| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 341, 15 February 2010
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It's been a fun and exciting week in the Linux world with things like Jeremy Garcia's Linuxquestions.org Members Choice Awards and the announcement-opps-not-announcement of RMS GNU/Linux-libre distribution hitting the Webwaves. Mandriva won an impressive major deployment contract and Debian Squeeze is running late. Linux Mint released their community distributions for KDE64 and Fluxbox. I updated my stable and yummy Mandriva 2010 with the newly released KDE 4.4 and give one of my favorite Linux tips. Happy reading!
- Mandriva Linux 2010 and its KDE 4.4 Upgrade
- News: New Mandriva deployment, Squeeze freeze delays, No Freeze Rawhide, Miscellaneous Linux Goodness
- Questions and answers: Smbclient
- Released last week: NetBSD 5.0.2, Skolelinux 5.0, MINIX 3.1.6, Linux Mint 8 "Fluxbox" and "KDE64"
- Upcoming releases: openSUSE 11.3 Milestone 2, Mandriva Linux 2010.1 Alpha 3, Ubuntu 10.04 Alpha 3
- New distributions: Live Hacking CD, UST, CTKArchLive
- Reader comments
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Mandriva Linux 2010 and its KDE 4.4 Upgrade
I've been happily using Mandriva 2010 as my desktop system since its release last November. The few issues I've had could be traced back to KDE 4.3.2. I had run the Update Manager a couple times at the beginning, but soon became lax and haven't updated since. Honestly, I just didn't want to risk an upgrade ruining what was essentially a completely enjoyable experience. But when Juan Luis Baptiste posted that KDE 4.4 packages were available for Mandriva 2010, it seemed worth risking a re-install. So, I girded my loins, drew my sword, and copied and pasted those fateful words:
urpmi.addmedia kde-4.4.0 ftp://ftp.kde.org/pub/kde/stable/4.4.0/Mandriva/i586
urpmi --auto-update --auto-select
Since I hadn't updated since last November,
urpmi had its work cut out for itself. A total of 691 packages were needed to update my system and install the new KDE packages, but I let it do it to it. It didn't take long at all, but when it was finished I was advised to reboot due to the kernel upgrade. So I did. Once I moved my ~/.kde4 directory (just to be on the safe side) and ran XFdrake to install my preferred NVIDIA proprietary drivers for the new kernel, I was ready to take a gander. Behold, my default Mandriva 2010 KDE 4.4 desktop:
Mandriva Linux 2010 KDE 4.4
(full image size: 799kB, screen resolution 2960x1050 pixels)
As you can see, Mandriva replaced the new KDE background with one of theirs, but you can still see KDE's on the second monitor. In addition, Mandriva is still opting to use their own simplified menu as default, but the Kick-off menu is available in the Add Widgets dialog, as is Lancelot. I chose Lancelot because I don't like the all the clicking back and forth that comes with Kick-off.
When I logged in the first time, I saw the configuration output dialog state that there were issues with the Akonadi and possibly Nepomuk, but it went by too fast to fully read. What it amounts to, either on purpose or by bug, is that Nepomuk was disabled by default and Akonadi doesn't appear to be storing KDE PIM data in a database in Mandriva 2010. I know I'm not the only one who does not want to convert my email from its current maildir storage to a heavy, not-easily-moved-to-another-install database. Kmail operation is noticeably faster than in KDE 4.3.2 regardless. Of course, as a result of the disabled Nepomuk, the much touted Dolphin search feature is also inoperative.
There are a few new features listed for KDE 4.4. There's a new Netbook Form factor option in the Desktop configuration of System Settings. Improvements to the Social Desktop widget allow users to send messages and find friends right from the widget. The GetHotNewStuff interface has been updated and its capabilities have been added to more applications. Windows will snap into place depending upon where you drag and release them. If you drag and drop a window half off your screen, it will snap to precisely fill that half of your screen. If you drag windows of full screen height across your screen, it will snap to full-screen.
One feature I was looking forward to testing was the new window tabbing. But either I'm blind, looking in the wrong place, or it's not implemented in Mandriva's version. According to the very little information I found on that, there's supposed to be an entry in the right-click menu of a window's title bar for joining with another window. If that information is correct, then it is missing in Mandriva, at least for now. The most obvious slap-you-in-the-face change is the new Add Widgets to panel configuration. Now there's a horizontal parade of widget icons about four screens long requiring a mouse-over to pop-up the description instead of the previously used tidy list with descriptions.
Window effects were enabled by default in Mandriva's packages, but even with my 2 gigabytes of RAM, I could feel the lag in operation of everything. Either my other hardware is a bit too old or KDE is going to continue to need more and more RAM each release as new ideas are implemented. I don't really care for all those effects creating distractions anyway, so I'd probably disable it even if my machine were up to it.
Mandriva Linux 2010 KDE 4.4 Customized
(full image size: 418kB, screen resolution 2960x1050 pixels)
I've only been using this new desktop for a couple of days, but so far so good. The most annoying bug with Mandriva KDE 4.3.2 was crashing Akregator and Konqueror. While both were rarer in Mandriva than in any other distro, they still happened occasionally. So far, neither has crashed in 4.4. <crossing fingers> Basically, I'm of the opinion that Mandriva's upgrade process as well as their KDE 4.4 packages are working rather well. So, if you're running Mandriva 2010 and you want to upgrade to KDE 4.4, then it seems to be a safe bet. I'm sure I'll discover more new features and find some of the moved options in the coming weeks, but if someone could tell me how to disable this silly "snap the window to full-screen when moved" thing, I'd sure appreciate it.
New Mandriva deployment, Squeeze freeze delayed, No Freeze Rawhide, Miscellaneous Linux Goodness
Mandriva Linux gained another feather for their cap this passed week. In a press released dated February 11, 2010, Mandriva announced that Delta Informatique, the company behind Delta Bank (an integrated banking solution), chose Mandriva Linux 2009 as its solution when setting up a new core banking system. "Amongst the operating systems we looked at, Mandriva was clearly the one best adapted to our needs. It is sound, easy to use and completely matches the bank servers' systems (AIX, IBM)," explained Sylvain PERCHAUD, Delta Informatique Project Manager. That full press releases is here.
In other Mandriva news, long-time developer and Cooker hacker Thierry Vignaud announced his resignation Monday, February 8 in a short post to the Cooker mailing list. Leaving a week before originally planned, he stated "real life issues" necessitated his early departure. No reason other than "on... to new adventures" was given for his resignation, but he did say he hoped he could still find time to volunteer.
Frederic Himpe published his semi-monthly list of notable Cooker changes ending February 14. Some include: GNOME is now at version 2.29.90, KDE has been updated to final version 4.4.0, and encrypted passwords in GRUB now supported. His post has more details.
* * * * *
Debian Release Team wizard, Marc Brockschmidt, sent a note to developers last week requesting they fix their critical bugs in the 6.0 branch or else the scheduled March freeze would likely be delayed. He said that the release team doesn't like to freeze unless the number of bugs falls below 300, however the current number is quite a bit higher than that at just under 800. Tolimar Reichle-Schmehl, Debian developer and spokesman, said in a blog post of February 11 that after applying some relevant filters in an alternative tracker, he finds the number of critical bugs somewhere around 260. See his post for a full explanation of his findings and breakdown of the numbers.
* * * * *
Jesse Keating, Release Engineer for Fedora Core, recently announced new development directories showing on their public mirrors. Of course this isn't as humdrum as it sounds because it is actually a result of the new No Freeze Rawhide initiative. The No Freeze Rawhide Proposal is Fedora's way of keeping bleeding-edge development going even after the current in-development branch is frozen. Instead of freezing the development repository, the distribution packages are copied to their own directory. This way developers can still upload changes for the next release without having to wait for Rawhide to open back up. For example the new Rawhide path is now pub/fedora/linux/development/rawhide/<arch> while the path for 13.0 will now be pub/fedora/linux/development/13/<arch>. This should save time allowing shorter development cycles in the future.
* * * * *
There were some interesting Linux happenings reported around the Web this week. First up, The Open University in England announced "Linux - an introduction," a ten-week course on the open source operating system aimed at absolute beginners. The H Open has a nice summary of that.
Jeremy Garcia announced the winners of this year's annual LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards. Ubuntu won the Desktop Distribution of the year with over 30% of the votes while Debian was crowned best of the servers with 24%. GNOME finally beat out KDE for Desktop Environment of the year with nearly 42% of the votes and Compiz got Window Manager of the Year. Despite the brouhaha over Oracle's acquisition of Sun, MySQL still won Database of the Year with over 60% of votes. OpenOffice.org won Office Suite of the Year hands-down with over 90% of the votes and Firefox got Browser of the Year with 65% of votes. See Jeremy's blog post for full details and links.
Jun Auza posted the results of his evaluation of the top Linux distributions of the decade. His results were based on Distrowatch.com's Page Hit Rankings and Google Trends results. His conclusion? Take a guess. Yes, that's right: Ubuntu was the top distribution from 2002-2009. Mandriva and openSUSE come in second and third. See his full post for details.
In a Houdini-like "now you see it, now you don't" manner, the Free Software Foundation announced a new 'free, totally free, all free all the time' distribution named after none other than the controversial father of free software, Richard M. Stallman. The next day the announcement was pulled. Whether this action was the result of Bruce Byfield's criticisms or because the announcement was pre-mature we don't know. Nothing more has been said about it at the FSF. The new distribution, named RMS GNU/Linux-libre, is based on the cleansed Linux-libre kernel 188.8.131.52 and features GNU Icecat and KDE 3.5. The RMS GNU/Linux-libre Website is still up and there is even a download available. The original announcement can be seen through Google Cache.
And finally two other quick notes: ComputerWorld Australia reported that the annual Linux conference, Linux.conf.au, raised $33,000 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service. And an avid Linux user and multimedia enthusiast, known only as lefty.crupps, blogged that Linux users can watch ABC's (American Broadcasting Company) streaming media broadcasts just like any other first class netizen.
RMS GNU/Linux-libre Rose
|Questions and Answers
This wasn't received as a question but I thought I might share one of my favorite little tricks (if I can call it that) when using Linux. In my work, I commonly need to transfer files from one home computer to another and I've found the quickest and easiest way to do this is to use Samba, or more specifically smbclient (which is sometimes a link to smbclient3). For me, typing a bit in a terminal is much easier than most other methods of transferring files locally.
In the past it could take a bit of effort to get Samba and the Samba tools to function properly, but today many distributions set it up to function almost out-of-the-box (albeit less secure). I've found that in most distributions all I need to do is set a password on my main work computer. This is easily done using the smbpasswd tool. As root (or for Ubuntu users, prefaced with sudo):
smbpasswd <username>, then type in the new password.
From then on, I can samba into my desktop and drop files as needed. If desired, one can list the IP addresses and hostnames for each machine in their
/etc/hosts so that computer names can be used, but in my work, I'm installing new releases all the time. So, I just use my desktop's local IP address. So, say for example that I needed to transfer a couple of screenshots from my testing machine to my desktop, I merely samba into my desktop and drop the files into my home directory. To log in:
smbclient --user=s //192.168.0.100/s, then give the password.
Then to move those screenshots I use a simple command:
This will transfer all files with the .png extension. Notice how Samba can use wildcards to make operations so much easier. In fact, you can even use auto-completion many times - and I do. Retrieving files is just as easy. For example:
mget opensuse-112_d <enter>, will finished the filename opensuse-112_desktop.jpg and transfer a copy to the current machine.
Using mput instead of put verifies the transfer of each file before actually doing it.
This isn't even a drop in the bucket of the things one can do with smbclient or other Samba tools. A quick peruse of the MAN pages can give you an idea. At home behind my Internet firewall, smbclient saves me lots of effort.
|Released Last Week
MINIX 3.1.6, an updated version of the small, modular and open-source operating system, has been released: "The current stable MINIX release is 3.1.6. Major Features: new drivers - Atheros L2, Intel E1000, Realtek 8169, DEC Tulip; VirtualPC Network Support (DEC Tulip); PipeFS - removed pipe handling from file system drivers; HGFS - support for mounting VMware shared folders as file system; FPU support; System Event Framework (SEF); experimental APIC support (disabled by default); more ports - more recent QEMU, BSD utilities, benchmarks. Known issues: VirtualBox 3.1 cannot boot MINIX, please use VirtualBox 3.0 for now; QEMU/KVM 0.12 cannot boot MINIX, please use QEMU/KVM 0.11 for now; VirtualBox - MINIX 3.1.6 cannot be installed w/o hardware acceleration support (VT-x, AMD-V)." Visit the project's release page to read the brief release note.
PC/OS 10a "Open64 Workstation", 8.5 "OpenServer"
Roberto Dohnert has announced the availability of two special editions of PC/OS, a Xubuntu-based distribution - "Open64 Workstation" and "OpenServer": "We are very pleased to announce the delivery of PC/OS Open64 Workstation 10a, as well as PC/OS OpenServer System 8.5. PC/OS Open64 Workstation 10a is our release of PC/OS for the 64-bit platform. This release is targeted at the end user and is geared towards simplicity. Some of the differences from the first offering include: all applications and core system bug fixes have been applied; we now bundle Google Chrome as the default browser; full multimedia codec support is included; user interface for the 32-bit and 64-bit releases are now common. For PC/OS OpenServer System 8.5, which is our release targeting small business and home office users, we have made incremental changes." Here is the complete release announcement.
Holger Levsen has announced the release of Skolelinux 5.0, a Debian-based distribution for schools also known as "Debian Edu": "The Debian Edu team is proud to take the next step in making free software suitable for educational purposes by releasing Skolelinux 5.0. Skolelinux is based on Debian 5.0 'Lenny'. As usual, it comes with predefined installation profiles ranging from the main server to workstations and thin clients. It is supported and used by many regional and national projects, the most active ones being in Norway, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Taiwan and Japan. Skolelinux 5.0 uses kernel 2.6.26, KDE 3.5.10, and GNOME 2.22.2. This is first Debian Edu release which has been merged with the highly successful LinEx GNU/Linux educational project from the region of Extremadura in Spain." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
Linux Mint 8 "Fluxbox" and "KDE64"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 8 "Fluxbox" edition: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 8 'Helena' Fluxbox Community Edition. This release has been built with the emphasis on a lightweight and yet fully functional desktop centered on the Fluxbox window manager. Even though we strive to provide out-of-the-box readiness for all your hardware and common computing tasks, Linux Mint Fluxbox CE is easily configurable to run on lower-spec hardware with the tools needed for doing so readily available." See the release announcement, what's new page, and the release notes.
Linux Mint 8 "Fluxbox" - a Mint variant for those who prefer the light-weight Fluxbox desktop
(full image size: 718kB, screen resolution 1152x864 pixels)
NetBSD 5.0.2, the second critical/security update of the NetBSD 5.0 branch, was released today: "The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce that version 5.0.2 of the NetBSD operating system is now available. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed critical for security or stability reasons. Please note that all fixes in critical/security updates (i.e., NetBSD 5.0.1, 5.0.2, etc.) are cumulative, so the latest update contains all such fixes since the corresponding minor release. These fixes will also appear in future minor releases (i.e., NetBSD 5.1, 5.2, etc.), together with other less-critical fixes and feature enhancements." See the detailed release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- CTKArchLive is an Arch-based live CD designed to run on lower resource machines, complete with a nice stack of applications.
- UST is an Ubuntu-based distribution with a goal of providing a Linux with sophistication, quality and performance.
- Live Hacking CD is an Ubuntu-based live CD packed with tools and utilities for ethical hacking, penetration testing and countermeasure verification.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next installment will be published on Monday, 22 February 2010.
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|Free Tech Guides
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