| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 430, 7 November 2011
Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! And it's a sizeable issue as well. We'll start with a first-look review of Sabayon Linux 7, a Gentoo-based distribution with many cutting-edge features and a variety of editions for all kinds of tastes and purposes. Then we'll move on to the news section where we'll discuss the big DistroWatch event of the week - the dethroning of Ubuntu by Linux Mint as the new "number one" distribution in our page hit ranking statistics. This is then followed by news about the upcoming changes in Ubuntu 12.04 as discussed during last week's Ubuntu Developer Summit, and information about the two important releases of the coming week - those of Fedora 16 and Solaris 11. A section called "Opinions" then adds to the recent spike of anti-Unity articles in various Linux media before we move to a much more technical topic - the purpose and function of Fedora's systemd which has replaced the traditional SysVInit boot sequence in all Fedora and Red Hat-based distributions. The usual sections summarising last week's distro releases as well as new distribution additions are only intercepted by a record about two DistroWatch donations; we are happy to announce that the recipients of the cash prize are Trinity Desktop Environment and LibreCAD. This is a bumper issue, so set aside plenty of time to enjoy the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Happy reading!
- Reviews: First impressions of Sabayon Linux 7
- News: Linux Mint - the new "number one", upcoming changes in Ubuntu 12.04, six reasons to try Fedora 16, Solaris 11 launch party
- Opinions: Disunity
- Questions and answers: systemd
- Released last week: OpenBSD 5.0, Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.11, Scientific Linux 5.7 "Live"
- Upcoming releases: Fedora 16, Solaris 11
- Donations: Trinity Desktop Environment, LibreCAD
- New additions: Parabola GNU/Linux, SuperX
- New distributions: angusOS, FX64 Linux, Linux Wizard, R4W, SimbiOS
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (31MB) and MP3 (42MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of Sabayon Linux 7|
Sabayon's slogan, which appears when the distribution is booting, is "open your source, open your mind". It's catchy, it's simple and maybe even inspiring. However, were I to choose an alternative slogan it would probably be "There's an edition for that." A quick look at the project's download area reveals six different editions (GNOME, Xfce, KDE, Server Base, Spin Base and Core), each of them available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. And, indeed, the project lists its number one feature as "variety". Judging by the editions which eventually appeared for Sabayon 6 we'll probably see future editions of Sabayon 7 featuring LXDE and Enlightenment.
For now though let's focus on the Xfce edition, which is what I decided to download. There wasn't any particular motivation for the choice, except when in doubt Xfce is usually a safe option. Speaking of options, booting off the 1.2 GB DVD brings up a menu which allows us to try the distribution in live mode, perform a graphical install, perform a text install or boot into a console. I decided to go for the graphical install. Sabayon uses the tried-and-true Anaconda installer, which Fedora and Red Hat users will recognize.
The installer begins by asking for our preferred language and we're given the option of downloading additional languages and fonts. The next screen gets us to select our keyboard layout. Then we set our hostname and pick our time zone from a map of the world. The following two screens require us to set a root password and create a regular user account. The next section is disk partitioning, a task I feel Anaconda performs very well. There is a wide range of support here, providing us with the ability to create LVM or RAID setups or to create plain partitions. Then we have the choice of using ext4, ext3, ext2, Btrfs, JFS, XFS or ReiserFS file systems. We can also choose to encrypt these partitions. The last screen of the installer gives us the choice of installing a bootloader and, if so, its location. From there the installer copies files to the hard drive and prompts us to reboot when it is done.
Sabayon Linux 7 - desktop settings and firewall
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Booting into Sabayon for the first time brings up a graphical login screen with a soft blue background. Once we sign in we're shown a desktop featuring blue wallpaper. On our first login two windows pop up, one with tips & tricks for using the graphical environment and another window opens the Sabayon website. After we clear these away we are presented with the Xfce desktop (version 4.8). At the bottom of the screen is a task switcher and, along the top, we find the application menu, quick-launch buttons and system tray. On the desktop are icons for navigating the file system and for accessing the Sabayon website and opening the Entropy Store. We'll come back to the store in a moment. First, let's explore the application menu.
There is a good collection of useful software included in the default install. We're given the Midori web browser, the Pidgin instant messenger client, XChat for communicating on IRC and the Transmission BitTorrent client. A graphical PPP dialer is included as are LibreOffice and a PDF viewer. In the multimedia section we find an audio player, a video player and the Cheese webcam app. Both the GIMP and Shotwell are included. There is a category of the menu dedicated to opening links to the various Sabayon web pages where we can find help, send donations and read documentation. There's a graphical firewall configuration tool, an archive manager, text editor and note taker. Xfce comes with a wide range of apps to configure the look and feel of the desktop and, so far, they've all worked well for me. The distro comes with a full range of multimedia codecs, allowing users to play mp3 files and videos straight out of the box. Sabayon includes Flash and Java and GCC is included. Sabayon is a rolling release distribution so versions will vary over time, but on the DVD we find the 3.0 version of the Linux kernel.
When we login to Sabayon an icon appears in the upper-right corner of the screen, letting us know if package updates are available. The first time I logged in I clicked on the notification icon and requested it refresh my package information. A few seconds later the applet informed me the system was up to date. This seemed strange considering Sabayon's rolling release nature. Shortly afterwards I opened the system's package manager, which is called the Entropy Store. (Despite the name, there doesn't appear to be any software for sale in the "store", all the packages are free.) When we first open the Entropy Store it goes to work setting up and downloading repository information. And, from that point on, the update notification applet was able to detect when package updates were available.
Sabayon Linux 7 - updating package information
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The package manager features a fairly simple layout. Along the top of the window there are buttons for resynchronizing repository information, viewing all available packages, viewing all pending updates and there's a button for viewing queued actions. Packages are displayed in alphabetical order and we can filter the displayed packages by searching for keywords. Software can be queued for installation or removal by checking a box next to the package name. Though it doesn't have as many features as some other popular package managers, I found Entropy worked well.
I ran Sabayon on two physical machines, my HP laptop (dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Intel video card) and a desktop machine (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card). The distribution was able to properly detect all of my hardware on both machines. My Intel wireless card worked with no configuration on my part and sound volume was set to a low, but audible, level on both machines. While everything worked, I did find boot times and the act of launching applications took an unusually long time on my laptop. Desktop responsiveness when moving windows or clicking menus was fast, as I would expect from the Xfce environment, but launching new programs took several seconds longer than normal (launching Entropy took about 40 seconds, opening a terminal took about five seconds).
Boot times were about four to five times longer than what I experienced with Ubuntu a few weeks ago. When running on the desktop machine boot times were noticeably shorter and applications launched in a more timely manner. I also found that on my laptop machine desktop effects were enabled by default. Usually this wasn't a problem, but sometimes I found windows would turn semi-transparent while I was moving them and then not turn opaque again when I released them. This made it difficult to view the windows' contents. Disabling transparency solved this problem. Another annoying characteristic presented itself on the desktop machine. The mouse was very sensitive to gestures and I found moving the pointer slightly left or right would cause Xfce to move to the next virtual workspace. Until I changed the mouse settings this resulted in almost any mouse movement jumping me to a different workspace.
Sabayon Linux 7 - browsing the web
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Most of my experiences with Sabayon 7 have been positive. There's a wide range of up-to-date software present in this distribution and a good deal of functionality out of the box. There are lots of application, a full range of codecs, Flash, compilers, office software and other goodies. Hardware support, in my experience, was fairly good. For people who like to stay on the cutting edge, Sabayon supplies a rolling release platform that is easy to get up and running. However, the trade-off for all this variety and the stream new software is some rough edges. The package manager, while functional, isn't as mature as similar tools found in Ubuntu or Mandriva. Some of the extras and effects enabled by default were unhelpful distractions and, on my laptop, launching applications was quite a slow process. While I have several small complaints in this vein, over-all Sabayon was pleasant to use. The Xfce desktop stays out of the way and the interface is nicely organized. After the first day I didn't encounter any issues.
Personally, for my purposes, on my hardware, Sabayon wasn't the ideal operating system. It was a square peg in a pentagonal hole; close, but not quite a fit. Some of this misalignment was from the technical issues I mentioned above and some of it was the design of the project. Sabayon is focused on providing variety, on being cutting edge, on providing a rolling release with a steady stream of updates, on providing all the bells and whistles by default. If you read that list of characteristics and thought, "Yes, I want those!" then Sabayon is probably a great match for you. A few minor glitches shouldn't stand in your way and I recommend giving Sabayon a try. On the other hand, if you are, like myself, looking for something a little more predictable, a little more boring, then Sabayon probably isn't the right choice.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Linux Mint - the new "number one", upcoming changes in Ubuntu 12.04, six reasons to try Fedora 16, Solaris 11 launch party
As they say, once you are on top, you can only go one way. After being (largely unopposed) the number one distribution in our page hit ranking statistics since April 2005, Ubuntu has finally been dethroned. Ironically, it's one of its many derivatives, Linux Mint, a distribution sometimes referred to as "Ubuntu done right", that assumed the top spot late last week. Why? Some DistroWatch readers have already started speculating about the reasons - the all-too-frequent radical changes, the controversial Unity desktop (see our opinion piece below), the increasing amount of unresolved bugs... Of course, this little piece of statistic doesn't mean that Linux Mint has suddenly more users than Ubuntu, far from it. But it does perhaps indicate the increasing dissatisfaction of users with Canonical's flagship product and a growing interest in an alternative, at least among those Linux users who frequent this website. And in many ways, Linux Mint is a perfect option - it's still more or less Ubuntu, but without the unpopular changes that have given many Ubuntu users nothing but frustration.
Some DistroWatch readers have started wondering whether Mint's ascend is a result of fraudulent loading of the Linux Mint page. If this is the case, we have not been able to detect any problem. On the contrary, it seems that Linux Mint keeps generating genuine interest, largely by word of mouth. As an example, last week's change in ranking did not go unnoticed on various Linux websites throughout the world: a short post in the Ubuntu section of Reddit generated over 120 remarks, an article on Russia's Linux.org.ru resulted in over 800 comments, and a similar piece on Italy's LFFI website was voted "top story of the week". Poland's OSNews.pl also noticed Ubuntu's losing the crown, while, quite naturally, many members of the Linux Mint forum have observed the fact with great satisfaction. As a result of all this publicity, the Linux Mint page received 5,354 unique hits on Friday, 6,325 on Saturday and 6,078 on Sunday, well above its six-month average of 2,100 hits. It's likely that this trend will continue throughout this week as more "minty" publicity is generated in Linux media.
That won't be the end of it, however. As the developers of the current "number one" distribution on DistroWatch prepare for a new release in the coming weeks, there will be undoubtedly more excitement. This, in fact, has started already. Last week Clement Lefebvre, the founder and lead developer of Linux Mint, published some information about the upcoming Linux Mint 12, including continued support for GNOME 2: "In Linux Mint 11 we made the decision to keep GNOME 2.32. The traditional GNOME desktop, although it’s not actively developed by the GNOME development team anymore, is still by far the most popular desktop within the Linux community. As other distributions adopted new desktops such as Unity and GNOME 3, many users felt alienated and consequently migrated to Linux Mint. We recorded a 40% increase in a single month." A heavily modified variant of GNOME 3 will also be available: "We developed 'MGSE' (Mint GNOME Shell Extensions), which is a desktop layer on top of GNOME 3 that makes it possible for you to use GNOME 3 in a traditional way. You can disable all components within MGSE to get a pure GNOME 3 experience, or you can enable all of them to get a GNOME 3 desktop that is similar to what you’ve been using before." The first release candidate for Linux Mint 12 should be available as early as Friday.
Linux Mint 12 - GNOME 3 running under the new Mint GNOME Shell Extension
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* * * * *
In the meantime, the Ubuntu developers gathered in Orlando, USA, for their annual Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS). As has become custom, many profound changes for the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 were announced, including a switch to a DVD-size live media, various improvements in Unity and Ubuntu Software Centre, a likely replacement of Banshee with Rhythmbox, and possibly even a preview of the Wayland display server protocol. From "Expected changes in Ubuntu 12.04": "Ubuntu will promote 64-bit images starting with Precise. This means that when you go to Ubuntu.com and click to download Ubuntu, the 64-bit image will be selected by default. You can of course choose to download 32-bit images instead if you want to. Until now, the 64-bit images weren't promoted due to the lack of multiarch support, but with this problem solved, there's nothing blocking it anymore. The Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin ISO size will increase to 750 MB which means it won't fit on a CD anymore so you'll need either an USB stick or DVD. There were issues the last cycle with fitting everything on the CD so this is a welcome change for the developers. The reason only 50 MB were added is to make sure there's not too much stuff added on the ISO just because it's possible."
* * * * *
Good news for the Fedora fans - the upcoming release 16, code name "Verne" was declared gold last week and will be officially released tomorrow (Tuesday). PCWorld's Katherine Noyes gives us "six good reasons to try Fedora 16": "The Fedora project abandoned its efforts to implement Ubuntu's controversial new Unity interface back in February, so the Unity-averse will find a safe haven in Fedora. They'll still have plenty of choices, however, with both GNOME and KDE on offer. Included in Fedora 16 are KDE Plasma Workspace 4.7 - including Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces, the KDE Applications and the KDE Platform - as well as GNOME 3.2. GNOME 3 has also been controversial, of course, but it's only one option, and GNOME users will also find a new tool that lets them switch seamlessly between keyboard layouts and input methods. For those who don't like GNOME 3, KDE provides a really attractive alternative." Another attraction of Fedora 16 is speed: "Following the introduction of the systemd services management program in Fedora 15, this new version features better integration of that software via native systemd services in many software components. That translates into faster boot times for desktop users, along with more powerful management capabilities for system administrators."
Fedora 16 and GNOME 3.2 - the latest and greatest from Red Hat's community distro
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* * * * *
A launch of a new version of Solaris is only slightly less rare than a solar eclipse, so the fans of the once highly popular UNIX operating system will have a reason to rejoice later this week when Oracle unveils the brand-new Solaris 11. This will be the first major version since January 2005 when Solaris 10, then still under the umbrella of Sun Microsystems, was unveiled. Although many expected Solaris 11 to arrive on 2011-11-11, "Oracle will, in fact, release the new version" two days earlier, on 9 November: "On November 9th, 2011, the long-awaited final version of Solaris 11 will be launched. If you happen to be near New York that day, you're invited to join the official Solaris 11 launch party! Solaris 11 has been in the making since 2005, when Solaris 10 was launched. In fact, every major Solaris release is just a fork of the ongoing Solaris development train, so the very first uber-pre-release of Solaris 11 was actually generated only weeks after Solaris 10 hit the shelves. Since then, Solaris 11 (or: Project Nevada as it was called) has seen a lot of OS history: an open-source adolescence called OpenSolaris, growing adoption and community work, a broad range of ground-braking new features, long overdue re-writes, brand new concepts, controversial discussions, a major acquisition, rules changed and rules kept."
|Opinion (by Robert Storey)
Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have people like me as a member. (Groucho Marx)
* * * * *
My name is Robert, and I'm a distroholic. For the longest time, I was in denial. But as any AA member will tell you, the first step to dealing with an addiction is to know you have one. And to admit it publicly. Which is why I am here today.
What a long, strange trip it has been, ever since that fateful day in 1998 when I installed SUSE Linux. I remained loyal to her for all of six months. But soon I was having an affair with Red Hat. And then I found Slackware. I had a long and satisfying fling with Libranet, now sadly deceased. Then, in despair, I embraced FreeBSD and OpenBSD, only to abandon both of them for Debian. I'm sure there were others, but I've forgotten their names.
And suddenly, in 2005, stability came into my life, when I first put a free "ShipIt" disk from Canonical into my CD drive and rebooted. Yes, the first one was free, but soon I was hooked. My friends tried to warn me: "Don't be seduced just because she's easy," they said. But I wouldn't listen. "It's got a graphical installer!" I exclaimed. "And my mouse just works, without having to manually edit file /etc/X11/XF86Config!" I was in love.
My tryst with Ubuntu lasted over five years. But the relationship - often rocky at times - began to sour. And when Oneiric arrived last month, I knew it was over.
I cried - at least they said I did - when I recently booted a Debian disk, typed mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1, hit enter, and watched my Ubuntu installation disappear in a digital puff of smoke. Gone, but not forgotten.
Unity: Ubuntu's Waterloo?
OK, before someone tells me to put a sock in it, I'll cut the crap and get to the point. I'd been having issues with Ubuntu for a long time, but still remained loyal. I figured that these travails would eventually be worked out, and besides, the competition wasn't any better. However, the seriously misnamed "Unity" was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
Now yes, I know, Unity is not required to run Ubuntu. Indeed, I was one of the loudest voices proclaiming to Unity-haters that they could simply go with GNOME-Shell, or Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu. Not to mention that aside from the official *buntu interfaces, buried within the bowels of the repositories are numerous other worthy desktop environments: IceWM, Enlightenment-17, FVWM-Crystal, Fluxbox, or for the truly hardcore, Ratpoison (thus named because it kills your mouse). So really, if you don't like the look of Unity, the solution is just an "apt-get install my-favorite-desktop" away. Right?
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. The biggest problem with Unity is not that it has become the new Ubuntu default desktop. The problem is that Unity development seems to be sucking up Canonical's resources, to the detriment of everything else. Bugs have been creeping into Ubuntu, and they are not getting fixed because the developers apparently have no time. Over the years I have reported a number of bugs myself on the Launchpad web site, and in the beginning I recall that developers were very prompt to examine the reports and come up with solutions. I was quite surprised, and pleased, the first time I reported a bug and received a polite email from an Ubuntu developer the next day asking for more details. I replied, and within a week the bug was fixed.
But that was then and this is now. More recently, bug reports have sat in the overworked developers' inboxes for months while numerous users add additional comments saying how they too have run into the same issue. Occasionally, these bugs are real show-stoppers - everything from an inability to get online to frequent system lock-ups. Many serious bugs are now officially "triaged," which means that the developers will get to it if and when they can, but don't hold your breath waiting.
Perhaps it would be worth putting up with the bugs if Unity was the greatest thing since sliced bread - something wonderful that is going to revolutionize desktop computing. But it's not. I tried Unity, and it's kind of cute, but nothing to write home about. If it vanished from the face of the Earth, I wouldn't particularly miss it. Perhaps it will be of some value in the future if someone manufactures an Ubuntu Pad (uPad?), but for now I just want something that works well on my conventional computer. And Ubuntu is no longer stable or fast enough to fit my needs.
Where do we go from here?
I started out this rambling essay saying how I am (was) a "distroholic." That is to say, my early days of Linux Geekdom were spent jumping from distro to distro. Ubuntu gave me stability for five years, but now I am back to distro-hopping again. I am actually enjoying this experiment, and seeing how many quality distros now exist, I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store. I have three computers in my possession, each one running something different. Two of the three are Debian-based (AntiX and Linux Mint "Debian"), while the other (Salix) comes from the Slackware universe. I haven't yet bothered to set up any of my machines to double (or triple) boot, but that's a possibility too. So maybe by next week I'll be playing with six distros, or nine.
I view this as a competition. And may the best distro win.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Getting-up-and-running asks: Perhaps you could do an article to shed some independent light on systemd? Why are distributions migrating to it? What problems is it supposed to solve?
DistroWatch answers: In case you haven't heard the name before, systemd is a replacement for the aging Linux init daemon. The init daemon is the program largely responsible for getting the system up and running at boot time. It also handles some other tasks, but its big job is getting the operating system into a usable state. Over the years the init system has been criticized for being too slow and complex for a modern operating system and, as a result, some alternatives have surfaced. Upstart, which is championed by Ubuntu, is one such init replacement. Another is systemd, which is showing up in Fedora and a few other distributions.
Probably the number one feature of systemd is parallelization. Wherever possible systemd will try to start tasks in parallel, taking advantage of the multi-core characteristics of modern hardware. It also tracks processes by control groups (often referred to as cgroups). What this does is ensure that new processes can't "escape" from systemd. When an init system tracks daemons by process IDs (PIDs) the daemon can fork itself to change its process number. Since systemd tracks daemons via cgroups a daemon can change its PID and still be tracked and terminated using its control group. Another thing systemd tries to do is start fewer processes, or avoid starting processes until they're needed. It might help to visualize what this looks like. The following chart shows a traditional init system starting programs to arrive at the desktop compared to how systemd starts processes to also arrive at the desktop.
||Start A ->
||Start B ->
||Start C ->
||Start A -> Start C
As you can see, with systemd, your computer works harder up front to get everything ready, but finishes much sooner because it's doing all the work up front. It's also cutting out services it doesn't need to start. The old version of init is processing tasks one at a time, which may be easier for humans to visualize, but takes longer. Additionally, designing a new init system has allowed the developers to add new features. Here is a feature list of what systemd does compared with traditional init and Upstart.
Something else systemd tries to do is replace traditional shell scripts with compiled C code. Shell scripts are relatively quick and easy to write, but relatively slow to run. For this reason some of the basic start-up processes are being re-written in C to increase their speed.
To summarize, systemd is trying to make the most of modern software (particularly the Linux kernel) and hardware to start everything the operating system needs in parallel and getting the system to a point where the user can interact with the computer in less time. There are a few drawbacks though. For starters, while systemd tries to be compatible with traditional init scripts, it isn't compatible with Upstart (which gained wide-spread usage a few years ago). Lennart Poettering, systemd's primary author, has also pointed out the new init system relies on Linux-specific features (like udev) and uses Linux-specific APIs instead of POSIX. This reliance on modern, Linux-specific features makes systemd more attractive to experimental projects like Fedora and openSUSE, but perhaps less appealing to conservative projects such as Slackware and Debian.
As for who is making the transition to systemd, so far most projects haven't adopted systemd, at least not as the default init process. Fedora 15 includes systemd, as does Mandriva. The upcoming openSUSE 12.1 release is expected to feature systemd. The Paldo distribution includes systemd, though I'm not certain if it's the default init system or simply available as an option. Other distributions have included systemd in their repositories, but haven't made it the default option. Arch Linux fits into this category. Debian is testing systemd, and systemd is available in Gentoo's repositories.
|Released Last Week
Theo de Raadt has announced the release of OpenBSD 5.0, a new version of a BSD-based operating system renown for its high security thanks to meticulous code review. Some of the new features and systems in the new release include: "Improved hardware support, including: MSI interrupts for many devices, on those architectures which can support them (amd64, i386, sparc64 only so far); a new dma_alloc(9) API makes it easier for kernel code to allocate dma-safe memory; as a result, big-memory support has been enabled on all possible architectures; the rather rare bce(4) driver now copies mbufs all the time, to cope with the hardware having a 1 GB limit. Highlights: GNOME 2.32.2, KDE 3.5.10, Mozilla Firefox 3.5.19, 3.6.18 and 5.0, LibreOffice 3.4.1, PHP 5.2.17 and 5.3.6, Chromium 12.0.742.122...." A much more comprehensive list of features can be found in the detailed release notes.
Alpine Linux 2.3.0
Jeff Bilyk has announced the release of Alpine Linux 2.3.0, a security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution based on uClibc and BusyBox: "The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce immediate availability of version 2.3 of its Alpine Linux operating system. This release introduces several new features: a new Linux kernel based on 3.0; GCC 4.6; improved setup scripts with tools for helping configure local configuration backup location and package manager cache; preliminary support for booting from encrypted LVM partitions; BusyBox has been upgraded to version 1.19.2 with shell history search (with ctrl-r); unbound DNS resolver with DNSSEC support; better multi-ISP support in Pingu with support for PPP and DHCP; PostgreSQL has been upgraded to 9.1; Kamailio has been upgraded to 3.2...." Here is the full release announcement.
Glen MacArthur has announced the release of AVLinux 5.0.2, an updated version of the project's Debian-based distribution featuring a large collection of audio and video production software: "An updated ISO (5.0.2) for the AV Linux 5.0 series has been released with a new kernel, a few bug fixes, updated applications and enhancements. Trulan Martin has worked very hard to provide a 3.0.6 kernel with an important SMP -rt scheduling patch, M-Audio Fast Track Pro support, ATI mode setting switched on and some extra security features. On the application side the Audio menu has grown to include Mixxx 1.9.0 for DJs, MuseScore 1.1 for sheet music scoring and XCFA for audio conversions. The Video menu has been heavily re-worked to provide the best possible out-of-the-box experience with Cinelerra 2.1.5CV, OpenShot 1.4.0, Kdenlive 0.8.1svn and LiVES 1.4.7." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
AVLinux 5.0.2 - a Debian-based multimedia distro
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ALT Linux 6.0.0 "Centaurus"
Andrey Cherepanov has announced the release of ALT Linux 6.0.0 "Centaurus" edition, a Russian general-purpose distribution for desktops and servers: "ALT Linux proudly presents a new release of our key distribution, ALT Linux 6.0 'Centaurus'. This is a universal GNU/Linux distribution intended for use on servers, desktop systems and laptops. Features: selection of installed solutions such as web server or desktop environment during installation; support for manual system services setup and web-based configuration using the Alterator control center.... The distribution contains GNOME 2 and FVWM, Linux kernels 3.0.7 and 2.6.32." Here is the brief release announcement.
ArchBang Linux 2011.11
Willensky Aristide has announced the release of ArchBang Linux 2011.11, an updated build of the project's lightweight distribution with Openbox, based on Arch Linux: "ArchBang 2011.11 is out in the wild. You don't need it if you already have ArchBang Linux installed on your system. Changelog: PCManFM over Thunar file manager; Xcompmgr-dana over Xcompmgr; recent files pipe menu added; new key bind to read the upgraded DOC; progress bar while copying files; better font rendering; new look; smaller ISO image. Notes: you can always build Arch with Openbox from scratch by following this guide; if you don't like the black and gray system tray icons, remove the following line in tint2rc - 'systray_icon_asb = 100 -100 -25'." See the release announcement for a few more details and a couple of screenshots.
Kwort Linux 3.2
David Cortarello has announced the release of Kwort Linux 3.2, a CRUX-based desktop distribution (with Openbox) designed for intermediate and advanced Linux users: "Almost a year has passed since Kwort's last stable release, and today I'm rolling out a new release of our system. This is a major upgrade of almost every software package included in Kwort 3.14, except the toolchain. The most noticeable changes include: move from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice; a new kernel 3 series, Firefox 7.0.1 (not installed by default but you can install it from the CD image) and the latest version of Chromium. Other than what's noticeable, there are tons of improvements under the hood, like the inclusion of LVM2 and mdadm for logical volume management and raid support, the ext4 file system supported in the installation and some nice improvements in kpkg." Visit the distribution's home page to read the release announcement.
Kwort Linux 3.2 - a lightweight, CRUX-based desktop distribution
(full image size: 816kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
François Dupoux has released SystemRescueCd 2.4.0, an updated version of the specialist live CD containing a large collection of open-source utilities for disk partitioning and data rescue tasks. The new release comes with the brand-new GParted 0.10.0, the latest X.Org Server and Mozilla Firefox, while DHCP has been upgraded to the 4.x series. From the changelog: "Updated standard kernels to Linux 3.0.8 (rescuecd + rescue64); updated alternative kernels to Linux 3.1.0 (altker32 + altker64); dropped Reiser4 patch from all kernels (no patch for Linux 3.x); updated X.Org Server to 1.10.4 (graphical server and drivers); updated Mozilla Firefox to 7.0.1; updated GParted to 0.10.0; patched Parted 2.4 with fixes from Fedora."
Scientific Linux 5.7 "Live"
Urs Beyerle has announced the release of the "Live" edition of Scientific Linux 5.7, a set of installable live CD, live DVD and mini live CD images based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.7: "With a little delay I can announce the release of Scientific Linux 5.7 live CD/DVD. Please note that the SL 5.7 live CD/DVD were built with the old build environment used for all SL 4.x SL 5.x live CD/DVD releases so far. The Scientific Linux live CD/DVD is a bootable CD/DVD that runs Linux directly from CD/DVD without installing. It is based on Scientific Linux 5.7 (SL57), which is recompiled from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 sources. Software: Linux kernel 2.6.18-274.3.1.el5, openAFS client 1.4.14, X.Org 7.1, ALSA sound libraries 1.0.17, GNOME 2.16.0 (standard desktop), OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, Firefox 3.6.23, KDE 3.5.4 (only on live DVD)...." Here is the release announcement.
Arne Fitzenreiter has announced the release of a major new version of IPFire, a specialist Linux-based distribution for firewalls: "It has already been four years since IPFire 2 was released for the first time. There has been huge progress until today, the release of version 2.11. The biggest new feature in the released version 2.11 of IPFire is the option to create net-to-net VPNs with OpenVPN. Until now, it was only possible to use OpenVPN to create roadwarrior networks, but we kept the easiness of configuring VPN tunnels by just sending configuration archives in ZIP format. To learn how that works, see the reworked documentation on the Wiki. IPsec-VPNs do now support the IKEv2 protocol which allows a more secure, faster and easier connection of the tunnels." See the release announcement for additional details.
OLPC OS 11.3.0
Daniel Drake has announced the release of OLPC OS 11.3.0, a specialist distribution created under the initiative of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project to provide children in developing countries with low-cost laptops: "We are pleased to announce the release of OLPC OS 11.3.0. This new OLPC software release adds several new features and significant bug fixes. XO-1 and XO-1.5 are fully supported as usual; additionally, this release adds support for the new XO-1.75 laptop. Sugar 0.94 is included in the release; this updated version includes various improvements such as more powerful View Source functionality, and easier file exchange between the Journal and the regular file system. One notable change is that the Keep button has been removed from activities. Many users mistook this with Save, but actually Sugar saves all your work for you - you do not have to tell it do so." See the brief release announcement and the detailed release notes for further information.
GParted LiveCD 0.10.0-3
Steven Shiau has announced the release of GParted LiveCD 0.10.0-3, a new stable version of the useful utility live CD containing a collection of utilities designed for disk partitioning and data rescue tasks. This release comes with the much-improved GParted 0.10.0 while the Fluxbox window manager has been upgraded to version 1.3.2. From the release announcement: "GParted team is proud to announce a new stable release of GParted LiveCD, version 0.10.0-3. This release includes the new GParted 0.10.0 application which adds Btrfs resizing, exfat detection, and the intelligence to merge overlapping operations. The deprecated 'info' icon is removed and the underlying GNU/Linux operating system is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2011-11-02." Visit the project's news page to read the brief information summary about the new version.
Rafael Bonifaz has announced the release of Elastix 2.2, a CentOS-based telephony distribution whose goal is to integrate the best tools available for Asterisk-based Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) into a single, easy-to-use interface: "Now available Elastix 2.2 and the elastixWorld 2011 attendees were the first to witness the improvements in this new Elastix stable version. In this version you will enjoy a new and improved interface and the upgrading of Asterisk among other additions such as: Elastix Web Services module, MarketPlace module, Statistics module, Advanced Security Settings module; CentOS and kernel upgrades; Asterisk 18.104.22.168 update; security and bug fixes; definition of the AMI and ARI credentials in Elastix's first-boot process; support for the Operator Panel in Internet Explorer and Firefox; minor graphic and language bug fixes." Here is the brief release announcement.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.11
Phil Miller has announced the release of Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.11, a desktop distribution featuring the just-released KDE 4.7.3: "The Chakra development team is proud to announce the second release of 'Edn', Chakra GNU/Linux featuring Linux kernel 3.0.8 and KDE 4.7.3. This is a regular scheduled release, approximately 7 - 10 days after a new version of KDE is announced. Besides the latest KDE, this release features an updated toolchain and a split of Qt and QtWebKit, thus enabling HTML 5 and WebGL support for Qt/KDE web-browsers. Chakra is now offering a DVD and CD edition; the CD edition is a minimal working KDE desktop, while the DVD version includes all the language packs, most of the standard KDE applications, LibreOffice...." See the full release announcement for more information.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.11 - the first distro coming with the new KDE 4.7.3
(full image size: 953kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
September and October 2011 DistroWatch.com donations: Trinity Desktop Environment, LibreCAD|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the September 2011 DistroWatch.com donation is Trinity Desktop Environment, while the October 2011 DistroWatch.com donation goes to LibreCAD. Each of the two projects receives US$300 in cash.
Trinity desktop environment is a community effort to maintain and develop the KDE 3 series desktop environment: "This project aims to keep the KDE 3.5 computing style alive, as well as polish off any rough edges that were present as of KDE 3.5.10. Along the way, new useful features will be added to keep the environment up-to-date. Toward that end, significant new enhancements have already been made in areas such as display control, network connectivity, user authentication, and much more. This project is not an official continuation of KDE 3.5 by KDE e.V., which will not be creating new releases of the KDE 3 series. This is an independent fork using a largely separate developer community." As it happened, last week saw the release of a new version of Trinity Desktop Environment, version 3.5.13.
LibreCAD is a free and open-source personal 2D CAD application for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It started as an add-on to the better-known QCad, but eventually evolved into an application on its own. From the project's About page: "LibreCAD started as a project to build CAM capabilities into the community version of QCad for use with a Mechmate CNC router. Since QCad CE was built around the outdated Qt 3 library, it had to be ported to Qt 4 before additional enhancements. This gave rise to CADuntu. The project was known as CADuntu only for a couple of months before the community decided that the name was inappropriate. After some discussion within the community and research on existing names, CADuntu was renamed to LibreCAD. Porting the rendering engine to Qt 4 proved to be a large task, so LibreCAD initially still depended on the Qt 3 support library. The Qt 4 porting was completed eventually and LibreCAD has become Qt 3 free."
Timothy Pearson, the founder and lead developer of the Trinity Desktop Project, has emailed DistroWatch with a brief thank-you note: "Thank you very much for your generous contribution to the project! It is much appreciated." It is always nice to receive a few kind words. (It's amazing how many donation recipients don't even bother to reply!)
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. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). 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$29,640 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), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300)
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- angusOS. angusOS is an Italian desktop Linux distribution, featuring the KDE and Xfce desktops, based on openSUSE. The project's website is in Italian.
- FX64 Linux. FX64 Linux is a Fedora-based distribution, with Oracle Java, Adobe Flash Player, Skype and RAR pre-installed, together with essential system, office, multimedia and Internet applications from the official Fedora and RPM Fusion repositories.
- Linux Wizard. Linux Wizard is a Russian desktop Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. The project's website is in Russian.
- R4W. R4W (Replacement for Windows) is a Debian-based distribution designed to be a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Windows 98 - XP era computers. It is intended to be used by computer refurbishing/recycling centres and businesses. The goal is to keep perfectly good computers from becoming e-waste, as well as helping small businesses prosper by saving money.
- SimbiOS. SimbiOS is a Brazilian desktop Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. The project's website is in Portuguese.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 14 November 2011.
Jesse Smith, Ladislav Bodnar and Robert Storey
|• 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|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|