| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 56, 5 July 2004
Welcome to this year's 27th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. It comes out slightly earlier than usual because your DistroWatch maintainer is getting ready for a break. More on this and other (more interesting) subjects below. Enjoy!
Debian postpones social contract changes
As reported by Linux Weekly News, the Debian developers have voted to postpone any social contract changes until after the release of the next stable version of Debian, code name "Sarge":
"An unofficial announcement (click below) has gone out: the Debian Project has voted to postpone its recent social contract changes until after the next major release ("Sarge") goes out. The changes in question force the removal of all documentation, data, and other materials seen by Debian as not being free; they had threatened to delay the (already tardy) Sarge release. This vote should pave the way for a faster release. Note that the project adopted the resolution wording which defers the changes indefinitely, rather than the version which put a September deadline on the release."
Further details and links to official results can be found here. This is a welcome news for all users waiting to upgrade their Woody systems, although, with over 300 release-critical bugs in Sarge, don't expect a new Debian stable release any time soon. Nevertheless, an important obstacle has been removed.
The time to switch is NOW
Once again, the spotlight of many Linux news sites, as well as several mainstream publications, was on the security of Microsoft's products, especially its troubled Internet Explorer (MSIE) and Internet Information Server (IIS). Even some of the Microsoft-friendly news services were outraged by the latest security holes in the software giant's browser and web server allowing an exploit to compromise users' passwords and other confidential information. Many prominent organisations, such as the US Department of Homeland Security, as well as popular news publications have issued strong recommendations that Internet users download one of the open source browsers, rather than continue using Internet Explorer. As a result, the Mozilla Foundation reported a massive increase in download demand for the Mozilla and Firefox browsers. On DistroWatch itself, there has been a further dramatic decline of visitors using MSIE to browse the site - during the first 4 days of this month, just over a quarter of all visitors were viewing the site with MSIE, down from about 60% three years ago.
It is becoming increasingly clear that, biased as we may be, Microsoft's products are not to be trusted. Thus, it was highly refreshing to see the news about the German Government desktop, in the form of a newly created Linux distribution going under the name of ERPOSS3. We have more details about it in the "Released Last Week" section below, but essentially, this is a product that comes preconfigured with many security features, including encrypted file systems, several security certificates, anti-spam and anti-virus software, and a personal firewall. Although the product will only be useful to those who understand German, there is hope that other countries' governments will take a hint from this project and consider deploying similar products, rather than continue exposing their employees and data to severe risks. Internet security is no joke and waiting for the next major exploit might cost us all a lot more than a one-off switch to secure software.
ERPOSS3 - the new secure desktop for the German government
(full image size 112kB)
If you still have doubts about Microsoft's attitude towards security, consider this quote by Christophe Aulnette, CEO of Microsoft France, arguing that a closely-guarded proprietary software is naturally more secure than open source software:
"If I have a safe in my room and I give the code to everybody, will it be safer? I don't think so"
As one of the posters on NewsForge commented, if Aulnette is not an idiot, he clearly assumes that his customers are.
The next question is: are YOU an idiot? Do YOU still use Microsoft software? Do YOU still browse the Internet with Microsoft Internet Explorer? Do YOU still do your online banking on a server running Microsoft IIS? If so, why?
|Released Last Week
ROCK Linux 2.0.2
A new release of the ROCK Linux distribution build kit is now available: "ROCK Linux 2.0.2 (codename 'wildlife') was released to the public. The release is a maintenance release - and so includes a number of security fixes and minor version updates pulled from the development tree. Due to always active work on non-x86 ports this time with full boot CD on Sparc64 (Ultra SPARC) and IBM RS/6000 (RS/6k) support! The changes from 83 changesets, include about 37 fixes, 27 updates and 21 additions." Read the release announcement and changelog (which includes download locations) for more details.
Buffalo Linux 1.3.1
Buffalo Linux 1.3.1 has been released: "This major release brings Buffalo fully compatible with Slackware 10.0 and provides additional enhancements. These include: new desktop improvements, new Buffalo GUI 'admin', improved CD upgrade option, kernel 2.6.7, OpenOffice 1.1.2, GIMP 2.0.2, GNOME 2.6.1, GCC 3.3.4, Mozilla 1.7... a total of 59 package upgrades. New builds of MySQL, Scribus, GAIM, and others. With this release the Buffalo new version cycle is expected to slow down. �[34m| Future version releases will track new kernel versions or major package updates." The release announcement, changelog.
This is a newly updated release of the Overclockix 3.4 live CD: "New 3.4 release is finished. Mostly minor bugfixes in this release. Also worthy of news - I've been assisting the developer of Barnix/DebXPde with ISO hosting. Barnix is a custom Knoppix which uses XPde as the default desktop environment. It should look and feel very much like Windows XP. I hope in the future to incorporate XPde as an option in Overclockix, but will probably not set it as the default desktop." Read more on the distribution's home page.
A new version of KANOTIX "Bug Hunter" has been released: "Major changes are the new Kernel 2.6.6 support (chosen because of much better driver support) and improved hardware detection (even CDROM links are working with new kudzu). Many new WLAN drivers including ACX100 (PCMCIA), Centrino, and Ndiswrapper to use Windows drivers. Hard disk install now uses GRUB bootloader as default. Latest Debian/Sid for the rest as usual. Have fun with it! PS: Donations are welcome." Read the rest of the announcement and changelog in English or German.
redWall Firewall 0.5.4
The redWall project has released redWall Firewall 0.5.4: "Version 0.5.4 released. New kernel 2.4.26-ow2; small and tiny nms system (midas); a lot of bug fixes; some additions; improved restore-config. You can now use the hard disk to store the bootconfig (and of course the configuration itself if you like) information. Just adapt the save-config.conf file to your needs. Any device in /dev/discs and /dev/floppy/0 is valid (you can use the old device names if you like) During boot the restore-config script searches all detected partitions and the /dev/fd0 for a valid 'bootconfig'." Read the full changelog for further details.
SAM Mini-Live-CD 0.2.2
A new version of the Mandrakelinux-based SAM Mini-Live-CD has been released. From the changelog: "SAM-0.2.2. Installed: wvdial + rp3 (Red Hat PPP config), support for Alcatel Speedtouch ADSL modem, games - geki2, geki3, gweled, ltris; browser: Opera 7.51 + Flash-plugin + Xine-plugin + skin + preconfigured; HTML editor - Bluefish; file manager: Nautilus. Removed: xrick, quadra, Mozilla 1.6, NVIDIA driver. Update: kernel 2.4.27-pre2, gthumb 2.3.3, Gimp 2.0.2, Gaim 0.79. More: turned off nfs-support during boot, small changes on desktop-icons and panel."
As reported by KDE.News and other web sites, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security has released its own desktop Linux distribution - ERPOSS3: "Composed entirely of free software the distribution is available as a Live CD as well as an Install CD. While it's based on Debian Stable (Woody) the CD contains KDE 3.2.2, Mozilla and a special themed version of OpenOffice 1.1.1. One of the highlights brought by the Government Desktop is the fact that it saves the whole data on encrypted filesystems. Furthermore, KMail is preconfigured to send and receive encrypted e-mail and to make use of all kinds of authority certificates. The package is completed by integrated spam and virus protection and a preconfigured personal firewall. For more information visit the ERPOSS3 project page (German only)."
Feather Linux 0.5.2
Feather Linux 0.5.2 has been released. From the changelog: "Added Perl modules so that PSS is now functional; cancel button on save configuration script now functional; reincluded xsri and wmwifi; added system status monitor and script to fix XTDesk icons if they disappear; made xtdesk a little quieter on bootup; updated OpenOffice.org script to 1.1.2 and changed permissions on OOo directory; updated Firefox script to 0.9.1; added option in multisession packages to change the Fluxbox menu...."
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Conectiva has announced that its much awaited Conectiva Linux 10 will be officially released on Monday, 5 July. This follows two technology previews, two betas and three release candidates made available for download during the last 6 months. Conectiva 10 will come with kernel 2.6, XFree86 4.4, KDE 3.2, GNOME 2.6 and the usual vast array of software supplied either on the CDs or the distribution's massive RPM repository. If you understand Portuguese, you can find more details about the product on this page.
m0n0wall, the FreeBSD-based firewall project, has announced m0n0wall 1.1: "Development on m0n0wall 1.1 is in progress, and several beta versions have been released already. This page provides information about the changes introduced in these betas, and you may also download the latest beta version image below. Remember that beta versions may contain serious bugs and are not to be used in any production environment!" Read more on the project's beta page.
|Web Site News
Taking a break from DistroWatch
Yes, your DistroWatch maintainer is taking a break for a few weeks. I have been working on this site without any holidays for over 2.5 years, so I think it's time to get away and enjoy something different for a little while. During my absence, the web site will be run by Robert Storey. Robert is a professional writer of travel guide books and an ardent supporter of Linux and BSD, always ready to try out any new distribution that sounds remotely interesting. He will maintain the news page and the DistroWatch Weekly column, and as a bonus, he will write a few distribution reviews as well. In fact, a rumour has it that his review of OpenBSD 3.5 is just about finished and should be published here later this week. As always, your feedback, suggestions, comments and any news submissions are eagerly awaited at the email address printed at the bottom of this page.
In the meanwhile, if anybody wants to buy me a beer during my visit to Italy, Switzerland and Austria during the next two weeks, don't hesitate to email me and let me know ;-)
June donation: The GIMP receives US$300
Continuing with our programme under which 10% of DistroWatch.com's income from advertising and sale of merchandise is donated to various Free Software projects, the recipient of the June 2004 donation is the GIMP project. The donations programme is now a joint initiative between DistroWatch.com and LinuxCD.org, which contributed US$50 towards the programme. LinuxCD.org is an online store selling low-cost Linux/BSD CDs - they have the largest selection, inclusive of all the latest releases, and they offer the lowest prices. Next time you need to order your favourite Linux or BSD CDs, get them from LinuxCD.org.
As for the GIMP, which has been in development since 1995, the software is undoubtedly one of the best-known graphical applications in the UNIX world. The acronym stands for "GNU Image Manipulation Program". It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. While it has been designed for UNIX-like operating systems, it also runs on MS Windows and Mac OS X.
Here is the receipt for US$300:
This email confirms that you have paid GNOME Foundation $300.00 USD using PayPal.
Total Amount: $300.00 USD
Transaction ID: 5DS90882DL508160C
Item Title: Donation to GIMP Project
Message: This is a donation by DistroWatch.com as part of our programme to offer financial assistance to Free Software projects. Enjoy :-)
Readers are welcome and encouraged to nominate a Free Software project for the next donation.
New distribution additions
New on the waiting list
DistroWatch database summary
- UNDER Linux. UNDER Linux is a Brazilian Linux-based router/firewall.
- The Tao. The Tao is a new Slackware-based live CD project, currently in early development.
- Perl/Linux. Perl/Linux is a Linux distribution where ALL programs are written in Perl, from /sbin/init to /bin/vi.
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 315
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 7
- Number of discontinued distributions: 32
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 84
DistroWatch hits FORTUNE
There wasn't much feedback worth mentioning this week, but a reader has sent us a link to an article in the FORTUNE Magazine, which mentions (and links to) DistroWatch.com:
"'Linux' has now become Red Hat on servers. Just look at the numbers—there's only one viable Linux company out there, especially in the enterprise server arena. It's Red Hat. ISV's almost exclusively qualify to their distribution of Linux (basically, their assemblage of code and release dates) - which makes it impossible for customers to move (The ISV's have to agree to move, and most don't want to support any of the more than 50 'distros' you can find on www.distrowatch.com)."
Another high-profile publication linking to DistroWatch recently was O'Reilly in this press release:
"Founded in 1998 by several Linux enthusiasts, Mandrakesoft offers products and services for all Linux users, from beginners to experts. Mandrakelinux has been ranked as the #1 distribution on DistroWatch (www.distrowatch.com) for the past year and won the Linux Journal Reader's Choice Award in 2003 for Best Linux Distribution."
It's always nice to see that DistroWatch is now accepted by many large publications as an important source of information about Linux distributions.
With this, it's time to hand over the column to Robert and start packing. See you all later, much later :-)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
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