| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 37, 23 February 2004
Welcome to this year's 8th edition of DistroWatch Weekly.
- Understanding live CDs
- Released last week
- Upcoming releases: LGIS Linux
- Get a DistroWatch T-shirt
- New additions: UserLinux, QiLinux
- New on the waiting list: Ed's Debian, PHP Solutions live, De2, Tupiserver, Debian-Extra-CD-Project, slavix, Bioknoppix, Kannery, Kazit, Dizinha
- Reader feedback: downloading ISO images
Understanding live CDs
How many live CDs have you tried? And which of them do you keep or recommend to others?
While the purpose of most Linux live CDs is to use them in emergencies or for demonstartion, there is one category of them that is sometimes misunderstood - distributions where the live-CD part is of secondary importance. Good examples of these are MEPIS Linux, PCLinuxOS or GoboLinux. They are intended as full-blown distributions for installation on hard disks, not just as live CDs. The live-CD part of them is really just a bonus, a sophisticated graphical installer which allows users to try the product before making a commitment to the full installation. This is a radical departure from the "traditional" installers, where users had to go through a lengthy installation process just to find out that perhaps the product doesn't meet their needs.
Are we seeing a trend here? It is becoming common among new distributions to start with a live CD, then provide a simple script or a full installation program, to copy the content of the CD onto a hard disk partition. Once done, users can boot into it and continue using the operating system as if it was installed with a traditional installer. The advantages of these distributions are clear: besides the try-before-you-commit benefit, the CD is still available for emergency situations, as well as for carrying it around and using it to load a familiar operating system on computers when away from home or office.
To re-iterate the above point, take this message as noted on the PCLinuxOS mailing list, a developer's response to a query about the distribution's continuous upgradability after the initial installation. Would each new release have to be re-installed or are the developers planning a regular upgrade path for the users of the distribution? Will it be easy to keep it up-to-date with new software?
"That is the goal is a continual update path for PCLinuxOS. Install once and update often as new programs become available. I just hate having people do a clean install everytime a new release comes out."
The above makes it quite clear that PCLinuxOS is not just a live CD. It is a distribution in its own right, a product that serves a double-purpose of being a full distribution and a live CD.
How long before all the major distributions start re-writing their Anacondas, YaSTs or (heavens forbid) Boot Floppies to include a live CD functionality? Somehow it doesn't seem very likely. Still, with all the extra benefits they would provide to their users, it might some day become a reality.
|Released Last Week
K12LTSP Linux 4.0.1
K12LTSP Linux 4.0.1 has been released: "K12LTSP v4.0.1 is officially available for your downloading pleasure. Apt, up2date, and yum repositories have been updated. If you have K12LTSP v4.0.0 already installed, these fine utilities can update you to v4.0.1 without much fuss. Known issues. Reports of serious stability problems with SMP kernels continue. Mission-critical sites are still encouraged to stick with K12LTSP 3.1.2. The Enterprise version of K12LTSP in testing, please help out if you can..." Read the rest of the release announcement.
Damn Small Linux 0.6
Version 0.6 of Damn Small Linux has been released. From the release notes: "New kernel and modules supporting more hardware (based on Knoppix 3.3); implemented space saving busybox; implemented space saving by dpkg-restore now restores not only package structure but also related programs; improved backup/restore to a specific device (hard drive, etc); improved ppp dial scripts (no more manual edits); improved hard drive install script to pass fb800x600 screen size, also improved speed of installation; menu reorganisation for easier navigation; new /opt/bootlocal.sh for user required misc system startup commands..."
This is a new release of clusterKNOPPIX, based on the version of Knoppix released earlier this week. From the changelog: "clusterKNOPPIX_V3.3-2004-02-16-EN-cl1 - 2004-02-17. Sync with latest Knoppix release; upgraded to gomd 0.2beta; fixed openmosix restart script; fixed terminalserver bug (chown problem); fixed atmel wlan drivers; added french openmosix terminalserver translation and a new parameter that allows to export the Knoppix image from disk instead of running from CD-ROM (to allow speed-ups) both patches by lbdan."
A new version of SystemRescueCD is now available. Changes: "SystemRescueCD 0.2.11. Updated EVMS to 2.2.2 patched; added Dban bootdisk (tool that wipes all data of a computer); added pppconfig (configure PPP); added BashBurn (script that make CD burning easier); put the manual (PDF, HTML) on the CD-ROM; updated partimage to 0.6.4 final; updated Clam-AntiVirus to 0.66; updated Samba to 3.0.2a; updated Reiserfsprogs to 3.6.12; many minor updates."
Feather Linux 0.3.6
Feather Linux continues with a rapid release schedule. From the 0.3.6 changelog: "Added bvi, isapnptools; changed some USB detection on USB boot; changed emelfm settings so they suit Feather; changed Opera download site; reinstalled some Debian packages so apt-get works a little better; changed Scite colour-coding; removed Busybox vi and added elvis-tiny; added Thunderbird and Java scripts; edited HD install script so Feather doesn't autologin; removed winbindd."
A bug fix version of KnoppiXMAME, a bootable CD for playing MAME games, has been released. From the release notes: "This release should be no different from 1.2 if you have used that version. Press F1 for help at the boot prompt. Type in 'addroms' to try out the new automated CD remastering utility. It works with ROMs on all filesystems. NTFS is still experimental, but should work thanks to captive. This is a small interim point-release. Some people had problems uncompressing the .bz2 file, so I returned to a regular .iso. A bug was also fixed with home directory settings not persisting when a remaster of a remaster was made with 'addroms'."
The first stable release of cAos is out: "Finally... cAos-1.0 has been released. All of the blocking/showstopping bugs have been resolved, and many of the developers are already using it in production. With that said, keep in mind there are many packages outside of the core that are still stabilizing (thus you may see frequent updates). Please post bug reports to bugzilla so that they may be resolved quickly and don't fall between the cracks." To install cAos, you will need to download its installation ISO image, called "Cinch", and follow these instructions to install a core system. Additional packages can then be installed with 'yum'. cAos is a Red Hat-based distribution with the goal to provide a stable operating system for enterprises; find out more at caosity.org.
Buffalo Linux 1.1.4
Buffalo Linux 1.1.4 has been released: "Highlighted in this release are: added kernel 2.6.3; new automatic patch and upgrade feature; over 30 package upgrades, including gcc-3.3.3, module-init-tools-0.9.14 (supports 2.4 and 2.6 kernels), samba-3.0.2a, perl-5.8.3. The new 1.1.4 ISOs are available on the Buffalo web sites. Additionally, users of 1.1.3 can upgrade to 1.1.4 by installing a 45MB package." See the full changelog for additional information.
Kurumin Linux 2.20
A new release of Brazil's Kurumin Linux is out. The main highlight of version 2.20 is the newly developed "Clica-aKi", a central control panel integrating various configuration tasks, including network setup, magic icons, installation and management of servers, configuration of keyboards, mice, sound cards, printers and other hardware. Detailed explanation, together with screenshots can be found in the official release announcement (in Portuguese).
Screenshot: Kurumin Linux 2.20 with "magic icons"
(full image size 640kB)
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The fans of the Ximian Desktop will be pleased to learn that the developers of LGIS Linux are planning a new release, based on Fedora Core: "LGIS GNU/Linux is a Ximianized version of Red Hat Linux, you can see some screenshots here. You can find the ftp, http and BitTorrent links on the project page. Yes I'm working on the Fedora based version already :)" More in this story on FootNotes.
|Web Site News
Order your own official DistroWatch T-shirt from Hackerthreads.
New on the waiting list
- UserLinux. UserLinux is a GNU/Linux distribution based from Debian, but streamlined to a smaller set of default applications. The UserLinux variants (server, desktop, etc.) will be freely available in both source and ISO formats. Application specifics are being worked out right now. The desktop environment will be GNOME featuring OpenOffice.org for word processing. The server configuration will include Apache and Postfix. UserLinux will be complemented by a network of service providers offering certification, support, and professional services.
- QiLinux. QiLinux is a Linux distribution completely made from scratch in Italy. Its ambitious aim is to integrate the work of the vast community of free software developers in order to create a modern, high-performance, safe and easy-to-use operating system for system administrators and desktop users.
DistroWatch database summary
- Ed's Xbox Debian GNU/Linux. Ed's Debian is an Xbox-enabled version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. It is based on the standard x86 Debian, but the install process - and naturally the boot loader, the kernel and the kernel modules - are all customised for the Xbox.
- PHP Solutions live. PHP Solutions live is a bootable Linux distribution which makes working with *.php files a breeze. It was created for people who want to run and test scripts in a new environment (PHP Solutions live version 0.9.5b3 contains PHP 5.0.0 beta3) without modifying an existing platform.
- De2. De2 is a community-developed Indonesian Linux distribution based on Debian (web site in Bahasa Indonesia).
- Tupiserver Linux. Tupiserver Linux is a Brazilian server-oriented distribution based on Kurumin Linux (web site in Portuguese).
- Debian-Extra-CD-Project. The Debian-Extra-CD-Project (DECP) is trying to provide an offline system with some of the newest Debian packages for desktop systems.
- slavix. slavix is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Morphix, Knoppix and Debian. It is intended for desktop users new to Linux. Slavix is a live CD, which means that it is very easy to try without having to install anything on your computer.
- Bioknoppix. Bioknoppix is a customised distribution of Knoppix live CD. With this distribution you just boot from the CD and you have a fully functional Linux OS distribution with open source applications targeted for the molecular biologist. Beside using some RAM, Bioknoppix doesn't touch the host computer, being ideal for demonstrations, molecular biology students, workshops, etc.
- Kannery. Kannery is a Knoppix-based Hebrew distribution, with several deployment options: hard disk installation from a boot server, thick client, thin client with grid server, and live CD.
- Kazit. Kazit is a Knoppix-based live CD with support for Hebrew (web site in Hebrew).
- Dizinha Linux. Dizinha Linux is a Brazilian Linux distribution based on Kurumin Linux (web site in Portuguese).
- Number of distributions in the database: 261
- Number of discontinued distributions: 31
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 66
On downloading ISO images
With all the interesting new distribution releases coming out just about every day, it happens on occasion that I get an email from a developer asking me to remove the download links from the news. The request usually comes as a result of the users having consumed the developer's entire monthly bandwidth allocation in just a few hours after the news was published. Thus begins the panic-stricken victim's mad rush to find mirrors or to set up a BitTorrent download.
Let me make one thing clear: DistroWatch is a news site. If you develop a distribution and release it to the public by publishing news about it on your web site, it will be reported on DistroWatch. If you publish a link to an ISO image on your own web site, it will also be mentioned within the news item. That's how news has been reported here for 2.5 years and I have no intention to change that. As several developers have found out, once the news is out, there will be a bandwidth problem.
It's best to be prepared, either by providing a BitTorrent tracker or a several FTP/HTTP mirrors. BitTorrent can solve the problem to some extent, but you need to realise that many users are behind firewalls, where BitTorrent cannot be used. Mirrors are not always easy to find, but places such as ibiblio.org, tuwien.ac.at, sunet.se or planetmirror.com already host a large number of distributions, so a polite request for hosting yours is unlikely to be refused. Another alternative is not to publish the news on your own web site, in which case it will not be published here either (yes, projects with this attitude do exist - take Sorcerer as an example).
The bottom line is: if you are offering ISO images for download, prepare for the onslaught in advance. Don't ever assume that most users will give your product a miss. They won't.
That's all for this week, see you next Monday :-)
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