| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 199, 23 April 2007
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The week belonged to Ubuntu, whose new version 7.04 was made available as planned despite the skipped release candidate a week earlier. The hype surrounding the new release of the popular operating system completely eclipsed that of another desktop-oriented distribution - Mandriva Linux 2007.1, which was also made available last week, but which generated little excitement in comparison. Also in the news: a new openSUSE-based live CD featuring the latest KDE 4 snapshot, a link to an interview with Novell's Nat Friedman, and an update on the development of PC-BSD. Finally, don't miss our fifth and final part of the overview of top ten distributions, featuring Gentoo Linux and FreeBSD. Happy reading!
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Overview of Top Ten Distributions (Part 5)
The fifth and final part of our overview of Top Ten Distributions takes a quick look at Gentoo Linux, the most widely-used source-based distribution. It then continues with a brief introduction to FreeBSD; although not based on Linux, as a direct descendant of UNIX and the most popular BSD representative, it gets an honourable place in the top ten list.
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The concept of Gentoo Linux was devised in around the year 2000 by Daniel Robbins, a former Stampede Linux and FreeBSD developer. It was the author's exposure to FreeBSD and its "autobuild" feature called "ports", which inspired him to incorporate some of the FreeBSD software management principles into Gentoo under the name of "portage". The idea was to develop a Linux distribution that would allow users to compile the Linux kernel and applications from source code directly on their own computers, thus maintaining a highly-optimised and always up-to-date system. By the time the project released its 1.0 version in March 2002, Gentoo's package management was considered a superior alternative to some binary package management systems, especially the then widely-used RPM.
Gentoo Linux was designed for power users. Originally, the installation was cumbersome and tedious, requiring hours or even days of compiling on the command line to build a complete Linux distribution; however, in 2006 the project simplified the installation procedure by providing an installable Gentoo live CD with a point-and-click installer. Besides delivering an always up-to-date set of packages for installation with a single command, the other main feature of the distribution is the extensive configurability of many obscure aspects of the system, such as compiler flags. The Gentoo documentation was repeatedly labelled as the best online documentation of any distribution.
Gentoo Linux has lost much of its original glory in recent years. Some Gentoo users have come to a realisation that the time-consuming compiling of software packages brings only marginal speed and optimisation benefits. Ever since the resignation of Gentoo's founder and benevolent dictator from the project in 2004, the newly established Gentoo Foundation has been battling with lack of clear directions and frequent developer conflicts, which resulted in several high-profile departures of well-known Gentoo personalities. It remains to be seen whether Gentoo can regain its innovative qualities of the past or whether it will slowly disintegrate into a loose collection of personal sub-projects lacking clearly-defined goals.
- Pros: Excellent software management infrastructure, unparalleled customisation and tweaking options, superb online documentation
- Cons: Occasional instability and risk of breakdown, the project suffers from lack of directions and frequent infighting between its developers
- Software package management: "Portage" using source (SRC) packages
- Available editions: Minimal installation CD and live CD (with GNOME) for Alpha, AMD64, HPPA, IA64, MIPS, PPC, SPARC and x86 processors; also "stages" for manual installation from command line
- Suggested Gentoo-based alternatives: SabayonLinux (desktop live CD/DVD), VLOS (desktop), Ututo (desktop, free software only)
- Other source-based alternatives: Lunar Linux, Source Mage GNU/Linux, Sorcerer, Linux From Scratch
Gentoo Linux 2006.1
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FreeBSD, a direct descendant of AT&T UNIX, has a long and turbulent history dating back to 1993. Unlike Linux distributions, which are defined as integrated software solutions consisting of the Linux kernel and thousands of software applications, FreeBSD is a tightly integrated operating system built from a BSD kernel and the so-called "userland" (therefore usable even without extra applications). This distinction is largely lost once installed on an average computer system - like many Linux distributions, a large collection of easily installed, (mostly) open source applications are available for extending the FreeBSD core, but these are usually provided by third-party contributors and aren't strictly part of FreeBSD.
FreeBSD has developed a reputation for being a fast, high-performance and extremely stable operating system, especially suitable for web serving and similar tasks. Many large web search engines and organisations with mission-critical computing infrastructures have deployed and used FreeBSD on their computer systems for years. Compared to Linux, FreeBSD is distributed under a much less restrictive license, which allows virtually unrestricted re-use and modification of the source code for any purpose. Even Apple's Mac OS X is known to have been derived from BSD. Besides the core operating system, the project also provides over 15,000 software applications in binary and source code forms for easy installation on top of the core FreeBSD.
While FreeBSD can certainly be used as a desktop operating system, it doesn't compare well with popular Linux distributions in this department. The text-mode system installer offers little in terms of hardware detection or system configuration, leaving much of the dirty work to the user in a post-installation setup. In terms of support for modern hardware, FreeBSD generally lags behind Linux, especially in supporting popular desktop and laptop gadgets, such as wireless network cards or digital cameras. Those users seeking to exploit the speed and stability of FreeBSD on a desktop or workstation should consider one of the available desktop FreeBSD projects, rather than FreeBSD itself.
- Pros: Fast and stable; availability of over 15,000 software applications (or "ports") for installation; very good documentation
- Cons: Tends to lag behind Linux in terms of support for newer hardware, limited availability of commercial applications; lacks graphical configuration tools
- Software package management: A complete command-line package management infrastructure using either binary packages or source-based "ports" (TBZ)
- Available editions: Installation CDs for Alpha, AMD64, i386, ia64, PC98 and SPARC64 processors
- Suggested FreeBSD-based alternatives: PC-BSD (desktop), DesktopBSD (desktop), FreeSBIE (live CD), DragonFly BSD (technical)
- Other BSD alternatives: OpenBSD, NetBSD
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As always, if you have any suggestions, corrections or additions to the above overviews, please post them in the forum.
Ubuntu 7.04, interview with Novell's Nat Friedman, "KDE Four Live", PC-BSD snapshots
If you've had your doubts about how popular Ubuntu really is, then the events of the past week must have removed them once and for all. With the release of its latest and greatest -- version 7.04, code name "Feisty Fawn" -- last week, it is obvious that Ubuntu has been more successful in attracting users to Linux than any other distribution before. In fact, the demand for the new product was so strong that it made both Ubuntu.com and Canonical.com inaccessible for several hours on the day of the release. As a result of this, the web master of Ubuntu.com was forced to replace the usual entry page with a static, text-only temporary page in order to cope with thousands of connections. The distribution's main download server also suffered, although luckily its mirroring system was running smoothly and many FTP and HTTP servers carried the full set of CD images by the time the release announcement hit the news wires.
DistroWatch itself saw unprecedented levels of traffic on the day of the Ubuntu 7.04 release. Our main index page received more than 140,000 views in the 24-hour period (from midnight to midnight UCT) on Thursday, which is about 40% more than it would get on an ordinary working day. The Ubuntu page was accessed more than 22,000 times within the first two days after the release (contrast that with Mandriva Linux, whose page only received 6,700 visits within the first two days after the release of 2007.1 earlier in the week). Even Ubuntu developers were astonished by the sheer amount of interest in the new release: Melissa Draper reported that more than 1,500 users were logged in to the main Ubuntu IRC channel on the day of release, while Kevin Kubasik was amazed to see almost 4,000 people seeding the CD image on the BitTorrent network the next day.
Ubuntu 7.04 seems like a resounding success. The first reviews are already in and it looks like the majority of users are highly impressed with what they've seen so far. If you haven't yet tried the latest from Canonical, please go to the project's download page to get the live CD or visit Ubuntu's ShipIt programme to request the media.
The default desktop of Ubuntu 7.04.
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Lots of Novell and openSUSE news last week. Austria's Der Standard has published a 5-page interview with Nat Friedman, the Chief Technology Officer at Novell: "Nat Friedman has been one of the driving forces behind the development of the Linux desktop for a few years now. First with his own company Ximian, founded together with Mono chief architect Miguel de Icaza, after its acquisition now inside Novell. A few months ago he has been named 'Technologist of the Year' by the VarBusiness magazine for his work around the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. Since then he has been promoted to 'Chief Technology and Strategy Officer for Open Source', besides the desktop he is also overseeing Novell's server business now." A good read for anybody interested in desktop Linux.
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Stephan Binner, a well-known KDE and openSUSE developer, has released a set of live CDs featuring the latest development snapshot of KDE 4. Unlike the SLAX-based live CD called KLAX, which he used to develop in order to demonstrate new KDE releases, his "KDE Four Live" images are based on openSUSE. After a large, uncompressed live DVD released earlier in the week, a set of smaller live CDs (compressed with Squashfs) is now also available for download. Don't expect trouble-free computing with these early KDE 4 snapshots, but as demonstration tools designed to give KDE users an early taste of things to come, they aren't too bad. The first alpha build of KDE 4 is scheduled for release early next week.
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Still on openSUSE, Andreas Jaeger has announced that starting from the upcoming version 10.3, openSUSE will no longer support Novell ZENWorks for software management: "openSUSE is focusing on native software management by using YaST and libzypp, the package management library. ZENworks Linux Management is Novell's solution for enterprise-class resource management for desktops and servers. ZENworks components are fully available and supported for SUSE Linux Enterprise based products and not longer part of the openSUSE distribution." According to this news post by Linux Weekly News, this arrangement appears to be "a popular idea in the openSUSE community."
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Finally, the PC-BSD project has announced the availability of new "tri-weekly" development releases of PC-BSD: "We are proud to announce that beta testers who would like to try the development branch of PC-BSD can now download ISO images updated and built three times per week." The first snapshots, delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, are now ready for download and testing from this directory.
|Released Last Week
Mandriva Linux 2007.1
Mandriva has announced the release of Mandriva Linux 2007.1, marketed as "2007 Spring": "Mandriva is proud to announce the release of its brand new distribution that provides up-to-date and freshly released open source software: Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring. Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring integrates the latest innovations in the fields of office suite applications, Internet, multimedia and virtualization technologies. Not only does Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring bring to users the most advanced Linux operating system, it also includes some very special new features: WengoPhone, Google Picasa and Google Earth, Drakvirt...." Read the press release, release notes, product pages for detailed information.
Zenwalk Live 4.4.1
Michael Verret has announced the release of Zenwalk Live 4.4.1, a live CD edition of Zenwalk Linux: "We are pleased to announce the release of Zenwalk Live 4.4.1. As you have grown to expect, Zenwalk Live replicates a Zenwalk Standard installation while at the same time adds many features. Also included are the GParted graphical hard disk partitioning software as well as a new utility in ZenPanel (Zenwalk's System Administration Control Panel) enabling a recovery of the LILO boatloader setup on your PC. Zenwalk Live continues to provide a complete development suite for all of you coders and software developers. For you video gaming fans, you'll be pleased to know that Zenwalk Live 4.4.1 includes Mega Mario, Ceferino Hazaña, Frozen Bubble, LBreakout and Wormux." More details in the release announcement.
Zenwalk Live 4.4.1
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ClarkConnect Gateway/Server 4.1
ClarkConnect Getaway/Server 4.1, an easy-to-use, CentOS-based server distribution designed for small businesses, home offices, and networked homes, has been released. What's new? "File server antivirus; Samba PDC (Primary Domain Controller) support; improved server and LAN backup features; new greylist and blacklist support for the antispam engine; greylist antispam engine; e-mail disclaimer; e-mail virtual domain support; e-mail catch-all mailbox support; webmail administration tools; the backup and restore system settings now includes the user database; the firewall has changed to accommodate the new Hot LAN and Blocking features...." Please see the release notes for full details.
This is the big release day for the Ubuntu family of distributions and Kubuntu is the first to announce the new version: "Kubuntu 7.04 has been released and is available for download now. Kubuntu 7.04 stepped over the edge, becoming the feistiest release to date. Improved desktop, updated applications and increased usability features are just a few of the surprises with this latest release. The goal for Kubuntu 7.04 was to continue on the creation of a secure and stable environment, working towards the perfect KDE-based operating system. Starting with the excellent base of Ubuntu and an implementation of KDE, Kubuntu 7.04 set out to smooth the rough edges and polish the future of Kubuntu." Here is the full release announcement with a detailed list of new features.
Ubuntu 7.04, one of the most eagerly anticipated Linux distribution releases ever, is now officially out: "The Ubuntu team is proud to announce version 7.04 of the Ubuntu family of distributions. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution for your desktop or server, with a fast and easy install, regular releases, a tight selection of excellent software installed by default, an incredible variety of add-on software available with a few clicks, and professional technical support from Canonical Limited and hundreds of other companies around the world." Read the release announcement, check out the release notes and visit the Feisty Tour page for detailed information about Ubuntu 7.04.
Edubuntu 7.04, a Linux distribution designed for deployment in educational institutions, has also been released: "The Edubuntu team is proud to announce the release of Edubuntu 7.04. This release includes both Desktop CDs and Server CDs for several architectures. Highlights of this release include: Edubuntu 7.04 integrates the latest thin client technology out of the box for a simple LTSP server setup; Edubuntu Classroom Server consists of two CDs; a server image and a server add-on image with additional educational applications and languages; the distribution has improved documentation featuring The Edubuntu Handbook with tips and best practices...." Find more information in the release announcement.
Xubuntu 7.04, a light-weight Ubuntu variant featuring the Xfce desktop, is now available for download: "Thank you to everyone who has helped make Xubuntu 7.04 a reality. Thousands of you have helped code, test, translate and promote Ubuntu and everyone can celebrate today's release. Xubuntu 7.04 contains new innovative features like the revolutionary Windows migration assistance and the Xfce 4.4 stable desktop environment. Already known as a great lightweight desktop environment, Xfce version 4.4 includes a number of improved features that make it a worthy alternative to more memory-intensive desktops such as GNOME or KDE." More details in the release announcement and release notes.
Linux Mint 2.2 "KDE"
After two beta releases, the KDE edition of Linux Mint 2.2, code name "Bianca", has reached a stable state: "Bianca KDE edition was released and is available for download. A miniKDE edition is also available, it features less software but fits on a CD. As usual this release is desktop-ready and comes with support for most video codecs and web plugins. Mint applications couldn't be ported in time to KDE and are absent from this release, however mintdesktop's home folders were added to it. The default selection of packages is large and very up to date: KDE 3.5.6, Amarok 1.4.5, KOffice 1.6.2, Firefox 220.127.116.11. Konqueror is still the default file explorer but Dolphin 0.8 was also added as a tech-preview. The KMenu was replaced with TastyMenu 0.7." Here are the full release notes.
Nonux 4.2 has been released. Nonux is a Dutch, Slackware-based distribution designed for business desktops in Dutch-speaking office environments. The most important new features and package upgrades include: update to Linux kernel 18.104.22.168; update to GNOME 2.16.3, Evolution 2.8.3, Firefox 22.214.171.124 and OpenOffice.org 2.2.0; improvements in monitor frequency detection; support for many streaming audio and video formats through the MPlayer browser plugin for Firefox (MPlayer replaces Totem), support for wireless network cards based on Atheros (MadWifi) and Acx111 (OSS driver) chipsets; reduced CD size due to the use of LZMA compression. Please visit the distribution's news page (in Dutch) to read the full release announcement.
Berry Linux 0.80
Yuichiro Nakada has announced the release of Berry Linux 0.80, a Fedora-based live CD for the desktop, with support for Japanese and English. The latest version is based on Linux kernel 126.96.36.199 with symmetric multiprocessing, ndev/udev and bootsplash patches. The system uses Fedora's Kudzu 1.2.67 and Klaus Knopper's hwdata 0.199 scripts for hardware detection. Among application changes, Berry Linux ships with X.Org 7.1, support for 3D desktop effects with AIGLX and Beryl 0.2.0, and Japanese and English editions of OpenOffice.org 2.2.0, Firefox 188.8.131.52 and Sylpheed 2.3.1. Other package upgrades includes xine with xine-lib 1.1.5 and WINE 0.9.32. For more details please see the full changelog.
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Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
DistroWatch database summary|
And this concludes our latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 April 2007. Until then,
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 505 (2013-04-29): First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04, Saucy Salamander, Remastersys and System Imager, Linux containers|
|• Issue 504 (2013-04-22): Look at Bodhi 2.3.0, Ubuntu 13.04 features, building OpenBSD ports, opening large files|
|• Issue 503 (2013-04-15): CentOS versus Scientific Linux, PCLinuxOS 64, Lucas Nussbaum, ZFS/Btrfs versus ext4|
|• Issue 502 (2013-04-08): Look at Mint 201303 "Debian", Ubuntu versus openSUSE, comparing ZFS and Btrfs file systems|
|• Issue 501 (2013-04-01): KANOTIX 2013 and GhostBSD 3.0, openSUSE Rescue-CD, Haiku package management, computer forensics|
|• Issue 500 (2013-03-25): Look at openSUSE 12.3, Ubuntu release changes, Debian backports, growing divide|
|• Issue 499 (2013-03-18): MINIX 3.2.1, openSUSE 12.3 on desktop, Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin, distros for musicians, KolibriOS|
|• Issue 498 (2013-03-11): Sabayon Linux 11, Ubuntu's Mir, Linux malware|
|• Issue 497 (2013-03-04): Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline", rolling-release Ubuntu, Arch vs spin-offs, justification and diversity|
|• Issue 496 (2013-02-25): Review of Chakra 2013.02, The Book of GIMP, Ubuntu and privacy, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free|
|• Issue 495 (2013-02-18): SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra", Fedora 19 schedule, Xubuntu on DVD, cloud privacy|
|• Issue 494 (2013-02-11): FreeBSD 9.1, web server stats, Anaconda, rolling-release PC-BSD, fixing broken packages in Arch|
|• Issue 493 (2013-02-04): UberStudent 2.0, OmniBoot 1.0, MariaDB, Enlightenment 0.17|
|• Issue 492 (2013-01-28): Fedora 18 review, systemd, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Unleashed|
|• Issue 491 (2013-01-21): Fuduntu 2013.1, Fedora 18 desktop choices, Consort, accessing encrypted drive|
|• Issue 490 (2013-01-14): Look at Manjaro Linux 0.8.3, openSUSE on Chromebook, Able2Extract 8.0|
|• Issue 489 (2013-01-07): PC-BSD 9.1, Arch spin-offs, rolling-releases, year-end PHR stats, removing applications|
|• Issue 488 (2012-12-24): Reviews of Unity and Puppy Linux 5.4 "Slacko", FreeBSD 10|
|• Issue 487 (2012-12-17): Cinnarch 2012.11.22, OpenMandriva, Fedora Magazine, Tumbleweed, OpenJDK vs Oracle Java|
|• Issue 486 (2012-12-10): Linux Mint 14 review, Ubuntu "spyware" controversy, Haiku overview, troubleshooting Linux servers|
|• Issue 485 (2012-12-03): Kwort Linux 3.5, Mint bug-fix update, Fedora's new Anaconda, defining a distribution|
|• Issue 484 (2012-11-26): Look at SMS 2.0.1, Fedora pre-beta report, Illumos, Secure Boot update|
|• Issue 483 (2012-11-19): DragonFly BSD 3.2.1 and Xubuntu 12.10, Gentoo and udev, switching file systems|
|• Issue 482 (2012-11-12): Review of Zenwalk 7.2, Clang in FreeBSD, Omniboot 0.5, priorities on external drives|
|• Issue 481 (2012-11-05): Look at Tails 0.13, EFF on Ubuntu and privacy, Debian installer changes, ext4 data corruption bug|
|• Issue 480 (2012-10-29): Review of Ubuntu 12.10, Wayland 1.0, FreeBSD's pkgng|
|• Issue 479 (2012-10-22): Look at Zentyal 3.0, Debian bug reporting, initiating a halt|
|• Issue 478 (2012-10-15): Slackware 14.0 review, Ubuntu donations, connecting to multiple machines behind router|
|• Issue 477 (2012-10-08): Review of ODROID-X, OpenBSD's anti-Linux song, interview with Vincent Untz, Linux as operating system|
|• Issue 476 (2012-10-01): Review of openSUSE 12.2, Slackware 14.0 features, accessing home computer with SSH|
|• Issue 475 (2012-09-24): Look at PCLinuxOS 2012.08, Ubuntu and Amazon, SolusOS and PiSi, ownCloud|
|• Issue 474 (2012-09-17): Bodhi Linux 2.0.1, OpenIndiana interview, Frugalware history, update notifications|
|• Issue 473 (2012-09-10): The Linux Command Line, Slackware documentation project, Debian's new primary arch, Goobuntu|
|• Issue 472 (2012-09-03): Kororaa Linux 17, OpenIndiana and SchilliX, Ubuntu GNOME remix, home server tip|
|• Issue 471 (2012-08-27): Linux Mint 13 "KDE", Ubuntu 12.10 features, Slax update, folder quotas|
|• Issue 470 (2012-08-20): Liberté Linux 2012.2, Arch and systemd, NetBSD's sysbuild and sysupgrade, 19 years of Debian|
|• Issue 469 (2012-08-13): Peppermint OS Three, SUSE on Secure Boot, GNOME OS, moving email to Linux|
|• Issue 468 (2012-08-06): First look at CentOS 6.3, Debian installer beta, Fedora and MATE, Libtrash|
|• Issue 467 (2012-07-30): Ubuntu Made Easy, Debian "Jessie", OpenBSD on Secure Boot, Rawhide troubles|
|• Issue 466 (2012-07-23): Fuduntu 2012.3, Linux in PC-BSD jails, secure boot on older computers|
|• Issue 465 (2012-07-16): Netrunner 4.2, Mandriva's two codebases, firewalls and window frames|
|• Issue 464 (2012-07-09): Zorin OS 6, FSF's views on secure boot, Virtual PDF Printer|
|• Issue 463 (2012-07-02): TurnKey Linux 11.3, Red Hat and Btrfs, Sabayon's MATE spin, ZFS on Linux|
|• Issue 462 (2012-06-25): Sabayon 9, "Wheezy" freeze, Zorin OS overview, Vinux interview, mounting network shares|
|• Issue 461 (2012-06-18): Linux Mint 13, openSUSE 12. delays, Debian Multimedia, Mageia 3 roadmap|
|• Issue 460 (2012-06-11): Look at Fedora 17, PC-BSD and Slackware interviews, Openfiler and FuguIta|
|• Issue 459 (2012-06-04): Impressions of Mageia 2, Fedora updates, Debian or Raspberry Pie, improving software performance|
|• Issue 458 (2012-05-28): Impressions of SolusOS 1, Linux kernel 3.4, encrypting home folder|
|• Issue 457 (2012-05-21): Linux accessibility, Fedora 17 overview, MultiSystem, launching tasks|
|• Issue 456 (2012-05-14): Look at OpenBSD 5.1, Debian Installer 7.0 alpha, UDS news round-up|
|• Issue 455 (2012-05-07): Review of Ubuntu 12.04, "Quantal Quetzal" plans, Debian infographic|
|• Full list of all issues|