| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 178, 20 November 2006
Welcome to this year's 47th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It was a relatively quiet week, only disturbed by the news about Java being released under the GPL and the unusual levels of interest in the new Linux Mint 2.0. This week's discussion revolves around adding third-party repositories to Ubuntu and other distributions; while the goal of extending the number of easily installable software packages sounds good, mindless addition of repositories can not only compromise system security, it can also break one's system beyond repair. Also in the news: Debian "etch" delays, Fedora 6 usage statistics, FreeBSD's new Security Event Auditing (SEA) system, and an opinion about including proprietary kernel modules in Linux distributions. Finally, the DistroWatch database saw an addition of four new Linux distributions last week; these include the low-end Fluxbuntu Linux and the user-friendly Ulteo. Happy reading!
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Etch delay, software repositories in Ubuntu and Mandriva, Fedora 6 usage figures, security event auditing in FreeBSD 6.2
After a flurry of recent controversial announcements by Oracle and Novell -- and the subsequent reaction by the open source community -- things have quietened down considerably last week. Linux Mint stole the spotlight due to a new release of its Ubuntu-based distribution, enhanced by many proprietary components. But many other projects continued to work towards their upcoming releases - openSUSE will announce the release candidate for 10.2 later this week, while Debian GNU/Linux is about to enter the "hard freeze" period prior to its December 4.0 release. The FreeBSD project also continues the development of its new, security enhanced version 6.2. So don't stop visiting DistroWatch during the coming weeks; unlike most other end-of-the-year periods, the pre-Christmas days of 2007 are promising to deliver a number of new distribution releases to keep us all busy during the holidays - reporting bugs, writing reviews and posting our experiences in blogs. It should be an exciting end of the year!
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Rarely does a new product generate as much excitement in the Linux community as a new release of Debian GNU Linux - a comparatively rare event on the distributions' release calendar. With version 4.0 (code name "etch") scheduled to appear next months, many are wondering about the effect Ubuntu's work and growing popularity had on its famous parent and the new features the largest Linux distribution is bringing to the table. Disappointingly, it appears that original release date of December 3rd will slip by a few weeks - that's according to the latest update as posted by Steve Langasek on the debian-devel mailing list: "The release will probably be delayed by about the same as the full freeze, that is a month. We hope to still release in December 2006." The same post also reveals the code name for the next version of Debian GNU/Linux: "If you managed to read so far: congratulations! That means you get to be one of the lucky first 10 people to know the code name for the next Debian release: it will be called 'Lenny'."
On a related note, the first release candidate of Debian Installer for etch was also released last week: "The Debian Installer team is proud to announce the first release candidate (RC1) of the installer for Debian GNU/Linux Etch. ... Note that at least one more release of the installer is expected before Etch is released; this next release of the installer will use the 2.6.18 kernel. Installation CDs, other media, errata and everything else you'll need are available from our web site." If you'd like to help with testing, please download the "netinstall" ISO images from here: debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso (128MB), debian-testing-amd64-netinst.iso (114MB).
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How many third-party Ubuntu repositories do you have in your sources.list file? Since a default installation of the single-CD Ubuntu is rather bare, many users tend to follow one of the numerous online guides to add extra software (and extra software repositories) to their base systems. An extreme example of aggressive addition of Ubuntu software repositories is this sources.list file which contains no fewer than 79 locations for binary DEB packages. It goes without saying that the majority of these packages are unsupported and some may even seriously mess up your Ubuntu system. Use at your own risk!
This proliferation of third-party repositories has led to some interesting questions. Why are there so many of them? Wouldn't it be simpler to create a "contrib" directory on Ubuntu's servers for interested contributors to upload their files? Or do these external repositories exist because, as some argue, it isn't particularly easy to contribute directly to Ubuntu? And why do so many people choose to create their own mini-repositories instead of filing bug reports or improving the main packages? If you know the answers, please discuss them in the forum below. Also, if you are an Ubuntu user, how many external repositories do you have in your sources.list file? Which of them do you consider essential? Have you experienced any problems after installing software from third-party repositories? Do you bother to check the reputation of the developer providing the files or do you just blindly install whatever gets suggested in some forum post and hope for the best? Please share your experiences, good or bad.
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Speaking about software repositories, Mandriva has posted an update on what is currently available for the recently released Mandriva Linux 2007, together with some notes on adding/updating software packages with urpmi: "The free and open source software in Mandriva Linux is available from our public mirrors and is split into two sections: main and contrib. The packages in main are officially supported, which means we guarantee that we will fix security issues and major bugs in these packages. The packages in contrib are not officially supported, which means it's up to the maintainers of these packages (whether they are Mandriva staff or volunteers) to decide whether they wish to provide updates or not."
On a related note, Coulier.org has published a comprehensive, 5-page review of Mandriva Linux 2007. The author praises the product for its usability and friendliness, but also highlights some bugs and surprising omissions, such as the lack of any update warning utility, now standard in most other major distributions. From the review: "Although some improvements are still possible, Mandriva 2007 is an excellent OS. ... With the introduction of 3D desktop, not only functionally Linux has become very hard to beat, also the coolness factor is now huge."
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How many Linux users does the world have? This hard-to-gather piece of information continues to mystify some people to the extend that they invent methods that provide at least some rough answers. In case of Fedora Core, its developers have been counting the number of unique IP addresses that connect to the distribution's yum repository to check for available updates. The result? Some 24 days after the release of Fedora Core 6, the number of unique IP addresses exceeded 300,000! This is an impressive figure, especially when taking into account that a large number of Fedora users, notably those running the distribution on servers, have yet to upgrade to the latest release. As always, the figures are not particularly accurate - while many additional users might have connected through the same firewall or proxy server without registering a unique IP address, it's also possible that some Fedora users' IP addresses get allocated dynamically which means that one user can "submit" a new IP address every time he or she checks for updates. Nevertheless, it's nice to know that less than a month after its release, hundreds of thousands of computers around the world already run the latest Fedora Core.
* * * * *
Zenwalk Linux continues to impress. Although based on -- and still mostly compatible with -- Slackware Linux, the distribution's developers continue to depart from their famous parent in order to build a more functional and desktop-oriented Linux operating system. The new Zenwalk 4.0 is the first Slackware-based distribution that ships with a modular X.Org 7.1, while its text-mode installation program has been enhanced by a number of extra modules that help with setting up users, configuring ALSA sound drivers and enabling graphical login. But probably the most useful piece of software in Zenwalk Linux is its Netpkg software management utility (see screenshot below). Easy to configure and use, Netpkg provides a simple way to install hundreds of additional software packages, including KDE and GNOME, from Zenwalk's repositories. The developers of this little distribution have done a great job enhancing Slackware and turning it into a highly up-to-date and amazingly user-friendly operating system, while maintaining the simplicity and reliability of Slackware Linux. Do give it a try!
Zenwalk Linux 4.0: the default desktop with Xfce and the impressive Netpkg software management utility
(full image size: 203kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Another eagerly awaited new operating system release is FreeBSD 6.2. Although the development process is about a month behind the original release schedule, there is still hope that the final version will see the light before the end of the year. But what can the FreeBSD users and fans expect from the new release? The Register has interviewed Robert Watson, the project founder of TrustedBSD, who explains the concepts behind the new Security Event Auditing (SEA) system: "Security Event Auditing refers to the fine-grained logging of security events in the system, and is basic security functionality long overdue in open source operating systems. There are three things that differentiate auditing from traditional OS logging facilities such as syslog: security/reliability, granularity, and configurability." Read the rest of the 3-page interview to learn not only about SEA, but also about post-mortem analysis of cracked systems, protection of data, and other security enhancements added to the upcoming FreeBSD 6.2.
* * * * *
Should you go binary or not? The issue of including binary-only, proprietary kernel modules, such as the NVIDIA and ATI graphics drivers, into the Linux kernel continues to divide the Linux user community. While most of those who have been running Linux for several years understand the obvious benefits of Free Software, many newcomers to the Linux world seem less concerned about the philosophical aspects of Free Software and more interested in making their Linux systems "just work". Although ultimately it's up to each individual to decide whether they can live with non-free components mixed into the Linux kernel, it's also important that the more senior members of the Linux user community explain the benefits of software freedom to the growing numbers of new Linux users. If you are still unclear why installing binary kernel modules may be harmful to long-term software freedom and the benefits it brings, please read this well-written commentary by LWN's Jonathan Corbet.
|Released Last Week
Linux Mint 2.0
Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution whose goal is to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java, and other components. Linux Mint 2.0, code name "Barbara", was released yesterday: "This release is based on Ubuntu 6.10 and uses the Ubuntu installer. The desktop is GNOME 2.16.1 and the kernel is 2.6.17. Barbara comes with the following plugins: Macromedia Flash 9 beta, Sun Java 1.5 Update 9, RealPlayer 10. Support for MP3, Windows and various codecs, encrypted DVDs is installed by default. Barbara comes with Amarok 1.4.4 instead of Rhythmbox. The default artwork is a blue version of the 'Human' theme." Read the release notes for further information.
Puppy Linux 2.12
Barry Kauler has released a new stable version of Puppy Linux. Version 2.12 comes in two editions - a larger "zdrv" edition with "a massive collection of kernel drivers and firmware," while the "standard" SeaMonkey edition "has a cut-down selection of drivers on a par with previous Puppies." From the release notes: "The greatest news for 2.12 is the support for a huge range of kernel modules, using a new 'fetch on demand' system. There are also exciting new mini applications developed by Puppy enthusiasts." Please read the release announcement for further information.
Puppy Linux 2.12 - one of the new features in Puppy 2.12 is "gorgeous fonts".
(full image size: 205kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
A new version of MCNLive, a Mandriva-based live CD with KDE, support for popular media formats, wireless networking and 3D desktop, has been released: "I am glad to announce a new edition of MCNLive, code name Cherbourg, a portable live Linux system based on and 100% compatible with Mandriva Linux 2007. Highlights: 2.6.17 kernel; 3D desktop (AIGLX) with the free X.Org drivers for Intel and ATI video cards; desktop environment: KDE 3.5.4; office suite: KOffice; Opera 9.02; music, video and image applications with most common codecs; Internet and networking applications for all your needs; NTFS read-write support. All this on less than 360 MB." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement.
The MCNLive "Cherbourg" live CD is based on the latest Mandriva Linux 2007.
(full image size: 145kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Olivier Cochard-Labbe has announced a new stable release of FreeNAS, a tiny FreeBSD-based operating system providing free Network Attached Storage (NAS) services. From the changelog: "Updated to FreeBSD 6.2 PRERELEASE; added new geom RAID5 module; fixed su permission; fixed FTP anonymous login; fixed the e2fsck bug, now EXT2 file system should be correctly repaired when errors are detected; added DHCP client option for LAN interface; changed default Samba buffer size to 16384; added option for not erasing the MBR when initializing disk - some RAID controllers store important data in the MBR; replace PHP 4 by PHP 5; replaced mini_httpd by lighttpd; replace sh shell with tcsh; upgraded Samba to 3.0.23a...."
AliXe 0.09 "ICE"
AliXe, a Canadian project known for developing a SLAX-based live CD localised into French, has released a bi-lingual (English and French) edition of their latest version. Called "ICE Edition", the new live CD includes the IceWM window manager, together with a range of GTK+ applications, such as AbiWord, Gnumeric, Bluefish, GIMP, Inkscape, Firefox, Sylpheed, Gaim, GParted, Graveman, etc: "AliXe v0.09 ICE edition is a bilingual live CD (English and French). It's based on SLAX 5.1.8 Popcorn." Read the release announcements in English or French for further details and download information.
AliXe 0.09 "ICE" edition is the project's first release supporting English.
(full image size: 994kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Zenwalk Linux 4.0
Zenwalk Linux 4.0 has been released: "The major version number reflects that X11 is updated to version 7.1, which is a structural modification, system wide. All X software packages have been recompiled, including a large amount of software in the ZenCommunity repository. This is the biggest change since the beginning of the Zenwalk project; however, old Zenwalk 3.x and Slackware 11 X-software packages should be compatible with Zenwalk 4.0. This version of Zenwalk uses the new stable 188.8.131.52 kernel. Netpkg has been updated with a new GTK-based user interface - a total rewrite of the software to become one of the most advanced and intuitive network package managers." More details about the changes and updates in Zenwalk Linux 4.0 are available in the release announcement.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Kids Without. Kids Without is an Edubuntu-based live CD distribution with a collection of educational software for children.
- Ubuntu Multimedia Center. Ubuntu Multimedia Center is a new Ubuntu-based Linux distribution created by Zach Thibeau.
- YaKa. YaKa is a set of scripts whose purpose is to provide an efficient method to deploy an operating system in a heterogeneous computing environment. The result is a distribution consisting of a base system and pre-configured defaults for a number of targets, e.g. Samba/LDAP/NFS server, Samba/NIS/NFS server, desktop for end users, Postfix mail server with anti-virus and anti-spam, etc.
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DistroWatch database summary
And that concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 27 November 2006. Until then,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Network Security Toolkit
Network Security Toolkit (NST) is a bootable live CD based on the Fedora distribution. The toolkit was designed to provide easy access to best-of-breed open source network security applications and should run on most x86 platforms. The main intent of developing this toolkit was to provide the network security administrator with a comprehensive set of open source network security tools. What we find rather fascinating with NST is that we can transform most x86 systems (Pentium II and above) into a system designed for network traffic analysis, intrusion detection, network packet generation, wireless network monitoring, a virtual system service server, or a sophisticated network/host scanner.