| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 279, 24 November 2008
Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The biggest news of the week was the final decision in the case of SCO vs.
Novell in a Utah court. LXer.com summed it up this way: "Novell Wins, SCO
Loses." In other news, big box retailers across the United States stocked
their shelves with netbooks preloaded with Linux in time for Black Friday,
the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday and traditionally the
busiest shopping day of the year. Target and Best Buy stores displayed
the ASUS Eee PC 900a for US$299 this week. Other netbooks with
prices as low as US$199 are expected on shelves by Friday. In the news
section, Paul Frields challenges the often-made claims
that Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution; openSUSE announces Zypper 1.0 and plans for Zypper 2, Gentoo Linux summarises the Gentoo Council functions and activities, sidux celebrates its second birthday, and Shift Linux announces a major shift in the direction of its Ubuntu-based distribution. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the new editor of DistroWatch Weekly is Chris Smart of the Kororaa and MakeTheMove.net fame. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (15MB) and mp3 (13MB) formats (many thanks to Russ Wenner)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Novell wins and SCO loses, Linux netbooks hit store shelves (by Caitlyn Martin)
On Thursday, Judge Dale A. Kimball issued the final judgement in the case of
SCO vs. Novell. LXer summed it up this way: "Novell Wins, SCO Loses."
The judgement repeats previous orders which dismissed SCO's claims of
copyright infringement, slander and breach of contract. The case was
dismissed with prejudice which means that SCO will not be able to amend
their complaint and start again. This final ruling will cost SCO, now in
bankruptcy, over US$4 million: US$2,547,817 for the revenues from the
2003 Sun agreement which have been awarded to Novell, US$918,122 in
interest and US$625,486.90 to a constructive trust.
SCO can still appeal the decision. That means that the decision is final
for Judge Kimball's court but it does not necessarily mean the case is over
and done with. If there is a next round, it will be in appellate court.
According to Groklaw, SCO's lawyer told a September bankruptcy hearing
that an appeal could take anywhere from a year and a half to five years.
* * * * *
A common opinion voiced by many who write about technology (myself included) is
that the key to wider, even mainstream acceptance of Linux is the availability
of preloaded systems at major retail outlets, side by side with Windows
systems. In the United States and Canada we are seeing that happen for
the first time this holiday season. For the most part this is limited to
the very popular netbook systems. Linux-based netbooks
started appearing in US big box retailers over the past couple of weeks.
The ASUS Eee PC 900a, preloaded with
is now available at Target and Best Buy Stores for US$299. Additional
offerings from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, MSI, and others, all preloaded with Linux, are
promised for store shelves this season with prices reportedly starting at
US$199. The day after the American Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday,
is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Some stores will
likely offer limited quantities of systems at a loss to lure customers in
early Friday morning.
Many DistroWatch Weekly readers will remember the hype surrounding Wal Mart's short and
ill-fated decision to carry the Everex CloudBook, a similar system
preloaded with gOS, last year. The CloudBook is widely viewed as a
dismal failure with a very high return rate. The difference this year
is that at least some of the systems offered, most notably the
ASUS Eee PC, are well configured and already have a successful track
record in the consumer marketplace. The CloudBook, despite a beefier
processor than last year's Eee PC 701, had relatively sluggish performance.
By comparison, Xandros on the Eee PC, with its simplified desktop and
superior performance, received many positive reviews from writers who
had never used Linux before.
Some tech writers are warning consumers away from Linux systems.
Michael Elgan, writing for Datamation.com on November 12, wrote:
"Watch out for Linux. The cheapest netbooks tend to come with Linux." He
then tempered his warning by saying Linux might actually be preferable but
added that it won't run Windows software. Despite these warnings I do
expect that consumers will buy the Linux-based systems and so long as
they allow them to do the things they are accustomed to, like surfing the
web, reading e-mail, and watching YouTube videos without fuss, they are
unlikely to care very much what operating system they are running. The
key to the success or failure of the Linux netbooks and, perhaps more
importantly, what the public perception of Linux is by this time next
year, will very much depend on how well integrated and configured the
various Linux distributions are on these systems. If this year's crop of
netbooks proves to be both inexpensive and easy to use, they will be a hit.
If not, then they will be returned and Linux acceptance will suffer.
Fedora claims 9.5 million users, openSUSE plans for Zypper 2, Gentoo outlines Council activities, sidux celebrates second birthday, Shift Linux changes direction
In this article published by InternetNews,
Fedora project leader Paul Frields claimed that the
distribution had counted its user base. Fedora has at least 9.5 million
users, according to Frields, and possibly as many as 10.5 million. Last
month Canonical claimed a user base of 8 million for
If both numbers are accurate then Fedora, not Ubuntu, is currently the
most popular Linux distribution. Frields admits there are issues which may call the user count into question: "The total number of users has always been an incredibly
difficult number to measure. If you total up all the unique IPs ... on
Fedora 7, 8 and 9, it adds up to about 9.5 million boxes right now."
Among the DistroWatch readers, however, there is no comparison between the two distributions. According to a web server analysis program that records the number of visitors based on the web browser's user-agent string, Ubuntu users represent 39.0% of all Linux-using visitors on DistroWatch.com (this number rises to 45.5% if one includes other Ubuntu-based systems, such as Linux Mint and Kubuntu). In contrast, Fedora users only represent 3.9% of all Linux-using readers on this web site - that's just one tenths of the Ubuntu numbers. Even users of Debian GNU/Linux outnumber Fedora users by nearly 2:1. For more information please see the DistroWatch.com operating systems statistics.
* * * * *
With the upcoming release of openSUSE 11.1 there is increased activity in all aspects of the distribution. One of them is Zypper, the all-purpose and powerful package management utility which is nearing its 1.0 release: "We're closing on the release of openSUSE 11.1 and SUSE Linux Enterprise 11. Since Zypper's releases are tightly tied to those of openSUSE, this is also an important milestone for Zypper. Thus, the next release of Zypper will have version 1.0.0. This marks more than two years of Zypper's development and the outset of implementation of nice new features. So what's next? Several ideas and problems appeared so far. Some need to be implemented in libzypp itself, some are purely Zypper's. Here is a list of the most important things for Zypper 2: configuration file (.zypperrc); nice overall install progress; much improved install summary (options to view versions, vendor, architecture changes, changelog); more options to handle patterns; advanced media error handling with options like eject DVD drive, select DVD drive, edit failed URI, enable and disable medium specific options...."
Still on the subject of openSUSE, the project's YaST team has chosen a mascot for the high-profile system configuration utility - and its name is Yastie: "The openSUSE Project and YaST team are happy to announce the winner of the YaST mascot contest. After extensive deliberation, the judges have chosen the Aardvark concept, submitted by Klára Cihlářová. The judges have also settled on a name for the mascot, which will be called Yastie. We had a lot of great submissions, and it wasn't easy picking the best idea out of the bunch. We received a number of high-quality submissions, and it's clear that a lot of thought and hard work went into each submission. Thanks to everyone who participated, it shows just how important YaST is to the community. As we mentioned in the contest guidelines, we were looking for an idea for the mascot, and not necessarily the final artwork. We want to make sure that the YaST Mascot fits with other openSUSE artwork and branding. Our own Jakub Steiner is going to work on the final artwork, and we'll be showing that very soon."
* * * * *
Doug Goldstein, a member of the Gentoo council, has published a brief article on the current status and activities of the management body responsible for the development of the popular source-based distribution: "The Gentoo Council is a group of elected Gentoo developers that are elected on a yearly basis by the developer body as a whole for the purpose of deciding on global issues and policies which affect the Gentoo Linux distribution as a whole or part. The Gentoo Council serves as the technical oversight to the entire project. We are charged with representing the will of the developer body, while maintaining the best interest for Gentoo and its user base. In effect, the Gentoo Council derives its authority from the developer body, this is what differentiates it from the Gentoo Foundation, which handles the financial side of Gentoo. Gentoo Council meetings are bi-monthly for 1-hour sessions. These sessions are always held publicly on IRC on Freenode in #gentoo-council at 2000 UTC on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month (with the exception of major holidays). We welcome all interested parties to come join us."
* * * * *
The sidux project, which produces a single-CD distribution based on the unstable ("Sid") branch of Debian GNU/Linux, celebrates its second birthday today: "On 24th of November 2006 sidux was formed by a group of people who strived to do the impossible: making Debian 'Sid' (aka 'unstable') stable. Now, two years later, while we celebrate sidux' second birthday, it's time to check if we actually kept our promise to you. I think we did an acceptable job in the end by making Debian 'Sid' more easily installable and usable for everyday use, even for corporate and server use. Of course, we made it easy for us by just supporting the two most common architectures i386 and x86_64, but that was part of the plan. We never intended to just do 'the better Debian', because Debian is wonderful as it is. Instead, we focused on modern hardware, the newest solutions and fresh concepts, while sticking very close to the mother Debian. Without these close ties to the big distribution we rely on, we love and we try to improve, nothing would have been possible. ... The future is bright, we are in the process of preparing our 9th official release, sidux 2008-04, which will likely be the last one focused on KDE 3.5.x. If things go well, we will have exciting news for sidux 2009-01, as it will not just introduce a stable KDE 4, but also many other packages already waiting for us in the experimental pool."
* * * * *
Shift Linux is an Ubuntu-based distribution developed by a group of technically oriented members of the Neowin community. But after a handful of releases, the project is about the re-invent itself with some interesting new goals. This post, published on the project's web site, explains everything in fine detail: "We have several new goals that are being set. First of all, Shift needs to be streamlined. Some things are going to be cut out to make room for others. The biggest changes here - one distribution under one name. Shift Linux will be Shift Linux. There will be no Shift Lite or Shift KDE or Shift GNOME, there will be a Shift Linux. And Shift Linux will run GNOME by default. It is important, however, to make one thing very clear: we will always hold a place for alternatives, and where possible, we will always offer KDE and Fluxbox for one click installation. ... The third and final goal we now have is to not install things that already exist, but to invent the ideas we all want to exist. If there is an open source Linux application that suits our needs, we will use it. But that's not all we will do; we will make the things that don't suit our needs all over again. Linux has so much potential to tap into, and so many programming languages for us to use. The Neowin community has an infinite amount of people who can help us, no matter what their language. We can use Mono, we can use Python, we can use C, we can use Perl."
|Released Last Week
Mandriva One 2009 Xfce
Mandriva has announced the release of Mandriva
One 2009, Xfce edition, an unofficial live CD featuring the Xfce desktop:
"The Mandriva community is proud to offer another Xfce edition to the
users. This edition is not a Mandriva product (so do not expect any kind
of support directly from Mandriva), but has been completed with a great
cooperation between the company and the community. We tried our best to
provide the best experience possible using Xfce Live but so far some
issues still stand. We do not consider those issues blocking, but we'd
rather mention them here so you know what to do in case you encounter
those problems. This edition contains bug fixes as available on the
mirrors on 23 October, which should solve some installations and usage
issues." Read the rest of the release
notes with details about the known issues.
Ubuntu Muslim Edition 8.10
Mehdi Magnon has announced the release of Ubuntu
Muslim Edition 8.10, an Ubuntu-based distribution incorporating a
variety of Islamic software, such as prayer times, a Quran study tool
and a web content filtering utility: "The Ubuntu
Muslim Edition team is proud to announce the release of Ubuntu ME 8.10.
This release is only available as an installable DVD. Highlights:
WebStrict (parental control tool) enabled by default; Zekr 0.7.1 (Quran
study tool) installed and configured to play Quran recitations; Minbar
and Firefox 'Pray Times' add-on installed; Monajat (display Islamic
prayers); Thwab (encyclopaedia); Ubuntu ME artwork: usplash, login
screen, Islamic wallpapers and theme. Tons of useful software packages have been
added on the DVD: multimedia libraries for reading DVDs, codecs, Flash
player, VLC; full suite of software for children ; Arabic support."
Read the complete release
announcement for further details.
Ubuntu Muslim Edition 8.10 - the default GNOME desktop
(full image size: 814kB,
screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Yellow Dog Linux 6.1
Fixstars, a company that has recently acquired Terra Soft Solutions, has
announced the release of Yellow Dog
Linux 6.1: "Fixstars today released Yellow Dog Linux
(YDL) 6.1 for Apple G4/G5, Sony PlayStation 3, PowerStation, and IBM
Power Systems. Built upon the CentOS foundation, a derivative of Red
Hat Enterprise Linux, YDL 6.1 offers several end-user and development
tool improvements. For end users, YDL 6.1 offers an updated Firefox and
OpenOffice.org, a vastly improved graphical wireless configuration tool,
and the introduction of ps3vram functionality which enables use of PS3
video RAM for temporary storage or swap. For developers, 6.1 offers the
latest stable kernel, an updated GCC, the open portion of the IBM Cell
SDK v3.1, and through a working relationship with the Barcelona
Supercomputing Center, YDL 6.1 now ships with the new Cell
Superscalar." Read the complete
release for more information.
Roberto Dohnert has announced the release of PC/OS
2009, a user-friendly desktop distribution based on Xubuntu:
"Today we are happy to announce the newest release
of PC/OS. The new release follows PC/OS OpenCore 1.0. PC/OS OpenDesktop
2009 and PC/OS OpenWorkstation 2009 have been fully tested and are ready
for broad consumer adoption. This release updates the PC/OS 2008 line of
products. Some of the changes include a newly laid-out user interface
and updated packages, and all important security updates applied. Some
of the updated packages are as follows: Firefox 3.0, AbiWord 2.6.4, GIMP
2.6, Pidgin 2.5, Skype 2.0, VLC 0.9.5, OpenOffice.org 3.0, Eclipse, Qt
Designer, Songbird 0.7, Wammu, Mobile Phone Manager, TrueCrypt."
Here is the brief
PC/OS 2009 - a Xubuntu-based distribution with a new Xfce layout
(full image size: 413kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
SME Server 7.4
SME Server 7.4, a CentOS-based specialist
distribution for servers, has been released: "The
SME Server development team is pleased to announce the release of SME
Server 7.4. This release is based on CentOS 4.7. Other major changes in
this release are the use of dar for backups and the change to UTF-8,
along with translation to six additional languages. All SME Server users
should upgrade to this release. Changes: fix GRUB label to keep
consistent with the SME Server brand; introduce a web interface to
configure the pseudonym 'visible' property; fix the ugly log messages
(Use of uninitialized value) when spam checking results in 0 hits;
emails sent to a null address without the username part are now
rejected; support for sending mail to ISP via secure SMTP; enable the
auth plugin for local LAN connections; migrate ordb.net from the RBL
lists to prevent mail bouncing...." Read the full
release notes for
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
- SystemRescueCD 1.1.2, the release announcement
- Astaro Security Gateway 7.4-beta, the release announcement
- pfSense 1.2.1-rc2, the release announcement
- OpenSolaris 2008.11-rc2, the release announcement
- Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Mythbuntu, 9.04-alpha1, the release announcement
- Austrumi 1.8.0
- Hiweed 2.0-rc3
- K-DEMar 4.7-beta1
- Damn Small Linux 4.4.10
- GParted 0.3.9-12
- Clonezilla 1.2.1-18
- VectorLinux 6.0-alpha37
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Feedback to "DistroWatch Weekly - end of an era"|
Last week's DistroWatch Weekly - end of an era resulted in an unexpectedly large number of posts and various suggestions on the future of this publication. So first, a big "thank you" to all who commented on the subject - it feels good knowing that all these long Mondays of typing up stories and putting together all the columns had such a large and appreciative audience. Secondly, I think it's important to also stress that I have no plans to abandon DistroWatch; on the contrary, I'll still be in charge of the web site and will continue to report on new distribution releases as before. I just need to pass some of the work to others in order to be able to catch up with work that graces my long to-do list. Rest assured that DistroWatch will continue as normal.
As for the new DistroWatch Weekly editor, I received about 40 applications (my apologies if I did not reply to your application - there were just too many of them), some of which came from well-known distribution reviewers and maintainers of popular Linux community web sites. The decision wasn't easy, but eventually I decided to offer the position to Chris Smart (pictured on the right). Some of the readers will know Chris - he is the co-founder of Kororaa, a Gentoo-based distribution that came to fame as the first live CD featuring out-of-the-box 3D desktop effects, a characteristic that was later copied by many other live CD projects. (DistroWatch interviewed Chris Smart in March 2006). Chris' other initiative is MakeTheMove.net, a web site offering resources to people considering a switch from Windows to Linux. Chris is a resident of Canberra, Australia, where he works for the National Archives of Australia by developing and maintaining open source software that is designed to ensure future access to digital content. Chris will take over the publishing of DistroWatch Weekly starting with issue 282 on 15 December 2008. I am confident that he will do an excellent job, not only ensuring the continuity of DistroWatch Weekly, but also offering a new perspective on the evolution of the distro world. Please give him your support.
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- SecurPC. SecurPC is an Ubuntu-based
distribution created by a group of Italian lawyers. Its main feature is
the inclusion of VirtualBox, together with a variety of resources for
lawyers. The project's web site is in Italian.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next
instalment will be published on Monday, 1 December 2008. Until next week,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
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