| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 119, 26 September 2005
Welcome to this year's 39th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. A slow start of the past week was followed by much activity during the weekend, with a new KNOPPIX live CD and DVD, an updated Ubuntu Colony CD set, and a number of other interesting development and final releases (but still no Mandriva 2006). Our featured distribution of the week is a little-known project called Hedinux GNU/Linux, while several new distributions have been added to the site's database, including Kororaa, a promising Gentoo variant with automated installation method. Plenty of news, comments, updated upcoming releases list and other regular columns complement this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. Enjoy!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (11.29MB) or mp3 (8.21MB) formats (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
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KNOPPIX 4.0.2 quietly released
The much awaited new release of the KNOPPIX live CD and DVD finally happened last Saturday. Without much fanfare, both the CD and DVD images have started propagating to download mirrors, but because of the size (remember that there are separate German and English editions of KNOPPIX), it took the best part of the weekend before some of the mirrors could catch up, especially since the main server became flooded with requests soon after the release. The good folks at Unix-AG were quick to set up a BitTorrent tracker to take away pressure from the FTP sites.
Some of the early reports coming in tell us that, despite sorting out most of the earlier problems with Unionfs, some bugs remain: notably a slight problem with the MySQL configuration file and also a mysterious failure of KDE to pick up Dutch, French and Russian localisations. Otherwise, users seem mostly impressed by the improved speed of the live CD. Contrary to some earlier reports, the CD edition still ships with development tools (including GCC), as well as Emacs, so it seems that even after its "split" to CD and DVD editions, the good old KNOPPIX that we've learnt to love and appreciate is still here in its original format. Download it from one of the mirrors and give it a spin!
KNOPPIX 4.0.2 Live CD - continuing in the tradition of being the most popular and versatile Linux live CD on the market.
(full image size: 504kB)
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Update on Mandriva Linux 2006
It appears that the final release of Mandriva Linux 2006 is still a few days off. That's according to this message (in French), published on 22 September which dispels rumours circulating in the user community about the imminent final release. It also sets the release date to around ten days from the date of publication of the article. Looking at a calendar, it might as early as late this week or, more likely, early next week, possibly colliding with the release of SUSE Linux 10.0. The short story also explains that ISO images will initially be only available to members of the Mandriva Club.
What can we do in the meantime? Perhaps read the release notes! An excellent summary of new features present in Mandriva Linux 2006 has already been published and is available for your reading pleasure here:
"This page was developed because many people complained that major changes were not being explained properly, so users either didn't know how to use the new feature, or didn't understand the rationale behind it. As a result, they become upset (and close-minded) about it. Please fully explain the rationale behind the change and how to configure the machine with the change (or the difference between the old and the new way). It would be helpful also to point out where more info can be found. More info = better."
The page has a wealth of information ranging from topics which discuss upgrading an existing Mandriva installation to hardware and software issues. It also includes a few paragraphs about new technologies, such as the optional "smart" package manager. Certainly worth a read if you are planning to install or upgrade to Mandriva 2006!
* * * * *
On Ubuntu naming and colour schemes
As many of our regular readers know, we maintain a list of what we consider to be the top ten distributions, complete with brief descriptions and a short list of their pros and cons. Lately, your DistroWatch team has had a bit of trouble coming up with good cons for the Ubuntu Linux distribution, which has been receiving rave reviews in all popular publications. Luckily, after perusing some of the recent reviews, user forums, blogs and other resources, we finally managed to uncover two major problems with Ubuntu; these are (in order of importance): 1. Ubuntu naming scheme, 2. Ubuntu default colours.
That's right. Warty Warthog, Hoary Hedgehog, Breezy Badger, Dapper Drake.... Somehow, it seems, that writers of just about every review and every article have a desperate urge to touch on the subject - as if it was the name that solely determines the success or failure of the release. Similarly, many users have found the excessive use of the colour brown in Ubuntu's default wallpaper and desktop quite revolting, or at least, worthy of a quick complaint on every forum or blog discussing the distribution.
Now folks, can't we all just lighten up a bit? Unlike the original Ubuntu wallpaper and login screen which would be considered offensive in certain cultures and religions, words like Dapper Drake and colours like brown would certainly not. Are these names silly? Perhaps. Are the default colours unusual? Yes, they differ from the standard blue that most distributions have seemingly adopted. But are these choices worth commenting about? Aren't reviews meant to test a product's features instead of discussing its naming scheme? After all, the Ubuntu names are intended mostly as a way of referring to a release internally (among developers, testers and early adopters) and not as a marketing trick expected to appeal to IT managers and drive sales! Can't we all just look at "Dapper Drake" as a fun way of calling a release?
The upcoming release of Ubuntu Linux 5.10, is now available for order through the distribution's Shipit ordering system. As always, the CDs, as well as postage, are free of charge for delivery anywhere in the world. To avoid disappointment, however, please do not click on the above link if you happen to hate the word "badger" or the colour brown....
|Featured Distribution of the Week: Hedinux GNU/Linux
If you have never heard of Hedinux GNU/Linux, we certainly won't blame you - Hedinux is a new name of what used to be called Octoz GNU/Linux, an ambitious French project to create an easy-to-use Linux distribution for the "Joe Average" (or would it be "Jean Moyen"?). With the release of Hedinux 0.1RC1 over the weekend, we decided to take an early look to see how things are shaping up as they converge towards the stated goal.
We downloaded the 84 MB "netinstall" ISO image and burnt it onto a CD. This booted up to a text-mode installer with an option to choose the installation language from a short list of supported languages consisting of English, French and German, and a long list of supported keyboard layouts. The installer then automagically set up networking and started downloading base packages for Hedinux GNU/Linux. The first part of the installation program concluded with setting the root password and creating a non-root user account, then provided instructions for configuring the GRUB boot loader.
And this is where we spotted the first bugs. Although we did set up a new root password, we couldn't use it to log in; instead, we had to guess that the root password was still set to "root" to be able to log in and configure the boot loader. Once logged in, the installer also disregarded our earlier choice of keyboard so we had to replace the default French keyboard with a US one by issuing "loadkeys us" (if you are following us, just remember that the "a" and "q" keys are swapped on a French keyboard). Now we were finally able to set up GRUB, a procedure that was anything but intuitive and certainly not beginner-friendly!
After reboot, the installer continued with installation of the rest of the system, including a graphical part with the latest versions of GNOME, XFce, IceWM and Fluxbox (but no KDE). After an hour or so of downloading and installing, we were prompted to reboot one more time. On this occasion, however, we were greeted with a standard GDM login screen, a choice of languages and desktops, and other options. Disappointingly, we were unable to log in with the username and password we created during installation - perhaps it was due to the peculiarities of the French keyboard or some other reason unclear to us. The freshly downloaded KNOPPIX 4.0.2 came very handy here - we booted into KNOPPIX, chroot-ed into the Hedinux partition, and changed the root and user passwords.
Finally, we were able to login to the Hedinux desktop. The package set is highly up-to-date, inclusive of the very latest GNOME 2.12 and most other commonly-used desktop applications. The system, compiled for the i686 architecture, felt very responsive and we were immediately productive in the new distribution. Besides the "netinstall" CD, a live CD edition of Hedinux GNU/Linux, complete with the XFce desktop, is also available for download.
Hedinux is still very far from being an easy-to-use desktop distribution for beginners. Although the "netinstall" method we used did eventually complete, we spotted a number of all too obvious bugs, which shouldn't have been in a beta release, never mind a release candidate. Also, Hedinux lacks any user-friendly system administration and package management utilities. Perhaps the project needs more exposure, more beta testers and more quality feedback; luckily, with its Wiki, a bug reporting facility and user forums all set up on the Hedinux web site, there is no reason why this project shouldn't mature faster during the coming months.
For more information about Hedinux GNU/Linux please visit Hedinux.org (the web site is mostly in French, with some areas also available in English and a separate forum for English speakers).
Hedinux GNU/Linux 0.1 - a promising new distribution for Linux beginners.
(full image size: 341kB)
|Released Last Week
Wolvix is a new GNU/Linux live CD built from SLAX: "Wolvix is a desktop oriented distribution made to fit the needs from regular to advanced desktop users. With Wolvix you can surf the Internet, read email, chat with friends over ICQ, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, IRC, etc; watch movies in various file formats, including DVD; listen to your favorite music; create graphics and web pages; hook up to Windows networks with Samba; transfer files over FTP or BitTorrent. And the best of all, it's free." The new version 1.0.2 is the distribution's first public release; highlights are: IceWM, X-CD-Roast, cbrPager and a few other new applications. Visit the project's home page for more details.
Hikarunix is an entertaining live CD featuring a comprehensive selection of the ancient Asian strategy game called Go. Version 0.4 has been released: "Announcing Hikarunix 0.4 - the free, portable Go workstation. Changes: Firefox updated to 1.0.6 with support for Chinese, Japanese, Korean fonts; Kogo's Joseki updated to 27.Mar.2005; local snapshot of Sensei's Library updated to 3.Jan.2005; GNUGo updated to 3.7.4; Jacoto 1.2.15 added as primary SGF manager; Quarry updated to 0.1.14; CGoban updated to 2.6.12; sgf2misc updated to 2.9.2; simple GUIs for easier access to sgf2misc, sgfmerger, and sgfsplit; simplified and traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean locales and fonts (experimental)." Read the full release announcement for further details.
Hikarunix - an entertaining live CD for fans of "Go"
(full image size: 194kB)
Taprobane GNU/Linux 0.4.1
Taprobane is an ancient name for the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka and a Debian-based Linux live CD built by a group of developers at the Lanka Linux User Group (LKLUG). The new version 0.4.1 is the project's first public release. What's in it? "X.Org 6.8.2; official NVIDIA driver support out of the box; KDE 3.4.1; OpenOffice.org 2; Linux 188.8.131.52; SquashFS and Unionfs; Apache, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Zope, started and stopped from the K-menu; excellent hotplug support; saving data to persistent media; educational software such as Stellarium and Octave." More details can be found in the announcement on the project's home page.
KNOPPIX 4.0.2 Live CD/DVD
A bug fix version of KNOPPIX 4.0 has been released and is currently propagating to download mirrors around the world. From the changelog: "V4.0.2-2005-09-23 (bug fix release). Updated Unionfs to 20050921-1507 with stability patches; fixed 'noeject' and 'noprompt' boot options; fixed 'xdepth=' boot option; fixed permissions of /usr/bin/cdrecord*; fixed translation error of 'Festplatte' in English edition; fixed OpenOffice.org siesta on loading old documents; fixed ATP8* SCSI controller recognition; removed glibc dependency of sysvinit; added 'units' converter; updated read-write libntfs CVS version; security updates for xserver-xfree86, xlibs, mozilla-firefox...."
Ultima Linux 4-SP1
An updated version of Ultima Linux 4 has been released: "Ultima Linux 4-SP1 has just been made available to the world. This is a minor release, containing primarily security updates and that kind of fun stuff. Also included are Subversion and MPlayer, which are new in this release. If you already have Ultima 4 installed, you don't need to upgrade - the same updates are now on ulupdate, and in the case of the new packages on the packages page of our web site. However, because there are so many updated packages - around half the system - we have decided to update the ISO download to include everything pre-configured for your convenience." More details can be found in the changelog.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
SUSE Linux 10.1
The openSUSE project has published further details about the development of the next version of SUSE Linux - 10.1. Testing will start with an alpha release later this week, followed by three more alpha releases in roughly 4-week intervals. Beta testing will commence in the middle of January, with four beta releases coming out in weekly intervals. The release candidate of SUSE Linux 10.1 is scheduled for 16 February 2006. For more details please refer to this roadmap.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
New distribution additions|
New distributions on the waiting list
- ExTiX. ExTix is a Swedish variant of the KNOPPIX live CD.
- Tina KNOPPIX Live CD. TINA is an open source environment developed to accelerate the process of image analysis research. TINA provides functionality to assist in all areas of image analysis including handling of image, image feature and geometrical data, statistical and numerical analysis of data, GUI development, as well as transmission and containment of data. TINA also provides a range of high-level analysis techniques for both machine vision (3D object location, 2D object recognition, temporal-stereo depth estimation, etc) and medical image analysis (MR tissue segmentation, blood flow analysis, etc).
- SLAMPP Live CD. SLAMPP is a generic Linux distribution which can boot and run directly off a CD-ROM and can also be installed onto a hard disk. It is designed to be used as an instant home server. Just like any other Linux live CD, SLAMPP gives a Linux newbie a chance to test Linux without messing up the user's existing system. What makes SLAMPP different is the fact that it comes with pre-configured tools and applications that can turn a personal computer into a home server.
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for this week. We hope you've enjoyed this issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
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Zevenet is a load balancer and application delivery system based on Debian. The Zevenet platform provides HTTP and HTTPS connections for web applications as well as load balancing services for TCP and UDP traffic. Zevenet is available in community and commercially supported editions.