| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 168, 11 September 2006
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! With many of the major distributions in the final stages of their development work, this is possibly the most exciting period of the year. It shouldn't be long before the new versions from Slackware and Mandriva are released, with Fedora, openSUSE and Debian following shortly. Mandriva Linux 2007 is now starting to look really good, while Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 "etch" is shaping up to be a real breakthrough for the largest Linux distribution project. Fedora Core is also getting a complete makeover - at least in the look and feel department. This issue is devoted to all the upcoming new releases, with further news covering the availability of KDE 4 packages for Kubuntu, a new major version of GParted LiveCD, and an interesting interview with the developers of PC-BSD. In our latest book review, we'll take a quick look at Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks by Rickfort Grant. Happy reading!
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Praise for "etch", GParted LiveCD, Red Hat vs Novell, PC-BSD interview
As happen this time every year, the Linux world is starting to heat up after a brief respite during the Northern hemisphere summer season. We've had a new Gentoo Linux 2006.1 release recently, with Slackware Linux 11.0 coming out any time now. GNOME 2.16, announced last week, is likely to give a new impetus to many more distributions - the first release candidate of Mandriva Linux 2007 already includes the latest version, while both Fedora Core 6 Test3 and Ubuntu Knot CD 3, both of which are due later this week, will also ship with the latest version of the popular desktop. openSUSE 10.2 too will enter a beta stage in a few weeks and Debian GNU/Linux 4.0, with its scheduled December release, is not too far away either. In other words, the excitement of another round of major distribution releases is here. As always, we'll bring you the news in a timely fashion so don't forget to visit us regularly over the next few months as we cover all the happenings in the world of Linux distributions!
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How good will be the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 "etch"? If you believe Joey Schulze, one of the most prominent Debian developers, then "etch" is not ready for release: "I'm scared by Debian etch. It'll probably become the worst Debian release ever. It's going to hurt our reputation." Luckily, the above assertion turns out to be a joke: "After plugging the cable into the USB slot, an icon appeared on the screen and after clicked caused the system to mount the first partition on the external disk. It worked. Out of the box. Without tweaking anything. That's so non-Debian..." A pre-configured scroll wheel on a USB mouse further puzzled the well-known Debian personality who concludes his weblog entry with: "Where are the hours of fiddling around how to properly add USB stuff to the system? Where are the evenings you needed to debug such stuff? Nowadays it just works? Where's the Debian we all knew?" Is Ubuntu getting some serious competition from its older brother? We should find out before the end of this year....
On a related note, the Debian Project announced last week that it had forked cdrtools, a popular command line CD/DVD burning applications written by Jörg Schilling. As noted in the announcement, parts of cdrtools are now released under a CDDL license from Sun Microsystems, which is incompatible with the General Public License (GPL) and thus illegal under the terms of GPL. As a result, a new tool, called cdrkit, will be introduced into the Debian unstable tree shortly and this is also the package that will ship with the next stable release of Debian GNU/Linux. Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions have yet to comment on the issue, but it is likely that they will also adopt the Debian fork of cdrtools in the future.
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Mandriva Linux 2007 is starting to look good. After several disappointing alphas and betas, the first release candidate of the upcoming new release hit the download mirrors just before the weekend and those of you who tried it probably had a positive first impression. The installer did not change much since version 2006, but the new theme and icon set give the desktop a refreshing look. As indicated in an earlier press release, Mandriva has now integrated the new 3D desktop features with AIGLX and Xgl/Compiz into its distribution and even created a module for configuring them in Mandriva Control Centre. This is the first distribution release with such a feature. Besides that, it's all about package upgrades - the product's newest release candidate ships with the Linux kernel 2.6.17, X.Org 7.1, KDE 3.5.4 and GNOME 2.16. As has now become standard, Mandriva 2007 is provided both as a traditional installation CD set or DVD and a set of installable live CDs containing either GNOME or KDE. The final version is scheduled to ship before the end of September.
Mandriva Linux 2007 RC1 has a new look and feel.
(full image size: 577kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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This week will also bring the third and final test release of Fedora Core 6. Although the distribution's feature set will be frozen at the same time (only critical bug fixes will be provided from that point on), the visual appearance of the new release is likely to undergo substantial changes prior to the final release. Red Hat's Diana Fong gives us a preview of what the new Fedora desktop will look like on the surface. Following strong criticism from some quarters of the "bubbly" theme in Fedora Core 5, the new artwork is likely to please even the most demanding Linux desktop audience!
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As we reported earlier, a major new version of GParted LiveCD was released last week. What we did not report (and what seems to have been missed by many other Linux news sites) was the fact that the CD is now based on GParted 0.3 and that means full support for moving partitions! Yes, it's a fact, GParted is the first partitioning utility that makes it possible to move all supported file systems, even to the beginning of a hard disk: "This release includes one of the most exiting features since the first release - we finally have full move support! Although it should be considered a bit experimental, our tests worked out perfectly and we didn't see any errors so far." Find more details in the release notes. If you haven't yet included this gem into your toolkit of essential CDs then this news surely gives a powerful reason to do so!
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Eager to start testing the upcoming KDE 4? If so, it's now possible with the new KDE 4 Kubuntu packages, released last week: "The first development snapshot of KDE 4, codenamed Krash, has been released and packages are available for Kubuntu Edgy." It is relatively straightforward to install these packages alongside KDE 3.5.4 on a current development version of Kubuntu, although the release announcement also warns that Krash is intended for developers only (after all, it's called "Krash" for a reason). Experienced Linux users and other adventurous souls can find complete installation instructions in this release announcement.
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Following the release of the first beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 last week, the competition between the two most prominent Linux solution providers, Red Hat and Novell, is likely to heat up over the next few months. But what exactly are the differences between the two? If you or your organisation is interested in enterprise Linux, you might want to check out this article by Computerworld. In it, Neil Alister argues that the two companies have very different approaches towards the market: "New Novell’s success depends on engaging the market, getting its message out to customers, winning developer support and building community -- and it knows it. It may not be the market leader today, but it wants to go where its customers lead it." Red Hat, on the other hand, is a market leader, a position it is well aware of: "Increasingly, however, Red Hat is aware of the fact that it is The One and Only Red Hat. Red Hat is holding the cards, and the customers will come to Red Hat." An interesting opinion, especially if you follow the "big boys" Linux scene.
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KDE.News has published an interview with Kris Moore, the founder of PC-BSD. What is the most important feature of the project that has transformed the geeky and hard-to-use FreeBSD into a beginner-friendly desktop operating system? Kris Moore: "Our operating system is targeted at folks who like the stability and security that UNIX and open source have to offer, but don't wish to learn new methods of software installation or system management from their traditional OS. By developing the PBI system, which keeps software programs separate from the core OS, we have been able to fulfill this important need. Now a user no longer has to worry about dependency issues, or waste the time compiling software from source, or troubleshooting it when things go wrong." Read the rest of the interview here.
|Book review: Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks
Book review: Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks
Rickfort Grant is fast becoming one of the most prominent writers of books designed for novice Linux users. And for a good reason. His Linux For Non-Geeks and Linux Made Easy have turned out to be easy-to-follow, project-oriented manuals for Fedora Core and Xandros Desktop. His latest work to help potential Linux users to get started with an alternative operating system is the 334-page Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks, published by No Starch Press earlier this year.
As the title of the book suggests, it is devoted to the current star among the Linux distributions - the ever more popular Ubuntu. It is accompanied by a CD containing the desktop edition of the distribution's most recent version -- 6.06, code name "Dapper Drake" -- for the i386 processors. The book's 18 chapters are followed by notes for the users of AMD64 and PowerPC processors, information about checking the validity of downloaded ISO images, and a long list of online resources. All chapters are interspersed with a large number of screenshots to illustrate the topic at hand. It should be noted that the book deals with Ubuntu only and it does not cover Kubuntu or any other Ubuntu variant.
Being written with beginner Linux users in mind, it's no surprise that the book starts with extensive information about the origins of Linux, the concept of open source software and general information about Linux distributions and Ubuntu. The nice part of this chapter is the author's revelation that despite being an experienced Linux users and advocate, he wrote the book for a less technically minded member of his family who became a willing tester of the topics introduced in the book and who has since switched to Linux full-time. "I have no reasons to doubt that Linux is ready for the desktop," writes Rickfort Grant in the introductory chapter. Besides monetary savings that Linux and open source software bring to the user, the author also notes the stability, versatility and multilingual capabilities as its main advantages.
And yet, Linux is not perfect. Much has to be learnt and many prejudices need to be overcome before the alternative operating system can compete with its more established rivals. And this is where Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks is most valuable - it not only teaches how to accomplish tasks in the included applications, it also explains its limitations (and how to overcome them) and warns about potential problems. After all, it's not always straightforward to get that cheap USB WLAN modem going under the operating system other than the one for which it conveniently provides easy-to-install drivers!
Speaking about networking, the book covers this topic extensively in chapter 4, right after the introductory chapters on installation and first steps on the desktop. As the author rightfully notes, "having a computer that isn't hooked up to the Internet is like buying a new Maserati and then refusing to take it out of the garage." Both wireless and cable connections are covered in a variety of scenarios, although surprisingly, it does not discuss the NdisWrapper method for setting up a Windows-only wireless network cards.
After the Ubuntu-specific chapter 5 that introduces Synaptic and GNOME App Install (without mentioning apt-get or dpkg), the book goes on presenting file management tasks before launching one of the most entertaining chapters of the book - customising the look and feel of your system (available as a sample chapter here). This is one place where even old Linux hands would find something that they did not know before. Quoting the author again, "I couldn't help but get sick of looking at the same old icons, window borders, and color schemes." After all, he continues, "is it any wonder that there are so many more Linux desktop screenshots out there on the Web than for any other system?" The author considers a "GUI fatigue" such a serious disease that he devotes an entire chapter to altering the look and feel of a GNOME desktop and provides a number of little-known tricks to make a Linux working environment so much more stimulating.
Surprisingly, the very next chapter introduces the command line, albeit in a very entertaining manner. Only the most essential commands are covered before the author diverts the boredom with a handful of interesting projects to re-enforce the newly acquired knowledge. This is followed by talk about installing binary-only applications, such as the popular Skype or Java, before continuing with several useful chapters on setting up printers and scanners, adding new fonts, and altering the system to support various languages (with a special sub-chapter on adding Chinese, Japanese and Korean support to Ubuntu).
After that, it's all about applications. OpenOffice.org, AbiWord and other productivity software are covered in chapter 13, while the next four chapters deal with everything you ever wanted to know about multimedia and digital photography under Linux. Whether you want to add MP3 support to your audio applications, manage your iPod, or set up a video player for playing encrypted DVDs, it's all there. The final chapter discusses the concept of Linux firewalls and introduces two antivirus applications.
Granted, many of the topics presented in this book are available on the Internet, in various user guides and in the form of an advice on Ubuntu user forums or mailing lists. Nevertheless, this book seems like the perfect companion for a less technically inclined friend or family member who might not enjoy searching through dozens of Google listings to find an answer or who might prefer a handy reference book instead of an online manual. The open and honest revelations, refreshing writing style, and occasional humour, make the book even more adept for recommendation. And at US$35, Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks certainly sounds like a good investment that will pay itself back many times over during the years of productive Linux computing.
Highly recommended to all readers setting out to do the right thing - switching to Free Software.
Title: Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks
Author: Rickford Grant
Publisher: No Starch Press
|Released Last Week
Kate OS 3.0 Live
A live CD edition of Kate OS 3.0 has been released: "Kate OS 3.0 LIVE is the newest version of our distribution which boots directly from the CD. It is a great demonstration of our system's possibilities. It can also come very handy when trying to rescue another system. The CD contains 2GB of compressed data, including the XFce environment with multimedia and office applications. Also available are system and partition rescue tools, GParted (partitioning tool) and ClamAV, an antivirus scanner. All these tools are priceless during a data rescue session after a system crash." Visit the distribution's home page to read the full release announcement.
GParted LiveCD 0.3-1
An updated version of GParted LiveCD has been released. From the release notes: "This version has some minor improvements. Nothing I can say here can top full move support in GParted, so I won't bore you with too many details. The coolest things are the new artwork by Junel Mujar and it's now possible to boot from a hard drive. The hw_random crash has also been fixed." Among the included packages, the Linux kernel has been upgraded to version 220.127.116.11, GParted to 0.3, and Thunar to 0.4.0rc1.
Kurumin Linux 6.1
Carlos Morimoto has announced the release of Kurumin Linux 6.1. The latest version of the popular Brazilian distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux uses the Linux kernel 18.104.22.168 with patches from KANOTIX, new drivers and security updates. Other improvements include the following: notebooks with wide screens are now detected and set up correctly; support for Intel ipw2200 wireless networking in Centrino notebooks; improved script for configuring wireless networking with NdisWrapper; the 'powernow' feature is now activated automatically whenever hardware with power saving features is detected; many bug fixes. Read the complete release announcement (in Portuguese) for more information.
Zenwalk Linux 3.0
Zenwalk Linux 3.0 has been released: "The development team of the Zenwalk Linux operating system is pleased to announce that the latest stable major release, Zenwalk 3.0, is now available for download as a CDROM ISO, and from CD stores. This release includes numerous software and visual advancements. Key software improvements include XFce 22.214.171.124, the Linux kernel 126.96.36.199 Firefox 188.8.131.52, Thunderbird 184.108.40.206, Xarchiver 0.4, as well as many others all updated to the latest releases (around 200 packages updated or added). Visual aspects of the desktop have been improved by using a complete Tango icon set." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Linux From Scratch 6.2-3 LiveCD
Alexander Patrakov has announced an updated version of the Linux From Scratch (LFS) live CD: "The LFS LiveCD Team is proud to announce the release of the x86-6.2-3 version of LFS LiveCD. This version is built using LFS 6.2 and many Beyond Linux From Scratch packages from the Subversion branch. Source packages for LFS 6.2, and the LFS book itself, are included on the live CD. The CD is also suitable as a host for building x86 and x86_64 Cross LFS systems. Other features and bugfixes: the CD supports hibernation; the CD file system can be written to; the CD contains a visually pleasing and easy-to-use window manager, XFce...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
SimplyMEPIS 6.0-1 DVD
A DVD edition of the recently released SimplyMEPIS 6.0 is now available for download or purchase: "MEPIS has announced the release of SimplyMEPIS 6.0-1 DVD Edition; an update of SimplyMEPIS 6.0. The SimplyMEPIS 6.0-1 bootable DVD not only includes hundreds of bug and security fixes, but the 1,900 packages of the three SimplyMEPIS Extras CDs, as well. SimplyMEPIS 6.0-1 DVD edition has been cover-mounted on the October 2006 issue of Linux Magazine from Linux New Media AG. The issue went on sale September 8 in the UK will be available at thousands of bookstores and newstands worldwide including Borders, Barnes & Noble, Fry's, Micro Center, Chapters, WHSmith and Eason." Read the complete press release for more details.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- Bardinux. Bardinux is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution produced by the Secretariat of Free Software at the Universidad de La Laguna in Spain's Canary Islands. It is a desktop-oriented distribution designed specifically for the needs of the university.
- Brighton Chilli. Brighton Chilli is a specialist live CD project based on FreeBSD and FreeSBIE. Its main purpose is to offer a live CD environment capable of running a WiFi hotspot managed by ChilliSpot.
- Aris OS. Aris OS is a new, general purpose distribution based on Gentoo Linux. It was formerly known as Reaper OS.
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DistroWatch database summary
And that concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next issue will be published on Monday, 18 September 2006. Until then,
|• 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|