| 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 18.104.22.168, 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 555 (2014-04-21): Robolinux 7.4.2, Ubuntu release day stats, Debian security, Porteus update|
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Issue 518 (2013-07-29): MidnightBSD 0.4, Razor-qt, Ubuntu Edge, mounting infected drives|
|• Issue 517 (2013-07-22): Zorin OS 7 "Lite", Slackware turns 20, UbuntuForums compromise, Raspbian as home server, Tor|
|• Issue 516 (2013-07-15): Review of Fedora 19 "KDE", Shuttleworth on Mir, Seth Vidal, Kingsoft Office for Linux|
|• Issue 515 (2013-07-08): Whonix 0.5.6 and Deepin 12.12, MintBox, processor capabilities, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 514 (2013-07-01): Peppermint Four, Mir, Mandriva forks, ThinkPenguin on libre hardware|
|• Issue 513 (2013-06-24): Look at ROSA, PC-BSD updates, Xen4CentOS6, Slacko vs Precise, Mageia interview, shells|
|• Issue 512 (2013-06-17): Trisquel 6.0, RHEL 7 with GNOME Classic, from Linux to FreeBSD, first look at Wayland|
|• Issue 511 (2013-06-10): Mint 15 impressions, GNOME Classic, Ubuntu Community portal, Absolute OpenBSD|
|• Issue 510 (2013-06-03): Impressions of aptosid 2013-01, Wayland comes to Raspberry Pi, maintaining DNS settings|
|• Issue 509 (2013-05-27): Mageia 3, Debian GNU/Hurd, RebeccaBlackOS with Wayland, ports|
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|