| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 116, 5 September 2005
Welcome to this year's 36th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The first full week in September should be an exciting one for users and fans of Free Software - GNOME 2.12, Ubuntu 5.10 Preview, and SUSE Linux 10.0 RC1 are all expected to hit the download mirrors later this week. But before that happens we will take a brief look at the "smart" package manager in Mandriva, check out "SUPER", a performance-enhancing subproject of SUSE Linux, and revisit the Linspire versus Freespire controversy. Our featured distribution of the week is Elive, a great live CD featuring the Enlightenment window manager - a project that is also the recipient of our US$250 August 2005 donation. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (6.03MB) or mp3 (4.49MB) formats.
Mandriva getting "smart" package management
In a recent interview for Linux Format, Mandriva's founder Gaël Duval hinted that the distribution's long-established urpmi package manager will soon incorporate some elements from smart, a package management tool developed by Conectiva:
"They [Conectiva] have some good technology in the Smart software. It's like urpmi, the dependency software of Mandrake, but they have better algorithms and it's more sophisticated. We are going to merge urpmi with Smart into a great separate package."
Although no further details were provided in the interview and Mandriva's web sites and Wiki pages are rather short on detail, it looks like a fundamental change is taking place in managing software in Mandriva.
But what is the current status? Both urpmi and smart are provided in the recent beta releases of Mandriva Linux 2006. The urpmi utility remains the default package management tool in the distribution, with smart available as an optional extra. It seems that, rather than simply replacing urpmi with smart, the developers are integrating the latter's technology into urpmi. That way, users who have become accustomed to managing software in Mandrake will not have to learn to use a new tool.
Still, the original idea of smart was to develop a more universal package management tool for a variety of Linux distributions. Although the software is still under heavy development, it has a potential to become a new standard in Linux package management - especially because it includes support for a large number of package installation mechanisms, including dpkg, apt-get, Red Carpet, RPM, yum, and urpmi. If more Linux distributions embraced the tool, we could soon see a real break-through in ease of use of software management in most Linux distributions, the lack of which has often been cited by would-be Linux converts as the number one reason for low market share of Linux on the desktop. As such, smart is a project worth supporting.
To find out more about smart please visit its web site at smartrpm.org.
Mandriva Linux 2006 - with an improved package management tool
(full image size: 198kB)
SUPER - SUSE on steroids
With the opening of the SUSE Linux distribution to the open source community of developers and testers, it was only a matter of time before new subprojects started branching out from the popular distribution. One of the more interesting among them is SUPER, an acronym for SUSE Performance Enhanced Release. As the name suggests, the main purpose of SUPER is to build a SUSE distribution that includes various speed and performance tweaks to make the desktop faster and more responsive than the standard SUSE Linux desktop.
The brain behind SUPER is Andreas Girardet, perhaps better known as the founder and lead developer of Yoper, which he claimed to be the fastest distribution on earth. Among the included speed and performance optimisation tweaks one can find prelinking, pre-loading of KDE and OpenOffice.org, Con Kolivas kernel patches, i686 optimisation of certain critical components, and other enhancements. The SUPER project is currently under heavy development, but a series of performance-enhanced single-CD SUPER SUSE 10.0 releases are already available for free download. If you are interested in the technical details of SUPER and wish to test/help, you can find more detailed information on the SUPER project page and carry on further discussion on the opensuse-optimize mailing list.
Linspire versus Freespire
If there was one story that many Linux news sites found much interest in during the past week then it has to be the Linspire versus Freespire controversy. For those who have just returned from a holiday, let's recap briefly what happened. A new live CD, called Freespire, was created by one Andrew Betts. He did it by reusing the freely available source code of Linspire, after stripping any proprietary components and Linspire trademarks. Freespire proved to be enormously popular right from the start only to be taken offline a few days after its first "proof-of-concept" release. Many observers have concluded that the Freespire project must have been shut down by Linspire due to the company's objection to the new project and its name - a rather amusing repeat of the famous Lindows (Linspire's former name) versus Windows court battles from a few years ago.
Exactly what happened between Andrew Betts and Linspire will probably never be known publicly. But before you go and accuse Linspire of using hardball tactics to scare off a small independent developer, please read the Linspire statement on their web site. The company doesn't see anything wrong with taking Linspire's source code and turning it into a new project; in fact, it even applauds and encourages developers to do so. This is all done in the spirit of Free Software and GPL, and far from any hostile exchange between the two parties that some online news sites suspected to had happened.
As a matter of fact, things worked out rather nicely for all involved. Andrew Betts has renamed the project to Squiggle OS, while Linspire has decided to give their flagship product away for free until September 6th, read this page for details. However, before downloading the product, please remember that the free version of real Linspire is a fairly bare-bones product and not much fun without purchasing the US$50/year Click-N-Run membership for installing extra applications....
Asianux 2.0 released for download
Our last week's lead story about the much-hyped Asianux 2.0 has attracted the attention of several Chinese online publications, including a mention at Slashdot China. We are pleased to report that some of our criticism of the project has been addressed: Asianux 2.0 ISO images are now available for free download and the formatting of Asianux press releases has been cleaned up. However, our main criticism remains valid - without opening up the project to public participation and without inviting other main Linux players in the region to join in, Asianux will remain a niche player barely surviving in the three countries where it operates rather than becoming a pan-Asian Linux force that will bring its operating system to servers and desktops of many Asian users.
Asianux 2.0 - now available for free download
(full image size: 411kB)
|Featured distribution of the week: Elive
Of all the live CD distributions released over the past few weeks, Elive was undoubtedly the one that caused the biggest stir among Linux users. The reason is simple: the Elive live CD features one of the most amazing, yet relatively little-known alternative window managers - Enlightenment. Both the stable version 16.x and the much-awaited development version 17 of Enlightenment are present on Elive 0.3 and one can choose either of them from the post-boot menu.
Most users who are new to Linux are normally exposed to either KDE or GNOME, one of the two most popular desktop environments on Linux. XFce and Fluxbox are great alternatives for older machines with limited resources - they are capable of providing a fast desktop for underpowered computer systems at the expense of having fewer bells and whistles under their belts. And then there is Enlightenment - an amazing window manager that is just so much different from anything else you've experienced before. Enlightenment is pure fun and joy right there at your fingertips - with all the eye candy you can imagine, but without the overhead of heavy resource requirements.
We don't know much about the developers behind the Elive project, except for the name of the founder and lead coder - Samuel 'Thanatermesis' Flores, a 25-year old resident of Liège in Belgium. He has done a great job - while the earlier beta release (version 0.1) was a rather buggy product, the latest release (version 0.3) is a nicely-designed live CD with a hard disk installation option and support for a large number of languages. The first reviews of the product can be found at DistroReviews and Flavio's TechnoTalk.
For more information about Elive, please visit the project's home page at elivecd.org, then download the ISO image from one of the growing number of available mirrors - you won't regret it!
Elive 0.3 - a live CD with all the eye candy of the latest Enlightenment window manager
(full image size: 353kB)
|Released Last Week
Elive is a Morphix-based Linux live CD designed for fans of the Enlightenment desktop environment. Version 0.3 is the project's first stable release: "Elive 0.3 released. This version includes hard disk installation, NVIDIA driver, the possibility to compile and install any program in the live CD system or install any extra package on the fly, stable and fully configured environment. With this version installed on the hard disk, you have an option to upgrade to another version with a simple apt-get upgrade." Also includes support for several languages, the second beta of OpenOffice.org 2.0, and the latest Enlightenment 17 straight from its CVS repository. Find more information on the distribution's home page.
Asianux 2.0 has been released: "Today, three leading Asian Linux OS vendors - Red Flag Software Ltd, Miracle Linux Corporation and Haansoft Inc - jointly announced the general availability of a new generation Linux server platform - Asianux 2.0. The release of Asianux 2.0 reaffirms the commitment that Asianux will continuously bring the latest open source technology and high quality service to Asian enterprise customers and partners. The powerful features of Asianux 2.0 make it a perfect open platform for key enterprise applications." Read the rest of the press release for further details.
Linux+ Live 2005-09
A new version of Linux+ Live, a live DVD based on Aurox Linux and Fedora Core, has been released: "We are back again with a new release of Linux+ Live DVD from September 2005 Linux+. As always, it also includes many applications added in previous editions. The most notable new ones are: development version of EnterpriseDB 2005, which is Oracle compatible PostgreSQL based database system; newest MySQL server and MySQL Administrator for easing administration of databases; many applications for mobile phones; databases administration tool (KNoda); TeX editors (TeXmacs and Winefish); collection manager (Tellico); blog editor (Drivel); web editor (Nvu)...." See the release announcement for further information.
Linux+ Live - a live DVD based on Aurox Linux and Fedora Core
(full image size: 223kB)
Ultima Linux 4
Ultima Linux is an easy-to-use Slackware-based distribution with an automated package management tool called "ulupdate". A brand new version was released over the weekend: "The Ultima Linux development team, also known as Martin Ultima, is proud to announce the immediate availability of the Ultima Linux 4 release. This new version contains a great number of improvements and other fun stuff, and is almost effortlessly easy to install as well. You don't want to miss it." Also includes kernel 2.4.31, X.Org 6.8.2, optional OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta, Java 1.5, support for wireless networking, and many other new packages and features. Read the full release announcement and changelog on this page.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
Arabian Linux - a Kurumin-based distribution for Arabic speakers
(full image size: 744kB)
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
August 2005 donation: The Enlightenment project receives US$250|
Although we have discussed on these pages the possibility to award the August 2005 donation to MPlayer, it turned out that the MPlayer project had raised what they required to get a new server and was no longer accepting cash as a form of donation. Therefore we are pleased to announce that, by popular demand, the August 2005 donation of US$250 goes to the Enlightenment project. The project produces the Enlightenment window manager - a highly graphical, widely theme-able, extremely configurable, yet unobtrusive user interface for Linux, UNIX, FreeBSD and other platforms.
As always, our donations programme is a joint initiative between DistroWatch and LinuxCD.org, which contributes US$50 every month. LinuxCD.org is an online store selling low-cost Linux/BSD CDs - they have the largest selection, inclusive of all the latest releases, and they offer the lowest prices. Next time you need to order your favourite Linux or BSD CDs, get them from LinuxCD.org.
This is the PayPal receipt for our donation:
This email confirms that you have paid OSDN / VA Software $250.00 USD using PayPal.
Transaction ID: 0E300641V11921840
Sales Tax: $0.00
Total: $250.00 USD
Item/Product Name: Donation
Invoice ID: 244855
Message: This is a donation by DistroWatch.com as part of our programme to support the development of Free Software. Keep up the good work!
Here is the list of projects that received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme:
Since the launch of the DistroWatch Donations Programme in March 2004, we have donated a total of US$4,905 to various Free Software projects.
Distro talk at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Due to several requests from our readers, we started an experimental IRC node at freenode.net about two weeks ago. The idea was to create an IRC channel for discussing distributions and DistroWatch-related topics and share experiences with other "distro junkies" on the Internet. This note serves as an official announcement about the IRC channel - we invite our readers to join in the discussion. If the node is not active, feel free to create it - hopefully it won't last long before you are joined by other like-minded individuals. As always, please let us know how you feel about this feature, and indeed, any other feature and request you might have.
New distributions on the waiting list
- BSDLive. BSDLive is a business card-size mini live CD based on FreeBSD.
- ELE. ELE is a bootable live CD Linux distribution with focus on privacy-related software. It is based on Damn Small Linux and aims to be as small as possible.
- Ging. Ging is a live operating system that you can burn on a CD. It is based on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (which is based on Debian, GNU and the FreeBSD kernel). Ging consists entirely of free software (as per Debian Free Software Guidelines) and is committed to remain this way.
- Mupper. Mupper is a Gentoo-based rescue CD project for the Pegasos computers. It contains various tools, such as Parted and Midnight Commander, as well as support for various file systems, including FAT, VFAT, ReiserFS, XFS and ext3. Network tools, such as Snort and tcpdump, are also included.
- Proxmox Mail Gateway and Proxwall. Proxmox Mail Gateway provides a powerful and affordable server solution to manage your e-mail traffic, to eliminate spam, and to block undesirable content or viruses from your e-mail system. Proxwall is a complete Linux-based firewall.
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for this week. We hope you've enjoyed this issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
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