| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 287, 26 January 2009
Welcome to the fourth DistroWatch Weekly for 2009 and happy New Year of the Ox! In this issue we share some highlights from Linux.conf.au, one of the world's most popular open source conferences. In the news, the ext4 file system finds its way into Ubuntu and becomes the default for Fedora 11, Slackware Linux prepares for KDE 4.2, server distribution ClarkConnect releases feature list for its upcoming version 5.0, and two well-known ex-Mandriva developers join Red Hat, Inc. Also in this issue, links to two interviews with the developers of Fedora and Ubuntu, and an update on DistroWatch's package management cheatsheet. 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
Ten years ago, Linux kernel hacker Rusty Russell put his credit card on the line and hosted the first Conference of Australian Linux Users (CALU). Now known as Linux.conf.au (LCA), the conference draws many big names from the cold winter of the northern hemisphere down to a sunny, shiny city in the South. For the past week, your DistroWatch Weekly editor has been attending the conference down in Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. The logo for LCA this year (pictured on the left) is a Tasmanian Devil, pretending to be a penguin. His name is 'Tuz'.
University of Tasmania, site of LCA 2009
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The event runs for 6 days, with the first two holding 'mini-conferences' (known as 'miniconfs') and the last is reserved as 'Open Day', a time when the conference is open to the wider community.
LCA draws many big names from the open source world, including the founder of Linux himself, Linus Torvalds. Papers are submitted in advance and selected by the LCA committee. As such, the conference covers a very broad range of topics including coding, distributions, databases, security, networking, project management, legal issues and many more.
As a part of the miniconfs, power management guru and Red Hat employee Matthew Garrett gave a talk entitled "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love ACPI". In this talk, Garrett discussed the intricacies of ACPI and how the system is supposed to work. It's a very complicated process, requiring an interpreter inside the kernel to execute ACPI commands which makes it tricky for Linux to correctly perform tasks such as suspend and resume. Later in the week he also gave a presentation on "Power Management That Works", discussing the work he is bringing to the Linux community to improve this area. "Linux supports an increasingly broad range of power management techniques, but configuring them is still beyond the capabilities of most. Why aren't distributions handling this? What needs to be done to ensure a "Just works" experience for power management?", reads the synopsis. Garrett wants to move from a time-triggered power saving to a system that reflects the working habits of the user. He suggests that there is no point turning off the screen to save power because the mouse has not moved, while at the same time the user is in the middle of watching a movie. As with Garrett's previous work, we should see some benefits of his work filtering into Linux soon.
In another talk entitled "Introducing The Re-Built Linux Desktop", X Window System expert Keith Packard discussed the changes to X.Org over the past year. Keith presented the "development history and current architecture of the core of the Linux desktop, from the low-level device drivers, through the kernel management of GPU execution and memory objects." He cited the release of Direct Rendering Infrastructure 2 (DRI2) and the inclusion of the new memory manager, Graphics Execution Manager (GEM), in the kernel as two major achievements. With these improvements, Linux finally has support for 3D on multiple desktops. In a demo at the end, Keith showed glxgears running correctly in a window while using a Compiz accelerated desktop, a first for the open drivers. There is still some work to do, however, such as fixing tearing problems and it remains to be seen as to whether GEM can support discrete graphics instead of just integrated. We have already seen improvements with the Intel video driver and we can expect better graphics performance in the future with this new system.
Keith Packard on improvements to the X Window System
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One of the most exciting new developments came from Jeff Arnold who gave a presentation on Ksplice. Currently, users are required to reboot their system after applying updates to the Linux kernel which is an issue, particularly on servers where uptime is important. This new project enables updates be applied in real time: "With Ksplice, all Linux security updates (and many other updates) can be applied seamlessly, without a reboot." The team tested all significant patches for the kernel from 2005 until mid 2008 and proved that 88% were able to be patched in real time without any change in code. By slightly modifying the remaining patches, Ksplice was able to apply 100% of kernel updates without rebooting! After explaining how this process works, he used Ksplice to patch the running kernel and modify his up time. Arnold also presented an Ubuntu desktop running a graphical kernel update manager, which seamlessly downloaded and applied several kernel updates. This is a great project with a lot of potential for the Linux desktop.
There were many other presentations given at LCA, including one by Jonathon Oxer called "Geek My Ride", where he talked about retrofitting his Mazda RX-8 with a Linux-based computer system. This computer provides "full-time Internet connectivity; in-car video conferencing; remote vehicle management, diagnostics, and reporting; touchscreen-driven MythTV-based in-car entertainment; WiFi and 3G integration with the owner's home automation system; remote start" and more.
Attendees also got the chance to mingle with many famous faces from the open source world and ask a panel of kernel hackers about working on Linux.
Attendees at LCA 2009
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Every year at LCA the organisers arrange an auction to help a good cause and this year was no exception. Being held in Tasmania, this year money was raised to help the Tasmanian Devil, which is suffering from a fatal contagious disease that causes tumours to grow on its face and body. At the conference's 'Penguin Dinner', HP's head Linux guru and long-time Debian developer Bdale Garbee auctioned off a print of the award-winning photograph 'Waterfall' taken by his wife, Karen. After stalling at AU$2,500, a bidder offered AU$5,000 for the print if Bdale would shave his beard of 27 years. Naturally he found this far too cheap, but vowed that should the bidding reach AU$25,000 he would get Linus himself to shave his chin bare. By the end of the bidding, the total amount of money raised reached around AU$40,000. During Lunch on the following day, the organisers arranged to have Linus shave Bdale's face. Andrew Bennett even created a flash game where you can shave Bdale, too.
Linus shaves Bdale's beard of 27 years
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Photo courtesy of John Dalton
As a part of the very complicated bidding process, Linus also offered to swap Tux for the Tuz icon for one major release of the Linux kernel. The next morning Rusty submitted a patch to Linus which did just that.
Tuz to replace Tux for next kernel release
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Next year will see the conference held in Wellington, New Zealand. It will be the second time that the conference has been held outside of Australia, with the first being Dunedin, New Zealand in 2005. "This is a hugely popular gathering of the world's leading free and open source experts, and the bids to host the next linux.conf.au are always really strong. This year was no exception," says Linux Australia President Stewart Smith. If you've never been to a LCA conference before, start saving your pennies! It's really worthwhile.
Ubuntu and Fedora adopt ext4, Slackware prepares for KDE 4.2, Mandriva developers move to Red Hat, ClarkConnect reveals new features|
The release of Linux kernel version 2.6.28 saw the fourth generation of the extended file system (ext4) finally marked as 'stable'. Also introduced, but in the form of experimental software, was the new file system Btrfs ('Butter FS' or 'B-tree FS'). Developed by Oracle Corporation, Btrfs is seen as a competitor to the ZFS file system from Sun Microsystems which remains incompatible with Linux due to its license. The Fedora Project has announced that ext4 will become the default file system for the upcoming 11 release, replacing the ext3 file system which will remain available. The project has also included support for Btrfs in the development version of Anaconda (Red Hat's installer), which is enabled by passing the kernel option 'i-can't-believe-it's-not-btr' when booting the installation media.
Still on the subject of Fedora, here is a nice interview with Fedora Project Engineering Manager Tom "Spot" Callaway published by Norwegian technology site hardware.no. Tom introduces Fedora and discusses its place in the open source community as well as its goals. He says: "Fedora is more than just a Linux distribution, Fedora is a community of contributors, users, and projects. This community was built around the idea of collaboration between Red Hat and volunteer contributors, with the goal of being the leader in free software innovation." He also discusses the planned features for the upcoming 11 release, upgrading and their 6-month release cycle, as well as 'competing' with other operating systems and more.
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The upcoming 9.04 release of Ubuntu, dubbed Jaunty Jackalope, will also be built on version 2.6.28 of the Linux kernel and, starting with the recent Alpha 3 release, it also includes support for ext4. The new file system is available by selecting it from a list during the partitioning step of the installation process. Unlike Fedora, however, (which has included ext4 development since version 9) Jaunty will not see the move to ext4 as the default file system. This is planned for the following release, 9.10. In other news, DeviceGuru has an article on how to enable gOS gadgets "Mozilla Prism, Google Gadgets, and a Wbar animated application-launch icon dock" on the main GNOME desktop. gOS is based on Ubuntu and focuses on tight integration of various Google products and services.
Still on the subject of Ubuntu, oneOpenSource, an Italian open source community web site, has interviewed Daniel Holbach, an Ubuntu developer. Holbach discusses working for Canonical, the Ubuntu community, the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 release and the distribution's relationship with Debian GNU/Linux. On the last topic Holbach says: "Lots of patches are sent to Debian every week and we have lots of teams that are actively working together and coordinating development together." When asked what makes Ubuntu so popular, he replies "That's obvious: its fantastic community."
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The Slackware Linux ChangeLog shows Patrick Volkerding has merged KDE 4.2rc1 into the testing branch, in preparation for the desktop's next stable release. "Thanks very much to Eric Hameleers for all of the hard work getting this version of KDE ready for /testing so that Slackware -current will be ready when KDE 4.2 is released!", he writes. These packages will work with the current Slackware version 12.2, but Volkerding encourages users to get them now. He warns that "Library changes in -current may occur which could make it more difficult to use these KDE packages with Slackware 12.2 in the future." This will be the first 4.x release of KDE supported in the stable tree by the oldest surviving Linux distribution.
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Reports are surfacing that Red Hat's market capitalisation is on the rise and about to surpass that of Sun Microsystems for the first time. While other open source companies may be cutting back on staff and expenses, Red Hat is continuing to expand. Adam Williamson, who until December 2008 was the Mandriva community manager and maintainer, has recently announced he is moving to Red Hat. His new role will be as a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer and will work on a "new community QA [Quality Assurance] system they're developing." Vincent Danen, also an ex-Mandriva employee having worked there for nine years, will begin his new role at Red Hat as a "Senior Software Engineer, but technically as a member of the Red Hat Security Response Team."
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ClarkConnect is a CentOS-based distribution which combines a broadband gateway with an easy-to-use server and is popular with local networks. The upcoming version 5.0 is scheduled for release on 1st April this year and testing will soon go public with the first alpha release. As such, the website has published a feature overview of the expected improvements. Among the list are features such as an update of the core CentOS environment, complete LDAP integration, greater Samba support including roaming profiles, the ability to quarantine mail and the introduction of protocol filtering.
|Released Last Week
Granular Linux 1.0
Anurag Bhandari has announced the release of Granular Linux 1.0, a PCLinuxOS-based desktop distribution: "After a long wait, Granular Linux 1.0 is finally out. This release brings with it solid stability, out-of-the-box usefulness, great multimedia experience, support for running Windows software, and much more in the size of a CD (live CD). Features: major packages include Linux kernel 188.8.131.52, KDE 3.5.10, Enlightenment 0.16.999, Firefox 3.0.4, Thunderbird 184.108.40.206, KOffice 1.6.3, Compiz Fusion 0.7.6, GIMP 2.6.3 and Wine 1.0.1; our own new repository; out-of-the-box support for audio and video files (xine and MPlayer); multimedia plugins for Firefox are now pre-installed; support for running Windows applications, and games; support for multimedia keyboards and the extra laptop keys; ATI and NVIDIA drivers included...." See the full release announcement and release notes for more details.
Granular Linux 1.0 - a desktop distribution based on PCLinuxOS
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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3
Red Hat, Inc. has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.3, the latest update to the RHEL 5 series: "Red Hat, Inc. today announced the global availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3, featuring the latest open source, commercial-strength technology innovations. In the third update to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, customers will receive a wide range of enhancements, including significantly increased virtualization scalability, expanded hardware platform support and incorporation of OpenJDK Java technologies. Customers with a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription will receive the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 update, which is available for immediate download from Red Hat Network." Read the formal press release and the detailed release notes for more information.
Sabayon Linux 4 "LiteMCE"
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 4 "LiteMCE" edition, a multimedia-oriented distribution with GNOME as its main desktop: "On the behalf of the Sabayon Linux team, I am happy to announce the immediate availability of Sabayon Linux 4 'LiteMCE'. Features: based on Sabayon Linux 4; halved hard disk footprint, less than 2 GB DVD image; GNOME 2.24.2 as default desktop environment; OpenOffice.org 3.0; multimedia applications (audio, video, DVD ripping, file sharing); media center mode, thanks to XBMC; Entropy package manager 0.24.8; stable Linux kernel 220.127.116.11; ext4, NTFS, Aufs and Unionfs support; HAL-based GPU and input devices detection; supporting AMD Catalyst drivers 8.11, open source RadeonHD and NVIDIA drivers; one-click 3D desktop effects...." Read the release announcement and release notes for all the glory details.
An updated set of CD and DVD images of Ubuntu 8.04, a distribution with long-term security support (5 years on servers, 3 years on desktops), was released today: "The Ubuntu team is proud to announce the release of Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS, the second maintenance update to Ubuntu's 8.04 LTS release. This release includes updated server, desktop, and alternate installation CDs for the i386 and amd64 architectures. In all, over 200 updates have been integrated, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS." Read the release announcement and summary of changes for a detailed list of all updates.
Gentoox 7.0 "Home", 5.0 "Pro"
Thomas Pedley has announced new versions of Gentoox, a Gentoo-based distribution for the Xbox: "It has been about 21 months, but here they are... the 'You're still doing this?!' releases. I don't really know if there's any demand for Gentoox anymore, but I figured I'd put these out there just in case people do still use it. The major features are: fully synchronised software (both with Magic and Portage as of a few days ago); ditched RAR file format in favour of TBZ (file sizes are slightly bigger, but it's free!); nifty installer progress bar; updated BusyBox in all initrds; ditched KDE, only Xfce is available now (KDE was way too bloated); upgraded to latest 2.4 series kernel; switched Home edition to use -Os due to CPU's tiny cache (Pro still uses -O2 as this will give better number-crunching performance)...." Read the full release announcement for further details.
Parted Magic 3.5
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 3.5, a minimalist live CD featuring GParted and other hard disk management utilities: "Parted Magic 3.5. This release of Parted Magic includes many new features and updated programs. The first thing you might notice is the dramatic increase in size. We are now using a Squashfs image instead of a 7zip archive. This once again allows for a 'live' option for older computers. Parted Magic doesn't use any additional RAM with the default boot option, the compression was just decreased. With the Linux 2.6.28 kernel comes the first stable ext4 file system release. We are using a highly tested SVN version of GParted to give you full control of your ext4 partitions. This includes all features for ext file systems found in previous releases. Jason Vasquez has vastly improved support of wireless devices. We hope you have a better experience with your wireless networking." Here is the full release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Update on package management cheatsheet|
The package management cheatsheet presented in DistroWatch Weekly a few weeks ago has now been given its own page - linked from the main menu. It replaces the Reviews and Articles page which has become rather stale in recent years as we moved most of this type of content into DistroWatch Weekly. The package management cheatsheet currently lists most package management systems found in today's Linux distributions and FreeBSD, but the page is still open to additions, suggestions and corrections, so don't hesitate to contact us if you spot any error or if you want us to include other package management systems.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
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DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 2 February 2009.
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 505 (2013-04-29): First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04, Saucy Salamander, Remastersys and System Imager, Linux containers|
|• Issue 504 (2013-04-22): Look at Bodhi 2.3.0, Ubuntu 13.04 features, building OpenBSD ports, opening large files|
|• Issue 503 (2013-04-15): CentOS versus Scientific Linux, PCLinuxOS 64, Lucas Nussbaum, ZFS/Btrfs versus ext4|
|• Issue 502 (2013-04-08): Look at Mint 201303 "Debian", Ubuntu versus openSUSE, comparing ZFS and Btrfs file systems|
|• Issue 501 (2013-04-01): KANOTIX 2013 and GhostBSD 3.0, openSUSE Rescue-CD, Haiku package management, computer forensics|
|• Issue 500 (2013-03-25): Look at openSUSE 12.3, Ubuntu release changes, Debian backports, growing divide|
|• Issue 499 (2013-03-18): MINIX 3.2.1, openSUSE 12.3 on desktop, Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin, distros for musicians, KolibriOS|
|• Issue 498 (2013-03-11): Sabayon Linux 11, Ubuntu's Mir, Linux malware|
|• Issue 497 (2013-03-04): Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline", rolling-release Ubuntu, Arch vs spin-offs, justification and diversity|
|• Issue 496 (2013-02-25): Review of Chakra 2013.02, The Book of GIMP, Ubuntu and privacy, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free|
|• Issue 495 (2013-02-18): SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra", Fedora 19 schedule, Xubuntu on DVD, cloud privacy|
|• Issue 494 (2013-02-11): FreeBSD 9.1, web server stats, Anaconda, rolling-release PC-BSD, fixing broken packages in Arch|
|• Issue 493 (2013-02-04): UberStudent 2.0, OmniBoot 1.0, MariaDB, Enlightenment 0.17|
|• Issue 492 (2013-01-28): Fedora 18 review, systemd, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Unleashed|
|• Issue 491 (2013-01-21): Fuduntu 2013.1, Fedora 18 desktop choices, Consort, accessing encrypted drive|
|• Issue 490 (2013-01-14): Look at Manjaro Linux 0.8.3, openSUSE on Chromebook, Able2Extract 8.0|
|• Issue 489 (2013-01-07): PC-BSD 9.1, Arch spin-offs, rolling-releases, year-end PHR stats, removing applications|
|• Issue 488 (2012-12-24): Reviews of Unity and Puppy Linux 5.4 "Slacko", FreeBSD 10|
|• Issue 487 (2012-12-17): Cinnarch 2012.11.22, OpenMandriva, Fedora Magazine, Tumbleweed, OpenJDK vs Oracle Java|
|• Issue 486 (2012-12-10): Linux Mint 14 review, Ubuntu "spyware" controversy, Haiku overview, troubleshooting Linux servers|
|• Issue 485 (2012-12-03): Kwort Linux 3.5, Mint bug-fix update, Fedora's new Anaconda, defining a distribution|
|• Issue 484 (2012-11-26): Look at SMS 2.0.1, Fedora pre-beta report, Illumos, Secure Boot update|
|• Issue 483 (2012-11-19): DragonFly BSD 3.2.1 and Xubuntu 12.10, Gentoo and udev, switching file systems|
|• Issue 482 (2012-11-12): Review of Zenwalk 7.2, Clang in FreeBSD, Omniboot 0.5, priorities on external drives|
|• Issue 481 (2012-11-05): Look at Tails 0.13, EFF on Ubuntu and privacy, Debian installer changes, ext4 data corruption bug|
|• Issue 480 (2012-10-29): Review of Ubuntu 12.10, Wayland 1.0, FreeBSD's pkgng|
|• Issue 479 (2012-10-22): Look at Zentyal 3.0, Debian bug reporting, initiating a halt|
|• Issue 478 (2012-10-15): Slackware 14.0 review, Ubuntu donations, connecting to multiple machines behind router|
|• Issue 477 (2012-10-08): Review of ODROID-X, OpenBSD's anti-Linux song, interview with Vincent Untz, Linux as operating system|
|• Issue 476 (2012-10-01): Review of openSUSE 12.2, Slackware 14.0 features, accessing home computer with SSH|
|• Issue 475 (2012-09-24): Look at PCLinuxOS 2012.08, Ubuntu and Amazon, SolusOS and PiSi, ownCloud|
|• Issue 474 (2012-09-17): Bodhi Linux 2.0.1, OpenIndiana interview, Frugalware history, update notifications|
|• Issue 473 (2012-09-10): The Linux Command Line, Slackware documentation project, Debian's new primary arch, Goobuntu|
|• Issue 472 (2012-09-03): Kororaa Linux 17, OpenIndiana and SchilliX, Ubuntu GNOME remix, home server tip|
|• Issue 471 (2012-08-27): Linux Mint 13 "KDE", Ubuntu 12.10 features, Slax update, folder quotas|
|• Issue 470 (2012-08-20): Liberté Linux 2012.2, Arch and systemd, NetBSD's sysbuild and sysupgrade, 19 years of Debian|
|• Issue 469 (2012-08-13): Peppermint OS Three, SUSE on Secure Boot, GNOME OS, moving email to Linux|
|• Issue 468 (2012-08-06): First look at CentOS 6.3, Debian installer beta, Fedora and MATE, Libtrash|
|• Issue 467 (2012-07-30): Ubuntu Made Easy, Debian "Jessie", OpenBSD on Secure Boot, Rawhide troubles|
|• Issue 466 (2012-07-23): Fuduntu 2012.3, Linux in PC-BSD jails, secure boot on older computers|
|• Issue 465 (2012-07-16): Netrunner 4.2, Mandriva's two codebases, firewalls and window frames|
|• Issue 464 (2012-07-09): Zorin OS 6, FSF's views on secure boot, Virtual PDF Printer|
|• Issue 463 (2012-07-02): TurnKey Linux 11.3, Red Hat and Btrfs, Sabayon's MATE spin, ZFS on Linux|
|• Issue 462 (2012-06-25): Sabayon 9, "Wheezy" freeze, Zorin OS overview, Vinux interview, mounting network shares|
|• Issue 461 (2012-06-18): Linux Mint 13, openSUSE 12. delays, Debian Multimedia, Mageia 3 roadmap|
|• Issue 460 (2012-06-11): Look at Fedora 17, PC-BSD and Slackware interviews, Openfiler and FuguIta|
|• Issue 459 (2012-06-04): Impressions of Mageia 2, Fedora updates, Debian or Raspberry Pie, improving software performance|
|• Issue 458 (2012-05-28): Impressions of SolusOS 1, Linux kernel 3.4, encrypting home folder|
|• Issue 457 (2012-05-21): Linux accessibility, Fedora 17 overview, MultiSystem, launching tasks|
|• Issue 456 (2012-05-14): Look at OpenBSD 5.1, Debian Installer 7.0 alpha, UDS news round-up|
|• Issue 455 (2012-05-07): Review of Ubuntu 12.04, "Quantal Quetzal" plans, Debian infographic|
|• Full list of all issues|