| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 113, 15 August 2005
Welcome to this year's 33rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly. We shall start with a quick look at the first alpha release of the Gentoo Installer project - the first Gentoo live CD which boots into a full GNOME desktop and which can be installed to a hard disk with -- believe it or not -- a mouse! Then we'll talk briefly about the first beta release of SUSE Linux 10.0 and introduce two web sites specialising in bringing you news and information about the many live CD projects available today. Our featured distributions of the week is BLAG Linux And GNU, a single CD Fedora-based distribution with a home entertainment bias. Happy reading!
Experimental graphical installer for Gentoo Linux
In the midst of all the excitement surrounding the launch of the openSUSE Project and its first public beta, few web sites have paid attention to the new experimental graphical installer for Gentoo Linux. Although still labelled as "alpha" and far from feature-complete, the Gentoo Linux Installer is an independently developed (i.e not based on any existing installation program) and functional installer that can be used to install Gentoo Linux without reaching for the command line.
Granted, it is still not powerful enough to replace the traditional command-line Gentoo installation procedure and many important pieces are missing. For example, you cannot configure a Linux kernel or the /etc/make.conf file from within the installer's graphical user interface. Also, the live CD currently supports the x86 architecture only. But as a first attempt, the developers have certainly done a remarkable job bringing Gentoo Linux closer to ordinary users. Once completed, it will be a great timesaver to those Gentoo users who need to deploy the distribution on multiple systems.
The CD also serves as a fully-functional live CD with hardware auto-detection, booting straight into a GNOME 2.10 desktop, with a number of popular applications, such as Firefox and OpenOffice.org, also included. The GTK-based system installer can be launched by clicking on the desktop icon. The installer is designed in a logical manner, but it lacks any form of documentation and might contain serious bugs.
For more information about the Gentoo Linux Installer please see the project page, FAQs and screenshots.
The experimental graphical installer for Gentoo Linux
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SUSE Linux 10.0 Beta 1
What was hard to imagine as little as a month ago is now a reality - SUSE has released a public beta of the upcoming SUSE Linux 10.0. This is the first time ever that SUSE has invited public to participate in testing of their Linux distribution, all under the auspices of the openSUSE project. Now anybody can download, install, test and report bugs to SUSE developers, which is very much what users of most other distributions have been taking for granted for years.
Will this mean increased popularity for SUSE Linux? It certainly will - for two reasons. Firstly, users are more likely to support a project which they feel part of, even if their participation is limited to reporting bugs or requesting features. Secondly, the stated goal of openSUSE is to create a user-friendly Linux distribution that can serve a broad spectrum of market audience - anything from hardcore geeks to grandmas. While it is clear that the first release won't be revolutionary in this respect (rather it will focus on establishing good communication channels between developers and testers), it is nice to see that the openSUSE project has made its focus clear right from the start.
Indications are that the first beta of SUSE Linux 10.0 is fairly stable and usable - certainly more so than the first test release of Fedora Core 4. More betas will follow roughly in weekly intervals before the final release about a month from now. The testing infrastructure is already set up, with new mailing lists and a bugzilla waiting for the input of testers. It is not yet clear how long the new releases will be supported with security updates, but we should expect the support period to be in line with that of Ubuntu, i.e. at least 18 months from the date of release.
As always, we will keep you up-to-date with all the excitement taking place in the newly opened SUSE land!
The first ever public beta release of SUSE Linux is now available from the openSUSE project
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All about live CDs
Live CDs are a great way to introduce people to Linux, not to mention their proven ability to rescue data from damaged hard disks or computers with broken boot loaders. Popularised by the famous Knoppix live CD, there has been something of a boom in the development of these run-from-CD operating systems over the last few years. Even many of the well-established Linux distributions now provide live CD editions of their products. Here at DistroWatch we try our best to keep you up-to-date with all the latest live CD releases, but with such a dynamic market, we can only do so much.
Luckily, many users find live CDs invaluable and therefore it was only a matter of time before specialist web sites tracking live CDs were established. It is our pleasure to introduce a couple of them today: LiveCDNews.com and LiveDistro.org. The former has been around for a several months and is frequently updated with news and links to reviews dealing with live CD distributions. The latter is a relatively new web site; it reports news about releases of many live CD projects, including some of the more exotic ones that have yet to be tracked by DistroWatch.
If you are a fan of these bootable CD- or DVD-based operating systems then the above two sites are certainly worth bookmarking!
|Featured distribution of the week: BLAG Linux And GNU
BLAG Linux And GNU|
If you like the Fedora project, but are put off by its bloat and lack of multimedia capabilities in Fedora Core, then BLAG Linux And GNU might just be the right distribution for you. Developed by Jeff Moe of the Brixton Linux Action Group (BLAG) in London, United Kingdom, this project has been around for nearly three years. BLAG's main goal is to remaster Fedora into a single-CD distribution with many of the conveniences that most desktop users would expect from an operating system, but which are missing from Fedora proper.
We have installed the latest release of BLAG, version 30001, over the weekend. Although it is based on an earlier Fedora Core 3, BLAG 30001 does come with a large number of upgraded packages, including the kernel 2.6.12, the latest version of Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP and MPlayer, just to name a few of the included applications. The default desktop is GNOME (Blackbox and XFce are also available), but disappointingly, it is an older version - 2.8.1. Despite that, the distribution includes a good selection of software for graphics (GIMP, Inkscape), Internet (Firefox, Thunderbird), multimedia (Audacity, MPlayer), office (AbiWord, Gnumeric), and peer-to-peer file sharing software (aMule, BitTorrent, Gnutella). Additional applications can be installed with apt-get or Synaptic.
After playing around with BLAG for a while, we felt a strong resemblance of the project's goals with those of the now defunct JAMD Linux. BLAG is a well-designed distribution, perhaps slightly more "geeky" than JAMD, but with the right idea to bring desktop users what many of them enjoy - trouble-free multimedia experience, a range of file sharing tools, and a good selection of graphics applications. This distribution is obviously geared towards home entertainment. Compared to other beginner-friendly projects, such as PCLinuxOS or MEPIS, it is missing a few ingredients, e.g Flash, Java and proprietary graphics drivers, but overall, the developers have made a solid effort to build a nice distribution without including non-free software and without sacrificing compatibility with Fedora Core.
To find out more about BLAG Linux And GNU, please visit the project's web site at blagblagblag.org.
BLAG Linux And GNU - a Fedora-based distribution geared towards personal entertainment.
(full image size: 1,272kB)
|Released Last Week
Gentoo Linux 2005.1
Gentoo Linux 2005.1 has been released: "The Gentoo Foundation is both pleased and proud to announce the much anticipated release of Gentoo Linux 2005.1 (Codename: 'El Nino'). Due to a scheduled power outage at the Open Source Laboratory (OSUOSL) affecting our master mirror, the release is currently only available for download via BitTorrent. We anticipate recovery from the downtime and full staging of release material to mirrors within 48 hours, accompanied by a comprehensive press release and ChangeLog. Much thanks to Friends of Gentoo e.V. for providing a stable and reliable tracker on short notice." Refer Gentoo homepage for further announcements.
A new version of the AUSTRUMI mini live CD has been released. What's new? "Removed fvwm95 added Openbox; Olga Prohorenkova made the new design of the website and help files; added fbpanel - GTK2-based desktop panel; removed emelfm added emelfm2; added gtkdialog - a GUI-creation utility; updated AbiWord, Atomix, Ettercap, gFTP, XChat, UebiMiau, unrar, X.Org; removed xpai, added phpxmail (xmail administration); updated kernel (2.6.12)." Visit the newly redesigned AUSTRUMI web site to read the full changelog.
AUSTRUMI - a mini live CD with the Openbox window manager
(full image size: 730kB)
Zenwalk Linux 1.2
Zenwalk Linux is a new name of what used to be known as "Minislack". The change of name is accompanied by a new release - version 1.2: "We are happy to announce the first release: Zenwalk 1.2. New features are the hardware Discover service (v2.0.7), Gnome System Tools (v1.2) which provide a more user-friendly way to setup network, users, time, and Gnome CUPS Manager for easy printer setup. A large number of packages have been updated, most significant being the kernel (188.8.131.52), GCC, Firefox, Thunderbird, Gnome-libs, OpenOffice.org (1.9.122). Developers can also try the new Chai source code editor, which is available in the extra section." Read the release announcement for more information.
BLAG Linux And GNU 30001
BLAG Linux And GNU version 30001 has been released: "BLAG 30001 ('lederhosen') has been released. BLAG is a single-CD distribution with everything desktop users expect from a desktop, plus a collection of nice server applications. BLAG 30001 is the first update to the BLAG 30k series. Updates include a new kernel, Gaim, GIMP, OpenSSL, Perl, PHP, SpamAssassin, Thunderbird, Apache, OpenSSH, BitTorrent, MPlayer Xine, Firefox, Mozilla.... New packages are gtk-gnutella and nicotine. Overall, 139 packages were updated on the CD (16% of the total)." See the release announcement for more details.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
SUSE Linux 10.0
With the launch of the openSUSE project, we now have a complete roadmap leading towards the final release of SUSE Linux 10.0: "The openSUSE project is currently in its first stages and new development features will be rolled out in phases. Over time, community members will benefit from expanded access to the unique Novell AutoBuild system, which powers the project's source management and build systems. With AutoBuild, developers will be able to make their applications run on multiple architectures and even build them to support other SUSE Linux-based distributions." The final release of SUSE Linux 10.0 is scheduled for the middle of September, following four betas and one release candidate. For more information, please see this roadmap.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
Rethinking the donations programme|
As our regular readers know, we run a donations programme with the aim of providing 10% of DistroWatch's advertising revenue to various open source projects. Since March 2004, when the programme was launched, we have donated a total of over US$4,600. We started with donations to small and independent open source projects, but lately we have also donated to larger organisations, such as the Debian Project and GNOME.
The result of this programme was a mixed bag of experiences. While small and independent projects have often reacted with enthusiasm and gratitude after receiving the funds, most large organisations have left us wondering whether the money has reached them at all - as we received no indication about the status of the donation, not even a simple "thank you". Who knows - maybe the money simply got lost in the bureaucratic net of those who are responsible for processing the donations.
As a result of these experiences, we decided that all future donations will be awarded to small and independent projects with a proven track record, rather than large organisations. Many developers of small projects are often in desperate need for funds to be able to continue their coding efforts. On the other hand, many large projects seem to have acquired some form of corporate sponsorship, which provide sufficient funds for their operations.
By coincidence, a reader alerted us to the fact that the MPlayer project is currently seeking donations to replace their old server which collapsed last month. This is a good example of where we think our donations money should go - helping out those developers that have done so much for the success of Linux (and BSD) and which are often overlooked by large institutional sponsors. If there are no objections among our readers, the DistroWatch's August donation will go to MPlayer.
On a related note, we have received a large number of requests to donate to Slackware Linux. Although we appreciate the effort of Patrick Volkerding and Slackware's contributors at creating a highly stable and popular distribution, please remember that Slackware is a commercial, for-profit entity. As such, it doesn't seem right to give money to a company, notwithstanding the fact that their product is available for free. Perhaps a better idea would be to donate to one of the volunteer projects that maintain the Slackware documentation, since Slackware's official documentation has not been updated for years.
As always, suggestions and comments by readers are most welcome.
To recap, here is the list of projects that received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme:
New distribution additions
- DesktopBSD. DesktopBSD is an operating system based on FreeBSD and the FreeSBIE live CD. Its main goal is to provide a desktop operating system that is easy to use, but still has all the functionality and power of BSD. In the long term, DesktopBSD wants to build an operating system that meets most requirements desktop users have, like installing software, configuring power management or sharing an internet connection.
- pfSense. pfSense is a m0n0wall-derived operating system. It uses Packet Filter, FreeBSD 6.x (or DragonFly BSD when ALTQ and CARP is finished) ALTQ for excellent packet queuing, and an integrated package management system for extending the environment with new features.
New on the waiting list
- Alinex. Alinex is a Portuguese Linux distribution developed by the Universidade de Évora and based on Spain's gnuLinEx project. Its main objective is to deliver a Linux distribution localised into Portuguese, complete with user documentation, so that it can be deployed in Portugal's public administration offices and schools.
- Jedilinux. Jedilinux is a new Linux distribution currently in early development.
- LinnexOS. LinnexOS is an intuitive and easy-to-use Polish Linux distribution designed for offices and schools. It is based on Texstar's PCLinuxOS.
- LinUnixf. LinUnixf is a new Chilean GNU/Linux distribution created by students for students. The initial release will focus on the areas of engineering and informatics, system analysis, and programming.
- Reaper Linux. Reaper Linux is a new live CD distribution based on Gentoo Linux.
- Taprobane GNU/Linux. Taprobane is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux. It can be installed to a hard drive or used as a live CD.
- Team-TL. TeaM-TL (TeXLive in LinuxLive) is a Linux live CD distribution containing a large collection of TeX software. The live CD is based on Slackware and SLAX.
- TheOpenCD. The OpenCD project aims to introduce users of MS Windows to the benefits of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) by providing a collection of the best FOSS available for Windows. The most recent version also serves as a complete bootable live CD based on Ubuntu Linux.
- ZHWINUX LiveCD / LiveUSB. ZWINUX is a German Linux distribution designed to run from a live CD or a live USB storage device. It is based on Damn Small Linux.
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for this week. We hope you've enjoyed this issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
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|• 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|
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|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
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|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
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