| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 177, 13 November 2006
Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! As Novell continues to endure the wrath of the open source developer and user community, many people are wondering whether they should boycott Novell's products. In the meantime, openSUSE continues its 10.2 development process unabated and on target for the early December release. Also in the news: a war of words erupts between Fedora and Ubuntu, Feisty Fawn's new features attract fresh controversy, Debian prepares a new set of kernels for "etch", and Slackware introduces modern features into its "current" tree. We'll bring you the results of our Mandriva Linux 2007 PowerPack competition and continue our discussion on DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking statistics. Happy reading!
- News: Samba denounces Novell, openSUSE 10.2, F vs U, Debian etch kernels, Slackware changelog
- Competition: Winners of Mandriva Linux 2007 PowerPack
- Released last week: Debian GNU/Linux 3.1r4, NetBSD Live! 2007
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 7.04, Yellow Dog Linux 5.0
- Site news: PHR topics
- New additions: DiscoverStation, Olive, paldo
- New distributions: Absolute, Omaemona 2ch/Linux, LernTux
- Reader comments
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Samba denounces Novell, openSUSE 10.2, F vs U, Debian etch kernels, Slackware changelog
Novell's recent deal with Microsoft continues to attract unprecedented levels of condemnation from Linux user and development communities. The latest project to call on Novell to reconsider the agreement is Samba. Last week, the developers of the widely used open source project providing file and print services for Microsoft Windows under Linux and other free operating systems issued a strongly worded press release denouncing Novell for its part in the deal with Microsoft: "For Novell to make this deal shows a profound disregard for the relationship that they have with the Free Software community." The Samba project team also believes that "using patents as competitive tools in the free software world is not acceptable."
* * * * *
While Novell continues to endure the wrath of the open source community, spare a thought for the developers of openSUSE. Since this highly popular distribution is still largely developed in Germany where the original SuSE Linux was born, it is quite likely that the deal caught its core developers by surprise just as much as it shocked the rest of the Linux world. So far, however, there is no indication of any drastic changes affecting the openSUSE distribution. The project has just released the second beta of openSUSE 10.2 and is on target for the December 7th final release.
If you make a decision to boycott Novell's products, should that include the openSUSE distribution? Although it might seem acceptable as a way to punish Novell for its part in the controversial deal, please remember that by refusing to install and use openSUSE, you'll be also punishing the project's innocent developers who continue to produce what they believe is the best Linux distribution on the market and whose only crime is that they happen to be on Novell's payroll. Unless they themselves call for boycotting the project or decide to walk away from it, DistroWatch would argue that it is OK to continue using the distribution and supporting the project as before. For more information about the impact of the unpopular deal on openSUSE, please read this web log post by Andreas Jaeger, the distribution's release manager.
* * * * *
A war of words broke out between the developers and supporters of Fedora and Ubuntu last week. It all started with a (rather unfair) review of Fedora Core 6, where the author, Jem Matzan, a highly experienced Linux/UNIX user and writer, departed from his usual high quality product reviews by choosing to launch a profound attack on Fedora Project's goals instead. In particular, his assertion that "Fedora's identity has gradually eroded over six releases, finally ending up as a second class clone of Ubuntu," seems to have ruffled the feathers of several Fedora developers. Fedora's Dave Jones was quick to respond and point out some of the obvious deficiencies of Ubuntu, while Debian's Daniel Stone added more fuel to the fire when he wrote about the current fashion among some open source developers to rip on Ubuntu. If it all seems a little childish, please remember that a Linux distribution is not just millions of lines of code, it's a religious fever which even the slightest of provocations can ignite into a full-scale war of words. It is this undying passion that has been responsible for launching many amazing software projects over the last decade or two!
* * * * *
Speaking about Ubuntu, a new controversy is about to erupt together with the finalisation of release goals for "Feisty Fawn" (see upcoming releases further down this page). As announced last week, the forthcoming version of Ubuntu, scheduled for release in April 2007, will focus heavily on emerging desktop technologies, including 3D desktop effects. This has also resulted in a controversial goal to install proprietary kernel drivers by NVIDIA and ATI in Feisty by default to maximise desktop eye candy. As has been discussed countless times on many Linux web sites, these drivers do indeed provide many exciting features for the end users, but unfortunately they also go against the spirit of Free Software and the closed-source code might even affect the stability of the Linux kernel itself. A good summary of what is at stake and why you should do a thorough research before choosing your next graphics card can be found in this report by Sander Marechal. Ubuntu's Corey Burger has also voiced his concerns.
On a related note, there are indications that Ubuntu is currently reviewing its commitment to the PowePC platform: "PowerPC, already a significantly less mainstream architecture than x86(-64), has seen its visibility further reduced by the fact that Apple, the primary source of consumer PowerPC hardware, has moved away from the platform. Ubuntu needs to decide whether PowerPC should continue as a fully supported platform for the Feisty release."
* * * * *
The final countdown for the release of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 has started. Scheduled for release early next month, the project is now in final preparation for the much awaited event and many Debian developers are busy squashing the remaining release-critical bugs. But what can we look forward to in "etch"? "This article will show what changes (related to the Debian kernel images) can Debian Sarge users expect to see when Etch will reach stable." The story explains the name changes of the Debian kernels, provides information about the some of the new technologies, such as initramfs, udev and Xen, and warns users with specialist kernel needs to do their homework before upgrading to "etch" as some of the changes might not be obvious. The article is worth a read if you are considering an upgrade of your stable Debian systems.
* * * * *
The Slackware changelog is moving once again: "Renovations are underway to the toolchain (gcc, glibc, binutils, etc), and it makes little sense to update what is essentially Slackware 11.0 only to do the work all over again once the new toolchain is ready. In addition, these things aren't going as smoothly as anticipated. I'd like to put the NPTL version of glibc into /lib and the LinuxThreads version into /lib/obsolete/linuxthreads (since some old binaries are going to need them), but doing this prevents the use of a 2.4 kernel. Perhaps it's finally time to drop support for Linux 2.4? Personally, I'd rather not as 2.4 is more forgiving of flaky hardware and thus tends to get better uptimes (at least on the servers I run ;-). Comments about this issue are welcome." This is the first changelog entry since the recent release of Slackware Linux 11.0. Those of you running the "current" branch should brace yourselves for an exciting roller-coaster ride as Slackware finally looks to embrace some of the more recent Linux technologies!
Winners of Mandriva Linux 2007 PowerPack
The DistroWatch competition to win four boxes of Mandriva Linux 2007 PowerPack was a great success. We received a total of 194 competition entries, of which 45 were deemed correct. These were placed into a special folder where a random selection mechanism was applied to pick the four winners. They are:
• João C Pinto (Braga, Portugal)
• Tony Capriglione (Valparaiso, Indiana, USA)
• Simon Hildenbrand (Jersey City, New Jersey, USA)
• Daniel Rojo (Galveston, Texas, USA)
Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to all who participated.
Now for the questions:
Some readers have also asked whether competitions like this one will become a standard feature of DistroWatch Weekly, replacing the monthly donations programme. In a word, no. But although we will continue to award monthly donations to open source software projects and distributions, it is possible that from time to time (maybe once or twice per year) a similar alternative will be staged again. In a way, this competition was a form of donation to Mandriva - since it doesn't seem appropriate to donate money to a commercial company, this was a way of rewarding Mandriva for its excellent work on the recently released version 2007 (and perhaps also for not scheming up some strange deals with Microsoft).
- The first ever release of Mandrake Linux back in 1998 was given a version number "5.1". Why 5.1 and not 1.0? Since the first release of Mandrake Linux was essentially a fork of Red Hat Linux 5.1, it continued Red Hat's versioning. Everybody got this one right.
- Mandriva Linux ships with an advanced package management utility called "urpmi". Which was the first version of Mandrake Linux to include this tool? The correct answer is Mandrake Linux 7.0. For some reason, a surprisingly high number of those of you who entered the competition claimed that urpmi was first introduced in version 7.2. I don't know where this information came from, but according to the RPM package list of Mandrake 7.0, this is where urpmi made its début:
- Mandrake Linux 7.0: urpmi-0.9
- Mandrake Linux 7.1: urpmi-1.1
- Mandrake Linux 7.2: urpmi-1.3
- Mandrake Linux 8.0: urpmi-1.5
Of course, those who replied "7.2" were not entered into the draw.
- One of the best-known Mandriva developers goes under the nick-name of "Warly". What is his real name (first name and surname)? This was easy: Florent Villard. Nobody made a mistake here.
- What was the primary reason for the decision in April 2005 to rename the company and distribution from Mandrake to Mandriva? This was a somewhat tricky question. Although Mandriva would probably like us to believe that the main reason for the name change was its acquisition of Conectiva, there was a far more important reason - a law suite by Hearst Corporation, the owners of the "Mandrake" trademark. Anybody who failed to mention this fact in their competition entry was disqualified for entering the draw.
- Mandriva Linux 2007 ships with a new theme called "Ia Ora". What does "Ia Ora" mean? In which language? Most of you got this one right - "ia ora" or "ia orana" stands for "Hi", or "Hello" in Tahitian. The entertaining part came from the fact that several contestants mistook the uppercase "i" for a lowercase "L", effectively thinking that the name of the Mandriva theme was "La Ora" instead of "ia ora". As a result, a number of readers who sent in their entries claimed that "La Ora" meant "the hour" or "the time" in Italian. The more unusual translations of "La Ora" included "it went however" in Portugese (sic) and "prays it" in Spanish. Naturally, those contestants who wrote that "La Ora" (as opposed to "ia ora") meant "Hi" or "Hello" were also disqualified from the draw. If you were one of them, don't feel bad - the uppercase "i" and the lowercase "L" look exactly the same in most sans serif fonts and are easily confused. Just watch it next time you arrive in Pape'ete...
As always, suggestions for future donations and competition ideas are welcome.
|Released Last Week
Debian GNU/Linux 3.1r4
Available since early last week, the fourth revision of Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 has now been formally announced and released: "The Debian project is pleased to announce the fourth update of its stable distribution Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 (code name 'sarge'). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustment to serious problems. No new installation images will be created. Users are advised to update their system against an official Debian mirror after a new installation and update the kernel instead. Upgrading to this revision online is usually done by pointing the apt package tool to one of Debian's many FTP or HTTP mirrors." Please read the rest of the release announcement for further details and a complete list of security updates and bug fixes.
Truva Linux 1.0
Onur Özdemir has announced the release of Truva Linux 1.0, a Turkish desktop distribution based on Slackware Linux. The most notable features of the release include: integration of GParted for disk partitioning tasks during installation; MPlayer with support for playing encrypted DVDs and many popular media formats; introduction of udev for device management; support for Turkish and English languages. Truva Linux 1.0 is based on Linux kernel 2.6.17 and ships with X.Org 6.9.0, KDE 3.5.4, Mozilla Firefox 188.8.131.52, MPlayer 1.0pre8, and the usual range of open source software applications. Please read the complete release announcement (in Turkish) for further details.
EnGarde Secure Linux 3.0.10
A new version of EnGarde Secure Linux 3 has been released: "Guardian Digital is pleased to announce the release of EnGarde Secure Community 3.0.10. This release includes our new SELinux Control Console and our new context-sensitive Guardian Digital help system, along with bug fixes and upgrades to major applications including Apache, Postfix, and Snort." The newly introduced SELinux Control Console module allows users "to monitor the audit logs, toggle enforcing mode and booleans, download the policy to your local computer, and trigger a relabel of the file systems." More details can be found in the release announcement and release notes.
NetBSD Live! 2007
The NetBSD project has released a complete live CD with automatic hardware detection and an option to boot into a graphical desktop with KDE. Called NetBSD Live! 2007, the CD image is available for the i386 processor architectures: "This CD-ROM contains a specially constructed version of NetBSD 4.0_BETA sporting a modified kernel based on NetBSD-CURRENT. Booting is done using an adapted version of the GRUB boot loader. The CD contains the following software packages in addition to the base operating system files: XFree86, KDE 3.5.4 with multiple language sets; joe and kvim text editors; AbiWord word processor, Dia 0.9.4 flow-charting and diagramming application, Inkscape 0.44 vector graphic application; The GNU Image Processor (GIMP) 2.2; Firefox web browser...." Read the complete release notes for further information.
NetBSD Live! 2007 - the perfect way to experience NetBSD on the desktop
(full image size: 740kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Ubuntu Christian Edition 1.5
An updated version of Ubuntu Christian Edition has been released: "We have just released Ubuntu CE v1.5! With this release we focused on the fixing some issues with the live CD installer. We have also made a subtle, but very important change to the Ubuntu CE installer, upgrade_me script, Convert_me script, Web Content Filtering Only script, and the DansGuardian GUI Only script. The Configure Parental Controls GUI has been updated to include a few new features. You can now easily adjust the naughtiness limit with the GUI. You can also lock and unlock your Firefox proxy settings via the GUI. The Firefox proxy settings come locked by default, but if you need to unlock them for some reason you can do that." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
STUX GNU/Linux 0.9.2
A new version of the Slackware-based STUX GNU/Linux live CD has been released. What's new? "Based on Slackware current as at 8 October 2006 (Slackware 11.0); Linux kernel upgraded to 2.6.17 from KNOPPIX CD 5.0.1; KDE, and all programs executed from KDE, now run as unprivileged user; user management, also when running from live CD, is more sophisticated; various services have been hardened; added udev, Tor, 3D-Desktop, MPlayer, Icecast, lm_sensors, Lopster, wpa_supplicant; now using wireless and network initialization scripts from Alien BOB; all STUX utilities reviewed and enhanced; faster boot; enhanced wireless networking support; many other changes, fixes and enhancements." Visit the project's news page to read the release announcement and changelog.
Mayix LiveCD 2006.2
"Mayix is not dead," proclaims the web site of a project which, among other products, develops a Gentoo-based live CD for Spanish-speaking users. Mayix LiveCD 2006.2 was released over the weekend. It includes the so-called "stage 4" binary Gentoo packages with kernel 2.6.17, X.Org 7.1, GNOME 2.14, Firefox 2.0 and other popular open source applications. Read the full release announcement (in Spanish) for further details and known issues.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn"
The Ubuntu project has published the release schedule of its upcoming version 7.04, code name "Feisty Fawn". The alpha releases, which will be known as "Herd CDs", will be followed by the usual beta and release candidate cycle, with the stable release available on 19 April 2007. According to Mark Shuttleworth, "the main themes for development in this release will be improvements to hardware support in the laptop, desktop and high-end server market, and an aggressive adoption of emerging desktop technologies. Ubuntu's Feisty release will put the spotlight on multimedia enablement and desktop effects. We expect this to be a very gratifying release for both users and developers." For more details please see the Feisty Fawn Release Dates page.
* * * * *
Yellow Dog Linux 5.0
The much awaited Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 with its Enlightenment-powered desktop for Sony PlayStations will be released on 27 November 2006. That's according to the project's freshly updated delivery page. As usual, the ISO images will initially be available to paying subscribers of the YDL.net service only, while those users who prefer the official DVD set will be able to order them from the Terra Soft Solution's online store (US$49.95 - US$99.95, depending on support options) starting 11 December. The company will release a freely downloadable set of CD/DVD images to public in late December, shortly after Christmas.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
In last week's issue we asked our readers to comment on the subject of several major distributions' aggressive linking to their respective pages on DistroWatch. Although most of these links were clearly marked as external and they were probably intended simply as useful pages providing additional information, the links had a side effect of increasing the Page Hit Ranking statistics of those distributions that linked to DistroWatch. As a result, we asked our readers whether these visits should be included in the page hit statistic, or not.
As always, your opinions varied widely. In the end, we have decided to leave things as they were - visits from external sites do represent "interest" in the distribution so it doesn't seem fair to discard them. Also, as a result of our discussion here, the Fedora project later removed its prominently displayed link to DistroWatch from the project's front page, thus alleviating the need for immediate action. Although certain other distributions continue linking to their respective pages on DistroWatch, these are not as prominent as the Fedora project's link and do not attract excessive levels of page views.
One more point while on the subject of page hit statistics: the table ranking distributions according to the number of page views will NOT be removed from the main page. DistroWatch has counted these hits and displayed the results since the very beginning of the site and the statistics attracted, rightly or wrongly, plenty of interest (and even abuse) over the years. It is a unique feature of the site - an ongoing popularity contest among the many hundreds of projects in the BSD/Linux distro world. And although the results are not scientific by any stretch of the imagination, we believe that they give a decent indication of which distributions are hot at any particular point in time.
Besides, they are fun, no?
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
- DiscoverStation. DiscoverStation is a complete Linux operating system pre-integrated with a suite of public computer management software and Userful's 10-to-1 desktop advantage. With DiscoverStation and sufficient video cards, mice and keyboards, up to ten users can independently browse the Internet, send email and run a wide variety of productivity software all from one computer box. Built on Red Hat's Fedora Core, DiscoverStation is a robust, multi-user desktop computing platform that can be customised to address a wide variety of public computing applications.
- Olive. Olive is minimalistic Linux live CD based on Debian GNU/Linux. It offers a number of rarely-seen features, such as a unique boot process using a combination of BusyBox and GHLI, a modular script interpreter, a custom package management tool called UniPKG, a read-write live CD infrastructure with Unionfs and Squashfs, and the Enlightenment window manager. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate ease-of-use of Linux and to showcase interesting new technologies. (Note: Olive replaces Dead CD in the DistroWatch database.)
- paldo. paldo is a hybrid (source and binary), Upkg-driven GNU/Linux distribution and live CD. Besides aiming to be simple, pure, up-to-date and standards-compliant, paldo offers automatic hardware detection, one application per task, and a standard GNOME desktop.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Absolute. Absolute is a light-weight modification of Slackware Linux. It includes several utilities that make configuration and maintenance easier and it has many common desktop and Internet applications installed and configured with tight integration of menus, applications and mimetypes. Absolute uses Uses IceWM and Rox filer for its window and file managers.
- Omaemona 2ch/Linux. Omaemona 2ch/Linux is a Japanese live CD based on Linux From Scratch and featuring the pkgutils package management system from CRUX. It is optimised for browsing the 2ch.net Japanese web portal.
- LernTux. LernTux is a German Linux live CD with a collection of educational software. The latest version is based on Mandriva Linux 2007.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And that concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 20 November 2006. Until then,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
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