| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 36, 16 February 2004
Welcome to this year's 7th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. The much awaited Fedora Core 2 Test 1 finally arrived last week and while it certainly isn't perfect, it comes with many interesting things to explore. If you have installed it and have taken a look around, please leave a comment about your first impressions.
Sex, lies and distributions
One of the main reasons I prefer Linux to proprietary operating systems is the inherent honesty that exists in our small world of Free Software. I still remember my early steps with Linux and its applications, particularly a friend's assertion that Linux has "The Gimp", a graphics editor as good as (if not better than) Adobe's Photoshop, except that it doesn't cost a penny. Having been "conditioned" by Microsoft's sales-driven web sites, I was later shocked to see the following paragraph on gimp.org:
"Warnings. The program(s) might crash unexpectedly or behave otherwise strangely. ... Many people do find GIMP very useful. But it is not a Photoshop killer (for professional Photoshop users, that is). Photoshop has lots of features that the GIMP lacks."
Now compare the above statement with the Photoshop product description from adobe.com:
"Get superior results faster with industry-standard Adobe® Photoshop® CS software, the powerful new upgrade from Photoshop 7.0. You're in control with indispensable new features for graphic and Web designers, photographers, and video professionals."
The shock came from the realisation that, in the world of Free Software, there is no need to claim that some software will enhance your life beyond recognition and produce incredible user experiences you had never before believed possible. In other words, there is no need to lie.
The times they are a-changing
But are things changing? The Linux world has now been invaded by proprietary software companies with great money-making ambitions. As a result of that, we are now seeing more and more of the old-style, self-congratulatory product descriptions and flowery marketing that plague the world of proprietary software.
Just take the latest Xandros newsletter, published last week, as an example. It's headlines read like this:
Even without the rest of the content, there is very little value in this newsletter. All we get is information about how great the product is, selective quotes from reviews that praise it, information about some corporate partnerships, awards, and several obligatory links to the company's online store. With sentences, such as: "Investors who came to the show saw our striking new display booth and witnessed another spectacularly popular $100,000.00 Xandros Giveaway." How exciting... (yawn).
- New! Xandros Desktop Standard Edition
- Upgrade Now to Version 2 of the Xandros Desktop OS
- Xandros Business Solutions Make LinuxWorld Debut
- Computer Associates SVP Endorses Xandros Business Desktop
- Linux Breaks Desktop Barrier in 2004: Torvalds
- Xandros Crowned "King of Linux Desktop"
Where are some useful tips and tricks for Xandros users? Examples of users reporting problems and solutions to those problems? How about including information on ways to take advantage of a great Xandros File Manager feature? Or an interview with a developer? A sneak peek at a next version? Information about new package releases/updates? Or some other truly useful info; a newsletter that every Xandros user will want to print out or save for future reference, instead of just glance through the headlines and hit the <Delete> button?
Xandros is not the only one. Other commercial Linux companies have been sliding towards this sort of communication with their users, replacing practical and useful newsletters with ones full of standard marketing drivel and links to their online stores. What's the point of such newsletters? Why can't these companies visit the web sites of some of the non-commercial projects and take a look at those newsletters? The ones put together by the Gentoo project (in 12 languages!) are hard to beat, while others, like the Debian Weekly News or the recently launched Arch Linux Newsletter are less flashy, but still useful.
What do you think? Is it inevitable that we are going to see more and more product information produced by marketing personnel, rather than software developers? If you use one of the commercial Linux distribution, do you mind this trend? Or is there anything we can do to preserve that type of straightforward honesty and openness as demonstrated by gimp.org? Is there no way that a commercial company can be equally honest about their products without having to resort to marketing propaganda? Please discuss below.
(A note for Xandros fans: please don't waste your time to write that DistroWatch has become an anti-Xandros site. It has not. The above was written in the hope that perhaps a responsible person at Xandros, Inc (and other companies producing useless newsletters) will read it, think about it and implement changes to serve their user community better. Unless I am all wrong and people actually enjoy reading newsletters by Xandros, in which case please feel free to argue your case below.)
|Released Last Week
Buffalo Linux 1.1.3
The Buffalo Linux project continues its fast release cycle with version 1.1.3: "The changes in this version are directed towards sysadmins. It can now directly install RPM, DEB, and Slackware TGZ packages, and also supports bz2 and tar.gz on the fly. The kernel has been upgraded to 2.6.2. The 'newkernel' build feature has been ported to kernels 2.4.24 and 2.6.2. A new Buffalo ISO feature has been added for creating a specialised install CD incorporating both kernel and software package changes." The full announcement.
Vine Linux 2.6r4
The fourth revision of Vine Linux 2.6 has been released. This is mainly a security and bug-fix update, with patches to recently discovered vulnerabilities in cvs, lftp and the Linux kernel, as well as a correction of a bug in e2fsprogs found in the previous release. The new ISO image is available for download from several mirrors.
Bluewall GNU/Linux 1.1
Bluewall GNU/Linux 1.1, code name "space hands" has been released. From the changelog: "This release includes Linux 2.4.24 and 2.6.2 with ext2, ext3, Reiserfs, and XFS (only 2.6) support, Bluewall Perl installer scripts (bw-config, bw-post, bw-install) for making the installation easier and faster by only running three commands, 95 new Debian packages, and a preconfigured initrd to load modules at boot-time. The reboot command/scripts have been fixed and included in the ramdisk. The NetBSD package system (pkgsrc) has also been included." Read the rest of the announcement on the distribution's main page.
Following a new recent Knoppix release, the clusterKNOPPIX project has also produced a new release. From the changelog: "clusterKNOPPIX_V3.3-2004-02-09-EN-cl1 - 2004-02-12. Sync with latest Knoppix release; upgraded to openmosix 2.4.24-1; removed KDE locales; added own bootlogo; added lotsa modules (cipe, cdfs, shfs, lufs, bcm5700, drbd, arla, eagleadsl, hubcot, i2c, zaptel, thinkpad, vaiostat, userlink, unicorn, translucency, sl-modem, qce, lirc, openafs, lm-sensors) thanks to module-assistant."
Feather Linux 0.3.5
A new version of Feather Linux is out. From the changelog: "Changelog from 0.3.4 to 0.3.5: added ntfstools, dosfstools, e2undel, iftop, gtkrecover, bbpager, utelnetd, picocom, bridge-utils, index and various dockapps to show the system status; included Busybox versions of dc and fbset; changed Firebird script to download Firefox instead; added menu options to play CDs and DVDs, and a documentation menu; made small changes to HD install script; added script to save config to HD (use knoppix hdrestore=hda1)."
Lorma Linux 4.1
Lorma Linux, a Fedora-based distribution recompiled for i686 processors, has a new release. Changes in version 4.1: "This new release fixes most of the bugs encountered on Lorma Linux 4.0; a new and improved GUI interface to synaptic when upgrading packages and problems were fixed; recompiled Mozilla 1.5 for a better look-and-feel in browsing; regrouped KDE menu items for easier navigation; removed xine-ui from the package for bigger disk space; added gFTP in exchange of KBear; added LinNeighborhood..." Read about the remaining changes on the distribution's home page.
A new version of INSERT, the Inside Security Rescue Toolkit, has been released. From the changelog: "2004-02-13 v1.2.2. The latest virus database for clamav has been added; the floppy boot image has been removed; instead, a small script and syslinux provide the functionality to generate the boot disk from the files already on the CD; some minor corrections in the captive docu page have been made; wmnet has been removed."
Mandows 1.5 has been released. The new version fixes several bugs from the previous release and includes support for ACPI and ECI modems. Many new packages have been added, including mmbox, gFTP, MPlayer, alsamixergui, GCDmaster, QTParted, Synaptic, Samba, Apache, Grip, xawtv, BitTorrent and others. See the full release announcement (in French) for further details.
This is a new update of the Knoppix live CD. From the changelog: "V3.3-2004-02-16 (more updates and bugfixes). Updated /etc/X11/Xsession to fix X-Login on installed version; updated pcitable for nforce ethernet chipsets; timezone fix from Tim Pope; don't set DefaultColorDepth in XF86Config-4 if using fbdev module; fixed empty /etc/network/interfaces broadcast line in netcardconfig."
Puppy Linux 0.8.2
A new version of Puppy Linux is now available: "Puppy v0.8.2 released. Bluefish v0.7 is now in Puppy, not as an external package but in-built. Now there is an incredible choice of HTML editors. Bluefish is for people who like to work with the code, in contrast with Composer and Amaya that are WYSIWYG (though Amaya does have a very nice code window). Puppy now has scalerx, which is a lovely utility for scaling up the size of PNG images without jagged edges. Puppy has a new HOWTO page on multimedia..." Read the rest of the release notes for additional information.
AL-AMLUG Live CD 0.4.2
This new release from the AL-ALAMLUG Live CD project is based on a pre-release snapshot of Arch Linux 0.6 What's new? "Packages upgrade: KDE-3.2, kernel-2.4.24, etc; new packages: Mozilla (replaced Opera), Flash & Java plugins, gFTP, and MPlayer. (the full package list); bug fix: USB system, hd-install with X fonts cache, and LILO (lilo.conf)." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
ASP Linux 9.2
ASP Linux has announced that version 9.2 will be released on 1 March 2004, when it will also become available for download from its FTP servers and mirrors. Besides the standard product, the company will also produce a bootable live CD. See this page (in Russian) for further information.
|Web Site News
Advertising special: half price until the end of February
If you sign up and start advertising at any time between today and the end of February 2004, you will be eligible for twice as many impressions as normal. As an example US$25 will normally buy you 25,000 banner impressions, but the current special will get you 50,000 impressions instead. Similarly, US$500 will buy you 2 million impressions, instead of the standard 1 million. These are the special rates valid until the end of this month:
• $25 (50,000 impressions)
• $45 (100,000 impressions)
• $80 (200,000 impressions)
• $300 (1 million impressions)
• $500 (2 million impressions)
Just a reminder that we support geo-targeted and regional advertising, so if you offer Linux and Free Software related product and services applicable only to your country or region, you can still take advantage of the above offer and advertise exclusively for visitors coming from your target market. Please visit the advertising page for further details.
Order your own official DistroWatch T-shirt from Hackerthreads.
- eduKnoppix. eduKnoppix is an Italian educational distribution based on Knoppix, designed especially for teachers and pupils (age 12 up). eduKnoppix has two major features: it comes with a comprehensive range of various Mathematics packages, as well as resources to obtain the European Computer Driver's License ONLY with free software.
- X-evian. X-evian is a Spanish live CD based on Knoppix and Debian GNU/Linux.
- OGo Knoppix Live CD. The OpenGroupware.org (OGo) Knoppix CD is a bootable CD which contains a complete Debian GNU/Linux system, a fully configured OGo installation, a Cyrus server and some more Linux software. It's based on the original Knoppix CD created by Knopper.Net Consulting. It's certainly the fastest way to get a usable OpenGroupware.org demo up and running!
Screenshot: OpenGroupware.org's own live CD with the pre-configured OpenGroupware.org groupware client.
(full image size 124kB)
New on the waiting list
DistroWatch database summary
- Rox OS. Rox OS is a Linux distribution which is being designed around bringing a simpler experience to home users. Initially Rox OS will build upon the idea of application directories (AppDirs), that allow for easy drag and drop installation of applications and system utilities, and a simplified file system hierarchy.
- Number of distributions in the database: 259
- Number of discontinued distributions: 31
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 57
On reader suggestions
It's always interesting to read some of the suggestions that readers come up with. Like this one:
"How about adding a link to the latest changelog to each package in the 'latest packages' section? It would save me some time searching for it on the site's homepage each time a new software package is released."
There is nothing wrong with a request like that and I appreciate the reader's time to write in with a suggestion for improvement. But... While it will certainly save him time, it will mean more work for your maintainer, which make me somewhat reluctant to implement the feature. The way things are at the moment, all new features, especially the ones designed to "save time" will go into the appropriately named Timesavers Programme and will only be available to those who join it.
An alternative solution would be to allow the reader requesting a feature to implement it. Consider the following email:
"May I suggest you implement a 'software' benchmark about distros? Such benchmark would state whether a distro implements (and I mean 'it works right away after the install stage'): Java, Flash, RealPlayer, all this integrated with any browser provided in the distro; multimedia capabilities, and DVD playback (yes, with libdecss, and divx); CD burning capabilities; proprietary video drivers (NVIDIA, ATI, ...); 'dependency hell' fix (urpmi, apt-get, ...); a decent control centre, with hardware authoring tool (such as to prevent directly writing into modules.conf, or fstab, or else); an home office productivity tool (KOffice, OpenOffice.org, ...); an account manager (gnucash, ...)."
This is a perfectly reasonable request and something that many readers would likely find extremely useful. Unfortunately, it is a lot of work. If we can get a group of people, each of whom will provide the necessary information for one or two distributions, and enter the data into a matrix for comparison, then we could end up with a very useful table. Is there enough interest in this? More importantly, is there anyone willing to lead this "distro benchmarking" sub-project, set up the table, collect the data and maintain the page? Any interested parties, please comment below or email me directly. Needless to say, any community-driven projects like this will be freely accessible to all visitors.
Luckily, not all email is of "request" type. This one was one of the more pleasant ones to read:
"My name is Jeff, and I'm a regular visitor to the Distrowatch site. In fact, it is the default home page for 2 of the browsers I use most frequently. I think you do an incredible job with the site, and wish that my current situation allowed me to financially support you in some measure. Unfortunately, that's not a realistic option at this time. What I can offer, however, is my time, and my services in writing, proofreading, reviews, webpage assistance, and in any other way which I might be able to support a very useful site while I am sitting at my computer. Please contact me if I can be of any help."
Thank you, Jeff, I appreciate your email and I certainly will take advantage of your generous offer!
That's all for this week, see you next Monday :-)
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
|• Issue 681 (2016-10-03): OpenBSD 6.0, DragonFly BSD to support LibreSSL in ports, systemd denial of service bug, upgraded Mintbox Mini|
|• Issue 680 (2016-09-26): Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, blocking applications at the firewall, Lenovo controversy, Ubuntu running on the Nextcloud Box|
|• Issue 679 (2016-09-19): OpenMandriva 3.0, 32-bit vs 64-bit performance, openSUSE updates, KaOS unveils first run wizard|
|• Issue 678 (2016-09-12): Apricity 07.2016, Mageia adopts DNF, KDE neon to use Wayland, FreeBSD updates Linux compatibility, creating cron jobs|
|• Issue 677 (2016-09-05): Peppermint OS 7, Manjaro updates leadership, TrueOS becomes rolling release, organizing files, creating torrents|
|• Issue 676 (2016-08-29): Korora 24, Fedora 25 to use Wayland by default, Linux turns 25, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, finding software licensing information|
|• Issue 675 (2016-08-22): Gentoo LiveDVD "Choice Edition", moreutils, Ubuntu improves terminal convergence, MATE packaged for Openindiana, FreeBSD improves video support|
|• Issue 674 (2016-08-15): Zenwalk Linux 8.0, Ubuntu phone follow-up, Lubuntu transitioning to LXQt, Steam running on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
|• Issue 672 (2016-08-01): Ubuntu Phone 15.04, Solus embraces rolling release model, interview with Jane Silber, FreeBSD Quarterly Report|
|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
|• Issue 667 (2016-06-27): GeckoLinux 421, Fedora supports Flatpak, Solus unveils new features, running GNU/Linux on tablets|
|• Full list of all issues|
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