| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 324, 12 October 2009
Welcome to this year's 41st issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It was a bit of slow week as several popular distributions are gearing up for their next major releases, but the news has been exciting. Novell got annoyed at Red Hat claiming 75% market penetration and Debian was used to power an underwater vehicle to victory. Then I moved into Sabayon's latest to see if their KDE 4 build could perform any better than others I've tried. All this and more in this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly - happy reading!
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Sabayon Linux Five Point OH!
We've been drifting through the Doldrums lately on the Good Ship Linuxlovers, but one bright isle is Sabayon Linux 5.0, or 5.o as the developers called it. Sabayon is the one distribution I keep thinking I'll switch to next release - just as soon as issue X is solved. I try it every release, but end up going back to my long-time favorite Gentoo. Sabayon seems like the perfect upgrade. It comes with most of the codecs and drivers folks need, it has some convenient default settings, and it always comes with lots of applications. This release brings all that with a performance boost and a great new look.
Sabayon Linux DVDs have always offered several boot modes. In the past they've offered a Gaming mode and Kiosk mode, among others. These are gone now, but a new XBMC mode is available. One can still boot to the desktop environment with or without the music or boot directly to the installer.
The installer is simple and easy-to-use. However, I did have some issues with the partitioner. Having just installed a new hard drive, I needed to set up partitions and thought I'd use the Sabayon installer for that. If memory serves, Sabayon adapted portions of Anaconda for their installer several version back and I thought it would be up to the job. Depending upon your perspective, it may have been. The issue I had with it was its insistence that it knew better than me how to arrange my partitions. I kid you not. I'd set up a few partitions in the order and size I wanted, and then they would just mysteriously rearrange themselves to meet some developer's idea of how they should be ordered. And it would not allow me to set up some unused partitions. It insisted they all have names and filesystems. I messed with it for a while but finally gave up and fired up fdisk. The install proceeded without incident after that. I chose to use the Ext4 filesystem and installed all software. There isn't a complete individual package selection, but broad categories and a few optional packages are listed one can disable. One can set up user accounts and a root password is desired, even though by default the first user account will be set up as the administrator. The GRUB bootloader will be installed if and where you wish and it'll try to detect and include other systems. That part is a bit hit and miss, but most are.
The Sabayon boot process isn't going to win any races. In fact, it seems rather slow by today's standards, but it gets there. It's nice that all the hardware is configured automagically, including 3D graphical drivers, and even CPU Scaling is set to ondemand for me. I didn't have to do anything except boot and start customizing the desktop appearance.
Desktop and Applications
The new theme for this release looks really great. It's tasteful and understated. Some versions of Sabayon in the past could be considered a bit gawdy, but the graphics for this release are quite attractive. However, the windows retain the plain decoration and style from KDE 4. I'm not sure why Sabayon developers stuck with the stock KDE window theme when they include some nice ones such as QtCurve and Klearlooks. Sabayon also has six or seven extra wallpapers if someone wanted something a bit more colorful. Unfortunately, I'm still not able to stretch a wallpaper across two displays, but that's on KDE.
The Sabayon Linux KDE 4.3.1 Environment
(full image size: 500kB, screen resolution 1680x1050 pixels)
Sabayon Linux ships with a customized Linux kernel 2.6.31, Xorg 7.4, and GCC 4.4.1. Besides the mass of KDE applications, Sabayon includes several other handy apps. For multimedia enjoyment your choices include VLC media player, XBMC media center, and Amarok, although Dragon Player is the default for most video and DVD purposes. OpenOffice.org 3.1.1 is included for those pesky work tasks and Firefox 3.5.3 is available for Web surfing. Both of these seem quite peppy and Firefox is equipped with the plug-ins needed for media playback. Yakuake, NVIDIA Settings, and Wicd are also found. But where was the GIMP? Ah, there it is in Sulfur.
Sabayon Linux is based on Gentoo and as such many telltale signs can still be seen under the hood. One of these signs is Portage and the
/etc/make.conf file. While Portage is intact, operative, and directed at Gentoo repositories, Sabayon comes with its own package management system set up to use Sabayon binary packages. Sulfur is the graphical front-end to Entropy which can also be used in a terminal with
equo. This can loosely be equated to the Synaptic front-end for APT which can also be used in a terminal with
apt-get. At the commandline one can install by typing
equo install <package name>. I like the commandline version for quick and easy installs when I know the name of the application, but if I need to search or examine the dependencies I prefer the compact nature of the results in Sulfur.
The Sulfur package management interface
(full image size: 262kB, screen resolution 1680x1050 pixels)
Sulfur has the same basic attributes and functionalities as other graphical package management tools - lists of applications by category, search by keywords, mark for installation, review, and apply. Sulfur looks a bit different than many of the others, but it doesn't take long to acclimate to its interface. Sabayon also comes with an update applet that sits in the System Tray to alert the user when updates are available. When activated, it opens Sulfur to take care of the actual work. Soon after my system was installed, an update to Entropy came down the pipe which then triggered a mass update of 186 packages. I was a bit hesitant to click that "Commit Actions" button, but it finished with no problems.
I always like Sabayon Linux, but I've never quite made the switch. I know I need to bite the bullet and just get used to KDE 4, and perhaps Sabayon 5.o will be the one to do it for me. It's the best implementation of KDE 4 I've tried to use, but it still has quite a few rough edges. KDE 4.3.2 hasn't shown up in Entropy yet, but I'm hoping it will soon and perhaps I'll see even more improvement. In any case, I think I'll be sticking with Sabayon and its KDE 4 for a while to see how it fares over the long haul.
Debian develops kFreeBSD port, Debian submarine wins competition, Red Hat and Novell argue numbers, Gentoo release statistics, Mandriva re-introduces itself
The Debian project announced the port of the Debian system to the FreeBSD kernel in 32- and 64-bit architectures. These ports will see official support with the upcoming release (codenamed 'Squeeze') and will be given equal importance in determining release status. Motivations include broader choice and the ability to benefit from some of the components admired in free BSD systems such as the OpenBSD Packet Filter and NDIS kernel drivers. This subproject has been a long time in the making, with it roots going way back to 1999. It's been a long and arduous journey and continued challenges are inevitable, but as the Linux Weekly News said, this is one more step towards their goal of creating a universal operating system. In their informative piece, Koen Vervloesem delineates the history of the project and describes the some of the technical aspects for the current and future releases. This port comes with all the trimmings such as an official port site, fine manual, wiki, a #debian-kbsd IRC channel on irc.oftc.net, and install CDs.
In other Debian news, a press release announced that Debian was a key component of the winning entry in this year's Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, sponsored by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Office of Naval Research. The Cornell University team took first place as their submarine completed the challenging course which required the vehicles "pass through a gate, follow a path, ram a submerged buoy, fire through a square target with small torpedoes, drop markers into bins containing simulated targets, recover a PVC target and surface through an octagon shape, all without human intervention." Debian and other Open Source software was used for the on-board computer of the vehicle as well in the labs and on servers. The Cornell software team has replaced all their Windows, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, and Gentoo installs with Debian because, as the software team leader said, it "works amazingly well for us." Underwater videos of the winning run can be seen on the Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle web site.
* * * * *
Developers celebrated Gentoo's tenth birthday by releasing a live DVD recently that received quite a bit of attention. An updated 10.1 was released this past weekend to address a few bugs discovered with 10.0. Probably while reminiscing, but officially in response to inquiries, Robin Johnson, aka robbat2, a long-time Gentoo developer, posted some interesting release statistics for Gentoo for the last five years. He has broken the numbers down into architectures and media categories for fine-grained comparison, but he doesn't appear to have included numbers on Stage tarballs. For the 2005.1 release the universal install CD received 374388 hits. The 2007.0 and 2008.0 releases garnered the most hits at 1046455 and 968065 respectively. Interestingly, the 10.0 Birthday DVD recorded 33703 hits in just five days.
* * * * *
Red Hat Executive Vice President Paul Cormier was quoted as saying that Red Hat has earned 75% of the paid Linux market at their annual analyst event in New York last week. While it was sandwiched in between other financial reports, forecasts, and plans for the future, that one quote seemed to bounce around the Internet getting quite a bit of attention. In fact, it got the attention and ire of the management at Novell. Novell public relations manager Ian Bruce wasted no time in setting the record straight. Bruce quoted an independent study that pegs Red Hat at about 62% of the Linux business market. Whatever the true numbers, Red Hat certainly seems to be faring quite well these days in this depressed economy.
* * * * *
Mandriva is hoping to re-introduce itself to the public by publishing a series of articles examining their place in the Linux landscape and the community's role in their evolution. The first of these articles, Being a Linux distribution publisher, describes some of the steps involved in creating a Linux distribution. These include the software selection and integration processes, original tool creation, integrating graphics, hardware support planning, quality assurance, and development packages. One fun fact states there are over 20,000 software packages on Mandriva mirrors. Upcoming entries are titled 1001 ways to contribute and a new contribution option, so keep an eye on The Official Mandriva Blog for those.
|Released Last Week
Tiny Core Linux 2.4, 2 4.1
Robert Shingledecker has announced the release of Tiny Core Linux 2.4, a very small (10 MB) minimal Linux GUI desktop: "Tiny Core 2.4 is now posted. Change log: updated flwm_restart to use new capability of menu refresh; updated appbrowser - dropped access to TCE repository, 'Install Local' defaults to optional/; updated wbar.sh to read extra configurations from $HOME/.wbar; updated flpicsee to v1.0 - replaced Alt with Ctrl hotkyes; updated setbackground to process compressed logo template, saves much space; updated .Xdefaults for aterm transparency mode; updated .xsession to check and start flit and/or watcher...." Find more details in the changelog. Update: The developers have later released a bug-fix version: "Version 2.4.1 is posted and has a single character change, which only affects special permissions, e.g., setuid, and only when installing to the file system, i.e., not mounting. This fixes the X.Org not starting issue under such conditions."
Dragora GNU/Linux 1.1
LliureX 9.09, an Ubuntu-based educational distribution developed by the Council of Culture, Education and Sport at the Municipality of Valencia in Spain, has been released. New features and software packages: a LliureX control centre that allows teachers to control the activity of students in the computer room, with support for thin clients; F-Spot - an application for managing digital images; Gobby - a collaborative editor; Gmount-ISO - a graphical utility for mounting ISO images; new tools for cleaning and restoring a desktop; new tools for creating educational digital objects, such as resource preparation, mind maps and desktop recordings; a new TrueType font installer; a set of new custom tools for configuring applications and for broadcasting audio and video.... Read the detailed release announcement (in Spanish) for additional information.
LliureX features lots of software with a GNOME interface
(full image size: 220kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Clonezilla Live 1.2.2-31
Steven Shiau has released a new stable build of Clonezilla Live, a specialist, Debian-based live CD designed for hard disk cloning tasks: "We are happy to announce that Clonezilla Live 1.2.2-31 is the new stable release. In this release some programs were updated and some bugs fixed. Features: based on Debian 'Lenny' repository as of 2009-10-05; Linux kernel 2.6.30; updated Partclone to 0.1.9, Memtest86+ to 4.00, live-initramfs to 1.157.3; bugs in partclone.xfs and partclone.fat have been fixed; by default '-r' option is on; option '-g auto' is skipped when GRUB 2 is found in the restored OS; an option to mount NFS 4 server was added to prep-ocsroot; language files have been updated...." See the release announcement for additional technical details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
DistroWatch database summary|
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next installment will be published on Monday, 19 October 2009.
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|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
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|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
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|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
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|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
|• Issue 667 (2016-06-27): GeckoLinux 421, Fedora supports Flatpak, Solus unveils new features, running GNU/Linux on tablets|
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|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
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|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Full list of all issues|
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