| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 161, 24 July 2006
Welcome to this year's 29th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week started a bit slow, but fortunately things picked up. Debian announced their updated release goal sheet with version information. The Fedora Core 6 test2 was delayed by a week. Mandriva has also been suffering delays due to extremely warm temperatures. This week we bring you a guest columnist comparing and contrasting the differing apt-get front ends. I took a quick look at some of the new live cds released this week. Oh, and as Ladislav always says, "Happy reading!"
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(The Podcast edition is provided by Shawn Milo.)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise, Mandriva delayed, Debian Version stories, Ubuntu Server Trouble|
Marc Brockschmidt informed readers of the debian-devel-announce mailing list that the official versioning of the Debian Etch stable release is to be 4.0 as he outlined the steps towards final release. Other interesting version goals to be mentioned are gcc 4.1.*, Xorg 7.0, and kernel 2.6.17 or newer. Kernel 2.4.* won't be shipped with 4.0 at all.
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In other Debian news, there seems to be somewhat of a controversy developing over an updated version of Sarge being offered by backports.org, as mentioned in last week's DWN. Apparently this is being billed as an update for the current stable Sarge that features an updated udev, grub, and kernel-2.6.16-15 as well as other newer releases of software. The controversy appears to center around this special Cebit edition of Sarge still being named "Debian Sarge" and it not being differentiated from the official Sarge by the Debian Project. Perhaps more important is the issue of testing of (or lack of) the said release and it being misunderstood by many to be an official update to the enterprise class Debian stable.
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No sooner was last week's DWW published that the news broke of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 release. Probably every computer and Linux website in existence announced this first release from Novell in almost two years. Early reports have been quite favorable for the release, although later in the week it was revealed that the JBoss Application Server seems to have been removed in favor of Geronimo. Novell cited changes in the licensing terms for the switch, but JBoss denies any changes in terms.
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FC6 test2 freeze slipped by a week to July 19, making the new projected release date July 26.
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Besides the expected code problems that arise, seems Mandriva has been suffering some hardware issues thus delaying the release of 2007 betas. Most hardware failures are being blamed on the above average temperatures being experienced in Europe the past few weeks. Another interesting tidbit is the evaluation of gfxboot for upcoming releases. This will extend the hardware detection during boot to include more exact monitor and cpu settings, which will allow the launching of an architecture (32 or 64 bit) specific installer.
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The popular UbuntuForums along with other Ubuntu servers suffered approximately 24 hours downtime over this past weekend. No official explanations have been offered as of this writing, but unconfirmed reports of power outages or hosting company technical issues seem likely. The usual conspiracy theories circulated, but were swiftly discredited. On a humourous note, so distraught were some users that a new poll has emerged to ascertain how loyal users occupied their time during the "blackout."
Comparing Apt-get Interfaces
I recently posted an article on my website submitted to me from Roger who currently lives in Illinois but is originally from Europe. Roger has absolutely been sold on the advantages of the Debian package installer Aptitude. He truly feels that there is simply nothing better out there and really does not understand why the American Linux users do not use Aptitude as he feels it is a much better product than it's counterparts. In my conversations with Roger, and in reading his article, I have come to understand his point of view. Which raises the question, what is Aptitude, and how does it compare to Synaptic, Kpackage and plain old APT-Get?
To get a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each, I have downloaded and installed each, what follows are my findings and impressions.
To begin, I should briefly answer the question as to what APT is. APT is short for Advanced Packaging Tool, and is the core of the Debian package management.
Wikipedia defines APT as:
Advanced Packaging Tool, or APT, is a package management system used by Debian and its derivatives. APT was originally designed to work with .deb packages on Debian systems, but it has since been modified to work with RPM packages via APT-rpm, and to run on other operating systems such as Mac OS X (see fink). On systems with package management based on .deb, such as Debian, APT is a front-end for dpkg (1)
In turn, Aptitude, Synaptic and Kpackage are all interfaces or front ends to APT-Get. They make using APT easier for the day to day management of the given Linux Distribution.
Using APT-Get itself is really quite easy as long as you know the base name of the package you are looking for. It uses basic command line inputs to update and install packages. APT-Get is also very lightweight so it works well on the speed challenged computer which is its primary advantage over the full interfaced versions. Running updates in APT-Get is very easy, you issue the command to update the listing, and than issue the command Apt-get update, and everything takes care of itself. Additionally, APT-Get takes care of any and all dependencies quickly and efficiently. You will be asked if you want to install the dependencies as well as the core package itself, and it goes to work. Removal of a package is just as easy, issuing the command and letting it do its thing. What APT-Get lacks is any sort of an interface. It is purely command line only which can be intimidating to the new user as well as a real pain if you are not positive of a package name. You know you need a database program but have no idea what is available in Linux, or simply wish to browse through the listing of applications available to get a feel for what else might be interesting or useful to install. This is where the interface front ends to APT come in.
Kpackage is the KDE based front end to APT-Get and for the most part it works quite well. Its layout is, to my eyes, not as clean as Synaptic, nor as easy to use.
The package listings are lined up on the left side and are set up by sections of application type. There is search ability, but no list by alphabetical. Additionally, setting up personal layouts is not provided. Once you select a package all its given dependencies are listed in the right pane which also provides advanced descriptions of what the package is, its size, and version. Installing is then as easy as clicking the install button. Kpackage tends to provide mysterious output from its install not really telling you that everything was successful, rather providing you a non-descriptive "0" indicating there were no errors. Uninstalling programs is the same, only clicking uninstall rather than install. I also find running installed program updates to be less convenient than the others. You have to click on the Updated tab, individually select each package that is available for updating and then run the install process. One of the biggest conveniences to Kpackage is you do not have to be root to run it, only to install. You can peruse the package listings to your hearts content as a non-root user, once you click "Install" only then are you asked for the root password to continue. Kpackage is a full packaging solution, but is not really to my liking.
Synaptic is another solution to the packaging problem. I find synaptic to be very clean and easy to use. It is laid out in an over/under format, with the package listings being on top and the descriptions on the bottom. Up the left side is a set of configurable listings. To install a new package, you select it by right clicking and choosing install. You can select as many as you like and than click the Apply button which puts the installer to work. Again dependencies are just taken care of. Once finished, you are presented with a success or failure message. The failure messages are usually presented with an explanation as to what the issue was. Removal of packages is again the same as installing, only choosing to "remove" rather than install. In some versions you are given the option to watch the command line go by during the install, on others this option has been disabled. Updating packages is a three step process, click "Reload" then "Mark All Updates" and finally "Apply". You will be asked to confirm, and off it goes. It is very easy to work with, and I feel is the best option for the new user.
This is something a bit different, aptitude is both command line and a front end to Apt. It uses a nCurses interface inside of the command line. This provides an interface that is clickable, easily searched and manipulated much like one would in either Synaptic or Kpackage. It continues to look more like command line than not, which may bother some users. It is not as immediately user friendly as Synaptic and Kpackage, but it is not wholly unfriendly either. Additionally, you can run command line actions without starting up the full interface, much like Apt-Get itself. Aptitude works quickest if you learn its keyboard shortcuts reducing upgrading to a few keystrokes of "u," "g," and another "g." Otherwise, the same results can be obtained through the header menu under "Actions."
Installing a program is reasonably easy, although browsing is not as easy as in Kpackage and Synaptic. There are several different view options as to the layout of the package listings, either by status, or by package types. Once you pick a package, and click "enter" you are taken to a second screen which provides a plethora of data about the package including its description, version, and dependencies. From there you either click "i" or select install from the "Package" menu, then click "g" and "g" again, and off it goes. Removal is again quite similar, you select the package and then "r," "g," and "g" and the package is gone. Now it is at this point that Aptitude sets itself apart from the others by a bit. Aptitude also willingly removes the dependencies as well, as long as they are not being used by something else. This means no orphaned packages, or cruft. This provides a cleaner working environment and presumably a more stable system. You can also play Minesweeper while waiting for the packages to install.
In the end the choice of any of the four discussed package managers is a matter of personal preference. Technically speaking, there seems to be little to differentiate one from the other with the exception of Aptitude's ability to remove dependencies when removing an application. As far as my personal preference, I really like Synaptic. It is an easy interface to work with and it just plain works.
Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 1
Not quite two months ago Ubuntu released its 6.06 LTS to much acclaim. This past week the developers released an early development snapshot that they are calling 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 1. I was interested in booting the livecd to find out what's new. On the surface it appears the answer is 'not much', unless you count the "test-pattern" silent boot splash.
It appears they have spent their time updating some packages. In this release we find an updated desktop as well as some other applications. They are utilizing the recent Gnome 2.15.4 developmental release as well as several other applications still in beta, while still others are well established. Some interesting package versions include:
I booted the amd64 version, and I can't report that I saw any dramatic speed increases over i386 in the livecd format. Hardware detection was fairly good, although my usb printer wasn't detected nor was an usb connection offered in the printer setup interface. Some of the desktop preference menu items produced errors when clicked upon, although some of those did precede to open when closing the error box. On one boot of the livecd, the gnome-panel crashed and restarting gnome didn't clear the problem. Most of the desktop applications, such as office apps, graphics, or games, did seem to function as designed.
At this juncture, I'm not sure what the point of this release is. I can only speculate it was to create further interest or publicity for Ubuntu now that the excitement over 6.06 is decreasing. Their long range goal is the updated versions and they are now laying that groundwork as most will have stabilized before the next final release of Ubuntu. This is an expected course of events, however, at this point I didn't find enough different from 6.06 to create any new excitement.
Debian Live-Sid KDE
The Debian Project released some live cds on July 21. The list consists of a gnome version, a kde version, an xfce version, and a commandline version. I downloaded the KDE version to test and it booted with no problems.
The Debian live-sid boots up to a command prompt (at least in my case) with the user 'debian' autologged in. Guessing at the root password was fruitless, but one soon discovers sudo is enabled. With, if needed, quick adjustments to the generic xorg.conf file one can startx.
In my case a default KDE 3.5.3 desktop appears. It sits on Xorg 7.0.0 and linux 2.6.17 and comes with the full banquet of KDE applications. The KDE version as tested here didn't come with much more. Of course, one can get by with KDE only, but I have to wonder what might have come with the xfce version.
The system was stable and fast in the livecd format, but the fonts weren't very pretty. My sound was detected and the correct modules were loaded, yet sound didn't work. Other basic hardware seemed to function.
Debian GNU/Linux is one of the grandfathers of the Linux world, along with Slackware and perhaps Red Hat. Most of the distros available today have their roots in one of these founding fathers. As such, who doesn't love Debian? That said, I'm having a hard time imagining the niche for these live-sids. I wasn't able to locate an installer. Perhaps with the small download sizes of 354 MB or less, they might make limited rescue and repair disks. My conclusion is it works, but it doesn't excite.
Slax is another long time favorite of mine. They offer some of the extras that makes Linux so easy to use these days. In addition, they usually dress up their desktop ever so slightly and offer a new look from time to time. This release still utilized the 'sneakers' wallpaper, but underneath it included Linux 2.6.16, Xorg 6.9.0, and KDE 3.5.3.
The KDE version offered was just about the full suite of kde, perhaps lacking some of the development apps, toys, and games. They included KWord, Kpresenter, and KSpreadsheet for those pesky office tasks.
Most of the usual commandline applications were present, which would make it suitable as a portable desktop system or rescue and repair disk.
It boots up to a command prompt and gives the user instructions for logging in and starting the graphical desktop as well as offers various options such as a means to configure the X server if needed. In my case I just tweaked the generic xorg.conf file already in place and started X. Common hardware was autoconfigured, such as sound and network card. The menu contains a net-config if needed as well as the Slax module loader.
This is another great offering from the Slax team and well worth the download, especially considering it's less than 200 MB.
|Released Last Week
rPath Linux 1.0.3
Michael K. Johnson has announced the availability of an updated release of rPath Linux 1 for both i386 and x86_64 architectures: "The new images incorporate installation changes, new kernels, and all package updates released as of July 12. If you have already installed rPath Linux 1, you should update your current system using Conary rather than reinstall using the new images. In this update, additional image types are now available for use with VMWare, QEMU, and other emulation technologies. A "live" or "demo" CD image is included as well." Please refer to the release announcement for further information.
Prof. David Costa has announced the release and immediate availability of CollegeLinux 2.6 CH. CollegeLinux Live Server is a Debian Linux based Live CD. As soon as you start, it is a fully capable PHP5, Perl and Ruby webserver, preloaded with GEdit and Vim for editing scripts with syntax highlighting. More information on the project homepage.
ZenLive Linux 2.6.1
ZenLive-2.6.1 Live CD features new games, the Gparted utility with ntfs support, full DVD support & a better sampling of International fonts. Furthermore, it is based upon Zenwalk-current (as of July 15th) which will give you a sneak peek into the imminent Zenwalk-2.8 release... At the same time, we have also released a Special French-speaking edition dedicated to our sister website: Zenwalk.fr. More information, including the changelog and download links, can be found on the project's home page.
Zenwalk Linux 2.8
Zenwalk 2.8 is a major evolution as more than 160 packages have been updated or added, including the Linux kernel 18.104.22.168 and several system improvements... Visual enhancements include a new boot splash screen and 4 new icon themes for the latest XFCE desktop environment (version 22.214.171.124). The most significant recent addition to Zenwalk's software repository is a full GNOME desktop environment built in only six packages! Extra desktop environments (Gnome and KDE) are available as optional packages in the repository, available via Zenwalk's internet based package management system "netpkg"." Read the full release announcement for more information.
Warren Woodford has announced the availability of SimplyMEPIS 6.0, the first public release of SimplyMEPIS to incorporate an Ubuntu foundation: "Based on the Dapper LTS package pool, 6.0 is designed for stable long term use and support. SimplyMEPIS 6.0 is a complete and safe desktop environment designed to meet the needs of everyday computer users. SimplyMEPIS offers advanced hardware autodetection, multimedia integration, and an easy to use installer. Featured software includes KDE 3.5.3, Kontact 1.2.3, OpenOffice 2.0.2, Firefox 126.96.36.199, Thunderbird 188.8.131.52, RealPlayer 10.0.7, as well as hundreds of other top quality applications. SimplyMEPIS 6.0 runs the latest security patched 2.6.15 Linux kernel from Ubuntu-Security." Read the complete press release for further information.
After two release candidates, Tomas Matejicek announced the availability of SLAX 5.1.7: "The final version of SLAX 5.1.7 has been released. Compared to 5.1.6, the new version fixes some bugs regarding the 'load' cheatcode, it adds and upgrades several boot options (like noswap, noauto, from= and changes=/dev...) and added new cleanup scripts to correctly handle shutdown procedures." Check the list of changes since 5.1.6 here.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
DistroWatch database summary|
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Again, I want to thank everyone for tuning in this week while Ladislav is still on vacation. I also would like to thank Dr. Wen Tao Zhu for his invaluable help. Thanks to gfranken for emailing with the Mandriva news tip. I hope you enjoyed the article from our guest columnist this week comparing and contrasting the various apt-get front ends, we thank CapnKirby for that. I'll be with you for one more week. If you'd like to contribute, please feel free to email me with links. Thank you again, and have a great week!
|• 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|