| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 189, 12 February 2007
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It was a fairly quiet week, with only Mandriva's new beta release and Linspire's announcement about its partnership with Ubuntu making major headlines. In this week's issue, we have the honour to bring you a rare interview with a female entrepreneur and Linux enthusiast: Dianne Ursini from Pioneer Linux. The news section then starts with a sad news of Florent Villard (Warly) leaving his employer (Mandriva) of eight years, before it continues with an observation about the Linspire announcement, comment on the Fedora release notes issue, update on the second release candidate of Debian Installer, and information about the status of Ulteo. Finally, don't miss several interesting links, such as the story of the RPM package manager and an interview with "Jaromil", the founder and developer of the dyne:bolic multimedia live CD. Happy reading!
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Interview with Dianne Ursini, Pioneer Linux
Pioneer Linux from Technalign is a relatively new arrival on the Linux distribution scene. Based on Kubuntu, it includes Automatix for easy installation of some useful, non-free applications, such as media codecs, browser plugins and device drivers. While a community edition is available for free download from the project's web site, the main value of this commercial distribution is its extensive network of partners and retailers in much of North America which makes it easy for anyone to get a boxed copy of Pioneer Linux or even a complete computer system with Pioneer pre-installed.
We spoke to Dianne Ursini, the founder and CEO of Technalign, about her courage and dedication to pursue a Linux-based enterprise, the Pioneer Linux distribution, and other topics.
* * * * *
DW: Dianne, thank you very much for taking time off your schedule to answer our questions. Can you please introduce yourself to the readers? How old are you? Where do you live? What do you do for living?
DU: I'm Dianne Ursini and CEO of Technalign, Inc. I have been in IT since 1971 starting part-time as a computer operator at 16 on mainframes. So I don't have to answer my age, you can always calculate it :) Actually my mother got me into computers and was a computer operator starting in the 1960s. I live in the Rocky Mountains in Surface Creek, Colorado, on the incline of the Grand Mesa around 7,200 feet above sea level. The company location is in Cedaredge, around 6,200 feet above sea level.
DW: It's not often that DistroWatch has the honour to interview a woman, let alone a female entrepreneur who has based her business on Linux. Can you tell us about the beginnings of your love affair with the open source operating system? What made you choose this line of business?
DU: I came into open source because of my son Preston. He also has been into computers since a very young age. For a long time Preston had been telling me that Linux was the best operating system in the world and was running on it some of the computers we had around. Of course, I didn't pay much attention to Linux or him in the beginning and it actually took a bit of coaxing to get me to look at it, but once I did the rest is Technalign history.
I see Linux as an excellent alternative to Windows. Linux has really grown to be the stable environment with the functionality both companies and individuals are looking for.
DW: Do you use Linux as the main operating system on your desktop?
DU: I haven't used Windows much since around 2003. Actually, working on or using a Windows system is somewhat alien to me now. Using CrossOver Office in the beginning, I ran several applications and that made the transition easy. Of course WINE would work well for some applications as well. Technalign has only two Windows systems in house, one for the shipping department and the other for testing. My personal computer at home runs Pioneer Linux, of course.
Pioneer Linux uses KDE as its default desktop.
(full image size: 452kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
DW: Can you introduce your team to us? How many people work on Pioneer Linux and what are their main responsibilities?
DU: We have three developers who work on Pioneer Linux as well as other applications such as HIATLANTIS, our Customer Relationship Management system. There are also sales people who work with partners and people who call in.
We are working with Automatix as well and will have an edition that will contain most of the demanded applications on a second CD or DVD. This will be able to be used by the Ubuntu and Kubuntu communities as well. The team is currently evaluating an effort to develop a Linux-based Flare phone with Canonical as part of our consumer electronics and Flare line of products. The Flare Phone will be at the high-end of the cellular phone market.
DW: Pioneer Linux is a commercial distribution - you give away free CD images for non-commercial use, but any commercial activity requires a license. How successful has Technalign been so far in selling Pioneer Linux licenses?
DU: Technalign started its Pioneer distribution in November 2006, replacing the Frontier line we carried previously. Pioneer has been accepted more for people to transition off of Windows than our previous products. We have over 800 partners and retailers in the United States and Canada, with one coming on in Italy. The majority of these are moving to Pioneer because of the ease of use over our Frontier line of products previously offered.
We have been successful selling boxed products within our partner and distribution network. I must admit our success has started to climb after a long haul with our previous product. Part of the success is the people at Technalign and our great partner network.
DW: Do you also sell support?
DU: This is a tricky question. We sell support only when and if a Technalign partner is not in the area of a company or individual seeking it. Our distributor, Big Boy Distribution, also provides support for people purchasing products online as well as our partners purchasing products from them directly. Technalign does not sell products directly to the end-user and supports its partner network and lends assistance to the Pioneer community.
Also, we are starting to list jobs available for people with Linux and Windows experience as some of our partners have requested.
DW: Forgive me for being somewhat sceptical, but the Linux distribution market is very crowded at the moment. What makes you believe that your business model of selling a Linux distribution will be profitable? Many have tried this and failed miserably....
DU: We've been doing this since 2002 and have created an extraordinary group of retailers and partners, even while Microsoft continues to combat our efforts in these partner locations. We believe a product such as Pioneer Linux, the relationship with Canonical, and a strong partner network will make Technalign successful. Our partner network is a plus for Technalign, and allows an individual to walk into a computer store to pick up a copy of a boxed product of Pioneer Linux and receive support as well as conversions, if required, from Windows to Linux.
Along with this, we continuously are in telephone contact with all of our partners and potential partners. Our representatives not only embrace Linux, but they also use Pioneer on their home computers and are level 1 support to the partners. Our business model is what makes us stand out in the crowd.
DW: Do you or your partners sell complete computer systems with Pioneer Linux pre-installed? If so, where can I buy such a computer?
We currently have three OEMs that configure and sell systems. Britt Systems, Henson Business Products, and Gig-A-Byte computers. We are always looking for OEMs, but not all those that request being an OEM do become official OEMs. You can find our OEMs on the OEM page
DW: Can you name a few of your partners/retailers? Any big or familiar names among them?
Our partners are usually solutions providers, on-site repair companies or retailers. We will only sell to those companies that provide support to an end-user. As a matter of fact, even our distributors, Big Boy Distribution
and Software 2 U Express
, provide support to partners and individuals. If I can clarify, you won't find us anywhere that doesn't provide support to its customers. A few partners that come to mind are Skunk-a-Riffic in Fairfield, Ohio and Mr. B's in Indiana. However, all of them are excellent in assisting people with boxed copies of Pioneer Linux. If someone can't find a partner, they can always call us toll free at 877-884-5010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DW: Pioneer Linux is based on Ubuntu. How does your distribution compare to its more famous parent? In other words, what makes Pioneer Linux a better choice than Ubuntu to somebody who is interested in switching to Linux?
DU: We are actually based on Kubuntu. We have kept much of the Kubuntu logos and names in the distribution because we believe they should get credit for the base of Pioneer. Many other derivatives are based on Kubuntu or Ubuntu, however, you won't see the names in the distributions.
We have taken the base and have added what people were looking for, such as Automatix and other functions. We also package Pioneer in boxed sets so people can actually get support from a retailer or solutions provider.
Automatix allows painless installation of many popular applications on Pioneer Linux.
(full image size: 61kB, screen resolution: 706x527 pixels)
DW: Many distributions that were previously based on Debian have moved to "re-base" themselves on Ubuntu instead - we saw this with MEPIS last year, then KANOTIX which has also been contemplating the move recently, and last week it was Linspire/Freespire which announced a partnership with Canonical. What do you think makes Ubuntu such an attractive base for creating custom distributions? Why did you choose Ubuntu and not, say, Fedora?
DU: Some of the main differences appear in the support and commitment made by Canonical to its community and partners. Ubuntu Dapper and Edgy have brought quite a bit to the table. Fedora has issues with speed that affects the yum package management system. It appears that yum drags down the applications it calls and then there is Pirut. A major issue is also accessing RPMs. On the other hand Adept and/or Synaptic make the issue of installing an application simple. Remember, this is a Windows world, although changing, the simpler an application is, the more people will see the benefit and move from Windows.
DW: Pioneer Linux comes in a number of different editions, which I find a little confusing at times. Could you list all the different editions and explain the purpose of each?
DU: In the free community there are several editions available, including Pioneer Basic (which replaced Pioneer Free) that is our desktop, and MigrationSERVER which is an excellent replacement for Microsoft Personal Server. We also have Pioneer Stage Coach coming, which will be a complete workstation and server. Of course a 64-bit workstation is also available, and we plan on 64-bit servers and Stage Coach. Being a Christian, we have provided a Christian edition as well.
In the commercial distributions we break down the products as follows: Pioneer OEM for a new computer or one getting a hardware upgrade. Pioneer Basic which is the same as the OEM which comes with quick start guide and a small manual. Pioneer OEM for a 64-bit system as with the 32-bit OEM and Pioneer Basic 64-bit. Of course, MigrationSERVER is our server offering. Stage Coach is coming soon as well, our combined workstation and server offering.
DW: About the bucking horse, the logo of Pioneer Linux. One of the DistroWatch readers has pointed out in the forum that the image is actually an official, copyrighted logo of the State of Wyoming. Are you aware of this? What does the image represent?
It isn't a copy of the State of Wyoming's logo and only similar because it has a bucking horse. We actually did look at moving the company to Cheyenne, Wyoming at one time. The logo represents the spirit of everyone involved with Linux today. Being on the western slope of Colorado in the Rocky Mountains, we see the impact the pioneers had on the area and the beauty of the region. Running Linux today, as pioneers years ago blazed the way, makes people pioneers in technology, regardless of the distribution they run.
Working with the State of Colorado and beginning to attract other Linux technology companies to the western slope of Colorado maintains the pioneer spirit as well. A Linux incubator will be started soon to assist start-up technology companies. So in effect I believe the pioneer spirit lives in all of us today and each of us are pioneers in the industry. You can visit the incubator pages
, which will be formally announced in the next few weeks.
DW: Dianne, thank you very much for your answers and all the best with your company and products!
Warly leaves Mandriva, Linspire switches to Ubuntu, Fedora delivers release notes, Debian prepares for D-I RC2, Ulteo and dyne:bolic updates
First, let's get the bad news out of the way. Florent Villard (pictured on the right), a highly experienced Mandriva developer better known as "Warly", has decided to quit his job: "I joined Mandriva in 1999. I was there during the Internet boost, I was there during Chapter 11, and I will be there till the end of next week... It is now time for me to change, to search and learn new things." Warly doesn't give a clear reason for his decision and neither does he hint at his future plans, but many Mandriva users will surely miss him. Read Bye Bye Mandriva for Warly's last blog post as a Mandriva employee.
While on the subject of Mandriva, Adam Williamson has emailed us an important piece of information regarding the Mandriva Linux 2007.1 beta live CDs which started appearing on the mirrors last Friday: "Could you amend your story to tell people that the One ISOs for beta 1 currently on the mirrors should not be used? The Free DVD ISO, code-named 'loolapop', is fine, but the One ISOs, code-named 'doctor', are not the final version, have known issues and shouldn't be used. We will be pushing the final version of the One ISOs out to the mirrors over the weekend or on Monday, prior to the official announcement of the beta."
* * * * *
Last week's announcement about the technology partnership between Linspire and Canonical was widely reported on many Linux news sites as a major event on the Linux distribution scene. According to the press release, the future versions of both Freespire and Linspire will now be based on Ubuntu instead of Debian and, as announced earlier, Linspire's CNR software repository will also be available to the users of Ubuntu. However, while Linspire's PR department is understandably excited about the deal, the truth is that it will only affect a relatively small percentage of Linux users - the ones who are currently running Freespire and Linspire on their desktops and who wish to remain with these distributions in the future. The remainder of the Linux user base, including the vast majority of Ubuntu users, will barely notice this "partnership" as Ubuntu will continue developing their distribution in the same way as before.
So what's the big deal? Is the fact that Freespire's base is being switched from Debian to Ubuntu really such a huge event as many news sites would like us to believe? Or am I the only one who fails to see the excitement?
* * * * *
The critical comment in last week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly about the Fedora development team not producing any release notes with their Fedora 7 Test 1 release didn't go down well with some readers. The good news is, however, that the project's developers acknowledged the lack of release notes as a problem and promptly started an internal discussion about the issue. Rahul Sundaram: "Of course with our level of resources doing full fledged releases notes and translation for a test 1 release of a fast moving distribution like Fedora is not easily done. ... However a single page overview or some notes within the announcements itself wouldn't take much time." And the outcome? By the end of last week, the release notes, summarising the main features of Test 1 and containing relevant links, appeared on the project's web site.
Don't say that DistroWatch doesn't have a positive influence on Linux distributions ;-)
* * * * *
Many Linux users have undoubtedly had a love and hate affair with the RPM package manager over the years. Worshipped as a revolutionary tool back in the years when Slackware was the dominant distribution, it didn't take long before the words "RPM" and "dependency hell" started appearing regularly in the same sentence. In more recent years -- largely thanks to the introduction of many advanced front-ends to RPM -- the utility has once again become accepted by the Linux-using population. But how did RPM start and where is it heading? If you are curious and want to learn more about the venerable package management tool, read Matt Frye's The Story of RPM, as published last week by Red Hat Magazine.
* * * * *
The second release candidate of the Debian Installer (D-I) for Etch seems to be just around the corner: "We are currently waiting for the 2.6.18-4 kernel to migrate to testing before we can start to also migrate D-I components, and build, upload and release D-I RC2." In the meantime, interested testers are invited to download the daily build images from the project's web site and submit installation reports in the usual format. For more information please read Frans Pop's D-I RC2 -- Call for testing mailing list post.
* * * * *
Ulteo, a Linux distribution created by the founder of Mandrake Linux Gaël Duval, has sent out an email update highlighting the status of the project: "Since the first public alpha release, the development of Ulteo has improved dramatically: the new UGD daemon is almost ready and can now fetch settings information from a dedicated Ulteo user account page; AppRun is going to be introduced and will provide a way to run many additional applications that are not present in Ulteo base installation; Ulteo now supports language layers for several languages, so you can get Ulteo in your language." The announcement, published during the Southern California Linux Expo in Los Angeles last week, promises a new Ulteo alpha/beta release "in the coming weeks."
* * * * *
Finally, a link to an interview with Denis "Jaromil" Rojo of the dyne:bolic fame: Denis 'Jaromil' Rojo is an artist and a FOSS hacker. He's popularly known for dyne:bolic, a Live CD distribution that contains several applications for audio and video manipulation. As a programmer, he is an author of several free software applications that present new possibilities for online radios. As a media activist, Jaromil is the author of MuSE - a network audio streaming engine, FreeJ - a tool for real-time video manipulation, and hasciicam, which captures feeds from a TV tuner card and renders them in ASCII. He's also a very strong supporter of the Free Software movement and the founder of Dyne.org, which he calls a free software foundry for digital artisans." Read the full interview with Jaromil at Packt Publishing.
|Released Last Week
BeleniX 0.5.1 DVD
The BeleniX project has released a DVD edition of its OpenSolaris-based live operating system - complete with Java Development Kit, OpenOffice.org, NetBeans and other extra applications: "A DVD release of BeleniX 0.5.1 is now available! This DVD release includes all of the 0.5.1 live CD and adds Java Development Kit 1.6, OpenOffice.org 2.1, NetBeans 5.5 with Visual Web Pack, C/C++ Pack, Profiler and Glassfish AppServer 9, all of the OpenSolaris Developer and Administration documents available from the OpenSolaris Documentation community and desktop shortcuts for all these." Here is the brief release announcement.
EnGarde Secure Linux 3.0.12
A new stable version of EnGarde Secure Linux has been released: "Guardian Digital is happy to announce the release of EnGarde Secure Community 3.0.12. What's New? A new SELinux policy boolean: httpd_write_content_dir; updated PCI tables and hardware detection system, which allows for much better detection of more recent hardware; several reliability improvements to the Guardian Digital Secure Network Update Agent; new Samba packages; PHP packages rebuilt with --enable-mbstring; several new packages such as libsemanage, Openswan, and Subversion were added; the latest stable versions of MySQL (5.0.33), Apache (2.2.4), BIND (9.3.4)...." More details in the release announcement.
Ubuntu Christian Edition 2.1
Jereme Hancock has announced the availability of Ubuntu Christian Edition 2.1: "We are pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu CE v2.1 (Edgy). The main focus of this release was to enhance the DansGuardian GUI. There have been many user requests for a more polished DansGuardian GUI with the ability to easily disable the filtering. With this release we have accomplished just that. There have also been some new program additions. This release includes the BibleMemorizer program which uses the Sword modules that come with GnomeSword." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Matteo Riondato has announced the release of a bug-fix version of FreeSBIE 2: "You may remember that FreeSBIE 2.0 was released on January 15th. It turned out it had some annoying bugs, one of which was especially serious, as it prevented USB mice from working. This fact led us, the FreeSBIE staff, to develop a bug-fix release, 2.0.1. All the bugs that have been pointed out were solved and this release has been more thoroughly tested, to offer a better FreeSBIE experience to our users. FreeSBIE 2.0.1-RELEASE (code name Black Mamba) is based on FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE, both in terms of sources and packages. It contains more than 450 pieces and 1.3 GB of software, all in a single CD-ROM." Here is the full release announcement.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
RSS feed for DistroWatch Weekly|
Several readers have recently asked for an RSS feed exclusively linking to DistroWatch Weekly issues. The good news is that one of our readers, Iain Cheyne, has done the work and you can now subscribe to the DistroWatch Weekly RSS feed. Here is the link: http://feed43.com/distrowatch-weekly.xml.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Aegis Linux. Aegis Linux is a PCLinuxOS-based distribution focusing on the small to medium size business user, or the professional who wants a desktop or server that is reliable, easy to use, secure, and open. Two Aegis Linux editions are planned: Aegis Desktop and Aegis Server.
- Clonezilla Live. Clonezilla Live is a Debian-based specialist live CD with software that enables users to clone the content of hard disks.
- Vyatta is a Linux-based router and firewall offering a free community edition and two commercial editions with support.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 19 February 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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