| 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!
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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 569 (2014-07-28): Deepin 2014, Ask Fedora, Gentoo and LibreSSL, encrypted package downloads|
|• Issue 568 (2014-07-21): Antergos 2014.06.24, Mint based on Debian stable, upgrading CentOS, BinaryTides|
|• Issue 567 (2014-07-14): Manjaro 0.8.10, PC-BSD jails, Debian and glibc, Fedora's DNF, Xiki and Opera 24|
|• Issue 566 (2014-07-07): LXLE 14.04, OpenBSD's SimpleDE, openSUSE artwork, home security basics|
|• Issue 565 (2014-06-30): Chakra 2014.05, Fedora on BeagleBone, Matthew Miller interview, e-book readers|
|• Issue 564 (2014-06-23): Antergos 2014.05.26 and Q4OS 0.5.11, Debian LTS and glibc, Fedora DNF|
|• Issue 563 (2014-06-16): Mint 17, CentOS 7 pre-release, Debian MATE, accessing encrypted content|
|• Issue 562 (2014-06-09): GoboLinux 015, Gentoo interview, Fedora leader change, climagic tricks|
|• Issue 561 (2014-06-02): OpenMandriva 2014.0, Debian GNU/Hurd, Lubuntu and LXQt, Final Term, TrueCrypt|
|• Issue 560 (2014-05-26): KaOS 2014.04, Wayland and KDE 5 on Fedora, distros with commercial support, DenyHosts|
|• Issue 559 (2014-05-19): VortexBox 2.3, LTS-only Linux Mint, FreeBSD 11 ambitions, KDE 5 beta|
|• Issue 558 (2014-05-12): RHEL 7 Workstation impressions, LXQt and Lumina, Haiku interview|
|• Issue 557 (2014-05-05): Xubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 14.10 roadmap, Fedora Workstation, ownCloud|
|• Issue 556 (2014-04-28): Ubuntu 14.04, LibreSSL, Lumina desktop, Deepin interview|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|