| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 270, 15 September 2008
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! An issue largely dedicated to Ubuntu, our editorial looks at the increasingly assertive way Canonical handles its trademarks with relations to other Ubuntu-based distributions. In related news, Ubuntu debates ways to bypass a controversial Mozilla licensing requirement, Shuttleworth announces Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" with interesting innovations, and the Ubuntu Eee project launches a new product for the popular netbook from ASUS, incorporating a brand new desktop interface. Also in the news, openSUSE goes for a complete switch to KDE 4.x starting with version 11.2, Fedora announces the availability of package updates after a recent server crack, and Red Hat receives criticism from the Linux community over the lack of security information following the Fedora server compromise. Finally, if you are a translator or if you work in localising software applications, don't miss Linguas OS, a PCLinuxOS-based live CD that could greatly speed up your work. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (12MB) and mp3 (12MB) formats (many thanks to Russ Wenner)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
On Ubuntu, its derivatives and trademark enforcements
Judging by the discussion taking place in this publication's comments area, many DistroWatch readers find the growing number of *buntus, or distribution derived from -- and named after -- Ubuntu, rather ridiculous. Some even think that it's happening at the detriment of the entire open source movement. After all, wouldn't it be better if these "developers" helped squashing bugs in the parent distribution instead of recreating it with a slightly modified package list and a different desktop theme? And yet, every time a new *buntu variant appears, there is plenty of interest. Take Ubuntulite, a distribution added to DistroWatch last week. It has been near the top of most search-for distributions for weeks and once mentioned in DistroWatch Weekly, it promptly received over 1,500 clicks during the first 24 hours of its listing!
Whatever your opinion about the growing number of *buntus, one thing is becoming clear: it is quite possible that we have now seen the end of their relentless supply. The reason? The trademark lawyers at Canonical have started asserting the law by warning several projects which call themselves "*buntu" and which do not comply with Canonical's trademark guidelines. By co-incidence, one of them was Ubuntulite, an innocent looking distribution that seemed no different from dozens of other *buntus* that had been created over the past few years (other than being more useful than most). Here is the excerpt from the email, as published on the Ubuntulite web site under the title of A message from Canonical: Change your name:
"In terms of our trademark policy you cannot use the Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Edubuntu logos in combination with other marks or logos. With your project you are using our Kubuntu logo together with your project name Ubuntulite and this is a breach of our trademark. Your project name, Ubuntulite, is also not compliant with our trademark policy. We do encourage people to make custom versions of Ubuntu, and we have established the "remix" concept and terminology to allow use of the trademark if the changes are minimal or include only software from the Ubuntu repositories. It is of course fine to host repositories and distribute the software - the issue is that you are attaching the brand, quality and assurance messages of the Ubuntu marks to something which is not Ubuntu."
This is a fairly new development as historically Canonical has not been known to enforce their trademarks in this way. In fact, in the project's early days, creating an Ubuntu derivative was not only tolerated, chances were that the new project would later become an official Ubuntu sub-project (such were the cases with Kubuntu and Xubuntu, and more recently, also Mythbuntu and Ubuntu Studio). However, the number of *buntus was still growing fast and DistroWatch now also lists projects with names like Fluxbuntu, nUbuntu, Ubuntu Christian Edition and Ubuntu Muslim Edition, while our waiting list has distributions such as Elbuntu, Minibuntu, UbuntuiES, Estobuntu, Zebuntu, Ubuntu Rescue Mix or Bubuntu. Just last week, a new distribution called Boxbuntu was also submitted to DistroWatch. Of the above (and to the best of our knowledge), only Ubuntu Christian Edition has been granted permission by Canonical to use the word "Ubuntu" in their product name. The fact that Canonical has become more strict in enforcing their trademarks will likely mean fewer *buntus in the future. It won't necessarily stop the flood of new Ubuntu-based distributions, but they will probably arrive "disguised" under a seemingly unrelated name and with a logo not resembling any Ubuntu graphic.
While we haven't seen any lawsuits brought by a Linux company or organisation against any project allegedly breaking the trademark law, many distributions do enforce their trademarks by sending letters similar to the one quoted above. Red Hat is the most famous example of this; some readers will remember that they used to threaten online CD shops with lawsuits unless they stopped calling their freely downloadable Red Hat Linux CDs as "Red Hat Linux" (although it was fine to sell these CDs under a different name). Other big or small Linux companies, such as Novell or Mandriva, are likely to crack down on any trademark abuse, while some non-profit community projects, such as Debian GNU/Linux, are also known to enforce their trademarks. And Slackware's Patrick Volkerding has sent out quite a few emails of his own; as an example he asked the developer of Slax (formerly Slackware Live) to change its name, but even those who use a variation of the word "slack" in their product name could expect an email from "da man" sooner or later.
* * * * *
Interestingly, the trademark laws can sometimes bite the big distributions themselves. Last Sunday, a heated debate hit the Ubuntu mailing list and the Launchpad bug reporting facility. Apparently, Mozilla Foundation has updated their trademark policy, requiring every user to explicitly accept the licence agreement before using their products. This was seen as a usability drawback by Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth and many of the project's developers. Phoronix has published a good summary of the events under the title Battle Brews Over Firefox In Ubuntu 8.10, with a full quote from the Ubuntu founder and other links that discuss the situation.
This brings memories of a similar debate that took place on the debian-devel mailing list not long ago. With Mozilla Corporation imposing guidelines and licenses increasingly incompatible with Debian's own policies, the distribution came up with a typically open-source solution. Since all Mozilla products are provided in the form of freely available source code, one can simply compile the code, rename the resulting binary - and voilà, a new product is born. Since October 2006, Debian no longer includes Firefox, Thunderbird or SeaMonkey in their distribution, but instead ships Iceweasel (a Debian edition of Firefox), Icedove (Thunderbird) and Iceape (SeaMonkey). While most Debian derivatives accepted this situation and switched to Iceweasel, Ubuntu had, at the time, struck a deal with Mozilla that was acceptable to both parties, thus continuing to provide Firefox in Ubuntu under its proper name. This, however, might now change. As a matter of fact, the Ubuntu development repositories now contain a package called abrowser, an unbranded edition of Firefox.
It will be interesting to see how other distributions handle this tricky issue. Luckily, it seems that the open source world provides a greater number of acceptable solutions to these types of controversies than any closed-source or proprietary software product ever could.
Ubuntu "Jaunty Jackalope", Ubuntu for Eee PC, openSUSE and KDE, Fedora updates, Red Hat security controversy
Lots of Ubuntu-related news this week. First, the announcement presenting Jaunty Jackalope, the new version of Ubuntu which will (most likely) arrive in April 2009 and which will carry the version number 9.04: "As we approach the launch of Ubuntu 8.10, it's time to create space for future plans, and so I'm writing to introduce you to The Jaunty Jackalope. Jaunty, the code name for what will most likely become Ubuntu 9.04, will be the focus of our efforts from November through to April next year. ... There are some specific goals that we need to meet in Jaunty. One of them is boot time. We want Ubuntu to boot as fast as possible - both in the standard case, and especially when it is being tailored to a specific device. The Jackalope is known for being so fast that it's extremely hard to catch, and breeds only when lightning flashes. Let's see if we can make booting or resuming Ubuntu blindingly quick. Another goal is the blurring of web services and desktop applications."
Announcing the code name and outlining the basic goals for the post-Intrepid release was not the only communication from the Ubuntu founder. Another, potentially more far-reaching, was this lengthy post on his weblog entitled Design, user experience and development at Canonical. In it, Shuttleworth revealed that Canonical had hired developers to work on bridging the differences in user interface design across applications - in order to bring a more consistent user experience to the Ubuntu desktop: "Increasingly, Canonical is in a position to drive real change in the software that is part of Ubuntu. If we just showed up with pictures and prototypes and asked people to shape their projects differently, I can't imagine that being well received! So we are also hiring a team who will work on X, OpenGL, GTK+, Qt, GNOME and KDE, with a view to doing some of the heavy lifting required to turn those desktop experience ideas into reality. Those teams will publish their Bzr branches in Launchpad and of course submit their work upstream, and participate in upstream sprints and events. Some of the folks we have hired into those positions are familiar contributors in the FLOSS world, others will be developers with relevant technical expertise from other industries."
And one more piece of news related to the world's most popular desktop distribution. As announced last week, the Ubuntu Eee project (which, by the way, is about to be renamed too) has published its first official release designed for the ASUS Eee PC and incorporating Ubuntu Netbook Remix, a specially designed user interface that will also ship with the upcoming Dell Inspiron 9 Linux netbooks: "Ubuntu Eee is not only Ubuntu optimized for the ASUS Eee PC. It's an operating system, using the Netbook Remix interface, which favors the best software available instead of open source alternatives (i.e. Skype instead of Ekiga)." The ISO image of Ubuntu Eee 8.04.1 is available for free download from this page. Somewhat disappointingly, the project does not provide a live USB image. There are instructions for transferring the ISO image to a USB device, but they require a third-party tool and several extra libraries, and seem to work correctly on an Ubuntu system only. Nevertheless, those who have an external CD-ROM drive should have few problems installing the product on their Eee PC and to start enjoying the cleverly-designed user interface.
Ubuntu Eee 8.04.1 - featuring Ubuntu Netbook Remix with an intuitive user interface
(full image size: 275kB, screen resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
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Joe Brockmeier, the openSUSE community manager, has published an update on the status of KDE in the upcoming releases of the popular community distribution. According to the announcement entitled KDE in openSUSE 11.1 and Beyond, the upcoming release of openSUSE will be the last version in which KDE 3.5 is officially included and supported. Any subsequent release will ship with KDE 4 only, although unofficial, community builds of KDE 3.5 might still be available: "After receiving a great deal of feedback on the issue of KDE 3.5 inclusion in openSUSE 11.1, the KDE team has decided to take the following course of action. KDE 3.5 will be part of the DVD media for openSUSE 11.1, though we may need to slim the package selection for 3.5 sightly. KDE 3.5 will not be included on the main desktop selection page, but will be included with other desktop environments and window managers like Xfce, WindowMaker, etc. This will be the last release with KDE 3.5 packages maintained by the current KDE team. We are not opposed to continued development of KDE 3.5 by the community, however, and would be happy to work with contributors who are interested in packaging KDE 3.5.x for future releases of openSUSE."
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Good news for Fedora users: the package updates are now flowing once again! This follows a disruption caused by a recent compromise of the Fedora download servers, the subsequent damage control, and work involved in restoring the service. From the end-user point of view, resuming updates is a two-step process that also involves importing a new set of GPG keys, as explained in Fedora 8 and 9 updates re-enabled: "In a few hours, updates for Fedora 8 and Fedora 9 will start hitting mirrors. These updates are designed to transition users from our old repo locations to new locations that have all our updates re-signed with a new set of keys. The process to getting new updates is two-stage. Stage 1: Users configured to get updates from existing repos will see a small set of updates available in the next few hours/days. These updates should be applied as soon as possible. Stage 2: Once the above updates have been applied, your update tools (yum, PackageKit, pirut) will see a new repository and a larger set of updates available. This is your new standard flow of updates that will continue to see new updates as the lifetime of Fedora 8 and 9 progress."
* * * * *
Although the Fedora update troubles seem to be a thing of the past, there has been a growing number of critical remarks over the way Red Hat has handled the security breach. Bruce Byfield in The Fedora-Red Hat Crisis: "The Fedora-Red Hat announcements not only concealed information, but gave users no way to investigate their own system for problems, nor any means of protection beyond the negative one of not installing or updating." Bruce Perens, the former Debian Project Leader (DPL), agreed with the above sentiment: "There are continuing problems with Red Hat's handling of the situation. The worst practice, for which Microsoft is the prototype, is to stay mum and not admit any problems. Red Hat's being mum. Fedora's being forced to be mum, because their own board has not been given full details." As always, not everybody agrees. Among them, Scott Dowdle argues that Fedora has done more than most other projects would in a similar situation: "I commend Fedora for releasing information to the users before they were completely sure of the situation. That is very much an indicator that the situation was not handled in a CYA corporate manner." Whatever your opinion on the matter, one thing is sure: we still don't know how the server compromise took place. Will we ever find out?
|Released Last Week
Linux Mint 5 "Xfce"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 5 "Xfce" edition: "We are proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 5 Xfce Community edition." Some of the new features found in this release include: miscellaneous improvements to Mint tools, such as a new layout and more options to customise desktop in mintDesktop; desktop improvements that allow checking the MD5 checksum of an ISO image or install TrueType fonts with a right click; performance improvements that have drastically reduced memory usage; upstream improvements from Ubuntu, including the new ufw firewall and better printing; better look and feel through subtle refinements of the existing GTK+ widgets and a variety of new themes; better localization thanks to ongoing translation effort by the Linux Mint community; more available software via CNR.com." There is a lot more so read the comprehensive release notes for details.
Frugalware Linux 0.9
Miklós Vajna has announced the release of Frugalware Linux 0.9, code name "Solaria": "The Frugalware developer team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Frugalware 0.9, our ninth stable release. No new features have been added since 0.9rc2, but about 40 changes have been made to fix minor bugs. If you didn't follow the changes during the pre-releases, here are the most important changes since 0.8: up to date base system - Linux kernel 2.6.26, glibc 2.8 and GCC 4.3.1; updated desktop packages - GNOME 2.22, OpenOffice.org 2.4.1 and Firefox 3.0.1; setup - improved support for machines with multiple network cards, the USB installer is now easier to start, fixed/documented installation in VirtualBox and VMware; improved graphical tools - FUN (update notifier) now supports news notifications." Here is the complete release announcement.
STUX GNU/Linux 2.0
STUX GNU/Linux 2.0, a Slackware-based live CD and DVD, has been released: "STUX GNU/Linux 2.0 released." What's new? "Upgraded to Slackware current as at 20 August 2008 (Slackware 12.1) and KNOPPIX Live DVD 5.3.1 (kernel 184.108.40.206). Released STUX GNU/Linux on DVD. Includes full Slackware installation (series a, ap,d, kde, kdei, l, n, x and xap), full kernel sources, several extra games (Nexuiz, Ufo:ai, Wesnoth, Sauerbraten, Torcs, Tremulous, Warsow, Unreal Tournament Demo, Quake 3, Warzone, BzFlag, TuxRacer, SuperTux) and applications (OpenOffice.org, Eclipse). STUX-Utilities updated. Some packages removed from CD edition (Java, Azureus). All packages are now installed on DVD edition." Visit the distribution's news page to read the release announcement.
STUX GNU/Linux 2.0 - a Slackware-based live DVD with a custom control centre
(full image size: 1,099kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Alexander Eremin has announced the release of MilaX 0.3.2, a minimalist, OpenSolaris-based desktop live CD/USB system, with JWM as its window manager and a handful of light-weight applications for everyday tasks and system administration: From the changelog: "Small desktop 32-bit edition, based on OpenSolaris Nevada 95; network modules moved to the /usr/kernel/drv that has reduced the miniroot size; ZFSinstall script requires less memory to work; updated Beaver, Netsurf; restored JWM with dark (default) and light themes; added BitTorrent client Transmission, Xpdf replaced with Epdfview; additional software can be installed with pkgadd, pkg-get and IPS pkg."
MilaX 0.3.2 - a desktop OpenSolaris in 150 MB
(full image size: 558kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Luca De Marini has announced the release of OpenGEU 8.04.1, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a highly customised Enlightenment desktop: "Finally OpenGEU 8.04.1 'Luna Crescente' has been released. This is a very important day for our team and project, this release is a milestone. Compared to the old OpenGEU 'Luna Nuova', we have a lot of new enhancements for you to enjoy: the new OpenGEU themes manager (geutheme), an incredible tool able to change every part of the desktop with a mouse click; two full-featured and completely new OpenGEU themes, using the Murrine GTK engine; eTrayer, a new system tray developed by our team; many new modules, like Extramenu, Trash bin and more; the latest E17 desktop shell available...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
OpenGEU 8.04.1 - the Enlightenment desktop brought to a new level of usability
(full image size: 1,540kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Johnny Hughes has announced the release of the CentOS 4.7, a distribution created by recompiling the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.7: "The CentOS development team is pleased to announce the release of CentOS 4.7 for i386 and x86_64. This release corresponds to the upstream vendor 4.7 release. Also released in the updates repository for CentOS 4.7 are all updates through September 12th, 2008. Major changes for this version are: password hashing using the SHA-256 and SHA-512 hash functions is now supported; this update implements the use of paravirtualized block device and network drivers, which improve the performance of fully-virtualized guests; there is a technology preview of OpenOffice.org 2.0 included in the updates directory; Firefox is now rebased to version 3.0.x." Read the complete release announcement for further details.
Foresight Linux 1.0 "Mobile"
Paul Cutler has announced the release of Foresight Linux 1.0 "Mobile" edition, a distribution specifically designed for netbooks. It has been tested on ASUS Eee PC and Intel Classmate devices and it features rolling release schedules with continuous software updates. From the announcement: "The Foresight Linux Project is pleased to announce the first release of the Foresight Mobile edition. The Foresight Mobile edition is the first release of Foresight Linux for netbooks and ultra mobile PCs, such as the ASUS Eee PC, Intel Classmate and Dell E netbook, and features a customized GNOME desktop optimized for smaller screens. The default desktop features quick and easy links to applications, documents and other GNOME software (see screenshot). It includes the following applications: F-Spot photo manager, Firefox web browser, Pidgin instant messenger, Banshee media player, GNOME movie player." Read the release announcement and release notes for additional information.
Greenie Linux 3.1H
Stano Hoferek has announced the release of Greenie Linux 3.1H, an Ubuntu-based distribution optimised for Slovak and Czech users, but also supporting English and Esperanto. The new version comes with a greatly modified list of Bash aliases, a Greenport service (online script gallery), a special menu with graphic effects and a new root menu. Greenie combines the standard system and applications from the Ubuntu repository (Linux kernel 2.6.24, GNOME 2.22.3, Firefox 3.0.1, OpenOffice.org 2.4.1) with some up-to-date GetDeb.net packages (Pidgin 2.5.1, Wine 1.1.4, Phun 4 beta). Also included is support for modems that are in common use in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. A custom Greenie Toolbar for Firefox with some interesting enhancements and links compliments the distribution. Further information on the new release is available from the project's home page and developer's blog (both links in Slovak).
Greenie Linux 3.1H - a user-friendly Ubuntu, updated and customised for use by Slovak and Czech speakers
(full image size: 502kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Igelle OS. Igelle Operating System is a Linux-based operating system that is designed to be portable, and that can run on various devices including cellular phones, smart phones, PDAs, Internet tablets, laptops, UMPCs, desktop computers, server computers and potentially other embedded computers and home electronics. Igelle OS is currently functioning, but still undergoing heavy development.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
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And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 22 September 2008. Until next week,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|• Full list of all issues|