| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 180, 4 December 2006
Welcome to this year's 49th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It's openSUSE week, as one of the oldest and most popular Linux distributions on the market makes a brand new release on Thursday. Will the project's association with Novell (and, indirectly, Microsoft) hurt the download figures? We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, the much awaited public release from Gaël Duval's Ulteo is about to hit the download mirrors - expect the live CD image later this week. Also in the news: interest in running Linux on Sony PlayStation 3 intensifies, KANOTIX is rocked by resignation of a co-developer, and Ubuntu developers react on the project's decision to include proprietary graphics driver in Feisty. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of DistroWatch's November 2006 donation is the digiKam project. Happy reading!
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openSUSE 10.2 "ready", Ulteo starts public testing, Linux on PS3, KANOTIX troubles
The development of openSUSE 10.2 is over. That's according to this mailing list post by the project's release coordinator Andreas Jaeger: "We've mastered yesterday openSUSE 10.2 RC5 and declared it as 'goldmaster'." The author reveals that the build process for the final set of CD and DVD images has started and should be completed by the official release date later this week - on the 7th December. However, he also warns that "there are still a lot of bugs open for 10.2 and I'm sure real usage over time will find some more." One other interesting piece of information: the next version of openSUSE will be released in around (the northern hemisphere's) "summer", which probably translates to around June - July 2007, and is in line with the project's 6-month release cycle. That's all we know at this stage, so get your BitTorrent clients ready for a download rush on Thursday!
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Speaking about new releases, those waiting impatiently for the first public test of Ulteo, a mysterious new distribution developed by Gaël Duval, the founder of Mandrake Linux, are about to get an early Christmas gift: "On the 5th or 6th of December, we are going to release the first installable Ulteo live CD (for PC). At the same time, we are going to unveil the basic ideas behind Ulteo." The Ulteo newsletter also talks about the progress achieved during the last few months and reasons for the delay of the first development build, which was originally scheduled for release in May 2006. For more information (in English, French, German and Italian) please read the Ulteo Newsletter.
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The popularity of the Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) in the Linux developer community is growing by the day. While PS3 does not ship with a full Linux-based operating system as some early rumours suggested, Sony has released an installer that enables installation of a third-party operating system on the gaming console. Terra Soft Solutions has already released its Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 for Sony PlayStation 3 (it should be available for free download around Christmas), but those distributions that provide PowerPC editions of their products should also be compatible with Sony's new hardware. In the meantime, IGN has published a comprehensive review of Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 concluding that, although the distribution is indeed capable of delivering Linux desktop functionality to the PS3, lack of video acceleration combined with low amount of available system memory makes the product unsuitable for heavy-duty multimedia work.
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One of the reasons for the explosion in Linux distribution numbers in recent years is the inability of many developers to agree on common goals and work things out if disagreements arise. The latest project that has succumbed to personal conflicts over its directions is KANOTIX, a Debian and KNOPPIX-based live CD which has become one of the best-loved second-tier Linux distributions on the market. Unfortunately, as announced last week, the distribution's co-developer Stefan Lippers-Hollmann has decided to resign from the project and create a new distribution called Sidux. It has also emerged that Jörg Schirottke, the founder of KANOTIX, is considering to switch the distribution's base from Debian's unstable branch to Ubuntu and possibly attempt a more commercial orientation of the distribution - moves that are likely to displease some KANOTIX users. For a more detailed summary of the current crisis in the project please read The KANOTIX distro implodes by Tuxmachines.
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Lately, many Linux news sites have been drawn into the old debate about the inclusion of proprietary kernel drivers and other non-free software into Linux distributions. This is against the guidelines of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) which has long argued that all software should be free and compliant with the principles of four software freedoms. Unfortunately for FSF, most Linux distributions place usability ahead of software freedom, which explains why only six -- mostly obscure -- distributions (out of some 300+) have been approved by FSF for use. And although some major ones, such as Fedora Core or Debian GNU/Linux appear to respect the principles of software freedom on the surface, the FSF still rejects them due to various reasons (presence of a non-free branch in Debian, acceptance of sourceless firmware in Fedora, etc).
The debate intensified in recent weeks after Ubuntu had announced that, in line with its promise to deliver a 3D-enabled, eye-catching Linux desktop to a wider audience, its upcoming release will give preference to proprietary kernel drivers for the ATI and NVIDIA video cards over the free ones by X.Org. Since then many user forums and web logs have been full of varied opinion on the subject. Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth explained the move in his own web log, while several other well-known Ubuntu/Debian developers have also felt needs to express their views (read Scott James Remnant: Slippery Slopes and Benjamin Mako Hill: Bring the Bling?).
As in any democratic group, opinions on the issue tend to vary from radical viewpoints by the supporters of the FSF ideals and the pragmatic (or ignorant?) attitudes of those end users who expect their hardware to work to its full potential irrespective of the operating system. Or, as Groklaw likes to put, it's a toss between software freedom and market share - either an uncompromising stance on the values of software freedom or an understanding that software freedom can only be realised once Linux achieves a certain market share.
Whatever your view, it can be fascinating to read about some of the conflicting opinions expressed publicly by well-known Linux and open source personalities who don't always agree with FSF. Take this mailing list post by Linus Torvalds. In it, the creator of the Linux kernel argues against the newly drafted General Public License (GPL) version 3 and also adds a few unflattering comments about the Free Software Foundation:
The fact that the FSF has tried to paint Linux as a GNU project (going as far as trying to rename it "GNU/Linux" at every opportunity they get) is their confusion, not ours. ... Linux from the very beginning was not about the FSF ideals, but about "Full source must be available". It also talked about "Free", but that very much was "Free as in beer, not as in freedom", and I decided to drop that later on. How much clearer can I be? I've actively tried to promote "Open Source" as an alternative to "Free Software", so the FSF only has itself to blame over the confusion.
Of course, Linus Torvalds is a rather straightforward person, so there are few surprises about the way he rejects the idea that a potential move to GPL3 should be decided by a public poll:
Here's a poll for you:
- go write your own kernel
- poll which one is more popular
It really is that simple.
What do you think? Do you consider the Free Software Foundation as the ultimate authority fighting for our software freedom rights or do you think that its uncompromising stance is at times detrimental to the progress of Linux and open source software? And how do you feel about Ubuntu's decision to enable desktop eye candy with proprietary kernel modules, in spite of tainting the Linux kernel with closed-source code? Please discuss below.
|Released Last Week
SabayonLinux 3.2 has been released: "We are glad to announce another big, even more powerful SabayonLinux release. These are the major improvements: reduced boot time thanks to the integration of Unionfs and parallel execution of some boot tasks; improved hardware support: new drivers, USB scanner support, implementation of NVIDIA legacy drivers infrastructure, ATI drivers support, JMicron ATA support, AM2 NVIDIA mainboards support; improved SabayonLinux installer speed and reliability; 2GB Squashfs limit broken - this means more applications and complete localization support; new accelerated desktop infrastructure for managing Beryl...." Read the complete release announcement for more details.
Yellow Dog Linux 5.0
Terra Soft Solutions has announced the release of Yellow Dog Linux 5.0, a distribution designed for Sony PlayStation 3: "Yellow Dog Linux Enthusiasts, the wait is over! Six months of design, engineering, integration, and testing has culminated in the finest release from Terra Soft to date. Designed, not just assembled, Yellow Dog Linux v5.0 featuring Enlightenment 17 is immediately available via YDL.net Enhanced accounts for your PlayStation 3." Yellow Dog Linux is based on Fedora Core and Linux kernel 2.6.16. Besides the default Enlightenment desktop, it also includes GNOME 2.14, KDE 3.5.3 and the usual range of popular open source software applications. For more information please read the release announcement and visit the distribution's product pages.
Caixa Mágica 11
Caixa Mágica is a Portuguese distribution for i586 and x86_64 processors, based on SUSE Linux. Caixa Mágica 11 is designed for both desktops and servers; it offers an easy-to-use desktop environment with KDE or GNOME, custom configuration utilities, intuitive installation program with an option to resize NTFS partitions, convenient software installation and updates via apt-get (for RPM) and Synaptic, improved hardware detection and support, and a complete desktop environment in Portuguese. The project's latest release, version 11, was originally announced (both links in Portuguese) two weeks ago, but only now have the CD and DVD images made available for free download.
Ubuntu Christian Edition 2.0, 1.5.1
Ubuntu Christian Edition 2.0, the project's first release based on the recently released Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft", is now available for download: "We are excited to announce the release of Ubuntu CE v2.0. Improvements have been made all around, such as faster system boot up times, faster GNOME start up times, improvements to the user interface, a shiny new optimized kernel, GNOME 2.16 and much more." The release includes several new and upgraded software applications, notably F-Spot digital photo manager, Firefox 2.0, Evolution 2.8.0 and OpenOffice.org 2.0.4, as well as a better technical incorporation of the Ubuntu CE themes. Please read the full the release announcement for further details.
Xandros Desktop 4.1
Xandros Corporation has announced the release of Xandros Desktop 4.1 (marketed as Xandros Desktop 4 Professional): "Xandros, the leading provider of easy-to-use Linux alternatives to Windows, today announced the addition of 'Xandros Desktop - Professional,' featuring advanced 3D desktop graphics effects, Bluetooth wireless support, desktop search and ISV support." The new product is based on Debian 3.1 "sarge" and includes the latest kernel 2.6.18, KDE 3.4.2, Firefox 2.0, CrossOver Office 5.9.1 and many other software applications for the desktop. 3D video effects with Xgl/Compiz and the Beagle desktop search tool are among the new features included in the distribution for the first time. Please read the press release and visit the product's feature page for additional information.
Damn Small Linux 3.1
Damn Small Linux 3.1 has been released. Excerpts from the final changelog: "Converted 54 Lua and Lua/Fltk programs to Lua 5.1.1 Fltk 1.1 via MurgaLua interface; Updated SQLite to 3.3.6; made Unionfs the default boot; improved mount tool for 'after boot' pen drive support; updated hard drive install for consistent fstab; New boot option 'dosswapfile' to auto-scan or specify DOS swap file; new boot option 'fuse' to load upon boot the FUSE file system; improved Antiword fonts; added right click to MyDSL Icon for easy UCItool access; changed color escape codes to echo commands; made mydsl boot option consistent with restore boot option; new theme - Envane...." Read the rest of the changelog for more details.
The inaugural release of 64Studio, a specialist distribution with a collection of software for digital content creation, is out: "The 64 Studio project produces a distribution of native free software for digital content creation on x86_64 hardware. After eighteen months of development, the project has made its first stable release available for free download. It is named in recognition of the work of Glyn Johns and Eddie Kramer at Olympic Studios in London. The distribution is based on the pure 64 port of Debian GNU/Linux, testing branch, but with a specialised package selection and lots of other customisations. The 64 Studio project also produces a 32-bit edition for legacy PC hardware." Read the full press release for more information.
The first stable release of 64Studio was announced last week.
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Parsix GNU/Linux 0.85
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.85 has been released: "We are proud to announce that a brand new version of Parsix GNU/Linux is available now. This version brings the latest open source technologies to your PC. Highlights are: GNOME 2.16.2, X.Org 7.1, Linux kernel 2.6.18 with many extra patches and drivers including CK performance and Suspend2 patches and many wireless drivers, Intel ipw3945 wireless support, OpenOffice.org 2.0.4, GNU IceWeasel 2.0 web browser, seamless hibernation and suspend support, newly released xFarDic 0.8.0 multilingual dictionary, updated installer, new artwork, NTFS read/write support using ntfs3g, updated documentation and support for 3D desktop using AIGLX/Compiz. Packages are synchronized with Debian Etch repository as Nov 30, 2006." The release announcement.
Michael Creel has announced a new major release of ParallelKnoppix: "ParallelKnoppix 2.0 is released. The 2.x series makes setting up and using the cluster even easier than before. It is also much easier to save a ParallelKnoppix setup for re-use. Of course, it is also possible to use a ParallelKnoppix cluster without leaving traces on the host machines. The 2.x series is focused on MPI-based parallel computing - PVM is no longer supported. Some details: kernel 220.127.116.11, KDE 3.5.4, new non-parametric multivariate density estimation example using MPITB for GNU Octave." Visit the project's home page to read the release announcement.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|November 2006 donation: digiKam receives €300|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of our November 2006 donation is the digiKam project (€300).
digiKam doesn't need much introduction, as most KDE users who own digital cameras are likely familiar with the software. An advanced photo-album, with tagging and light image editing features, and with support for external plugins, digiKam is developed by Gilles Caulier and a small team of core developers. The current stable version is 0.8.2, but a rapidly developing 0.9.0, with a host of new features, shouldn't be too far away.
As always, the monthly donations programme is a joint initiative between DistroWatch, which allocates 10% of its advertising revenue, and three online shops selling low-cost CDs and DVDs with Linux, BSD and other open source software - LinuxCD.org, OSDisc.com and TheLinuxShop.co.uk. The three CD/DVD vendors contributed US$50.00 each towards this month's donation to digiKam.
Here is the list of projects that received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme:
Since the launch of the DistroWatch Donations Programme in March 2004, we have donated a total of US$10,940 to various open source software projects.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Dinux. Dinux is a KNOPPIX-based Spanish Linux live CD with support for the Basque (Euskara) language.
- Xpress Linux. Xpress Linux is a Kubuntu-based distribution developed with a goal of making Linux more accessible to Windows users.
Xpress Linux is the latest addition to the growing list of Ubuntu-based distributions.
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DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 December 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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