| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 87, 14 February 2005
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week we'll summarise some of the more interesting news that appeared on the Internet last week, including the release of a new live CD with KDE 3.4 and an unofficial port of Slackware Linux for 64-bit processors. In other news: is KANOTIX beating KNOPPIX as the best live CD on the market? And why is Red Hat unhappy about the increasingly successful CentOS project? And in case you are thinking about getting the new Mac mini, you'll be pleased to know that Linux will run on it just fine. Happy reading!
- News: KLAX with KDE 3.4, Slackware for 64-bit processors, KANOTIX vs KNOPPIX, Red Hat vs CentOS, Beastie, Linux on Mac mini
- Web sites: DistroTalk.net
- Featured distribution of the week: Arch Linux
- Released last week
- Upcoming releases: Helix 1.6
- New distributions: LINUXO Live!, Zen Linux
- New on the waiting list: Advanced Linux Workstation, BBCD: Bootable Cluster CD, DeBlue, GSB: GNOME.SlackBuild, Vinque Linux and XLine
KLAX with KDE 3.4, Slackware for 64-bit processors, KANOTIX vs KNOPPIX, Red Hat vs CentOS, Beastie, Linux on Mac mini
We'll start with something that should please the fans of the KDE desktop who impatiently await the next major release of KDE - version 3.4. Currently in its second beta, you can take a sneak peak at the new features by downloading "KLAX", a SLAX-based live CD that has been built to include the latest beta of KDE 3.4, code name "Keinstein". The CD images is a lot larger and a lot slower than your usual SLAX release, but it is still worth a download. However, beware that the default keyboard has been set to German, so after you boot it and log in for the first time, you will have to do something like 'loadkeys /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/i386/querty/us.map.gz' or whichever keyboard you prefer. You can find more information and a list of download mirrors on this page. OSDir.com has the screenshots.
While on the subject of Slackware Linux, we have a couple of interesting links to present to Slackware fans and users with special interests. The first one is Slamd64, an unofficial port of Slackware Linux to AMD64. There seems to be no official web page of the project, but you can download the current alpha releases from this mirror. The second link is to GSB: GNOME.SlackBuild, a Slackware-based distribution that comes with the latest beta builds of the GNOME desktop. The current version of GSB is 0.0.2 and it includes the second beta of GNOME 2.10.
With the release last week of KANOTIX 2005-01, some readers have been asking whether KANOTIX has overtaken KNOPPIX as the best live CD, in terms of usability and features. Indeed, it seems that KANOTIX is now more progressive than KNOPPIX, with more up-to-date packages, better hardware detection, and even a 64-bit edition, which is still rare among distributions. A reader has asked about KANOTIX on the KNOPPIX mailing list and received this reply from Klaus Knopper: "Knoppix tends to use the modules included with the kernel, and no additional and possibly unstable patches. I'd rather have a device not autodetected, than a frozen system or a kernel panic during bootup. Some things from Kanotix are very practical and could make it into Knoppix, but I'm too cautious to integrate the more 'experimental' stuff." Read the full message here.
The FreeBSD project went through extremely emotional moments last week when it announced a contest for a new logo. Although the announcement was later withdrawn and the contest postponed, it still succeeded in generating over 700 posts on Slashdot and over 160 on OSNews. But the much loved Beastie is unlikely to go away; the FreeBSD project is simply seeking a logo that will be more readily acceptable in non-geek communities and organisations, such as companies. On a more sober note, an effort is under way to create a Synaptic-like graphical front-end for FreeBSD's ports. Called FreePort, the project has set up this page at SourceForge.
The rapidly growing CentOS project announced three new ports of its distribution, which is built from the source RPMs for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The new ports of CentOS 3.4 are for ia64, s390 and s390x, in addition to the earlier i386 and amd64 editions. This, together with ongoing work on CentOS 4.0, makes the distribution one of the most interesting choices for users who are looking for a free alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. However, the project's success have attracted the eyes of the trademark lawyers representing Red Hat, Inc, with accusations of unfair use of the company's trademarks on the CentOS.org web site. It "will confuse consumers and dilute the distinctive qualities of its marks," claims the email message signed by Red Hat's legal team.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Linux and open source software in general is its infinite extensibility. The recently unveiled Mac mini computer has not escaped the attention of Linux users and developers either, as documented by the photograph below where the computer is running the FTP edition of Yellow Dog Linux 4.0. Last week, Terra Soft also released an updated version of Yellow Dog Linux 4.0.1, which officially supports the Mac mini. On a related note, this article gives detailed instructions about setting up Debian GNU/Linux on the Apple's smallest computer.
Yellow Dog Linux 4.0 is known to run on Apple's Mac mini.
(picture courtesy of HMX.net)
A new web-based forum for exchanging experiences with various Linux distributions has been launched: "DistroTalk.net is proud to announce its Grand Opening. Please register in the forums and help spread our name. We want to reach the whole Linux community." The DistroTalk.net forums currently include sections for Fedora, Mandrakelinux, SUSE, Red Hat, Debian, Gentoo, Slackware, Knoppix, MEPIS and Ubuntu, but new forums can be requested. Visit DistroTalk.net today and join in the fun.
|Featured distribution of the week: Arch Linux
There has been a lot of good vibe about Arch Linux, a fast distribution optimised for modern processors and with an excellent package management system called "pacman". Probably somewhere between Slackware and Gentoo in terms of usability and configurability, Arch Linux will appeal to more experienced users who are not afraid of the command line, and who are looking for a highly up-to-date and fully customisable workstation or server. We installed the recently released Arch Linux 0.7 on a Pentium 4 test machine to check it out.
One of the most pleasant aspects of this distribution is the availability of many options during installation. You can choose between GRUB or LILO as your preferred boot loader, nano or vim as your text editor, X.Org or XFree86 as your X window system, kernel 2.4 or 2.6 as your Linux kernel, and you can even compile a custom kernel during installation. This makes Arch Linux a highly customisable distribution suitable for just about any purpose. Contrast that to Slackware, where LILO is the only available boot loader, or to Gentoo, where you are initially forced to edit configuration files in nano (at least until you get to the stage where you can install alternative text editors).
Another interesting thing about Arch Linux is "pacman". In its basic functionality, this package management utility strongly resembles apt-get in that it is able to resolve dependencies of packages being installed and complete even complex installation without any human interference. Thus, after you've installed a base system of Arch Linux, you can simply type 'pacman -S xorg kde gnome' to turn your very limited Linux system into a powerful graphical workstation with both GNOME and KDE. You do need a fast Internet connection for this - that's because the Arch Linux installation CD only provides IceWM, WindowMaker and XFce desktop environments, but any additional packages need to be installed from one of the Arch Linux mirrors.
The developers of Arch Linux are also very fast in providing "toys" for those of us who enjoy tinkering with betas or unofficial packages of popular software - as an example, the unstable directory now includes Arch packages of a beta version of OpenOffice.org 2.0 and there is also a third-party resource for beta releases of KDE 3.4. But if all that is not enough, there is always 'makepkg', an Arch utility which makes it easy to build Arch Linux binary packages directly from source code by customising a template.
Overall, we found Arch Linux to be a great distribution. With all the installation options, trouble-free package management, excellent user community on the distribution's forums and mailing lists, and a constantly improving documentation on its Wiki pages, Arch Linux is one of the best-kept secrets of the Linux distribution world. Give it a try and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised!
Arch Linux 0.7 - one of the best kept secrets of the Linux distribution world
(full image size: 172kB)
|Released Last Week
An updated version of Devil-Linux is out: "I'm proud to announce v1.2.3 of Devil-Linux. The changes include kernel 2.4.29, addition of a tftp server, serial console support for install-on-usb, many program updates and many other changes." More details are available in the release announcement and changelog.
Yellow Dog Linux 4.0.1
Terra Soft Solutions has released an update to Yellow Dog 4.0: "Terra Soft Solutions, Inc., the leading developer of integrated PowerPC Linux solutions, is overjoyed to announce a vastly improved Yellow Dog Linux v4.0.1 with greater than 70 updates, including the return of sleep and audio for pre-G5s; thermal support for G5s; and Yes! the iMac G5 and Mac mini now run Yellow Dog Linux. ... The final Yellow Dog Linux v4.0.1 CD-Rs have been created and will today be delivered to a CD production facility for glass mastering and replication. While shipping product will be available in approximately two weeks, Yellow Dog Linux v4.0.1 is immediately available via YDL.net Enhanced accounts." Refer to the press releasefor further details.
Two editions of KANOTIX 2005-01 (for x86 and x86_64 processors) have been released and are available for download. Improvements: "New name; all configuration tools now in the KANOTIX menu; new background, splash, font optimizations; revised hardware detection and newer drivers; once more improved hard disk install (NIS and LVM were deleted this time); no kernel source are needed anymore to compile NVIDIA, ATI and many other kernel modules; many enhancements in detail, identical look and feel with the 64-bit edition; Captive can download the needed drivers from the net again." More details in the release announcement.
Scientific Linux 3.0.4
KANOTIX 2005-01 - another great released of the increasingly popular KANOTIX live CD
(full image size: 371kB)
Scientific Linux is a Linux distribution built from source RPM packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Version 3.0.4 for i386 and x86_64 processors has been released: "Scientific Linux (SL) Release 3.0.4 for i386 has been released. Thanks to all the testers and those who sent us patches and suggestions. Scientific Linux Release 3.0.4 is based on the rebuilding of RPMS out of SRPMs from Enterprise 3 AS, including Update 4. The release notes can be found here." This is the release announcement for i386.
Zen Linux 1.0
As reported on Slashdot and elsewhere, a new Debian-based Linux distribution, called Zen Linux, has been born: "Zen Linux is a bootable live CD distribution. More than that, it is a 100% compatible Debian installer. It boasts easy remastering for creating your own personalized versions. Most configuration is done automatically upon boot and requires no user interaction, things 'just work'." Visit the distribution's web site for more information and screenshots.
Feather Linux 0.7.3
Feather Linux 0.7.3 has been released. From the changelog: "Added John the Ripper, macchanger, kismet, tcl8.4,qemu, paketto, abcde and screen; updated Monkey to 0.9.0; updated the hard disk install script; updated the usbutils package; upgraded kernel to 2.4.27; updated the quickcam, prism54, ipw2100 and madwifi drivers; updated ndiswrapper to 1.1rc1 and added the airo-mpi driver; updated modutils to 2.4.27; added BCM4400 and BCM5700 drivers; added pencam, a utility to download images from STV0680B-001 chip-based digital cameras; changed boot process so important configuration files can be overwritten by user restore images; added FreeNX; added script to easily create icons (Tools -> Scripts)."
LinuxTLE 7.0.1 (Lite)
After the official release of Thailand's LinuxTLE 7.0, an updated, single-CD "Lite" edition of the product is now also available. This is an installation CD, not a live CD. Updates include the following: kernel 2.6.10 optimised for i686 processors; X.Org 6.8.1; GNOME 2.8.1; OpenOffice TLE 1.1.2; Xiterm+Thai 1.0.6; ThaiTrueType fonts: Loma, Norasi, Garuda, Kinari, DBThaiText, TlwgMono, Purisa, JS; ArnThai 2.0; LEXiTRON 2.0 Pre2; GIMP 2.2.3; Firefox 1.0; K3B 0.11.18; and other updates. This is the full release announcement (in Thai).
Aurox Linux 10.1
Aurox Linux 10.1, code name "Quicksilver" was formally announced earlier this month and was finally released to mirrors over the weekend. What's new? "X-server: X.Org 6.8.1; system hibernation: SWUSP 2.1.5; system kernel: kernel 2.6.9; device file system: udev 0.39; default graphical environment: GNOME 2.8.1 with Evolution 2.0; graphical environment: KDE 3.3.1; office suite: OpenOffice.org 1.1.2 (MS Office compatible); multimedia players: MPlayer 1.0pre5, xine 1.0; web browsers: Mozilla 1.7.3, Firefox 1.0." See the release announcement on the distribution's home page for further details.
SAM Mini Live Linux 2005-1
This is the final release of the Mandrakelinux-based SAM Mini Live Linux 2005-1: "I am proud to present the first 'stable' release of SAM of the year 2005: SAM 2005-1.Thanks to the mklivecd developer team, now it is possible to choose UnionFS support as a boot option, which enables full read and write support of the live CD file system. You now can install packages in live CD mode without restrictions. I fixed some bugs, like the changing of the keyboard mapping and the problems with the installation tool. Also support for PCMCIA devices is back in SAM. SAM 2005-1 is based on kernel 2.6.10." More details in the release announcement.
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The developers of Helix, a Knoppix-based distribution for incident response and computer forensics, have announced a major new upcoming release: "A major version update: Helix 1.6 will be released on 7 March 2005. This release will see a whole new Helix. Many changes have been made to include a new 2.6.10 non-preemptive kernel, an new UnionFS overlay system, a new Window Manager by way of XFce and a brand new System Preview program called SnagIt." Find out more on the project's web site.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
New distributions addition
- LINUXO Live! LINUXO Live! is a Serbian live CD based on Mandrakelinux and with packages from PCLinuxOS.
- Zen Linux. Zen Linux is a bootable live CD distribution. Most configuration is done automatically upon boot and requires no user interaction. It includes the ability to to create remastered, personalised editions of the product.
LINUXO Live! - a Serbian distribution based on Mandrakelinux and PCLinuxOS
(full image size: 256kB)
New on the waiting list
- Advanced Linux Workstation. Advanced Linux Workstation is a new Brazilian Linux distribution based on Slackware Linux but optimised for i686 processors.
- BBCD: Bootable Cluster CD. The BCCD is a bootable CD image that boots up into a pre-configured distributed computing environment. It was built and motivated by the BBC project at LinuxCare, which has subsequently spawned off into the LNX-BBC project. The BCCD was created to facilitate instruction of parallel computing aspects and paradigms. Part of the difficulty instructors face is lack of dedicated resources to explore distributed computing aspects lack of time to preconfigure and test the supporting environment.
- DeBlue. DeBlu is a Debian-based Linux distribution designed for ease of use and functionality similar to Windows XP or Mac OS X. It is currently in development.
- GSB: GNOME.SlackBuild. The GSB project provides scripts for building current releases of GNOME for inclusion in Slackware Linux. The project has also released bootable ISO images with Slackware Linux and GNOME. (Correction: the ISO image is not a full distribution, but rather a set of binary GNOME builds with an installation script.)
- Vinque Linux. Vinque Linux is a new mini-distribution based on Gentoo Linux. It is a live CD that fits on a 50MB business card size CD and supports various European languages.
- XLine. XLine is a new French Linux distribution, currently in early development, featuring the GNOME desktop. It is designed for Linux beginners.
DistroWatch database summary
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 386
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 9
- Number of discontinued distributions: 47
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 87
That's all for today. See you all next week!
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