| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 259, 30 June 2008
Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! You've seen it too - a recent Linux convert, used to clicking on executable files to install software, is often shocked to discover that Linux distributions use dedicated package managers to install and remove applications. But with a large number of distributions and philosophies, which is the best tool on the market? And how do they differ in terms of usability and convenience? If you are a new Linux user then our article explaining the various package management options is a must-read. In the news section, openSUSE developers defend their inclusion of KDE 4 into the recently released openSUSE 11.0, Mandriva cancels the first alpha release of version 2009 due to problems with X.Org, Debian completes the security infrastructure for the upcoming release of Debian "Lenny", and Ubuntu unveils the first developers' build of the new MID edition for mobile Internet devices. Also in this issue: a link to an interview with Zenwalk's Jean-Philippe Guillemin, a review of the upcoming Acer Aspire One and a round-up of rescue live CDs based on Linux. All this and more in this week's DistroWatch Weekly - happy reading!
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Package management (by John Frey)
A few weeks ago on DistroWatch there was some debate about package managers. I think you will agree that we can never know too much about package management. I have done some research and would like to share some of what I have learned.
What is a package?
The first thing we need to know is, what is a package? There are two ways to install software. The first way is to get source code and compile it on your system.
The 2nd way is to get and install a package. A package contains source code pre-compiled and packaged as a binary installation file (executable). It may include icons, libraries, configuration files, binaries, man pages, desktop shortcuts, header files, fonts, etc. In addition, it may contain meta data, such as version information, package maintainer and software authors' names and contact information, licensing, changelogs, READMEs and web location for the project and source code. Each package format has a file structure for storing data and is compressed. When the package is executed, it uncompresses the data and copies all the files from the package into the file system of the operating system, creating symbolic links where needed, putting start-up links in the menu and on the desktop, and sometimes giving configuration options to the user.
Packages are distribution and version-specific as the location for dependencies may vary between distributions and between versions of a distribution. Sometimes it is possible to download and install software the Windows way by just clicking on the package, provided it is compatible with the operating system. For instance, I downloaded and installed the Flash plugin RPM from Adobe on my Mandriva Linux system. More on that later.
There are many package formats, with .tgz, .deb and .rpm being the most common. Others like .pup, .pisi, .tazpkg and .mo are less common. Source code is usually distributed as tar.gz or tar.bz2 files, but some distributions distribute their binary packages this way as well. Most of us probably use .deb or .rpm packages.
An example of a modern graphical package management tool: PiSi by Pardus Linux
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OK, so we know what a package is, what is a package manager? In a nutshell, a package manager installs, removes and updates packages. That is the simple definition but a modern package manager can do so much more. It can automatically connect to a repository, automatically download software, check for and resolve dependencies, list packages, list dependencies, search the package list, sort the list, and add and remove repositories. It can specify a repository for a specific package and block upgrades to specific packages, verify checksums and digital signatures to insure the integrity of the packages, allow automatic updates, and remove dependencies when uninstalling.
Not all package managers do all of those things, nor do they all perform equally well on all of those functions. This has given rise to different package managers and, contrary to the perceived notion, they do not all perform the same function except as viewed on a very superficial level. As you read about these package managers this will become clearer.
Repositories and package management system
Repositories are collections of packages typically on a remote server, but they can also reside on the local hard disk, a CD-ROM, DVD or other storage media. The important thing to know about repositories is that they store data about packages in a particular format depending on the package manager. As an example, Mandriva's urpmi cannot read Fedora's yum repository despite both containing .rpm packages, while Debian's APT can't read Mandriva's or Fedora's repositories. The package manager, package format and repository comprise the package management system.
Slackware and its derivatives use this system. The package format is a tar.gz file given the .tgz extension. That is, it is a tape archive (tar) that has been compressed with gzip (gz). This is not a package manager in the sense we normally think of it today. It's really just a package format and some command line tools to create, view, install, remove and upgrade. The packaging system allows embedding of install scripts. Those scripts are the only difference between installing a source tarball and a Slackware package. There is no dependency checking, no automatic connection to a repository, no automatic updating the system or checksum verification. Using pkgtool, one can access a list of installed software for removal, install packages or run install scripts. Packages are manually downloaded from a repository. This is the system that all package managers set out to improve in the days when Slackware Linux was a dominant Linux distribution. Slackware provides a package browser on the Internet and RSS feeds are available too. Both of those tools look to be recent additions. SWareT, slapt-get, slackpkg and NetBSD's pkgsrc are third-party tools that have been developed to aid package management in Slackware and/or its derivatives. These tools all provide dependency resolution and may provide some more advanced functions.
Gslapt is a GTK+ front-end to slapt-get, an APT-like package management system for Slackware Linux.
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Advanced Packaging Tool (APT)
APT is used primarily in Debian and its derivatives. APT is a library of routines in libapt that acts as a front-end for dpkg, which is a low-level package manager with utilities to install, uninstall and update .deb packages. APT provides dpkg with more advanced functions, not the least of which is dependency resolution. The APT of today has evolved a long way from its origins but has retained its relationship to dpkg. All Debian derivatives use APT by default. Development of new capabilities has kept pace with other package managers of more recent vintage. There is little question that it is one of the best, most feature-rich package managers available. APT has been ported to OpenSolaris and Mac OS X, and can be used with RPM-based distributions via apt4rpm or apt-rpm.
Synaptic - a popular graphical package management tool for (not only) Debian-based distributions.
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RPM Package Manager (RPM)
RPM is both a package format and a package manager. It is easily as popular as APT. While RPM has some of the higher level functions built into it from the start, like dependency checking (but not dependency resolving), it seems that adding all the features of a modern package management system to the RPM standard is not easily done. This has given rise to new package management tools like YUM, urpmi, YaST, up2date and apt-rpm that offer dependency resolution and more advanced features while leaving the lower level routines to RPM. These utilities are sometimes called Meta Package Managers because they manage RPM which is already a package manager. RPM has been ported to IBM's AIX architecture and is the default package format for the Linux Standard Base (LSB).
Mandriva is the only distribution using urpmi, just as openSUSE is the only distribution using their system. The package format is .rpm. The urpmi utility is one of the first, perhaps the first, package manager for RPM packages. It actually consists of a number of different utilities to perform various functions: urpme uninstalls software, urpmq queries the database for a matching file name, urpmi installs packages, and so on. One of the interesting functions of urpmi is that it will add the meta data for RPMs installed from a local directory. If you remember way back, I mentioned downloading Adobe's Flash plugin. All I had to do was click on the RPM package, that brought up a dialog box asking me if I wanted to install, save or cancel. I chose install and urpmi added the RPM to my list of installed software. This means that I can use urpmi to uninstall or upgrade the plugin provided I remember to keep the original RPM file.
Mandriva's Rpmdrake is a graphical front-end for the distribution's package management utility called urpmi.
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Yellow Dog Updater Modified (YUM)
Derived from Yellow Dog Updater (YUP), YUM is a Package manager for Red Hat/Fedora-based systems using the RPM package. It has become the default package manager as of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and is used by most Red Hat/Fedora-based systems. Modularity is a major feature for YUM. Extra functions are added through plugins and with the yum-utils package. Critics say the tool is not integrated enough and performance and maturity of modules can vary. Nevertheless its wide adoption is evidence that it is a good package management system. Red Hat has long offered a subscription service to provide updates and patches called Red Hat Networks (RHN). The subscription service is important to their business plan and as such they have not spent as much time on development of a non-subscription service package manager. Third parties developed YUM before it was picked up by Red Hat. RPM is the traditional Red Hat package manager superceded by up2date, now replaced by YUM.
Yum Extender (YumEx) is a powerful graphical package management tool for Fedora-based distributions.
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SUSE Linux and openSUSE use a veritable dog's breakfast of utilities for package management. Input is given through either rug (a command-line front-end) or zen-updater (a GUI frontend) to Zenworks Management Daemon (ZMD). ZMD listens for commands and passes them off to the libzypp ZMD helpers, which communicate with the software database, parse metadata, and pass data and commands to libzypp. Libzypp does dependency resolution, installation, removal, and upgrades - using the RPM package management utility. One can also use YaST or zypper (command line) to talk directly to libzypp. This is the extreme other-end from pkgtool used by Slackware. Three front-ends, two package management systems, two repositories. The zen-updater system also adds a daemon and the helper layer (that no other system has) before it reaches the package manager for dependency resolution and installation routines. I used this system when openSUSE first introduced it in version 10.0. It was very slow as many will remember, but recent reports say the speed has been improved markedly.
YaST2 is an openSUSE system administration utility that includes an advanced graphical package manager.
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Source-based distributions and the BSDs
For these systems, a repository contains install scripts instead of pre-compiled binaries and compiling is done on the local machine. Portage in Gentoo uses scripts called ebuilds that link to source code and contain instructions for the compiler and install routines. This system does function like a package manager in many ways, including installing, removing, updating, tracking installed software, dependency resolving, etc. This is generally the way BSD Ports work as well, with installation scripts instead of packages. The appeal of this type of management should be obvious. Install scripts are smaller than packages so the repository is lighter. Original source means possibly cleaner code and less third-party "optimization", though install scripts may contain patches. Local compilation means no extra code to support hardware not on the system and optimizations can be made for the available hardware. Other advantages exist but you can read Gentoo or BSD documentation for that.
DesktopBSD's package manager (dbsd-pkgmgr) is an innovative graphical tool that allows installing both binary and source packages.
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Those are some of the package managers out there. I hope you can see the differences between them after reading this. The early package managers were collections of simple install, remove and update routines. While APT was eventually developed to be very feature-rich, third-party package managers for Slackware Linux are mostly simple programs that add dependency resolution and one or two other features. RPM was an evolution of the package manager closer to a complete package management system. It added features like dependency checking, tracking, automatic installation and checksum verification. RPM has many more functions than dpkg but fewer functions than APT. For whatever reasons, instead of adding functions to RPM, developers created "meta package managers" like YUM, urpmi, Smart and YaST. Finally, we have script-based package management that uses original source code and compiles it at install time. Script-based repositories are smaller than package repositories, and scripts possibly require fewer resources to maintain through minor variations of software updates. However, they require close monitoring of the software sources to ensure that hyperlinks in the scripts remain valid.
There are many package managers not described here. They range from extremely feature-rich, like Smart, to slim, like (Arch Linux's) Pacman. They are usually developed when no other package manager fits the bill for a distribution's base and philosophy. Smart and YUM, among others, are being developed to read several types of repositories. We keep seeing new package managers and meta package managers. Even Puppy has its own, undoubtedly optimized for size. Then there are the many, many graphical front-ends. They don't add new functions but improve usability. Personally, I prefer a graphical front-end for browsing packages in much the same way I prefer a graphical user interface for file browsing.
openSUSE defends KDE 4, Mandriva cancels alpha release, Debian completes Lenny's security support, Ubuntu unveils MID edition, Zenwalk's Jean-Philippe Guillemin, Acer Aspire One, Linux rescue CDs
The recent release of openSUSE 11.0 was marred by some aggressive and even insulting posts of some users on the distribution's mailing lists. The reason? Many of them fail to understand how KDE 4, which they consider an unfinished and buggy piece of software, could become the preferred desktop on such a popular distribution. But as Benjamin Weber explains in his blog post, KDE 4 is not the default desktop and anybody installing the distribution from the installation DVD has to make an explicit choice between GNOME, KDE 3 and KDE 4: "Both KDE 3.5 and KDE 4.0 (and GNOME) are offered when installing from the DVD or the 'netinstall' image. There is no default. Users are not forced or even suggested to change from KDE 3 to KDE 4." In a separate blog, Mike McCallister continues to expand on the KDE 4 dilemma faced by the openSUSE developers: "The KDE 4.0 desktop environment was released in January, with an entirely new way of doing things. The Plasma desktop, Phonon multimedia framework, and Solid hardware framework represented some spectacular changes from the familiar KDE 3.x interface in place since 2002. Unfortunately, some key pieces of the complete desktop (including the KOffice suite, Kontact personal information manager and Amarok multimedia player) had not yet migrated successfully to the new platform. So KDE 4.0 was defined, rightly so, as a work in progress, while 4.1 would be the more stable, mature platform."
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Mandriva's plans to release the first alpha build of its upcoming Mandriva Linux 2009 suffered a setback last week when its development branch was deemed too problematic for public testing. Adam Williamson explains: "Those of you who saw the recent announcement of the Mandriva Linux 2009 release schedule may be wondering about the status of alpha 1, which was scheduled for public release on June 25th. Due to some major problems in this release related to X.Org, the migration from KDE 3 to KDE 4, and generation of One images, we have decided not to make a public release of alpha 1. If we had waited to resolve these problems before releasing Alpha 1 it would have come out only a few days before Alpha 2, not allowing enough time for much real testing. Therefore alpha 1 will exist only as an internal release, and will not be made public. The first public pre-release for Mandriva Linux 2009 will now be Alpha 2, which will be released according to the announced schedule, on July 10th."
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As Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" moves closer to its final release, many people are wondering whether it's safe to run the distribution on a production system. Here is some good news - from the security point of view, Lenny is ready. Nico Golde explains: "With some pride we can say that testing has never been in such good shape security wise. The tracker reflects very accurately the current known security issues in the testing distribution. Our new announcement emails provide a notification for users whenever a new security fix reaches testing, whether through migration from unstable or DTSA for testing-security. Also fewer packages are getting removed from testing because of security issues." However, it should be noted that once Lenny is out, the testing branch won't receive the same attention from the Debian security team as the current testing tree: "After the release of Lenny, there will probably be no security support for the new testing distribution for some time. It is not clear yet how long this state will last. Users of testing who need security support are advised to change their sources.list entries from 'testing' to 'lenny' now and only switch to lenny+1 after the beginning of its security support is announced."
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Here is an interesting piece of news for the fans of Linux-based mobile Internet devices. As announced by Canonical last week, the first alpha release of Ubuntu 8.04 MID edition is out and available for testing: "We are delighted to be able to welcome Ubuntu Mobile Internet Device (MID) edition 8.04 to the world as a full developers' release. It is based on the Ubuntu Desktop edition, and it is now available for download. The Ubuntu MID edition 8.04 has been built by the Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded community that is sponsored by Canonical and in co-operation with Intel Moblin.org community to take advantage of the Intel Atom Processor, the chipset that is underpinning the Mobile Internet Device (MID) category. Ubuntu MID edition will always be an open source distribution and is freely available." For further information and screenshots of the Ubuntu MID user interface please visit the Ubuntu MID page.
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Speaking of portable Internet devices, CNET has published a detailed review of Acer Aspire One, an upcoming ultra-portable laptop running Linpus Linux: "Despite its lateness to the party, the One has pretty much everything it takes to be a market leader. It's attractive and lightweight. It offers solid performance and it's easy to use. Most importantly, however, is its price: in the UK the entry-level One costs a very pocket-friendly £220." And how does Acer Aspire One compare with the popular ASUS Eee PC? "In some respects, the Acer Aspire One is better than an Eee PC 901. It has an excellent keyboard, solid performance and is highly portable. The Eee C 901 still has the edge in terms of battery life and mouse input, so it's a close call between the two machines."
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The developers of free operating system are often visionaries who spend much of their spare time hacking on open source software. But who exactly are these guys? And why are they doing all this? Last week, an Italian web site called oneOpenSource interviewed Jean-Philippe Guillemin, the founder and lead developer of Zenwalk Linux. Firstly, who is Jean-Philippe Guillemin? "I am 36-years old, married, and working as a security engineer for Telindus Corporation." How did Zenwalk Linux come about? "I started the Zenwalk project (formerly Minislack) as a way to learn the internals of GNU/Linux. Building an operating system is a great way to understand IT deeply because you're on your own to solve the problems when things don't work as expected." Why did he choose Slackware as the base system for Zenwalk Linux? "In my opinion Slackware is the best Linux distribution in the world; it is fast, reliable, secure, up-to-date, and built with respect for the UNIX spirit." And how does Zenwalk differ from its parent? "When you install Zenwalk, you immediately get one application for each task, optimized and ready to use, along with a refined look and feel. The pre-selected packages are carefully chosen by Zenwalk developers to provide the user with only the best and most usable applications."
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Finally, a great article on an extremely useful, but not particularly glamorous class of open source live CDs - the Linux rescue systems that provide ways to recover lost files and hard disk partitions, to scan for and remove Windows viruses, and to perform a variety of system diagnostic and forensic tasks. Serdar Yegulalp in InformationWeek: "At some point, it hits all of us. One day you're chugging merrily along, and then you're staring at a machine that won't boot - a machine that just happens to contain everything of importance to you. While some degree of disaster is inevitable, it's how you cope with it that counts. While computers and file systems get more robust with each passing year, there's always going to be room for disaster recovery techniques. With open source solutions to help you recover from such messes, you're not tied to a proprietary product's costs or licensing agreements, and if you're so inclined you can rework the source code to meet your own needs." The 5-page article investigates the goals and capabilities of a number of useful Linux rescue CDs, including SystemRescueCd, Parted Magic, BackTrack, STD and Helix, as well as several popular data recovery programs, such as dd, TestDisk and PhotoRec. A good article to bookmark in case disaster strikes.
|Released Last Week
eAR OS 1.10
Peter Thomsen has announced the availability of an updated version of eAR OS, an Ubuntu-based, multimedia-oriented distribution: "The new eAR OS version 1.10b has been updated to use the new Firefox 3 browser with the Medialayer Connectivity plugin to watch movies on the Internet. This version is faster because now the graphical rendering of the eAR Media Center is hardware accelerated, it comes with a brand new theme for better look, you can select a username and password of your own choice, and it comes with many other improvements. All packages are the very newest and it comes with the latest Real-Time Linux kernel. The installation is easier too: if you want it to be up and running after installation to the hard disk with a minimum of tweaking, then enter 'earmusic' to be the username and select a password of your own choice." Visit the project's news page to read the full release announcement.
After a brief beta test, Molinux 4.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution developed by the regional government of Castilla la Mancha in Spain, has been released. Molinux 4.0 comes with the following new features and changes: updated artwork; new versions of most included applications; live CD that allows users to evaluate the operating system without installation; AppArmor security framework; Cheese - an application for taking photos and videos with a webcam; updated user manual with a system of "recipes" that allow the user to learn common computing tasks fast; new backup manager that makes it simple to perform unattended backups over the local network. Read the complete release announcement (in Spanish) for further information.
Molinux 4.0 - a distribution for government offices and schools in Spain's Castilla la Mancha region
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Karanbir Singh has announced the release of CentOS 5.2, a desktop a server distribution built by recompiling the source RPM packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS 5.2 for the i386 and x86_64 architectures. CentOS 5.2 is based on the upstream release 5.2 and includes packages from all variants, including Server and Client. All upstream repositories have been combined into one, to make it easier for end users to work with. And the option to further enable external repositories at install time is now available in the installer. Further arch support for PowerPC, IA64 and SPARC are planned and will be released soon." Read the release announcement and release notes for more a detailed description of changes and new features.
Arch Linux 2008.06
Arch Linux 2008.06 has been released. Arch Linux is an independently developed i686/x86_64-optimized community distribution, based on a rolling-release package model and targeted at competent GNU/Linux users. From the announcement: "Arch Linux 2008.06 'Overlord'. The Arch Linux 2008.06 ISO images are out. This release introduces many changes: 'base' category is always installed; use of UUIDs for persistent device naming; availability of USB disk images alongside traditional ISOs; true live Arch installation environment; inclusion of the beginner's guide from the Wiki; documentation updates; includes the current stable kernel, 18.104.22.168." Here is the very brief release announcement.
Stefan Lippers-Hollmann has announced the release of sidux 2008-02, a desktop Linux distribution based on Debian's unstable branch: "A little later than planned due to a number of library transitions in Debian sid, we now have the pleasure to announce the immediate availability of sidux 2008-02 'Erebos', shipping in 'kde-lite' flavours for amd64 and i386, a combined i386+amd64 release with KDE for 'kde-full' and an xdelta to add initial localisations for all currently supported languages. Enhancing the sidux family, an Xfce variant has been added for amd64 and i386 architectures for the first time. 'Erebos' concentrates on integrating the changes caused by kernel 22.214.171.124, the addition of Xfce as a supported distribution variant, as well as several installer improvements and updating the packages affected by the OpenSSL security problems in Debian." Read the detailed release notes for further information.
sidux 2008-02 - now also available in a light-weight Xfce variant
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GoblinX 2.7 "Mini"
Flavio Pereira de Oliveira has announced the final release of GoblinX 2.7 "Mini" edition, a minimalist desktop live CD based on Slackware Linux: "GoblinX Mini 2.7 is released. After more than four months of development we are pleased to announce the availability of the new stable version. The GoblinX Mini edition is the son of GoblinX and contains only Xfce as windows manager and GTK+ applications. Main upgrades since RC2: added bookmarks to Xfce panel; corrected some small errors and bugs; upgraded some packages, interfaces and scripts; added xf86-video-openchrome, libmpd, cdstatus and Xfmpc; added some missing applications to Xfce menu; added extra folders to be used as package repository; added media package repository to Slapt-getrc; added package upgrade check to Xfce panel with Xfce4-smartpm-plugin; added interface to build module with Slapt-get help; added more Thunar and Nautilus actions; added Totem as audio CD player option." Visit the GoblinX news page to read the full release announcement.
Myah OS 3.0 "Dragon"
Jeremiah Cheatham has announced the final release of Myah OS 2.7 "Dragon" edition, a complete desktop distribution featuring the KDE 3.5 desktop: "For all current fans of Myah OS and all those soon to be, we give you Myah OS 3.0 Dragon. Dragon is the code name for Myah OS built around the KDE 3 desktop. We chose KDE 3.5.9 since it's still considered the most stable and best supported version of KDE. As with all other versions of Myah OS, Dragon has full multimedia support and a wide range or software. There is a complete KDE desktop as well as KOffice, KTorrent, Amarok and many more KDE software packages. Dragon brings the best of KDE and the best of Myah OS together in the same system. There have been several updates since the release of Box. The backup LXDE desktop now uses Metacity instead of Openbox as the window manager. Firefox has been updated to 3.0." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
Pardus Linux 2008
The Pardus development team has announced the release of Pardus Linux 2008, an independently developed desktop distribution with custom package management and system configuration tools: "New version of the Pardus project, Pardus Linux 2008, improved by the latest technologies and up-to-date applications, has been released. As always, Pardus 2008, is being freely distributed under the terms of GNU General Public License. In compliance with the main goals of the Pardus project, Pardus 2008 has lots of new features for ease of installation and use, both at the infrastructure and interface levels. In addition, Pardus 2008 provides enhanced hardware support, stable and reliable Linux infrastructure and numerous applications on a single CD." Visit the distribution's home page to read the release announcement and check out the release notes for information about new features.
Pardus Linux 2008 - a well-designed KDE 3.5 distribution with convenient administration tools
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Scientific Linux 5.2
Connie Sieh and Troy Dawson have announced the release of Scientific Linux 5.2, a distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, but enhanced with extra software and features: "Scientific Linux 5.2 has been released in record time. XFS, the file system, is now officially in Scientific Linux 5.2. XFS is not available during the installation as an option for formatting partitions, but you can install it so that pre-formatted partitions will be recognized. KDEEDU has also been added in Scientific Linux 5.2. This was added mainly because KStars is part of this package, but the other educational programs are also helpful to schools. Alpine has officially replaced Pine in Scientific Linux 5.2. Scientific Linux release 5.2 is based on the rebuilding of RPMs out of SRPMs from Enterprise 5 Server and Client, including update 2. It also has all errata and bug fixes up until June 26, 2008." Read the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Parsix GNU/Linux 1.5r0
Alan Baghumian has announced the release of Parsix GNU/Linux 1.5r0, a Debian-based desktop distribution and live CD: "After a 2-week delay, we proudly announce the immediate availability of Parsix GNU/Linux 1.5r0, code name 'Viola'. Parsix Viola brings several new features and it includes a new kernel, updated software packages, updated documentation, improved installer system, and several fixes for reported defects. This version is synchronized with Parsix and Debian testing repositories as of June 25, 2008. Several bugs have been solved. Replaced GQView with gThumb, Camorama with Cheese, and re-added iptraf and nmap. Parsix Viola officially supports Compiz Fusion, VirtualBox-OSE, and GNU Flash Player. Highlights: GNOME 2.22.2, X.Org 7.3, Linux kernel 126.96.36.199, OpenOffice.org 2.4.0 and GNU Iceweasel 3.0 RC2." Read the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Parsix GNU/Linux 1.5r0 - a new update of the desktop distribution based on Debian's testing branch
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Network Security Toolkit 1.8.0
Network Security Toolkit NST is a Fedora-based live CD designed to provide easy access to open source network security applications. A new release, version 1.8.0, was announced yesterday: "We are pleased to announce the latest NST release: v1.8.0. This release is based on Fedora 8 using the Linux kernel 188.8.131.52. Here are some of the highlights of this release: transitioned from Fedora Core 5 to Fedora 8 as the underlying base of the NST; addition of wireless firmware packages to support several new wireless chipsets; most networking and security applications included have been updated to their latest version. The NST Web User Interface (WUI), has been greatly enhanced and cleaned up. Some note worthy enhancements include: Multi-Tap Network Packet Capture and Management; an enhanced Network Packet Capture Management and Status Interface; the use of AJAX and JSON to provide a more dynamic and interactive NST WUI; support for WPA-PSK wireless connections...." Read the release announcement and visit the project's home page for further details.
Network Security Toolkit 1.8.0 provides a comprehensive web-based administration utility for a variety of tasks.
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Ryan Finnie has announced the release of Finnix 92.0, a Debian-based live CD designed for system administrators: "Finnix 92.0 released. Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian 'testing'. Today marks the release of version 92.0 for the x86/AMD64, PowerPC, and UML/Xen platforms. Major new features: Finnix 92.0 contains the fix to the Debian OpenSSL predictable RNG vulnerability - a reminder that all versions of Finnix from 89.0 to 91.1 (inclusive) contained this vulnerability, so please keep this in mind when running OpenSSH servers on vulnerable versions; Linux 2.6.25; a new graphical boot menu - this boot menu will still perform 32-bit/64-bit auto-detection, and options such as 'toram' and 'testcd' can still be added to boot profiles by pressing [TAB] over a desired boot profile." Read the release announcement and release notes for a more detailed list of changes and new features.
SystemRescueCd, a small Gentoo-based live CD designed for hard disk partitioning and data rescue tasks, has been updated to version 1.0.4. What's new? "Updated the default kernel to Linux 184.108.40.206 with Reiser4fs; fixed problem with Samba due to bad case in the UTF8 character set; fixed the LVM package - LVM 1.x support was broken; fixed the LVM service - now it starts after mdadm so that LVM on raid works; updated NTFS-3G to 1.2531 (NTFS full read-write support); updated the Btrfs file system support to 0.15 (kernel module and utilities); ability to boot Linux from an LVM disk; added option 'root=auto' to boot the first Linux system found on the hard drive; added 'mhdd' boot floppy disk image (low-level hard-disk diagnostic tool)." Here is the complete changelog.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- F-Secure Rescue CD. F-Secure Rescue CD is a Linux live CD whose sole purpose is to scan files on FAT and NTFS partitions for presence of viruses and malware.
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DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 7 July 2008.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
|• Issue 681 (2016-10-03): OpenBSD 6.0, DragonFly BSD to support LibreSSL in ports, systemd denial of service bug, upgraded Mintbox Mini|
|• Issue 680 (2016-09-26): Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, blocking applications at the firewall, Lenovo controversy, Ubuntu running on the Nextcloud Box|
|• Issue 679 (2016-09-19): OpenMandriva 3.0, 32-bit vs 64-bit performance, openSUSE updates, KaOS unveils first run wizard|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Why was Virtual-Linux created? Well, I was pretty tired with the silly bootdisks you can download, plus I wanted to learn more about the Linux core. I then decided to build a ramdisk based system of my own, and after a while I ended up with a cdbased rescue system with a builtin firewall. Then, after having tested a few of the existing big cdbootable systems that were very slow and had very poor performance, a new project started to take shape in my mind. After some late nights investigating some existing soloutions, my own concept was born: 1. Use a commercial distribution as base (Mandrake Linux). 2. Implement as much as possible of the original functions without many hardware/memory requirements. 3. Put as much software as possible on one cd. 4. Make it easy to configure / Autodetect as much as possible. 5. Implement live filesystem compression. 6. Ramdisk Compression.