| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 155, 12 June 2006
Welcome to this year's 24th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! With the recent new Linux distribution releases being digested and evaluated, it's no surprise that news was somewhat slow last week. The developers of Debian GNU/Linux have engaged in yet another major flame war - this time over the new Java licence, while the openSUSE project continued its hard work resolving the package management problems affecting many users of SUSE Linux 10.1. In the opinion section, we take a look at the three major distribution releases of the past two months and suggest the winner. Finally, the annual DistroWatch package database update will take place this week and we would appreciate your input! Happy reading!
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Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Debian split over Java license, SUSE apologises for package management troubles, Gentoo tips and tricks, Dzongkha Linux report|
Debian GNU/Linux, a Linux distribution developed by over a thousand volunteer developers in all corners the world, is well-known for the many public brawls that happen all too frequently on its mailing lists and web logs. However, the recent flame fest over the inclusion of Sun Microsystem's Java packages in Debian's 'non-free' archive has to go down as one of the most hotly debated issues in a long time. As reported on Slashdot and elsewhere, Anthony Towns, the Debian Project Leader, went as far as suggesting that the Debian Project should separate from Software in the Public Interest, its legal umbrella - after it expressed unhappiness over being left out from the decision-making process. Despite the heated debate and with the majority of Debian developers opposing the new Java license, the issue has yet to be resolved to everybody's satisfaction. Is this a good example of a working democracy in an Internet era software project or an unreasonable threat by the hot-headed Debian Project Leader?
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Besides releasing the live DVD edition of SUSE Linux 10.1, the openSUSE project team continued their effort to resolve issues affecting the distribution's package management software: "From today on we provide an important patch for the package management. It contains various bug fixes and performance improvements for YaST and Zen updater." Acknowledging the difficulties many SUSE users experienced over the past few weeks, the above message, written by Adrian Schröter, also contained an apology: "We regret any inconvenience you experienced so far. We consider this update a large step forward and will continue improving our product constantly." While we all like to see only perfectly stable and functional releases of any distribution, a big thumbs up to the SUSE Linux developers for their honest approach and a determined drive to solve problems affecting their products!
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With the team behind the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter (GWN) running into production difficulties in recent weeks, here is something for those Gentoo users who miss the weekly updates: a list of tips and tricks compiled from the GWN archives. Steve Dibb explains: "I've set up a very crude archive of the previous Tips and Tricks sections from the GWN. There is a lot of good stuff in there. I remember reading a lot of them myself years back, and that’s where I learned quite a bit from what I know now. Pretty cool stuff." Arranged in an alphabetical order, the list of tips starts with a useful one-liner for generating random passwords and ends with tip describing how to limit system-wide resource use with 'ulimit' and 'sysctl'. A good resource for anybody, not just Gentoo users!
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As reported in last week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, Bhutan's first Linux distribution, the Debian-based Dzongkha Linux, had been unveiled during a launch ceremony in Thimphu, the kingdom's capital city. Debian's Christian Perrier attended the party: "On June 2nd (national holiday in Bhutan as anniversary of the coronation of the King), the Department of Information Technology was officially launching the Dzongkha Linux system ("Our language....our software"). The event was very widely advertised in Bhutan: it was covered in all newspapers and got a strong importance in the national television. Two ministers of the Bhutanese government were attending the event. The country's Prime Minister, originally scheduled to attend, had to cancel because of other commitments abroad." The report also mentions a "deceptive attempt" by Microsoft to include local language support in Windows, but the country's authorities eventually chose to work on Dzongkha Linux instead. A good read about a successful Free Software project that is set to enrich the lives of thousands of Bhutanese!
Still undecided? Then install Fedora Core 5!
With the recent release of Ubuntu 6.06, the second quarter release season has now come to an end. Although all big distributions are already busy finalising the feature sets for their upcoming versions -- in fact, the first development releases of SUSE, Mandriva and Fedora are expected before the end of June -- there won't be a major distribution release until after the end of the current "shoulder season", i.e. the 4th quarter of 2006. As such, it is a good time to look back at the past couple months to assess the successes and failures of the three most popular desktop Linux distributions.
Despite having been delayed by six weeks for "polish" and carrying a "Long Term Support" tag, the Ubuntu 6.06 release was a disappointment. This was probably exacerbated by the expectations the development team and Ubuntu user community had created prior to the release. Unfortunately, while the new product works perfectly well for a great number of Linux user, the many reports of serious issues hint at quality control problems and a failure to effect the promised "polish" in time for the release. The new graphical installer, which has now become the default way to install the distribution, is still immature and many users reported crashes while trying to install Ubuntu. The live CD itself is often unusable - on your DistroWatch maintainer's main system it takes over 20 minutes to complete its boot process! Further problems with printing and display on systems with ATI graphics cards have added to the perception that Ubuntu 6.06 is not on par with the project's previous three releases.
Similarly, SUSE Linux 10.1, delayed by some two months, also appears to have been released prematurely. Even some SUSE developers have now admitted that the switch to a new package management backend in the middle of the development process was short-sighted and the final product was eventually released before the new system was stabilised. As a result, many users experienced frustration while installing and upgrading packages - certainly a poor way to introduce new users to desktop Linux. The good news is that the openSUSE developers continue to resolve the problems, but the benefits of switching to a new package management system will likely become apparent only after the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and SUSE Linux 10.2.
In the light of the above problems, don't you wish that Mandriva had returned to a bi-annual release cycle? In the past, some Mandriva releases were criticised for being too buggy on the day of the release, with a large number of bug fixes following just days later. Apparently, creating a full-featured, desktop-oriented operating system with broad hardware support and consisting of thousands of independently developed software packages is not an easy task and, as we can see now, Mandriva is certainly not the only distribution whose final releases were not always perfect.
So is there a distribution that has managed to release a solid, dependable and reasonably bug-free operating system this year? Yes - Fedora Core 5. After spending nine long months working on it, the developers of Fedora Core simplified the Anaconda installer, added a simple, but effective graphical utility for installing software updates, included a handful of Mono-based applications, and switched to the much improved and security-enhanced glibc 2.4 and GCC 4.1. While none of these are truly ground-breaking features, Fedora Core 5 has received the best reviews in the media. The availability of extra software repositories and the continuous upgrade of important software packages in the core system have been well received. Very few Fedora 5 users reported problems with the installation and, apart from having to setup multimedia support manually, it works great out of the box.
If you are still undecided about which distribution to try on your system, take a good look at Fedora Core 5. It is possibly one of the most stable and dependable Linux distributions ever built!
Fedora Core 5 - still the most professional, bug-free and solid distribution available today.
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|Released Last Week
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.80
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.80 has been released: "After 3 months of development and testing, a brand new version of Parsix GNU/Linux i686-optimized desktop is available. Major improvements are better system performance, new documentation, updated software packages, better hardware support and Parsix's own apt repository that enables users to get further updates." The new Parsix is based on the current Debian unstable tree, with kernel 22.214.171.124 (plus many patches including CK's performance patches and extra WLAN drivers), X.Org 7.0.20, GNOME 2.14.2, OpenOffice.org 2.0.2 and new desktop theme. Read the full release announcement for more details.
Frenzy 1.0, a FreeBSD-based live CD with tools for system administration, network analysis and hardware testing, has been released: "New release: Frenzy 1.0 (Dreamchild). Frenzy is a system administrator's portable instrument, a live CD based on FreeBSD OS, which allows the administrator to boot from it and get a fully functional system with a wide variety of software for tuning, testing and analysing the network, testing computer hardware and much more. Frenzy is released in two different variants: Frenzy standard and Frenzy extended." Read the rest of the release notes for further information.
EnGarde Secure Linux 3.0.7
EnGarde Secure Linux has been updated to version 3.0.7: "Guardian Digital is happy to announce the release of EnGarde Secure Community 3.0.7. This release includes several bug fixes and feature enhancements to the Guardian Digital WebTool and the SELinux policy, several updated packages, and several new packages available for installation. New features: a new package (hwlister) which can be used to generate an inventory of all the hardware which comprises your system; PHP was re-built with Curl support...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
dyne:bolic 2.0, a Linux-based live CD with a collection of software for multimedia production, audio and video manipulation, sound composition and synthesis, has been released: "The dyne.org foundation proudly presents dyne:bolic version 2.0, code name "dhoruba". The new release comes out after two years of development and it's a complete rebuild and rewrite of the whole system; it brings new possibilities in customizing the running system and makes it modular and very easy to include new software, much more usable and maintainable than before." Read the complete release announcement for more details.
dyne:bolic 2.0 - a new release of a live CD designed to satisfy all your media production needs
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SUSE Linux 10.1 Live DVD
The openSUSE project has released the last of the series of SUSE Linux 10.1 products - the Live DVD: "The SUSE Linux 10.1 Live DVD is available now. The Live DVD is a 32bit Intel-based system which contains 4 GB of great Linux software compressed into a 1.7 GB ISO." Here is the brief release announcement. The Live DVD edition, which includes both GNOME and KDE desktop environments, is not installable to hard disk, but can be used to test hardware compatibility, perform system rescue tasks or evaluate SUSE Linux 10.1.
VectorLinux 5.1 Live
The final release of the live CD edition of VectorLinux 5.1 is now available for your downloading pleasure: "The VectorLinux team is proud to announce the release of the VL-5.1 standard Live CD. On this 1 little CD you get everything from VectorLinux standard edition, including 3 full-featured desktops - IceWM, Fluxbox, and XFce, a full office suite, and too many other apps to mention. We have added GParted for all of your GUI partitioning needs. We have added more options to the hard drive installer, including an option for a separate /home partition, and the ability to choose whether and where to install LILO. We have added wifi-radar for easy connections to wireless networks...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
OneBone Puppy 2.00
The Puppy Linux development team has released a new edition of Puppy Linux - OneBone Puppy. Without any graphical applications, the entire distribution takes only 26.4 MB: "This is a play-thing, requested by a few people on the forum, and definitely not for the average user. In other words, Linux command line nerds only! OneBone does not have any X GUI applications. It does have Elinks web browser, Ytree file manager and MP text editor. The Lucent and SmartLink modem drivers are included. There are lots of text-mode applications out there and a very interesting flavour of Puppy could be created, based on this starting point." Read the rest of the release announcement on the project's news page.
Voltalinux, a distribution combining Slackware Linux with the 'pkgsrc' package management software from NetBSD, has reached the 1.0 milestone: "Voltalinux 1.0 is out! New feature: the installation is based on 3 sets: base, devel, net. Many server oriented packages ready to be deployed. Based on Slackware Current (almost Slackware 11) and pkgsrc 2006Q1. Remember to install rc-subr, to edit /etc/rc.conf and install the packages you like (Postfix, Dovecot, Pure FTP, MySQL, etc)." Here is the brief release announcement.
StartCom MultiMedia Edition 5.0.5
After two development builds, version 5.0.5 of StartCom MultiMedia Edition has been released: "StartCom has released its new Multimedia Edition, ML-5.0.5, code named 'Kessem'. It's probably one of the largest and most complete Linux distributions ever released to the public. Release ML-5.0.5, offers many 'out-of-the-box' capabilities, never bundled with an operating system before. Designed as a multimedia workstation with music studio and advanced video editing applications, it also provides the desktop user with the most applications for day to day use." Please refer to the press release for further information.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
The annual package database update|
As has become tradition on DistroWatch.com, the arrival of the month of June means an update to the list of software packages that are tracked on this site and displayed in tables on each distribution-specific page. This is done to ensure that we don't waste time monitoring packages that were perhaps useful several years ago, but which few users run today. At the same time, the open source development community continues to come up with great software ideas and we often get requests to include a particular package in the table.
As always, readers of DistroWatch are welcome and encouraged to suggest packages for inclusion in the tables. Before you do, however, please bear in mind that not all requested packages will be approved. This is because tracking packages in 300+ active distributions is a tedious and time-consuming task, especially since there is only so much that can be automated and much of the work needed to update the package tables after each new distribution release is still done manually. If this surprises you then bear in mind that many distributions (especially Debian and Debian-based ones) routinely rename packages and version numbers after they recompile them into binary ones. Even if we tried to automate the extraction of package versions from each distribution's repository, manual checking of version numbers is almost always necessary to ensure the accuracy of the tables.
Based on readers' requests during the past 12 months, the following packages have been approved as new additions to the package database:
There is space for a few more, so please let us know which packages you wish were tracked in the distribution tables. You can do it in two ways - either request a package in the forum below or email us directly. Don't forget to include a few words of justification why you think your preferred package should be included in the tables.
Several packages are scheduled to be removed from the tables; these include bin86, bochs, ipvsadm, licq, webalizer and xcdroast. If you have any objections, please voice them now.
As always, many thanks to all readers who have provided suggestions and helped to ensure that information on DistroWatch is as accurate as humanly possible!
* * * * *
Linux Format Issue 81, July 2006
The July 2006 issue of Linux Format should now be available from your news agent or book store. As usual, the magazine is packed with news, reviews, interviews and tutorials about Linux and other free operating systems - don't miss it!
You can find the DistroWatch section on pages 30 and 31. The main feature, entitled "Turbo charged", discusses Turbolinux's successful business model of bundling a large number of proprietary software packages with the open source core and selling it to enterprise customers with long-term support contracts. Although this would certainly arouse objections among the Free Software purists, the fact that Turbolinux has been turning profit over the last few years is a proof that the concept is a workable solution for a company that bases its business model on freely available software. Also on the DistroWatch pages: a summary about the status of Ubuntu's Edgy Eft, a brief look at DesktopBSD 1.0, and a semi-annual list of main packages in several main distributions after the 2nd quarter release rush.
There are plenty of other interesting articles in the magazine. Here is a brief list of some of the more interesting among them:
- Reviews: Ubuntu 6.06, GnuCash 2.0, Oracle 10g Express Edition
- Roundup: self-hosted blogging engines (B2evolution, Blosxom, Movable Type, Nucleus, Pivot and WordPress)
- What on earth is: Elektra (a hierarchical database of configuration settings)
- Interview: Greg-Kroah Hartman, a Linux kernel developer
- Featured articles: Linux in education and Creative Commons licences
- Tutorials: Firefox, Inkscape, WordPress, OpenOffice.org Calc, PHP, DansGuardian, OpenXchange
- Cover DVD: PCLinuxOS 0.92 and CentOS 4.3
As always, the latest issue of Linux Format is packed with interesting reading material for both novice and advanced Linux users. Get it while it's hot!
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New distributions added to the waiting list
- DeniX. DeniX is an independent Linux based distribution built from scratch. Its goal is to offer a user-friendly, full-featured server operating system - pre-configured, well structured, easy-to-work with, and filled with the latest stable versions of Linux applications. Every package is downloaded from the author's web site and compiled from source when installed.
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DistroWatch database summary
That's all for today. The next issue of DistroWatch Weekly will be published on Monday, 19 June 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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