| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 402, 25 April 2011
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It's the Ubuntu release week, an important event on any distro hopper's calendar. The Unity desktop, updated applications, LibreOffice, Banshee... there is a lot to look forward to in "Natty Narwhal". See the news section below for the coverage of the new release. Also in the news, a company migrates hundreds of users from Windows to an OpenBSD desktop, Fedora's former project leader shares his thoughts on GNOME 3, and openSUSE makes the brand new GNOME desktop available for one-click installation on the distribution's most recent release. KDE users are not left out either as the feature story of this week's issue is Caitlyn Martin's in-depth review of Pardus Linux 2011, a distribution built from scratch with many unique characteristics. Finally, don't miss the Questions and Answers section where Jesse Smith shares a few thoughts on why there seems to be too much diversity and lack of cooperation among distro developers. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Caitlyn Martin)
An in-depth look at Pardus Linux 2011|
Back in August of 2009 I reviewed Pardus Linux for DistroWatch. The implementation of KDE 4 was the first really good one I had come across. I found a distro that many, if not most users would find to be friendly and intuitive, yet one which had plenty of more feature-rich command-line tools for the experienced user. I was entirely new to the distro at the time and found it backed by a friendly and helpful user community and a very accessible team of developers that gave appropriate attention to both bug reports and feature/package requests. Pardus Linux 2009 wasn't perfect (no distro is) but it was impressive and I've recommended it highly, particularly for newcomers to Linux. Needless to say I've approached Pardus 2011 with very high expectations.
As I mentioned in the 2009 review, Pardus Linux is somewhat unusual in that it is a government funded distribution. It was created and is maintained by The National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology (UEKAE), an affiliate of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Pardus was developed entirely from scratch and it is not derivative of any other Linux distribution, although in its early days it was based on Gentoo Linux.
One of the big changes since 2009 is the choice of Pardus editions now available. Back then you had one 32-bit state-of-the-art distribution with both server and desktop packages installed. As of March 2011 you have the choice of an up-to-date release of the original Pardus, a 64-bit edition of the same, and Pardus Corporate 2. All versions are available as either conventional installation DVD images or as live DVDs. The live DVD variants do not include an installer so if you want to check out Pardus live and then install you will end up downloading the distribution twice.
The Corporate edition, designed to compete with enterprise distributions like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise, features a vintage KDE 3.5 desktop similar to Pardus 2008. On March 20 the first beta releases of Nusrat, a Pardus edition with an Xfce 4.8 desktop and Falco Peregrinus, a variant with a Fluxbox desktop, were also announced. Announcements of GNOME and LXDE beta flavors followed on April 2. All of the alternative desktop editions of Pardus are still betas so this review will focus entirely on the original Pardus distribution with KDE as the default desktop and primarily focus on desktop/workstation use.
For this review I used two systems. I installed and ran the 64-bit edition on an eMachines EL-1300G small-footprint desktop sporting an AMD Athlon 2650e processor (single core, 1.6 GHz CPU with 512K L2 cache), 4 GB RAM, an on-board NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chipset and a 160 GB SATA 2 hard drive. I am running the 32-bit variant on my HP Mini 110 netbook which features a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 2 GB RAM, an on-board Intel GMA 950 graphics chipset, and a 16 GB SSD in lieu of a hard drive.
Installation and configuration
I chose to install Pardus 2011 on my netbook first. The Pardus Wiki contains explicit instructions for installation on netbooks including three different methods for creating a bootable installation image on a USB stick. For my first attempt I chose the third method which uses dd at the command line. This may be old-school Linux but it worked flawlessly and I successfully booted into the graphical installer. I should also note that installation from an ISO image on a hard drive was also documented in the Pardus forum for the 2009 release. I did not test this method but I see no reason why it should not work equally well for Pardus 2011. Network installations are not supported.
Pardus uses its own graphical installer called YALI (Yet Another Linux Installer). As I noted in my 2009 review, YALI is probably the simplest hard drive installation program I've tried to date. It has only improved since then. The first step in the installation is to select the language you want the installer to continue in. You can then select from a number of kernel and graphics options. For the majority of hardware just taking the defaults should work and did on my netbook. The next screen provides terms of the FOSS license. This looks suspiciously like a screen for a commercial EULA but when you click through what you see is the text for the GPL 2. You must agree to the terms of the GPL to actually begin an installation. One final option before installation is to validate the install packages. I did this the first time around and it did not take long at all on my USB image.
The next screen allows you to select and test an appropriate keyboard layout for your system. This is followed by setting the date and time. The next step is to select the drive to which Pardus will be installed. On my netbook the installer correctly saw both the internal SSD and an SD card I just happened to have plugged in at the time. I chose the internal SSD. Once the drive is selected you are presented with four installation options: use all space on the drive, shrink the current system, use available free space on the drive or create a custom layout. I chose to do a custom layout. A graphical partitioning tool similar to GParted then appeared. One huge improvement over Pardus 2009 is that YALI now supports but LVM and RAID. On the other hand, supported file systems have been reduced to ext2, ext3, ext4 and vfat, with ext4 as the default choice. ReiserFS and XFS are no longer supported. Considering how well XFS performs this seems like a big step backwards.
Once partitioning is done the next step is to decide if you want to install the bootloader and where it should be installed. You are given a choice of the default (the MBR) or advanced settings. The choices if you choose advanced settings are the first sector of the drive (the MBR), on the Pardus install partition, or no bootloader. I chose the first sector of the drive. I should note here that Pardus uses GRUB Legacy (version 0.97) as the bootloader. No alternatives are offered. Once the bootloader choice is done YALI displays a summary of all the settings chosen to that point. If anything isn't right you can still go back and make changes. When you choose to start the installation YALI does have a progress bar and shows which packages are being installed. The installer does not include the opportunity to customize the software selection in any way. Every install is essentially the same. Install time on my netbook was about 15 minutes and it took even less time on my desktop.
For the desktop installation I tried the second graphical method offered in the Wiki to create a bootable 64-bit image on the USB stick. For whatever reason mandriva-seed would not run correctly on my system under a 64-bit installation of Salix OS. I went back to the third method, using dd to create the image from the command line. The result looked correct but would not boot. I'm still not sure why booting from the USB stick didn't work on the desktop and I honestly didn't invest the time to figure it out. I burned a DVD from the ISO image I had downloaded instead and that started to boot correctly. Unfortunately when the graphical screen should have come up I instead saw an unreadable mess. Reading the installation section in the Pardus WorldForum made it clear that this is a common problem with NVIDIA graphics. Fortunately the solution is simple: booting with xorg=safe as a kernel parameter. On systems with NVIDIA chipsets YALI will ask if you want to install the proprietary drivers, which I chose to do.
As I noted in my review of 2009 the initial boot of the system does take some time. Once the system has booted up it continues the configuration process, prompting you to setup a user account, the admin (root) password and the system name. YALI then presents you with a summary screen where you can apply settings or go back and make changes. Once you apply settings KDM comes up on the screen and allows you to log in.
Pardus Linux 2011 - the Kaptan configuration wizard, opening screen
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The first time you log in to the KDE desktop the Kaptan configuration tool is launched automatically. Kaptan goes trough seven configuration steps:
- Set mouse behavior (single or double click to open, left or right handed mouse)
- Set the desktop theme, KDE 4 or KDE 3 style, icons, and number of desktops (default = 4)
- Choose the KDE menu style (Kick-off is default)
- Choose wallpaper
- Choose a log-in image. This step can use a webcam to snap a photo.
- Settings for the PiSi package manager: whether or not to show updates in system tray (default = no) and how often to check for updates (default = 12 hours)
Pardus Linux 2011 - the Kaptan configuration wizard, selecting desktop background
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Network configuration is the next step. I was very pleased that Pardus correctly detected and configured the Broadcom 4312 chipset in my HP netbook using the new open-source driver. Pardus 2011 is the first distribution I've tried that has managed to do this with no special work on my part. Pardus did not detect the 3G modem in the netbook but, in fairness, no Linux distribution does. The Wiki does, however, explain how to get it working with Pardus. Unfortunately YALI did fall down in a couple of areas. The installer did not recognize all the other distros or create GRUB entries for them. While Scientific Linux was recognized I had to manually edit /boot/grub/menu.lst on both machines to add Salix OS. Also, even though I set the hostname the installer still leaves pardus2011 as a system name in the /etc/hosts file.
All in all the installation and configuration of Pardus on my netbook was the easiest I've seen with any distro. With the single exception of the 3G modem everything "just worked" out of the box. Pardus is still the only distribution I've tried that got my netbook hardware completely right at install time without my having to install a driver or alter a configuration file by hand. That was true in 2009 with the Sylvania g Netbook Meso I owned at the time and it is still true with the HP Mini 110. Surprisingly my desktop system, which most distributions configure with ease, gave the Pardus 2011 installer the equivalent of heartburn.
Pardus Linux 2011 - the default KDE 4.5.5 desktop
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Changes since Pardus 2009
Most of the annoyances and little issues I reported in the 2009 review are now gone. Pardus 2011 no longer uses a unique network management tool but rather uses the GNOME edition of NetworkManager, an unusual choice for a KDE-based distribution. PiSi, the Pardus package manager, now displays the number of updates available in an icon on the desktop panel. When you click on the icon and open the graphical version of PiSi those updates which are security patches are clearly tagged in dark red with critical updates tagged in bright red. OpenOffice.org has been replaced with Libre Office 3.3.0, a change happening across a wide range of Linux distributions. Pardus was also one of the first distributions to migrate to Firefox 4, shipping with Firefox 4.0 beta 9. Konqueror is also installed by default and four other browsers, Opera 11.01, Chromium 9.0.597.107, Arora 0.11 and Rekonq 0.6.1 are available in the repository. Plugins for Flash, MPlayer and Java are part of the default installation.
Pardus Linux 2011 - updates in PiSi
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The KDE desktop has been upgraded to version 4.5.5 with commensurate upgrades to all the KDE applications. Once again no other desktop environments or window managers are included in the base repository. One change which surprised me was the choice of Clementine 0.6 as the default music player. For graphics GIMP has been updated to version 2.6.11. Pretty much all the included applications have been upgraded to what was the latest version at the time Pardus 2011 was released in January. One little change which should have been a huge positive turned out not to be in my case: Pardus 2011 enables IPv6 by default and includes a really simple default IPv6 configuration in /etc/hosts. Unfortunately a lot of low-end or home consumer devices are completely unable to handle IPv6 correctly. Not only was my machine slow but suddenly so was every other machine on the network. The culprit was our wireless router. Removing the entries from /etc/hosts, disabling IPv6 solved the problem.
Running Pardus 2011
Pardus features a KDE 4.5.5 desktop by default. I'm still not a fan of KDE 4.x, largely because it tends to be more resource intensive than other desktops. The look and feel of Pardus 2011 is very polished, however. Performance, which was a pleasant surprise on the Sylvania netbook with Pardus 2009, is not quite as impressive with Pardus 2011. I've seen a number of applications pause or hiccup at launch or even when resizing a window on the HP netbook. This is particularly noticeable on relatively heavy applications like LibreOffice Writer. On a system with 2 GB of RAM I expected better. On the 64-bit desktop with 4 GB of RAM performance is smooth and flawless as you would expect. I've also seen kwin crash seemingly at random on occasion but KDE has always been able to recover. Packages for KDE 4.6.1 are currently in the Development repository. I don't know if they will improve performance or eliminate the crashes.
Pardus Linux 2011 - KDE 4.5.5 desktop with optional wallpaper on the netbook
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The move from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice 3.3.0 has been seamless for me. I've seen reports of minor formatting issues but with my documents everything looks precisely as it should. More of a concern has been the move from Firefox 3.6.x to 4.0 beta 9. When Pardus 2011 was first released there was an issue with the Flash player running on the Firefox beta. Any long video would freeze or crash after a time. An upgrade to the Flash player currently in the repository solved the problem nicely. After installing Pardus 2011 it is definitely advisable to take all the offered upgrades and not just the security patches. On my systems there have been over 100 updates since Pardus 2011 was released, including the final version of Firefox 4.0.
A rather wide variety of multimedia applications are also installed or available in the repository. Turkey has no equivalent to the DMCA in the United States and apparently no software patents so all the multimedia codecs are included as part of the base installation. Everything from MP3s to movie DVDs will play right out of the virtual box. Users in the United States and in other countries with similar laws will need to remove libdvdcss and any offending open-source codec packages to bring their systems into legal compliance.
Hardware support in general remains a strong area for Pardus. As I reported in my 2009 review, a variety of proprietary wireless and video drivers are included in Pardus which will be troublesome to those who want a purely free software environment but will satisfy those who want their hardware to "just work". Printer, digital camera and webcam support are generally very good. I had no problems at all setting up my HP printer. My Epson NX-305 all-in-one didn't work out of the virtual box. I discovered that the Gutenprint drivers are not installed by default. They are in the repository, though, and once I added them I could go into System Settings, choose Printer Configuration, and add that printer with no difficulty at all.
I recently began using a mobile broadband solution which exposed a bug. I connect to the Internet from pretty much anywhere using a mobile hotspot/router, a CDMA device made by Novatel and marketed as a Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200. Unlike a typical wireless connection, which is constant, the mobile broadband device goes into "dormant" mode when there is no traffic for a period of time. To connect to this device from a desktop system without integrated WiFi I use a Belkin Surf & Share USB wireless adapter which uses the r8712u driver in the kernel. There is a bug in the 2.6.37 kernel included with Pardus 2011: devices using the r8712u module don't wake up from suspend or hibernate states. Nothing short of a reboot will allow me to resume my connection. I reported the problem in Bugzilla and a developer responded within 24 hours looking for further information which I provided. While the bug remains an issue the response time by the development team is impressive.
There is also another little bug which shows up on systems with NVIDIA graphics: an intermittent black rectangle of lines in the top left corner of the screen. It's a rectangle on my system that partially obscures the menu button. This bug is really just a minor annoyance but it has been reported by a number of Pardus users in the forum.Also, when my netbook goes into suspend to RAM it will not wake up when running Pardus 2011. The only way to get it up and running again is to power it down and start it up again. The only workaround is to set a very long time-out or to disable suspend to RAM. This particular bug is one I consider serious on my hardware.
One optional package from the repository, the Bluefish HTML editor, was problematic on the netbook on a fresh installation. If you selected an HTML file in Dolphin, right mouse click, choose Open With and then choose Bluefish the file opened but then the application locked up. The 64-bit Bluefish package worked properly from the start on my desktop and files can be opened from within the file manager without issue. A recent update seems to have fixed this problem. While there were no show-stopping bugs in Pardus 2011 there were more issues and rough edges than I experienced in either 2009 or 2009.2. An experienced user can work around most but not all of the issues. Obviously the experience any one user will have and how many issues they run into will depend on their hardware configuration.
Package management, additional repositories, and security updates
Pardus has a unique packaging format and a unique package manager called PiSi. PiSi includes a very powerful command-line interface and a more limited GUI front-end. The GUI version is a bit different than what other distributions provide but it is generally quite intuitive and has only improved since Pardus 2009. Packages are broken down into broad categories, similar to Synaptic in Debian and Debian-based distributions. I still find the GUI a tad slow, particularly on the netbook, and there are times when PiSi is working and yet there are no visual cues on the screen, which can be a bit disconcerting. I haven't had the slightest problem with any operation in PiSi so if it seems to just be sitting there I would advise a little patience.
Pardus Linux 2011 - the PiSi package manager
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The CLI version of PiSi impressed me 19 months ago and it still does. One particularly interesting feature is the "emerge" option. Much like the emerge command in Gentoo Linux, this option allows for the compilation and installation of source packages into Pardus. In general, there really isn't anything you can do in the GUI that you can't do at the command line but there is a lot of functionality in the CLI version that isn't included in the graphical implementation. A detailed guide to PiSi CLI usage is available in the Pardus Wiki.
The former Pardus contrib repository has been merged into the official repository for the 2011 release. The available selection of packages is quite good but still quite small compared to what distributions like Debian, Ubuntu and Mandriva offer. There also is a selection of unofficial, community maintained repositories which offer additional packages for Pardus. A list of these repositories and command-line instructions for adding them to PiSi can be found in the Pardus WorldForum. One more repository worth mentioning is Development and replacing the official main repository with the Development repository in PiSi is the equivalent of running Mandriva "Cooker" or Slackware "Current" for those who want to be on the bleeding edge.
In my 2009 review I expressed concern about how quickly security patches make it into the repository. There have been a steady stream of upgrades to Pardus 2011 since it was released in January and security patches, for the most part, have been timely so it appears that issue has been resolved. For those who want their security patches as absolutely quickly as possible they may have to pay a visit to the testing repository. I'm used to this sort of arrangement from running VectorLinux and it's one I think most people can live with.
Internationalization and localization
Pardus 2011 no longer has the separate Turkish and international editions that were released in 2009. Everything seems to have been rolled into what was previously the international edition. In addition, the distinction between supported and unsupported languages appears to have been dropped. While the YALI installer still supports a limited number of languages there is an active call for additional translators and translations in the Pardus WorldForum. A wide variety of fonts for all sorts of languages and character sets from all over the world are now installed by default in Pardus and more are available in the repository.
A wide variety of localization packages for KDE, GIMP and TeX Live are included in the repository. The availability of specialized applications varies widely by language at this point. Once again I had no problem setting up a very functional Hebrew desktop using Pardus. What I did find missing are hunspell and Aspell dictionaries and some language packs but those are generally not difficult to install from upstream sources.
Pardus uses KDM as its default display manager and KDM still does not support selecting an alternative language on a session-by-session basis. GDM is available in the unofficial Pardus GNOME Project repository and changing the default display manager from KDM to GDM is well documented. The excellent Pardus graphical system configuration tools include the ability to change the user default language and locale from within the GUI. The KDE panel applet to change the keyboard layout works well.
Pardus internationalization and localization is still a bit behind the major distributions in the sense that you may have to go upstream for some languages. Functionally the international language support works as well as any other distribution I've tried. If Pardus is successful in attracting more translators and if the missing pieces are added to the repository Pardus multilingual support could easily be truly first class.
Based on my experience with the Pardus 2009 series of releases I had very high expectation for Pardus 2011. There have been some huge improvements in the past 19 months. There are now editions, either released or in development, built around different desktops and native 64-bit builds of each edition. The security notification process is greatly improved and security patches and critical updates are clearly tagged and pretty darned hard to miss. The timeliness of the delivery of security patches is also improved. The move to NetworkManager from a custom network management tool has allowed for automatic connection to wireless networks and added support for 3G/4G mobile broadband connections.
Unfortunately I've had to temper my enthusiasm and some serious qualifications to my previous recommendations for Pardus. Pardus 2011 really does feel like a "dot oh" release with lots of rough edges and bugs. There are no show-stoppers among the bugs and, in fairness, some are very much hardware specific and/or upstream and not unique to Pardus 2011. On the other hand, Pardus has always prided itself on ease of use, something clearly evident in the excellent YALI installer and Kaptan configuration wizard. This release will likely not be all that easy for newcomers if they run into the bugs I've reported. Considering how popular the NVIDIA graphics chipsets are, for example, I think a significant percentage of Pardus users will run into one issue or another. The Pardus developers do deserve a lot of credit for the speed with which they respond to bug reports. There has even been discussion in the various Pardus fora about the possibility of an expedited 2011.1 which would roll out KDE 4.6.1. The fact that the community around Pardus is always friendly and helpful also should help smooth out some of the rough edges for people. There is also a wealth of English language documentation to fall back on.
For people who know and liked the 2009 series of Pardus releases and are willing to work through any issues they might run into there certainly is a lot to recommend in 2011. A moderately experienced Linux user who likes KDE 4.x on the desktop may also want to consider the latest release. For newcomers to Linux and for those who insist that their distro "just work" out of the virtual box it may be worthwhile to wait until 2011.1 appears or to stick with 2009.2 if the latest and greatest hardware support isn't needed. Pardus 2011 still has lot going for it and there is an awful lot I like about this release but it does need a little more polishing.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Ubuntu release week, OpenBSD desktop deployment, Fedora and GNOME 3, openSUSE GNOME 3 install
The Ubuntu release week here once again. Version 11.04 is likely to become one of the most hotly debated topics on many Linux websites in the coming weeks - largely due to the controversial decision of shipping with a new default desktop. Also, this is a release with an unusual amount of last-minute changes and even package upgrades, which indicates that Ubuntu's latest and greatest is still suffering from nasty bugs, even this late in the release cycle. But let's not get ahead of ourselves too much. Before "Natty Narwhal" arrives here is Canonical's obligatory press release entitled "Latest Ubuntu offers businesses added cloud features and sleek new desktop interface": "Canonical today announced availability on April 28, 2011 of the Ubuntu 11.04 suite of products for businesses. Spanning corporate and developer desktops, servers and the leading open-source cloud implementation, Ubuntu 11.04 offers businesses of all sizes an open-source alternative. This release comes at a time of accelerating corporate adoption of Ubuntu and delivers a range of improvements specifically relevant to the corporate environment." For those who can't wait for the the release, the daily image is currently as close as it gets to the "gold" build.
Ubuntu 11.04 - the Unity desktop
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* * * * *
Next on this week's release calendar is OpenBSD 4.9, a new update of the popular BSD operating system which prides itself on being secure to the extreme. Just as news about the first official media shipments started appearing on some blogs, here comes a rather exciting information about a large-scale deployment of OpenBSD - not only on servers and firewalls, but also on desktops (!). Undeadly reports in this article entitled "A Puffy in the corporate aquarium": "We are currently managing over 600 users in several locations around the world (expecting a large increase before the end of the year). All these locations are fully running under OpenBSD, that is: the firewalls - pf, ipsec, CARP; the infrastructure servers - DNS, DHCP, TFTP, FTP, HTTP, NFS, LDAP, Kerberos, proxy, print server; the desktops (workstations and laptops) - the GNOME desktop and plethora of graphical applications." This is fascinating story explaining, among other things, the difficulties of "converting the minds" of Windows users to something radically different: "But the real challenge comes from migrating users from a more than 10 years habit of using Windows and MS Office to an OpenBSD GNOME Desktop with LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org without impacting their daily work, aka production, aka company revenue. The important aspect of such a migration even before installing the new system is obviously information and ... information."
* * * * *
The arrival of GNOME 3 and the associated habit adjustment while using it is another topic that continues to occupy the top spots on many Linux news sites and blogs. As such, it's always fascinating to hear the views of some prominent Linux personalities, such as those of Max Spevack, the former Fedora project leader. His personal blog has an entry called "In which I destroy my laptop, and am introduced to GNOME 3": "I've seen a lot of the commentary about GNOME 3, of course, but I've more or less ignored it since I was still using GNOME 2 and I figured that when I did try GNOME 3, I wanted to do so with as open a mind as possible, thinking about it from the perspective of a new Fedora user rather than simply as someone who has his own particular ways of doing stuff that might now have to change a bit -- kind of like when you get a new car, and some of your little habits have to change. First of all, anyone who doesn't stop to acknowledge the TREMENDOUS engineering and design effort that is GNOME 3 is simply not being honest. You don't have to like every feature to recognize that a huge amount of work has been done, and that the people who did that work deserve a lot of credit. Secondly, the laptop that I pulled out of a closet is the one that Red Hat bought me in 2007, and GNOME 3 runs faster on that laptop than GNOME 2 ever did."
At the same time, voices venting frustration over the changes in GNOME 3 are still a-plenty. Here is a good article focusing on the beta release of Fedora 15: "According to many GNOME users, the project may have gone too far in simplifying the interface. As summed up in a recent LinuxInsider story, Linux bloggers and forum posters have been venting over all the changes in the last two weeks. While mainstream reviews have been largely favorable, Noyes reports on a sizable backlash among GNOME users who say the environment has gone too far in the direction of minimalism. Particularly galling to many is the removal of the minimize and maximize buttons. This, as well as other changes, suggested to several quoted observers that the GNOME project wrongly concluded users don't need to multitask. In short, summed up a cited blogger named Hairyfeet, GNOME decided its 'users are dumb as bricks.' Another user lamented the many unnecessary changes to the interface when more speed was what was really required. 'I wish they would quit rearranging things and concentrate on making things faster,' Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack was quoted as opining."
* * * * *
The recent openSUSE release has missed out on all the GNOME 3 excitement, but those who run the 11.4 version don't need to be left out. In fact, the openSUSE GNOME team has built the required binary packages and these are now available for "one-click install": "openSUSE 11.4 was released with GNOME 2.32, but we know people want to enjoy the elegant design of GNOME 3. So the GNOME team has been working hard to provide GNOME 3.0 on openSUSE 11.4. We know you'll love it!" Before upgrading do consider a few known issues: "GNOME Shell requires 3D (OpenGL) support which is not currently stable enough in VirtualBox or VMware. We recommend that you disable 3D support in those environment and use GNOME 3 Fallback mode instead (it will be selected automatically); NetworkManager 0.9, required by GNOME 3, has currently the following issues: KDE 4 will not correctly detect network availability, you might want to switch to 'traditional method with ifup' in YaST network settings, or use nm-applet (from NetworkManager-gnome package) in KDE; autologin configuration in User Account panel is incorrect; root password is asked when package repository are being updated to check for security updates."
* * * * *
Finally, something for the fun category. Blogspot blogger Metatodoro has created a "Zoo" out of the many distribution logos that exist (or existed) on the market and categorised them according to the animal species each logo represents. The result is a GNU/Linux & BSD Logo Zoo: "Some people think that GNU/Linux is only one operating system. Others think that Linux is the only UNIX operating system derivative, but BSD must not be forgotten. Both GNU/Linux and BSD include a lot of different operating systems in their respective families. While Linux has Tux (a penguin) as its mascot, BSD has Daemon (a little devil). Interestingly, many of the operating systems in both families are identified by logos representing animals. Thus, I made this little zoo with the logos of as many distros as I could find to illustrate the great variety of operating systems available to choose from."
The GNU/Linux and BSD logo zoo
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Typically when I get questions in my inbox, I try to distil the email down into a few lines to get at the core of the question. However, this next email raises a lot of points and gives examples and so I've included most of it to avoid losing context.
Working-together says: Open source is great, because developers can work together as a community. What you see is that there are (too) many communities around distros and that they don't seem to cooperate. Of course a lot of base work is done by Debian and there are some other distros that have unique contributions like Fedora and openSUSE. But even then I would like distros to cooperate more. For example Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Two unique projects that go their own way now. But sometimes I think: wouldn't it be better if they were making one distro? In this way there would be a good Ubuntu, but also a good Gubuntu and Kubuntu. The others desktop environments like LXDE or Xfce would also get more attention, because the teams are bigger.
It's about several distros that go in the same direction work more together. A lot of things like infrastructure, hardware detection, packaging, repositories, etc are done over and over again. Here are some examples of distros with could work together as one distro. Of course there are million combinations on where the focus lies. It's just an appeal for more collaboration and innovation:
Most of the categories above have the same base distribution (Slackware and Fedora). The distros in the first category have in common that they are all more or less rolling-release distros. Wouldn't they achieve more when they work on one distribution?
- Arch Linux, PCLinuxOS, Chakra GNU/Linux, aptosid, Frugalware Linux, Granular Linux
- VectorLinux, Zenwalk Linux, Salix OS, Porteus
- Kororaa Linux, Fusion Linux, Parsidora, Fuduntu
For me it would be better to have only one base system, namely Debian. So there will be not only one kernel, but also one package management format, default drivers, display management, bootloader and so on. I don't see the point in competing in these areas. The result in competing in these areas is that the base distribution doesn't get a lot back from the derived distributions. I think it would be the best to have as few base distributions as possible with some derived distributions around it. The people of derived distributions should be the same as the result of base and the derivatives. Where the results of the works should continuously flow into each other (no one way direction or distributions that go their own way separate from the base).
DistroWatch answers: So many good ideas aren't implemented simply because they won't work. Something people tend to forget that the Linux landscape is in the shape it is because it grew that way naturally. The developer community didn't all wake up one morning and decide to create competing projects left and right - the Linux ecosystem developed this way over the past two decades. Some might argue against the merits of this diverse approach, but it happened and it's not going to un-happen.
It's entirely correct that the various Linux distribution communities don't cooperate as much as they could (and probably should). I think there are quite a few reasons for that. Time is often a factor; it's hard to share fixes and new features with other projects when you're buried under a pile of emails, bug reports and patches. Another factor is that competing projects often have different goals and philosophies, making it difficult to share code. Furthermore, if you've spent any amount of time on developer mailing lists, you've likely discovered people who are technical wizards often have trouble communicating in a peaceful manner. Also it's important to keep in mind that the target audiences of various projects are often different.
Take the Ubuntu/Mint example mentioned in the above letter. These projects just won't merge, largely because Mint grew out of the idea Ubuntu was a good base, but could do with some interface changes (or lack of constant changes) and Mint includes add-ons that the Ubuntu team won't touch. I think the same applies to the Kororaa and Fuduntu projects - they bring items to the end user that Fedora will not include for reasons of philosophy or licensing. Looking at the rolling-release distros mentioned we find deeper problems. Yes, those are rolling-release projects, but that's about all they have in common. Most of the projects mentioned use different bases, different packaging formats and have very different design goals. Arch is a pretty bare bones, simplified distribution while PCLinuxOS targets end users who want all the bells and whistles. My point is that it's not just a matter of projects not wanting to work together, but quite often their goals and designs are so far apart that it makes cooperation nearly impossible, at least on the distribution level.
Cooperation on a large scale can have benefits and I know that a lot of people like the idea of one package format, one boot loader and one X implementation, but the truth is that, as frustrating as it can get having all these different formats and implementations floating around, especially for new Linux users, these things also protect us. Consider the moves to GRUB 2 and PulseAudio that burned a lot of early adaptors. If we were all using the same base distro, we'd all have to suffer through that. Fortunately, when new technologies get introduced, people who are comfortable on the cutting edge can try them out and people who don't want to deal with such things can stick with projects that don't include half-finished technology. Look at the shift from KDE 3.5 to KDE 4.0. Several leading distributions blindly jumped to the latest version and it annoyed a lot of people, but more conservative distros waited for the technology to mature. We wouldn't have that luxury to forge ahead or wait behind if we all used the same base. So while it can be annoying to find that the software you want isn't available in your distro of choice, or if you find learning a new packaging system to be a pain, remember that that's the trade off for the wide variety of choice we enjoy.
I think it's also important to keep in mind that upstream project developers don't always want to work more closely with downstream or, for that matter, don't exactly roll out the welcome mat to new contributors. Take a look at the recent blog posts between GNOME, KDE and Canonical or the comments in response to this call for more FreeBSD developers. Read some of these search results and I think it'll become obvious why it's so popular to fork away and create something new rather than work on existing projects. And keep in mind that since the code is open-source, upstream projects are free to grab the patches and source code their children use. It's not as if the code is prevented from flowing back upstream.
I agree that we need more cooperation, possibly through agreed-upon standards, maybe through easier to access/use bug trackers, and projects like Debian's Derivatives Front Desk and DEX. I think these efforts to share work between projects are more realistic than trying to push the distro genies back into the bottle.
|Released Last Week
Scientific Linux 4.9
Troy Dawson has announced the release of Scientific Linux 4.9. This is the project's legacy 4.x release, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.9, and is likely to be the last official version in the series that features Linux kernel 2.6.9, glibc 2.3.4, GCC 3.4.6, X.Org 6.8.2, GNOME 2.8 and KDE 3.3. From the release announcement: "Scientific Linux 4.9 has been released. Scientific Linux 4.9 contains almost two years of security and bug fixes. There are no new features or packages, but it is a nice stable release. Scientific Linux release 4.9 is based on the rebuilding of RPMs out of source RPMs from Enterprise 4, including Update 9. It also has all errata and bug fixes up until April 19, 2011." See also the release notes for a detailed list of changes, security and bug fixes.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- DYNA LINUX. DYNA LINUX is a commercial Korean distribution based on Ubuntu.
- Polippix. Polippix is an Ubuntu-based distribution pre-configured to allow anonymous access to the Internet and to preserve the user's privacy.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 2 May 2011.
Caitlyn Martin, Ladislav Bodnar and Jesse Smith
|• 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|
|• Issue 505 (2013-04-29): First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04, Saucy Salamander, Remastersys and System Imager, Linux containers|
|• Issue 504 (2013-04-22): Look at Bodhi 2.3.0, Ubuntu 13.04 features, building OpenBSD ports, opening large files|
|• Issue 503 (2013-04-15): CentOS versus Scientific Linux, PCLinuxOS 64, Lucas Nussbaum, ZFS/Btrfs versus ext4|
|• Issue 502 (2013-04-08): Look at Mint 201303 "Debian", Ubuntu versus openSUSE, comparing ZFS and Btrfs file systems|
|• Issue 501 (2013-04-01): KANOTIX 2013 and GhostBSD 3.0, openSUSE Rescue-CD, Haiku package management, computer forensics|
|• Issue 500 (2013-03-25): Look at openSUSE 12.3, Ubuntu release changes, Debian backports, growing divide|
|• Issue 499 (2013-03-18): MINIX 3.2.1, openSUSE 12.3 on desktop, Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin, distros for musicians, KolibriOS|
|• Issue 498 (2013-03-11): Sabayon Linux 11, Ubuntu's Mir, Linux malware|
|• Issue 497 (2013-03-04): Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline", rolling-release Ubuntu, Arch vs spin-offs, justification and diversity|
|• Issue 496 (2013-02-25): Review of Chakra 2013.02, The Book of GIMP, Ubuntu and privacy, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free|
|• Issue 495 (2013-02-18): SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra", Fedora 19 schedule, Xubuntu on DVD, cloud privacy|
|• Issue 494 (2013-02-11): FreeBSD 9.1, web server stats, Anaconda, rolling-release PC-BSD, fixing broken packages in Arch|
|• Issue 493 (2013-02-04): UberStudent 2.0, OmniBoot 1.0, MariaDB, Enlightenment 0.17|
|• Issue 492 (2013-01-28): Fedora 18 review, systemd, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Unleashed|
|• Issue 491 (2013-01-21): Fuduntu 2013.1, Fedora 18 desktop choices, Consort, accessing encrypted drive|
|• Issue 490 (2013-01-14): Look at Manjaro Linux 0.8.3, openSUSE on Chromebook, Able2Extract 8.0|
|• Issue 489 (2013-01-07): PC-BSD 9.1, Arch spin-offs, rolling-releases, year-end PHR stats, removing applications|
|• Issue 488 (2012-12-24): Reviews of Unity and Puppy Linux 5.4 "Slacko", FreeBSD 10|
|• Issue 487 (2012-12-17): Cinnarch 2012.11.22, OpenMandriva, Fedora Magazine, Tumbleweed, OpenJDK vs Oracle Java|
|• Issue 486 (2012-12-10): Linux Mint 14 review, Ubuntu "spyware" controversy, Haiku overview, troubleshooting Linux servers|
|• Issue 485 (2012-12-03): Kwort Linux 3.5, Mint bug-fix update, Fedora's new Anaconda, defining a distribution|
|• Issue 484 (2012-11-26): Look at SMS 2.0.1, Fedora pre-beta report, Illumos, Secure Boot update|
|• Issue 483 (2012-11-19): DragonFly BSD 3.2.1 and Xubuntu 12.10, Gentoo and udev, switching file systems|
|• Issue 482 (2012-11-12): Review of Zenwalk 7.2, Clang in FreeBSD, Omniboot 0.5, priorities on external drives|
|• Issue 481 (2012-11-05): Look at Tails 0.13, EFF on Ubuntu and privacy, Debian installer changes, ext4 data corruption bug|
|• Issue 480 (2012-10-29): Review of Ubuntu 12.10, Wayland 1.0, FreeBSD's pkgng|
|• Issue 479 (2012-10-22): Look at Zentyal 3.0, Debian bug reporting, initiating a halt|
|• Issue 478 (2012-10-15): Slackware 14.0 review, Ubuntu donations, connecting to multiple machines behind router|
|• Issue 477 (2012-10-08): Review of ODROID-X, OpenBSD's anti-Linux song, interview with Vincent Untz, Linux as operating system|
|• Issue 476 (2012-10-01): Review of openSUSE 12.2, Slackware 14.0 features, accessing home computer with SSH|
|• Issue 475 (2012-09-24): Look at PCLinuxOS 2012.08, Ubuntu and Amazon, SolusOS and PiSi, ownCloud|
|• Issue 474 (2012-09-17): Bodhi Linux 2.0.1, OpenIndiana interview, Frugalware history, update notifications|
|• Issue 473 (2012-09-10): The Linux Command Line, Slackware documentation project, Debian's new primary arch, Goobuntu|
|• Issue 472 (2012-09-03): Kororaa Linux 17, OpenIndiana and SchilliX, Ubuntu GNOME remix, home server tip|
|• Issue 471 (2012-08-27): Linux Mint 13 "KDE", Ubuntu 12.10 features, Slax update, folder quotas|
|• Issue 470 (2012-08-20): Liberté Linux 2012.2, Arch and systemd, NetBSD's sysbuild and sysupgrade, 19 years of Debian|
|• Issue 469 (2012-08-13): Peppermint OS Three, SUSE on Secure Boot, GNOME OS, moving email to Linux|
|• Issue 468 (2012-08-06): First look at CentOS 6.3, Debian installer beta, Fedora and MATE, Libtrash|
|• Issue 467 (2012-07-30): Ubuntu Made Easy, Debian "Jessie", OpenBSD on Secure Boot, Rawhide troubles|
|• Issue 466 (2012-07-23): Fuduntu 2012.3, Linux in PC-BSD jails, secure boot on older computers|
|• Issue 465 (2012-07-16): Netrunner 4.2, Mandriva's two codebases, firewalls and window frames|
|• Issue 464 (2012-07-09): Zorin OS 6, FSF's views on secure boot, Virtual PDF Printer|
|• Issue 463 (2012-07-02): TurnKey Linux 11.3, Red Hat and Btrfs, Sabayon's MATE spin, ZFS on Linux|
|• Issue 462 (2012-06-25): Sabayon 9, "Wheezy" freeze, Zorin OS overview, Vinux interview, mounting network shares|
|• Issue 461 (2012-06-18): Linux Mint 13, openSUSE 12. delays, Debian Multimedia, Mageia 3 roadmap|
|• Issue 460 (2012-06-11): Look at Fedora 17, PC-BSD and Slackware interviews, Openfiler and FuguIta|
|• Issue 459 (2012-06-04): Impressions of Mageia 2, Fedora updates, Debian or Raspberry Pie, improving software performance|
|• Issue 458 (2012-05-28): Impressions of SolusOS 1, Linux kernel 3.4, encrypting home folder|
|• Issue 457 (2012-05-21): Linux accessibility, Fedora 17 overview, MultiSystem, launching tasks|
|• Issue 456 (2012-05-14): Look at OpenBSD 5.1, Debian Installer 7.0 alpha, UDS news round-up|
|• Issue 455 (2012-05-07): Review of Ubuntu 12.04, "Quantal Quetzal" plans, Debian infographic|
|• Full list of all issues|