| 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.)
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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.
* * * * *
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 220.127.116.11 and several system improvements... Visual enhancements include a new boot splash screen and 4 new icon themes for the latest XFCE desktop environment (version 18.104.22.168). 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 22.214.171.124, Thunderbird 126.96.36.199, 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.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
DistroWatch database summary|
* * * * *
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 629 (2015-09-28): Open source desktops and touch interfaces, locking down user accounts, OpenMandriva opens gaming documentation|
|• Issue 628 (2015-09-21): Neptune 4.4, changes to pfSense, Pinguy OS releases updated ISO images, accessing hard disk images|
|• Issue 627 (2015-09-14): Mageia 5, Snappy co-exists with Debian packages, creating PDF/A documents, Antergos previews Poodle|
|• Issue 626 (2015-09-07): Status of Wayland and Mir, Cinnamon improvements, an OpenBSD hypervisor, HAMMER2 gets deduplication|
|• Issue 625 (2015-08-31): OpenELEC 5.0.8, Fedora's new Wayland features, Tails releases update, the LILO boot loader|
|• Issue 624 (2015-08-24): Zorin OS 10, Sabayon's new features, Solus seeks funding, Debian turns 22, new PC-BSD repository|
|• Issue 623 (2015-08-17): VectorLinux 7.1, Ubuntu One source released, Moksha Desktop ships in Bodhi, Fedora developers debate Chromium|
|• Issue 622 (2015-08-10): antiX 15, Fedora tests kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI issues, word processors for the CLI|
|• Issue 621 (2015-08-03): Point Linux 3.0, Debian drops Sparc, Fedora package stats, VirtualBox 5.0|
|• Issue 620 (2015-07-27): Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Linux Bible, Ubuntu MATE gets new Welcome app, Telegram on Fedora, Plasma Mobile|
|• Issue 619 (2015-07-20): SolydXK 201506, Tanglu's new bug tracker, FSF and Canonical negotiate licensing, Haiku unveils new init system|
|• Issue 618 (2015-07-13): Semplice Linux 7, openSUSE derivatives, Debian adopts GCC 5, Docker ported to FreeBSD|
|• Issue 617 (2015-07-06): Alpine linux 3.2.0, Fedora on MIPS CPUs, Solus offers daily builds, Ubuntu migrating to Snappy|
|• Issue 616 (2015-06-29): MidnightBSD 0.6, openSUSE's "42", encryption added to the ext4 file system, FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 615 (2015-06-22): Raspbian 2015, Fedora works around Intel driver issue, openSUSE adopts GCC 5, frozen desktop while copying files|
|• Issue 614 (2015-06-15): Chromixium OS 1.0, Debian 8.1 released, OpenBSD running in the cloud, sudo myths|
|• Issue 613 (2015-06-08): Fedora 22, Cinnamon 2.6 released, FreeBSD's history, working around Secure Boot|
|• Issue 612 (2015-06-01): Manjaro OpenRC, Debian, Devuan and systemd, Fedora 22 released, Mandriva closes its doors|
|• Issue 611 (2015-05-25): Kubuntu 15.04, openSUSE adopts Plasma 5, Ubuntu's Snappy, words from Debian's Neil McGovern|
|• Issue 610 (2015-05-18): NethServer 6.6, interview with Neil McGovern, CentOS supports AArach64, Foresight discontinued|
|• Issue 609 (2015-05-11): OpenIndiana 2015.03, LXLE 14.04, PC-BSD Current, creating ISO images, Ask A Leader with Peter Ganten|
|• Issue 608 (2015-05-04): Debian 8.0, Bodhi forks Enlightenment, new Debian GNU/Hurd release, distribution release frequency|
|• Issue 607 (2015-04-27): Ubuntu 15.04, Chapeau 21, Debian 8.0 features, Fedora 22 Beta details|
|• Issue 606 (2015-04-20): Linux Mint 2 "LMDE", Matthew Miller, Debian's new Project Leader, Evolve OS name change|
|• Issue 605 (2015-04-13): SuperX 3.0, HAMMER2 features, Linux 4.0, Vince Pooley, Google Code closing|
|• Issue 604 (2015-04-06): Void 20150221, Haiku's commercial partners, Debian release date, Tumbleweed features|
|• Issue 603 (2015-03-30): Tails 1.3, LibreOffice Online, Linux Firewalls book review, Kubuntu with Plasma 5|
|• Issue 602 (2015-03-23): Bodhi Linux 3.0.0, distro popularity, OpenBSD's new web server, GNU Manifesto turns 30|
|• Issue 601 (2015-03-16): Ubuntu MATE 14.10, modern distros for old hardware, AppArmor in Debian, Fedora 22 Alpha|
|• Issue 600 (2015-03-09): Korora 21, distro diversity, Ubuntu gets systemd, PC-BSD security features|
|• Issue 599 (2015-03-02): Sabayon 15.02, creating good passwords, new YaST modules, LMDE preview
|• Issue 598 (2015-02-23): Netrunner 14.1, Vivaldi web browser, Debian election, Cinnamon improvements|
|• Issue 597 (2015-02-16): MakuluLinux MCDE 2.0, Ubuntu phones launch, m0n0wall ceases development, live Linux updates|
|• Issue 596 (2015-02-09): ArchBSD 2014.09.04, encrypted e-mail, Fedora upgrade stats, FreeBSD's support policy|
|• Issue 595 (2015-02-02): ExTiX 15.1, Destroying encrypted data, openSUSE election, OSDisc statistics|
|• Issue 594 (2015-01-26): KaOS 2014.12, Commercial distros, Snappy Ubuntu, PackageKit fixes|
|• Issue 593 (2015-01-19): ReactOS 0.3.17, Unity on Mir, Bluetooth support, openSUSE election|
|• Issue 592 (2015-01-12): Mint 17.1, load averages, binary logs, GNOME Software|
|• Issue 591 (2015-01-05): Manjaro 0.8.11, systemd, Devuan, Torrent Corner|
|• Issue 590 (2014-12-22): Fedora 21, Ubuntu phone, expanding ZFS storage, Able2Extract|
|• Issue 589 (2014-12-15): Parsix 7.0, Ubuntu "Snappy", PC-BSD upgrades, How Linux Works|
|• Issue 588 (2014-12-08): PC-BSD 10.2, rolling-release Ubuntu GNOME, Bitrig, systemd|
|• Issue 587 (2014-12-01): Trisquel 7.0, Kubuntu 14.10 "Plasma5", FreeBSD on 64-bit ARM, Jolla and UbuTab|
|• Issue 586 (2014-11-24): Scientific Linux 7.0, Debian and systemd, Ubuntu MATE, application-level firewalls|
|• Issue 585 (2014-11-17): openSUSE 13.2, PC-BSD's "roles", MATE + Compiz on Mint, cleaning package cache|
|• Issue 584 (2014-11-10): OpenMandriva 2014.1, Debian freeze, trickle, systemd and boot times|
|• Issue 583 (2014-11-03): Ubuntu 14.10, ownCloud, Kylin interview, The Book of PF, Elive's commercial ways|
|• Issue 582 (2014-10-27): GhostBSD 4.0, Tumbleweed and Factory merge, systemd and fork of Debian|
|• Issue 581 (2014-10-20): SparkyLinux 3.5, Fedora's graphics stack, Debian and systemd, OpenBSD 5.6|
|• Issue 580 (2014-10-13): Rolling releases, Arch as best distro, GNOME on Wayland, MINIX 3.3.0|
|• Issue 579 (2014-10-06): PC-BSD 10.0.3, Debian's Jessie freeze, setting up home server|
|• Full list of all issues|
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