| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 258, 23 June 2008
Welcome to this year's 25th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! openSUSE 11.0, Firefox 3.0, Red Hat Summit - these were the main events that kept the Linux news sites busy over the past week. The latest release of Novell's community distribution resulted in a large number of first-look reviews, the authors of which seemed to be impressed with the effort of the developers. Fast and pretty? Definitely. Bleeding-edge? Maybe. Unstable? Absolutely not. Despite the many experimental technologies, KDE 4 and other new features, openSUSE 11.0 appears to be a much improved, well-tested and meticulously designed operating system that should please even the most demanding desktop Linux user. In other news, Mandriva announces a release plan for its upcoming version 2009, Red Hat extends support for its enterprise distributions, Debian and ASUS cooperate on a new Debian solution for the Eee PC, and Ubuntu's Netbook Remix gets a thumbs up from a satisfied user. Finally, the DistroWatch's package database receives a number of new additions - read on for details. As always, thank you for visiting DistroWatch and have a lot of fun!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (6.6MB) and mp3 (6.5MB) formats (many thanks to Russ Wenner)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
From Fedora 9 to openSUSE 11.0
Those among you who read DistroWatch Weekly with religious regularity probably remember that your DistroWatch maintainer tends to switch his primary distribution every six months. This is mostly the result of wanting to follow the current trends in different distributions and to remain as objective as possible when comparing and evaluating different products. Having just completed some six months on Fedora 8 and 9, it was thus time to pick a new distro for my main workstation. The result? This issue of DistroWatch Weekly is the first of many that has been put together on openSUSE 11.0.
Before taking a first look at Novell's community distribution, let me start with a few remarks on Fedora's last two releases. It seems to be a trend among Linux distributions that an excellent release is often followed by a mediocre one. It's as if the distribution developers became complacent after one or two successful versions, thinking that nothing could possible go wrong six months down the line. As such, they get more adventurous, make wrong decisions, and add experimental features, the combination of which is often disastrous. With Fedora 9, I feel that the developers have negated all the great work they had done with previous 2 - 3 releases and went overboard with bleeding-edge software and features. No wonder Fedora 9 received barely a lukewarm reception by most reviewers, while many users were much less kind in their choice of words when describing their own experiences.
My sentiments are no different from those expressed in many recent reviews. Fedora 8 was possibly the project's best release to-date - certainly not without its problems, but generally trouble-free, especially after the first waves of post-release bug fixes and software updates were applied to the distribution. On the other hand, Fedora 9 barely qualifies as a stable release. The decision to provide KDE 4 as the only KDE desktop was a painfully wrong one, particularly at the time when the vocal Fedora KDE team has been campaigning hard to convince the Linux community that Fedora was not a GNOME distro any more. And shipping a version of X.Org that did not work with any of the proprietary NVIDIA drivers also must have cost the distribution a few users.
It wasn't just KDE 4 that made Fedora 9 a buggy and feature-incomplete operating system. During my use of the product I also encountered a number of other annoyances, among which a failure to find the CD/DVD burner (a reboot would fix the issue, at least for a while) was most unpleasant. My Nikon Coolpix camera, which was detected fine in Fedora 8, no longer worked in Fedora 9 (I had to remove the SD card and plug it into a USB card reader in order to extract the content). And last week's software update, which brought over 200 new package versions into Fedora 9, broke my GRUB (I had to reboot into a live CD in order to re-instate the bootloader). All these little troubles suggest that Fedora 9 does not only suffer from wrong design choices, but also from lack of quality control during beta testing and post-release updates.
So shortly after last week's release of openSUSE 11.0, I made a decision to dedicate my second hard disk to what promised to be one of the most ambitious products of the just-concluded distro release season. Let's face it - both Mandriva Linux 2008.1 and Ubuntu 8.04 were fairly conservative releases, making them look like minor updates rather than major new distribution versions (I don't mean this in a negative way, on the contrary). Fedora went the other direction, putting every conceivable new feature and unstable software into its development tree. Although the openSUSE developers did largely the same, they have also given themselves a much longer development period. The presence of several prominent KDE developers on the openSUSE team has also raised the confidence level as to the KDE 4 implementation in the distribution. And while KDE 4 is the default KDE in openSUSE 11.0, KDE 3.5 and its components are thankfully available in the distribution's repositories and can be installed with just a few mouse clicks.
One non-technical problem with openSUSE 11.0 is, of course, Novell's infamous patent protection deal with Microsoft, which continues to be a hotly debated topic in DistroWatch Weekly forums week after week. One thing is clear, however; although the people who continue to campaign for boycotting Novell's products are extremely vocal, they are clearly in minority. An indication of this is the interest last week's release of openSUSE 11.0 generated here on DistroWatch. It is illustrated in the table below, which ranks the major distribution releases according to the number of unique hits their respective pages received during the first three days after the release. As can be seen, with over 16,500 unique hits, openSUSE 11.0 is second only to Ubuntu 8.04 in terms of post-release interest in the distribution among the DistroWatch visitors.
So what were the first few days of openSUSE 11.0 like? My first impressions are much more positive than the first few days on Fedora 9; I spent much of them migrating data and settings, and configuring the user interface the way that makes me productive. One of the most pleasant surprises that won me over was the inclusion of Konqueror 3 in the default installation. This simple trick that Fedora failed to spot makes it possible to stay with KDE 4 as the default desktop, but still enjoy the goodness and flexibility of KDE 3.5 wherever KDE 4 doesn't cut in. Let's be honest about it, in terms of features and customisation options, both Dolphin and Konqueror 4 file managers are very poor substitutes for the excellent Konqueror in KDE 3.5.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the improvements in YaST and package management, especially its speed. The last time I used openSUSE extensively was in 2002, but even the more recent reviews continued to express dissatisfaction with the general speed of the distribution's administration and package management utilities. Clearly, the developers have listened to their users and have made massive efforts to address this issue. On my x86_64 system, software installation with YaST2 wasn't any slower than that using any of the Fedora package management utilities, while booting is also much speedier than was the case in previous versions of openSUSE. As I had used the live CD to install the operating system, I spent considerable time tormenting the openSUSE package management utilities, but apart from an occasional failed connection to an overcrowded mirror, I had no problems installing and uninstalling applications. Installing proprietary and non-free ones, as well as adding video card drivers and media support to openSUSE 11.0 was surprisingly intuitive and straightforward. Even third-party applications, such as Opera 9.50 and the latest Google Earth, all worked without any problems.
Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with openSUSE 11.0. Perhaps the only area where it lacks in comparison with Fedora 9 is its font setup; on my LCD monitor I find the default fonts looking absolutely gorgeous on all recent Fedora and Mandriva releases, but it takes a lot of experimentation and tweaking on most other distribution to get the same effect. Other than that, openSUSE 11.0 looks good and feels solid, and I expect being a satisfied openSUSE user for the next six months.
What are your experiences with openSUSE 11.0? Please discuss below.
Mandriva 2009 release plans, extended support for RHEL 4/5, Debian on ASUS Eee PC, Ubuntu Netbook Remix review
Last week's release of openSUSE 11.0 marks the end of another eventful release season. Luckily for us, the distro developers never sleep and for the next few months we can expect a steady stream of development builds for interested beta testers. The delayed first alpha of Ubuntu 8.10 should be out any moment now, but it looks like the first major distribution with a new development release will be Mandriva Linux, which published a detailed roadmap for its upcoming version last week (see the Upcoming Releases and Announcement section below). So what can we expect in Mandriva Linux 2009? As always, there are many interesting points, which Shafiq Issani summarises neatly in this blog post: "Here's what you should expect from Mandriva Linux 2009: a revamped installer; improved boot speed; improved DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support) management; improved language selection; Linux kernel 2.6.26; GCC 4.3; GNOME 2.24; KDE 4.1; Firefox 3.0; OpenOffice.org 3.0; implementation of the PolicyKit and PackageKit technologies; improvements to the Mandriva Windows migration and parental control utilities; Live Upgrade (same as Ubuntu's update-manager tool); init scripts improvements; Splashy will replace the actual boot splash; lots of desktop improvements. There are also some rumors that X.Org 7.4 and GRUB 2.x will be included in Mandriva 2009."
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Red Hat Summit 2008, the three-day annual conference that took place in Boston last week, is an event keenly followed by the online media, as well as many enterprise Linux users. Besides publishing details about the new oVirt hypervisor, the enterprise Linux vendor has also announced an extension of support for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 and 5 series by an extra year. The Register: "Red Hat outlined its complex release roadmap during the Red Hat Summit in Boston. At five years after their release, RHEL 4 and 5 will move to the 'transition' phase where updates will be minor bug fixes made on a more flexible schedule. Years six and seven are the last gasp before the final update release. Updates will be critical bug and security fixes only. RHEL 4 was released in 2005. That would have formally put it in "transition territory" at this time. But the OS now will get a reprieve from phase two at least until Q4 2009. The next update, RHEL 4.7 is planned for general release on July 21st. Version 4.8 is scheduled for the first half of 2009. RHEL 5 was released in 2007, so the OS will therefore continue to get regular phase 1 updates until 2011. The next update of RHEL 5 will be version 5.3, scheduled for January 2009."
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Chances are that the ASUS Eee PC stand at next year's Computex show will carry an "It's better with Debian" slogan, instead of its current (and hopelessly inaccurate) "It's better with Windows" motto. The reason? Ben Armstrong explains it in his post published on the Debian-eeepc-devel mailing list: "I just received an encouraging note from Ellis Wang of ASUS in Taiwan following up on Martin Michlmayr's suggestions to ASUS about how they could work more closely with the Debian community. Ellis has assigned Robert Huang the task of putting a working relationship in place between ASUS and Debian, with backup provided by five other ASUS employees." The author provides some technical details in this follow-up post: "The key areas where work is happening now are in the installer, ensuring that as much as possible is set up automatically for the user and that the install will run a variety of situations (e.g. different network needs: WPA, PPPoE, etc.) and fine-tuning the ACPI scripts to ensure that they are reliable and implement a good default set of behaviours for the user, while allowing some configuration by more experienced users and users with special needs." If you are interested in this development, then please keep an eye on the Debian Wiki's Eee PC page and subscribe to the project's mailing list.
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Speaking of ultra portables, here is an interesting first-look review of Ubuntu Netbook Remix, a distribution specifically designed to power low-cost, low-specification computers: "The benefits of Netbook Remix over the regular version of Ubuntu are that it includes an 'Easy mode' interface, with a tabbed screen that makes it easy to find applications and a lot of thought has gone into how to make the most of the available screen area, which can be awkward on a 7-inch screen. I'm glad that Canonical have developed a tabbed interface along the 'Easy-mode' lines for Ubuntu, I've grown to really like the 'Easy mode' on the Eee PC and found that when I did install the 'Advanced mode', which is more like a traditional desktop environment that can be found on just about any computer (the idea doesn't vary that much between Linux, Windows and Mac), I never used it." For more information about the product and to see a short video of its user interface in action please visit the Ubuntu Netbook Remix page at Canonical.com.
|Released Last Week
Pioneer Linux 3.2
Technology Alignment has announced the release of Pioneer Linux 3.2, a desktop distribution based on the recently released Ubuntu 8.04: "Technology Alignment sponsored and community open source projects, today announced the availability of Pioneer Explorer and Basic 3.2, the latest version of its open source Linux operating system distributions. Pioneer operating systems continues to build upon its 7-year life cycle with the Release 3 series. Highlights of the KDE-based distribution include improvements and enhancements on the Programs Folder to allow difficult to find and install items such as codecs while the latest release of Pioneer Linux sports a 2.6.24 kernel, Firefox 3 beta 5 and OpenOffice.org version 2.4.0. Read the rest of the press release for more details.
Kurumin NG 8.06
Leandro Santos has announced the release of Kurumin NG 8.06, a Brazilian desktop distribution based on Kubuntu 8.04, but enhanced with features developed earlier by the Kurumin and Kalango projects. Version 8.06 is the project's first stable release. Some of the changes since the earlier beta release include: upgrade of the system to the latest Kubuntu "Hardy Heron" code; Magic icons improvements; addition of a shortcut to KFind (a files and folders search tool); minor changes in the configuration of APT sources; addition of a My Computer shortcut to the desktop; several new magic icons for Blender, Picasa, Flash plugin, Skype, Songbird, etc; various cosmetic changes to the desktop and GRUB boot theme; new applications - Audacity, Thunderbird, KDE Games, XGalaga, Ltris, Jockey-KDE, GParted and additional media codecs for K3B; removal of Kontact and its dependencies. Read the full release announcement (in Portuguese) for further information.
Kurumin NG 8.06 - the start of a new era for one of Brazil's most popular Linux distributions
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Zenwalk Live 5.2
Pierrick Le Brun has announced the release of Zenwalk Live 5.2, a live CD edition of the Slackware-based Zenwalk Linux: "Zenwalk Live 5.2, the latest Zenwalk in its live CD format is ready! Based on Zenwalk Current and a slightly modified version 6.2.3 of the Linux-Live scripts, Zenwalk Live is meant to be an almost perfect clone of Zenwalk standard, although it now uses a slightly modified kernel in order to unlock specific live CD features, such as the re-mastering of Zenwalk Live on a USB key with persistent changes. As always, Zenwalk live features several specific live CD GUI tools which you will find in Zenpanel. Essential recovery and system tools, such as LiloFix, GParted and TestDisk have not been forgotten. Zenwalk Live 5.2 includes all the latest improvements from Zenwalk 5.2 recent release." Visit the distribution's user forums to read the full release announcement.
The long-awaited openSUSE 11.0 has arrived: "The openSUSE Project is proud to announce the release of openSUSE 11.0 - everything you need to get started with Linux on the desktop and on the server. Promoting the use of Linux everywhere, the openSUSE Project provides free, easy access to the world’s most usable Linux distribution, openSUSE. The 11.0 release of openSUSE includes more than 200 new features specific to openSUSE, a redesigned installer that makes openSUSE even easier to install, faster package management thanks to major updates in the ZYpp stack, and KDE 4, GNOME 2.22, Compiz Fusion, and much more." For more information please see the release announcement, product page and release notes.
openSUSE 11.0 - one of the project's most ambitious releases
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Mandriva Linux 2009
Mandriva has published a release roadmap leading towards the distribution's next stable version - Mandriva Linux 2009: "Mandriva Linux 2009 comes a step closer to reality today with the unveiling of the release schedule and the technical specifications. All this information can be found on the Mandriva Linux 2009 Development page on the Mandriva Wiki. The schedule includes two alphas, two betas, and two release candidates, prior to the final release in early October 2008. The first alpha release is scheduled for June 25th - just a week away. The technical specifications are based on input from both the community and Mandriva staff, with each item assigned to a specific maintainer and given a priority level." Among the most interesting items are switch to KDE 4 and inclusion of OpenOffice 3. Please see the full announcement for an overview of the main specifications.
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Summary of expected upcoming releases
Annual package database update|
After two weeks of soliciting suggestions for the annual package database update on DistroWatch, these are the packages that have been accepted as new additions to the list: Git, HAL, GNU Midnight Commander, Miro and PulseAudio. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to email your suggestions; if your preferred package didn't make the list, don't despair - we'll have another update in June 2009!
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New distributions added to waiting list
- BoliviaOS. BoliviaOS is an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution developed in Bolivia. Web site in Spanish only.
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DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 June 2008.
|• 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|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|