| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 127, 21 November 2005
Welcome to this year's 47th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. There is no rest for the developers of most distributions - following new development releases of SUSE and Ubuntu last week, the first test release of Fedora Core 5 is also expected shortly. What do you think of the new Mandriva 2006 and how does it compare with other KDE-centric distributions, such as Kubuntu 5.10? A long-time Mandriva user offers his views. Also in this issue: a new release of TheOpenCD, a quick look at RR4 Linux and an observation about the changing attitude of Microsoft towards Linux. Last but not least, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, affectionately known as GIMP, is exactly 10 years old today. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (4.90MB) or mp3 (5.33MB) format (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Miscellaneous news: Fedora 5, Mandriva vs Kubuntu, TheOpenCD 3.1, ten years of GIMP
While most of us are enjoying one of the recently released stable Linux distributions, there is no rest for most of the distribution developers. Last week brought us two new development releases: the third alpha of SUSE Linux 10.1 and the first snapshot of Ubuntu Linux 6.04. In the meantime, the first test of Fedora Core 5 is also expected shortly - already delayed by two weeks and now re-scheduled for today (Monday), there is still no sign of any new test directory on the Fedora download servers. Normally, the ISO images of any new Fedora release are distributed to mirrors several days prior to the official announcement, but this has yet to happen. (Update: FC5 test1 is now expected on Wednesday.) While you are waiting, you might find it interesting to learn about the design process that eventually led to a new Fedora logo.
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A long-time Mandriva user has posted an interesting message explaining the reasons for his decision to leave Mandriva for Kubuntu. Among his gripes were disappointment with the services offered by the Mandriva Club, frequently corrupt Mandriva repositories, and the half-broken development snapshot of X.Org 6.9 in Mandriva 2006. Although the author still believes that Mandriva Linux is not a bad distribution, after spending some time experimenting with Kubuntu, he concluded that the Debian-based distribution matched his needs better.
What are your thoughts? If you are a Mandriva user, have you considered moving on to greener pastures? Or do you intend to be a loyal Mandriva fan, no matter what? If you've tried both Mandriva 2006 and Kubuntu 5.10, what are your impressions? Let's be honest about it: if you want to take full advantage of Mandriva Linux you do have to join the Club - otherwise you won't get the latest software and non-free packages, and you'll be made to wait several weeks for the ISO images. But joining the Club is not cheap, especially when considering that there are other distributions, real alternatives that do not cost an arm and a leg, while offering pretty much the same functionality as the one that costs €120 per year. Any opinions? Please discuss below.
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TheOpenCD 3.1 has been released: "TheOpenCD team is pleased to announce the release of TheOpenCD 3.1. Core applications including OpenOffice, Firefox and Gaim have been upgraded to major new versions. The popular game Battle for Wesnoth has reached 1.0 and a range of familiar programs appear in minor version updates. The Live CD component is now based on Ubuntu 5.10 (the Breezy Badger). Blender has returned in version 2.37a and the MoinMoin Desktop Edition has been added." TheOpenCD is a project that provides a collection of the best open source applications for Windows. Version 3.1 is a bootable CD with a complete live edition of Ubuntu Linux 5.10 and the usual range of great free applications for those of you who still haven't been able to switch to Linux. Download from here.
The Open CD 3.1 - a combination of the Ubuntu live CD and a great collection of Free Software for Windows
(full image size: 819kB)
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Speaking about Windows, Microsoft has released an interesting video - a presentation by Bill Hilf, the Director of Platform Technology Strategy at Microsoft Corporation. This is probably the first reasonably objective comparison between Linux and Microsoft products coming out of the Redmond-based software company; it hasn't been long since the top Microsoft executives labelled Linux with tags like "virus", "cancer", "pacman", and other unflattering names. Times have changed and, as Bill Hilf tells us, Microsoft is now maintaining a farm of about 400 Linux servers running in the region of 50 - 60 (!) different Linux distributions. They even subscribe to Red Hat Enterprise Linux support service and test various aspects of interoperability between the two operating systems.
Although the speaker does present the usual Redmond line about the total cost of ownership and maintains that Microsoft has a better security record than Red Hat Enterprise Linux (based on "independent" studies), one does get a feeling that Microsoft no longer sees Linux as just an inferior operating system that some kids hack on in their spare bedrooms. On the contrary, it is trying to learn from the success Linux has enjoyed among many developers and incorporate certain ideas into their own products. There is an interesting passage towards the end where the speaker unveils a new Microsoft command line application - complete with UNIX-like commands, command piping, and a few unusual tricks.
If you have an hour to spare or if you are interested to see the change in Microsoft's perception of Linux, here is the direct link to the video (you will need a pre-configured MPlayer browser plugin with support for Windows media format to be able to view it).
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The GNU Image Manipulation Program, affectionately referred to as The GIMP by many, is exactly 10 years old today. Considered to be the first real killer application for Linux and UNIX, GIMP has evolved into the most widely used open source graphics manipulation program, covered by hundreds of tutorials on the Internet as well as several printed books. The software was first announced by Peter Mattis on 21 November 1995: "The GIMP: the General Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP is designed to provide an intuitive graphical interface to a variety of image editing operations." You can find some interesting information together with some screenshots from the early days of GIMP in this weblog.
Happy birthday, GIMP, and many happy returns!
|Featured distribution of the week: RR4 Linux
Gentoo Linux, with its ground-up approach towards building a Linux operating system, should be an excellent base for creating new distributions and live CDs. Disappointingly, we haven't seen many of those and the number of Gentoo-based distributions certainly trails behind those based on Debian, Fedora or Slackware. But things might be changing and it is possible that we will soon start seeing more projects that choose Gentoo as their starting point. One of these new distributions is an excellent live DVD called RR4 Linux, developed by Fabio Erculiani.
The biggest advantage of RR4 Linux over, say, the Knoppix live DVD is that the former comes with much more up-to-date applications. The latest version of RR4 Linux has kernel 2.6.14, X.Org 7.0 from CVS, KDE 3.4.3, GNOME 2.12.1, and Firefox 1.5rc, just to give an indication about how cutting edge (even bleeding edge) the distribution is. The major disadvantage of the live DVD is that, despite its size, it lacks both Emacs and Vim. Besides KDE and GNOME, the XFce and Fluxbox window managers are also available.
But perhaps the best reason for downloading RR4 Linux is to avail oneself of what is possibly the easiest way to install Gentoo Linux on a hard disk. Using the official Gentoo Installer (currently in beta), users have the option to copy the content of the live DVD to their hard disk from within the comfort of a graphical installer (see screenshot below). Once done, RR4 will become standard Gentoo, with all the conveniences and features of the popular source-based distribution, including the Portage package manager.
Next time you need to install Gentoo Linux, but don't feel like going through the tedious installation process from "stages", give RR4 a try. And even if you don't intend to switch to Gentoo, RR4 Linux is worth the download - it makes for a very nice live DVD with a good set of highly up-to-date applications.
RR4 Linux - a cutting edge Linux live CD and an easy way of installing Gentoo Linux on a hard disk
(full image size: 918kB)
|Released Last Week
Kalango Linux 3.2
Kalango Linux is a nicely designed Brazilian distribution based on Debian and Kurumin. After some seven months in development, version 3.2 was announced yesterday. The new release includes Linux kernel 2.6.11, OpenOffice.org 2.0, KDE 3.4.3, GNOME 2.10, as well as a number of popular applications, such as the amaroK media player, K3b CD/DVD burning utility, Azureus BitTorrent client, GIMP graphics manipulation software, Inkscape vector drawing application, Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client. Read the full release announcement on the distribution's home page for further information and join the discussion at BR-linux.org (both links in Portuguese).
SLAMPP is a Slackware-based Linux live CD designed primarily as a pre-configured home server, although it also includes a minimal set of desktop-oriented applications for office and multimedia use. The project's second stable version has been released: "I proudly announce the newest version of SLAMPP. This version contains some new applications, features and hopefully will fix the known bugs reported so far to me. Furthermore, I consider this release as a maintenance release over the previous one, so let's hope all things will run smoothly." Find more information about the project in the release announcement and on the distribution's home page.
Gentoo Linux 2005.1-r1
The Gentoo release team has announced the availability of Gentoo Linux 2005.1-r1, a bug-fix update to the current stable release: "The Gentoo Release Engineering team is proud to announce Gentoo Linux 2005.1-r1! The 2005.1-r1 release is simply a media refresh over the 2005.1 release. What this means is that it used the same base snapshot, and has very few changes. It is essentially nothing more than a bug-fix release. ... There is also a new version of the x86 Gentoo Linux Installer LiveCD located under /experimental. This version is based off the 2005.1 snapshot, but has some bug fixes in it, along with version 0.2 of the Gentoo Linux Installer." Read the complete release announcement for further details.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Ubuntu Linux 6.04
The Ubuntu Linux project has published a preliminary roadmap leading to the release of version 6.04, code name "Dapper Drake". Following a series of development snapshots called "Flight" ("Flight" is to "Dapper Drake" what "Colony" was to "Breezy Badger"), the first beta release is scheduled for 23 March 2006. This will be followed by a release candidate on 13 April and the final release a week later. Your can find more information on the Dapper Release Process and Dapper Release Schedule pages.
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
DistroWatch in Linux Format|
Those of you who subscribe to Linux Format might have noticed a new "Distrowatch" section in the latest (Christmas 2005) issue of the magazine. Written by yours truly, this is to become a regular feature of Linux Format, covering the latest news from the Linux distribution world, analysing major new releases, and presenting interesting new projects. The current issue starts with a brief history of Linux distributions before checking out Slackware 10.2 and introducing the Tao Linux live CD.
While on this topic, I hope you won't mind a little plug. I have been a subscriber of Linux Format ever since I switched to Linux some 5 years ago and I still consider it the best English language Linux magazine available today. I feel honoured to able to contribute to this most outstanding publication. With a great mix of articles, reviews, interviews, and step-by-step tutorials on all aspects of open source software, Linux Format has contributed a great deal towards the wide acceptance of Linux that we are seeing today.
Next time you are at your news agent, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. Or even better, subscribe. It will be money well spent.
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New distribution additions
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New on the waiting list
- CAE Linux. CAE Linux is a live DVD distribution based on PClinuxOS. Dedicated to Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) and more specifically to finite element simulation, CAE Linux includes the new 3D pre- / post-processor SALOME and the powerful finite element solver Code-Aster. It also offers several scientific tools like GNU Octave and Scilab, and a full range of development tools and compilers.
- DSS Live. DSS (Debased Scripts Set) project is dedicated to providing a "System Development Environment" to create a Debian-based live Linux system.
- ZeroShell. Zeroshell is a Linux live CD distribution aimed at providing all main network services for a Local Area Network.
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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!
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