| 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 184.108.40.206. 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 220.127.116.11; update to GNOME 2.16.3, Evolution 2.8.3, Firefox 18.104.22.168 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 22.214.171.124 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 126.96.36.199 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 555 (2014-04-21): Robolinux 7.4.2, Ubuntu release day stats, Debian security, Porteus update|
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Issue 518 (2013-07-29): MidnightBSD 0.4, Razor-qt, Ubuntu Edge, mounting infected drives|
|• Issue 517 (2013-07-22): Zorin OS 7 "Lite", Slackware turns 20, UbuntuForums compromise, Raspbian as home server, Tor|
|• Issue 516 (2013-07-15): Review of Fedora 19 "KDE", Shuttleworth on Mir, Seth Vidal, Kingsoft Office for Linux|
|• Issue 515 (2013-07-08): Whonix 0.5.6 and Deepin 12.12, MintBox, processor capabilities, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 514 (2013-07-01): Peppermint Four, Mir, Mandriva forks, ThinkPenguin on libre hardware|
|• Issue 513 (2013-06-24): Look at ROSA, PC-BSD updates, Xen4CentOS6, Slacko vs Precise, Mageia interview, shells|
|• Issue 512 (2013-06-17): Trisquel 6.0, RHEL 7 with GNOME Classic, from Linux to FreeBSD, first look at Wayland|
|• Issue 511 (2013-06-10): Mint 15 impressions, GNOME Classic, Ubuntu Community portal, Absolute OpenBSD|
|• Issue 510 (2013-06-03): Impressions of aptosid 2013-01, Wayland comes to Raspberry Pi, maintaining DNS settings|
|• Issue 509 (2013-05-27): Mageia 3, Debian GNU/Hurd, RebeccaBlackOS with Wayland, ports|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|