| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 148, 24 April 2006
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. A flurry of distribution releases and related announcements were the highlights of the past week. The Ubuntu project has released the complete set of betas of all their derivatives, including the newly added Xubuntu, and also made an initial announcement concerning the development of Edgy Eft, the code name of its next release. Similarly, the Fedora project has announced an estimated release schedule for the development of Fedora Core 6. Also in this issue: updates on the status of Mandriva's Cooker repository, new minor release by Linspire, a comparison of journalled files system on Debian, and an interesting interview with the lead developer of Elive. In the First Look series we share our first impressions of CCux Linux 0.9.8. Finally, a little statistical titbit: with the recent addition of Xubuntu, the DistroWatch database now contains exactly 500 distributions. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (4.64MB) or mp3 (5.86MB) format (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Miscellaneous news: Edgy Eft, Fedora, Mandriva and Linspire updates, SUSE Enterprise features, journalled file systems, Elive interview
With the development of "Dapper Drake" nearing an end soon, Mark Shuttleworth has started planning for the next release of Ubuntu, code name "Edgy Eft". His mailing list announcement last week brought several interesting points. Firstly, it's obvious that the Ubuntu developers have high confidence in Dapper, the distribution's first product with long term support (3 years on the desktop and 5 years on the server). Secondly, Edgy Eft will have more experimental features than any of Ubuntu's previous releases - as was so poetically expressed by the project leader who was born and grew up in Africa: "An Eft is a youthful newt, going through its first exploration of the rocky territory just outside the stream." And thirdly, Edgy will also bring some changes in the project's management structures, giving more free reign to individual developers who wish to pursue their own interests. With the development tree expected to branch in the middle of June, it will be interesting to see how they manage to balance the need for stability with experimental features many of which are just starting to emerge.
* * * * *
The recent release of Fedora Core 5 has brought a flood of reviews, articles and Fedora-related community projects. Among them, Fedora Frog looks like an interesting initiative, designed mostly for new Linux users, to considerably extend the capabilities of Fedora 5 with a single script. Those who are interested to learn more about their new system will find this overview by Red Hat Magazine invaluable, while O'Reilly's Linux DevCenter has contributed an interesting first impressions review and HowTo Forge has written a 6-page story entitled The Perfect Setup. And although most reviews of Fedora Core have been overwhelmingly positive, not everybody is pleased with certain aspects of the Fedora 5 experience: do you agree or disagree with this unflattering comment made by a well-known open source personality over the Fedora 5 artwork? Please discuss below.
* * * * *
Those SUSE users and fans who are getting impatient following the unexpectedly long development of SUSE Linux 10.1 might be able to kill some time by reading about the great new features in the upcoming release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. Jeff Jaffe has summarised most of the important ones in his web log: "With Novell Linux Desktop 9, we had an example of a desktop that was good enough for many applications. And we have been seeing a rapid rate of innovation for the Linux desktop. I claimed that with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, it is ready for prime time." Besides general points, the author also lists many of the product's innovative features, such as Beagle desktop search, Xgl graphics subsystem, policy-driven network manager, speed enhancements and faster boot. The complete article is available here.
* * * * *
With many Linux news sites focusing on the big release announcement and various testing stages of Fedora, SUSE and Ubuntu, the developers of Mandriva Linux, who desided to skip the 2nd quarter release rush, quietly continue maintaining the Cooker repository in preparation for an upcoming beta release of Mandriva Linux 2007. According to Linux Wizard, some of the more recent addition and upgrades in Cooker include KDE 3.5.2, GNOME 2.14.1, X.Org 7.0, Mono applications with Beagle (and a hope that Beagle will replace Kat as a default desktop search tool), and several other new features. Also of note while on the subject of new features is this post by Adam Williamson - while needlessly taking a poke at a recent Ubuntu announcement, it does give a few hints about some of the features found in Mandriva Linux. According to the schedule estimation, a beta release of Mandriva 2007 can be expected any day now.
* * * * *
After more than a year without a major announcement, Linspire has suddenly sprung into life with the release of an updated version of Linspire Five-0 (marketing name: Five-0 V2, development version: 5.1.427). The minor version bump indicates that the release does have a few new features, including a new kernel, X.Org and many updated applications, although the base system and unsupported software packages were left unupgraded. Even more interestingly, in the latest Linspire letter Kevin Carmony promises a major announcement expected during the upcoming Desktop Linux Summit, starting today (Monday): "As the CEO of Linspire, of course, the thing I'm most excited about is a very big announcement that I'll be making during my presentation at DLS. This is something Linspire has been working on for two years, and is the biggest news to ever come out of the Company." Any guesses what the mysterious "big announcement" might be? Update>: the cat is out of the bag and it's called Freespire.
* * * * *
Do you also hesitate every time you need to choose a journalled file system while installing a Linux distribution? If so, you might find it interesting to read the File system comparison on Debian 'etch', as published by Debian-Administration.org. In it, Hans Ivers provides a number of benchmarks to evaluate the performance on ext3, JFS, ReiserFS and XFS file systems. And the winner? Perhaps surprisingly, it's the less well-known and relatively rarely used XFS: "While recognizing the relative merits of each file system, a system administrator has no choice but to install only one file system on his servers. Based on all testing done for this benchmark essay, XFS appears to be the most appropriate file system to install on a file server for home or small-business needs." Read the full article here.
* * * * *
Those readers who enjoy the eye candy provided by Elive and the Enlightenment window manager should read this interesting interview with the lead developer of Elive - Samuel "Thanatermesis" F. Baggen. Answering the question about why he chose Enlightenment for his development work, he replies: "I chose Enlightenment for various reasons. All other distros use the same desktop, KDE or GNOME.... I like to offer a different thing, a different experience. Enlightenment is fast, perfectly stable, and the customisations are infinite. It is a really powerful and optimised desktop, and I try to tell people to understand it is not just beautiful. For the next version of Elive I am writing a basic interactive tutorial -- a funny toy -- to give users a good first impression, the real light of Enlightenment." Read the rest of the interview here.
|First looks: CCux Linux 0.9.8
CCux Linux 0.9.8
CCux Linux is a Linux distribution developed independently by Christian Metzen and a small group of developers in Germany. Optimised for speed and intended as an easy-to-use desktop system, the project has been around for over 18 months during which it produced a number of alpha releases. Then finally last week, the distribution's latest release was declared stable and made available for free download. I installed the new version during the weekend to check out the progress CCux Linux has made in recent months.
The CCux Linux installation CD boots into a graphical installation program, providing a way to choose between German and English as the installer's language. The partitioning part is also a graphical one, based on QTParted, but if you don't need to partition, you can safely close the application to return to the tabbed installer. And this is where I found the first bug - despite QTParted detecting all 27 partitions on my /dev/hda, the installer limited the number of options to just 15 of them. As for the file system options, ext3, ReiserFS and XFS were available from a drop-down menu. The installer was also characterised by a somewhat "Germanised" English, with most English nouns capitalised; while not a big deal, it does give a somewhat negative first impression about the distribution's attention to detail - or lack of it.
Next: boot loader configuration. Again, I found it a little disheartening that the distribution only allowed installing GRUB into the master boot record (MBR) and not into the root partition. This was compensated by the "Profiles" dialog - a clever way to select pre-defined application sets (normal, minimal and full), but those who prefer to fine-tune the installation process will also find an expert options allowing individual packages selection. This was followed by several more oddities, such as the one on the system language and keyboard dialogue which had German pre-selected, despite having previously selected English as the installation language. Interestingly, setting up a root password is compulsory, but creating a user account is not. The final installation screen is dedicated to configuring network options.
After the installation completed, I rebooted the system into a KDM login screen, which was, once again, in German! Luckily, the unfamiliar language settings were not carried over to the KDE desktop (version 3.5.2) which was correctly set to English. A quick edit to xorg.conf was required to fix the less-than-optimal screen resolution, but otherwise hardware auto-detection and auto-configuration appeared to be without further flaws. Apart from the default desktop wallpaper, KDE was left unmodified from its upstream state.
CCux Linux 0.9.8 - the first stable release of the desktop-oriented, i686 optimised distribution from Germany.
(full image size: 618kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
On the desktop, things looked pretty similar to most other single-CD, desktop-oriented distributions available today. The application set consisted of familiar names, such as AmaroK, The GIMP, digiKam and Xine under the multimedia menu, Firefox, Thunderbird and Gaim for the Internet, KOffice and Scribus as productivity applications, and Bluefish as the only HTML editor. Proprietary graphics drivers were not included on the CD (they are available as a separate download), although support for MP3 files and encrypted DVDs was provided out of the box.
The most intriguing feature of CCux Linux is its inclusion of 'Smart' as a method of handling RPM packages. Although Smart was originally designed as a command line tool, the developers of CCux Linux have also included a graphical front-end for the package manager. Besides managing installed packages, the Smart Package Manager (see screenshot below) on CCux 0.9.8 was pre-configured to provide a simple way to install extra applications directly from the project's package database; a quick look through the repository revealed the availability of exactly 1,000 binary packages ready for installation. The user interface, somewhat resembling Synaptic, was nice, but not quite polished - as an example, searching for a package only revealed a subdirectory where the package could be, but not the package itself.
CCux linux 0.9.8 - the Smart Package Manager
(full image size: 57kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Overall, CCux Linux 0.9.8 is not a bad distribution. It does not provide enough unique features to give it an outright recommendation and the annoyances in the system installer make it look like a beta release, rather than a stable one it claims to be, but this is a problem faced by many other projects that don't have enough users and testers. Perhaps with the current "stable" release now out, more users will give it a try and help the developers with fixing the remaining bugs and annoyances and perhaps even write some useful documentation.
For more information and download links please visit the project's web site at CCux-Linux.de.
|Released Last Week
StartCom Enterprise Linux 3.0.5
StartCom Enterprise Linux 3.0.5 has been released. This is the latest in the series of updated releases based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3. What's new? "StartCom made a strategic switch concerning the update mechanism and all current and future operating systems will receive their updates via the new YUM. Other changes and additions for AS-3.0.5 are full support for smart cards from the OpenSC project, addition of Firefox and Thunderbird (both 1.5 versions) with the natural support for the StartCom Free SSL Certification Authority, but also some 300 other updated packages." Read the rest of the press release for further details.
Arabian Linux 0.6
Arabian Linux 0.6 has been released: "After 4 months without working on Arabian Linux, I'm happy to announce today the final release of version 0.6. There are no big changes between RC1 and this release, a number bug fixes and the Arabic spell checker has been added to OpenOffice.org and aspell. Arabian Linux is a bootable CD with a compilation of GNU/Linux software, full support for Arabic and English languages, and automatic hardware detection. It's the first Arabic live distribution using KDE as the default GUI and the first to have the Arabic language enabled in consoles." For more information please read the release announcement (in Arabic) and visit the project's Wiki pages.
FreeNAS is a small FreeBSD-based operating system which provides free Network-Attached Storage (NAS) services. A new version 0.66, fixing bugs and adding minor new features, has been released. What's new? "Upgraded to FreeBSD 6.1 RC #12; added Broadcom NetXtreme II PCI/PCIe Gigabit Ethernet adapter driver; added FreeBSD version on the main page; added iSCSI diagnostic page (useful for displaying a list of target names); permit to mount more than 1 partition on the same hard drive; permit to use numbers in the login name; add CIFS buffer configuration option; added smartd daemon on the syslog settings page." For more details please refer to the release notes.
Debian GNU/Linux 3.1r2
Martin Schulze has announced the release of a second revision of Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 "sarge": "This is the second update of Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 (codename 'sarge') which mainly adds security updates to the stable release, along with some corrections to serious problems. Those who frequently update from security.debian.org won't have to update many packages and most updates from security.debian.org are included in this update. Please note that this update does not produce a new version of Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 but only adds a few updated packages to it." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete list of changes.
Scientific Linux 4.2 Live CD/DVD
The Scientific Linux project, which rebuilds source packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) into a complete RHEL clone, has released a live CD/DVD edition of their latest version for the i386 and x86_64 architectures: "The Scientific Linux Live CD/DVD is a bootable CD/DVD that runs Linux directly from CD/DVD without installing. It is based on Scientific Linux 4 It uses Unification File System (Unionfs), allowing read-only file system to behave as a writable one and SquashFS providing on-the-fly decompression that allows to store 2GB of software on a normal CD-ROM. The Live CD/DVD was built using modified scripts from Linux-Live." A mini live CD, a standard live CD and a full-blown live DVD are available for download; please see the release announcement for details and a list of download mirrors.
A new stable version of the Slackware-based GoblinX live CD has been released: "GoblinX 1.3 is released. GoblinX 1.3 uses the same kernel from GoblinX Premium; it means you can use all extra drivers from the Premium edition on it. The new release has several improvements and upgrades, also some new special features are added, some errors and bugs are corrected, a new version of Linux-Live is used, and some scripts are upgraded. In comparison with Goblinx 1.2, this is a more stable and complete version, and almost all of the live CD was upgraded. GoblinX 1.3 uses kernel 2.6.15, NVIDIA and ATI 3D acceleration, KDE 3.5.1, X.Org 6.9.0 and more." Visit the project's news page to read the full release announcement.
DNALinux Server 0.592
DNALinux is a SLAX-based live CD with a collection of software for bioinformatics. Here is the latest release, version 0.592: "We have updated the DNALinux server. This version is based on SLAX 5.1.0 and Apache 2 web server. DNALinux server allows you to run a blast server (like NCBI BLAST server) in your own network. Some sequences are already included and it is easy to install more databases (provided that you feel comfortable with the Linux command line). But you don't need to know Linux to use it; just boot a networked PC with DNALinux server and point your browser to that machine, and you are set!" More details can be found in the release announcement.
CCux Linux 0.9.8
The CCux project has announced the first stable release of its desktop-oriented, i686-optimised Linux distribution: "We are proud to announce the new CCux Linux release. Some highlights of this release: kernel 2.6.16; KDE 3.5.2; RPM 4.4.2 and 'smart' package manager; Firefox 126.96.36.199 and Thunderbird 1.5; many installer bug fixes (uses QTParted now). We now finally use 'smart' as the package manager, even for the installation, all old usage of apt is gone! We really hope you like this new release and give it a try." Read the full release announcement for further information.
Debian From Scratch 0.99.0
John Goerzen has announced a new release of Debian From Scratch, an unofficial Debian rescue CD that provides an easy way to build a complete Debian system directly from source code: "Debian From Scratch (DFS) is a single, full rescue CD capable of working with all major files systems, LVM, software RAID, and even compiling a new kernel. The DFS ISO images also contain a small Debian mirror subset that lets you use cdebootstrap, along with the other utilities on the CD, to perform a manual, 'Gentoo-like' installation. It also serves as an excellent rescue CD, with a full compliment of files system tools, backup and restore software, and a development environment complete enough to build your own kernels." More information can be found in the release announcement and on the project's features page.
Linspire has announced the release of an updated ISO image for Linspire Five-0, version 5.1.147: "The engineers released Linspire Five-0 V2 today." Although this appears to be a minor update, several new features have been included in this release; most notable among them are: upgraded kernel 2.6.14; upgrade to X.Org 6.9.0; replacement of LTorrent with BitTorrent 4.4.0; addition of Gizmo, a free and easy-to-use Internet phone; a large number of new network tool features and supported Windows modems; upgrade to OpenOffice.org 2.0; many bug fixes. For more information and a detailed list of changes please see the release announcement and release notes.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
- Berry Linux 0.69, the changelog
- SimplyMEPIS 6.0-alpha2, the press release
- DSL-N 0.1-alpha, the release announcement
- Ubuntu 6.06-beta, the release announcement
- Kubuntu 6.06-beta, the release announcement
- Xubuntu 6.06-beta, the release announcement
- PCLinuxOS 0.93-minime, the release announcement
- VectorLinux 5.1-rc3 (Live), the release announcement
- Edubuntu 6.06-beta, the release announcement
- Bayanihan Linux 4-beta1, the release announcement
- SUSE Linux 10.1-rc1, the release announcement
- Kurumin Linux 6.0
- DragonFly BSD 1.4.4
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Fedora Core 6
Jeremy Katz has announced a draft schedule for the upcoming Fedora Core 6, thus marking the project's return to a 6-month release cycle: "We started off with a discussion around the merits of a six month vs a nine month schedule. While the longer schedule did allow us to get more 'stuff' in, from my point of view of trying to get the release out, the more 'stuff' actually made it significantly more difficult to finish the release. Also, a six month schedule tends to make it so that we line up better with a variety of other projects that we depend on. There was more, but suffice to say that the overwhelming consensus was that six month schedules work 'better'." The first test release of Fedora 6 is expected on 14 June, while the final release is scheduled for 20 September 2006.
Frugalware Linux 0.5
Following the recent release of Frugalware Linux 0.4, the distribution's developers have published an updated release schedule for their next major release - version 0.5. As usual, the development process will consist of two pre-releases and two release candidates before the final release on 30 September 2006. For more information please visit the project's roadmap page.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to the DistroWatch database|
- Xubuntu. Xubuntu is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Unlike its parent, however, Xubuntu uses the light-weight XFce desktop environment and is optimised for lower-end machines. The distribution includes only GTK+ applications where possible.
* * * * *
New distributions added to the waiting list
- BESTIX. BESTIX, based on KANOTIX, claims to be an Internet Cafe CD with a wide selection of languages selectable at boot.
- DeniX. DeniX is an independent Linux based distribution built from scratch. It aims to offer a user-friendly full-featured server operating system, pre-configured, well structured and easy to work with, and filled with the latest stable versions of Linux applications. Every package is downloaded from the author's source and compiled when installed.
- YAKR. YAKR, or Yet Another Knoppix Remaster, is a new live CD based on KNOPPIX.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for today. The next issue of DistroWatch Weekly will be published on Monday, 1 May 2006. See you then :-)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|• Full list of all issues|
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