| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 203, 21 May 2007
Welcome to this year's 21st issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The feature story of the latest issue is a review of DeLi Linux 0.7.2, one of the few desktop distributions that targets old computers - those with as little as 8 MB of RAM. Does it really work as advertised? And are the included applications usable? Find out in our exclusive first look review by Susan Linton. In the news section, Mandriva terminates the contracts with several of its developers in order to cut costs, the openSUSE community launches an ambitious project to reduce the boot time of the distribution to 5 seconds, and Fedora removes Beagle from default install due to unresolved bugs. Finally, don't miss the stunning new desktop distribution from Brazil's Famelix project. Enjoy!
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
A first look at DeLi Linux 0.7.2, a distribution for very old computers (by Susan Linton)|
DeLi Linux is a small very lightweight distribution designed to run on older computers. Although I didn't find the specific minimum requirements listed, the developers have stated that their test machine is 486 laptop with 16 MB RAM. DeLi Linux 0.7.2 was released a few days ago and I thought this might be a chance to resurrect my old Dell laptop, circa 1999, that is powered by a Pentium 166 MHz and has 80 MB RAM.
DeLi Linux can be installed from a CDROM disk or over the net. I usually prefer to install from CDROM disks, however, my old laptop doesn't boot from CDROM disks. So I was happy to find DeLi Linux developers have provided floppy disk boot images. All I required was the basic boot disk as well as the root image, but a modules and SCSI support disks are available as well. The CDROM image is a mere 173 MB.
The installer is really simple. It resembles the Slackware ncurses installer in appearance and operation. It is a keyboard-driven menu-based system. I booted the boot disk and found a LILO boot screen. After booting the install kernel I was prompted for the root floppy disk. Next, a screen appears with several options for starting the install, configuring the network connection, or loading SCSI modules. In the first interactive portion I was asked for my keyboard preference and then to designate the root partition. The DeLi installer will format the partition with the ext2 file system. Afterwards, the installer scans for the CDROM disk and one chooses the software categories. Again, very much like Slackware, some of the choices include "ap", "devel", "X", and "Xap". Fortunately, there is also an ALL choice. With the ALL option a 346MB system results. After the software install, I was asked to set up the root password, a user account, and bootloader options.
After boot one is not entirely on their own. DeLi Linux comes with a configuration tool resembling the installer in appearance. Typing "delisetup" at the command line opens a handy tool to allow one to configure several subsystems such as local network, PPP, X.Org, Tiny X, and start-up services. I used the tool to configure X.Org first and it worked really well. It asks questions about your system in order to properly set the options such as your mouse device, keyboard, and graphics chip. The netconfig utility didn't really seem to work well for me but it would work fine for wired chips.
DeLi Linux 0.7.2: configuration tool, games (Ace of Penguins), file manager (GTK See)
(full image size: 95kB, screen resolution: 800x600 pixels)
The wireless card in my old laptop is a PCMCIA Linksys wpc11 and I knew it was natively supported. All that was required in order to set it up was edit two files. In the first, /etc/PCMCIA/wireless.opt, I just edited the configuration option that best matched my router and issued the given
cardctl scheme <essidany> to set it. In /etc/rc.d/PCMCIA I just needed to set my PCIC option of yenta_socket. Now my wireless connection is available at boot. WEP can be set using the same wireless.opts file, but for WPA you may have to download other software.
The desktop choices include Fluxbox and IceWM. Fluxbox appears to be a default setup except for the DeLi customized menu. IceWM has some nice touches. A customized DeLi Linux start button, network activity and hard disk monitors in the panel, and a customized menu are some of the features. Many times Fluxbox and IceWM come with menu entries for common applications that may or may not actually be installed. In the DeLi Linux menu, what is listed is available.
DeLi Linux 0.7.2: terminal (mrxvt), media player (XMMS), browser (Konq-E)
(full image size: 64kB, screen resolution: 800x600 pixels)
In the menu, one finds several light-weight applications. For Internet surfing Konq-E is provided, GUIftp for FTP file transfers, Sylpheed for mail, and Ayttm for instant messaging. AbiWord is included for word processing while Elvis and Beaver are in the menu for simple editing. Vi and nano are also available. GTK See is the image viewer and XPaint is available for graphics manipulation. One can use XMMS for music file enjoyment. DeLi Linux also comes with the Ace of Penguins gaming suite. A full list of packages can be found here.
DeLi Linux 0.7.2: word processor (AbiWord), email client Sylpheed), chat client (Ayttm)
(full image size: 36kB, screen resolution: 800x600 pixels)
DeLi Linux comes with a command line software installer. Using "deliget", one can install packages from a remote mirror. The "deliget" command works very much like apt-get or gslapt and just as reliably. It seems extra software is a bit sparse at this time, but I'm sure it would grow with more interest. However, one of the third party packages available is the Firefox 18.104.22.168 web browser.
The installed Firefox version performed rather well on my ancient laptop, much better than expected. It is recommended that your machine have at least 32 MB RAM before attempting to use it. With my 80 MB it was still a bit slow, but not unbearably. Given how unreliable Konq-e is, a bit of a wait might be preferable. Most other applications worked really well with fast operation and stability. APM is included, although its functionality was a bit unreliable (in that it would work one boot and perhaps not the next). Most of the basic compiler tools are included so one might install their own packages as well. One of the goals of DeLi Linux is to provide very light applications and I think they have succeeded.
Hardware support was complete for me with the 22.214.171.124 kernel. My roller-ball mouse was responsive and accurate, my sound worked with loading the correct modules and parameters, and my wireless card was supported natively. Some newer hardware may not function optimally with a 2.4 kernel, but there shouldn't be a problem for the hardware for which DeLi Linux is designed. The X.Org version is 7.2.0, so most graphic cards should be supported.
Documentation is a bit sparse at the DeLi Linux site, but there is a Wiki with some information. There is also an active help forum available. Developers and other users seem friendly and helpful.
All in all, DeLi Linux is a great project that allows one to use older computers that might otherwise be discarded. It's not the most user-friendly system available, but it might be one of the most user-friendly of the small, light-weight options with its setup and package tools. DeLi Linux is based on Slackware, so it comes with stability and simplicity built-in. It delivers what it promises, a system that allows the comfortable use of older hardware. To be honest, I can't stop playing with it. So, don't throw that old computer away, install DeLi Linux.
Mandriva layoffs, openSUSE boot speed, Fedora and Beagle, Famelix 2.0
We start this week's news section with information about a new round of layoffs at Mandriva: "Last Thursday, at least four Mandriva employees received the news that their contracts will be stopped next month. All of them are people who are very active in the Mandriva community, and sometimes maintainers of important packages. There has not been any explanation about this decision." This news follows the recent announcement about Mandriva concluding an agreement with a venture capital firm to raise €2 million in order to settle its debts. Apparently, one of the conditions of the deal was cost reduction, which has now been effected in the form of employee layoffs. The developers whose contracts were terminated include Giuseppe Ghibo (OpenOffice.org packager), Wolfgang Bornath (German community manager) and Per Øyvind Karlsen (Club packager).
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It is no secret that when it comes to system boot, openSUSE is one of the slowest among the major distributions. In order to remedy the situation, the openSUSE community has established a new Boot Time group: "The main aim of the Boot Time group is a bit flamboyant: to boot in 5 seconds from GRUB screen until GDM loads. At the moment this seems to be more of a motivation than a real aim. Also, there is not much code available yet. The team is focusing on discussion and data collection. You can find scripts for better bootchart diagnostics for example. The idea is to have a system where you don't have to reboot but can restart your init system." Many distributions have been trying to reduce their boot times by replacing the traditional INIT system with a faster alternative, but even the best efforts have not been able to reduce the boot time to less than around 30 seconds. Will the openSUSE Boot Time group achieve the seemingly impossible and boot an operating system in just a few seconds?
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News from the Fedora development community has it that the upcoming release of Fedora 7, scheduled for release at the end of this month, will ship without the Beagle desktop search tool in its default install. The reason? It's too buggy: "I just committed a change which makes Beagle optional instead of installed by default. The idea with Beagle is nice, but bugs keep on showing up causing the search daemon to use a lot of CPU and/or memory, and this makes the default install look pretty bad. This is somewhat of a feature regression in the default install, but at this point we just don't have the manpower to make it work 100%." It seems that many desktop search tools suffer from similar problems - anybody remembers the disastrous inclusion of Kat in Mandriva 2006?
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MEPIS LLC has announced the availability of the first localised editions of SimplyMEPIS 6.5 - in Spanish and French: "MEPIS has announced test versions of new French and Spanish 32-bit CDs for SimplyMEPIS 6.5. The new French and Spanish CDs are based on the latest SimplyMEPIS 6.5 32-bit CD. The pre-installed localizations include MEPIS Assistants, the new Getting Started documentation, KDE, Firefox, myspell, and OpenOffice.org. Additional localizations are available for installation from the online pools or the MEPIS 32-bit DVD." Interested beta testers can download the CD images from here: SimplyMEPIS-CD_6.5.04_32-es.iso (MB, MD5), SimplyMEPIS-CD_6.5.04_32-fr.iso (MB, MD5).
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If we were to stage a beauty contest among the Linux distributions, which one would get your vote? One of the contenders for the top prize would surely have to be the latest release from Famelix, a Brazilian distribution created by the FAMEG university in Guaramirim, southern Brazil. Originally designed as a virtual clone of the Windows XP desktop, the new version 2.0 delivers a stunningly beautiful desktop environment with many enhancements and artistic additions. The first beta version of Famelix 2.0, based on Debian 3.1 "Sarge", offers out-of-the-box support for Portuguese and Spanish languages only, but if you are still interested in checking it out, you can download the live CD image from here: famelix-2.0b.iso (683MB).
Famelix 2.0 - the default desktop
(full image size: 1,876kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
|Released Last Week
rPath Linux 1.0.6
Michael K. Johnson has announced the availability of an updated release of the rPath Linux 1.0 series: "rPath Linux, the first Linux distribution built using the groundbreaking Conary software management system, has released updated images for rPath Linux 1. The new images incorporate updates to the installation process and all package updates released as of May 11, 2007. In particular, the installation images and installed system now include a 126.96.36.199 Linux kernel, enabling installation on more recent hardware not supported by previous installation media. New to 1.0.6 are x86_64 VMware and Xen images, as well as x86 and x86_64 ESX images." Read the rest of the release announcement for full details.
Dianne Ursini has announced the final release of Pioneer Stagecoach, a combined workstation and server Linux distribution based on Kubuntu: "Technalign, Inc. has released the final version of Pioneer Stagecoach with complete workstation and server support. Stagecoach brings a new solution to the SOHO market with the new workstation / server combination allowing a SOHO or home user to run email, web services via Apache 2, DHCP, and other services while having a full workstation for day-to-day activity. MigrationSERVER on Stagecoach provides access to server functions via the Webmin interface or SSH. Stagecoach comes with Automatix to install the most requested applications easily." See the full press release for more information.
Puppy Linux 2.16
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 2.16: "Another wonderful new Puppy! There is a massive list of new features, which is incredible considering that we have only incremented the version number from 2.14 to 2.16 (with the 2.15 Community Edition in between). New features include the SFS Boot Manager, 'humongous initrd', print-to-PDF, flush-RAM-to-Flash, plus a host of new and updated applications developed especially for Puppy. Release notes: Puppy now has a GUI SFS Boot Manager to manage loading of SFS modules; dual support for both Unionfs and Aufs; true flushing of RAM to the 'pup_save' file when booted from Flash memory...." Read the release announcement and release notes for a full list of changes and new features.
Arch Linux 2007-05
Tobias Powalowski has announced the release of Arch Linux 2007-05, the first official release since the project implemented a new, more frequent release policy: "It's done, final 2007.05 'Duke' ISO images for i686 and x86_64 are ready. Changelog to the last installation ISO image: Pacman 3; kernel 188.8.131.52. Setup changes: sound cards are now also ordered by hwdetect; rsync has been added to the installation environment; proxy support during FTP installation; selection to copy installation network setup to final installed system; selection about keeping package cache during CD/FTP installation...." Here is the brief release announcement.
VectorLinux 5.8 SOHO
Robert Lange has announced the final release of VectorLinux 5.8, SOHO edition: "The long awaited VectorLinux SOHO 5.8 is ready for the taking. It includes a custom 184.108.40.206 SMP kernel, compiled with bootsplash, Squashfs, LZMA, and realtime patches. It supports reading and writing to NTFS-formatted media via Fuse and ntfs-3g. The desktop environment is KDE 3.5.6 with KMyFirewall, Amarok 1.4.5, and OpenOffice.org 2.2. Multimedia applications, such as VLC 0.8.6a, MPlayer 1.0rc1, K3b 1.0.1 and graphics editors, such as GIMP 2.2.14 and Xara Xtreme 0.7 are also included. Printing is supported by CUPS with hpijs drivers for HP printers, and Gutenprint drivers for many other popular printers. There is a whole new look and feel, from the boot menu to the desktop." Read the rest of the release announcement for full details.
Johnny Hughes has announced the release of CentOS 4.5, the fifth update to the project's 4.x series based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4: "The CentOS development team is pleased to announce the release of CentOS 4.5 for i386, x86_64 and ia64. This release corresponds to the upstream vendor 4.5 release. Also released in the updates repository for CentOS-4.5 are all updates through May 16th, 2007. Major changes for this version are: changes to certain up2date options; Xen kernel that is now supported as a paravirtualized guest; a technology preview of OpenOffice.org 2.0 in the updates directory...." Read the full release announcement for further information.
Ubuntu Christian Edition 3.1
Jereme Hancock has announced the release of Ubuntu Christian Edition 3.1, a bug-fix update based on Ubuntu 7.04: "We have just released Ubuntu Christian Edition v3.1 (Feisty). This is a maintenance release to fix a few bugs. The bug fixes in this release were all reported promptly by Ubuntu CE users and are a testament to the wonderful community that has grown around Ubuntu CE. The updates: fixed suspend / hibernate; fixed DansGuardian proxy issues; fixed Ubuntu CE installer appending wrong sources. We have also made some enhancements to the convert_me script." Here is the complete release announcement.
DeLi Linux 0.7.2
Michael Prokop has announced the final release of grml 1.0, an excellent Debian-based live CD with custom scripts for a variety of rescue and system analysis tasks: "grml 1.0, code name 'Meilenschwein' available. The new grml release brings 109 new packages, many new features and several improved, updated and extended configuration files. New grml-scripts: alignmargins - adjust the margins and the position of the printed contents on the paper; dirvish-setup - a simple script for setting up a basic configuration for the backup software dirvish; grml2ram - copy compressed GRML image to RAM when running grml already; grml-quickconfig - get fast access to some basic grml-scripts...." Please read the release notes for a full list of new features.
Piebox Enterprise Linux 4 Update 5
PixExcel Limited has announced the release of PieBox Enterprise Linux 4 Update 5, a UK-based commercial distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4: "Update 5 of Pie Box Enterprise Linux 4 was made available today. This update includes the following enhancements: new kernel features including paravirtualised kernel for i686, updated kernel support for Infiniband, NFS performance metrics, EDAC for Opteron, diskdump support for sata_nv & ibmvscsi drivers; additional platform support for Intel ICH9 chipset, PCIe power management quirk, AMD quad-core systems; security updates, bug fixes and feature enhancements to numerous system packages; technology preview release of OpenOffice.org 2.0...." Read the full release announcement for further information.
PCLinuxOS 2007 has been released: "Texstar and the Ripper Gang are pleased to announce the final release of PCLinuxOS 2007. Featuring kernel 220.127.116.11, KDE 3.5.6, OpenOffice.org 2.2.0, Firefox 18.104.22.168, Thunderbird 2.0, FrostWire, KTorrent, Amarok, Flash, Java JRE, Beryl 3D and much more. Almost 2 GB of software compressed on a single bootable live CD that can be installed to a hard drive provided it is compatible with your system and you like the distribution. Over 5000+ additional packages available through our Synaptic Software Manager. Please note: PCLinuxOS does not ship with Win32 codecs or DVD decryption software. Proprietary NVIDIA and ATI drivers available after hard drive install." Here is the brief release announcement.
PCLinuxOS 2007 - a new star of desktop Linux computing
(full image size: 157kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
- sidux 2007-02-pre1, the release announcement
- Nexenta OS Alpha7, the release notes
- SmoothWall Express 3.0-beta, the release announcement
- openSUSE 10.3-alpha4, the release announcement
- Yoper Linux 3.0-rc1, the release announcement
- Elive 0.6.9, the release announcement
- SabayonLinux 3.4-beta2, the release announcement
- Absolute Linux 11.1-beta3, the release announcement
- Parsix GNU/Linux 0.90-test2, the release announcement
- Linux Mint 3.0-beta2, the release notes
- Skolelinux 3.0-rc1, the release announcement
- KnoppMyth R5F1
- R.I.P. 2.9
- Famelix 2.0-beta
- GParted LiveCD 0.3.4-7
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
The growing waiting list|
From a recent forum discussion: "I noticed that there are many distros on the Distrowatch waiting list that were submitted 2005, even one submitted 2003. Some of these are pretty interesting. Just wonder if they will be included in your site soon?"
Which distributions currently on the waiting list would you like to see listed? Please remember that I will only consider adding projects that meet the following criteria: have a reasonably active web site with up-to-date information about the current status of development, have a public forum and/or mailing list for user/developer discussion, and have an ISO image available for download from a working FTP or HTTP server (or at least provide a torrent file). If there are interesting projects that you believe should be listed on DistroWatch, please mention them in the forum below and I'll do my best. Hopefully, this week won't be as hectic as the previous two ;-).
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Cytrun Linux. Cytrun Linux is a Brazilian security- and server-oriented distribution based on Slackware Linux. It includes LIDS, Snort Inline (a modified version of Snort that accepts packets from iptables), web, mail, SQL, proxy, SSH, DHCP and DNS servers, and a Webmin-based remote administration interface.
- Salocin Linux. Salocin Linux is an rPath-based distribution designed for a variety of tasks ranging from secure server to development workstation. The project's main goals are extreme configurability, performance and a top-notch user and developer community.
- SILU. SILU (Sistema Informático Libre Universitario) is a Spanish Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It is developed by the University of Las Palmas on the Canary Islands.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 28 May 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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|• Full list of all issues|