| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 121, 10 October 2005
Welcome to this year's 41st issue of DistroWatch Weekly. A very busy week of exciting new releases is behind us, but that doesn't mean that this week will be any less interesting - in fact, we expect a new KDE 3.4.3 on Wednesday, while the "Breezy Badger" family of Ubuntu Linux and its partner projects are scheduled for release on Thursday. Also in this issue: we'll analyse the events of the past week, introduce Mandriva 2006 Discovery Live, feature WIENUX 1.0, continue with the usual release summaries, and conclude with a handful of interesting new distributions. Enjoy!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (13.1MB) or mp3 (11.2MB) format (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
SUSE download servers under "attack"
October 6th 2005 will go down as one of the busiest days in the history of Linux distribution releases. On that particular day, two major distributions (SUSE and Mandriva) announced final versions of their products, while another major one (Ubuntu) published a release candidate for one last week of testing. And as if that wasn't enough, several smaller projects also found this past Thursday to be an excellent day for announcing new products. Surely, there is something thoroughly auspicious about October 6th!
SUSE was the first to reveal the fruits of the recently launched openSUSE project with a release of SUSE Linux 10.0. This was also the first time ever that SUSE Linux ISO images were made available to general public immediately after their release - with a result that took the inexperienced SUSE release team completely by surprise. The main SUSE FTP server was flooded with requests hours before SUSE 10.0 was even announced - largely thanks to certain news sites (Heise.de and OSNews.com, just to name a few) that just couldn't resist publishing their "pre-announcements" and linking directly to the main SUSE FTP server. As a result, many desperate users attempted (and failed) to download the ISO images from the only server that had them at the time, thus preventing legitimate SUSE mirrors to synchronise with the main server.
In order to avoid a similar release disaster in the future (and also because of the lack of discipline among some Linux users), SUSE would be wise to consider implementing changes to its release and mirroring setup. Perhaps they could learn from the Fedora project which allows only approved mirrors to synchronise with its main server for a few days prior to opening up the repository to general public. That way, by the time a new release is officially announced, dozens of up-to-date Fedora mirrors are ready to serve the new files. Although it can be frustrating to know that the release is ready, but you can't have it, it is even more frustrating to have access, but unable do get any reasonable download speeds due to the fact that hundreds of other users are trying to download the images from the only available FTP server.
The moral of the story? Don't ever try to get ISO images from a distribution's main FTP server, especially not within the first few days after a major release. Instead, let the mirrors synchronise first before using one of them as a source of your files. You will find that your downloads are not only much faster, they are also much more likely to complete without any interruption or file corruption.
* * * * *
Mandriva Club infrastructure falters
If the release of SUSE Linux 10.0 was a disaster from the point of view of file availability and mirroring, Mandriva's own release did not fare much better. After much noise on its forums and obvious unwillingness of the responsible parties to announce any release date, it was finally revealed that Mandriva Linux 2006 would be made available to Club members on October 6. This was nearly a week after it had been released to "early seeders" - Club members willing to "seed" the ISO images for the benefit of those who'd join the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing process later on.
But this release mechanism had its flaws too - as several early seeders started exchanging information about the much awaited new release on Mandriva Club's forums, many other members felt frustrated by the delay. Additionally, the ISO images were not released until late afternoon Paris time - unless you had requested FTP access, that is, in which case you were granted access earlier. As the rumour about this loophole spread, many members started requesting FTP download access - until Mandriva stopped granting them. But worse was to come during the next few days when the Mandriva Club web site collapsed several times under the demand. Subsequently, many torrent and web site links were moved or modified, which resulted in interrupted downloads and more frustration. Several members also reported all sorts of bugs and error messages while buying or upgrading their Club memberships.
Those of you who have been around for a few years will remember the time when Mandrake Linux ISO images were announced and released to public without any delay and restrictions, and with dozens of mirrors ready to serve them immediately after each release. But things have changed. Nowadays, the various membership levels and access rights, ranging from early seeders and those who prefer FTP access to the Standard, Silver, Gold and Platinum members (with further geographical divisions), as well as club contributors, is bound to create complexity and hard-to-trace bugs in the system. But even if everything went right, BitTorrent downloads often take much longer than they should - despite the above-mentioned SUSE mirroring troubles, I had the 10.0 DVD image downloaded in less than 24 hours after the release, while Mandriva's 2006 PowerPack DVD is still trickling down at a painfully slow rate - that's after four days of continuous download!
What are your experiences with the Mandriva Club and Mandriva Linux 2006? Are they worth the investment? Is there room for improvement? Are the complaints on the Club's forums just some noise by never-happy eternal "moaners" or are they legitimate gripes about poor customer service? Why is it that SUSE has moved from being a mostly closed and somewhat proprietary distribution to a completely free and open project, while Mandriva has shifted in the opposite direction? Have these developments influenced your decisions while choosing a distribution? Please discuss below.
* * * * *
Mandrake Move becomes Mandriva Linux Discovery Live
Lost among all the excitement of last week's Mandriva Linux 2006 release, the company's "Discovery" product line was also made available to Club members. Designed for Linux beginners and incorporating elements from Lycoris Desktop/LX (one of Mandriva's acquisitions from earlier this year) Discovery now comes in two editions: "Discovery" and "Discovery Live". While the former is Mandriva's entry-level product, the "Live" edition represents a continuation of "Mandrake Move", Mandriva's very own live CD project.
I was curious about Discovery Live, especially since it did not go through the normal beta testing process, but was still released at the same time as the main Mandriva product. Was it meant to be a surprise? Unfortunately, I did not have much luck with the live CD. On my main test system, which happily boots KNOPPIX, SLAX and most other live CDs, Discovery Live halted shortly after starting the X server - with a blue screen. Although there were no messages, the Mandriva blue screen was as deadly as its infamous Windows counterpart and only the reset button was able to bring the computer back to life.
My second test system, a 1.6 GHz Pentium 4 laptop fared a little better. Discovery Live booted straight into KDE, but I still had to fiddle around with a configuration file to increase the meagre 800 x 600 pixel screen resolution the hardware detection program had set up. I also found the system very slow to boot and surprisingly sluggish in normal operation. On the positive side, the live CD now supports a large number of languages, fonts and input methods, and it comes with several stunning wallpapers and screensaver images.
What are your experiences with Discovery and Discovery Live? Do they work for you? Or do you wish the two products had been through a more rigorous beta testing process prior to their releases? Please comment below.
Mandriva 2006 Discovery Live is designed for Linux beginners - notice the task oriented menu entries.
(full image size: 1,070kB)
|Featured Distribution of the Week: WIENUX
Although WIENUX is unlikely to be of interest to users outside of Austria and other German-speaking nations, we are pleased to give it some extra exposure to demonstrate how far Linux has gone in the last few years. Launched by the City of Vienna in January and formally released in June this year, WIENUX is a Debian-based distribution with a goal to replace proprietary operating systems and applications on the municipality's thousands of desktop computers with free and open source alternatives. The distribution can serve as a great example for other government organisations and municipalities around the world. If the prosperous Austrian capital is happy to abandon long-established computing systems in favour of free and open source solutions, there is no reason why less well-off government entities could not to do the same.
We downloaded the WIENUX ISO images as soon as they were made available on the project's download page. Although WIENUX is based on Debian "sarge", it does not use Debian's new system installer; in fact, the first ISO image includes KNOPPIX hardware detection modules to auto-configure the system, while the second one contains DEB packages for installation. The power of the installer is very limited - for example, it insists on auto-partitioning your hard disk, while refusing to install on anything except the primary master (/dev/hda). This makes it complicated to evaluate the distribution, but it also clearly indicates the purpose of WIENUX - it really means to wipe out the existing operating systems from Vienna's computers!
There are other areas where the WIENUX installer makes things extremely simple at the expense of giving users choices. All partitions are formatted with the ext3 file systems, GRUB is automatically set up and installed in the Master Boot Record, and users don't get a chance to select packages for installation. The intention here is obvious - to provide an identical system for all of the thousands of new WIENUX computers. This way, the WIENUX installer effectively functions in a fashion similar to Fedora Kickstart where all the choices were decided in advance and incorporated into the installer.
Once you boot into WIENUX for the first time you will find yourself in a standard KDE desktop with somewhat customised menu entries. OpenOffice.org 2, Firefox and the usual range of open source applications complement the working environment. It is not clear whether the distribution was built by a group of in-house developers or whether the municipality hired outside contractors for the job, but it would be nice to see some details about the development of WIENUX, as well as further reports about the status of the deployment, problems, if any, and users' reactions after migrating to the new system.
Either way, we applaud the decision of the authorities in Vienna and wish them all the best with their Linux migration plans! For more information about WIENUX please visit the project's web site here (in German).
WIENUX 1.0 - a Debian-based distribution developed and deployed by the City of Vienna.
(full image size: 733kB)
|Released Last Week
ATmission is a Fedora-based live CD designed to allow users to experiment with the Linux operating system and other open source software without having to install anything on a hard disk. Version 2.0 has been released: "Based on the Fedora Core 4 release with Linux kernel 2.6.11. With the new release of the cowloop 2.16 driver, cowfiles can now be placed on a NTFS partition. All packages are updated. Now it's possible to copy the ROOTFS file to hard disk which increases performance." See the release announcement on the project's news page for more information.
Berry Linux 0.63
A new version of Berry Linux was released today. Berry 0.63 comes with a number of updated packages, including Firefox 1.0.7, Mozilla 1.7.12 and OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta2 (1.9.128) - both English and Japanese editions of the above applications are included. Also updated were e2fsprogs to version 1.38, file to version 4.15 and GTK+ to version 2.6.10. One other change is the inclusion of Whiz 0.51 (Delphinus) + SCIM 1.4.2 + SCIM-Whiz 0.02 packages. Read the rest of the changelog for further details.
IPCop Firewall 1.4.9
IPCop Firewall has been updated to version 1.4.9: "I am pleased to announce the official release of IPCop 1.4.9. A year ago, first of 1.4.0 series was released. The overall download counter for IPCop on SourceForge is now at more than 2,500,000. Thank to all who make IPCop work, to all who contribute by supporting users, tracking bugs, writing code, documentation, working in the background. IPCop v1.4.9 is only bug fixes and is released with minor changes from 1.4.9test1. As usual, this version can be installed as an update from a previous v1.4.x version or with a ready-to-go ISO for a fresh install. 1.4.9 update installation will mainly reload firewall rules; a reboot is not necessary." See the release announcement has a complete list of changes.
An updated version of the SLAX-based Wolvix live CD has been released: "Wolvix version 1.0.3 has been released. New applications: Skype, Linphone, Graveman, wxMusik, Icecast and more. Updates: Firefox 1.0.7, Thunderbird 1.0.7, Wesnoth 1.0, AbiWord 2.4.0 and more. This release features desktop icons for Fluxbox and IceWM using IDesk, HOWTOs, various fixes and tweaks." More information can be found in the release announcement on the project's home page and in the detailed changelog.
Lineox Enterprise Linux 3.122
Lineox Enterprise Linux is a distribution rebuilt from source RPM packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The new version 3.122 includes all recent upstream updates: "Always Current Lineox Enterprise Linux 3.122 with Update 6 available. In the 3.122 version the installation environment is rebuilt, so it offers better hardware support during the installation. Note, however, that booting from a floppy is no longer supported in x86 edition. The x86_64 edition has never had floppy boot support. New features introduced in this update include: improved support for dual-core processors; kernel and user support for 2 TB partitions on block devices...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details..
SUSE Linux 10.0
SUSE Linux 10.0, the first product of the recently launched openSUSE project, has been released: "I'm glad to announce the final version (aka the Goldmaster) of SUSE Linux 10.0. Developing 10.0 as part of the openSUSE project with an open Bugzilla was a new and great experience. Thanks a lot to everybody that contributed in testing, reporting and fixing bugs, discussions etc. The mirrors are still downloading all the files and it will take a few days until all are synced. Detailed download instructions can be found here." Read the rest of the release announcement and visit Novell's product page for more information
Mandriva Linux 2006
Mandriva Linux 2006 has been released: "2006 is the ultimate version of Mandriva Linux. It is the fruit of the convergence of three technologies: Mandriva, Conectiva and Lycoris. Mandriva Linux 2006 is also more easy-to-use, more user-friendly and more powerful. It is ideal for the needs of all customers, from the beginner to the SOHO user. New features in 2006: Desktop Search tool, Interactive Firewall, new package manager: Smart, DeltaRPM updates; new installer feature; new software: graphical desktops: KDE 3.4 & GNOME 2.10; better look-and-feel and ergonomics...." Read the full release announcement and release notes for all the glory details.
WIENUX is a Debian-based Linux distribution developed by the City of Vienna in Austria. Its main purpose is to replace proprietary operating systems and applications on the municipality's thousands of desktop computers with free and open source alternatives based around KDE, OpenOffice.org and Firefox. Originally announced in January and formally released in July this year, WIENUX 1.0 is now available for free download from the project's download page (in German). WIENUX 1.0, based on Debian "sarge", contains kernel 2.6.11, KDE 3.3.2, Firefox 1.0.1, OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta and other applications.
GoblinX is a beautifully designed Linux live CD based on Slackware. Its latest version is 1.2, released yesterday: "After almost seven months of development we are proud to announce the release of GoblinX 1.2. GoblinX 1.2 adds better hardware support, including 3D acceleration support for ATI/Radeon video cards. Added 'The Magic Center' - a control center which has many functions, added many xdialog/kdialod scripts to become easier to use, added more cheatcodes, upgraded modular system, upgraded kernel (220.127.116.11), upgraded several packages, and included 'liveupgrade' - a tool to upgrade the live CD without the need of installation on hard disk." See the release announcement and changelog for full details.
GoblinX 1.2 - a beautifully designed Linux live CD based on Slackware.
(full image size: 722kB)
Honeywall CDROM 1.0-hw189
Honeywall CDROM is a Fedora-based distribution with the goal of capturing the activities of cyber threats and analysing the captured data. An updated version was released yesterday: "The latest version of the Honeywall CDROM, 1.0-hw189 has been released. This release has numerous new features, bug fixes, and updates." What's new? "The CDROM now only supports layer 2 bridging mode, it no longer supports layer 3 routing (NAT) mode; headless installation has been disabled by default; yum(1) now automatically updates both the operating system and all honeywall functionality; you now get a daily summary report via email of all honeynet activity, including suspicious connections...." The project's download page has a complete list of changes.
STUX GNU/Linux 0.8.1
STUX GNU/Linux 0.8.1 has been released. The new version is a quick bug-fix update to the new 0.8 series, which the developers launched a week ago. Some of the new features include: "Based on Slackware Linux 10.2 and Knoppix 3.7 for kernel and modules; all procedure and interfaces have been substantially reviewed; added boot option 'toram' to load STUX image in RAM and run from there; STUX Network Panel added - configure network for dial-up, ADSL, ethernet and wireless connections; STUX Media Center added; USB support enhanced; hard disk and USB installation process enhanced; created BitTorrent UI, also integrated in Firefox...." See the project's news page for a complete list of changes.
Lineox Enterprise Linux 4.053
Following the recent release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Update 2, the developers of Lineox Enterprise Linux have also released a new set of ISO images incorporating all of the upstream updates: "Lineox Enterprise Linux 4.053 with Update 2 available. In version 4.053 the installation environment is rebuilt, so it offers better hardware support during the installation. The x86_64 release requires either AMD Opteron or Athlon64 CPU based computer. Some new Intel Xeon and Pentium IV processors with EM64T (Extended Memory 64 Technology) will also be able to run this version. Always Current Lineox Enterprise Linux is a version of Lineox Enterprise Linux 4.0 which is constantly updated and contains only current versions of program packages." The release announcement.
Following a long series of beta releases, the developers of the FreeBSD-based m0n0wall firewall project have released version 1.2 final: "m0n0wall 1.2 released! m0n0wall 1.2 includes many new features as well as improvements to existing ones (captive portal, PPTP VPN, logging, DHCP relay, diagnostics, DynDNS updater, IPsec). Countless small changes have been made to make the webGUI even more useful, and many bugs have been fixed in all components. Most important changes in this release: IPsec certificate support; improved firewall rule handling in the webGUI; RFC 2136 DNS updater; more diagnostics pages (Traceroute, ARP, firewall states)...." Find more details in the release announcement and changelog.
OpenLab GNU/Linux 4.0
OpenLab GNU/Linux is a South African distribution based on Slackware Linux, designed primarily for deployment in schools throughout the region. The project's latest release, version 4.0, was announced yesterday: "OpenLab International proudly announces the release of OpenLab 4. OpenLab 4 is an all-encompassing GNU/Linux software distribution, catering to desktop, power and server users alike. ... The base distribution is OpenLab4 LIVEcd, which is available for free download. LIVEcd contains the entire operating system, and all basic applications including KDE, OpenOffice.org and Firefox, all on a single CD. LIVEcd is complimented with two further CDs - POWERcd and KARMAcd." Read the rest of the press release for more details.
OpenLab GNU/Linux - a Slackware-based South African distribution designed primarily for schools
(full image size: 935kB)
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
New distribution additions|
- Komodo Linux. Komodo Linux is a distribution based on PCLinuxOS with a custom set of packages and a new theme.
- Nonux. Nonux is a Dutch Linux distribution, a combined live and installation CD based on Slackware and GNOME. It is optimised for business use, with some applications localised into Dutch. The main features of Nonux are automatic hardware detection, careful selection of business and office applications, and presence of tools for a seamless integration into an existing (Windows) software and network environment.
- WIENUX. WIENUX is a Debian-based Linux distribution developed by the City of Vienna in Austria. Its main purpose is to replace proprietary operating systems and applications on the municipality's thousands of desktop computers with free and open source alternatives based around KDE, OpenOffice.org and Firefox. WIENUX is released under the General Public License and available for free download from the distribution's web site.
* * * * *
New on the waiting list
- My Knoppix. My Knoppix is a Linux live CD for a digital home - complete with multimedia applications and a range of video sharing and broadcasting tools.
- Tuquito GNU/Linux. Tuquito GNU/Linux is a Debian-based Argentinian live CD distribution with the goal of providing excellent out-of-the-box hardware detection and support.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for this week. We hope you've enjoyed this issue of 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)
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