus.org
The distrowatch.com mail server has been listed on spamhaus.org. This means that all mail servers configured to use sbl.spamhaus.org to control spam will reject all mail sent from distrowatch.com.
If you administer a mail server, please think twice before configuring your mail server to use an RBL spam blocking service, such as spamhaus.org. Despite their good intention, the spamhaus.org's implementation of blocking spam is flawed - they don't just block the IP address known to have been used to send spam, they also block all neighbouring IP addresses on the network. It is unfortunate that the distrowatch.com server is sitting next to a server hosting a Russian porn site, which is known to send out spam. As such, please be warned that you might be blocking legitimate mail if you use spamhaus.org or other similar organisations to control spam. Any mail server blocking legitimate email is misconfigured.
This will also answer the often repeated questions about a DistroWatch email newsletter: there is no chance of that ever happening, so stop asking. I have lost my confidence in email as a reliable form of communication some time ago and things have only been getting worse since then. No, spam is not the problem. Those who are trying to control the spam are a far bigger problem.
New on the waiting list
- RUNT. RUNT (ResNet USB Network Tester) is Slackware Linux designed to run off of a 128 MB USB pen drive. It consists of a boot floppy image and a zip file, similar to zipslack. It is intended to be a fairly complete Linux installation for use as a testing tool capable of booting on any x86 computer with a USB port and a bootable floppy drive. The boot floppy is based off of Slackware's bare kernel. It contains an initial ramdisk to load USB-storage related modules and it pauses for 5 seconds to allow the drive to initialise. The bootdisk also contains Memtest86, a very useful RAM testing tool, which can be started by typing memtest at the boot prompt.
- ClusterKnoppix. ClusterKnoppix is a modified Knoppix distribution using the OpenMosix kernel.
- Hakin9 Live. Hakin9 is a magazine about security. It is read by people responsible for computer systems security, programmers, security specialists, professional administrators, as well as people taking up security issues in their free time. Hakin9 Live is bootable distribution, based on Aurox Live, containing all the tools and material needed to practice methods and techniques described in articles.
Removed from the waiting list
- PLD Live CD. "PLD Live CD is a bootable disk that contains a live Linux distribution based on PLD Linux Distribution. It uses transparent compression (squashfs) to fit huge amount of packages on a single CD, including OpenOffice, KDE, GNOME, WindowMaker, XFCE, and many, many more. PLD Live CD also includes a set of scripts autodetecting hardware (like SCSI/ISA devices, monitors, sound or graphics cards). It has support for 'profiles' where you can store your settings, so that they can be load on system bootup from a floppy."
- Aleader. "The Aleader software combines a video player, affective indexing, and psychometric tools into an easy to use GUI. Aleader can already test how consistantly you can witness what is going on in a film. However, empirical verification of our methods is still in the early stages."
- KnopMyth. "KnoppMyth is my attempt at making the Linux and MythTV installation as trivial as possible."
- BLAG Linux. "BLAG is an operating system. BLAG has a suite of graphics, Internet, audio, video, office, and peer to peer file sharing applications."
DistroWatch database summary
- Lamdaux due to unavailability of product information.
- Number of distributions in the database: 193
- Number of discontinued distributions: 24
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 65
On categorising distributions
The number of similar suggestions is very much on the rise, which is perhaps a good indication that with the rapidly increasing number of new distributions the site is becoming difficult to navigate. In short, we need to categorise distributions. We have a few categories - major, CD-based, source-based, firewall, discontinued, and we also used to have a PPC category, but it disappeared during an earlier reorganisation. I think we need to create more categories. Some suggestions have already been put forward and we are going to create new categories based on package management, architecture support, language support, purpose, etc. Categories can be overlapping. If you have any more ideas how best to categorise the distributions, please discuss them below. The idea is to create a page where you can select from a list of categories and get a list of distributions and their descriptions.
- "Perhaps it would be worthwhile to put distributions into searchable categories (for timesaver members). Each distribution could have multiple searchable categories and a description of what makes it different/better than other distros. For example, Knoppix would have categories such as 'Live CD' and 'Easy-to-use.' Fedora would be listed as 'general purpose', kinda like a swiss-army knife of linux. Other categories would include 'small size, router, security-focused, floppy-based, source-based, server-focused, desktop focused, ...' etc. Of course, this would take an awful lot of work..."
A search engine is also in the works, but as promised, it will only be available to those who join Timesavers.
On Red Hat/Fedora split
I've been thinking about this too. I don't really agree that Fedora is _completely_ different from Red Hat, not this early since the split, but I can see Red Hat making an effort to distance themselves from Fedora (or at least make it less obvious that Fedora is the continuation of the free Red Hat Linux) in the future. What do other think? Should we create a separate page for Fedora or continue listing it under the Red Hat page?
- "I think there should be a separate page for Fedora since it's a completely different distribution from Red Hat."
That's all for now, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
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