| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 88, 21 February 2005
Welcome to this year's 8th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! In it, we take a brief look at two popular distributions, new versions of which were released over the weekend: PCLinuxOS and VectorLinux. We also reveal our brand new distribution database, which, while far from complete, should make it easier to search for a desired distribution based on various criteria. And if you have much time on your hands, we introduce you to no fewer than 7 new Linux distributions that were added to the waiting list last week. Happy reading!
New releases: PCLinuxOS and VectorLinux SOHO
Two quiet releases of popular distribution were produced during the weekend. The first one is PCLinuxOS, Preview .81a, a distribution built by Texstar and originally based on Mandrakelinux. Although still in a "preview" stage of the development, PCLinuxOS has attracted much attention by users who enjoy Mandrakelinux, but prefer a distribution where its main packages are continuously updated to their latest versions. Texstar has several years of experience in building high-quality RPM packages for Mandrakelinux and other distributions, and his latest effort to build a complete live and installation CD has been well-received by many users.
What's so great about PCLinuxOS? For starters, it is a distribution that serves both as a live CD and an installation CD. The CD boots into a full graphical environment with the latest version of KDE, and the distribution is pre-configured with many of the popular, but non-free software applications, such as Java and Flash browser plugins, multimedia applications, and even the latest NVIDIA and ATI accelerated graphics drivers (you need to download a specific edition that includes those drivers). This takes the pain out of configuring these applications (they are not present in the freely downloadable editions of Mandrakelinux or Fedora Core).
After confirming that the live CD works with your hardware as expected, you might want to perform a full installation of PCLinuxOS on your hard disk. There is an icon on the desktop for exactly this purpose; it launches a simple graphical installer that provides a means for partitioning the hard disk and selecting the desired partition for installation. After the system is successfully copied from the CD to your hard disk, you will have a chance to setup your boot loader, activate logging, set root password, and create users. Once done, you can reboot into your brand new PCLinuxOS. You can manage software packages and add new applications from Texstar's RPM repository with apt-get, KPackage or Synaptic.
PCLinuxOS Preview .81 is a very nicely designed distribution and we highly recommend it - especially to users who are new to Linux.
PCLinuxOS Preview .81 - a new release of Texstar's excellent distribution hit the mirrors over the weekend
(full image size: 484kB)
Although it has yet to be officially announced, the SOHO edition of VectorLinux 5.0 made a quiet appearance on the distribution's mirrors over the weekend. VectorLinux is based on Slackware Linux and designed to run on older computers, but the SOHO edition is a more full-featured distribution with KDE as its main desktop. We installed the new release to take an early look and were suitably impressed by the polished feel and very good hardware detection.
Besides standard desktop features found in most Linux distributions, VectorLinux includes a couple of custom applications for system and package administration. VASM is a VectorLinux Administration and System Menu, which works on a user level to allow individual users to configure their preferred window manager (besides KDE, IceWM is also available) and a few other options, or on a superuser level, which includes various system-wide configuration modules. Similarly, VLAPT, a VectorLinux Package Management module, provides a simple way to install and uninstall packages (with or without dependency checking), together with several advanced package management options.
Another interesting feature of the SOHO edition of VectorLinux 5.0 is that it includes a module that could be of interest to those who need basic server capabilities in a distribution - the module is called "LAMPP" and it consists of Apache 2, PHP 4 and 5, MySQL 4.1, phpMyAdmin 2.6.0, and ProFTPd 1.2.10.
A great product overall; if you get the chance, visit the distribution's download page and try it out.
VectorLinux 5.0 SOHO edition - a polished product with KDE and several server applications
(full image size: 509kB)
Migration to APT 0.6
The much awaited migration of Debian's Advanced Package Manager (APT) to version 0.6 is slowly taking shape. Why is this process so important? The main reason is the inclusion in APT 0.6 of cryptographic mechanisms designed to verify the origin of packages. Without this feature, many system administrators running mission-critical servers would refuse to consider Debian GNU/Linux for their servers, since the risk of downloading a compromised package from one of the Debian mirrors would be considered unacceptably high. Although not completely fool-proof, these cryptographic mechanisms can reduce the risk of installing a package that has been tampered with during download or on one of the mirrors providing Debian packages. You can find more information on features of APT 0.6 on this page.
|Released Last Week
Xandros Desktop OS 3 OCE
Xandros Corporation has released a freely downloadable edition of Xandros Desktop 3: "Xandros, the leading developer of easy-to-use Linux solutions, today announced the version 3 release of the Open Circulation Edition of its Linux desktop operating system (OS). The new release provides a new Internet experience with Firefox web browsing, Skype Internet calling, and Thunderbird e-mailing. The Xandros Open Circulation Edition is available for download at no charge from the Xandros web site." Here is the full press release.
MCNLive "Haarlem" 2
This is an updated release of the Mandrakelinux-based MCNLive distribution. Changes and updates: "KOffice with NL locale and ispell-nl, fixed group ID and group of user mcnl, Firefox with Flash plugin (only worked in Konqueror), SuperKaramba, text: Dubbelklik, corrections in welkom.html and howto.html, keyboard.be added, Konqueror: animations off, Konsole: tab on top, style: Lipstick, window decoration: Baghira, ..."
Slack/390 is the official port of Slackware Linux to the IBM mainframe platform. This ifsfrom the release announcement: "The newest release of Slack/390, version 10.0, is ready to go. Highlights of the release include the Linux 2.4.29 kernel, with Linux 2.6.7 as an alternate choice in /testing, glibc 2.3.2, gcc 3.3.4, and apache 1.3.33. For a complete list of changes since Slack/390 9.1, check out theSlack/390 10.0 ChangeLog. Read the official announcement here."
Berry Linux 0.53
A new version of Berry Linux has been released. From the changelog: "Berry Linux 0.53. Kernel 2.6.9 SMP + devfs + bootsplash; ndiswrapper 1.0; X.Org 6.8.1 + Bold Patch; Fluxbox 0.9.11 (Fedora Core 3); OpenOffice.org 1.1.4 (Japanese and English); GIMP version 2.2.3 (Gnu Image Manipulation Program); K3b 0.11.20; Whiz 0.49 (Monoceros) + SCIM 1.1.3; SIM 0.9.3."
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 has been formally announced and released: "Red Hat, the leading provider of open source solutions to the enterprise, announced global availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux v.4 last night at a press conference hosted by Red Hat executives, partners and customers. This latest release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux enables enterprise organizations to realize the benefits of open source innovation throughout their IT environment, particularly in the areas of performance and security. Red Hat Enterprise Linux proves that Linux solutions can effectively eliminate for the need for Solaris in the enterprise." Read the press release and visit the product pages for further information.
ASLinux Desktop 2.0
ASLinux Desktop 2.0 has been released: "ASLinux Desktop 2.0 is a Linux distribution aimed to desktop PCs, either workstations, corporate clients or domestic computers, and to any kind of user, whatever his/her expertise level with PCs and Linux. Available for 32-bit Intel and AMD CPUs, ASLinux Desktop 2.0 offers a complete, stable and intuitive environment inclusive of all the features that any end user may demand: office tools, Internet, multimedia, education, games and fun, etc., along with the most complete security systems, like a personal firewall, a Windows virus analyzer and a spam filter. ASLinux Desktop 2.0 combines Linux's strength and stability, Debian Sarge's power and versatility and KDE's friendliness and usability." Here is the full release announcement in Spanish and English.
A new version of Minislack, a light-weight Slackware-based Linux distribution with WindowMaker and XFce, has been released: "Smaller and still more complete than ever, this is a key release of Minislack. Minislack 0.3 runs by default on kernel 2.6.10, with support for most hardware including SCSI, ACPI, PCMCIA, frame buffered video-card support, and was built in accordance with Slackware's i486 philosophy. Minislack 0.3 provides two of the fastest and most reliable X environments: XFce (4.2) and WindowMaker (0.91), along with all needed GTK2/GNOME libraries. GNOME and KDE users will like to install their favorite desktop using the included Slapt-get tool." Read the release announcement for further information about the release.
tinysofa enterprise server
An updated version of tinysofa enterprise server has been released: "tinysofa enterprise server 2.0 Update 1 (Odin) is now generally available. This maintenance release incorporates updates issued since the release of 2.0 and addresses all known security issues. 'Odin' features: the Linux 2.6.9 kernel, SELinux support, APT for advanced package management, full ABI compatibility with RHEL4 (both user space and kernel), a turn key ASP.NET/C# solution using components from the Mono project (1.1.4), the next generation PHP 5 environment (5.0.3), high availability features such as DRBD (0.7.10), UCARP (1.1) and PostgreSQL replication (Slony1 1.0.5), the latest development tools and languages (GCC 3.4.3, Ruby 1.8.2, Subversion 1.1.3), and much more." Read the release announcement on the distribution's web site.
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Fedora Core 4 postponed
According to the release schedule, the first beta of Fedora Core 4, which was originally scheduled for release today (February 21st), has been postponed by one week. Similarly, all subsequent beta releases were also postponed by one week. The final release of Fedora Core 4 is now expected on May 23rd, 2005.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
New distributions database
We have finally started work on a new distribution database that should make it easier to search for distributions based on various criteria. This project is far from complete, but at least we have the basic infrastructure and code in place. At the moment, there are only three columns (origin, based on and status), but we will add a few more in the next few days including processor support, purpose (e.g. live CD, firewall, source-based....) and perhaps a few other criteria. You can find the current progress on the Search page. If you have any comment/wish about the database, please speak now, either in the forums below or directly by email (the address is on the bottom of this page).
New distributions addition
Due to the above-mentioned work on a comprehensive distribution database, no new distributions were added last week.
Three distributions were newly placed on the Discontinued Distributions list: Icepack Linux, LGIS GNU/Linux and ViruX. The web sites of these distributions have been gone for several months, so it is unlikely that any of these three projects is still under active development.
New on the waiting list
- JaguarOS. JaguarOS is a new Russian Linux distribution currently in early development.
- KioskCD. KioskCD is a live CD with nothing except a Firefox web browser. No other features are available, no menus, no applications, no configuration panels, no nothing. Perfect for making Internet service available to others on spare computers.
- Mockup. Mockup is a desktop operating system, based on the Morphix live CD. The project's goal is to create an Open Source operating system that is easy to use - a live CD which can be installed on a hard disk. The desktop environment is based on new and exciting technology, such as udev, hotplug and HAL for hardware detection and automatic device files creation. The whole desktop is written using Trolltech's Qt 4.0 with both vector and bitmap graphics, with antialiasing. Where supported by the hardware, translucency and drop shadows are also provided for interesting effects.
- MSTux. MSTux is a French Canadian live CD based on Knoppix. It is developed by Service National RÉCIT Mathématique, Science et Technologie in Quebec.
- Quantik. Quantik is a French Linux distribution designed for servers and based on Debian GNU/Linux
- Rubix Linux. Currently in early development, Rubix Linux is a new Slackware-based Linux distribution with the package management borrowed from Arch Linux.
- Underground Desktop. Underground Desktop is a GNU/Linux distribution targeted to the desktop user, featuring a graphical installation (using Anaconda for Debian by Progeny), and is based on Debian 'unstable'.
DistroWatch database summary
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 386
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 9
- Number of discontinued distributions: 50
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 91
That's all for today. See you all next week!
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