| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 184, 8 January 2007
Welcome to this year's second issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week DistroWatch continues its assessment of some of the more exciting events of the year 2006, with brief reviews of TrueBSD 0.1 and gNewSense 1.0 - two projects which were among the most pleasant surprises of the year. In the news section: Mandriva embarks on a large number of updates in its development repository, Xubuntu 'outgrows' its original target, Netwosix announces the start of a new development cycle, and PC-BSD updates users on some of the bugs that have crept into their recent release, version 1.3. Finally, don't miss the new release of elpicx, a great live CD/DVD with a collection of documentation, exercises and simulators to help you prepare for your LPI certification. Happy reading!
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
TrueBSD and gNewSense - two promising projects of 2006 (by Andrei Raevsky)|
The end of 2006 saw some very interesting developments in the realm of live CDs, one in the BSD world and one in the GNU/Linux world: the first release of the TrueBSD live CD by Belorussian developers and the release by the Free Software Foundation of gNewSense 1.0, an Ubuntu-based, 100% free distro. These two separate events, each of which are important breakthroughs in their own rights, attest to the tremendous vitality of the free software world.
TrueBSD version 0.1 is the first release of a FreeBSD-based mini distro (200 MB). Unlike the other high-end Russian FreeBSD-based mini live CD, Frenzy, which I reviewed for DistroWatch in the past, TrueBSD is not aimed at the experienced system administrator, but at the general user. Thus these two distros wonderfully complement each other.
TrueBSD began as the college research project of a talented computer science student, Aleksei Sokolov, who is currently studying in the Belorussian capital city of Minsk (Aleksei also has two jobs, one as a system administrator and the other as a system administrator/software developer). For a long while, Aleksei could not come up with an interesting idea for his research project, and the projects of the other students appeared rather boring to him. Since he always has a personal need for a live CD he decided on creating one himself which he presented to his teachers as an early TrueBSD 0.1BETA1 for which he received the highest possible grade. Subsequently, he developed TrueBSD 0.1 almost entirely on his own.
TrueBSD has plenty of eye candy, including Xfce, a very cool looking desktop, and a catchy logo. Command line aficionados will delight in the advanced (Bash compatible) Zsh terminal. All the main applications, which include, AbiWord, Emacs, Xmms, MPlayer, Firefox, Sylpheed and Gaim, are accessible via one click on the panel), while others, including the super-fast Links browser, are accessible via a right-click. TrueBSD is easy and intuitive to use. The only thing which might confuse a newbie is the absence of a convenient mounting utility on the desktop (mounting is done either through the command line or with the basic, but functional, TrueConf utility). TrueBSD also has a couple of solid system administration tools (e.g. Nessus), a DOS emulator, a wide choice of text editors and some neat games (e.g. Doom2). The documentation includes the man and info pages and the official FreeBSD Handbook.
All-in-all, TrueBSD is already a stunning success, specially for a version 0.1. It offers a very comfortable choice of applications, a rock-solid operating system, and plenty of intuitive ways to familiarize newbies with FreeBSD. My only regret was the small size of 200 MB instead of a full-size (compressed) 700 MB distro. The good news is that Sokolov is planning to release the next version, planned for the second quarter of 2007, in two (200 MB and 700 MB) editions, and that this second release will be a major upgrade of the distro. Hopefully, Aleksei Sokolov's project will benefit from the help of other talented developers, testers and TrueBSD-specific documentation writers as this distro clearly has the potential to grow into the reference distro for BSD-based live CDs.
TrueBSD's creator can be contacted through the distro's website: www.truebsd.org.
TrueBSD 0.1: a general-purpose FreeBSD-based live CD with a graphical desktop
(full image size: 164kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
gNewSense is the creation of two Irish free software advocates and developers, Brian Brazil and Paul O'Malley. This Ubuntu-based distro's unique feature is that it is 100% free: there are no undocumented applications, no proprietary software of any kind and even the Linux kernel has been freed from the so-called "binary blobs", or executable code bits which are loaded into the kernel. gNewSense also has its own repositories which contains only free software.
The name gNewSense is, in part, in honor of the "Father of Free Software", Richard Stallman, whose is sometimes called "Chief GNUisance"; it is also, of course, in honor of the GNU project and its values. The project received the support of the Free Software Foundation which officially announced the release of gNewSense on November 2nd, 2006.
While gNewSense has some original (and beautiful) art work of its own, it is unique in that it deliberately offers less, not more, than most other distros. By removing all non-free components, Brian Brazil and Paul O'Malley deliberately sacrificed functionality to the basic principle of using only free software. This can appear as a rather poor trade-off until one remembers that it is precisely these values and principles which made such things as the Linux kernel or the Wikipedia possible.
It is also remarkable how little was really sacrificed. With some notable exceptions, in particular the "loss" of some wireless modules and the lack of some video libraries, very little is missing and it is rather amazing how much can already be achieved with only free software.
Another original feature of gNewSense is that it is not intended as a monolithic distro, but rather as a basis for the creation of many other, possibly more specialized, distros. Brazil and O'Malley have created a collection of scripts, called Builder scripts, which make it easy for anyone to create his or her own highly customizable and 100% free distribution. All that is needed is some disk space and a fast connection and in a couple of simple steps (outlined on the gNewSense.org website) you can create your own completely free distro.
Clearly, gNewSense version 1.0 already goes beyond the simple proof-of-concept stage and will become the reference implementation of a completely free GNU/Linux distribution. The real question is whether there is any demand out there for such product, and the simple answer is yes, very much so. The simple fact that four terabytes of gNewSense ISO images and packages downloaded in just one day from the Free Software Foundation's servers which host the gNewSense.org web site is the best proof of the interest generated. Furthermore, at a time when many major GNU/Linux distributions are being assimilated by the corporate world, a totally free distro, especially one running with a free LinuxBIOS can serve as the reference against which proprietary operating systems, such as Windows Vista or Mac OS X should be compared.
Volunteers and interested people are encouraged to visit #gnewsense at irc.freenode.net to join the gNewSense community.
gNewSense 1.0: an Ubuntu-based distribution built exclusively from Free Software
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TrueBSD and gNewSense are two very good examples of the vibrant dynamism of the free software world. While in the past BSD-based live CDs tended to lag behind the GNU/Linux ones, distros such a TrueBSD (or Frenzy) are showing that BSD is catching up very fast and that just a few talented and dedicated developers can make the difference. Neither TrueBSD nor gNewSense are fully finished products, but they form an excellent core for future developments which will dramatically increase the choice of operating systems available to the public.
Disclaimer: Andrei Raevsky is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.
Mandriva Cooker updates, Arch Linux interview, Xubuntu "growth", return of Netwosix, PC-BSD 1.3 bugs, elpicx
Let's start with a few updates from Fabrice Facorat, one of the developers of Mandriva Linux. According to his Cooker: The Inside Man IV, the French distribution has started the new year with a flurry of activity that should ensure a timely release of version 2007.1 in a few months. Among the more interesting points of the post are the details about problems with the native 64-bit edition of OpenOffice.org, the upcoming switch from LILO to GRUB as Mandriva's default boot loader, Beryl issues with Mesa and X.Org, and the availability of KDE 4 alpha which can be installed alongside KDE 3. There is much more, so if you are following the development of Mandriva Linux or are looking forward to the distribution's next release, the Inside Man does an excellent job to keep us up-to-date.
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Arch Linux is a distribution that keeps getting positive reviews from the more technically inclined Linux users, especially for its excellent package manager and a simple, clean system. Last week, the project's founder and lead developer Judd Vinet agreed to answer a few questions presented to him by OSSBlog.it. He talks about the beginnings of Arch Linux and explains the philosophy of the distribution, but also hints at some new features in the upcoming release, version 0.8: "Voodoo (Arch Linux 0.8) will sport a new installation CD layout, as well as a new early user-space model mostly developed by Aaron Griffin. It employs the use of 'hooks' to enable various features at boot time, such as full hard disk encryption." Read the full interview here.
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Xubuntu is a Linux distribution that doesn't often figure in the news headlines, but as an official sub-project of Ubuntu, it has become fairly popular, especially among those users who want to run a Linux operating system on older, less powerful computers. Unfortunately, it seems that Xubuntu has been slowly making moves towards becoming a resource-heavy distribution, not much lighter than Ubuntu itself: "And so the 'Gnomification' rolls onward, and the weight of Xubuntu grows with each revolution. To me, that's a death knell for the underlying principle of Xubuntu: to make Ubuntu usable on older machines that lack the speed and muscle of modern rigs." The author of the above quote also mentions other worrying trends, such as Xubuntu's effort to turn the Xfce desktop into a GNOME "mockup" or the decision to replace the light-weight Sylpheed mail client with the heavy-duty Thunderbird. Read this post to learn more about Xubuntu's worrying development direction.
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Remember Netwosix? It used to be a great security-oriented Linux distribution designed for specialist tasks, such as penetration testing. That's until its founder, Vincenzo Ciaglia, decided to take a paid position with Guardian Digital, the developers of EnGarde Secure Linux, and abandoned the project. The good news is that Netwosix is now back: "Yes, Netwosix will be re-born! After I decided to leave Guardian Digital, I'm working on NETWOSIX-NG, with the primary goal of introducing complete support for SELinux. My goal is still to create one of the best secure-by-default GNU/Linux distribution. If you have comments or any kind of suggestion please let's discuss it together here." For more information please read this post on Netwosix.org.
* * * * *
The recent release of PC-BSD 1.3, a user-friendly operating system based on FreeBSD, has turned out to be more troublesome than expected. Several serious bugs were reported by those who installed the new release and these were subsequently summarised in a blog post by Tim McCormick: "With the recent release of 1.3 we've seen (as always) a mixed reception. However, one of the largest gripes seems to be our apparently inexplicable decision to use HAL despite its slightly buggy nature. I'd like to take a moment to clear that up." McCormick believes that the decision to switch to Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) in PC-BSD 1.3 was correct and expects the problems to be ironed out by the FreeBSD developers in the near future. Besides HAL, one other issue that has come up since the release is an installer bug which can, in some cases, cause loss of data. If you are planning to install PC-BSD 1.3, please read this blog post before placing your installation media into the CD-ROM drive.
* * * * *
Thinking about taking that long-delayed LPI certification exam in the new year? Then we have some great news for you: Karl Schock has emailed us to announce the release of elpicx 0.3, a KNOPPIX-based live CD with a collection of documentation, exercises, example solutions and simulators to help you prepare for the exams of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI). Available in English and German, the CD includes a number of LPI training manuals in PDF format, as well as entertaining exam simulators for LPI exams 101, 102, 201 and 202, where you can test your knowledge. Besides the live CD, the project has also released a dual-boot live DVD with KNOPPIX and CentOS as two available options to boot into. For more information please visit the project's web site at elearnit.de. Here is a quick link to download the elpicx 0.3 English live CD: elpicx_03_20060623_CD_EN.iso (691MB, MD5). Update: here is a link to the elpicx CD torrent: elpicx_en_cd.torrent.
The elpicx live CD provides a number of ways to prepare for the LPI exams.
(full image size: 137kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
|Released Last Week
An updated stable version of SystemRescueCd has been released. From the changelog: "Updated the kernel to Linux 220.127.116.11 with Reiser4; updated ntfs-3g to 20061218 (full NTFS read and write support); optimized space usage to reduce the size of the disc; added option 'dodhcp' to get a dynamic IP at boot time; added option 'dostartx' to run X.Org environment at boot time; added lshw (hardware listing); improved support for hardware."
Endian Firewall 2.1
A new community release of Red Hat-based Endian Firewall is now available. What's new in version 2.1? "GUI: check boxes instead of multi-select select boxes within network wizard, SSL certificate will only be generated if the host or domain name is changed; VPN: OpenVPN server displays CA certificate, gives the possibility to configure port and protocol, allows to configure multiple networks per user; rewrite of backup service: each backup can be downloaded with a single click, user can decide what to include; other changes: merged in changes of R*EL, updated SpamAssassin, p3scan, ClamAV and fcron, solved problem of gaps within graphs, installation, restores and factory default stores meta-information about the used archive...." More details in the release notes.
SabayonLinux 3.25 has been released, now with the latest X.Org 7.2, the new Kernel Virtual Machine, Beryl 0.1.4 and other enhancements. From the changelog: "Linux kernel 18.104.22.168; the first live implementation of the new Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) supporting both Intel and AMD architectures; X.Org 7.2 RC3 with better LCD/CRT display detection, improved Intel graphics cards support and more stable ATI open source drivers; new NetworkManager stack that supports many wireless cards; Beryl 0.1.4 with a nearly perfect OpenGL auto-detection and configuration; NVIDIA drivers 1.0-9631 and latest ATI drivers; new Kicker menu picture and better default cursors...." Read the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Puppy Linux 2.13
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 2.13: "The final release of version 2.13 has been uploaded. This build has the complete suite of kernel drivers. More compact builds with a subset of the full driver suite and different selections of applications will follow soon." From the release notes: "NdisWrapper upgraded to v1.33, which fixes the problem; Soxgui, a great little front-end for SoX and FFmpeg, which can perform various operations on audio files, including file format conversion; Geany text editor upgraded to v0.10; Isomaster ISO file editor tool upgraded to v0.6; SeaMonkey upgraded to v1.0.6...." Read the release announcement and release notes for further details.
Bluewhite64 Linux 11.0 Live CD
A 64-bit Slackware-based live CD, Bluewhite64 Linux 11.0, has been released: "Bluewhite64 11.0 Live CD runs entirely from CD and includes almost all packages from Bluewhite64 11.0, including updated packages from the patches directory. The Live CD was created using Linux Live 5.5.0 scripts and uses the Unification File System. You will not see any differences between running this live CD and installing Bluewhite64 11.0 Linux on your hard drive. You can run the same software from the Live CD, for your server or workstation, in just a few seconds. Bluewhite64 11.0 Live CD main features are: Linux 22.214.171.124 SMP-ready kernel, GCC 3.4.6 with NPTL support, X.Org 6.9, KDE 3.5.4, Firefox 126.96.36.199...." Here is the full release announcement.
Fonality has announced the release of trixbox 2.0, a CentOS-based distribution featuring the Asterisk open source PBX software: "Fonality today released trixbox 2.0, a free, easy to use, open source telephony and application platform. The new version, available for immediate download, can be installed in less than 15 minutes, supports multiple languages and provides increased reliability and stability, flexible user customization, and support for a wide-range of hardware vendors. The software also allows the community to upgrade individual deployment components versus having to reinstall from scratch with each upgrade. trixbox.org will also be hosting its first ever training Webinar entitled 'Building An Open Source IP-PBX With trixbox 2.0' on January 30, 2007." See the press release for more information.
LG3D LiveCD 3.0
LG3D LiveCD 3.0, a bootable CD featuring the recently released version 1.0 or the Java-based 3D Desktop known as Project Looking Glass, is now available for download: "Finally LG3D LiveCD 3.0 has been released. Based on SLAX 5.1.8, this LG3D LiveCD 3.0 showcases Sun Microsystem's stunning 3D desktop Project Looking Glass 3D (LG3D). New in this release: includes the first stable LG3D release (1.0); improved stability and reliability; early prototype of hard disk installer; updated and simplified project homepage." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Klaus Knopper has released a bug-fix update to KNOPPIX 5.1, with corrections to the Kicker bug and update to Firefox. From the changelog: "V5.1.1 2007-01-04. Updated Kicker and kdebase (while fixing a nasty bug that made Kicker 'disappear' in all but the first desktop; updated ntfs-3g (writing speed improvements); sudo helper for kdesu; X.Org updates from Debian unstable; IceWeasel and IceDove (Firefox and Thunderbird) updates; kwlan for WLAN with WEP/WPA in Knoppix menu; added VLAN configurator; fixed '2nd reboot fails' bug when installing Knoppix with ReiserFS by downgrading GRUB; added French translation to mkbootdev; removed KDE documentation and Java demos from CD...."
Dreamlinux 2.2 is out: "The final version of Dreamlinux 2.2 Multimedia Edition has been released. Having many improvements compared with the previous version, Dreamlinux 2.2 Multimedia Edition brings countless new features. The kernel is 2.6.18, and the distro uses Debian 'testing' repositories. A greater number of applications for multimedia have been added, allowing to open and manipulate many different types of audio and video files. Beyond the many updates, other refinements have also been incorporated: upgrade assistant, new control panel, and the 'Easy-Install' application that allows the user to install non-Debian programs like Google Earth, Picasa, Opera, etc." Please visit the distribution's product page to learn more about the new release.
Zenwalk Linux 4.2
Jean-Philippe Guillemin has announced the release of Zenwalk Linux 4.2: "Version 4.2 of Zenwalk Linux is officially released. This version comes with the Linux kernel 188.8.131.52 and X.Org 7.1.1, along with new features and hundreds of updated packages. Some of the more noticeable changes include 'Zenpanel' which is Zenwalk's new system configuration panel that makes customizing your Linux system easy. Zenwalk 4.2 desktop introduces a new panel layout and RSS feed reader that was added to Xfce. Howl has been replaced with the more modern and supported Avahi Zeroconf subsystem. Python has been upgraded to version 2.5 to bring new features and stability to the overall system." More details 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 waiting list
- BOSS GNU/Linux. BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions) GNU/Linux is a Linux distribution developed by C-DAC for enhancing the use of free and open source software in India. Made specifically for the Indian environment, it consists of a pleasing desktop environment coupled with Indian language support and other packages that are most relevant for use in the government domain.
- elpicx. elpicx is a KNOPPIX-based Linux distribution with the goal to prepare users for the exams of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI). The CD includes documentation, exercises, example solutions and simulators.
- Turanid Linux. Turanid Linux is a new Turkish Linux distribution. That's about all we know about it at this stage.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 15 January 2007. 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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|• 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|
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|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
|• Issue 681 (2016-10-03): OpenBSD 6.0, DragonFly BSD to support LibreSSL in ports, systemd denial of service bug, upgraded Mintbox Mini|
|• Issue 680 (2016-09-26): Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, blocking applications at the firewall, Lenovo controversy, Ubuntu running on the Nextcloud Box|
|• Issue 679 (2016-09-19): OpenMandriva 3.0, 32-bit vs 64-bit performance, openSUSE updates, KaOS unveils first run wizard|
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|• Issue 676 (2016-08-29): Korora 24, Fedora 25 to use Wayland by default, Linux turns 25, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, finding software licensing information|
|• Issue 675 (2016-08-22): Gentoo LiveDVD "Choice Edition", moreutils, Ubuntu improves terminal convergence, MATE packaged for Openindiana, FreeBSD improves video support|
|• Issue 674 (2016-08-15): Zenwalk Linux 8.0, Ubuntu phone follow-up, Lubuntu transitioning to LXQt, Steam running on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
|• Issue 672 (2016-08-01): Ubuntu Phone 15.04, Solus embraces rolling release model, interview with Jane Silber, FreeBSD Quarterly Report|
|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
|• Issue 667 (2016-06-27): GeckoLinux 421, Fedora supports Flatpak, Solus unveils new features, running GNU/Linux on tablets|
|• Issue 666 (2016-06-20): Comparing more live update methods, Ubuntu's snap packages, Antergos drops 32-bit media, GeckoLinux unveils Rolling edition, learning Linux resources|
|• Issue 665 (2016-06-13): BunsenLabs Linux Hydrogen, Fedora 24 delayed, NetBSD grows in size, Clonezilla questions|
|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
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|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
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|• Issue 655 (2016-04-04): Parsix 8.5, Sabayon's Community repository, Red Hat offers free subscriptions, Ubuntu tablets, command line tips|
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|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 652 (2016-03-14): ReactOS 0.4.0, Debian swaps Iceweasel for Firefox, Fedora moving forward with Wayland, Verifying ISO files|
|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
|• Issue 650 (2016-02-29): Haiku in 2016, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, 30 years of MINIX, Fedora plans Atomic Workstation|
|• Issue 649 (2016-02-22): Zorin OS 11, openSUSE launches new editions, Linux Mint website compromised, sandboxing applications using Firejail|
|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
|• Full list of all issues|
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