| 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 220.127.116.11, 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!
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)
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
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|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
|• Issue 681 (2016-10-03): OpenBSD 6.0, DragonFly BSD to support LibreSSL in ports, systemd denial of service bug, upgraded Mintbox Mini|
|• Issue 680 (2016-09-26): Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, blocking applications at the firewall, Lenovo controversy, Ubuntu running on the Nextcloud Box|
|• Issue 679 (2016-09-19): OpenMandriva 3.0, 32-bit vs 64-bit performance, openSUSE updates, KaOS unveils first run wizard|
|• Issue 678 (2016-09-12): Apricity 07.2016, Mageia adopts DNF, KDE neon to use Wayland, FreeBSD updates Linux compatibility, creating cron jobs|
|• Issue 677 (2016-09-05): Peppermint OS 7, Manjaro updates leadership, TrueOS becomes rolling release, organizing files, creating torrents|
|• Issue 676 (2016-08-29): Korora 24, Fedora 25 to use Wayland by default, Linux turns 25, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, finding software licensing information|
|• Issue 675 (2016-08-22): Gentoo LiveDVD "Choice Edition", moreutils, Ubuntu improves terminal convergence, MATE packaged for Openindiana, FreeBSD improves video support|
|• Issue 674 (2016-08-15): Zenwalk Linux 8.0, Ubuntu phone follow-up, Lubuntu transitioning to LXQt, Steam running on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
|• Issue 672 (2016-08-01): Ubuntu Phone 15.04, Solus embraces rolling release model, interview with Jane Silber, FreeBSD Quarterly Report|
|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
|• Issue 667 (2016-06-27): GeckoLinux 421, Fedora supports Flatpak, Solus unveils new features, running GNU/Linux on tablets|
|• Issue 666 (2016-06-20): Comparing more live update methods, Ubuntu's snap packages, Antergos drops 32-bit media, GeckoLinux unveils Rolling edition, learning Linux resources|
|• Issue 665 (2016-06-13): BunsenLabs Linux Hydrogen, Fedora 24 delayed, NetBSD grows in size, Clonezilla questions|
|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
|• Issue 660 (2016-05-09): Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Mint's xapps, FreeBSD Quarterly Report, Debian updates 32-bit support, addressing GPL violations|
|• Issue 659 (2016-05-02): Ubuntu 16.04, compiling custom kernels, Cinnamon 3.0, Sabayon launches ARM build, Devuan ships Beta release|
|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
|• Issue 656 (2016-04-11): Qubes OS 3.1, Whonix offers bug bounties, Puppy's family tree, setting up disk partitions and running bash on Windows|
|• Issue 655 (2016-04-04): Parsix 8.5, Sabayon's Community repository, Red Hat offers free subscriptions, Ubuntu tablets, command line tips|
|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Full list of all issues|
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