| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 295, 23 March 2009
Welcome to this year's 12th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week we interview Robert Shingledecker, a former Damn Small Linux developer and now founder of Tiny Core Linux, a new mini-distribution and probably the smallest desktop live CD ever created. In the news, Ubuntu's upcoming release, version 9.04 and code name "Jaunty Jackalope", hits beta freeze and gains an as-yet unreleased AMD video card driver, Gentoo releases automated builds for the ARM processor, Mandriva helps to port KDE's premier optical burning software to Qt 4, and openSUSE updates its online build service. We also link to a brief interview with Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu community manager. Finally, three new distributions have been added to the DistroWatch database last week; these include the Fedora-based Bee Linux from Algeria, the independent Igelle PC/Desktop with a lightweight desktop, and Privatix, a distribution that allows anonymous browsing and storing of data on encrypted USB drives. Happy reading!
- Interview: Robert Shingledecker, Tiny Core Linux
- News: Ubuntu Jaunty in beta freeze, Gentoo releases for ARM, Mandriva assists with K3b port, openSUSE announces updated build service
- Released last week: Zenwalk Linux 6.0 "GNOME", Frugalware Linux 1.0, Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 9.04 Beta
- New additions: Bee Linux, Igelle PC/Desktop, Privatix Live-System
- New distributions: cp6Linux, Denix, FAN: Fully Automated Nagios, JUX, Linux DaVinci
- Reader comments
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Interview with Robert Shingledecker, creator of Tiny Core Linux
You would be hard pressed to find someone who had never heard of Damn Small Linux (DSL), the tiny Linux distribution which aims for a nearly complete desktop at under 50 MB. It's not the only mini distro, however. This week we interview Robert Shingledecker, former DSL developer and now founder of the new kid on the block - Tiny Core Linux. This distro is just 10 MB small and, as the name suggests, it boots to a core graphical environment. The possibilities don't end there, as Robert explains.
* * * * *
DW: Hi Robert, thank you very much for your time. Could you please start with an introduction about yourself - where you live, what you do for a living and anything else interesting for our readers?
RS: Hi Chris, thanks for giving me this opportunity. I have been a DistroWatch fan for many years and look forward to every Monday for DistroWatch Weekly.
I am in my sixtieth year, retired, and reside in Fullerton, California. I received a BA degree in mathematics in 1971 from California State University. I am disabled and in the later stages of Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD). It affects my eyes, speech, and I have difficulty swallowing. OPMD is genetic. I know what lies ahead for me. When I am able, I like to write and share code with others. It keeps my mind sharp and away from becoming depressed with thoughts of my health issues. It is also the reason that I am not enclosing a recent picture. I hope you will understand.
DW: Of course. Can I ask, what is your background in computing and how did you get into free and open source software?
Both my work and hobby has been toying with computers and languages.
My first computer experience was with Burroughs Corp. in 1971. I hand-coded machine language, yes, hexadecimal, accounting programs on punched paper tape. A year later, I had the luxury of having access to an actual assembler. Most of the seventies, I wrote large integrated accounting packages, all in assembler. I had customers across California, from San Diego to Fresno. A few years later I was required to write COBOL. I was an independent contractor, mostly for Burroughs Branches in Southern California. The Burroughs B20 micro computer was just coming onto the scene when I closed my business. The first computer that I owned, was a Burroughs B80 mini with my own COBOL compiler!
I got involved with micro computers by writing 6502 assembly on an Ohio Scientific. I hated Basic. I chose COMAL and got very involved in promoting it. I had several articles published in a little magazine called COMAL TODAY. I own a rare Dutch-language official IBM COMAL for the IBM PC. I personally met Børge Christensen, the creator of COMAL, and was actively promoting COMAL in Southern California.
I had Minix running when it was only a floppy-based system and I hacked in hard drive support. I enjoyed Coherent OS and was a member of a UUCP network.
When I opted for a regular 9 - 5 job, I went to the City of Garden Grove, California, where I introduced the City to Samba (and later Linux), hosting a Windows 3.11 network. It was the first large-scale deployment of Linux in the United States. I had visitors from around the globe come to see the deployment. I met many free software luminaries, Linus, Stallman, Maddog, Bob Young, Gaël Duval, and was an invited panel speaker at the first Linux World Expo in San Jose regarding the exposure that our deployment created for Linux. I had many such speaking events after that. Typically to debate against Novell Networks. My biggest speaking event was COMDEX.
I left the City in January 2000, to become the CTO for a dot-com. Actually I was the CTO for several dot-coms. It was there that I and one other programmer created Linux live CD-ROM appliances including a live CD-ROM desktop.
You can visit my web site
, for much more detail in regards to my Linux projects.
DW: You were a lead developer of one of the most popular mini-distributions, Damn Small Linux (DSL). Could you provide us with a look into the history of the project, how you got involved and what your main contributions were?
I write everything down. What I mean is I always have a composition book to make notes of what I am working on. Man, do I have a collection of them covering DSL!
My first notes concerning DSL are dated 3rd September 2003. I had found DSL listed on DistroWatch and, like many I suppose, made my own remaster. Many may not know, but founder John Andrews started DSL by using the KNOPPIX
50 MB rescue business-card CD-ROM. He removed the rescue type applications and replaced them with a desktop, GTK+ and applications, some of which were from DeLi Linux.
I joined the DSL forums in September 2003 and emailed John with some patches and suggestions. Initially, these were for USB pen drives and NFS client. Over the next several months, I contributed a backup and restore option, a functional bash_profile, bootlocal.sh, and a writeable /opt directory. By January 2004, I was given the task to create and maintain the DSL ISO image. After that, I personally created every release since version 0.5.3.1 on January 15, 2004. Every major structural improvement to DSL was my creation. I was trying to bring new features to a live CD-ROM so that there would be little to no advantage of performing a traditional hard drive installation (this was well before Unionfs). I penned an article titled "Not Your Father's Operating System", in which I explained much of my philosophy.
I went on to create the frugal install, used GNU's Coreutils to replace BusyBox, wrote the "Getting Started" documentation, created and introduced the MyDSL extension system, as well as mountable compressed loop extensions which later became UCI. I introduced Lua/FLTK (Flua) to create some 50 or so GUI front-ends for DSL. I also integrated QEMU with DSL and created a separate SYSLINUX version. I added the single or double-click icons, an icon layout manager, and introduced a drag-n-drop desktop. I added Winmodem support for the popular Lucent devices, support for adding users, implemented Unionfs and the UNC extension type, set up the repositories, created the PXE version, created the boot floppies with USB support, and included PCMCIA support. I coded and implemented many new boot codes like secure, protect, legacy, desktop, icons, and waitusb. I created the libraries used by Bash scripts and Lua, as well as the pen drive install scripts, both ZIP and HDD. I created the dpkg-restore capability, the multi-user support for hard drive installation, and the web backup and restore. I also stripped KNOPPIX twice (v3.3 for DSL v0.6 and later v3.4 for DSL v2.0) and compiled the 2.4.31 kernel and all modules to keep DSL updated.
The DSL you are using today whether it be 0.6+, 1.x, 2.x, 3.x or 4.x, was primarily the result of my efforts with the requirement that I was to bring forward John's GTK+ desktop applications. This was so that DSL always looked like DSL. In other words, I was to leave the application side alone.
DW: You appear to have made many contributions to DSL and have been instrumental in making it the popular distribution that it is. Why did you leave the project?
There were many reasons why I no longer work on DSL, a culmination of personal attacks and accusations against me, disagreements and irreconcilable differences. Actually, I didn't ever leave, I was in fact exiled and locked out by John Andrews. My posts in the DSL blog consisting of all I wrote was deleted. A list that others were constructing of all customizations of DSL, showing mostly my name as the creator of said innovation, were also deleted. It was messy.
The idea of a tiny core distribution, which John had rejected many times, was what I was working on while continuing to develop DSL. John was not happy that I had hosted my new work elsewhere, so he disabled all access that I had. As such, I could no longer continue to support the project.
So the question becomes, why did I decide to host my newest project elsewhere?
The answer is for many reasons. It is like the "straw that broke the camel's back" story. So much discord, lack of response, lack of participation, basically abandonment of the project.
Kent Porter was a member of Team DSL. His contributions to the MyDSL extensions were enormous. He handled hundreds of submissions, rebuilt them to specifications, and assisted new users with the new concepts that I had brought to DSL. His help and participation helped propel DSL. Chris Livesay was also a member of Team DSL. It was 2005 and Kent and Chris were trying to help perform tasks that would free up John from the "DSL Store" so that I might have some help on the development side. There was a strong disagreement regarding the use of donations for the benefit of DSL, and Kent and Chris were immediately dismissed. To my dismay, I still did not get the help I needed, but was instead tasked with the duties of Kent. But this is only the beginning. Talk about removal of attribution, when I was writing "The Official Damn Small Linux Book", I had included a section to acknowledge Kent's contributions. John demanded that I remove Kent's name from the book. I just couldn't do this and still wanted Kent's name to somehow be in the book, so I purposely used a screen drop displaying his name.
As time went on, John was less and less available. No more did he perform quality assurance for me. When I asked for help with the extensions there was no answer. Not him saying "no", but rather just ignoring me. As my health condition impacts what I can do, I again asked for help. I never received any help with tasks like handing extensions, and moving extensions from "testing" to their proper categories. John stopped updating the "Milestones" section of the web site. He deleted the DSL blog
and posted that it would be back up. A year later... still nothing. He stopped updating the web site, and also stopped updating the "notes" section. Instead of getting the help that I had been requesting, I was left with more and more, actually, everything to do, no longer just development, but now web site administration and extension processing. It was more than I could handle.
At some point, the DSL forums were being spammed with porn posts. John set up a procedure to require new users to be approved, but he rarely approved new accounts. Meanwhile, I saw the number of users waiting for approval keep climbing. I began to see users starting threads on other web sites complaining, and asking how they get approved... how can they post? The list grows to over 23,000 users. Some users have waited for over a year to be approved.
By this time John had become totally non-responsive to me. This continued to get worse. I posted in a thread but John did not answer me. I left phone messages and sent numerous emails. I thought, as many on the forums did, that he must be on vacation. Later, even the domain name registration itself was allowed to lapse.
Then there was the DSL store. I had separated myself from any revenue based on store operations, but would still receive emails of complaints about no merchandise ever being received. I would respond by CC'ing John and informing the user, that I was a developer and had no affiliation with store operations. I was never an employee of John's operation. Originally we have a profit sharing arrangement, but too often it was reported that there were no profits after paying store employees. Later I requested and was granted a royalty arrangement based only on Google ads and donations.
Well, you get the picture. It is obvious. Why would I want to release, yet again, my sole efforts in such an environment? Obviously many others were being ignored by John, not just me. I was desperate to find a new home for my efforts. I even posted such on the forums. Kent Porter and Chris Livesay kindly offered me hosting and for me to select a development team. I accepted their offer and then selected my development "dream team".
Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. Finally help. Finally a team who appreciated my efforts, understood my philosophy on how Linux can run. Finally a team that could and has extended my design, improved boot times, improved and enhanced my extension concepts.
The best decision that I have made was to host my new project elsewhere. As for DSL, it was a pity it had to end like it did, but I truly believe it is for the best.
DW: Your latest project, Tiny Core Linux, is a new mini-distribution for the Linux world. What are the main reasons behind creating yet another tiny distro? Who is this distro aimed at and what does it have to offer? Is it based on DSL and how does it differ?
When I am asked "why yet another distribution?", it makes me recall Linux World 2005. It was there, that when I tried to show DSL, I was dismissed with an offhanded remark of "oh yeah, you and every thirteen year old boy has their 'own' Linux distribution". But when this vendor saw what I had, he realized it does not swim in the sea of sameness. My philosophy is to offer a unique way to run Linux. I do not promote traditional hard drive installations. I now call that method, the "scatter mode" of installation. You will not find it listed in the core concepts methods of operating Tiny Core.
Over the years, I have seen all operating systems, suffer from "system rot". Over time the performance is impacted or becomes corrupt. Whether it be from system software or hardware malfunction, user/operator error, sun spots, solar flares, whatever. I believe that booting a computer should be fast. It should always start from a known pristine state. I believe that one should have control of the processes that are running at boot time and the collection of applications that one wishes to use. Whereas, most distributions become larger and larger. Mostly offering more eye candy than functionality and dictating the runtime environment and application selection. I find these too slow, too many unneeded processes, and not my desire of applications. The other tiny distributions still dictate a collection of applications. Most I never use.
Tiny Core's genesis was from a meeting at Linux World 2005, with myself, Kent Porter, and Chris Livesay. We discussed what we all thought would be an ideal environment. One that would easily support the concepts and philosophy that I had introduced to Damn Small Linux, but without the added burden of those GTK+ applications. Let the user decide; GTK+, or GTK+ 2, command line for servers, minimal desktop, or specialized appliance. When this concept of a tiny core was presented to John, it was rejected. I then stripped KNOPPIX 4 and made a tiny core, called DSL-N. John again rejected it. He again did the application side of DSL-N, so that the core would not be released. John soon abandoned DSL-N and so, then, did I.
With not much more that I could do with an ageing 2.4 kernel, I once again sought to find a new base. It wasn't until I saw SliTaz
that I was reminded of the talks by Rob Landley at OLS 2006 about Populating Initramfs with BusyBox. I studied this, together with the kernel development logs and saw how a simple initial RAM disk and BusyBox could work with my original ideas and concepts of add-on extensions. I booted Finnix
, a small and powerful Debian-based distribution, and followed Rob Landley's kernel and BusyBox docs to create the first prototype, then I started to layer on the code that I had created during the last five years, to make the first desktop. The next iteration was a conversion out of (re-factored) murgaLua to C++/FLTK to arrive at a working prototype of Tiny Core.
Tiny Core is not a fork of DSL. It has a completely different base and is neither Debian nor KNOPPIX based. Tiny Core is also not a remaster of SliTaz, but was made based on the new capabilities of the 2.6 kernel together with the features that BusyBox provided. Although it is small (10 MB), Tiny Core is not targeted at any particular era of hardware. It is unfair to say that because of Tiny Core's size it must be for older hardware. It may be said that Tiny Core is for advanced users. But I have tried hard to present an easy-to-use interface to add applications, modules, and libraries. Try it out for yourself!
Being only a core implies one will be faced with many choices. With many choices come many decisions. To make effective decisions means taking the time to learn what Tiny Core is all about.
DW: Could you explain how Tiny Core works? What are its principles?
Tiny Core is entirely contained in a compressed cpio archive that populates the initial RAM disk upon booting of the Linux kernel. So basically Tiny Core consists of two files: bzImage (the Linux kernel), and tinycore.gz. Because Tiny Core loads entirely into RAM, it is very fast and also allows us to offer several options for persistence. These are all documented online at our web site in the core concepts
section of our web site.
The idea is a separation of static versus dynamic data. All static data, typically applications, are packaged up in either a TAR archive (TCE) or compressed images for loop mounting (TCZ). These packages -- we call them extensions -- are available in our online repositories. Now add to those two files, bzImage and tinycore.gz a level one directory named "tce" and Tiny Core will boot and merge in or mount an entire directory of extensions upon boot. The result is a custom desktop based on your choice of applications. Dynamic data, typically your personal data, located in your home directory is persisted with a backup and restore. This too can be automatic and is driven by two files .filetool.lst and .xfiletool.lst. Those that are familiar with the tar archive command will recognize that .filetool.lst is for the "T" option and .xfiletool.lst is for the "X" option. These two files are pre-populated for ease of use, but can be easily edited for very fine-grained control.
This is just one mode of operation for Tiny Core. We offer several others, all consisting of different levels of persistence. An example would be installing the extensions into a loop file or directory, thus eliminating the load upon boot time. Or using a persistent home to avoid the backup and restore.
DW: How does Tiny Core prevent "system rot" and ensure starting from a pristine state, as you mention?
RS: As promoted, Tiny Core always boots from a compressed cpio image. So each boot is like the first boot from a CD-ROM. Actually we suggest that the files of Tiny Core be placed on a hard drive, a frugal install. Doing a frugal install is tiny and tidy. In fact Tiny Core can easily co-exist with an existing Linux distribution. Just copy bzImage and tinycore.gz onto your hard drive and adjust your GRUB boot loader. Add a tce directory and you are ready to go. Even using persistent home will use an existing /home directory and will simply add a "tc" directory under home. So upon each boot the system is in a known pristine state. We don't promote doing a traditional hard drive installation. I call it "scatter mode", because it is not tiny and tidy, you end up with files scattered all over your hard drive. It means that you have to allocate a partition to install. It means that you cannot co-exist with another installed Linux distribution. It means that those scattered files are not loaded fresh upon each boot and thus are susceptible to "system rot".
DW: So, Tiny Core is designed to be a "start small and build your own system" binary distribution? How does this differ to installing a basic Debian system and adding programs as you see fit? Would someone use it as their primary desktop? Can it work with multiple users?
RS: I am not aware of anyone doing what I have set up in Tiny Core. A very quick boot and loading of extensions. Tiny Core is a very dynamic and extensible from applications, to modules to libraries. Starting with a base Debian install, means allocating drive space, not be able to co-exist, adding packages to "scatter" over the file system. That is very different. Also consider the dependencies of Debian would dictate a size that would be much larger than Tiny Core and its optimized extension model. A base Debian install would translate into more resources to run and is not meant to be dynamic upon each boot.
Tiny Core in any of its several runtime modes can easily be your desktop. I eat my own "dog food". My desktop is Tiny Core. I run with some 60 extensions. I personally prefer the tcz mount type. I have two netbooks both have tiny SSDs. I use the tidy and tiny frugal to co-exist with Xandros on the Eee PC 900A and with Ubuntu on the Dell Mini 9. I always boot to Tiny Core. Booting, even with loading extensions, gives me a wireless working netbook that is much more responsive than the natively installed OS. Tiny Core also works well with old computers, of course, modern features like GTK+ or the latest Flash have huge requirements. At the recent Scale 7x conference I was demonstrating Tiny Core on some of the newest netbooks as well as legacy 300 MHz 128 MB framebuffer mode laptops. All were running wirelessly.
Tiny Core currently supports adding users but primarily for the purpose to allow SSH access. Tiny Core is still in its infancy. December 1, 2008 was our first public release candidate and has been on DistroWatch for only two weeks. Many features are still to come.
DW: What do users do if they cannot find an application or a particular version of a program they desire in the on-line repositories? Can users request packages or build their own from source? Can users build and maintain their own packages and repositories?
RS: Our development group is outstanding. Not only do they assist me in core development, they are all very active in creating extensions and assisting the user community. The user community can post a request for an extension to be built. Extensions can easily be built from source using the toolchain that we provide. Fact is, the development team uses that very toolchain for all of our development. Note also, all sources, be it for core, or extensions are readily available on our web site. Users can contribute their extensions for us to host. We require source. We don't just distribute binaries.
DW: Where do you see Tiny Core going in the future? Are there any particular areas you wish to expand into? Do you have anything else new and exciting in the pipeline?
Tiny Core already has great features, like the ability to boot over the network, see TC Terminal Server from our Tools menu and Netbooting
for instructions. Tiny Core is a perfect fit for the XAMPP project. With our persistent /opt directory, the LAMP stack from the XAMPP project works great. It too, was demonstrated at the recent Scale 7x conference. What is exciting about Tiny Core is the extension model. Via extensions, we can go in just about any direction. We will keep the core current and will strive to keep it small. We will add infrastructure as needed to improve the support and interaction with our extension model. We are a young distribution and have only just begun.
Tiny Core is fun. It is challenging. It has many possibilities which I hope you will visit and explore.
DW: Sounds like you have a fantastic project to continue your great work on. Thank you for taking the time to share with us, good luck for the future!
RS: You're welcome. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity.
Tiny Core 1.3 RC1 - desktop
(full image size: 88kB, screen resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
Ubuntu Jaunty in beta freeze, Gentoo releases for ARM, Mandriva assists with K3b port, openSUSE announces updated build service|
Development of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 release is well under way. The first beta is due this week and as such, Jaunty has entered the freeze. Steve Langasek posted the news to the mailing list: "During the freeze, all uploads to main must be approved by a member of the release team, so if you have fixes which are important to get in, please do get in touch as soon as possible. Uploads to universe require a manual push through the queue, but are not subject to release management approval." Development will now focus primarily on fixing bugs and stabilising current versions of the applications scheduled for release. One such issue has been the proprietary video driver for ATI cards. The latest release of the closed-source driver is not compatible with the X server Jaunty will ship, version 1.6. As they have done previously, Canonical has been able to secure a pre-release version of ATI's upcoming graphics driver, which is reportedly working well. This new driver drops support for older ATI cards, however, which means that owners of R5xx and earlier models will need to use the open-source driver shipping with X.Org. While the ATI proprietary driver has not been open sourced, it is good to see vendors starting to put Linux drivers on a higher priority.
Still on the subject of Ubuntu, popular Linux forum and community site, LinuxQuestions.org, has published an interview with Jono Bacon. In the interview, the Ubuntu community manager discusses the role he plays in the community, Ubuntu's relationship with both Canonical and Debian, the distro's strengths and weaknesses, and their ability to give back to the open source community. Bacon writes: "I think our biggest strength are the people who form our community... We have some amazing people in our community, across a diverse and wide-ranging set of contributions. When I say 'amazing people', I am not just referring to productivity though, but also general outlook and culture. There is a very positive, family-like atmosphere and culture in the Ubuntu world, and it is the personality and perspectives of our contributors that drives that. It is this positive and fresh perspective combined with a range of skills and technical ability that has helped Ubuntu to carve out its reputation. Waking up every day to work with such an inspiring group of people firmly puts them in the 'single biggest strength' category for me. As for a weakness, I am probably not the best person to comment as I am in the thick of our community. I think one area we can improve on though is how we can grow and optimise our user community. While there is some excellent work going on in the Ubuntu forums in this area, I feel like we could do more with our consumer user community."
* * * * *
In September last year, Gentoo Linux, a popular source-based distribution, announced a plan to create more up-to-date releases. The plan included automated weekly builds of their minimal install CDs and system snapshots, known as stage tarballs. Now the project has announced plans to release frequent updates for embedded architectures. The announcement reads: "The Gentoo embedded team would like to announce that we will be automatically building and releasing stages for ARM and SuperH/SH. We hope these stages will help out people interested in developing embedded Linux applications." The project is using ARM hardware to build these stages and, as such, will aim for monthly or bi-monthly updates. Currently, ARM 4 and 5 processors are supported, but the project wants to expand this to support 6 and 7. They continue: "We would like to thank QNAP Inc. and Marvell Technology Group for providing us with support and hardware for ARM-based chips. However, we would like to expand our ARM support to the armv6 and armv7 processors. If you or your company can provide us with some hardware, we would greatly appreciate it. Please contact the Gentoo ARM team if you or your company are able to assist us. We would like to also thank Renesas Technology Corp. which has graciously provided us hardware and support for the SuperH platform." Gentoo is a powerful and flexible distribution for building custom systems from source, and these more up-to-date releases should help ease problems when building the latest packages.
* * * * *
There are many KDE-based distributions which have struggled with the migration to KDE 4. One such distribution is Mandriva, a long term supporter of the popular desktop environment. KDE continues to improve, with their latest 4.2.1 release widely regarded as being almost ready for everyday users. KDE 4 is built on the latest implementation of the Qt library, also at version 4. This new desktop was re-written for Qt 4 and, as such, all previous KDE applications also need to be ported to the new library. While KDE steams towards their next release, there are some fundamental pieces still missing from the puzzle. One such program is Amarok, which has released a Qt 4 version but has not yet gained much support and the previous Qt 3 version dominates most distros. Another is KDE's premier optical burning program, K3b. The port to Qt 4 has been underway for at least a year, with a limited, but workable version available in the source tree. Now, however, it appears the new release may not be far away with Mandriva assigning two of their engineers to assist Sebastian Trueg with his project. By doing so, they hope K3b will be ready for the upcoming 2009.1 release: "Linux users will finally be able to make K3b use the full power of the KDE 4 platform through Solid, Phonon and all the Plasma environment." If all goes to plan, this could be one of the last pieces missing from a complete KDE 4 experience.
* * * * *
Last week we reported on the problems openSUSE had with hardware failures on their main download server. This week, however, they are bouncing back with an upgrade to the online build service software. The latest release of openSUSE, 11.1, was built using the build service and now this is available to the wider community. Starting with this version, developers can not only automate the building of their own packages, but also of an entire distribution! Joe Brockmeier writes: "The 1.5 release makes it possible to build entire releases within the build service, and export ISO images and FTP trees. All users can create images locally using 'osc build', and permission can be granted to build images using the hosted build service as well." It doesn't stop there, however: "In addition to ISO images, OBS 1.5 can also create images for installable USB sticks, Xen images and VMware images." This new release also includes some experimental features, including, cross-architecture support, package download on demand, and filtering of build results via the web monitor. Will the ability to create entire systems using the service encourage more openSUSE derivative distributions?
|Released Last Week
Adonay Sanz Alsina has announced the release of K-DEMar 4.8, a Debian-based distribution and live CD with language support for Catalan and Spanish. This release arrives after a delay caused by uncertainties over possible data loss when using the ext4 file system; as a result, ext4 is available for selection during installation, but it isn't the default. Some of the changes in this release include: addition of "kdemarcenter", a multi-functional system tray utility; updated CADI, the configuration centre, which now offers a possibility to change screen resolution on the fly and a new network configuration module; miscellaneous improvements to the system installer; new AudioConversor 5, an application for encoding and decoding a variety of audio formats; support for creating bootable USB storage devices; new desktop artwork; KDE 3.5.10; the latest stable kernel 220.127.116.11. Read the detailed release announcement (in Spanish) for further information and screenshots.
K-DEMar 4.8 - a Debian-based live CD with support for Catalan and Spanish
(full image size: 268kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Luca De Marini has announced the release of OpenGEU 8.10, an Ubuntu-based distribution and live CD featuring the Enlightenment 17 window manager: "OpenGEU 8.10 live CD released. As we already said in the previous announcements, this is not a major release. Luna Serena has been considered by our team as a development and testing playground for the upcoming version, 'Quarto di Luna', which will be based on Ubuntu 'Jaunty'. Nevertheless, while working on this version we developed a big number of improvements to OpenGEU. Here's a list of changes: OpenGEU is now using our own E17 settings manager; the OpenGEU themes manager now controls even more parts of the desktop look; the Places module shows and auto-mounts any device connected to your box; new wizard will help customizing your Enlightenment session...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete list of changes.
Igelle PC/Desktop 0.6.0
Igelle PC/Desktop is an independently developed Linux distribution featuring the usual applications found in a modern desktop operating system, in an attractive and lightweight configuration. The project announced the release of version 0.6.0 earlier today: "A new version of Igelle for the PC (Intel x86 and compatible) has been released. Some notable features: distributed as a live CD that can be used without installation; can be installed to a local hard drive, flash memory, USB disk, or other storage media attached to the computer; lightweight graphical desktop that does not use much memory and runs fast; standard desktop applications; easily install other third-party applications such as Skype, Flash player and OpenOffice.org. Key software components: Linux kernel 18.104.22.168, glibc 2.8, GCC 4.3.2, X.Org Server 1.6.0...." See the release announcement and features page for more details.
Igelle PC/Desktop - a lightweight distro with an attractive desktop
(full image size: 362kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Absolute Linux 12.2.2
Paul Sherman has announced the release of Absolute Linux 12.2.2, a lightweight desktop distribution with IceWM, based on Slackware Linux: "Absolute Linux 12.2.2 released. This release brings kernel 22.214.171.124, auto-install defaults to ext4 file system. (Regular install allows for ext3 and ReiserFS as well.) The kernel, for now, is the Slackware 'hugesmp', so it is Slackware 'stock'. Waiting for feedback to see if users like this or would rather get specific configuration tweaked. The large number of changes along with imminent bump in X.Org led me to go with the flow for now in order to allow easier input from Slackware-compatible repositories. In addition to the new kernel there was a very large number of applications, as well as library updates -- so installing via GSlapt is not advised." Visit the project's home page to read the release announcement.
Scientific Linux 5.3
Troy Dawson has announced the release of Scientific Linux 5.3, a distribution built from source software packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but enhanced with additional applications and tools: "Scientific Linux 5.3 has been released for both the i386 and x86_64 architectures. Intel wireless has been updated and works much better. We have added the iwlwifi 3945, and 5000 ucode (firmware), as well as updated the 4945 ucode. Scipy has been added to the release, along with fttw and suitesparse to support it. Numpy was already in the release. Scientific Linux release 5.3 is based on the rebuilding of RPMs out of SRPMs from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 server and client, including update 3. It also has all errata and bug fixes up until March 17, 2009." Read the brief release announcement and the detailed release notes for further information.
UTUTO 2009, a 100% free, Gentoo-based distribution and live DVD made in Argentina, has been released. This is the first time the distribution is provided as a live DVD with a graphical system installer. Other major new features include: support for Apple MacBook and Mac mini laptops; support for ASUS Eee PC and MSI Wind netbooks; support for GPRS and 3G network connections; Linux kernel 126.96.36.199 with improved hardware detection and better suspend and hibernation support; modified the graphics rendering algorithm for the X server in order to improve performance; improved detection of video cards with support for graphics acceleration; various minor improvements in the boot system and graphical installer. For further information please see the release announcement (in Spanish)."
UTUTO 2009 - a 100% free distribution based on Gentoo Linux
(full image size: 196kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0
Alan Baghumian has announced the final release of Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0, a desktop distribution based on Debian's testing branch: "After several months of testing and development, the final version of Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0, code name 'Boss Skua', is out. Parsix 2.0 ships a brand new kernel based on Linux 188.8.131.52, with extra patches and drivers, the live CD compression system has been upgraded to version 3.4 which brings higher compression rate, Unionfs is default for live CD mode, several bugs have been fixed and several packages updated. Highlights: GNOME 2.24.3, GNU Iceweasel 3.0.7, GParted 0.4.3, Pidgin 2.4.3, OpenOffice.org 2.4.1, Compiz-Fusion 0.7.8, VirtualBox-OSE 2.1.4, GNU Flash Player 0.8.4 and xFarDic 0.11.5." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0 - a new version of the Debian-based desktop distribution and live CD
(full image size: 430kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Zenwalk Linux 6.0 "GNOME"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of the GNOME edition of Zenwalk Linux 6.0, the first stable distribution shipping the brand new GNOME 2.26: "We are proud to announce the release of Zenwalk 6.0 GNOME edition! As always, Zenwalk features the latest Linux technologies, with Linux kernel 184.108.40.206 and the GNOME 2.26.0 desktop environment. One of the main changes over previous Zenwalk releases is the inclusion of a lightweight variant of OpenOffice.org 3.0.1, replacing AbiWord and Gnumeric. Other significant changes in this release are: faster boot; new Zenpanel with integrated disk manager, WiFi and wired network manager; GKSu-based desktop granting system; PAM authentication; new Netpkg with orphan dependencies and offline operation support; powerful Exaile music jukebox; GTHUMB for viewing images and importing them from a camera; new artwork...." Read the full release announcement for further information.
Zewnalk Linux 6.0 "GNOME" edition - the first stable distro shipping with the new GNOME 2.26
(full image size: 497kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Frugalware Linux 1.0
Miklós Vajna has announced the release of Frugalware Linux 1.0, a complete, general-purpose distribution designed for intermediate Linux users: "The Frugalware developer team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Frugalware 1.0, our tenth stable release. The version number 1.0 does not indicate anything really special, the new release will bring as many new features and bug fixes as usual, but it's still a milestone in the development of the last five years. Here are the most important changes since 0.9 in no particular order: support for ASUS Eee PC models; new PPC port (though security support will not be available for this architecture in this release cycle due to lack of resources); support for having a 32-bit chroot on x86_64; having '/boot' on a RAID1 device is now supported; gService, a new graphical tool for enabling and disabling services; Java plugin on x86_64; support for the ext4 file system." Here is the full release announcement.
Frugalware Linux 1.0 - KDE 3.5 remains the default desktop
(full image size: 141kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
- Bee Linux. Bee Linux is a Fedora-based desktop distribution and live DVD made in Algeria. It supports French, English, Arabic and Amazigh, and it features automatic hardware configuration (including USB ADSL modems), advance security management system, integration of WINE, popular Google applications, NVIDIA and ATI proprietary graphics drivers, and Xfce as the default desktop.
Bee Linux 1.0.3 - a Fedora-based desktop distro with Xfce, developed in Algeria
(full image size: 980kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
- Igelle PC/Desktop. Igelle is an open source software development project that develops a Linux-based operating system that is intended to be portable, and is designed to work on various hardware devices and architectures, including laptops, desktops, mobile phones, mobile Internet devices, netbooks, etc. It was designed from ground up to be cross-compiled and cross-configured. Igelle is not a derivative of any other distribution and all packages are compiled straight from upstream sources. Igelle uses the DEB package file format, together with a lightweight package manager (Ige) to install, remove and update software packages.
- Privatix Live-System. Privatix Live-System is a free, portable, encrypted live CD which can be installed on an USB flash drive or an external hard drive. Based on Debian GNU/Linux, it is designed for safe editing and carrying sensitive data, for encrypted communication, and anonymous web surfing (with Tor, Firefox and Torbutton).
Privatix 9.03.15 - a Debian-based distro with focus on privacy
(full image size: 36kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- cp6Linux. cp6Linux is an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution and live DVD developed by the Faculty of Electrotechnics at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. The project's web site is in Serbian.
cp6Linux - an Ubuntu-based distribution from Serbia
(full image size: 1,468kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
- Denix. Denix is an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution and live CD designed for home and office users. The project's web site is in Russian.
- FAN: Fully Automated Nagios. FAN is a CentOS-based distribution with a goal to provide a Nagios (an open-source monitoring solution for hosts, services, and networks) installation, including most tools made available by the Nagios community.
- JUX. JUX is a German KNOPPIX-based distribution and live CD designed for children. The project's web site is in German.
- Linux DaVinci. Linux DaVinci is a Slax-based Italian distribution and live CD/USB designed for software developers. The project's web site is in Italian.
Linux DaVinci r4 - a Slax-based Italian distribution for programmers
(full image size: 138kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 March 2009.
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Issue 518 (2013-07-29): MidnightBSD 0.4, Razor-qt, Ubuntu Edge, mounting infected drives|
|• Issue 517 (2013-07-22): Zorin OS 7 "Lite", Slackware turns 20, UbuntuForums compromise, Raspbian as home server, Tor|
|• Issue 516 (2013-07-15): Review of Fedora 19 "KDE", Shuttleworth on Mir, Seth Vidal, Kingsoft Office for Linux|
|• Issue 515 (2013-07-08): Whonix 0.5.6 and Deepin 12.12, MintBox, processor capabilities, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 514 (2013-07-01): Peppermint Four, Mir, Mandriva forks, ThinkPenguin on libre hardware|
|• Issue 513 (2013-06-24): Look at ROSA, PC-BSD updates, Xen4CentOS6, Slacko vs Precise, Mageia interview, shells|
|• Issue 512 (2013-06-17): Trisquel 6.0, RHEL 7 with GNOME Classic, from Linux to FreeBSD, first look at Wayland|
|• Issue 511 (2013-06-10): Mint 15 impressions, GNOME Classic, Ubuntu Community portal, Absolute OpenBSD|
|• Issue 510 (2013-06-03): Impressions of aptosid 2013-01, Wayland comes to Raspberry Pi, maintaining DNS settings|
|• Issue 509 (2013-05-27): Mageia 3, Debian GNU/Hurd, RebeccaBlackOS with Wayland, ports|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Free Tech Guides
Java Essential Training
Author David Gassner explores Java SE (Standard Edition), the language used to build mobile apps for Android devices, enterprise server applications, and more.
Free Online Tutorial