| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 320, 14 September 2009
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! With so many great distributions available today, how do you go about choosing one for your brand-new, state-of-the-art desktop computer? In the second part of his "distro odyssey", Michael Raugh delves into Arch Linux, a rolling-release distribution that is always up-to-date, even though it takes some work to install and set it up. But how did it fare in the test? Read on to find out. In the news section, Oracle hints at new investment into the recently acquired Solaris operating system, Phoronix takes an early look at OpenSolaris 2010.2, openSUSE releases a new set of 11.1 installation images with the latest KDE desktop, and Softpedia presents information about one Ubuntu issue that everybody seems to have an opinion about - the distribution's default artwork. Also in the news, Free Software Foundation expands its list of free distribution, while Debian developer Meike Reichle urges girls and women to join the development teams of free software projects. All this and more in this issue of DistroWatch Weekly - happy reading!
- Reviews: A distro odyssey, part 2 - the Arch way
- News: Oracle's Solaris plans, early look at OpenSolaris 2010.2, updated openSUSE 11.1 images, new artwork for Ubuntu, interview with Debian's Meike Reichle, Kongoni and Trisquel on FSF's free list
- Released last week: Linux Mint 7 "Xfce", Absolute Linux 13.0, DesktopBSD 1.7, moonOS 3
- Upcoming releases: Mandriva Linux 2010 RC1, Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 6
- New additions: Incognito LiveCD
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (41MB) and MP3 (42MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Michael Raugh)
A distro odyssey, part 2 - the Arch way
Having established a comfortable baseline with Ubuntu (64-bit 9.04, "Jaunty Jackalope"), I now had the freedom to begin experimenting in earnest on my new machine. The first candidate, chosen after reading a lot of feedback and comments from DistroWatch users, was Arch Linux.
Arch is very different from distros I've worked with in the past in a couple of ways. It's not based on or derived from any other distribution, for one. It's also a rolling-release system, meaning that packages get updated continuously -- there's never a need to upgrade to a newer version to get the latest versions of applications as there is with most distros. As a result, Arch is very much a cutting-edge system, which can be a good thing or a dangerous thing.
The tone and feel of Arch is also very different from those of most mainstream distros I've worked with. Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, et al make an effort to embrace novice users and ease their transition to Linux. Arch doesn't. It's not hostile to newbies by any means, but the documentation and the community web site make it very clear, in a polite and reasonable way, that Arch is intended for "the competent Linux user" and that people who use Arch are expected to take responsibility for how they use and manage their systems. In return Arch gives them a system that is streamlined, current, and does only what the user configures it to do. The philosophy of Arch is called The Arch Way and is explained clearly on the project Wiki. Put simply, the Arch Way emphasizes clean code with no functionality hidden from the user (even if sometimes the user might prefer it that way) and a strong respect for openness and freedom in the choices and distribution of software. Reading and understanding that goes a long way toward preparing a new Arch user for what they are about to experience.
My first attempt at installing Arch Linux on my new system was a failure. I booted from the network install CD and ran through the text-based installer only to have it fail to connect to any of the mirrors. I was able to ping the mirrors from the same command line that the installer dumped me out to, so it wasn't a simple network problem. In the end I chalked it up to unexplained weirdness and tried again using the "core" CD, which installs a basic system without downloading from the network. Arch puts out fresh core images periodically, with the most recent one being released in August 2009.
Booting from the core CD got me to a text login prompt. Yes, Arch expects you to log in as root (even gives you the password information before the login prompt) and start the installer by typing the command yourself. The text-based installer is well laid-out and flows logically from step to step, but it explains nothing; if you don't know how to partition a drive, don't recognize the names of packages that you want and don't want, and aren't sure where or how to configure a bootloader, this installer will not help you. If you do know -- or if, as I did, you have a laptop next to you with a browser opened to the Arch Wiki for consultation -- you'll find that the installer is extremely flexible and not that difficult to follow.
The basic sequence is linear. By navigating text menus I set the time zone and system time, created a new 100 GB partition (/dev/sda2) to hold Arch, and configured it for an ext3 file system to be mounted as the root while using the existing 8 GB swap partition on /dev/sdb1 that Ubuntu had already set up for me. I selected both of the available package groups (core and core-dev) and made a few manual package selections: adding sudo, xinetd, and OpenSSH, for instance while removing the pcmcia and Bluetooth packages since the machine has no such hardware. I probably installed some things I don't need just because I didn't recognize the package names or know what they did, and the installer wasn't giving me any clues, but in general the installer's defaults will do no harm. The actual installing of packages went blazingly fast.
Next came a step no other installer that I've seen includes: it presented a list of vital configuration files and had me edit them right then and there. I edited /etc/rc.conf, which controls the BSD-style init system, basic configuration files like /etc/hosts, /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny, and configured networking all through file entries. At the bottom of the list of files was an option to set the root password. Most of the files didn't need much in the way of editing as Arch's default settings are perfectly fine for general use, but the process is educational because most other distros make these same edits under cover of a GUI installer.
The last installation step is to install a boot loader. Arch comes with GRUB, though LILO is also available for those who prefer it. The installer assumed nothing; it examined the system, presented me with a grub.conf file to edit to my liking with the detected settings already in place, and then had me choose exactly where to install it. Heeding advice from Landor in the comments section of DistroWatch Weekly issue 318, I chose /dev/sda2 so that my original Ubuntu boot loader would not be changed or disturbed. Later, when everything was working, I modified menu.lst by adding a few lines to the end:
title Arch Linux
That gives me a menu item on Ubuntu's boot menu that passes control to Arch's boot loader so that I can still boot into Ubuntu if I want to.
With that done I rebooted into my newly-installed base Arch system. The base system is exactly that. There is no GUI at all and no services running beyond the bare minimum that you need to boot, log in, and run a shell. This is the Arch Way -- you take this base setup and install what you want to build the system you want with no bloat or waste. So on the laptop I opened up the Arch Beginner's Guide -- in this case "beginner" means someone new to Arch, not new to Linux -- and I stepped through that to construct my system.
First off, I had to configure the system for the mirrors I would use. Arch provides a template configuration file with every mirror listed by country, which is a good start. It also provides a Python script called "rankmirrors" that will test the mirrors you select and order them by speed of response. Using that script got me a good mirror set that made for quick downloads and package installs, which is important when you're downloading pretty much everything. I ran an initial update in just a few minutes and noticed that it updated the kernel. I created a non-root account for myself, configured OpenNTPD and sudo, and rebooted to seat the new kernel and to continue working from my non-privileged account.
Following the Beginner's Guide, I quickly had sound working and started setting up X. Arch provides access through the repository to the binary drivers produced by NVIDIA, so I was able to install that using the Pacman package management utility. I set Xterm as my graphical shell and succeeded with testing X. Now it was time to install a desktop environment.
The desktop environment I chose was KDE 4. I'm a recent convert and still very happy with it, though it does contain a lot of pieces that I don't use. Arch, being a cutting-edge distro, has KDE 4.3 and I was interested in trying the newest version. I installed the "kde-workspace" package, which, according to the Wiki, installs the basic KDE desktop but not all of the extras like KDE PIM and KMail, most of which I don't use. It took less than five minutes to download and install the package and its dependencies and then I was ready to start KDE.
KDE came up on one screen in the default 4.3 look. The Arch version, as advertised, contained very little in the way of extra items -- no Network Manager, no Folder View, no Dolphin file manager, not even the Konsole terminal emulator. Adding the pieces I wanted was quick and simple, though, with Pacman. Now, what would it take to get my second screen working?
Okay, I cheated. The GUI settings manager for NVIDIA depends on GTK+ libraries, which I hadn't installed, and so it wouldn't run. I could have installed the GTK+ libraries but I didn't want to since I don't intend to use GNOME. Instead, I mounted my Ubuntu file system read-only on a temporary mount point and copied the xorg.conf from that to Arch's /etc/X11 directory. When I restarted X, KDE came up beautifully on two screens, ready to work.
Next I explored the applications menu. Normally, after installing a new distro, there are dozens of applications in that menu, many of which I don't use and may not even recognize. With Arch, though, every single item on the menu was either something I'd installed myself or a clearly recognizable component of KDE. That was when I really started to appreciate the Arch Way.
I went to work with Pacman in a terminal session and installed some applications: Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, and my multimedia things. Firefox was only version 3.5.2, I noticed, which surprised me considering the cutting edge reputation of Arch. Finding the codecs necessary for my multimedia needs was relatively simple with a little help from the Wiki and soon I was listening to music and watching test videos from the Samba shares hosted on my home CentOS server.
VMware posed a bit of a challenge. The VMware installer assumes that the host machine uses the SystemV init system that is normal for most Linux distributions: a series of directories containing symbolic links to service scripts located in /etc/init.d, with each directory defining what should be started for a given runlevel. Arch doesn't work that way, though. Arch uses a BSD-style init system, where the services to be started are controlled by a single configuration file (/etc/rc.conf). This required some extra steps to fake out the VMware installer. Those steps are outlined neatly in the Wiki, though, so the challenge was minor. VMware installed, found my existing virtual machine, and ran it without a hitch.
With the system fully functional and all of my must-have applications working, I set about the fun task of decorating. KDE 4.3's new Air theme is okay but I prefer the Oxygen theme from KDE 4.2, so I changed that and put on a new wallpaper image from my favorite art site, Digital Blasphemy. I needed to add a couple of more packages to get some of the plasmoids I like to use, like the Folder View. And then things got more interesting.
I'm a big fan of the window decoration theme called "skulpture". This theme doesn't come with KDE. SUSE, Mandriva, Fedora, Ubuntu, and others provide packages in the repositories for it but Arch doesn't -- a Pacman search turned up nothing. Ditto for the customizable weather plasmoid I like (though the source code is available on the AUR, a repository of user-provided packages of source and compile scripts). So, in the Arch Way, I downloaded the source code and compiled it myself. The process was simple and painless once I added a couple of libraries that were needed, and allowed me to set up a pretty and highly functional desktop, as shown in the screenshots below.
A customised Arch Linux desktop with KDE 4 (wallpaper (c) 2009 by Ryan Bliss, Digital Blasphemy)
(full image size: 600kB, screen resolution 1680x1050 pixels)
There you see the Desktop folder view, which contains links to document folders on the local machine and on network shares, and a modest set of useful plasmoids. The extra panel on the lower right is something I set up to mimic the icon bar in Xfce or Enlightenment 17 and gives me more convenient access to my most-used applications without having to keep going to the K menu. This is a stopgap while I wait for KDE 4.4, which will restore the ability to click anywhere on the desktop to get an application menu.
More KDE 4 desktop customizations using Arch Linux (wallpaper (c) 2009 by Ryan Bliss, Digital Blasphemy)
(full image size: 1,280kB, screen resolution 1680x1050 pixels)
My Arch installation is now functionally at parity with the Ubuntu baseline setup in terms of applications and creature comforts. I can do all of my daily activities in Arch and have been using it that way since I finished the setup. Even after just a few days I can recognize and appreciate some distinct differences.
On the plus side, Arch has done away with two glaring annoyances that I've been putting up with in Ubuntu. The first is slow USB writing: shortly after configuring "Jaunty" I tried to copy some video to an SDHC card and wondered why it took 20 minutes to copy 2 GB of files on my brand-new Quad Core system. Googling the issue turned up numerous posts pointing to a known bug in 64-bit Ubuntu kernels. The bug has been there since the 8.04 ("Hardy Heron") version and there's no fix yet. The Arch kernel doesn't have this bug; I copied the same 2 GB to an empty SDHC card under Arch and watched it complete in under 3 minutes. That was highly satisfying.
Another minor annoyance I'd been living with on Ubuntu involved rebooting. I normally mount several Samba shares from my server -- Samba is convenient and accessible to almost anything, whereas NFS has well-known management issues -- and with Ubuntu I had to remember to "umount" those shares before rebooting or the system would hang on the way down. It appears that Ubuntu was halting the networking service before "umounting" the file systems, which then caused the Samba shares to be lost and the system to hang. Arch shuts things down neatly and without that problem.
I can also say with certainty that Arch boots and runs faster than the Ubuntu system I set up on this hardware. That is largely because I'm running a lot fewer services, of course. In all fairness, Ubuntu would also boot faster if I'd go into it and disable the default services that I don't need. KDE loading is the same, with Arch getting me to a working desktop much faster than Ubuntu because it doesn't have to load NetworkManager (why bother on a desktop machine with one network card?), the PIM services, or any of the other things that come by default on Ubuntu. I could go through the package manager in Ubuntu and comb out as many of those things as dependencies will allow to improve the performance, but with Arch I didn't have to.
Another plus for Arch is the currency of the software. Aside from Firefox, every application I installed is the current version: OpenOffice.org 3.1, Thunderbird 220.127.116.11, KDE 4.3, etc. Because Arch is a rolling release system I can expect to receive Thunderbird 3, KDE 4.4, and newer versions of Firefox as they are released instead of having to wait for an upgrade release. With Ubuntu, which came out in April 2009, I had to install Firefox 3.5 and OpenOffice.org 3.1 myself from alternate repositories and if I want KDE 4.3 or 4.4 I'd have to do the same. The more of that you do, the more likely there are to be incompatibilities.
On the negative side, it was certainly more work getting Arch set up and running. I actually did four installations in total: one test install in a virtual machine just to get a feel for the installer; then the ill-fated network install; then a core install that I aborted when I got frustrated trying to follow the official instruction guide, which is more general and less helpful than the beginner's guide; and finally the install I detailed in this piece, which is what I'm working on now. The Pacman package manager is command-line only; there is no GUI for searching or browsing the package lists, so Arch users have to get familiar with Pacman's search ability to locate what they want. Typing "pacman -Ss <search term> | less" has become second nature already for me.
Is the extra work and effort worth it? I think so, at least from what I'm experiencing so far. Arch is nimble and solid, and the rolling release means I don't ever have to go through the installation process again on this machine if I don't want to (barring a hardware catastrophe, of course). Arch has become my new home base from which I'll continue the odyssey.
|Miscellaneous News (by Chris Smart)
Oracle's Solaris plans, early look at OpenSolaris 2010.2, updated openSUSE 11.1 images, new artwork for Ubuntu, interview with Debian's Meike Reichle, Kongoni and Trisquel on FSF's free distributions list
Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems may not have yet been completely finalised, but other than some concern from the European Commission about the future of MySQL, it's certainly looking that way. News website CNET discusses an advertisement which Oracle placed in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal. In it Oracle spells out their plans for Sun's technology claiming they will be spending more on developing the products than Sun does now. It's sending a clear message to the European Commission that the merger will be good for the consumer and provide more competition with IBM. In light of this, will Oracle dump their Linux offering in favour of Solaris? If these claims are true, then the near to far future of OpenSolaris looks assured. Solaris 11 is due next year and will be the first version based directly on the OpenSolaris project.
* * * * *
Speaking of OpenSolaris, technology website Phoronix has taken a very early look at the next version, 2010.02, which is scheduled for release in February next year. The project is supposed to follow a 6-month cycle; however, this will be delayed by two months and as such there will not be another release this year. At this stage, nothing revolutionary appears to be on the horizon. Kernel-based mode setting is coming to Solaris at some point, but it's not known whether it will be ready in time for the next release. No doubt there are numerous "under the hood" improvements, but the preview builds appear to only include updated core packages such as X.Org, GNOME and Firefox.
* * * * *
The upcoming version of openSUSE is due out in two months, with the project moving to KDE as the default desktop. This will naturally include the latest version of KDE 4, but in the meantime users of version 11.1 are stuck with the much older and far more buggy 4.1.3 version. To address this, a KDE remix has been announced which includes the latest version of KDE as well as all recent openSUSE updates. The install is recommended for those wanting to test version 4.3 of KDE and have the latest updates already included at the time of install. Those are not the only advantages however: "Compared to openSUSE 11.1 KDE 4 desktop, the images include the latest KDE 4 version of applications like Amarok, Digikam, KNetworkManager and the new Qt 4-based YaST Control Center. Some additional applications like Choqok, Kompare, Marble and Okteta could be added thanks to a more efficient compression algorithm."
* * * * *
Ever since the very first version of Ubuntu was released, its default colour scheme and artwork has been subject to a reasonable amount of controversy. Along the way various releases have promised a complete overhaul, but it hasn't ever quite happened. Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" saw a breakaway from tradition with a red and black login screen and also introduced some new GNOME themes such as New Wave, which utilises darker grey colours over the usual brownish-orange. So while Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" will be mostly the same in terms of appearance, it will see even more themes introduced. Softpedia takes a look at some of these and shows what they will look like. The ability to easily select a more pleasing theme is a great benefit to users who don't like the more traditional Ubuntu colours. Do you stick with the default theme?
* * * * *
Debian continues to remain one of the most popular distros of all time, even though it has a reputation for using older software packages. It's the world's largest completely community-driven free software project, which means most developers need day-time jobs. Linux Magazine has interviewed one such developer, Meike Reichle, who at 27 years of age works for both the University of Hildesheim in Germany and a local company developing embedded Linux products. She discusses her involvement within the Debian project, including a sub-projects she works on which tries to encourage women to get involved in free software. She says: "A topic that is also very special to me is girls and women in IT and in free software in particular. I find my work in free software very gratifying and wish more girls and women would take up the opportunity and join it. Also I think that free software would benefit greatly from a higher number of girls and women in the community." Meike also provides some tips on how to get a job working for an open source company.
* * * * *
Finally, an announcement by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) where it updates its list of completely free GNU/Linux distributions to include Kongoni. Kongoni is a Slackware-based distro and live CD from South Africa, whose name means "gnu" in the Shona language. The package manager is a BSD ports style and only includes packages which comply with the FSF's definition of free software: "They reject non-free applications, non-free programming platforms, non-free drivers, non-free firmware 'blobs', and any other non-free software and documentation. They uphold a commitment to remove any such components as they are discovered -- a commitment most well-known GNU/Linux distributions do not follow." Also in the announcement was information regarding the release of Trisquel GNU/Linux 3.0, which is the first in a series of short term bi-yearly support releases. Trisquel comes from Spain and is based on Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu.
|Released Last Week
Peter Hofer has announced the release of DesktopBSD 1.7, a desktop-oriented operating system based on FreeBSD 7.2 and with KDE 3.5.10 as the default desktop: "I am glad to announce the immediate availability of DesktopBSD 1.7. This new release comes with FreeBSD 7.2-RELEASE as base system and KDE 3.5.10 as desktop environment and includes a large number of pre-installed applications. The easy-to-use graphical installer and utilities allow for a simple installation and configuration process. Notable changes include: OpenOffice.org 3.1.1 as feature-rich office suite; pre-installed Java SE 6 environment; X.Org release 7.4 with extensive graphics hardware support; large number of enhancements and fixes." According to the release announcement, this is the project's last release.
DesktopBSD 1.7 is based on FreeBSD 7.2 and contains KDE 3.5 as the default desktop
(full image size: 93kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Easy Peasy 1.5
Jon Ramvi has announced the release of Easy Peasy 1.5, an Ubuntu-based distribution designed for netbooks featuring the Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface: "Easy Peasy one-point-five (or as I would say it: en-komma-fem) is finished, and it finished up real good. We've taken our time to iron out bugs and put in new features to again give the netbook community a great Linux distribution. New in Easy Peasy 1.5: a new, green visual look; awesome Linux kernel (2.6.30) optimized for netbooks with faster start-up built; support for more netbooks; upgraded software (Google Picasa, OpenOffice.org 3.1); built off Ubuntu 9.04; smaller hard drive footprint; uses the new ext4 file system as default; UXA by default - the first distro to deliver real composite desktop which means it's possible to run 3D in 3D (i.e. the netbook interface and desktop effects); Banshee as default music player instead of Songbird...." Here is the full release announcement.
Easy Peasy 1.5 - a new version of the Ubuntu-based distribution for netbooks
(full image size: 323kB, screen resolution 1024x600 pixels)
GoblinX 3.0 "G:Noblin"
Flavio Pereira de Oliveira has announced the release of GoblinX 3.0 "G:Noblin", a Slackware-based distribution and live CD with GNOME and GTK+ applications: "The GoblinX Project is proud to announce the release of the new stable G:Noblin distribution. G:Noblin is GoblinX GNOME. This edition is ideal for those users who prefer the GNOME desktop environment. The G:Noblin edition includes the latest packages of GNOME 2.24 and several improvements and modifications in the core of the system. Some important changes are: several bugs and errors have been corrected, added Vuze and Java JRE, some duplicated applications were removed, and some interfaces were rebuilt to look better inside netbooks. Another major change is the release of a distribution without removing any files and locales." Read the complete release announcement for further details.
Tilman Sauerbeck has announced the release of CRUX 2.6, a lightweight, i686-optimised Linux distribution targetted at experienced Linux users: "CRUX 2.6 has been released. Release notes: includes glibc 2.10.1, GCC 4.4.1 and Binutils 2.19.1, Linux kernel 18.104.22.168 and X.Org 7.4; XZ/LZMA support has been added to libarchive, it's possible to use .xz and .lzma source-archives in our ports now; libusb has been updated to version 1.0, to keep compatibility to version 0.1 a new port libusb-compat has been added to core; libblkid, blkid, findfs, fsck, libuuid, uuidd and uuidgen are now provided by util-linux-ng instead of e2fsprogs; using modprobe.conf to configure modprobe is deprecated, use *.conf files in modprobe.d instead; rdate has been replaced by openrdate; lvm2 is now available during install." See the release announcement and release notes for additional technical details.
Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0
Attila Crăciun has announced the release of Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0, an unofficial 64-bit port of Slackware Linux 13.0 with up-to-date KDE: "Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0 is released. This new version of Bluewhite64 brings many new and interesting features, improvements and packages updates. The first major change is a new and improved package format, we have switched to the LZMA compression algorithm to reduce the packages size and to improve the decompression speed. We have updated the X.Org Server to version 1.6.3, along with the drivers, libraries and utilities. Other important changes include a new generic Linux kernel 22.214.171.124 with more modules enabled; the new KDE 4.3.1 and Xfce 4.6.1 desktop environments; the Mozilla products (the latest versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey)...." Read the release announcement and release notes for further details.
Chanrithy Thim has announced the release of moonOS 3, an Ubuntu-based distribution with Enlightenment as the default window manager and interesting, original artwork: "This 3rd release of moonOS comes with numerous bug fixes and many improvements. Based on Ubuntu 9.04, Linux kernel 2.6.28 and X.Org 7.4, moonOS 3 comes with a new tool called moonSoftware, XMPP video support for Pidgin and many other improvements." Some of the new features include: "moonControl with a new and clean interface; new interface for moonGrub with a feature for theme creation; moonSoftware - to quickly browse through available software, view screenshots and sort by various criteria; EFL Keys - a virtual keyboard for touch-screen application; Firefox 3.5 with Moonlight plugin and support for Silverlight 1.x; OpenOffice.org 3.1.1...." See the release announcement, release notes and what's new page for all the details.
moonOS 3 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with Enlightenment
(full image size: 907kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Trisquel GNU/Linux 3.0
Rubén Rodríguez Pérez has announced the release of Trisquel GNU/Linux 3.0, a 100% "libre" desktop distribution based on Ubuntu: "We are proud to announce the Trisquel GNU/Linux 3.0 release. It is the first of a new series of short-term support releases that include highly updated software, improved performance and better hardware compatibility. The 3.0 version will be upgraded to 3.5 in six months, and will get updates for another six months. The 2.2 LTS version will get security updates until 2013. Trisquel 3.0 includes: Linux-libre 2.6.28, GNOME and Evolution 2.26, OpenOffice.org 3.0, Trisquel web browser (Mozilla-based) 3.0, GIMP 2.6. It also packs many utilities like Pidgin, Inkscape, Transmission, Brasero, the GNOME set of games and even the media center Elisa. Trisquel provides support for almost every audio and video format including copy protected DVDs, and is compatible with Java and Flash technologies, using just free software." Here is the full release announcement.
Absolute Linux 13.0 and 13.0.1
Paul Sherman has announced the release of Absolute Linux 13.0, a Slackware-based lightweight distribution using the IceWM window manager: "Absolute 13.0 released. During the large number of changes from 12.x to 13 lots of things were broken as I kept up with Slackware and pounded out customizations for IceWM and PCMan File Manager and scripted helper utilities. Focus since end of July, however, has been on making everything work. I managed to get all quirks and bugs out. PCMan File Manager crashes were isolated to thumbnail image use, so that option has been eliminated and integration between ROX and PCMan File Manager has been increased (quick thumbnails and resizing, among other handy features). K3b (Qt 4 version) now closes multi-session disks properly. AbiWord prints without crashing. A log of applications now fit on the CD using the new TXZ packaging; OpenOffice.org is the most noteworthy base install inclusion." Read the rest of the release announcement for a few more technical details.
Absolute Linux 13.0 - a Slackware-based distribution with IceWM
(full image size: 149kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Hymera Open 20090910
Hymera Engineering has announced the release of Hymera Open 20090910, a desktop Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux. The most important changes in this release include: introduction of a driver manager, a graphical application for managing device drivers; Hymera desktop recovery provides a simple way to instantly restore the default settings and desktop screenlets; Hymera video recovery, an innovative procedure for the recovery of the video driver; IMobile, an advanced Internet connection manager via USB keys and mobile phones; a new language manager, personalized and easy to use. Visit the distribution's news page (in Italian) to read the release announcement.
Hymera 20090910 - a Debian-based distribution with GNOME and a number of custom enhancements
(full image size: 517kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Linux Mint 7 "Xfce"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 7 "Xfce", a community edition of Linux Mint featuring the Xfce desktop: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 7 'Gloria' Xfce. Based on Xubuntu 9.04, Linux kernel 2.6.28, Xfce 4.6 and X.Org 7.4, Linux Mint 7 Xfce features many improvements and the latest software from the open source world. What's new? mintInstall improvements - featured applications, pre-filled information, seamless screenshots downloads, improved GUI layout; mintUpdate improvements - changelogs, package sizes, usability; mintUpload improvements - ads-free, GUI improvements, graphical service manager, SCP/SFTP support; mintWelcome welcome screen; command line goodies - APT version, RTFM; new artwork; Moonlight plugin and support for Silverlight 1.x, signed repositories...." Read the release announcement and release notes for a detailed list of all improvements.
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 5.5, a live, Debian-based web kiosk with Firefox: "Webconverger 5.5 is a much delayed release which is not as polished as I would have liked. Instead of delaying any further, I would appreciate you giving these experimental features a try and giving feedback on them: allow ICMP ping replies so that you can check the machine is up and running; allow for several home pages to be specified which get opened in separate tabs; noclutter added, which hides the mouse cursor after a couple of seconds of inactivity; several new experimental hooks to upgrade and setup CJK locales; a new PDF viewer based on ePDFView, which has a decent printing dialog; experimental option to install Webconverger onto a hard drive." Read the rest of the release notes for further information.
Thierry Nuttens has announced the release of NuTyX 2009, a distribution based on Linux From Scratch and CRUX, designed primarily for French-speaking intermediate Linux users. The release is built of top of a brand new Linux kernel 2.6.31 and includes GCC 4.4.1, glibc 2.10.1, X.Org Server 1.6.1, KDE 4.3.1, Xfce 4.6.1, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1 and Firefox 3.5.3, just to name a few of the more popular software packages. Five bootable ISO images are available for download: the "Mini" edition (a 11 MB network installation image), the "Base" edition (a 172 MB base system without X window), and three editions with the choice of LXDE, Xfce or KDE as the preferred desktop. For users who have installed the second release candidate or an earlier development release, a fresh installation is recommended. Please refer to the release announcement (in French) for additional details and installation instructions.
NuTyX 2009 - a French distribution for intermediate and advanced Linux users
(full image size: 517kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Karl Goetz has announced the release of gNewSense 2.3, a 100% free distribution as defined by Free Software Foundation, based on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS: "The gNewSense project is pleased to announce version 2.3 of its FSF free GNU/Linux distribution, in the form of a point update to the release, code-named 'deltah'. Users of earlier gNewSense 2.x releases can update to 2.3 with a standard system update. A short list of relevant changes for this release is: freedom bugs fixed - several packages freed, over 15 packages removed, over 20 sourceless files removed from Linux; install CD changes: removed Tomboy and F-Spot, added gNote, gThumb, JFS and XFS. This release contains all security updates made up to 2009-09-11. As with other 2.x releases, this gNewSense release is available as a live CD for x86 (i386) systems, using GNOME as the default desktop environment (others, such as Xfce or KDE, are available post installation)." Here is the brief release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 21 September 2009.
Michael Raugh, Chris Smart and Ladislav Bodnar
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|• Full list of all issues|