| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 38, 1 March 2004
Welcome to this year's 9th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. It was a quiet week, with only the somewhat unexpected Sunday release of XFree86 4.4.0, with its controversial license, bringing in some excitement. On the distribution front, it seems that both Mandrake's and Fedora's new beta releases will be delayed once again, so we'll concentrate on some of the less glamorous, but equally interesting products, such as the SLAX live CD. Also in this edition: plenty, plenty of new distributions for you to play with. Enjoy!
- SLAX - Live CD
- The Linux Mirror Project
- Released last week
- Fedora Core 2 Test 2 delay
- LRs Linux discontinued, again
- Get a DistroWatch T-shirt
- New additions: AUSTRUMI, BEERnix, Bioknoppix, GNUstep, Livux, PHP Solutions Live, Zopix
- New on the waiting list: DNA Linux, Deep-Water/Linux, KlusTriX, GIS Knoppix
- Reader feedback: searching distributions by category
SLAX - Live CD
SLAX - Live CD, the Slackware-based bootable live CD formerly known as "Slackware-Live" is maturing rapidly, and with the release of version 4 last week, it has become one of the most polished live CDs on the market. Besides its good looks, it comes with excellent hardware detection, a choice of two desktop environments (KDE and Fluxbox), as well as support for English, German, French, Brazilian Portuguese and Czech. It is currently the only available live CD with KDE 3.2 (correction: the Arch-based AL-AMLUG live CD also comes with KDE 3.2). Best of all, it still fits on a mini CD and can be loaded into RAM in its entirety on any machine that has as little as 256MB of RAM.
But the most interesting features of SLAX is its use of Overlay Filesystem (ovlfs). What is ovlfs?
"Overlay Filesystem is a pseudo file system allowing read/write access to read-only or important filesystems (or directory trees) by 'overlaying' one filesystem with another."
Effectively, ovlfs is a kernel patch that allows the CD to behave as if it were a hard disk with full write access. Its use is not limited to CDs, however; it can also "overlay" a read-write file system on hard disk and even track changes in the base file system, map inodes, or create a temporary storage area for writing modified files without actually modifying the original files. The possibilities are endless. The project is still in heavy development with several planned features, and unfortunately, the newly released kernel 2.6 is not yet supported. But it is an interesting project worth watching.
SLAX is developed by Tomáš Matějíček in the Czech Republic. Besides the live CD, the author also provides documentation and a set of scripts for building a custom Slackware-based live CD, as well as instructions for installing SLAX on hard disk. The distribution's increasingly active user forums are there for help in case you get stuck. A great job, overall! Even if you are not a Slackware user, SLAX is certainly worth the download.
Screenshot: SLAX - one of the best live CDs available today.
(full image size 250kB)
The Linux Mirror Project
The Linux Mirror Project is something that many of us who frequently download Linux distributions will find extremely useful - a central repository of BitTorrent seed of some of the more popular distributions. The project has only just been launched, so there isn't much available at the time of writing, but they are off to a good start. If you are interested, bookmark the page - it might come handy during those times when all the download mirrors are heavily overloaded.
"Our goal is to create a network specifically to mirror the major Linux distributions and related material and hopefully serve out files at a decent speed. We will be using the often overlooked BitTorrent protocol to distribute these files, as this way, we don't have to rely too heavily on one centralised server and therefore will be relatively free of bandwidth limitations and any potential problem with server downtime."
"In case you are not familiar with the BitTorrent network, it works with the original host "seeding" out the file(s) to a few hosts, once these hosts start downloading and other hosts connect, the downloading users begin seeding chunks of their download out to hosts who require them, distributing the bandwidth very quickly and taking the load away from the original seeders. You soon end up with a large amount of users sharing chunks of these files between them, getting their download completed a lot quicker than your average FTP/HTTP server."
You can visit the project's page at tlm-project.org.
|Released Last Week
The Guadalinex project informs us that the distribution's first stable version, Guadalinex 1.0, has been released. This online launch is followed by a physical release of Guadalinex 1.0 at the recently held Open Source World Conference in Málaga, Spain, where thousands of Guadalinex 1.0 CDs were distributed to attendees. The project, together with gnuLinEx and Skolelinux, was also involved in a Debian Derivative Meeting to coordinate development and share resources between the three distributions. More information about Guadalinex is available at the project's web site.
CRUX PPC 1.3.1
This is a new release of the PowerPC port of CRUX: "CRUX PPC 1.3.1 released. Keyboard problems at install time are fixed, ATI Radeon 9200 on iBook G4 is now supported with Radeon framebuffer, packages are updated and Pegasos II platform is now supported! The ISO image is larger (~270MB) because two different boot kernels and kernel sources are used to support Apple and Pegasos II hardware." See the announcement on the CRUX PPC project's home page.
A new version of the Slackware-based SLAX live CD has been released. Some of the more important changes include: "Added kernel 2.4.25 with ovlfs and ALSA 1.0.2c; added hotplug 05_01_2004; added KDE 3.2 and KOffice 1.3 final; it's possible to run SLAX from USB flash disk now (see ./create_bootdisk.sh); added ./tools/moduse script to use module on the fly (while running slax); added ./tools/modinsert script to insert your modules to ISO file; added debugslax script; fixed samba, artsd, and a lot of other stuff." See the rest of the changelog for a full list of changes.
Damn Small Linux 0.6.1
Damn Small Linux 0.6.1 has been released: "Changes for 0.6.1: upgraded Monkey web server; upgraded Naim; switched the Firebird download to a special i586 build of Firefox; added command line ftp client; added betaftpd; added Mutella gnutella client; added wmix (dockapp mixer); restored telnet client; fixed some bugs; added a few usability enhancements; **frugal install** an evolution of the poorman's install." The full changelog.
GNUstep Live CD 0.2
OSNews reports about a release of GNUstep Live CD, version 0.2: "A Morphix-based GNUstep Live CD has been released for i386. It includes many GNUstep applications, such as MPlayer (GNUstep port), GWorkspace, Preview, GNUmail, ProjectCenter and many more. It can be installed to a hard drive." Find out more about the project on its web site. GNUstep is an implementation of the OpenStep framework, originally created by NeXT, Inc (now Apple).
Feather Linux 0.3.7
Feather Linux 0.3.7 has been released. Changes: "Added betaftpd, gqcam, e3, lua, ettercap, wavemon, wmsetbg, iptables (no firewall config script as yet); made some changes to sndconfig; removed the 'nolisten tcp' option for the Xvesa and Xfbdev servers; organised the menu into some semblance of order; added localscript.sh in /home/knoppix so you can execute custom commands on boot-up by USB, floppy or HD restore; added Flash script; changed Firefox script to work with i586 machines; tweaked apt a little; removed swat."
A new build of the ByzantineOS live CD has been released. Changes in version 20040229: "Build with LFS-5.0 (latest buildsystem + CVS); Mozilla-1.6; busybox-1.00-prer8; Java(TM) Plug-in 1.4.2_03; mplayerplug-in-2.40; XMMS-1.2.10; Gaim-0.75; many UI changes (Mozilla sidebar): mozCalc, ByzantineOS DropIns (list of available DropIns), ByzantineOS application list, file manager...; UK Xmodmap; Acrobat5.0.8 as a XPI ByzantineOS DropIn."
UHU Linux 1.1
After seven release candidates, UHU-Linux 1.1 final, code name "Kamion", has been released. Some of the more important changes since 1.0 include: "Consistent menu system for 11 different window managers containing all the available applications; new look: Bluecurve theme adopted from Red Hat / Fedora; installer and UHU Control Center rewritten in perl-gtk2; reworked file system layout for XFree86; completely rewritten init script system; mostly cutting edge software including Gnome 2.4.2, KDE 3.2, OpenOffice 1.1, Mozilla 1.6 and a whole lot more; Kernel 2.4.24 (with security fixes from 2.4.25 included), but the system is prepared for running 2.6.x; use of UTF-8 filenames in KDE as well as Gnome applications." The full release announcement (in Hungarian).
Puppy Linux 0.8.3
A new Puppy is out. From the release notes: "Puppy now has Gicq, a ICQ client, and Gequel, a MySQL client. Gyach, a Yahoo chat client, has returned. This is version 0.9.7, the latest, that fixes the Yahoo login problem (Yahoo had changed their protocol). There is a script to install Puppy to floppy disks, Install Puppy floppy disks, and the remaster-CD script has been overhauled and now allows far greater modification of Puppy such as addition and removal of applications (see notes below). The Links web browser is available as an external package. Dillo web browser has been upgraded to the latest version, 0.8.0."
Gentoo Linux 2004.0
Gentoo Linux, version 2004.0 has now been officially released: "Gentoo Linux is proud to announce the release of Gentoo Linux 2004.0 for the x86, AMD64, PowerPC, Sun SPARC, and SGI MIPS architectures. Additionally, the Gentoo Hardened team is announcing the inaugural release of a security-enhanced Gentoo platform for the x86 architecture. In addition to many bugfixes and security updates since the 1.4 release, Gentoo Linux 2004.0 contains a cutting-edge development toolchain and user environment including, but not limited to, Linux kernel 2.6.3, GCC 3.3.2, GLIBC 2.3.2, KDE 3.2, GNOME 2.4.2, and xfce4." Read the press release and release notes for further information. Get the new release from one of the Gentoo mirrors or from the distribution's online store (US$10.00).
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Fedora Core 2 Test 2
Linux Compatible reports that the release of Fedora Core 2 Test 2 has been delayed, once again: "We're encountering various issues that are causing us to delay the release of test2. We'd like to get as much exposure to SELinux as possible, and this means shipping test2 with SELinux in enforcing mode. However, there are still some subsystems that aren't quite ready for this, so we need to slide the release date some. The *current* projection is that the freeze will be on March 12, for availability on March 22. This date is only preliminary at this point, and may change." More information.
|Web Site News
Order your own official DistroWatch T-shirt from Hackerthreads.
- BEERnix. BEERnix is a Linux live CD based on Knoppix and with Fluxbox as its default desktop.
- Bioknoppix. Bioknoppix is a customised distribution of the Knoppix live CD. With this distribution you just boot from the CD and you have a fully functional Linux OS with open source applications targeted at the molecular biologist. Besides using some RAM, Bioknoppix doesn't touch the host computer, being ideal for demonstrations, molecular biology students, workshops, etc.
- GNUstep Live CD. GNUstep Live CD is a Morphix-based Linux distribution containing 220 megabytes of software for GNUstep, an implementation of the OPENSTEP framework. Display Postscript is one of its powerful features.
- PHP Solutions Live. PHP Solutions Live is a bootable linux distribution based on Aurox Linux and targeted at web developers. It contains Apache, PHP 4, PHP 5, MySQL, phpMyAdmin and other applications.
- Livux. Livux is a live CD with a collection of educational software. Based on Knoppix and created in Valencia, Spain.
- AUSTRUMI. AUSTRUMI is a business card size (50MB) bootable live CD Linux distribution. It is based on Slackware Linux with initialisation scripts borrowed from the Blin project.
- Zopix. Zopix is a Linux distribution derived from Knoppix. It is a live CD, a ready-to-use Zope working environment consisting of open-source and free software distributed under GPL.
New on the waiting list
- LRs Linux. The project does not meet the criteria for inclusion on DistroWatch as a "Linux distribution".
Removed from the waiting list
- DNA Linux. DNA Linux is a SLAX-based Linux distribution with bioinformatics software pre-loaded! Includes EMBOSS, Primer3, BLAST and other bioinformatics software.
- Deep-Water/Linux. Deep-Water/Linux is a fully graphical minimalist boot-CD Linux distribution released under the GNU General Public License Version 2.
- KlusTriX. KlusTriX is the world's easiest-to-install, completely pre-packaged Debian-based distribution complete with built-in openMosix clustering.
- GIS Knoppix. GIS-Knoppix is a bootable Linux CD with pre-installed GIS software. It is based on Knoppix.
DistroWatch database summary
- Debian-Extra-CD-Project. The project does not meet the criteria for inclusion on DistroWatch as a "Linux distribution".
- Dux Linux. The project seems to have abandoned the idea to build a full Linux distribution.
- Xdefine Linux. The company no longer mentions the word "distribution" (or "Linux" for that matter) on their web site.
- Number of distributions in the database: 268
- Number of discontinued distributions: 32
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 63
On downloading ISO images
"I was looking for a distro whose maintenance is conducted in Spanish, and therefore which does not have an English upstream at the package level (which is the case for distros which both derive from and continue to sync with something like Debian, Gentoo or Red Hat.) You could call this property "Natural packagers language" perhaps, after the Freshmeat terminology. It might be useful to add to your taxonomy."
Just a quick update on our plan to categorise distributions as was discussed on these pages a while ago: yes this is going ahead. Once the categories are created, you will be able to load a dynamically-generated page with your preferred category; that includes distributions supporting Spanish (and other languages), live CDs, distributions booting from USBs, firewalls and all the other categories we discussed previously. I am not going to promise anything, but if things go well, we might have something like this going by the end of this week.
That's all for this week, see you next Monday :-)
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