| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 97, 25 April 2005
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week we'll start by introducing you to what is quite possibly the first user-friendly, desktop-oriented BSD operating system ever created - with a graphical installer and a (planned) graphical package management utility. We'll also take a brief look at the newly released Momonga Linux 2 and tell you how to obtain the full installation CD of Linspire 5.0 for free. Finally, there is good news for those of you who enjoyed Robert Storey's DistroWatch Weekly over the last two weeks - see the Web Site News section below. Happy reading!
PC-BSD - a user-friendly desktop-oriented BSD system
Have you ever wondered why there is no easy-to-install desktop BSD operating system with automatic hardware detection and setup? If so, you'll be pleased to learn that things are about to change in this respect - courtesy of PC-BSD. Designed as an "easy-to-install-and-use operating system", this FreeBSD-based system comes with a graphical installer and automatic hardware detection - features that have never been seen in the BSD world!
We installed the current beta release of PC-BSD, version 0.5a, and were immediately impressed. The installation CD is essentially a live CD that boots into a Fluxbox desktop and uses a simple, Anaconda-like graphical installer. It allows you to select your preferred partition for installing PC-BSD, configure the root password and users, set up the boot loader, and install the system. Upon reboot, you will be presented with the KDM login manager to take you to KDE 3.4.0. The hardware auto-detection module correctly detected our graphics, sound and network cards and all were immediately available and usable. Although the number of included applications is rather minimalistic (until you reach for the cvsup tool, that is), PC-BSD has to be by far the easiest and most automated BSD-based operating system available today!
If you've ever wanted to install a BSD system, but were scarred off by the seemingly "geeky" nature of all BSD projects, give PC-BSD a try. This one is considerably different!
PC-BSD - undoubtedly the most user-friendly BSD system ever created
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Not long ago we reported about an initiative at BSDCertification.org to create a BSD certification program that is recognised as the industry standard for administering BSD systems. One of the initiators of the program is Dru Lavigne, the author of the excellent FreeBSD Basics column and BSD Hacks book. She was recently interviewed by ZDNet: "Until now, there hasn't been an accredited method for proving competency in BSD systems administration. This is in contrast to, say, a developer who has the ability to gain recognition and prove skill by writing code and possibly gaining a commit bit for third-party software or even one of the BSD operating system code bases. However, many administrators find that employers are sometimes hesitant to choose BSD solutions as they’re concerned that they won’t be able to find and hire competent BSD administrators. BSD Certification is one way to start to address those concerns."
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And still on the subject of BSDs, the developers of OpenBSD have released the theme song and lyrics that will accompany the upcoming OpenBSD 3.7. As explained by Theo de Raadt, the founder and lead developer of OpenBSD, "the artwork and lyrics for each of our releases relate to something big we have been dealing with over the last 6 months of the release -- our fight to get programming documentation and redistributable firmwares." The song, called "The Wizard of OS", together with the lyrics are available on this page. OpenBSD 3.7 is expected to start shipping around 19 May 2005.
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A new version of Momonga Linux was released over the weekend. For those who have never heard of Momonga, this distribution is being developed by the former developers of Kondara MNU/Linux, a Japanese distribution which, at one stage, competed on the US market. The company behind Kondara later discontinued the project, so the developers moved on to create Momonga Linux.
Although Momonga is loosely modelled on Fedora Core (it uses the Anaconda installer and its development tree strongly resembles that of its better-known counterpart), its RPM packages are built independently of Fedora and are optimised for the i686 architecture. Don't be deceived by the fact that the distribution is developed by a community of developers mostly located in Japan - Momonga Linux supports a large number of languages and its web site is published in both Japanese and English. The distribution also includes a comprehensive range of pre-configured and easy-to-use input methods for several languages, including most Asian ones. As such, it is well-positioned to generate strong following among users who need to type documents in Asian languages.
Momonga Linux - one of the best distributions for users who need support for Asian languages
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According to this story at Flexbeta, it is now possible to obtain the latest release of Linspire for free - by visiting the company's online store and entering a coupon code: "I have tried this and it works fine. First, select 'Buy Linspire' from the product page here. Click on 'Buy Now (Digital Download Only)' for Linspire Five-0, and select 'Apply Coupon'. The coupon code: linspire4RA, will give you a free copy of Linspire 5.0. Enjoy." Linspire seems to be doing a special promotion - it gives away the base operating system for free and hopes to entice users into joining the (non-free) Click-N-Run application warehouse. Not a bad strategy; if you are new to Linux and interested in trying it out, Linspire 5.0 is an excellent choice. Correction: Apparently, this coupon expired last Sunday and is no longer available. Nevertheless, Linspire has a history of announcing similar promotions so we'll watch out for the next one.
|Released Last Week
Libranet GNU/Linux 3.0
The long awaited new version of Libranet GNU/Linux has been released: "It's here! At last the long awaited Libranet 3.0 is released. Libranet 3.0 represents a considerable investment on the part of the Libranet developers. We hope you will be able to show your support for Libranet and purchase this most excellent distribution." The announcement was made on the distribution's newsletter and can also be read on its user forums. Libranet 3.0 is available for immediate purchase and download from this page (US$89.95 for full edition or US$64.95 for upgrade/student edition).
Libranet 3.0 with IceWM and Adminmenu - it looks like YaST has some serious competition
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A new release of PaiPix, a scientific extended remaster of KNOPPIX, is now available. From the release announcement: "It includes several improvements and bug fixes and as well as the French and Italian editions. The new packages incorporated include support for the afs distributed file system; drivers for the modems ADSL USB; drivers nvidia; some new games; integration of the Z39.50 service for libraries; the video editor cinelerra; the animation editor k3d; the vectorial editor sodipodi; the field visualization system vis5d; the geographical information system Grass; planner for project planning. This release is the reference for the future version 3.8."
BLAG Linux And GNU 30000
BLAG Linux And GNU version 30000 has been released: "BLAG Linux and GNU is a 100% Free Software distribution. BLAG is a single-cd distro with everything desktop users "expect" from a desktop, plus a collection of nice server apps. BLAG30000 is based on Fedora Core 3 plus updates, adds apps from Dag, Freshrpms, NewRPMS, and includes custom packages." This is the release announcement.
Scientific Linux 4.0
Scientific Linux 4.0 for i386 is now available: "It should be possible to upgrade from Scientific Linux 3.0.x via the anaconda installer. Yum is known to NOT work. See SL.documentation for the vendor release notes... Rsync access available upon request." Read the announcement here.
Tao Linux 4
Tao Linux is a distribution rebuilt from source RPM packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and Tao 4 has been announced to have gone 'gold': "Changes from the beta: Fixed mod_perl, httpd wouldn't start; Fixed glade, wouldn't start; Corrected comps.xml to always install tao-yumconf; GDM theme artwork from Ben Cobb; Included lots of good free html documentation, included in a 'graphical internet' install." Here is the release announcement.
Minislack 1.0 has been released: "The Minislack project's team is happy to announce the availability of the 1.0 version. 1.0 includes lots of updates: kernel 188.8.131.52, XFce 184.108.40.206, GNOME 2.10, Thunderbird 1.0.2, Firefox 1.0.3, AbiWord 2.2.7, Gnumeric 1.4.2, Gxine 0.4.1, Grip 3.2.0, Leafpad 0.7.9, Libglade 2.5.1, and more... This release also includes security enhancements (firewall, inetd tuning), and good cpufreqd support for laptops. Minislack provides all needed GNOME libraries to run most GTK+2 Gnome applications. KDE users will find an optimized KDE 3.4 distribution in the packages section of the Minislack website." Read the release announcement for more details.
K12LTSP Linux 4.2.1
The K12 Linux Terminal Server Project (K12LTSP) has updated their distribution to version 4.2.1: "At long last, the final release of K12LTSP v4.2.1 is available for download." What's new? "Preliminary PPC support - most New World Macs boot as thin clients; LTSP 4.1.1 for Intel-based clients; improved USB key chain support; SchoolBell 1.0 added (SchoolBell is a free, open source web application to allow groups and organizations to coordinate the sharing of calendars); Fedora Extras repository enabled by default, makes it easy to add many new software packages such as Inkscape (try 'yum install inkscape')." See the release announcement for more details.
Momonga Linux 2
The second release of Momonga Linux is out: "We are pleased to release 'Asuna', Momonga Linux 2." Some of the more interesting features include the following: "Architecture: i686. 'Asuna' supports Reiser4 experimentally, in addition to ext2, ext3, ReiserFS, JFS, and XFS; please note that a separate partition for /boot is needed to have Reiser4 for your root filesystem. Integrated package management systems: supports yum and mph. Desktop environments: GNOME 2.8.2, KDE 3.4.0, and XFce 220.127.116.11. CUPS printing system, Apache 2.0.54, security considerations, SELinux, kernel 2.6.10, installation from CD/DVD or FTP/HTTP...." More details can be found in the release announcement.
SLAX 5.0.2 and 5.0.3
Hot on the heels of version 5.0.2, here is another bug fix release of the SLAX live CD - version 5.0.3. From the changelog: "Fixed PS/2 mouse; this is fixed now in all special SLAX releases too; added boot option changes=/dev/? to save changes on device instead of RAM."
SLAX 5.0 is the first Linux live CD that allows users to save their data to a remote online location
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CRUX 2.1 has been released: "I'm happy to announce that CRUX 2.1 is finally here. See the change log for a complete list of changes since the last release. Go to the download section to download the ISO image. Please use a mirror." See the release announcement and changelog for a complete list of changes.
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The developers of FreeSBIE, a FreeBSD-based live CD have announced that work has started on a new release, version 1.2. Although no release road map is given, they solicit some input and feature requests from FreeSBIE fans and users: "After a long period of silence, time has come to start and develop a new ISO. So, just a few questions: What do you want us to add in FreeSBIE 1.2? What do you want us to remove from FreeSBIE 1.2? What do you want us to improve in FreeSBIE 1.2? Suggest it now, or use GNU/Linux forever :)" Follow this mailing list thread to read some of the readers' suggestions.
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Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Web Site News
On DistroWatch Weekly and Latest News
Those of you who follow these pages regularly noticed that the last two issues of DistroWatch Weekly had been compiled by Robert Storey. As many of you will agree, Robert has succeeded in raising the standard of the DistroWatch Weekly newsletter to a new level, which was clearly reflected in many of your comments last week. Although naturally jealous of Robert's knowledge and writing abilities, I thought that it would be in the best interest of this publication and our readers if Robert continued writing (or at least contributing to) DistroWatch Weekly regularly.
I spoke to Robert this morning and the good news is that he agreed! Somewhat surprised, he didn't have enough time to write today's issue, but you can look forward to more great analyses, mini-reviews, and tips and tricks starting next week. If you have any requests to cover a particular issue or wish to express your opinion privately, feel free to send your email to robert (at) distrowatch.com.
And while on the subject of maintaining DistroWatch during my absence, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Zhu from Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who was maintaining the news section for the past two weeks. Although suffering from the caprice of the Great Firewall of China, which overzealously (and often incorrectly) identifies any forbidden web sites, you have to agree that Dr Zhu has done a great job keeping you informed about the latest BSD and Linux distribution releases. Well done!
New distributions addition
- PC-BSD. PC-BSD has as its goals to be an easy-to-install-and-use desktop operating system, based on FreeBSD. To accomplish this, it currently has a graphical installation, which will enable even UNIX novices to easily install and get it running. It will also come with KDE pre-built, so that the desktop can be used immediately. Currently in development is a graphical software installation program, which will make installing pre-built software as easy as other popular operating systems.
New on the waiting list
- HostGIS Linux. HostGIS Linux is a GNU/Linux distribution specifically made for handling GIS information. HostGIS Linux saves hours or days of installing MapServer and its components, and will have you serving GIS maps in minutes. Being a Linux, HostGIS Linux is of course completely open source and may be downloaded, modified, and redistributed free of charge.
- ISlack. ISlack is a Linux distribution based on Slackware Linux. The goal of ISlacks is to build a secure system with no servers and closed ports and services. Several programs for penetration testing are included.
- KnoMAX. KnoMAX is a KNOPPIX-based live CD designed for users who want to approach the Linux operating system without installing it on their hard disks. The main Linux features are left untouched while KnoMAX differs from the other distribution in that it uses the Italian language and Italian keyboard by default. KnoMAX can be used as a Linux operating system, for data retrieval from other machines, or for a safe Internet access.
- Network Security Toolkit. Network Security Toolkit (NST) is a bootable live CD based on Fedora Core. The toolkit was designed to provide easy access to best-of-breed open source network security applications and should run on most x86 platforms. The main intent of developing this toolkit was to provide the network security administrator with a comprehensive set of open source network security tools. What we find rather fascinating with NST is that we can transform most x86 systems (Pentium II and above) into a system designed for network traffic analysis, intrusion detection, network packet generation, wireless network monitoring, a virtual system service server, or a sophisticated network/host scanner.
- pfSense. pfSense is a m0n0wall-derived operating system platform with radically different goals such as using Packet Filter, FreeBSD's (or DragonFly BSD when ALTQ and CARP is finished) ALTQ for excellent packet queuing, and an integrated package management system for extending the environment with new features. As with the software itself, this website is still a work in progress, but we're actively working on improving and completing it.
- PosityLinux. PosityLinux is a new GNOME-centric, Spanish live CD based on Debian GNU/Linux.
- Slamd64. As the name suggests, Slamd64 is an unofficial port of Slackware Linux to the AMD64 processors. The first release candidate of Slamd64 10.1 is now available for download and testing.
- Ufficio Zero. Ufficio Zero is a new, beginner-friendly Linux live CD based on Arch Linux. It is completely translated and customised for Italian users with the pre-installed software targeting office environments.
DistroWatch database summary
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 399
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 11
- Number of discontinued distributions: 49
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 110
That's all for today. See you all next week!
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