| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 343, 1 March 2010
Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! For many users, the combination of Slackware Linux and the Xfce desktop is the perfect blend of stability and speed, whatever the age of their hardware. But if Slackware itself is too much hard work, why not try one of its derivatives with a friendlier approach to the desktop and with out-of-the-box support for popular hardware and multimedia codecs? Bernard Hoffmann, an experienced Slackware user, has taken three Slackware-based Xfce distributions (Zenwalk Linux, Salix OS and GoblinX) for a test drive to see which one would be a best fit for a blazing fast and powerful home desktop. In the news section, Oracle confirms the continued development of OpenSolaris, Fedora delays the upcoming alpha release of version 13, Mandriva switches to nouveau with the latest kernel update in "Cooker", and Linux Mint prepares for an imminent release of its LXDE edition. Also in this issue, a link to a good summary of bleeding-edge repositories for Kubuntu and a brief talk about zombie processes. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the February 2010 DistroWatch.com donation is the Squid project. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (34MB) and MP3 (38MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Bernard Hoffmann)
Desktop comparison - Zenwalk Linux, Salix OS and GoblinX
Everybody's definition of bloat will probably be somewhat different, depending on the hardware they have and how far they are willing to go and make sacrifices on the performance scale to get their desired useful, functional, friendly desktop. There cannot be any doubt that, by default, some distributions -- and for that matter desktop environments -- are heavier than others, and often we are asked here on DistroWatch or elsewhere to recommend a distro that will run well on older hardware, but is still nice to look at and has the tools available for any job thrown at it.
I'm a big fan of Slackware because I have always found it immensely clean, stable, and faster than others. I also like Xfce-based distributions - they are fast, simple and elegant. For anybody who would like a slightly friendlier start there are several derivatives that would fit the bill quite nicely, but they all appear similar on the surface and any user coming from the background of a DEB or RPM package distro might find themselves facing the question which one to bother with. Indeed, do they all just differ in their wallpapers and kernel versions? This week I'll be taking a look at the latest versions of Zenwalk Linux, Salix OS and GoblinX (g:Mini edition). All three come with Xfce 4.6.1 as their default desktop environment, although others can be installed later. This makes for the perfect choice for our objective - a lightweight but still very functional GUI with a reasonably populated settings panel for people who do not want to have to edit text files to get their AfterStep, WindowMaker or IceWM to behave and look the way they like. There is also Wolvix that would fit into this category, but it has not had a stable release since August 2007.
All three distros immediately benefit from the vast universe of packages and repositories available for Slackware, as well as their own. Zenwalk has branched off a bit more but is staying fully compatible with Slackware packages, as do the others. It is recommended to stay with the distro's own repositories and supplement them with Slackware package builds as needed, but not to mix and match, for example Salix and Zenwalk packages in any of the two, although it may work, or not. In my experience a Zenwalk package proved to work fine in Slackware, but you'll be on your own if things go wrong, and why would you want to do this except for curiosity with the wealth of packages and build scripts out there.
The test machines:
Both desktops use wireless GetNet GN-331U USB sticks (Ralink, confusingly sometimes identified as 2870, sometimes as 3070) in the home to cut down on the clutter, and to have this working is a requirement. Keep in mind that I built these for Linux, and also chose the Thinkpad for the very reason of compatibility. The USB sticks were a gamble but proved to work fine once the drivers were installed under Slackware 13.0, my usual day-to-day operating system now. All of them use older ATI cards for video that are fully supported in X.Org, playing 3D games just fine. The newest one is a Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB, the oldest a AIW Rage Fury Pro 32 MB.
- an IBM T42 Thinkpad 1800 Pentium M with 1,024 MB of RAM, Atheros wireless (ath5k)
- a self-made desktop PC with AMD Duron 900 MHz and 512 MB of RAM.
- a self-built Dual-Core AMD Athlon X2 4200 at 2,200 MHz, socket 939 with 3 GB of RAM. This one is 4.5 years old now and my most modern piece.
Zenwalk Linux 6.2
My first candidate is Zenwalk Linux, now at 6.2, not the least because I used to run it in 2006-7 when it was the first to offer preview versions of Xfce 4.4. It always performed well and worked without a hitch on my computers. The current version comes with kernel 126.96.36.199 (same as in the Slackware 13.0 /testing repository) and at only 492.3 MB, it easily fits on any CD and is also more accessible to those with limited bandwidth or speed.
Off to the install, and this is the usual streamlined process we have come to know from Zenwalk, a few questions as to keyboard layout, partitioning and setting up your swap and mounts and off you go. There is no choice here over what to install. This is a text-based, obviously Slackware derived installer with typical Zenwalk pastel blue colours and logo in the background, and the whole affair has a nice no-nonsense feel to it.
Zenwalk is more modern than the current stable Slackware in that it ships GTK+ 2.16 (instead of 2.14) which is important for some applications like Liferea to compile against if you don't want an ancient version. It also comes with GStreamer and libdvdnav. On first boot where you proceed to the rest of the configuration I get an "Out of range" black screen problem with my new ASUS widescreen. That's right, X.Org hasn't been configured yet. Hmm, OK, reboot, go into text mode at the LILO screen which allows me to scan for supported modes, type one in, off it goes. So far so good, I'll spare you the post-configuration because that's not what it's about.
Login screen and default wallpaper looking lovely and tie in with the nice background from the installer. More importantly, I'm chuffed it detected my monitor resolution and everything looks crisp. Wicd is loaded by default and even detects my wireless access point. However, no connection yet! Looking around the networking and wireless scripts in /etc/rc.d reveals these are standard Slackware. The driver still needs to be compiled as a module and after the kernel sources are downloaded and the config.mk adjusted for native_wpa_supplicant_support compilation goes without a hitch and we are online wirelessly.
The package manager, Netpkg, seems cumbersome and awkward to use and has changed quite a bit, but it supports dependency resolution with Zenwalk's repositories. There doesn't seem to be an overview for all installed or available packages; instead, everything is lumped into groups with only the option to search for specific packages. But perhaps it's just a matter of getting used to the way Netpkg works. Overall I much prefer GSlapt and slapt-get or, of course, Synaptic and apt-get.
Zenwalk comes with Brasero disc burner, OpenOffice.org (in its Go-oo incarnation), Exaile for playing music (I personally prefer Audacious or XMMS), with Totem instead of MPlayer or Xine for movies and it uses File Roller for archives. Why use a slower GNOME tool when there is Xarchiver? Apart from that, it's a pretty standard Xfce with custom icon theme, slightly changed menu structure and lots of plugins at the ready that I usually have to compile. It comes pretty close to what I add in Slackware, including Evince, Iso Master, Htop and Catfish search tool. Even Lightning is installed in Icedove to make for a full-featured PIM. This is nice attention to detail.
Multimedia works well with GStreamer playing a couple of movies from my hard drive, but I believe Flash is not installed, and libdvdcss is not there by default either. Playing it safe, or free. Zenwalk also comes with a control center with which you can manage start-up services, firewall, and kernel modules to name but a few, but it's not on par with Mandriva's. Oddly enough, the loaded wireless module is identified as rt3070sta although it installed as rt2870sta.dat. I also had to rename the folder from 3070 to 2870 for it to work, something I had to do on all installations of Slackware with this module so far. This is more an observation and by no means Zenwalk's fault.
Zenwalk's forums are some of the friendliest I've ever used, and the fact that it has been going for a long time means there is a treasure trove of information, albeit sometimes outdated. You can usually get help within a day although occasionally you may feel ignored.
Zenwalk Linux 6.2 with the Netpkg package manager
(full image size: 438kB, screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels)
Salix OS 13.0.2a
There have been some disagreements in Zenwalk land last year and, as a result, the Salix OS project was formed, with the philosophy of staying closer to the original. The first release was Salix 13, and it's using the same kernel version as the current Slackware stable release, 188.8.131.52. I'm taking a look at its latest revision, 13.0.2a.
The 32-bit image at 540.1 MB still sits very comfortable on one CD. Salix, unlike Zenwalk, is also available for x86_64, and also provides its own repositories. The installer is basically the same as Slackware, ncurses without even a change of colour. Interestingly, I am asked whether I want a full install, basic or core. At this small size I go for full. The feeling I get immediately while watching the installation go by is that this is a repackaged Slackware 13 with a subset of packages and the latest patches, sticking as close to stable as possible.
After setting up users, Salix reboots automatically (without pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del) and the boot screen comes up with Salix's Bonsai tree logo in the background. Nice, no need to mess about this time. There's a boot entry for Windows although I don't even have it installed, but no big deal. Splash and login screen look truly awesome. Call me vain, and I usually do not go by looks but by functionality and stability, but this is nice, and it may be an important aspect when you have three distros that are so close.
Right, I'm in the 'testuser' account I created and the loveliness continues, the resolution has been set up correctly, clear and crisp. The layout is standard Xfce 4.6.1 with all standard panel plugins available, OpenOffice.org proper and overall pretty much the same selection as in Zenwalk. File Roller is also here again. However, Salix has opted for the somewhat lighter and faster Claws-Mail for email. Good choice in my book because it has better filtering capabilities for Usenet newsgroups than Thunderbird. Wicd is up again and -- I cannot believe it -- after inputting my passphrase, wireless works on the desktops, no compile necessary!
Installing from the repositories is handled by GSlapt or by slapt-get if you like command-line flexibility. One can find LimeWire here, games like chromium-bsu, statistical software like R and also VirtualBox. It seems to pull Slackware packages directly from Slackware mirrors, with Salix providing additional packages. Efficient. Even wbar and terminator that I have been struggling to find in other repositories are here. This greatly expands the prepackaged software available for Slackware, 32 and 64, as it's fully compatible. At the same time, one can still use the SlackBuild scripts and they should work on Salix too.
Multimedia support seemed non-existent as none of my video files in MPEG, AVI, WMV or MOV format played, and my MP3 collection was rather useless. That's when I discovered a shortcut in the menu to install multimedia codecs, and proceeded after reading the warning about patents. Codecs installed fine and my files started playing with GStreamer. I thought I might have to manually extract and dump the MPlayer w32codecs on the hard drive but no such thing. A visit to YouTube confirms that Flash is there too. An entry called Startup services is letting you adjust these but there seems to be no control panel like in Zenwalk. Not necessarily a bad thing.
There are shortcuts on the desktop to the Salix IRC channel and the Salix Wiki, this page also leads to the forum if interested. I connected to IRC for a while and there were about five people hanging out there so you will not be talking to yourself if experiencing a problem. Nice touch. All this was amazingly smooth and there is really no more to say at this point. If the old-style Slackware installer isn't putting you off you won't have any problems with Salix.
Salix OS 13.0.2a - desktop includes innovative artwork
(full image size: 1,087kB, screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels)
GoblinX 3.0 "g:Mini"
GoblinX g:Mini is the oldest of the three distributions tested, with the current version 3.0 released early October 2009. It is using kernel 184.108.40.206, more reminiscent of Slackware 12.2, although Slackware 13.0 was out at that time. It's a nimble download at 289.3 MB which should make it suitable for the more bandwidth constrained.
Looks-wise this seems to be the most customized of all three. It also offers Xfce 4.6.1 but in a more GNOME-like layout with the menu in the upper left and has plenty of plugins already set up in the panels, for example smart bookmarks to the GoblinX forum and home page. It's obvious it has been designed more as a live CD but can also be put on the hard drive, and comes with a plethora of small applications not seen in the other two, like an fstab editor, that you would not expect given its small size. It uses GTK+ 2.14 and generally package versions feel more outdated. This release seems stuck somewhere between Slackware 12.2 and 13.0 and is definitely more of a mix than the previous two in the roundup. The developers have followed their own tastes here and created something that stands out from the crowd.
The live installer provides a graphical environment in which you can choose the root partition, file system, desktop environment, language and init level. No other partitions can be specified at this time but will have to be added later in fstab. Then the LZM modules are uncompressed and dumped on your partition. On reboot the monitor resolution was detected and it looked good if slightly "old" somehow. Wireless was not working, neither on the desktop nor the Atheros chip on the laptop. Correction, iwconfig told it was actually detected, but apart from NDISwrapper if you have Windows drivers there is no graphical utility to set up the network information. You can, of course, enter the appropriate information into the text files or install wicd later but this can be difficult if you're out and about with only WiFi access in the first place.
The choice of software included is pretty standard, but this time with Audacious and XMMS for music, gxine for video, and AbiWord and Gnumeric are present for your office needs. Oh no, File Roller is here again too! What has Xarchiver done to them? GSlapt is here to handle your updates and new installations, and several tools to create your own modules and live remasters.
GoblinX strives to give us a completely free distribution and thus no codecs are included and no link to get them easily. There's one to install Adobe Flash in the menu but it didn't work for me, although now on wired connection. Despite GoblinX seemingly offering all the Xfce panel plugins you could possibly want, including one to control mpd and wmdock for WindowMaker applets, I'm now getting the idea that this is more trouble than it's worth and that Slackware proper is easier to set up. There is no control panel, but several tools like one for daemon control and a graphical LILO editor. The GoblinX web site feels awkward and it took me a while to locate the tiny shortcut to the forum further down the page. This being a Brazilian distro half the postings were in Portuguese.
GoblinX 3.0 "g:Mini: edition with the GSlapt package management tool
(full image size: 1,088kB, screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels)
I love them all, each in their own way, but the purpose was to compare and find a winner if you want an easy life at home and just something that works without much hassle, and I'm not going to cop out now. Xfce is a fast and potent environment that I believe can meet most people's needs, but it does not achieve its full potential in most distributions due to the underlying base. However in a well-done distro you won't need any other environment for your daily computing and benefit from a considerable speed gain.
Well, GoblinX seems quite a specialised niche distro that is severely lacking in some parts, probably enough not to bother with it when there are better alternatives. It seems to have been designed primarily as a live CD that can also be installed, but with shortcomings. It may be good as a base for your own Xfce-based live CD remaster after you've configured the networking, for those who don't want to go with Slax and KDE 3. If you ever should need support it will be a good thing to speak Portuguese. The developers were not afraid to create something with unique character, but this clearly does not make it appropriate for most users out there for easy day-to-day use at home or on the road.
No surprise, all three flew on the Dual-Core machine but things got more interesting on the Thinkpad and particularly on the old Duron Spitfire. Zenwalk was subjectively the most responsive and snappiest in use, while both Salix and Zenwalk only need seconds to boot even at this low end. As expected, neither had any problems with wireless on the Thinkpad as ath5k has been in the kernel for a while now. Zenwalk appeared the most elegant with its slick interface. Due to admittedly rather minor problems, it is only my second choice here, and once you get into Netpkg and have made it past the X.Org configuration, it makes for a very nice system with most multimedia pre-installed and newer versions of some libraries. It appeared the most 'cutting edge' among these three.
Zenwalk also includes Novell's enhanced version of OpenOffice.org with better integration for Microsoft formats and binary support, multimedia integration and native file chooser. This could be what you want, or why you'll shun it. Zenwalk also uses Iceweasel and Icedove, and I can recall some IMAP connection problems with GMail on Debian with Icedove. Personally I'd rather have the original, and this is why I'm not using Debian much anymore. On Zenwalk you could at least use the build script from Slackware and re-package your own Firefox instead.
However, one could also just run Salix and be done with it. Salix 13 wins my top notes for staying so close to the original, providing endless repositories and full use of all Slackware packages and scripts out there, unaltered software, an unchanged Xfce 4.6.1 menu and panel layout, out-of-the-box wireless, one-click install of multimedia plugins and codecs and beautiful artwork. If you would rather have a newer version of GTK+ you can still upgrade this from gnome.slackbuild.org. Whether you're an aspiring ex-Ubuntu or ex-Mandriva user or just want something light but with lots of possibilities, give Salix a chance. It's easy, very easy.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
OpenSolaris survives Oracle takeover, Fedora delays first alpha, Mandriva switches to nouveau, Linux Mint prepares LXDE edition, Kubuntu repositories
After several weeks of uncertainty about the future of OpenSolaris, Oracle has finally spoken and the news is good - OpenSolaris is here to stay: "At the OpenSolaris annual meeting, held on IRC, Oracle executive Dan Roberts has assured the community about the future of the open source edition of Solaris. The statements, available as a log of the meeting, have led Peter Tribble, who had expressed concerns on the lack of communication, to conclude 'rumours of its [OpenSolaris] death have been greatly exaggerated'. Roberts, making his comments in an official capacity, stated that 'Oracle will continue to make OpenSolaris available as open source, and Oracle will continue to actively support and participate in the community'. In practical terms this would mean that Oracle will continue to deliver OpenSolaris releases, including the OpenSolaris 2010.03 release."
* * * * *
The first alpha release of Fedora 13, originally scheduled for release later this week, has been delayed by one week. Jesse Keating explains the reasons in this mailing list post: "Today at the go / no-go meeting we decided to slip the alpha by one week. This slip is needed to verify blocker bug fixes and validate new builds of software necessary to fix those bugs. We are confident that the fixes we have are valid, however we do not have enough time to prove them valid. We will spend the next few days doing that validation. In the meantime builds will continue to be pushed to updates-testing for 13, and even to 13 stable, however critical path packages might not be pushed unless they are fixing a release blocking issue. Once we've validated all the fixes we will do more frequent pushes to 13 stable." This delay does not have any effect on the final release of Fedora which is still expected on 11 May 2010.
* * * * *
Mandriva's Frederik Himpe has published a new summary of the latest changes in "Cooker", the distribution's development branch. As elsewhere in the Linux distro land, nouveau has now replaced nv as the default driver for NVIDIA video cards: "The kernel is now updated to 2.6.33 final. The new nouveau driver for NVIDIA graphics cards is now included in the kernel and is now used by default on Mandriva instead of the nv driver. DRBD, the Distributed Replicated Block Device driver, which is useful on High Availability clusters is now included in the kernel. There is a new experimental Compcache driver, which compresses part of the memory, effectively increasing the amount of memory you can use. Note that Mandriva does not yet include the user-space tools to effectively use this. The Anticipatory I/O scheduler was removed and there were the usual improvements to the default CFQ I/O scheduler. Of course there are also many improvements to hardware support, such as a new driver for WiFi devices with the Ralink RT2800 and Realtek RTL8192U chipsets." Other notable updates include GNOME 2.29.91, Bluefish 2.0.0 and Postfix 2.7.0.
* * * * *
Judging by past comments made in this publication, many readers assume that Kubuntu is really just an Ubuntu remix with a specific set of packages. But the truth is not so simple. Apart from the standard Ubuntu repositories available for Kubuntu, the project's developers have been making consistent efforts at providing interesting updates of most new KDE applications. Clay Weber summarises the availability of extra Kubuntu repositories and discusses the implications of using some of the more bleeding-edge ones among them: "If you want the most stable releases, and don't worry so much about new features, then simply don't use any of the PPAs [Personal Package Archives] at all. For karmic, this equals KDE SC 4.3.2. If you are interested in finding perhaps a few bug fixes and a newer version that has been better tested, then enable the official Ubuntu Backports (the 'Unsupported Updates' option in KPAckagekit). This currently provides KDE SC 4.3.5. This is probably the best combination of new software and tested packages. Those daring enough to want to try out KDE SC 4.4 right away would want to then add Kubuntu Backports. This also provides Amarok 2.2.2, Digikam 1.0, and a few other new cool bits. Now, for those who live on The Edge will definitely want to use Kubuntu Beta Backports."
* * * * *
Finally, a quick update on Linux Mint and its current activities as published by Clement Lefebvre. The blog post includes information on the imminent release of Linux Mint 8 "LXDE" edition, the status of the community-built variants, and notes about the development of Linux Mint 9 which is now officially under way: "Kendall Weaver worked on an LXDE edition of Linux Mint and his latest ISO was approved for a release by Exploder. It's currently waiting my approval and the team and I are discussing what our strategy should be in regards to 'Community Editions'. These editions are tested and released in the exact same way as the main edition and they meet the same quality requirements. According to reviews and the general feedback we're getting about them they're quite popular. The label 'community' undermines them though, not that 'community' is pejorative or anything, but it makes them look 'non-official'. The only significant difference between the main edition and the community editions is simply the fact that their maintainers are volunteers who work on them in their spare time. As a consequence they're often released late in the release cycle and sometimes they may not be released at all."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Removing zombie processes
Dawn-of-the-data asks: What is a zombie process and how do I get rid of it?
DistroWatch answers: UNIX administrators have colourful names and descriptions for things, especially when it comes to processes. For example, when one program or process starts another process, the original is referred to as the "parent process" and the new process is called the "child process". When a child process is finished its task it "dies". The parent process is notified of its child's death and the child's information is removed from the system.
But sometimes a child process dies and the parent process doesn't stop to collect the information. When that happens, the child process itself is removed from the system, but a marker or "death certificate" is left behind, waiting to be collected. These uncollected death certificates are referred to as "zombie processes". These are rarely problems in themselves as they take up very little memory, but finding zombie processes usually means there's a bug in the parent program.
Let's say you've been monitoring your system and you've found a zombie process, what can you do about it? The first thing to do is find out which process is the parent of the zombie. You can do this by running the command
ps axo stat,ppid,pid,cmd | grep ^Z
The output will show you all zombie processes on the system with the ID number of their parent in the second column. We can then remind the parent that they have zombie children running wild by sending them a signal. Let's say that the parent process ID is 12889, for example. We could remind this process to collect its child's death certificate by running
kill -SIGCHLD 12889
However, if the parent refuses to handle the signal and collect the child's data, then we have to choose between leaving a zombie in the system and killing the parent process. When a parent process dies, any children it has are turned over to the init service. The init service regularly checks the status of its children and collects any death certificates, removing zombies from the system. We can try killing the parent nicely by asking it to terminate using
where 12889 is the parent's process ID. But, if the parent is stubborn and refuses to go quietly, we can force the issue by running
kill -9 12889
At that point, the parent process will be removed from the system, its children (including any zombies) are given to init and the zombies will be removed.
|Released Last Week
Markku Kero has announced the release of Igelle 1.0.0, an independent desktop Linux distribution featuring a custom desktop, package management and other unique characteristics: "We are happy to announce the release and immediate availability of a distinct flavor of Igelle, Igelle DSV 1.0.0 for personal computer desktops. Igelle DSV provides a general-purpose desktop operating system for desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and the like, and is in this release made available to personal computers using Intel-compatible processors (x86). In summary, this release is characterized by the following: pleasurable and simple end-user experience; small, fast, light and powerful; introducing the Esther desktop; innovative system and package management; easy application installation and packaging; integrated developer tools; cutting-edge open-source technology." Read the rest of the release announcement to learn more about Igelle.
Igelle 1.0.0 - an independently-developed desktop Linux distribution with many unique features
(full image size: 1,008kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Kris Moore has announced the release of PC-BSD 8.0, a major new version of the user-friendly FreeBSD variant designed for the desktop: "The PC-BSD team is pleased to announce the availability of PC-BSD 8.0 (Hubble Edition), running FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE-P2, and KDE 4.3.5. PC-BSD 8.0 contains a number of enhancements and improvements over the 7.x series. Some of the notable changes are: brand new system installer, allows the install of PC-BSD or FreeBSD; run in Live mode directly from DVD; updated Software Manager, allows browsing and installing applications directly; support for 3D acceleration with NVIDIA drivers on amd64." For more information please see the release announcement, release notes and changelog.
PC-BSD 8.0 - FreeBSD is ready for the desktop
(full image size: 373kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Sylvain Balbous has announced the release of PapugLinux 10.1, a minimalist, Gentoo-based live CD with the Fluxbox window manager and a number of mostly lightweight desktop applications: "PapugLinux release 10.1 is now available for download. Version 10.1 is a major release of PapugLinux in terms of package update and hardware support. The latest version of X server will allow you to enjoy PapugLinux at the best capacity of your hardware. Updated packages - X.Org 7.4 X Window server, Firefox 3.5.6 browser, Sylpheed 2.6.0 mail client, Pidgin 2.6.3 instant messenger client, AbiWord 2.6.4 word processor, Gnumeric 1.8.4 spreadsheet processor. Added packages - XTux multi-player Gauntlet-style arcade game." Read the brief release notes on the project's Content page.
PapugLinux 10.1 - a Gentoo-based distribution with Fluxbox
(full image size: 480kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Vine Linux 5.1
Daisuke Suzuki has announced the release of Vine Linux 5.1 (code name "Cheval Blanc"), a Japanese general-purpose community distribution available for the i386, x86_64 and PowerPC architectures. This is a minor update in the Vine 5.x series that integrates all the bug-fix and security updates announced since the 5.0 release, but otherwise provides no new major features and only a few package version updates. The product's base system remains unchanged. This update was compiled as part of the project's preparation for the two-day Open Source Conference 2010 which starts today in Tokyo, Japan. Read the brief release announcement (in Japanese) and consult the release notes for additional information.
Iuri Stanchev has announced the release of NetSecL 2.6, a Slackware-based distribution enhanced with with GCC stack smashing protection and other security features: "NetSecL 2.6 released. In the new release you will find QEMU, servers and new penetration tools. We took our time to separate the usual network utilities and penetration tools and add them in a new section. Also, you will find that now we have a section called 'srv' with some server packages in it. There are many updates to the libraries and additional bindings to Perl and Python that we hope will be useful for future programs included with the distribution. You will also find in the distribution ISO a VMX file created with VMmanager which you can use for creating a virtual machine - mount the ISO copy the VMX folder, unmount the ISO (that you just copied), move it to the VMX folder and start it with VMware Player." Here is the brief release announcement.
François Dupoux has announced the release of SystemRescueCd 1.4.0, a major new update of the popular Gentoo-based live CD designed for data rescue and disk management tasks: "SystemRescueCd 1.4.0 introduces two new options that allow you to boot from NFS v3 or NBD. Basically, if the computer on which you work had no CD-ROM drive, or if you just want to boot SystemRescueCd from the network for any other reason, you can install network services somewhere else on your network (DHCP server, TFTP server, HTTP/NFS/NDB server) and you will be able to boot SystemRescueCd from the network." Other updates include: "Updated the standard kernels to version 220.127.116.11, the alternative kernels to version 18.104.22.168, updated Mozilla Firefox to version 3.6, added zfs-fuse 0.6.0 file system, updated FSArchiver to 0.6.8...." See the release announcement and changelog for more details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
- Frugalware Linux 1.2-rc2, the release announcement
- TEENpup 2010-beta, the release announcement
- SimplyMEPIS 8.5-rc1, the release announcement
- Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu, Mythbuntu, Ubuntu Studio 10.04-alpha3, the release announcement
- MOPSLinux 7.0-beta4, the release announcement
- PLD Linux 4.4.0 (Live)
- Clonezilla Live 1.2.4-7
- Tiny Core Linux 2.9-rc5
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
February 2010 DistroWatch.com donation: Squid receives US$250.00|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the February 2010 DistroWatch.com donation is Squid, a proxy server and cache. It receives US$250.00 in cash.
Squid has been around for a good couple of decades and most seasoned system administrators probably won't need an introduction to this enormously useful tool. For the rest of us, here is a quick description taken from the project's Intro page: "Squid is a fully-featured HTTP/1.0 proxy which is almost (but not quite) HTTP/1.1 compliant. Squid offers a rich access control, authorization and logging environment to develop web proxy and content serving applications." Wikipedia has some additional information on Squid and its uses: "It has a wide variety of uses, from speeding up a web server by caching repeated requests; to caching web, DNS and other computer network lookups for a group of people sharing network resources; to aiding security by filtering traffic. Although primarily used for HTTP and FTP, Squid includes limited support for several other protocols including TLS, SSL, Internet Gopher and HTTPS."
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$23,628 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250)
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
- IPFire. IPFire is a Linux distribution that focuses on easy setup, good handling and high level of security. It is operated via an intuitive web-based interface which offers many configuration options for beginning and experienced system administrators. IPFire is maintained by developers who are concerned about security and who update the product regularly to keep it secure. IPFire ships with a custom package manager called Pakfire and the system can be expanded with various add-ons.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- UKnow4Kids. UKnow4Kids is an Arch-based live DVD with a collection of educational and gaming software for children 2 to 10-years old. The distribution is intended for broad usage by a non-technical audience (regular parents) and is essentially indestructible by children. It runs well on old Intel hardware, including Pentium II-based systems with as little as 256 MB RAM. UKnow4Kids provides a familiar user experience, requiring only minimal computer experience to run.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 8 March 2010.
Bernard Hoffmann, Ladislav Bodnar and Jesse Smith
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|