| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 126, 14 November 2005
Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The controversy over Nexenta's use of GPL software in its OpenSolaris-based distribution and the never-ending GNOME vs KDE flame wars dominated the headlines last week. We will briefly look at the above stories before examining other interesting events and releases of the week. We also feature an exclusive interview with Barry Kauler, the founder and lead developer of the increasingly popular Puppy Linux. And to prove that a new distribution is born just about every day, we have added seven new ones to the waiting list last week - including a controversial one called "Open Windows", developed by -- wait for this -- a law firm! Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (7.40MB) or mp3 (8.19MB) format (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
- Miscellaneous news: Nexenta, SUSE, Debian, Mandriva, Linspire, Gentoo, BSD
- Interview: Barry Kauler, Puppy Linux
- Released last week
- Site news: On donations, SourceForge links
- New additions: Nexenta
- New on waiting list: Bio-Linux, BU Linux, Hackett Linux, loonix-live, Open Windows, OpenWrt, Tukaani Linux
Miscellaneous news: Nexenta, SUSE, Debian, Mandriva, Linspire, Gentoo, BSD
A controversy, complete with some colourful language on a public mailing list, accompanied the recent launch of Nexenta. For those of you who haven't followed the story, Nexenta is a new, unique distribution that attempts to marry the OpenSolaris kernel with GNU and Debian software utilities. Unfortunately, the two parties are covered with different and mutually incompatible licenses: while all GNU and Debian software is released under the GPL, OpenSolaris is licensed under the CDDL. This makes the attempted marriage rather awkward - as an example, one can't link a GPL-ed utility, such as Debian's APT against a CDDL-ed library, such as the C library that ships with OpenSolaris.
In their eagerness to release a product, the Nexenta developers have decided to ignore the license incompatibility. In their quest for purity, some Debian developers threatened legal action against Nexenta. The resulting discussion was long and unpleasant. The sanity only returned after some members of the Debian community, including Anthony Towns and Ian Murdock expressed embarrassment and amazement over how some Debian developers reacted to the whole issue. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, shouldn't there be a more civil way to resolve these disputes, especially when considering that both OpenSolaris and Debian are classified as Free Software?
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The second major controversy of the week was a 'yet another flame war' between the developers and supporters of GNOME and KDE. This followed the initial announcement by Novell that the company was planning to drop KDE from its enterprise-class products, such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Novell Linux Desktop. The reaction was fierce. Some SUSE users seemingly misunderstood the whole issue, fearing that their preferred desktop environment will be removed from SUSE Linux as well. As a result of this backlash, Novell has now confirmed that all its enterprise operating systems "will continue to ship with both the GNOME and KDE desktop environments."
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While many SUSE users have been taking advantage of Debian's popular APT utility to install applications from third-party repositories, it seems that there are also some Debian users who would love to see SUSE tools included in their preferred distribution: "This page contains information about the YaST2 for Debian (aka yast4debian) project. YaST2 for Debian tries to bring a simple and graphical administration tool to the Debian distribution. YaST2 from SuSE/Novell is released under the GNU GPL and consists of different modules for different administration tasks. We are porting the YaST2 source code to the Debian system and its configuration files." An intriguing idea. If you want to find out more please visit the yast4debian page.
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Some five weeks after the formal release of Mandriva Linux 2006 to members of the Mandriva Club, the CD and DVD images of the "Free" edition (i.e. containing Free Software only) are now available for free download. Mandriva Linux 2006 is built on top of the Linux kernel 2.6.12 and includes a development version of the X.Org X window system (version 6.9), together with the two most popular desktop environments - KDE (3.4.2) and GNOME (2.10.1), as well as the usual range of desktop and server software. Good early reviews of the product have been published by Linux.com, The Jem Report and Linux Tips For Free. We have tested Mandriva Linux 2006 on three computers and found it to be working perfectly fine on two, while completely failing on the third - due to a compatibility issue between the system's Matrox graphics card and Mandriva's CVS version of X.Org. As always, it is a good idea to test the product before spending money on it.
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Besides Mandriva, Linspire has also produced a quiet new release. Numbered as version 5.0.347, the new installation CD image was only announced on the company's user forums, rather than in a formal press release and it appears to be just a minor bug-fix product without any new features. It is provided as a convenience to existing Linspire customers who wish to install the product on a new computer or who had issues with the original Linspire Five-0. It is interesting to note that while new CD images of Linspire 4 appeared frequently, often in two-month intervals, Linspire 5.0.347 is the first new release in more than eight months.
Linspire 5.0 - one of the most elegantly designed and user-friendly distributions available today.
(full image size: 1,664kB)
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The latest issue of the Gentoo newsletter has confirmed that the distribution will now default to installing the system from "stage3" binaries. Previously, users were encouraged to install a very minimal system only ("stage1"), then proceed with compiling additional applications. This method of installing Gentoo, while very educational, usually took several days to complete. The "stage3" method is much faster, since many packages are installed as pre-compiled binaries. Of course, users can still recompile them at a later stage if they wish to take advantage of additional optimisation features.
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If you have installed one of the recently released BSD operating systems on your desktop computer, you might have been somewhat disheartened by the complete lack of any desktop branding in FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD, as most applications (or ports) ship in their default states. To remedy the situation, consider visiting daemonisch.be. This web site has made available a handful of simple but effective desktop wallpapers for the three most popular BSD operating systems in various resolutions and file formats. Now there is no reason why you shouldn't proudly display your operating system preference to people walking past your monitor!
|Interview: Barry Kauler, Puppy Linux
Interview with Barry Kauler, Puppy Linux
Although Puppy Linux is a relatively new arrival on the Linux distribution scene, its popularity has skyrocketed over the past few months. Barry Kauler, the founder and lead developer of this minimalist, yet feature-rich operating system was kind enough to answer a few questions about the beginnings of Puppy and other topics of interest.
DW: Barry, thank you very much for your time. Let's start with the usual: please introduce yourself. How old are you? Where do you live? What do you do for living? When and why did you start experimenting with Linux?
BK: I'm 55 and live in a rural region of Western Australia, about 350 km North North East of Perth (the capital city of Western Australia). I have qualifications in electronic engineering and lectured at universities and technical colleges for most of my working life, then a few years ago dropped down to part-time lecturing. This year, no lecturing at all... Puppy has taken over my life.
I was a "Windows person", and developed Windows applications, the most well-known being EVE, my Embedded Vector Editor -- which is a complete vector graphics editor yet only about 80 kb. ...I guess I'm obsessed with simplicity and smallness. I find everything is bloated, and too slow. I see apps created with layers of software, I see complex servers (font, sound) being used when, from my own knowledge of the hardware/software basics tells me that a small 1 kb program would do the job.
DW: Can you briefly describe the beginning of Puppy Linux? How did it all start?
BK: A few years back I was using Linux distros and thinking how big and slow everything is, so decided to create my own distro, built from scratch. I started from the "Boot disk HOWTO" and gradually added stuff, basically file-by-file. The end result is the Puppy you see today.
DW: Puppy Linux is obviously designed as a very light-weight distribution suitable for old and low-resource computers. As such, it is similar to Damn Small Linux (DSL). Have you tried DSL? If so, how would you compare the two - from the point of view of users trying to decide which one is more suitable for their needs?
BK: DSL is based on Debian, so I suppose if that is an issue then go for DSL. In some ways it's like asking "which model car is the best?" It's difficult to generalise. The best advice is probably to try both, then choose the one that you like and does what you want.
DW: Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Puppy Linux is the fact that although it comes as a 60MB ISO image, when I boot into it, I have a pretty complete Linux system with just about any application I might desire. How is this possible - especially when considering that most major Linux distributions now come on DVDs containing as much as 4GB of applications?
BK: This comes back to the way I built Puppy, file by file. I also made unfashionable choices, like going for Tcl/Tk. If you browse the menu in Puppy, you will find that the selection of programs is somewhat eclectic. A mixture of Xlib, Tcl/Tk, GTK1, GTK2, Ash/Bash apps. If I found a small program that did the job, I used it. Some of the apps seem very dated, for example, I use ROX-Filer version 1.2.2, which was the last GTK1 version, also the last version that used a simple and small mime-type handling system -- very old, but it is rock solid and works fine. Then there is Ical, a very old Tcl/Tk calendar program -- slightly quirky user interface, but still easy to use, and above all quite small.
On the other hand, Puppy has, where we think it necessary, the latest of some applications -- AbiWord for example. Gnumeric is scheduled to be updated to the latest version for Puppy 1.0.7 -- although 1.0.6 is just out the door, we Puppy developers are on a "heroin drip" and are now flat out on the next version -- there are typically 6 - 8 weeks between Puppy releases.
DW: Puppy Linux is no longer just a one-man project - it has evolved into a large community with many "kennels", not to mention users. Can you tell us more about this? If I get an idea about extending or improving Puppy Linux, how would I go about it?
BK: For the first approximately two years of Puppy's life, it was mostly me, with occasional input from some others. In the last six months there has been an acceleration of interest, and some of the other guys have become addicted like me. I suppose I modelled Puppy along the "Slackware model", with me as "dictator", but we are moving to a more community based model. Development is still very informal, we still haven't even got a formal bug reporting system.
Joining us is kind of a "do your own thing". This lax management model does have some advantages also. There is a developers page, with suggestions for projects, also the Wiki has a to-do list, so anyone can find something that interests them and just start working on it. Then start chatting on the forum, and in a kind of ad-hoc fashion we all communicate and share information and files. Note also, it has become so easy to create your own custom Puppy, and I notice one of them, Grafpup, has listed as a new distro on DistroWatch.
DW: What's the difference between PupGet and DotPup? Why is there a need for two package managers?
BK: We have this thing called "Puppy Unleashed", which is a collection of all the binary packages that are used to create the live CD, with a build script. The build script allows choice of which of these packages to use, then creates the ISO. The packages *not* chosen become PupGet packages. These are available on the Internet and can be installed with the PupGet package manager. That is, the packages that didn't make it onto the live-CD can still be downloaded and installed into a running Puppy. For example, there is OpenOffice.org and Amaya.
So, think of PupGet packages as the official Puppy packages. DotPups on the other hand are unofficial. These can be knocked together by anybody. They are intended to be very easy to install. Some of them work fine, some are experimental. We now have tools to make it very easy to create a DotPup package, and an easy installer, although they don't need any installer -- basically you just download a .pup file then click on it, then it's installed -- like in Windows!
Note however, recently we have tools to create your own custom live CD with any mix of PupGets or DotPups that you want, so the distinction between these package systems is in some ways blurred.
DW: Is the Puppy kernel vanilla or do you patch it? Any plans to move to kernel 2.6 or are there specific reasons why you are sticking with the 2.4 series?
BK: There was a version of Puppy that used a 2.6 kernel, 1.0.2 I think, but we went back to the 2.4 series. Two main reasons: something seemed to be wrong with NTFS in that particular 2.6 kernel, and people complained it wouldn't boot on some older PCs.
The 2.4 kernel has only two patches, NTFS and SquashFS ...why the kernel developers haven't made SquashFS part of the kernel I don't know -- I know the author of SquashFS applied sometime back (anyway, that's changing the subject!).
DW: One thing that fascinates me about Puppy is the very verbose changelog/news page describing the developments on a daily basis. While many other distribution developers struggle to produce a half-decent release announcement, you obviously enjoy maintaining a blog-style changelog. Why is that?
BK: I guess it is my teaching background. I also used to write correspondence courses. Also, I get annoyed, as we all do, when an otherwise fine open source product lacks documentation -- so I want to be sure that Puppy is well documented. Even the live CD has over 3MB of docs, something quite amazing considering its size -- even the "man" command works (not the actual man command, our replacement).
DW: Puppy has been in development for a while and, in terms of its original design goals, it is now pretty much feature complete. So what's next? Where is Puppy heading? What are your long term plans for the project?
BK: I don't consider Puppy feature complete yet. We have a to-do list. For example, hardware support is not all it could be. Puppy uses OSS for sound, but I'm not so sure if we should move to ALSA. Puppy also uses PDQ for printing, bucking the trend to CUPS. We do have DotPups for ALSA and CUPS, but for the official CD, maybe I won't go for either of those. PDQ is very small and simple, and we may put Perl into the live CD then use PDQ-O-matic as linuxprinting.org to get support for more printers (currently we have Gimp-print drivers, built-in to the live CD).
DW: What do you do when you are not in front of a computer? And more importantly, what do you think should be done to get the Australian rugby team out of the current unprecedented slump?
BK: I like walking. Rugby, what's that? ;)
P.S.: I would also like to send a thanks to all the new and long-term contributors to the Puppy project. Some people, like GuestToo who developed the DotPup system, have been around for a year or two, quietly and consistently helping. There are dozens of names, so I won't attempt to list them all here!
DW: Barry, once again, thank you very much for your time and good luck with your efforts!
|Released Last Week
Puppy Linux 1.0.6
Puppy Linux has been updated to version 1.0.6: "Puppy Linux version 1.0.6 released. The two big items in this release are AbiWord 2.4.1 and the multisession DVD. With the 2.4 series, AbiWord has come of age. This is now professional wordprocessing, and Puppy enhances the pleasant experience with a large number of plugins included in the live CD, including grammar checker and equation editor. The Puppy multisession DVD-R is a very smooth experience. For the uninitiated, this boots up from DVD and saves everything back to DVD, no hard drive required at all." Read the Puppy Linux release notes for further details.
IPCop Firewall 1.4.10
A new update to IPCop Firewall has been released. From the release notes: "Upgrade Squid to 2.5.STABLE12; permits user to introduce a delay between VPN launch and IPCop 'connection'; make Snort use binary login, more resilient, don't exhaust inode with random IP logging; allow dmzholes to use IP/mask instead of IP. Simplify blue -> green holes management; fix transparent proxy on blue broken when transparent on green off; add scheduled shutdown / reboot capability to IPCop; VPN fix no default values for advanced options when advanced options not used; VPN correctly display advanced options default values when not set...."
GeeXboX, a Linux-based media player, has been updated to version 0.98.7: "This may be the first time that a GeeXboX release has been made without a player update, but the enhancements were significant enough and so we bring you the new version 0.98.7. GeeXboX now enters the 'digital era' with a feature that many users have been waiting for: the DVB cards support. ... Detailed Changelog: Linux updated to 2.6.14; updated uClibc to 0.9.28; support for FUSE (Filesystem In Userland) 2.4.1; support for driver firmware auto-loading; updated Syslinux to v3.11; added a DVB Free-To-Air channel scanner...." See the release announcement on the project's home page for more details.
RR4 Linux 2.65
A new, cutting-edge release of the Gentoo-based RR4 Linux live DVD is now ready - complete with a new kernel 2.6.14, upgraded X.Org 7.0.0rc1 and Firefox 1.5rc1, the latest GNOME Office packages, as well as newly included WINE and Blender builds: "I'm proud to announce that the neverending release has arrived. The changelog: installer Portage snapshot fixed; ATI drivers updated to 8.18.8; xdelta patch script more efficient; update installer icon, works perfectly under GNOME; Radeon 7500 Mobility, NVIDIA TNT and NVIDIA GeForce 6800Go properly detected; mouse wheel properly configured in X.Org 7.0 RC1; IPW2200 firmware downgraded to 2.2...." Find more details in the release announcement.
Red Flag Linux 5.0
Red Flag Linux 5.0 "Workstation" for i386 and x86_64 processors has been released. The new version, boasting improved reliability, usability, security and hardware compatibility, is built on top of Linux kernel 2.6.9 and supports Chinese (GB18030 and Big5 encodings), Japanese, Korean and English languages. The familiar Windows-like desktop and control panel from Red Flag 4.1 continues to be the main desktop feature, but the addition of development software means that the product can also be turned into a powerful workstation or development platform. See the distribution's product page (in Chinese) for more detailed description.
AUSTRUMI is a small, business card-size live CD based on Slackware Linux. Version 0.9.9 has been released with the following changes: "removed SQLite, added PostgreSQL, added phpPgAdmin; updated system libs glib2, GTK+2, Glade; added Dillo, wget; removed GQview, added GImageView; added Pavuk - multiprotocol file grabber; updated AbiWord, fbpanel, Firefox, Gnumeric, Hydra, LAME, Nmap, vsftpd, XChat, X.Org; removed game gSoko added games Bombic, FloboPuyo, Digger; added RPM and DEB file support." Visit the distribution's home page for more information and a detailed history of changes.
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.70
Parsix is an Iranian Linux live and installation CD with support for input in Farsi and other convenient utilities for speakers of the language of Iran. Version 0.70 was released today: "We are pleased to announce that a brand new version of Parsix GNU/Linux is available now. This version includes GNOME 2.10.2 and OpenOffice.org 2.0.0 and will be distributed at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2005, Nov. 16-18, Tunis. Parsix GNU/Linux 0.70 is built from scratch using KANOTIX 2005-4 and is optimized for hard disk installation. Added many packages like AbiWord 2.4.1, GnuCash 1.8.10, Evince 0.4.0, Camorama, GnomeMeeting, Synaptic, Tasksel, Aptitude.... xFarDic multilingual dictionary is updated to 0.7.3 and now supports multiple word databases." The release announcement.
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.70 - a new version of the Iranian live CD was released last week.
(full image size: 1,219kB)
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Development and unannounced releases
- PCLinuxOS .92-test3, the release announcement
- Arch Linux 0.7.1-pre1, the release announcement
- dyne:bolic 2.0-beta4, the release announcement
- Damn Small Linux 2.0-rc2, the release announcement
- Guadalinex 3-beta1, the release announcement (in Spanish)
- PC-BSD 1.0-rc1, the release announcement
- SME Server 7.0-beta6, the release announcement
- StressLinux 3.1-rc3, the release announcement
- Klax 3.5-rc1, the release announcement
- Kororaa 2006-beta2, the release announcement
- ParallelKnoppix 2005-11-08
- Kurumin Linux 5.1-alpha4
- ADMELIX 11-2005
- Vector 5.1-beta1 (SOHO edition)
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
It has been suggested in the forum last week that we should provide an easy way for DistroWatch readers to contribute to our monthly donations pool. Not a bad idea, except there are two small problems. Firstly, your money will change hands twice so the middleman (eg. PayPal) will grab a portion twice (instead of just once if you donated directly). Secondly, our credit card processing service has banned "donations" as a product, so we can't just put up donations buttons on the web site without breaking the contract with the credit card service. Nevertheless, if you still wish to contribute towards the monthly donations pool, you can do so on the Advertise page (in the right column). Please don't forget to leave a comment (or send us an email) so that we know the purpose of the payment and can add it to the current month's donations pool.
On a related note, we received an email from amaroK's Greg Meyer: "We wanted to formally acknowledge and thank you for your very generous donation of $300 to the amaroK project. Today we reached our project fundraising goal and we are all very excited about the great new features being added during 1.4 development. You have been very supportive in the past with the assistance you have given us in publicizing the live CD, and this generous donation will be put to very good use."
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Broken download links
Several readers reported "broken download links" in some of our news articles. Upon investigation, it turned out that the direct links to ISO images provided by SourceForge now indeed appear broken - clicking on them would take you to a "not found" page. However, the links still work if you copy them and paste them into an Xterm window. As such, we will continue providing these direct links - after all, if you are like us, you probably download large ISO files using a reliable download tool such as wget or curl, rather then a crash-prone web browser.
* * * * *
New distribution additions
- Nexenta. Nexenta is a complete GNU- and Debian-based open source operating system built on top of the OpenSolaris kernel and runtime. It is a result of an inspiration and desire to build a complete system based on the SunOS kernel and GNU software.
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New on the waiting list
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DistroWatch database summary
And with this we'll say good-bye until next Monday. 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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|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
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|• Issue 633 (2015-10-26): GhostBSD 10.1, Bodhi Linux to get new settings panel, Fedora 23 delayed, creating live image of existing OS|
|• Issue 632 (2015-10-19): Linux Lite 2.6, 32-bit build of CentOS, OpenBSD turns 20, Bodhi Linux releases AppPack|
|• Issue 631 (2015-10-12): Parsix 8.0, Manjaro seeks new artwork, sending commands to multiple servers, Debian drops LSB support|
|• Full list of all issues|