| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 108, 11 July 2005
Welcome to this year's 28th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The recently released Fedora Core 4 has been getting some bad press lately - what are the reasons? The security problems plaguing Debian sarge in recent weeks have been solved, while Ubuntu's increasing impact on the world of Linux distribution has received more momentum by the launch of a US$10 million Ubuntu Foundation. Also in this issue - we interview Jean-Philippe Guillemin, the lead developer of Minislack and introduce three new Asian distributions - AsianLinux, OpenLX (both from India) and Niigata Linux (from Japan). Happy reading!
What went wrong with Fedora Core 4
As is the case with just about every major distribution release, some users are extremely pleased, while others wish they'd never upgraded. The recently released Fedora Core 4 is no exception. Many seem to be happy about the updated applications that have made it into the latest version, including upgrades to GCC 4, GNOME 2.10 and KDE 3.4, as well as the newly added official support for the PowerPC architectures. We have tested Fedora Core briefly and found it to be a solid release, although we missed some of the applications that have been "relegated" to the "extras" repository to save space on the official Fedora CDs.
But not everybody is happy. The most recent issue of Linux Format awarded Fedora Core 4 only four stars out of ten (in contrast, the same issue gave Debian 3.1 eight stars). The reviewers have found the release somewhat unexciting and, with the exception of Xen, lacking any major new features. They also complained about the absence of graphical configuration tools, a feature that has existed in Mandriva and SUSE for a long time. As such, they argue that Fedora Core 4 is a distribution not particularly suitable for those new to Linux.
What are your experiences? If you are a Fedora user, do you consider Core 4 a greatly improved release compared to the previous version? And if you don't normally use Fedora, but decided to give its latest release a quick spin, what were your impressions? Please discuss below.
Sarge security problems solved
Following our report on Debian's security problems in last week's DistroWatch Weekly, we are pleased to bring you an update on the issue. According to this press release, the Debian security support has been fully restored: "The Debian project confirms that the security infrastructure for both the current release Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 (alias sarge) and the former release 3.0 (alias woody) is working again. The security team is now able to provide updates on a regular basis again. There were several issues with the security infrastructure after the release of sarge, that lead to the Debian security team being unable to issue updates to vulnerable packages. These issues have been fully resolved, and the infrastructure is working correctly again."
Unfortunately, our report displeased some of the Debian developers. Steve Langasek has emailed us to say that "although one architecture (out of 11) was not yet picking security updates up correctly for sarge at the time that article was written, this is (unfortunately) nothing extraordinary in the history of security support for Debian; and while this problem was still being resolved, the Debian security team had issued three security advisories last week and has issued several more since then. Perhaps you could clarify for your readers that this represents an obstacle that has already been overcome, not an ongoing failure of Debian to provide security support for sarge?"
Besides complaining about DistroWatch's reporting, Steve Langasek also had some harsh words for Martin Schulze, Debian's press officer: "I've watched with growing dismay as Debian's press officer continued to blog prognostications of doom for the future of Debian security, which have done nothing but whet the press's appetite for a story of impending disaster. I find this kind of blogging to be irresponsible in the extreme; not only does it not help fix the problems, it doesn't even help users make informed decisions because it doesn't contain salient facts."
Of course, none of the Debian developers noticed that, besides bringing up sarge security problems, last week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly also informed readers about a US$420 donation to the Debian project....
US$10 million Ubuntu Foundation launched
As widely reported in the media, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux and Canonical Limited (the sponsor of Ubuntu) have announced the creation of Ubuntu Foundation with the initial funding commitment of US$10 million: "The Ubuntu Foundation will employ core Ubuntu community members to ensure that Ubuntu will remain fully supported for an extended period of time, and continue to produce new releases of the distribution. As a first step, the Foundation announces that Ubuntu version 6.04, due for release in April 2006, will be supported for three years on the desktop and five years on the server."
This surprise move will likely result in further adoption of the increasingly popular distribution and should also heat up the competition on the enterprise Linux scene, where the only serious contenders are Red Hat Enterprise Linux and, to a lesser extent, Novell's range server and desktop Linux products.
The Ubuntu announcement has also made reference to DistroWatch: "Ubuntu has quickly become a leading distribution in the free software world, taking the #1 place in DistroWatch popularity rankings over all timescales which are published. The distribution focuses on usability, security and stability on desktops and servers, and on making free software widely available for individuals and organisations who are ready to switch from proprietary platforms, such as Microsoft Windows."
And while covering this ambitious move and a radical event affecting the Linux distribution scene, it is perhaps appropriate to comment on some of the increasing amount of anti-Ubuntu propaganda that has started to appear on some Linux forums and web sites. We don't know who is behind some of these comments which go as far as accuse Mark Shuttleworth of being a rich and ruthless businessman whose only interest is to make money out of Linux, and that much of the positive coverage of Ubuntu Linux in the media is due to the generous disposition of his millions, rather than the quality of the Ubuntu distribution.
Firstly, Mark Shuttleworth is not a businessman - he is, in fact, a programmer and a hacker who had a right idea at a right time and who benefited tremendously from open source software. Secondly, Ubuntu and Canonical have never, to our knowledge, advertised their Linux distribution on any web site. They certainly haven't sponsored DistroWatch in any way and the only reason that Ubuntu tops our popularity charts is through having thousands of satisfied customers and through good old-fashioned word of mouth. Naturally, there is no such thing as "perfect distribution" and Ubuntu Linux is not a panacea either, but it has certainly found the right vibe among many computer users. Whether you like it or not, we will be hearing much more about Ubuntu in the coming years.
|Interview: Jean-Philippe Guillemin, Minislack
Interview: Jean-Philippe Guillemin, Minislack
The Minislack distribution is one of those projects that might sound unexciting and short of innovation at first, but once you install it, you are likely to have very good first impressions. Initiated by Jean-Philippe Guillemin, this one-year old distribution has recently started to receive some positive media coverage (see this review at DesktopLinux as an example). We asked Jean-Philippe a few questions about Minislack and this is what he has to say.
DW: Jean-Philippe, thank you very much for your time. Please tell us about yourself. How old are you? Where do you live? What do you do for living? When and why did you start using Linux?
JP: I'm 33 years old, I live in Nantes, France, and I work as security engineer for Telindus. I first tried Linux (Slackware) in 1996, often using it for coding, but I really started using Linux as my exclusive operating system in 1999 (Mandrake and then Redhat). I moved back to Slackware in 2002 and felt in love with it. This love story is not finished...
DW: How was the Minislack idea conceived? Slackware is a popular base on which many distributions are based, why did you feel the need to create another one?
JP: In the beginning of 2004, I was just curious to see how far I could go building a Linux CD that would be optimised for my personal needs, nothing original :) My goal was to have a development environment that would be simple and complete, so that I could install it on any computer very effectively. Thus I started to remove server-related packages, and to replace the kernel with the 2.6.x version that I had been using for a few months. I kept almost all development libs and "base system" tools. Now the Minislack concept has evolved a little bit. The main ideas are to keep it simple and fast, and provide a user-friendly Desktop environment with just one mainstream application for one given task.
DW: What are the key differences between Slackware proper and Minislack? Any important issues a user needs to know when moving between the two distributions? Any compatibility issues? Can standard Slackware packages (such as those found at LinuxPackages.net) be installed on Minislack?
JP: Slackware is to Minislack the same as Red Hat was to Mandrake in the beginning. If we consider the "base system" (core libs, and GNU tools) Minislack is mostly a striped down version of Slackware, main differences being:
I personally use Slackware Linux for critical server missions, and I use Minislack for coding or multimedia. Anyway, most Slackware packages are supported under Minislack. LinuxPackages.org is a great source of packages, their testing/validation process is very efficient.
- kernel 2.6
- Reiser4 file system
- the application selection/adds
- GNOME libraries
- optimisations of the desktop and user environment
- a simple network package manager (netpkg)
- a simple firewall service (rc.netfilter)
DW: Packages in Minislack are managed with the "netpkg" utility. How does this tool compare with Slackware's "pkgtool"?
JP: Minislack uses pkgtool as its package manager. Netpkg is just a network based interface to pkgtool (installpkg/upgradepkg to be exact). Netpkg is still new (last version is 0.92). It can't be compared yet with slapt-get or slackpkg, as netpkg is a simpler tool and still in active development.
DW: Minislack maintains its own "current" directory with continuously updated packages. Are these packages considered stable or experimental? Do you build them yourself or are these packages accepted from Slackware's current branch without modifications?
JP: The "current" repository is not the stable distribution (although all "current" packages are first tested and that this repository provides bug-fixes), the stable distribution is provided as ISO/CD download and is tested during at least 15 days before release. The "current" repository is new (May 2005) and started when netpkg was released. There's also a "stable" repository that provides the same packages as the ISO distribution.
Minislack packages come from 3 sources:
DW: What is the target group of Minislack?
- compiled and packaged by the Minislack team
- Slackware Linux, with modifications in some of them (in this case they are renamed)
- the Gware project (for GNOME libraries), which is really a great and "non-intrusive" GNOME distribution
JP: Minislack was primary designed for experienced Linux users and software developers, but I was surprised that beginners often find it easy to use, so I don't know...
DW: Minislack has been growing surprisingly fast over the past few months - what do you think is the main factor behind it? Are you surprised by the success of your project?
JP: The support provided by the users themselves is, in my opinion, the main reason for this rise! Minislack users provide a really great support on the forums, and ... yes, I'm surprised.
How many developers work on the distribution?
JP: The main Minislack team includes 6 members, with about 10 regular testers.
DW: What are the long-term plans for Minislack? Any interesting features you are working on? What can we look forward to in the coming months?
JP: We are going to keep working on the objectives : simpler, faster and easier to use. I think that there will also be some child projects like a live CD, and/or an x64 version, at a later time. The main objectives will remain unchanged, Minislack will only gain some maturity.
DW: When is the next Minislack release due? Are you following a roadmap or are release decisions based on other factors?
JP: I think that our actual release frequency is a bit too high. The next release will be this summer. It will mostly be a big software update, the main new feature is Gnome System Tools. Since we now have our own network update system to provide urgent intermediate bug-fixes, this makes it possible to release a stable version of Minislack every 3 - 4 months.
DW: Jean-Philippe, thank you very much for your interview.
Minislack - a light-weight distribution with focus on Internet applications, multimedia and programming tools.
(full image size: 80kB)
|Released Last Week
The inaugural release of grml-small, labelled as "Knoppix for sysadmins", is now available: "Initial release of grml-small, a very small version of the grml-system. Notice that there are several hacks to reduce the ISO size, so you won't find documentation and manpages on the ISO. grml-small provides support for booting via USB, see here for details. Kernel is based on vanilla kernel 2.6.12 including several patches (MPPC/MPPE, Reiser4, SquashFS,...) but, compared with the normal grml system, the kernel features have been reduced. See here for more details. To fit on a 50MB ISO the software list has been reduced of course, see section 'Debian-Information' on this page for more details, there you can find the dpkg-list too." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Trustix Secure Linux 3.0
Trustix Secure Linux 3.0 has been released: "Trustix, developers of the world's most secure Linux, today announce the most secure operating system ever with the advent of Trustix Secure Linux 3.0. TSL's rapidly expanding new user base has identified a wide range of possible improvements which have now been implemented and made available in this release. Foremost amongst these is the new installer 'Viper' which boasts the ability to poll the latest updates during the installation process. Other additions to the system include X.org X11 libraries, FreeRadius support, easy PXE installs, Mini CD and Net CD versions of the OS, enhanced hardware detection, installation on RAID and logical volumes...." Read the rest of the press release for more information.
Astaro Security Linux 6.0
Astaro Security Linux 6.0 has been released: "Astaro is pleased to announce the availability of the Astaro Security Linux V6 GA. Astaro Security Linux V6 adds many new capabilities like improved protection for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications, increased protection from 'zero-day attacks,' and support for the Linux 2.6 Kernel as well as enhanced configuration and reporting options that improve the flexibility and ease of management. Key features include: transparent firewall mode; time-based packet filter and surf protection; policy-based routing; support of Linux kernel 2.6; SIP proxy; anomaly-based intrusion protection; Novell eDirectory support." More details are available in the release announcement.
AGNULA/DeMuDi 1.2.1 has been released: "AGNULA/DeMuDI 1.2.1, the Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution for audio and music, has been released. This release is the second of the 1.2.x series, and sports a complete integration with Debian, using the Debian Sarge Installer and the CDD (Custom Debian Distributions) concept. Instructions on how to download and install it can be found here and a list of frequently asked questions here. We hope you enjoy AGNULA/DeMuDi! Please report your impressions on our mailing lists or with the issue tracking system. Bug reports as well as hints and suggestions are always welcome!" See the complete release announcement for more information.
StartCom 4.0.4 MultiMedia Edition
A multimedia edition of StartCom Enterprise Linux 4.0 has been released: "Based on its Enterprise brother 'Barak' (StartCom Enterprise Linux AS-4.0.0), the new MultiMedia Edition (ML-4.0.4) from StartCom may make lots of noise. Produced for the demanding home user, 'Raam' is designed to be an all-in-one MultiMedia platform, including audio and video entertainment, audio and video production center, recording studio and more. ... The music production section offers some outstanding applications like Rosegarden, Audacity, Muse and many, many sound manipulating effect tools, synthesizers, samplers, sequencers. It can perform as a complete Recording Studio and its use requires quite some knowledge and training." Find more details in the official press release.
Linux From Scratch 6.1
Linux From Scratch (LFS) 6.1 has been released: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS 6.1. This release includes a large number of package upgrades (including Linux 22.214.171.124, GCC 3.4.3, glibc 2.3.4) and security fixes (including the recently disclosed zlib vulnerability). It also includes a large amount of editorial work on the explanatory material throughout the book, improving both the clarity and accuracy of the text. You can read the book online, or download to read locally." See the release announcement on the project's news page and check out the full changelog for further details.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
New distribution additions|
- AsianLinux. AsianLinux is an Indian Linux distribution which aims to promote Linux and open source. Based on Fedora Core, it comes with several enhancements, as well as additional multimedia and development tools; these include Firefox with Flash, Java Runtime, Kaffeine and Real Player plugins, various graphics manipulation applications, and CAD design software.
- Niigata Linux. Niigata Linux is a Fedora-based Japanese Linux distribution designed as a web application environment for web development with Apache and PostgreSQL.
- OpenLX. OpenLX is a Linux distribution made in India. It is based on Fedora Core with updated packages and many user-friendly enhancements, such as complete multimedia capabilities, support for 6 Indian languages, Java SDK and an extra application CD. OpenLX comes in two editions - a single-CD "Desktop" edition and a 5-CD "Enterprise" edition.
New on the waiting list
- Asterisk@Home. The Asterisk@Home project enables the home user to quickly set up a VOIP Asterisk PBX. A web GUI makes configuration and operation easy. The live CD also includes an xPL (home automation) interface for easy interaction with other devices in the home.
- Elive. Elive, or Enlightenment liveCD, is a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution with the Enlightenment window manager version 16 and 17
- Insigne GNU/Linux. Insigne GNU/Linux is a Brazilian Linux distribution based on Fedora Core.
- Musix GNU+Linux. Musix GNU+Linux is a Debian-based Linux live CD containing a collection of Free Software packages for musicians and audio enthusiasts. The distribution's default language is Spanish, but English is also supported.
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for today. We hope that you enjoyed this week's DistroWatch Weekly!
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 505 (2013-04-29): First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04, Saucy Salamander, Remastersys and System Imager, Linux containers|
|• Issue 504 (2013-04-22): Look at Bodhi 2.3.0, Ubuntu 13.04 features, building OpenBSD ports, opening large files|
|• Issue 503 (2013-04-15): CentOS versus Scientific Linux, PCLinuxOS 64, Lucas Nussbaum, ZFS/Btrfs versus ext4|
|• Issue 502 (2013-04-08): Look at Mint 201303 "Debian", Ubuntu versus openSUSE, comparing ZFS and Btrfs file systems|
|• Issue 501 (2013-04-01): KANOTIX 2013 and GhostBSD 3.0, openSUSE Rescue-CD, Haiku package management, computer forensics|
|• Issue 500 (2013-03-25): Look at openSUSE 12.3, Ubuntu release changes, Debian backports, growing divide|
|• Issue 499 (2013-03-18): MINIX 3.2.1, openSUSE 12.3 on desktop, Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin, distros for musicians, KolibriOS|
|• Issue 498 (2013-03-11): Sabayon Linux 11, Ubuntu's Mir, Linux malware|
|• Issue 497 (2013-03-04): Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline", rolling-release Ubuntu, Arch vs spin-offs, justification and diversity|
|• Issue 496 (2013-02-25): Review of Chakra 2013.02, The Book of GIMP, Ubuntu and privacy, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free|
|• Issue 495 (2013-02-18): SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra", Fedora 19 schedule, Xubuntu on DVD, cloud privacy|
|• Issue 494 (2013-02-11): FreeBSD 9.1, web server stats, Anaconda, rolling-release PC-BSD, fixing broken packages in Arch|
|• Issue 493 (2013-02-04): UberStudent 2.0, OmniBoot 1.0, MariaDB, Enlightenment 0.17|
|• Issue 492 (2013-01-28): Fedora 18 review, systemd, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Unleashed|
|• Issue 491 (2013-01-21): Fuduntu 2013.1, Fedora 18 desktop choices, Consort, accessing encrypted drive|
|• Issue 490 (2013-01-14): Look at Manjaro Linux 0.8.3, openSUSE on Chromebook, Able2Extract 8.0|
|• Issue 489 (2013-01-07): PC-BSD 9.1, Arch spin-offs, rolling-releases, year-end PHR stats, removing applications|
|• Issue 488 (2012-12-24): Reviews of Unity and Puppy Linux 5.4 "Slacko", FreeBSD 10|
|• Issue 487 (2012-12-17): Cinnarch 2012.11.22, OpenMandriva, Fedora Magazine, Tumbleweed, OpenJDK vs Oracle Java|
|• Issue 486 (2012-12-10): Linux Mint 14 review, Ubuntu "spyware" controversy, Haiku overview, troubleshooting Linux servers|
|• Issue 485 (2012-12-03): Kwort Linux 3.5, Mint bug-fix update, Fedora's new Anaconda, defining a distribution|
|• Issue 484 (2012-11-26): Look at SMS 2.0.1, Fedora pre-beta report, Illumos, Secure Boot update|
|• Issue 483 (2012-11-19): DragonFly BSD 3.2.1 and Xubuntu 12.10, Gentoo and udev, switching file systems|
|• Issue 482 (2012-11-12): Review of Zenwalk 7.2, Clang in FreeBSD, Omniboot 0.5, priorities on external drives|
|• Issue 481 (2012-11-05): Look at Tails 0.13, EFF on Ubuntu and privacy, Debian installer changes, ext4 data corruption bug|
|• Issue 480 (2012-10-29): Review of Ubuntu 12.10, Wayland 1.0, FreeBSD's pkgng|
|• Issue 479 (2012-10-22): Look at Zentyal 3.0, Debian bug reporting, initiating a halt|
|• Issue 478 (2012-10-15): Slackware 14.0 review, Ubuntu donations, connecting to multiple machines behind router|
|• Issue 477 (2012-10-08): Review of ODROID-X, OpenBSD's anti-Linux song, interview with Vincent Untz, Linux as operating system|
|• Issue 476 (2012-10-01): Review of openSUSE 12.2, Slackware 14.0 features, accessing home computer with SSH|
|• Issue 475 (2012-09-24): Look at PCLinuxOS 2012.08, Ubuntu and Amazon, SolusOS and PiSi, ownCloud|
|• Issue 474 (2012-09-17): Bodhi Linux 2.0.1, OpenIndiana interview, Frugalware history, update notifications|
|• Issue 473 (2012-09-10): The Linux Command Line, Slackware documentation project, Debian's new primary arch, Goobuntu|
|• Issue 472 (2012-09-03): Kororaa Linux 17, OpenIndiana and SchilliX, Ubuntu GNOME remix, home server tip|
|• Issue 471 (2012-08-27): Linux Mint 13 "KDE", Ubuntu 12.10 features, Slax update, folder quotas|
|• Issue 470 (2012-08-20): Liberté Linux 2012.2, Arch and systemd, NetBSD's sysbuild and sysupgrade, 19 years of Debian|
|• Issue 469 (2012-08-13): Peppermint OS Three, SUSE on Secure Boot, GNOME OS, moving email to Linux|
|• Issue 468 (2012-08-06): First look at CentOS 6.3, Debian installer beta, Fedora and MATE, Libtrash|
|• Issue 467 (2012-07-30): Ubuntu Made Easy, Debian "Jessie", OpenBSD on Secure Boot, Rawhide troubles|
|• Issue 466 (2012-07-23): Fuduntu 2012.3, Linux in PC-BSD jails, secure boot on older computers|
|• Issue 465 (2012-07-16): Netrunner 4.2, Mandriva's two codebases, firewalls and window frames|
|• Issue 464 (2012-07-09): Zorin OS 6, FSF's views on secure boot, Virtual PDF Printer|
|• Issue 463 (2012-07-02): TurnKey Linux 11.3, Red Hat and Btrfs, Sabayon's MATE spin, ZFS on Linux|
|• Issue 462 (2012-06-25): Sabayon 9, "Wheezy" freeze, Zorin OS overview, Vinux interview, mounting network shares|
|• Issue 461 (2012-06-18): Linux Mint 13, openSUSE 12. delays, Debian Multimedia, Mageia 3 roadmap|
|• Issue 460 (2012-06-11): Look at Fedora 17, PC-BSD and Slackware interviews, Openfiler and FuguIta|
|• Issue 459 (2012-06-04): Impressions of Mageia 2, Fedora updates, Debian or Raspberry Pie, improving software performance|
|• Issue 458 (2012-05-28): Impressions of SolusOS 1, Linux kernel 3.4, encrypting home folder|
|• Issue 457 (2012-05-21): Linux accessibility, Fedora 17 overview, MultiSystem, launching tasks|
|• Issue 456 (2012-05-14): Look at OpenBSD 5.1, Debian Installer 7.0 alpha, UDS news round-up|
|• Issue 455 (2012-05-07): Review of Ubuntu 12.04, "Quantal Quetzal" plans, Debian infographic|
|• Full list of all issues|