| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 150, 8 May 2006
Welcome to this year's 19th issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The long delayed SUSE Linux 10.1, which is expected to be released on Thursday, should be the highlight of the week, but FreeBSD 6.1 is also likely to hit the download mirrors within the next day or two. In other news, confirmation of the Debian "etch" December release date target, an introduction to an Ubuntu-based live CD with a collection of genealogy software, and an announcement by a project developing a range of Gentoo-based virtual machines for VMware and Xen. In the interview section, we talk with the two lead developers of Damn Small Linux about their new product - DSL-N. Finally, don't miss the chilling opinion piece by Robert Storey who appeals to all US citizens to fight against the newly proposed COPE legislation. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (14.6MB) or mp3 (14.9MB) format (courtesy of Shawn Milo).
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
SUSE, Debian and FreeBSD release updates, Gentoo development pains, Linux Genealogy CD
Let's start with long awaited news that the development of the delayed SUSE Linux 10.1 is now over. As Andreas Jaeger explains in his mailing list post, the new release is done and all that needs to be completed before the final announcement later this week is the building of CD and DVD sets, some final testing, and writing of the release notes. He also expresses cautious optimism about the new version of SUSE Linux: "I've heard early quite some criticism but also in the end a lot of people saying that 10.1 is now a great release." What was originally scheduled for release in late February will only arrive in the middle of May, but it should be worth the wait. Get your FTP and BitTorrent clients ready for the download rush on Thursday!
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Facing much criticism during the "sarge" development cycle which took three years to complete, the developers of Debian GNU/Linux are now trying to shed the image of a distribution with the longest time span between stable releases. In a mailing list post on debian-devel-announce, Andreas Barth confirmed that a new release of the largest Linux distribution is still scheduled for early December. Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement is the fact that, unlike "sarge", the new "etch" will less likely be held back by processor related issues, since it will support major architectures only. Furthermore, those processor architectures which will not be ready in time for the release might be removed from "etch". Speaking of processors, Barth also announced that Arm now qualified as a release architecture, while the new AMD64 port has now been pushed into the unstable branch with the testing branch following soon. There is still plenty of work to be done before December, but at least it seems that the Debian project leadership is more committed to a timely release than it used to be in the past.
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Still on the subject of new releases, it looks like the final release of FreeBSD 6.1 is starting to hit the download mirrors as we write this. As expected, FreeBSD 6.1 is a relatively minor upgrade for version 6.0, containing mainly security advisories and major bug fixes, but also some new drivers and hardware support. A formal release announcement should follow soon; in the meantime, those who are interested in the finer details can read these unofficial release notes by Bruce A Mah, while those readers who just can't wait to put their hands on the new code can download the shiny new ISO images from ftp3.freebsd.org, ftp10.freebsd.org or a number of other FreeBSD mirrors around the world.
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Has Gentoo Linux grown into a huge project that is becoming hard to manage? Some people clearly think so. In a recent mailing list post entitled Gentoo: State of the Union, Ryan Phillips, a Gentoo developer, has expressed his concerns more bluntly: "I believe the way Gentoo is doing things is broken. The entire project has reached a level of being too political and trying to solve certain problems in the wrong way." He continues citing the reasons behind his bold assertion, including issues affecting those Gentoo users who wish to become Gentoo developers, problems with the "live tree" and CVS, worries over quality control, and failures to act timely on Gentoo Linux Enhancement Proposals (GLEP). Phillips also argues in favour of introducing a voting mechanism to resolve some of the above issues. You can read responses to the criticism in this long thread.
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Some of our readers might recall an article featuring GRAMPS, a popular genealogical application for UNIX, in a previous issue of DistroWatch Weekly. As pointed out by a reader recently, the project not only develops GRAMPS, it has now also built a couple of Ubuntu-based distributions, both live and installation CDs, with GRAMPS and several other genealogy applications pre-configured and ready for use: "This CD is based on Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) and, in addition to the regular Breezy, features pre-installed GRAMPS, GeneWeb and LifeLines applications, as well as GraphViz program to draw pretty graphs in GRAMPS. The CD is available only for the x86 architecture." If you are interested in the study and tracing of family pedigrees and would like to check out the current state of genealogy software on Linux, please visit the Linux Genealogy CD page for more details and download links.
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Finally, a note from Stephen Dennis from VirtualAppliences.net. This new project develops a range of nano-sized virtual machines for VMware and Xen, with web user interfaces for deploying instant infrastructure and applications:
"Virtual Appliances are pre-built virtual machine images for VMware and Xen that provide network applications. For example, our second Virtual Appliance provides Apache Tomcat 5 as its application. Without making any functional sacrifices, the Apache Tomcat appliance comes in a 53MB download. The appliances are built using Gentoo Linux and a custom start-up and management system designed so that non-technical users can manage the embedded network application with minimal learning."
An interesting idea. If you want to learn more, please visit the project's home page for further information and download locations.
Wrecking the Internet: Turning Gold into Lead (by Robert Storey)
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.
- Albert Einstein
Not everyone realizes that the USA invented the Internet. Even fewer people realize that the USA is on the verge of wrecking it. This is not an exaggeration. Some nasty new legislation currently under debate in the US Congress could make the Internet as bland as day-old yogurt.
Those who do not live in the USA should not be smug. There is a famous old saying that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches pneumonia. The USA has a history of exporting its bad laws. Most geeks are familiar with the notorious DMCA and software patents. Thanks to the DMCA, DVDs are region-coded and it's illegal to buy mod-chips for an Xbox. Thanks to software patents, most Linux distros do not have video codecs or an MP3 player. The fact that this execrable legislation originated in America did not prevent its rottenness from spreading around the world.
To understand what is at stake, you should become familiar with the term net neutrality. The basic concept of net neutrality is that Internet content should be dished out in a non-discriminatory fashion. Thus, your ISP should not be preventing you from accessing DistroWatch, nor should your bandwidth be throttled when you try to use BitTorrent or Skype. In this sense, the network is neutral - it does not play favorites.
All this would change (for USA residents) if the US Congress passes the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006. This odious new law is the brainchild of telecom and cable TV companies. Chief ogres include Verizon, Comcast, BellSouth and AT&T. Their incentive for pushing this legal abomination is the opportunity to make a lot of money.
The COPE Act would do away with the requirement for net neutrality, thus turning America's Internet into a "private network." This would permit ISPs and telecom companies to dish out Internet access to the highest bidder. Under such a regime, AOL could, for example, block access to MSN, or Verizon could throttle your Skype bandwidth because it competes with their own voice-over-IP service. Even worse, a wealthy political party could pay ISPs to block access to a rival party's web sites and blogs. Emailing lists could also be throttled. It's not hard to imagine proprietary software companies paying to block access to DistroWatch, or prevent you from downloading the latest Ubuntu or Fedora release.
"If we fail, the Internet will deteriorate to the point of near uselessness."
If the COPE Act is passed, the USA - which likes to boast of being a "bastion of freedom" - could ironically wind up with an Internet befitting a Third World dictatorship. However, the damage would not be limited to residents of the USA. The fact is that about 50% of the content on the Internet originates in America, even more if you're talking only about English-language content. Do a Google search on almost any topic - from "motorcycle repair" to "allergies" - and see how much of the hits are American-based web sites. The web sites themselves could be hosted on servers outside the USA, but server location is not the issue. Rather, deprived of their US-readership or US-based advertising revenue, many sites would have to fold. Would the Internet be as useful to you if Wikipedia or Google folded? For that matter, it's hard to see how DistroWatch (which is not US-based) could survive if we lost our American audience and advertisers.
There is a lot more I could write about on this topic, but there are others who have already done so (and do it better than me). Some excellent articles about this brewing fiasco appeared recently in The Nation, Raw Story and The Free Press. Sadly, I have seen nothing mentioned on the popular geek web sites that I visit everyday (which is why I'm writing this article).
Can anything to done to prevent this disaster (especially since the COPE Act seems to have the support of the Bush administration)? Fortunately, in this case I believe there is hope, though it's going to be a bitter fight. Although we are up against powerful, well-moneyed lobbyists from the telecom industry, we also have some heavyweight supporters, among them Amazon and Google. Opposition to the COPE Act is being coordinated by Save the Internet. If you are a US resident, you should visit their web site and sign their petition. Even more important, they also have a neat little form for sending a message to your representatives and senators - just type in your message, zip code and address, and it will get sent to the proper person (you needn't even know who your representatives are). All such messages should be short and to the point. Basically, what I said in my message was:
The telecom/cable industry is pulling out all stops to polish this turd. Their "coalition" has the Orwellian title Hands Off the Internet - their thoroughly misleading web site can be found here.
- I oppose the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006 in its present form.
- I support the efforts to amend the act by Representatives Markey, Boucher, Eshoo and Inslee, and Senators Olympia Snowe and Byron Dorgan.
- I am in favor of Net Neutrality.
The telecoms have lots of cash, and are handing out campaign contributions (otherwise known as "bribes") by the bucketful in order to get the COPE Act passed. Geeks of the world - especially US-based geeks - need to put down their cups of espresso for a moment and get busy fighting this thing. If we fail, the Internet will deteriorate to the point of near uselessness and we might as well put our computers in storage. In that case, we'll have to all find new hobbies. Possible candidates include knitting and flower arranging.
Interview with Robert Shingledecker and John Andrews, Damn Small Linux
In a somewhat surprise move, the developers of Damn Small Linux have announced a new edition of their popular mini-distribution for older computers - DSL-N, or "Damn Small Linux Not". Although they have always insisted that their goal is to create an operating system that would fit within a 50MB CD size limit, this requirement has placed a severe restriction on their development effort. Software is getting bigger and users have different preferences for the kind of software they need on a CD, especially if it is meant to run on a more archaic hardware. As a result, a 70MB DSL-N has been born. The two lead developers, Robert Shingledecker (on the left) and John Andrews, have kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the new product.
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DW: John, Robert, thank you very much for your time. Can you please introduce yourselves? How old are you and where do you live?
RS: I'm Robert Shingledecker. I am 56 and reside in Southern California. I have been an early pioneer deploying Linux at the City of Garden Grove in the mid-nineties. I also have been the CTO for several "dotcoms" and have built many Linux-based appliances. I have been involved with computers and programming since 1971.
JA: I'm John Andrews, 34, born and raised in Northern California. My path to Open Source software is really rooted in self-guided exploration. I have no formal computer or software training, all the coding I've done over the years is self-taught. I also started late, getting my first computer in 1996, but I was quickly drawn to open source software and wanted to learn as much as I could. Like many self-directed geeks, I started by wanting to know what made things work. Over the years I've grown to love simplicity and functionality above all else in software.
DW: Have you two ever met or do you cooperate exclusively on the Internet?
RS: Yes, several times, John has come to southern California. The last visit was last August when we both attended the Linux World trade show in San Francisco.
JA: Yeah, it is nice that we are close enough that we can get together every once in a while. Robert lives near Disneyland, so I could drive down and bring my kids. They could catch Mickey while Robert and I get to talk shop in person.
DW: After hearing about the alpha release of DSL-N, my first reaction was: why? What prompted this development?
RS: Trying to support both old and new(er) hardware had become a real challenge. Also the 50MB limit has always been a challenge. But a very worthwhile one.
Going to a new kernel and modules would mean losing some support for the older machines. In fact, we tried a kernel 2.4.31 release dropping some support for older machines, but picking up support for some newer ones (e.g., SATA support). What we ended up with was not pleasing anyone! John and I decided that to best support the old and the new(er) hardware we should have a separate offering. Hence, DSL-N.
JA: Improving DSL is an enormous challenge. We are still making incremental improvements, but it is like trying to canoe against a heavy stream. Our 50MB size limit puts us at odds with code bloat which is coming at us from every direction. Open source software, like closed source software, is fattening up like a 12-year-old boy with unlimited access to pizza, ice cream, and an Xbox 360.
DSL is a functional and portable Linux distribution. It needs to be able to run on a vast amount of hardware, yet have a desktop with enough functionality to satisfy Robert, myself, and our user base. That means we need a robust kernel with extensive modules, and we need to squeeze in as much desktop functionality as possible.
Here is the thing... unless there is a new push in code efficiency, we are reaching the top of our game with DSL in terms of applications. Yes, we know there are other small distributions that pack in more robust applications into a similar size. We could go that route, but what good is a mini-distribution that fails to run on half the hardware out there? DSL is bowing out of that race; we have our own agenda.
DSL-N is our response to those who want heavier software in a small package. Frankly, having a 50MB limit in an environment that uses GTK2 applications, a 2.6 Kernel, and has good hardware support is a contradiction in terms. That's why DSL-N will be small, but we are not setting any hard limit.
Although the new DSL-N does away with the 50MB size limit, it still adheres to its philosophy of "small is beautiful".
(full image size: 1,043kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
DW: How exactly does DSL-N differ from DSL? Besides adding extra applications and a newer kernel, is there anything else that makes DSL-N a better product in certain circumstances?
RS: DSL-N has a much newer kernel and modules supporting the newer hardware. It offers Unionfs as a boot option and a collection of GTK2 apps. It would not be possible to offer the hardware detection, GTK2 and apps within 50MB. We have not set a size limit on DSL-N. But our users know that John and I believe in the old Unix philosophy that "small is beautiful".
JA: I don't like to think of DSL-N as better than DSL. It is certainly bigger, and more user-friendly. The applications are more mainstream. We have Gaim instead of Naim, AbiWord in place of Ted, Gnumeric in place of Siag, CUPS in place of Apsfilter and MPlayer substituting for XMMS. The newer kernel has greater compatibility with modern hardware. Adding all that up, we have something that is very easy to use, yet portable and light enough to run on 10-year-old hardware.
DW: What other applications have been added to DSL-N and why? Are you open to suggestions by users?
JA: I mentioned a few of them above. DSL-N is not adding more applications on top of a common base with DSL, but rather we are substituting larger applications. Most of the desktop apps are now GTK2 based. In place of Firefox and Sylpheed, we are using the Mozilla suite. That brings up an interesting point: Some users would rather that we use a Firefox and Thunderbird combination in place of Mozilla, but Mozilla is more compact than that combo, and it runs faster too. We are still watching size and response times, and we will always side with speed all else being equal.
RS: When it comes to applications, I usually let John and the user community determine that. I am a little too "over the hill" to know the current pulse in that area.
DW: Is DSL-N compatible with any Debian repository? Let's say that I want to add an application, would I be able to point my sources to a Debian mirror and add it with apt-get?
RS: It is a very crowded field with distros that are Debian compatible. We believe that we have something different as established by the success of DSL. Our MyDSL system uses only the essentials to avoid the code bloat that many package managers often contain. Often times to add one package results in many packages that would often overwhelm our target machines' resources.
JA: Yes, this is the gem of the DSL project that most users fail to see. Robert has developed a way to have applications run dynamically without the usual increase of RAM that would normally occur. While DSL and DSL-N are built from Debian technology we believe that using them to do a traditional Debian install is sort of missing the point.
DW: Many live CD projects nowadays provide an easy way to customise the original CD by adding needed applications and removing unnecessary ones. Is this option available in Damn Small Linux?
RS: Well, DSL-N is not a live CD project. At least I don't think of it that way. Live CD is just one of many ways to run DSL-N. We have had the MyDSL extension repository for a very long time, this concept pre-dates Klik. It provides a simple point and click to install additional apps of all kinds. These apps are an open process and the community of DSL users are always adding and updating the collection. We support three types of extensions that can seamlessly integrate additional applications into our system. These additional applications based on extension type can be simple tar balls, dot dsl's or uci's. The extension type dictates whether the file system becomes writable or not, some are even mountable, which is the least resource intensive. We have had these features before there was Unionfs. We were extending the capabilities of the live CD before it became a popular thing to do. We were the first to offer USB pen drive installs. The first with compact flash installs. First with backup/restore. For the past three years, our goal has been to extend the capabilities of a live CD. And we have an easy "mkydsl" script to encapsulate all these extensions onto a custom "mydsl" CDROM.
JA: Robert said the above well, I don't really have much to add. Except that this combination makes for a beautiful approach for systems with limited resources. Whether one chooses DSL or DSL-N, if you do a frugal method hard drive install or a USB install with your choice applications, you will end up with an extremely compact yet virtually bullet proof system that can not easily be corrupted. Many of our users run DSL and now DSL-N via IDE compact flash or USB pen drive, a media which would be quickly destroyed with a conventional install.
DW: How difficult it is for an ordinary computer user to re-master DSL? Is it a matter of a few clicks or does it require extensive reading of documentation and command line work?
RS: The point of DSL is you can, but you don't need to. But to answer the question, yes. One simple script. We have users making 700MB and some that make DVD-sized versions of DSL. Now without installing the distro to hard drive in the traditional way, many of our users simple save their favorite extensions right onto the pendrive, compact flash or hard disk partition. DSL during boot (whether from live CD, pendrive, compact flash, or within a virtual environment of Qemu or VMware) will auto scan for these extensions, and seamlessly you have any sized DSL distro that you want. Kinda like Burger King: Have it your way. Don't get me wrong. We do have a base set of apps that are mastered into the image. We have a very easy way to seamlessly add applications. All of these running in a compressed "frugal" install. John and I have discussed offering only a tiny "app-less" core. This would then solely rely on our infrastructure to have the distro totally your way.
DW: DSL and DSL-N come with a number of in-house utilities, which while simple, are very effective system administration tools. What toolkit do you use for developing these utilities? And how do you decide which utilities are needed?
RS: At first the 50MB limit meant that most utilities were command line interface. The challenge of 50MB made me think: "How can we offer nice looking GUI without the bloat of the usual GUI toolkits?" Initially, John and I thought about using the Dillo browser. But we were unhappy with the look. John and I evaluated many options from Bash/GTK Perl/GTK and then we found Lua and a Lua/Fltk toolkit. This toolkit is extremely tiny and easy to use. It is just simple scripts. We have been creating many Lua/Fltk GUIs to replace or front end the command line tools. We have begun to use Lua for general scripting needs as well. It is Lua/Fltk that gives DSL a more polished look.
JA: Lua/Fltk is a wonderful tool for us. Using it we have a graphical user interface which runs quite a bit faster than Perl. My only complaint is lack of good documentation. But we have pooled our knowledge, and one of our users has made a great MyDSL extension filled with handy code bits.
DW: Is the development of the 50MB DSL in any danger? I mean, with hardware getting more powerful and software much bigger, it's not hard to imagine that one day you won't be able to continue your work because software developers will no longer write software that would work on archaic hardware. Are you seeing this trend already or do you believe that you can still go on for some time?
RS: There are so many used computers and it is only growing more each day. Think of it like: "we bring good things to life". We have several members who refurbish old computers for charities, and some are in the resale area. We are also very good in the embedded space. I certainly don't see a slowdown in use or popularity of DSL. As far as continued work to do, there is always something that comes up to improve or polish. Many times many of the items in the changelog come directly from ideas and suggestions from our user community. For it is only then, after real life usage, do you really know how things are used and what adjustments would be nice or necessary. And then there is that $100 laptop idea....
JA: We certainly seem to always have much to do for DSL. There is always an area to improve. I think that has been a big part of the reason why DSL is so polished -- our constraints make DSL improve instead of grow. That said, I am not going to pretend that we are not paddling against the current. I guess I am hoping that software developers look at our project's enormous popularity and get inspired to keep things tight. There are a few hopeful signs; for instance, Dillo is being ported to FLTK instead of going GTK2.
DW: Damn Small Linux has climbed to the 6th spot on the DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking list, indicating that there is plenty of interest in a small, fast distribution for older hardware. Do you think that the established Linux players have made a mistake by ignoring this area of computing?
RS: Yes, just like in $100 laptop debate. DSL would run great on that. I think that we have climbed up so high because the low(er) end of the market has been ignored. It seems to me, the "small is beautiful" has been forgotten. The new mantra is that we must look like, act like, and be like that 800lb gorilla. You know what I mean. It is everywhere. And code bloat is just as rampant. I also believe that we now have a following of users who want to see what and how we have continued to improve DSL. We are not just another assembly of apps placed atop of a Linux Kernel. I joined with John three years ago because we have the same philosophy and just the challenge of it is great fun.
JA: I am hoping for an efficiency renaissance, there is so much potential out there! Regarding the $100 laptop, and the news that Mr. Negroponte called Linux too bloated for it, I find it a little frustrating. I am typing this up on something with very similar specs to that project, and DSL runs all day every day just fine on this machine. I emailed Mr. Negroponte directly to have him look at our project but he has not responded. I know Red Hat is an underwriter, so they will have to work with them. Yet, here we are with a drop-in solution....
DW: Have you tried Puppy Linux, a distribution with a similar goal as DSL? If so, what do you think of it? Have you ever found yourself borrowing an idea from Puppy?
RS: I rarely have time to look at other distros. So, no, I have not borrowed any ideas from Puppy. I have tried to boot their system and it seems to me that they, like many others, are trying to emulate Windows. But perhaps an early version was suited for older computers. Everything is run as root, all hard drive are mounted and as root. Single user, everything installs to home. To me that is very much like early versions of Windows. Their backup seems to be a very large file that unannounced is deposited onto a hard drive partition. This is not to be negative. Their target of ex-Window users is certainly vast and growing due to the discontinued support of older versions of Windows. DSL on the other hand, tries to stay more like Unix. DSL is designed to be nomadic and as such plays nicely with host hardware. By default we do not mount anything. We can run completely on any capable computer without touching any of their data. I may be off on this assessment, but it is what I experienced with only a cursory look.
JA: I am happy that Puppy exists, and I like that it is not based on DSL like some of the other small space distributions that have come and gone. I have played with Puppy a couple of times -- it is really a different animal than DSL. I don't think we have the same target audience. DSL is made to be light and have broad hardware support. In contrast, Puppy crams a lot of software into a very tight space. Our RAM requirements are quite different.
DW: With new releases coming out in almost monthly intervals, DSL seems to be in a never-ending development cycle. Is this your full-time occupation? How do you pay your bills?
RS: I am a disabled person with Muscular Dystrophy. As such, it forced me into an early retirement. I get much satisfaction to be able contribute to the Linux community. Working on DSL/DSL-N keeps my mind sharp even if my body is not.
JA: Pay the bills? I have a day job and three children. I actually have a lot to say on this topic, but I don't think there is enough room here to go into it all. While DSL and related projects are not yet providing a living for us, I've figured out how to pull a small income for Robert and myself while maintaining our distribution for free. One thing that is critical is to think of your project and the site that it sits on as a publication medium. Another aspect is to not be afraid to ask for help. Very few open source developers are thinking like web publishers, and that is a shame because there is a lot of support to be gained in this way. This is something that I've been studying for three years. I am in the process of writing a type of guide which I'll be publishing on our site. I am hoping that other developers find it useful.
DW: Robert, John, thank you very much and all the best with your endeavours!
|Released Last Week
A new version of SystemRescueCd is out: "Version 0.2.19 of the SystemRescueCd project has been released. Changes for version 0.2.19: updated the kernel to Linux 220.127.116.11; option to boot SystemRescueCd from hard disk; fixed boot problems with SCSI CD-ROMs; fixed problems with cdcache; updated ntfsprogs to 1.13.0; updated Oscar scripts; updated the manual; added rsnapshot." Here is the complete changelog.
EnGarde Secure Linux 3.0.6
EnGarde Secure Linux has been updated to version 3.0.6: "Guardian Digital is happy to announce the release of EnGarde Secure Community 3.0.6. This release includes several bug fixes and feature enhancements to the Guardian Digital WebTool and the SELinux policy, several updated packages, and a couple of new packages available for installation. New features include: source packages are now available via the Guardian Digital Secure Network using APT; three new SELinux booleans; the latest stable versions of MySQL (5.0.20a), GnuPG (1.4.3), PHP (5.1.2)...." The full release announcement.
B2D Linux 20060502
The B2D Linux project has released an updated version of the distribution's "PureKGB" edition. The most important changes in this release include: replacement of dev and hal with udev to automate loading of external storage devices; GNOME Volume Manager is no longer started by default; new addition of Ndiswrapper and Oxim - an input method for traditional Chinese; inclusion of OpenOffice.org 2.0.2 enhanced Chinese edition to "Klik" for easy download and installation; various other bug fixes and small updates. For more details and screenshots please see the release announcement (in Chinese).
Xandros Corporation has announced the availability of Xandros Server, the company's inaugural release of a high-end server distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux: "Xandros becomes the first Linux platform to provide a 'Debian Enterprise' end-to-end desktop and server platform." The product ships with a number of interesting features, including graphical administration tools, groupware services by Scalix, integrated backup solution from BRU, Windows interoperability features, centralised user management, and streaming media software. For more details please read the press release, visit the product's features pages, and have a look at these screenshots.
Linux-EduCD is a KANOTIX-based Polish live DVD designed for use in educational and development environments. Version 0.6 was released yesterday with the following features: kernel 18.104.22.168 with extra patches and modules; updated hard disk installer, KDE 3.5.2 with KOffice 1.5.0; OpenOffice.org 2.0.2; specialist educational software (OpenDX, PyMOL, Rasmol, DrGeo, Kseg, KDEEdu...); multimedia applications (GIMP 2.2.10, Blender 2.41, amaroK, Kino); RadRails 6.2; Monodevelop, Eric and Gambas 1.0.15; Scribus 1.2.4 with Scribus templates. Read the full release announcement (in Polish) for more details.
The German Federal Office for Information Security has revealed a new version of ERPOSS, a Debian-based desktop distribution featuring industrial strength security and encryption technologies for potential deployment in government organisations. The main features of ERPOSS 4 include: availability of encrypted file systems; pre-configured personal firewall; DCC Linux kernel 2.6.12; KDE 3.3.2; KMail with integrated virus and spam protection, and pre-configured to send encrypted messages; Kontact groupware client for use with Kolab groupware server; Firefox, OpenOffice.org and many other open source applications. ERPOSS 4 was originally announced (in German) last month and formally released at this week's LinuxTag exhibition in Wiesbaden.
Michael Creel has announced the availability of a new version of ParallelKnoppix, a KNOPPIX-based live CD that allows setting up a cluster of machines for parallel processing. What's new? "05-05-2006: new version. OpenMPI 1.0.2; Octave 2.1.73; Povray-3.5 for use with PVM; significant changes to setup: auto-mounting of working directory on compute nodes as they boot, compute nodes can be added and removed on-the-fly; new cluster monitor based on KSysguard; tutorial updated, explains how to re-master." Please visit the project's home page to read the full changelog.
Tomáš Matějíček has released a new stable version of the Slackware-based SLAX live CD: "After a week of testing, SLAX 5.1.4 is released. Official development and kernel modules are available too, feel free to check the modules section on the SLAX website. New features include: added KDE 3.5.2 and KOffice 1.5.0; added FUSE and SSHFS file systems, this will probably replace webconfig in the future (or should we go for CODA file system?); autoexec boot argument now replaces '~' with space; added make_disk.bat to CD, a script to create USB bootable disk in Windows; upgraded many libraries from Slackware current...." Read the full changelog for more details.
easys GNU/Linux 2.1
Marcus Moeller has announced the release of easys GNU/Linux 2.1, a Slackware-based distribution with KDE Light and formerly known as "pocketlinux": "Version 2.1 of easys GNU/Linux has been released. easys GNU/Linux 2.1 is based on Slackware 10.2 and comes with a complete GUI redesign. The new artwork is inspired by Everaldo's Crystal Clear style and has been ported to nearly every component of the environment. We also decided to replace some default applications as it seems they are more common in enterprise environments. OpenOffice.org is now the default office suite and GIMP is the preferred image manipulation program." Read the release announcement on the distribution's news page.
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Development and unannounced releases
- StartCom MultiMedia Linux 5.0.5-rc1, the release announcement
- Frenzy 1.0-beta1 the release notes
- DSL-N 0.1-rc1 the changelog
- FreeBSD 6.1-RC2, the release announcement
- dyne:bolic 2.0-rc, the release announcement
- RR64 Linux 3.0-rc1, the release announcement
- ADIOS Linux 5.0-beta, the release announcement
- SimplyMEPIS 6.0-beta2, the press release
- gnuLinEx 2006-rc1, the release announcement
- Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu 6.06-alpha7, the release announcement
- Kaella 2.2-rc2
- R.I.P. 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Translate DistroWatch into your language|
Last week we started with updating some of the non-English language files on the site. Currently, Bengali (Jamil Ahmed), Catalan (Rafael Carreras Guillén), Chinese simplified (Zhu Wen Tao), Danish (Per Mortensen), Estonian (Edmund Laugasson), French (Pierre Slamich, ReMink), Hungarian (Kornél Dluhi), Italian (Massimiliano), Macedonian (Jovan Naumovski), Norwegian (Vegard Fiksdal), Persian (Alan Baghumian), Polish (Artur Szymański), Portuguese (Paulo Lino), Spanish (José Manuel Pérez) and Turkish (Yuce Tekol) files are up-to-date, but most others have not been touched for months. If you are interested in helping with translating some of these files into your language or updating the existing translation, please send an email to distro at distrowatch.com for details. Alternatively, take a look at this file and see if you can translate the most frequently used phrases on DistroWatch. Yes, it's not much, but it's a small step to introduce Linux distributions to readers for whom English is a foreign language. All contributors will be credited for their help on the About page.
* * * * *
New on the waiting list
- KNOPPIX-NSM. KNOPPIX-NSM is a KNOPPIX-based live CD dedicated to providing a framework for individuals wanting to learn about Network Security Monitoring (NSM).
- LiMP. LiMP, or Linux Multimedia Player, is a tiny Linux-based live distribution that converts a computer into a multimedia player. It supports most known media formats (MPEG 1 and 2, DivX, WMV, qt-mov, Real, MP3, WAV, WMA, and Ogg, VCD and DVD).
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
That's all for today. The next issue of DistroWatch Weekly will be published on Monday, 15 May 2006. See you then :-)
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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Toorox is a Gentoo-based live DVD which boots into a KDE desktop using KNOPPIX hardware auto-detection and auto-configuration technologies. It is a useful tool for backing up data, browsing the Internet anonymously, or taking a first look at the capabilities of Linux. The live DVD can be installed to a hard disk with the help of a simple graphical installer.