| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 129, 5 December 2005
Welcome to this year's 49th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. New major releases of KDE, Firefox and Apache have prompted us to take a closer look at the major distribution's handling of package updates, the availability of backports and other related issues. Does your distribution provide backports for popular new software? Or do you have to wait for the next version bump to enjoy recently released packages? Also in this issue: an introduction to a GNOME-based Windows XP clone from Russia and a quick look at the excellent Archie Live CD. Finally, our November 2005 donation goes to the often-nominated KANOTIX project. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (5.17MB) or mp3 (5.44MB) format (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Backporting major software packages
One of the perceived qualities of a distribution is the willingness of its developers (or contributors) to provide "backports" of popular new applications for existing stable versions of their products. After all, many of us love to run the latest software - even if the only reason is to satisfy our curiosity about what's new and what has been improved. Last week's release of KDE 3.5 was one of those must-have versions for all fans of the popular desktop.
Of course, upgrading such a major piece of software is no small task. A universal method for installing new applications on Linux (and UNIX) is to compile them directly from source code. The advantage of this approach is that you can install a new version as soon as the source code is released, without having to wait for your distribution to provide pre-compiled binary packages. The disadvantage, besides the fact that compiling a large application suite might kill a whole day, is that the newly compiled application will by-pass the distribution's package management structures and might even introduce subtle bugs. Also, unless you are using a dedicated source-based distribution, such as Gentoo Linux, it is often difficult to uninstall a locally-compiled application.
If you are not a seasoned Linux user or if you don't run a source-based distribution, your best option is to wait for your distro's developers to release binary packages specifically compiled for your distribution. This is not always guaranteed, however. If you look through the KDE 3.5 FTP directory, you will notice that only three distributions have so far provided KDE 3.5 binary packages; these are Kubuntu, Slackware and SUSE. Of these, Kubuntu packages are only available for the most recent release (version 5.10), Slackware provides them for the two most recent releases (versions 10.1 and 10.2), and SUSE has built binary packages of KDE 3.5 for their four most recent releases (versions 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 and 10.0).
Although some would consider the above a very simplistic way to rate a Linux distribution, it does give an indication about the level of commitment a company or a project exerts to satisfy their users. Ironically, with all the recent rumours about Novell abandoning KDE in favour of GNOME, the reality is that SUSE remains one of the most KDE-centric distributions, with unmatched service of delivering the freshest KDE packages for as many as four most recent SUSE releases!
Of course, some distributions might provide alternative upgrade paths - Mandriva could use its Club structures to allow priority access to Club members, while Fedora contributors will probably make the new KDE 3.5 packages available from third-party repositories. Gentoo users can, of course, upgrade immediately by "emerging" KDE and users of Arch Linux can invoke "pacman" to get the latest KDE binaries. But if your distribution doesn't provide timely package upgrades, do you mind? Does this fact influence your distro choice? Or are you happy to just wait for your distribution's next release, perhaps with a better tested and bug-fixed KDE 3.5.1? Please discuss below.
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Miscellaneous news: Interview with Branden Robinson, Linux XP
TuxJournal has published a 3-page interview with Branden Robinson, the current Debian GNU/Linux Project Leader: "When I finally got a computer capable of running the Linux kernel (read: an 80386-compatible or better processor), I immediately installed Slackware Linux on it from a cigar box full of 3.5-inch floppies that my dad had made for me. This was January of 1996. By February I had switched to Debian GNU/Linux, because I knew there were multiple distributions out there, and I wanted to exercise my freedom of choice. Debian appealed to me from the outset because of its affirmative commitment not just to producing a great operating system, but to assurance that that system would remain Free, so that people like me could learn how it worked and customize it to suit their needs." And while on the subject of Debian, here is a good article about the correct usage of the root account and sudo while administering a Debian system.
Ever since Linux has become a viable option to use on desktop computers, all sorts of attempts have been made to emulate the look and feel of the ubiquitous Windows desktop. One of the more recent efforts in this respect comes from a Russian project called Linux XP. This distribution has been around for a couple of years, but it appeared discontinued with no new releases and no site updates for a long time. However, its latest version is probably one of the best efforts to clone Microsoft Windows XP and emulate its look and feel (see screenshot below). Based on Fedora Core and complete with a heavily modified GNOME desktop and custom icon set, a single-CD release of Linux XP should be formally announced later this week (an older ISO image is available for download from this server). Warning: this is a Russian-only distribution.
Linux XP 2005 - if familiarity is essential
(full image size: 620kB)
A new user forum for Linux users was unveiled today. Called TuxForums.org, the new online arena hopes to attract a large community of Linux users to discuss current issues and solve support problems on all major distributions. TuxForums.org provides discussion platforms for Debian, Gentoo, Fedora, Knoppix, Mandriva, Slackware, SUSE and Ubuntu, as well as more general hardware, software, installation, networking and programming topics. Whether you are looking to join a new Linux community or just wish to read through current discussions, TuxForums.org might be the perfect site to visit.
|Featured distribution of the week: Archie Live CD
Archie Live CD
If you suspect that Archie Live CD has something to do with Arch Linux then you are not far from the truth. Formerly known as AL-AMLUG, the project has changed name in order to make the parent-child relationship more obvious and perhaps to attract users and developers who have been enlightened by the simplicity and purity of Arch Linux.
Archie is unique in the sense that it is not based on any of the big "top-level" distributions with their live CD offshoots, such as Debian/Knoppix, Slackware/SLAX or Mandriva/PCLinuxOS, which currently dominate the live CD scene. Also, since Arch is optimised for the i686 architecture, so is Archie, as its developers use the same binary packages that make up the current Arch Linux package tree. And like its parent, Archie also uses the simple, but fast and efficient "pacman" package manager, a good compromise between the complexity of Debian's APT and Slackware's bare-bones "pkgtool".
The most recent version of Archie Linux is 0.6rc2. It is based on the current pre-release of Arch Linux 0.7.1, so the package set making up the distribution is very up-to-date. The only available edition at the time of writing is a light-weight one with XFce and a relatively small collection of general-purpose desktop applications with a slight bias towards graphics manipulation (GIMP, Inkscape). There is no office suite or universal media player, although users can write documents in AbiWord and listen to music in Beep or XMMS. Firefox, Sylpheed, Gaim and XChat provide all the Internet tools most users will ever need and the distribution also ships with a good collection of wireless network drivers and ndiswrapper. The latest NVIDIA graphics driver is also included.
We found Archie 0.6 an impressive and versatile live CD with good hardware detection and a solid collection of essential applications. The developers chose an interesting theme with extra toolbar icons for pinning and shading windows (see screenshot below) - a nice, user-friendly touch. The live CD also includes a graphical hard disk installer, similar to the ones that ship with the most recent versions of MEPIS or PCLinuxOS, while power users will enjoy the availability of Archie-scripts designed to create a customised Arch-based live CD.
For more information about Archie Live CD please visit the project's home page at archie.dotsrc.org.
Archie - an intriguing live CD based on Arch Linux
(full image size: 150kB)
|Released Last Week
Turbolinux 11, code name "Fuji", has been formally released in Japan. The new version is based on kernel 2.6.13 with KDE 3.4.2 as its default desktop. It features improved compatibility with Windows for seamless integration into mixed-OS environments, better support for Japanese input and fonts, StarOffice 8, and real-time virus protection against Windows viruses. Turbolinux FUJI retails for ¥16,800, although a "Basic" edition (without StarOffice, ATOK Japanese input and anti-virus software) is also available for ¥5,800. An international edition of Turbolinux 11 is expected to be launched shortly. More information is available in an earlier product announcement, while the Turbolinux web site provides more comprehensive product pages (in Japanese) about the new release.
RR4 Linux 2.65.1
A new bug-fix release of the Gentoo-based RR4 Linux live DVD is out: "Ladies and gentlemen, geeks and hackers, Greeks and Romans, RR4 Linux 2.65.1 is spreading on the net! RR4 Linux is a powerful and installable Gentoo GNU/Linux live DVD based on kernel 2.6.14, KDE 3.4.3, GNOME 2.12.1, XFce 4.2.2 and Fluxbox 0.9.13, with extraordinary features like Internet Kiosk capabilities (using FreeNX), state of the art hardware detection, fast boot time, multimedia cutting edge support, 'Klik' unofficial support, and DVD to hard disk installation." The release announcement includes a complete list of changes since the earlier version 2.65.
Tao Live 4.03
A new version of Tao Live 4, a live CD based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, has been released: "A new version of the Tao Live CD is available. Version 4.03 features: documentation for beginners (French and English); support for English (Canada and USA), French (Canada) and Spanish (Mexico) locales; kernel 2.6.9-22.0.1.SquashFS1; support for USB storage of userspace (still experimental). Tao Live uses a Squash filesystem to fit 2 GB of programs into a standard bootable CD. OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Gaim, XMMS, K3B and many other programs are included. A few boot options are currently available." Here is the full release announcement.
The Wolvix live CD has been updated to version 1.0.4: "Wolvix Desktop Edition 1.0.4 released. Release highlights: XFce 188.8.131.52, OpenOffice.org 2.0.0, Evolution Groupware Suite 2.4, Mozilla Firefox 1.5, Azureus 184.108.40.206, GnomeBaker 0.5.0, GnomeMeeting 1.2.2, lots of packages have been added from the Freerock GNOME project giving the release a more unison GTK look; better mime handling in Firefox and Xfe; many upgraded applications and libraries. I hope you all like this release, I've been working on it nonstop the last few weeks. The base is still SLAX 5.0.6 with the 220.127.116.11 kernel...." See the full release announcement for more information.
Linux From Scratch 6.1.1
Linux From Scratch 6.1.1 has been released: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS 6.1.1. This release includes fixes for all known errata since LFS-6.1 was released 4 months ago. You can read the book online, or download to read locally." Besides the usual book, the project also released a new Automated LFS (ALFS) profile, as well as an LFS 6.1.1 LiveCD: "The LFS LiveCD team is proud to announce the release of the x86-6.1.1-1 version of the LFS LiveCD. This version is built using LFS 6.1.1 and BLFS packages from the svn branch. Other new features include: XFce Terminal with helpful menus, including copy and paste; jhalfs 0.2 included; nALFS LFS 6.1.1 Profile; more new packages: rsync, sudo, wireless_tools."
Scientific Linux 4.2
Scientific Linux 4.2 for i386 and x86_64 processors is out: "Scientific Linux 4.2 was officially released. We want to thank all those tested, re-tested, and worked with the developers. This release might have taken longer than usual to be released, but it hopefully is one of the more stable. Scientific Linux release 4.2 is based on the rebuilding of RPMs out of SRPMs from [Red Hat] Enterprise 4 AS, including Update 2. Its biggest improvement over 4.1 would be the new yum 2.4, Yumex (a graphical front end for yum), and the various yum plugins." Find more details and links to release notes in the official announcements for i386 and x86_64 architectures.
Zenwalk Linux 2.0.1
Zenwalk Linux 2.0.1 has been released: "This release is based on the 18.104.22.168 kernel, with Reiser4 filesystem support and many enhancements and updates. Zenwalk 2.0.1 is the biggest jump in Zenwalk evolution since the beginning of the project. Main software updates are XFce 22.214.171.124, xine 1.1.1, Firefox 1.5, KDE 3.5 available from 'netpkg'. GTK has been updated to version 2.8.7, based on the Cairo library designed for a better use of display hardware acceleration. All GTK applications that can take advantage of Cairo were rebuilt or upgraded. Zenwalk 2.0.1 includes full OpenOffice.org 2.0...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
A new, security enhanced version of ParallelKnoppix was released over the weekend. From the changelog: "Passwords are reset for 'root' and 'knoppix'; RSA keys are regenerated; the 'knoppix' user is removed from /etc/sudoers. The cluster is secure for connection to the internet using a second network interface on the master node, and can be reached by ssh, scp, etc. The cluster is not secure from damage by malicious / incompetent users with physical access to the nodes, since they can still easily get root access (or hit the nodes with a hammer!) The security enhancements are new and only lightly tested. Please report means of gaining root access from hosts outside the cluster." Visit the project's home page for further details about the new release.
The development of Nonux, a Slackware-based distribution designed for office use and optimised for Dutch speakers, continues at a rapid pace. The new version 2.1 comes with an updated kernel 126.96.36.199 and the latest Firefox browser 1.5. Several bug fixes and additional display options for NVIDIA graphics drivers have been implemented. Users who experience problems starting up the graphical part of the system can now try new boot parameters as documented on the distribution's web site. For more information please consult the release announcement on the project's news page (in Dutch).
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Frugalware Linux 0.4 and Haansoft Linux 2006
Frugalware and Haansoft have published roadmaps leading towards their respective stable releases. Frugalware Linux 0.4, code name "Wanda" is scheduled for release at the end of March 2006, with the first preview release expected later this week. Similarly, Haansoft is also aiming (page in Korean) for a late March release of its Workstation edition of Haansoft Linux 2006. The product's first beta was formally released last week; this will be followed by two more betas and two release candidates.
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Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
November 2005 donation: the KANOTIX project receives €210|
We are pleased to announce that, based on the reader feedback during the past month, the recipient of our November 2005 donation is the KANOTIX project.
Although KANOTIX is primarily a Linux distribution and live CD, its unique features, superior hardware support and usability enhancements have turned it into one of the best-loved Knoppix-based derivatives available today. Indeed, KANOTIX is now used as a base for other distributions (e.g. Auditor Security Linux, Linux-EduCD, Tilix) while several other open source projects now use the heavily-patched KANOTIX kernel to power their own distributions (e.g. Kurumin Linux and its derivatives). Even the Knoppix developers have backported some KANOTIX innovations, such as the hard disk installer, into their own product. As such KANOTIX has proven itself to be a valuable distribution and live CD not only to those who use it, but also to the wider Linux community.
As always, our monthly donations programme is a joint initiative between DistroWatch and two online shops selling low-cost CDs and DVDs with Linux, BSD and other open source software - LinuxISO.co.uk and LinuxCD.org, each of which contributed US$50 towards this month's donation. Both stores have an excellent selection and latest releases at very reasonable prices. Next time you need to order your favourite Linux or BSD CDs, get them from LinuxCD.org or, if you are in the United Kingdom, from LinuxISO.co.uk.
This is the PayPal receipt for the donation to KANOTIX:
This email confirms that you have paid donate -at- kanotix.com 210.00 EUR using PayPal. The exchange rate for this purchase is 1 USD = 0.832260EUR.
Transaction ID: 7GX84073YA9309016
Sales Tax: 0.00 EUR
Total: €210.00 EUR
Item/Product Name: KANOTIX
Here is the list of projects that received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the donations programme:
Since the launch of the DistroWatch Donations Programme in March 2004, we have donated a total of US$5,855 to various open source software projects.
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New on the waiting list
- Bentux Linux. Bentux Linux is a new Brazilian distribution for desktop and server computers. Based on Knoppix.
- Movitos USB Linux. Movitos is a new USB and CD live Linux distribution for desktop users. Focusing on desktop usage, and making it easy for Windows users to try Linux, Movitos includes all the tools you need daily for checking your email, browsing the web, writing documents, doing calculations, and planning your time, as well as listening to music, watching movies and playing games. Movitos is multi-lingual (English, French, German).
- OCSID. OCSID (Open Community Slackware Installation DVD) is a DVD with all the official Slackware packages untouched, with Freerock GNOME and some other packages that usually people want but aren't included in Slackware (amaroK, Postfix, etc). OCSID uses kernel 2.6 by default.
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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!
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 505 (2013-04-29): First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04, Saucy Salamander, Remastersys and System Imager, Linux containers|
|• Issue 504 (2013-04-22): Look at Bodhi 2.3.0, Ubuntu 13.04 features, building OpenBSD ports, opening large files|
|• Issue 503 (2013-04-15): CentOS versus Scientific Linux, PCLinuxOS 64, Lucas Nussbaum, ZFS/Btrfs versus ext4|
|• Issue 502 (2013-04-08): Look at Mint 201303 "Debian", Ubuntu versus openSUSE, comparing ZFS and Btrfs file systems|
|• Issue 501 (2013-04-01): KANOTIX 2013 and GhostBSD 3.0, openSUSE Rescue-CD, Haiku package management, computer forensics|
|• Issue 500 (2013-03-25): Look at openSUSE 12.3, Ubuntu release changes, Debian backports, growing divide|
|• Issue 499 (2013-03-18): MINIX 3.2.1, openSUSE 12.3 on desktop, Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin, distros for musicians, KolibriOS|
|• Issue 498 (2013-03-11): Sabayon Linux 11, Ubuntu's Mir, Linux malware|
|• Issue 497 (2013-03-04): Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline", rolling-release Ubuntu, Arch vs spin-offs, justification and diversity|
|• Issue 496 (2013-02-25): Review of Chakra 2013.02, The Book of GIMP, Ubuntu and privacy, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free|
|• Issue 495 (2013-02-18): SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra", Fedora 19 schedule, Xubuntu on DVD, cloud privacy|
|• Issue 494 (2013-02-11): FreeBSD 9.1, web server stats, Anaconda, rolling-release PC-BSD, fixing broken packages in Arch|
|• Issue 493 (2013-02-04): UberStudent 2.0, OmniBoot 1.0, MariaDB, Enlightenment 0.17|
|• Issue 492 (2013-01-28): Fedora 18 review, systemd, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Unleashed|
|• Issue 491 (2013-01-21): Fuduntu 2013.1, Fedora 18 desktop choices, Consort, accessing encrypted drive|
|• Issue 490 (2013-01-14): Look at Manjaro Linux 0.8.3, openSUSE on Chromebook, Able2Extract 8.0|
|• Issue 489 (2013-01-07): PC-BSD 9.1, Arch spin-offs, rolling-releases, year-end PHR stats, removing applications|
|• Issue 488 (2012-12-24): Reviews of Unity and Puppy Linux 5.4 "Slacko", FreeBSD 10|
|• Issue 487 (2012-12-17): Cinnarch 2012.11.22, OpenMandriva, Fedora Magazine, Tumbleweed, OpenJDK vs Oracle Java|
|• Issue 486 (2012-12-10): Linux Mint 14 review, Ubuntu "spyware" controversy, Haiku overview, troubleshooting Linux servers|
|• Issue 485 (2012-12-03): Kwort Linux 3.5, Mint bug-fix update, Fedora's new Anaconda, defining a distribution|
|• Issue 484 (2012-11-26): Look at SMS 2.0.1, Fedora pre-beta report, Illumos, Secure Boot update|
|• Issue 483 (2012-11-19): DragonFly BSD 3.2.1 and Xubuntu 12.10, Gentoo and udev, switching file systems|
|• Issue 482 (2012-11-12): Review of Zenwalk 7.2, Clang in FreeBSD, Omniboot 0.5, priorities on external drives|
|• Issue 481 (2012-11-05): Look at Tails 0.13, EFF on Ubuntu and privacy, Debian installer changes, ext4 data corruption bug|
|• Issue 480 (2012-10-29): Review of Ubuntu 12.10, Wayland 1.0, FreeBSD's pkgng|
|• Issue 479 (2012-10-22): Look at Zentyal 3.0, Debian bug reporting, initiating a halt|
|• Issue 478 (2012-10-15): Slackware 14.0 review, Ubuntu donations, connecting to multiple machines behind router|
|• Issue 477 (2012-10-08): Review of ODROID-X, OpenBSD's anti-Linux song, interview with Vincent Untz, Linux as operating system|
|• Issue 476 (2012-10-01): Review of openSUSE 12.2, Slackware 14.0 features, accessing home computer with SSH|
|• Issue 475 (2012-09-24): Look at PCLinuxOS 2012.08, Ubuntu and Amazon, SolusOS and PiSi, ownCloud|
|• Issue 474 (2012-09-17): Bodhi Linux 2.0.1, OpenIndiana interview, Frugalware history, update notifications|
|• Issue 473 (2012-09-10): The Linux Command Line, Slackware documentation project, Debian's new primary arch, Goobuntu|
|• Issue 472 (2012-09-03): Kororaa Linux 17, OpenIndiana and SchilliX, Ubuntu GNOME remix, home server tip|
|• Issue 471 (2012-08-27): Linux Mint 13 "KDE", Ubuntu 12.10 features, Slax update, folder quotas|
|• Issue 470 (2012-08-20): Liberté Linux 2012.2, Arch and systemd, NetBSD's sysbuild and sysupgrade, 19 years of Debian|
|• Issue 469 (2012-08-13): Peppermint OS Three, SUSE on Secure Boot, GNOME OS, moving email to Linux|
|• Issue 468 (2012-08-06): First look at CentOS 6.3, Debian installer beta, Fedora and MATE, Libtrash|
|• Issue 467 (2012-07-30): Ubuntu Made Easy, Debian "Jessie", OpenBSD on Secure Boot, Rawhide troubles|
|• Issue 466 (2012-07-23): Fuduntu 2012.3, Linux in PC-BSD jails, secure boot on older computers|
|• Issue 465 (2012-07-16): Netrunner 4.2, Mandriva's two codebases, firewalls and window frames|
|• Issue 464 (2012-07-09): Zorin OS 6, FSF's views on secure boot, Virtual PDF Printer|
|• Issue 463 (2012-07-02): TurnKey Linux 11.3, Red Hat and Btrfs, Sabayon's MATE spin, ZFS on Linux|
|• Issue 462 (2012-06-25): Sabayon 9, "Wheezy" freeze, Zorin OS overview, Vinux interview, mounting network shares|
|• Issue 461 (2012-06-18): Linux Mint 13, openSUSE 12. delays, Debian Multimedia, Mageia 3 roadmap|
|• Issue 460 (2012-06-11): Look at Fedora 17, PC-BSD and Slackware interviews, Openfiler and FuguIta|
|• Issue 459 (2012-06-04): Impressions of Mageia 2, Fedora updates, Debian or Raspberry Pie, improving software performance|
|• Issue 458 (2012-05-28): Impressions of SolusOS 1, Linux kernel 3.4, encrypting home folder|
|• Issue 457 (2012-05-21): Linux accessibility, Fedora 17 overview, MultiSystem, launching tasks|
|• Issue 456 (2012-05-14): Look at OpenBSD 5.1, Debian Installer 7.0 alpha, UDS news round-up|
|• Issue 455 (2012-05-07): Review of Ubuntu 12.04, "Quantal Quetzal" plans, Debian infographic|
|• Full list of all issues|