| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 78, 6 December 2004
Welcome to this year's 48th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. This week we'll talk about the Knoppix live CD, feature the Damn Small Linux mini distribution, and present several upcoming distribution releases, including Mandrakelinux 10.2 and NetBSD 2.0. Happy reading!
Knoppix topics, the MEPIS-based SphinxOS
Although the developers of Knoppix have not released a new version of their popular live CD for nearly 4 months (certainly a long time by this project's standards), it continues to generate much interest in the media. Last week, we noticed not one, but three new, independently published articles about Knoppix. First, it was LinuxExposed which published a guide to installing Knoppix on hard disk: "Once you are comfortable using Knoppix for your desktop, you might find yourself booting onto the CD more often. While you can create persistent settings and a portable home directory to mount, at some point you might decide you would like to use KNOPPIX full-time by installing it to your hard drive."
Next, it was the turn of LinuxForums.org that posted a review of Knoppix Hacks, a new book by Kyle Rankin: "Knoppix Hacks is a collection of techniques and tips which can stand on their own. The book is divided into 100 hacks, which are separated into nine chapters by topic. The chapters include 'Boot Knoppix', 'Tweak Knoppix', and 'Repair Linux', among others. The book also covers repairing Windows installations, tweaking X to get your monitor how you like it, as well as creating and using Persistent Knoppix Settings." It is always nice to see that, besides Red Hat/Fedora, other great open source products are also starting to get the attention of publishing houses!
Finally, an excellent article, called True Stories of Knoppix Rescues, an extract from the above-mentioned book, as published on LinuxDevCenter: "One of my favorite stories of Knoppix recovery started when I was trying to reinstall grub on my laptop after moving around and resizing some partitions. The grub-install script didn't seem to work, so I went through the documentation to install grub to the MBR (Master Boot Record) using dd." Read the rest of the story here.
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The success of MEPIS Linux has created its first commercial offspring - a German commercial distribution called SphinxOS: "MEPIS LLC is pleased to confirm that MEPIS has partnered with Smartthink Ltd to produce SphinxOS 4.0, OEM boxed versions of SimplyMEPIS customized for the German speaking market. Many of the improvements contained in SphinxOS 4.0 will be included in ProMEPIS 2005, due in January, and SimplyMEPIS 2005, due in March. SphinxOS is a branded variation of SimplyMEPIS, so it shares the MEPIS foundation and improvements to MEPIS will also be available to SphinxOS users via the free MEPIS and Debian global package pools." This is the full announcement. The German-speaking readers can visit the SphinxOS web site, where they can view screenshots, learn about the distribution's technical aspects and order the product for €79.90 (including support).
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You can't always believe what you read, even if the article in question is published by a reputable news site. Our last week's story (based on this article by ZDNet) about the upcoming Gentoo graphical installer and full live CD turned out to be wrong and was denied by the Gentoo Project: "A recent article on the Gentoo 2004.3 and 2005.0 releases contained a few errors to which quite a few Gentoo users and developers reacted." Indeed, and the first reaction on the ZDNet article was quite sharp, although it was later re-written in a much milder manner. Unfortunately, this means that there will be no graphical installer in Gentoo Linux 2005.0, while the Knoppix-like Gentoo live CD, which was also mentioned in the article, will be of experimental nature and only available for x86 and amd64 ports. You can read about the above topics in more detail on gentoo.org.
|Featured distribution of the week: Damn Small Linux
Damn Small Linux
Damn Small Linux (DSL) is a name that no longer needs introduction. Constantly climbing in our page hit ranking statistics, Damn Small Linux is the original mini live CD designed for business card-size CDs that hold less than 50MB of data. In the very beginning, the developers took one of the 700MB Knoppix live CD releases and started removing applications. It wasn't an easy task since there was so much excellent software on the CD. But the DSL developers persisted until they removed some 93% of applications; yet they somehow still managed to end up with a highly usable and full-featured Linux distribution. No wonder they chose to call it "Damn Small Linux"!
The brain child behind this distribution is John Andrews. We published a brief DSL review and an interview with John back in August 2003 when the project was still relatively little-known (you can read it here.) Much has happened since the interview and numerous features have been added to the distribution in recent months. As an example, DSL now includes myDSL extensions - third-party scripts that download and install several popular applications that are not included on the DSL CD. Also, DSL can now be run from within MS Windows, or it can be installed on one's hard disk. The boot process has been automated to the point that DSL boots into a fully pre-configured graphical environment with VESA, no questions asked. A new control panel to access various configuration options (see screenshot below) has also been added.
Besides functioning as a portable live CD or live USB disk, one of the best uses for this distribution is to install it on an old computer. In fact, your DistroWatch maintainer was running Damn Small Linux on a 133MHz laptop until fairly recently when the machine finally gave up and was discarded. But despite the old processor's low clock speed, DSL was fairly usable for browsing with Opera and emailing with Sylpheed, and even for some light office work with the included Siag Office. We also used it to connect to the DistroWatch web server and to keep an eye on some of the logs. If you have an old laptop lying around, installing Damn Small Linux on it is a perfect way to bring it back to life.
To find out more about Damn Small Linux, please visit the project's web site.
Damn Small Linux 0.9.0.1 - a tiny, yet full-featured live CD that fits on a 50MB CD or a 128MB USB pen drive.
(full image size: 100kB)
|Released Last Week
Linux4all LiveCd 1.40
Linux4all, formerly known as "rpm livelinuxcd" or "basilisk" is a live CD based on Fedora Core. Version 1.40 was released yesterday: "This is a Fedora Core 3-based live CD with KDE 3.3.1, GNOME 2.8, OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird, and a lot of other tools. What's new? Much more reliable detection of DDC capable monitors, better xorg.conf generation, still no VESA fallback; boot-up speed was improved - now ~1-3 minutes of which hardware detection takes most time; GNOME 2.8 now working; KDE 3.3.1 - user sessions are saved to and restored from USB storage (/dev/sda1); fancier menus in KDE; includes Fedora Core 3 network install kernel and images...." See the announcement for more details.
Astaro Security Linux 5.1
Astaro Security Linux 5.1 has been released: "We are pleased to announce Astaro Security Linux V5.1. Updates and bugfixes: upgrade to SpamAssassin 3.0.1 with Razor2(online database spam check), DCC (online database spam check), SURBL (spam realtime blocklist); backend bugfixes for backup converter, licensing, logging, reporting; overall system performance increase; new kernel with bugfixed conntrack code. New features: additional features for better junk mail control - Greylisting (advanced spam blocking method); BATV reverse path signing (block virus and spam backscatter); checking SPF records (joe-job, phishing protection)...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Damn Small Linux 0.9.0 and 0.9.0.1
A new release of Damn Small Linux is now available: "Change Log for 0.9.0: added Firefox web browser; MediaPlayer, enjoympeg and ascd doc app replaces XMMS; Minimum Profit editor replaces Scite and Zile; added spell checking for Sylpheed email; update emelfm filetypes for multimedia; many space saving cuts were implemented; dropped Tuxnes and Mutella." See the complete changelog for further information.
Games Knoppix 3.7
Games Knoppix, a special edition of the upcoming Knoppix 3.7, has been released: "Finally, the first release of the Games Knoppix (St. Nicholas Day Release) is ready for download. The following games have been lately added: Castle-Combat, Globulation 2, Hatman, Kobodeluxe, Miniracer, Pingus, Rafkill, lotsof small games. If there is a graphics card with possible acceleration detected, you will be asked whether you want to use the NVIDIA or ATI drivers. To use this option, you need at least 400MB RAM. The joystick configuration tool is started via 'joystick-config' inside the console. We'll add a small HOWTO about how to turn your Linux box into a game console soon." Here is the full release announcement with additional details.
The second release of FreeSBIE, a FreeBSD-based live CD, is now available: "It's our honour and pleasure to announce FreeSBIE 1.1, a live CD based on FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE. Some of the innovation since 1.0 include: a renewed series of scripts to support power users in the use of FreeSBIE 1.1; an installer to let users install FreeSBIE 1.1 on their hard drives, thus having a powerful operating system such as FreeBSD, but with all the personalizations FreeSBIE 1.1 carries; the presence of the best open source software, chosen and personalized, such as X.Org 6.7.0, XFce 4.2RC1, Firefox 1.0 and Thunderbird 0.9. Moreover, many bugs were solved thanks also to the help of numerous beta testers which we are honoured to thank." Read the official release announcement for additional details.
FreeSBIE 1.1 - a new version of the FreeBSD-based live CD was uploaded to mirrors over the weekend (more screenshots).
(full image size: 396kB)
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
NetBSD 2.0 has been tagged, which means that it won't be long before the final code is released: "Modified Files: src/doc [netbsd-2-0]: CHANGES-2.0. Log Message: Welcome to the 2.0 release (finally)." This mailing list post has more information.
The FreeBSD legacy branch (version 4.x) will receive an update before the end of January 2005: "This is a specific schedule for the release of FreeBSD 4.11. For more general information about the release engineering process, please see the Release Engineering section of the web site." FreeBSD 4.11-PRERELEASE should be out later this week, while the final FreeBSD 4.11-RELEASE is scheduled for January 24th, 2005. This is the complete release schedule.
The release schedule for Mandrakelinux 10.2 has been published, together with some preliminary ideas for new features. The first beta is scheduled for January 1st, 2005, which will be followed by another beta and two release candidates. Mandrakelinux 10.2 Community is currently scheduled for release on March 1st, 2005, while the Official edition should be out one month after that. More information is available here.
SUSE LINUX 9.2 FTP Edition
Several readers have written in to alert us that a new message has been published on the SUSE FTP server, giving details about the upcoming availability of SUSE LINUX 9.2 FTP Edition: "The SUSE Linux 9.2 FTP version is being worked on and will be made available in this directory in the middle of January 2005." You can read the full message here. There is no word about the ISO image of SUSE LINUX 9.2 Personal, but this company has surprised us before and we'll keep you up-to-date as soon as we hear anything.
Linux Caixa Mágica 10
Linux Caixa Mágica, a Portuguese Linux distribution based on SUSE LINUX, has announced a new upcoming release, version 10. The first beta test is scheduled for release on December 8th. A list of new features is listed in the announcement (in Portuguese).
The grml Linux distribution is a recently launched Knoppix and Debian-based live CD designed for users of texttools and system administrators. After the initial release (version 0.1) from the end of October, the distribution's web site has now announced version 0.2, which will be released during the European Hacker Conference held in Berlin between 27 - 29 December 2004. Find more information on this at grml.org.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
On November donation, distribution newsletters
In last week's forums, several readers recommended Kile (an integrated LaTeX environment), for our next donation. We listened to your requests and the project will receive our November 2004 donation - a total of US$180. However, because of the recent server move and associated costs, we have found our PayPal account depleted. The donation will be made as soon as we have funds available.
As some of you noticed, today's news update on the main page included links to the latest Gentoo and Arch newsletters. We never used to publish them before, but we thought it might be a good idea - for two reasons. Firstly, these newsletters rarely make news headlines on general Linux news sites, so some readers might not be aware of their existence. Secondly, they often provide useful information about the current state of the distribution in question, and generally encourage community involvement. The "community involvement" part is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of most open source projects and therefore those distributions that make an effort to publish useful and regular newsletters will be in the headlines more often. Hopefully, this will encourage more distributions to do the same. At the moment, regular newsletters are published by Arch Linux, Debian GNU/Linux, Gentoo Linux, Lunar Linux, Mandrakelinux, Ubuntu Linux and possibly a few other projects - please let us know if we missed any.
Last week, the machine hosting DistroWatch.com collapsed with a faulty motherboard. It was quickly moved to a temporary machine where it continued serving web pages until Sunday, when a new motherboard arrived and the site was transferred back to its original box. We apologise for the downtime.
New distribution addition
- Project dEv (Project development Enlightenment verbose). The mission for Project dEv is to create a stable and secure Linux distribution based on the lightweight window manager Enlightenment, with the latest of hardware detection technology to make sure your hardware is detected and configured as quickly as possible with minimal amount of effort. dEv aims to use and extend the EFL. By this, the KDE and GNOME dependencies are made obsolete while the feature richness and speed of the window manager increases. dEv wants to bring all the eye candy and speed which Enlightenment gives to a more cleanly manner by placing Enlightenment inside its own directory.
New on the waiting list
- Flash Linux. Flash Linux is a compact distribution designed exclusively to run off 256MB USB keys or other bootable Flash-based media. It includes hardware detection (including LAN and modem), auto configuration, a GNOME desktop, and associated office tools.
- Fnord Linux. Fnord Linux is a Linux distribution designed to be built from source and maintained manually. This allows the administrator maximum control over the system. Unlike other built-from source systems, however, Fnord is not a toy; it is intended as a production Linux system (in fact, Fnord has been running on all of FnordNet's machines since 2000). Fnord includes a ramdisk-based utility system for initially configuring the target system, a pre-built environment that allows for building the system, full source code for the base system, and source for many other packages.
- Freeduc-sup. Freeduc-sup is a French live CD based on Knoppix designed for educational use, especially in the fields of physics and information.
- Groovix. Groovix is a Debian-based Linux distribution that seeks to provide the user with a smooth user experience where hardware and software work together seamlessly. Groovix targets a select set of hardware to ensure hardware/software interoperability. It is comprised of a tested, frozen repository of the Debian testing distribution and adds Groovix specific Open Source utilities for easy media access and Simultaneous Local Independent Multiple users. Pre-installed features like ReiserFS on LVM, HAL, and SHFS let the user have all the advantages of a Debian system without the work out of installation, configuration, optimization, and upgrading. Groovix is pre-installed on computers sold by Open Sense Solutions LLC, but can also be purchased separately with support.
DistroWatch database summary
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 361
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 9
- Number of discontinued distributions: 43
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 84
That's all for today; see you again next Monday!
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(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
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