| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 362, 12 July 2010
Welcome to this year's 28th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This year's 2nd quarter "release season" has stretched well into July, with Mandriva Linux 2010.1 eventually arriving last week (after a long delay) and openSUSE 11.3 scheduled for release shortly. But before we once again swarm the busy openSUSE download mirrors, we have plenty of interesting topics to cover in today's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. We'll start with a keynote address by Nokia's Valtteri Halla presented at the annual KDE conference, talking about MeeGo, a specialist Linux distribution for small-screen devices. The news section then brings a selection of news stories from around the distro world, including a link to a Mandriva press release about the company's current restructuring and cost-saving plans, an article about the features found in the recently-released first service pack (SP1) of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), and a release announcement about Compiz 0.9, an early development version of the OpenGL compositing manager. Finally, don't miss the extended Questions and Answers section with hints and tips about upgrading your distribution while keeping your data (and sanity) intact. Happy reading!
- Feature: MeeGo keynote address at Akademy 2010
- News: Mandriva's restructuring, FreeBSD security interview, BSD Magazine update, SLED SP1 features, Compiz 0.9
- Questions and answers: Upgrading your distribution
- Released last week: Mandriva Linux 2010.1, PCLinuxOS 2010.07, Parted Magic 5.0
- Upcoming releases: openSUSE 11.3
- New distributions: adlc, FlipOS, GALPon MiniNo, OpenNIX, Redo Backup and Recovery, REMnux
- Reader comments
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|Feature Story (by Stuart Jarvis)
MeeGo keynote address at Akademy 2010
To say you are "redefining the Linux desktop landscape" is a bold claim to make. It is even bolder when presenting a non-KDE project at the annual conference of KDE, one of the leading providers of desktop Linux software. However, that was exactly how Valtteri Halla, Director of Nokia MeeGo Software chose to title his keynote address.
Valtteri Halla at Akademy 2010
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MeeGo is a complete Linux-based operating system born out of the merger of Nokia's Maemo for mobile smart phones and Intel's Moblin for Atom-powered netbooks. However, as Valtteri explained, it has aims far beyond phones and netbooks and should provide a single platform for deploying software across a range of devices all the way up to media centers. This makes MeeGo of particular interest to KDE as KDE's Plasma workspace technology was designed with exactly this in mind: supporting the full spectrum of devices with the same code base.
So, what makes MeeGo special? Valtteri claims a number of strengths. It is compatible with both ARM and Intel Atom processor architectures and, while the MeeGo platform is free, it also allows deployment of proprietary user-facing applications. For the lower-level software the GPL or LGPL is preferred, while BSD-like licenses allow easy mixing with proprietary software within the user interface. There is no need for contributors to assign any rights to MeeGo beyond those contained in whichever Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license is chosen. This open nature gives device manufactures much greater access to the software stack to allow tight integration with their hardware.
So far, so technical, and not very much to do with KDE. Valtteri made a point that went down well: MeeGo has a policy of only accepting software that is either already being used by the projects on which MeeGo is based, or which is in the process of being integrated into those projects. Therefore, if MeeGo improves some of the software it uses then the original project also benefits. This has helped KDE already as Nokia has adapted KDE's KOffice applications to make a mobile office viewer application, fixing bugs in KOffice and improving its handling of Microsoft's document formats at the same time. The office viewer has already been downloaded over thirty thousand times.
Valtteri sees a bright future for MeeGo. Apple has had great early success with its iPhone platform, but Linux-based devices are rapidly catching up. Google's Android is already more popular than the iPhone in some markets and likely to gain an overall lead soon if current trends continue. With the support of Nokia and Intel, MeeGo looks set to quickly become a serious competitor. Valtteri believes MeeGo's independence from vendors (it is hosted by the Linux Foundation) and close cooperation with other free software projects can make it even more appealing than Android for hardware manufacturers. With two strong Linux-based communities, it is hard to argue with Valtteri's assertion that "Linux is taking over in smart phones". Whatever the outcome, that is a great thing to hear from a senior employee of the world's largest mobile phone vendor.
Showing off Maemo with KDE
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The KDE conference attendees reacted enthusiastically and are already starting to take advantage of the possibilities offered by MeeGo. KDE's Marble desktop globe is running (at least experimentally) on MeeGo and, with built-in route planning using OpenStreetMap, offers the possibility of a completely free personal navigation device. Prototype versions of KDE's email and calendaring software are also already working well on the mobile platform and there is ongoing work on the Plasma Mobile workspace for smart phones, complementing KDE's existing Plasma Desktop and Plasma Netbook offerings.
Having Valtteri present, with many other people from Nokia and Intel, has been a great opportunity for KDE to present their solutions to issues that MeeGo will also have to address. The Intel and Nokia representatives did not just come to give their presentations, but also stayed around and had many meetings with KDE developers to share ideas and experiences.
There is, of course, a lot of work ahead. However, MeeGo gains from building upon the work of projects such as KDE, Qt and the Linux kernel. Valtteri was able to say that MeeGo benefits from the work of well over 1,000 upstream contributors and thousands of software developers building applications on Qt will be able to easily deploy their applications on MeeGo. In short, MeeGo draws upon the "largest open source platform talent pool in the planet".
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Mandriva's restructuring, FreeBSD security interview, BSD Magazine update, SLED SP1 features, Compiz 0.9
Following recent media speculation about the state of Mandriva's finances, the Paris-based Linux company finally published a brief press release detailing the current situation and giving a few optimistic hints about its future. As expected, the transformation will include some painful cost cutting: "A professional offer aimed at the major business markets (education, industry, services, retail) will meet the demands of clients seeking alternative and economic options in the field of heterogeneous IT systems management. This offer will be unveiled in the second half of 2010. In the meantime, and in the short term, Mandriva has begun a drastic programme of structural cost-cutting as well as raising funds to redress the financial balance and assure the long-term future of the company. Negotiations are underway with new investors who will be presented at the company's next general board meeting."
Mandriva Linux 2010.1 - a new version of the distribution finally arrives after weeks of delay
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* * * * *
BSD Talk has an interesting audio interview with Colin Percival concerning cryptography, FreeBSD updates and security. On a related note, BSD Magazine made the move earlier this year to exclusively give away their magazine in a free, online format. Though no major transition is completely without problems, the magazine has done well. Olga Kartseva, the publication's Editor in Chief, announced in the July issue that "BSD Magazine is growing, it has already around 22,000 subscribers all over the world. Comparing to 10,000 printed copies which were distributed in USA before January - this number has really grown! We are looking for the new ways to promote our magazine all the time and we are very grateful for every help you give us! Thank you for spreading a word about BSD Mag!"
* * * * *
The new service pack (SP1) for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) was released recently. The writers over at Kernel News take a look at what changes the service pack brings to SUSE users: "Regardless of how you view Novell as a company, few would argue that their release of SLED 10 back in July of 2006 was one of the most well engineered Linux Desktops ever released. It was the first release to include "3D Desktop Effects" thanks to David Reveman, a Novell Employee. It had the most comprehensive integration with Samba thanks to their Samba team, which, at the time, included Samba Superstar Jeremy Allison. It had one of the best and fastest OpenOffice.org implementations, thanks to the Novell OpenOffice.org team, which started the excellent go-oo.org development version, and many more features."
* * * * *
The Compiz project, which is famous for bringing eye-candy to the Linux desktop, has taken a new approach with their latest release. In a recent announcement, Sam Spilsbury states: "This is the first unstable release of the Compiz 0.9 series. This release represents a complete rewrite of the 0.8 series from C to C++, brings a whole new developer API, splits rendering into plugins, switches the buildsystem from automake to cmake and brings minor functionality improvements. This release represents the first developer and tester preview of what will eventually make the 0.10.x stable series. Please note that as such, it is not yet ready for general use as there are a number of known issues, regressions and incomplete functionality." It's a bold move, which will hopefully attract more developers to the project, giving users new and improved desktop effects.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Upgrading without the pain
Making-some-changes asks: How can I keep old data (like email) when upgrading to a newer version of a distro or even a different distro?
DistroWatch answers: Your personal data (photos, documents and e-mail) are kept in your home directory. So when you're upgrading or changing distributions, most of the important data you need is under /home. For this reason, people tend to keep their files on a separate partition and mount it as /home. This isolates your data from the operating system, making it easier to swap distributions without requiring you to backup/restore your files.
That being said, it's always a good idea to keep regular backups, especially if you're going to be making changes to the OS or your disk partitions. The easiest way to backup /home is to get an external hard drive and simply copy /home to the external disk. Or, if you have a small amount of data, a CD or DVD will do. Once you've confirmed your files (including the hidden ones) copied properly, you can make whatever changes or upgrades you want and restore that data back from the external media.
* * * * *
On-the-upgrade-path asks: Upgrades versus clean installs, which is better? People keep telling me to use clean installs, but it's more work. How can I make it easier if I'm upgrading every six months?
DistroWatch answers: As you've been told, it's generally a better idea to go with a clean install rather than try to upgrade a system in place. There are a few reasons for this. For one, it gives you a chance to start with a clean slate. People tend to install extra packages on their systems, which they don't need or forget to un-install. Doing a fresh install cleans house a bit. Doing an upgrade over the net rather than using a disc leaves you at the mercy of your Internet connection and that of the remote server. And let's not forget that in the fast-paced world of open source, dependencies and configurations can change between versions making upgrading in place more complex.
Put another way, imagine for a moment that you have a classic car. Now, you could replace the car with a new one, or you could try to swap out the parts on the classic car for their modern equivalents. Going with the new car you get parts which were designed to work together, people have tested it and the dealership will know how to deal with any problems which may come up. If you decide to rebuild your classic car using newer parts, you might find some pieces don't work quite the same way or don't fit properly, the final result may have some old pieces left in it and it's likely to void your warranty.
Lots of people, including myself, have had plenty of successful upgrades, but a fresh install is a bit more predictable.
As to how you can make the process easier for yourself, I offer the following suggestions:
- Keep your home directories on a separate partition. You should still be backing up your data prior to doing an upgrade, but if all goes well, you won't have to restore the data back. Your settings and files will migrate with you.
- If you have installed extra services, you might also want to make a backup of your /etc directory and restore it back after the upgrade. System-wide configuration files live in /etc, so transferring those files can save you some time when customizing your new system.
- If upgrading every six months seems like too much work, then you might want to consider moving to a distribution with a slower release cycle. Even fast-paced projects, such as Fedora and Ubuntu, give you over a year's worth of support. Unless you have a need to stay on the cutting edge, consider taking a step back and going with a system with a longer support cycle, like Debian or CentOS. Should you really need to have the latest and greatest software, perhaps look into running a stable OS as your main machine and run a cutting-edge distro in a virtual environment. You can run the latest Ubuntu alphas in a virtual manager and run a long-term support release on your physical hardware.
- Lastly, I find it useful to hold off on installing a new OS until it's been out for a few weeks. People who grab the latest version as soon as it's available are effectively beta testers. All distributions contain bugs and a large number of those are discovered the first two weeks after release. Waiting that extra time gives the developers a chance to come up with fixes and workarounds for common problems.
|Released Last Week
The Council of Economy, Innovation and Science of the Spanish regional government of Andalucía has published the final release of Guadalinex 7, an Ubuntu-based distribution on a DVD designed for deployment in government offices and schools around the region. Thirty percent faster than its predecessor, this new version improves the Internet user experience by providing easy access to social networking sites as well as to publication of blogs. Apart from the usual programs for Internet browsing, email and chat, the distribution comes with a parental control tool called "Nanny", developed in-house, which will help fathers and mothers in protecting their children from accessing malicious and inappropriate web sites. Moreover, the graphical aspect of Guadalinex has been given special attention, with an animated desktop bar (Cairo-Dock) containing frequently used applications and other interesting features. Read the full announcement (in Spanish).
Guadalinex 7 - a Spanish desktop distribution based on Ubuntu
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Salix OS 13.1 "LXDE"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix OS 13.1 "LXDE" edition, a lightweight, Slackware-based desktop Linux distribution: "Salix OS 13.1 LXDE edition has been released. Based on Slackware Linux 13.1, it features the lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, with a clean look and feel. The main applications that complete the LXDE experience are the lightweight and fast PCManFM file manager and the popular Openbox window manager. As with the standard Xfce edition, this CD image allows installation to be performed in three different modes - core, basic and full. The core mode is identical to the one you get from the Xfce edition. Basic will only install a minimal LXDE desktop with only Midori and gslapt installed as extra and full will install everything that is included on the CD image. That includes the lightweight Midori web browser, the Claws-mail e-mail client, the Transmission BitTorrent client and the Pidgin instant messaging client." Read the full announcement.
Mandriva Linux 2010.1
Mandriva Linux 2010.1 has been released: "Mandriva, the leading European publisher of Linux solutions, announces today the launch of the final version of Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring. Quicker, easier and more secure than ever, Mandriva Linux offers new functionalities which revolutionise the desktop. In a nutshell, Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring offers: complete, quick-to-install system, comprising all the necessary drivers; 'Smart Desktop', a unique technology, which offers dynamic access to all files by labelling them and grading photos, documents, emails and videos; Mandriva Directory Server (MDS), an easy-to-use LDAP directory management solution; tools to easily secure the system, parental control is easier than ever...." Read the full announcement.
Bill Reynolds has announced the release of PCLinuxOS 2010.07, the latest update of the popular beginner-friendly Linux distribution and live CD: "Quarterly updated CD images of PCLinuxOS are now available for download on mirrors worldwide. The quarterly release currently comes in three editions: KDE 4.4.5 SC edition, GNOME 2.30.2 edition and LXDE edition. Other editions to follow shortly. Highlights of the 2010.07 release: Linux kernel 126.96.36.199, KDE Software Compilation 4.4.5, GNOME 2.30.2 and updated LXDE desktop. PCLinuxOS includes all of the latest popular applications such as Mozilla Firefox 3.6.6, Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0.5, Dropbox, Pidgin 2.7.1, KTorrent 4.0.1, GIMP 2.6.9, Digikam 1.3.0 and Amarok 2.3.1." Read the full announcement.
To celebrate Argentina's day of independence, the developers of Tuquito have released the latest version of their Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution and live DVD. This release comes with large number of improvements that should please both the beginning and advanced Linux users. These include: updated Linux kernel 2.6.32 and GNOME desktop 2.30.2; faster boot; improved audio and video drivers included in the base system; support for online updates; improvements in system stability; redesigned main menu; support for English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese; addition of WINE and other new software applications; new welcome screen, wallpapers and themes; improved Nautilus file manager with support for Breadcrumbs; Firefox 3.6.6 optimised for small screens; new program manager... Read the full announcement.
Tuquito 4 - a new version of the Ubuntu-based distribution from Argentina
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Unity Linux 2010
Matthew Dawkins has announced the release of Unity Linux 2010, Mandriva-based distribution designed for building custom solutions from a minimalist base: "The Unity Linux project is pleased to announce the final 2010 release. Changelog: the usage of Plymouth for the boot graphics; new Linux kernel version 188.8.131.52; new Unity theme; added smart-applet for automatic package updates; updates of all major desktop environments as well as supporting libraries. The repositories now contain many fully-fledged, up-to-date desktop environments which can be installed with the use of the 'task' meta-packages. Recent additions include: KDE 4.4.3, GNOME 2.30.0, Openbox 184.108.40.206, Xfce 4.6.2, Enlightenment 0.16.999.49898." Read the full announcement.
Unity Linux 2010 - the inaugural stable release of the Mandriva-based distribution
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Parted Magic 5.0
The just-released Parted Magic 5.0, a live utility distribution designed for hard disk partitioning and data rescue tasks, comes with an upgraded kernel and GParted, as well as improved internationalisation support: "Parted Magic 5.0 brings Linux kernel 220.127.116.11, significant international language support (German, French, Italian, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese and Russian), X.Org Server 1.7.7, and GParted 0.6.1. All other program updates can be found on the change log page. I would like to give a big thanks to Dick Burggraaff for all of his contributions over the past couple of months. He has made many updates to the init scripts as well as the much improved Parted Magic keyboard program located on the desktop. Overall, many bugs have been fixed and this release is far better than anything in the 4.x releases for a large number of people." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- adlc. The adlc live CD is a Debian-based, security-oriented distribution with auditing tools.
- FlipOS. FlipOS is an easy-to-use, openSUSE-based desktop distribution available in English and Spanish. It's targeted at common users and comes preloaded with many popular applications. It features the KDE desktop.
- GALPon MiniNo. GALPon MiniNo is a lightweight, Debian-based distribution for older and underpowered computers, as well as netbooks. It features a selection of programs that try to maintain a good balance between features, ease of use and speed, with ROX-Filer, PCMan file manager and LXP-IceWM composing the desktop. It has full support for three languages - English, Galician and Spanish.
- OpenNIX. OpenNIX is a Slackware-based live CD featuring the legacy KDE 3.5 desktop and other KDE applications. It is designed for intermediate and advanced Linux users.
- Redo Backup and Recovery. Redo Backup and Recovery is an easy-to-use, complete disaster recovery solution. It allows bare-metal restore, which means that even if your hard drive melts or gets completely erased by a virus, you can have a completely-functional system back up and running in as little as 10 minutes.
- REMnux. REMnux is an Ubuntu-based, lightweight Linux distribution for assisting malware analysts in reverse-engineering malicious software.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 19 July 2010.
Jesse Smith and Stuart Jarvis
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