| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 328, 9 November 2009
Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Two topics dominated last week's proceedings on many Linux web sites: the release of Mandriva Linux 2010 (Jesse Smith takes a first look at the product in this issue's feature article) and the unhappy experiences of some users with Ubuntu 9.10. As for Mandriva, the early indications are that the new version is one of the better releases from a company that tends to fluctuate between truly excellent and amazingly mediocre. On the other hand, many users' high hopes for a smooth upgrade to the new Ubuntu were dashed as numerous problems reported around the Internet have soured their experiences. But if Ubuntu doesn't work for you and Mandriva isn't to your taste, there is a lot more to come in the coming weeks - openSUSE 11.2 will arrive in just a few days, while Fedora 12 is scheduled for release next week. Other topics covered in this week's issue are the upcoming release of Sabayon Linux 5.1, server compromises of some popular distribution's web sites, and an interesting review of three netbook-specific distributions - with an unexpected winner. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the October 2009 DistroWatch.com donation goes to OpenSSH. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at Mandriva Linux 2010
Mandriva is a veteran in Linux circles, having now been around for over ten years. The company has been through a lot, including hard economic times, a merger, some different business models and a name change. But, despite its trials, Mandriva is still here and this week the development team released their 2010 product line. I took this opportunity to put the latest release through its paces.
The Mandriva web site is beautifully laid out. It's colourful, easy to read and painless to navigate. It does a nice job of balancing the business side of the company with a sense of community. There is a mountain of documentation on the site, again well presented, so that people with any range of Linux experience (or lack of) should feel at ease. There are several flavours of the distribution to choose from, depending on one's requirements. The main groups being:
There is also a server edition but, for my purposes, I was only interested in the desktop releases. I decided on One for my tests. In case there wasn't already enough variety for your tastes, Mandriva provides even more choices. The One release is further broken down into various flavours based on your desktop preference (GNOME or KDE) and your language preference. This would be a bit confusing if it wasn't for the excellent aforementioned documentation, which explains each of the options. Many people say Linux is about choice and Mandriva embraces that concept with a passion.
- Free. This offering is a free (no cost) DVD download and includes only free ("libre") software.
- One. A single live CD, which is also free of charge, but includes proprietary drivers.
- Powerpack. Two DVDs, which come at €59 and include all of Mandriva's software.
- Flash. This is similar to Powerpack, but comes on a USB Flash drive.
For my test run, I tried the live CD on my desktop machine (2.5 GHz CPU and 2 GB of RAM) and my laptop (1.5 GHz CPU and 2 GB of RAM). With the CD downloaded and checked for errors, I got down to the fun part. The first thing I noticed after I finished burning my newest CD, is that there are two copies of the Mandriva user's manual (one copy is in French, one in English) included on the disc. The manual includes tips on installing, basic trouble-shooting, changing settings and getting further support. The document is well laid out and helpful.
The Mandriva CD kicks things off with a graphical boot that is fairly typical of modern Linux desktops. The system then asks for some basic information, such as the user's time zone, keyboard layout and asks the user to accept the company's license agreement before introducing them to the desktop. The Mandriva desktop is one of the nicer ones I've seen, with a pleasant blue theme and a handful of icons for navigating the file system, upgrading to the commercial edition and running the installer. There's the usual taskbar, application menu and, since this a KDE 4 desktop, there's the settings button in the top-right corner. The taskbar has some commonly desired short-cuts to applications on it, including the Firefox web browser and links to both the desktop settings manager and the system's Control Centre. After poking around a little and confirming things worked as I expected, I ran the installer.
The Mandriva installer is a pleasant beast and its only real concern is to ask the user about how the hard disk is to be partitioned. If you're doing anything other than using the free space left on the disk, the installer will suggest you back up your data first. The disk partitioning utility is very straightforward and makes creating, formatting, deleting and resizing partitions point-n-click easy. I'm happy to see that this installer includes support for the ext4 file system as well as support for several other types. From there, the installer checks the local hardware and offers to not install drivers the user doesn't need. This is a nice space-saving touch.
The installer on the live CD copies all the available programs from the CD to the hard drive and, so far as I can tell, there's no way to pick or choose what applications are installed. All of the applications combined end up taking about 3 GB of disk space. The installer wraps up by asking how GRUB should be configured. The defaults are sane and most people will be able to simply click through. Once the system is rebooted, the user is prompted to set a root password and create a regular user account. The system will then ask the user to register with Mandriva and submit some information about their hardware. All of this is voluntary and, once it's completed or rejected, Mandriva hands proceedings over to a login screen.
Mandriva Linux 2010 - the system installer
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Life after the install was, in a word, smooth. The system automatically detected and enabled my network connection and, on my laptop, the Intel wireless card. Likewise, my video cards were detected and configured without any help from me. In short, most of my hardware was handled beautifully. One exception was the mobile network card for my laptop - it was detected, but incorrectly handled as a CD drive. This isn't unusual, as some other distributions (and some versions of Windows) do this too. In fact, I think to date, only recent releases of Ubuntu and Fedora have used the mobile card properly. I found that the suspend feature worked on my laptop, allowing me to close the lid and walk away, then return and pick up where I'd left off.
Sound was my only serious hardware-related complaint; it didn't work properly on either my laptop or my desktop and some tweaking in the Control Centre was required. I think my problem lay in the fact that Mandriva tried to use PulseAudio by default; however, some Pulse-related packages weren't installed. The sound configuration tool offered to download these missing packages and things progressed smoothly from there. Connecting media, such as a Flash drive or a camera, resulted in the system mounting the device and a file browser opening to the proper location.
Mandriva has a fine collection of software in the default install, including Firefox 3.5, OpenOffice.org 3.1, audio and video players, the GIMP, instant messaging applications and many other popular tools. I didn't see any CD burning software in the application menu, but burning tools are available in the repositories. Also in regards to packages, the One flavour of Mandriva comes with proprietary drivers and popular media codecs. The system recognizes mp3 files, for instance, and Flash videos work out of the box. However the gem which really shines in Mandriva's software collection is the Control Centre.
The Control Centre is quite possibly the best central configuration point I have seen in any operating system. The main panel is nicely laid out with easy-to-understand categories. There's a Software Management group, which allows for adding and removing software, as well as handling when the system will check for updates. The Hardware section focuses on making sure sound, graphics, printing, scanning and mouse devices work properly. There are two Networking sections, the first allows the administrator to configure new connections, remove unwanted connections and share an Internet connection with other machines on the network. The second networking category focuses on Samba shares and NFS.
The System group covers a wide range of things from login authentication methods, configuring services, adding fonts, managing user accounts and handling backups. The authentication methods which would allow users to login using a directory service require additional software packages to be installed. Also in the Control Centre are Security settings, which allow for easy firewall configuration and parental controls to be set up. Finally, there are options for setting themes, configuring the login manager and managing local disks. All in all, there is a very impressive effort to make system administration easy for inexperienced users. More experienced administrators should also feel at home as complex items generally have an Advanced section, allowing for further fine tuning of the operating system.
Mandriva Linux 2010 - the Control Centre
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It may interest people to know that, by default, Mandriva creates a guest account on the system. This is a generic user account with limited privileges, handy for administrators who want to let other people use their computer without handing out a password. On the downside, it's an extra user account with no password protecting it. This account can be altered or removed, like any other user account, from the Control Centre.
There are a number of daemons running on the system, though I didn't find any network servers, such as OpenSSH, active. One service, which requested my attention right away, was the update manager. It asked for permission to configure the system's repositories. With that done, the application started checking for available updates. This behaviour pattern seemed to repeat itself throughout the distribution: at first, there are lots of windows offering help or asking for information. However, once this initial wave subsides, Mandriva gets out of the way and lets you get to work. This sort of thing may irritate experienced Linux users, but for people on unfamiliar ground, this method of doing things will probably be greatly appreciated.
On the application menu, there is an entry for adding and removing software. Launching this program, called Rpmdrake, allows the user to manage packages on the system. Like everything else in this distro, a few tips are provided for newcomers as the application hands over control to the user. Rpmdrake is similar to other graphical package managers, such as Synaptic, and has worked well for me so far.
Mandriva Linux 2010 - the Control Centre
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Examining the performance side of things, Mandriva isn't exactly slow, but it's not likely to win any races against other Linux distributions either. The user-friendly approach, along with KDE 4, makes Mandriva a fairly heavy distro and I would recommend running it only on machines with at least 1 GB of RAM, preferably more. Less than 1 GB of RAM is likely to result in sluggish performance.
After a few days of using Mandriva Linux 2010, I was very impressed. The implementation of KDE used in this distro is one of the best I've seen and I ran into no serious bugs. Nor were there any stability issues. There is a lot of documentation for newcomers and lots of flexibility and power for more experienced users. The system, especially the Control Centre, is beautifully laid out and a pleasure to use. Aside from the passwordless guest account, I found no security issues and the graphical package manager is one of the friendliest I've encountered.
After a while, I found myself looking for things to complain about, and it wasn't easy. My only real gripe was with sound and, as previously mentioned, there's a graphical tool to handle this and it offers tips on trouble-shooting any sound problems. My mobile network card wasn't properly handled, but that's fairly common on all but the most cutting-edge distributions. The mobile issue isn't likely to affect many people and for those who really need it, there are workarounds. And, though it's not really a complaint, I will note again that Mandriva (with KDE installed) is a relatively heavy operating system and performance is likely to suffer a little compared to other distributions.
The Mandriva company has done a fine job in offering a diverse set of products that should appeal to free (libre) software advocates, as well as people more concerned with having things work out of the box than with software freedoms. The distribution is a careful mix of professional commercial product and open source community project. If you're looking for a distro that you can suggest to your non-Linux friends and family, a distro that will work smoothly, offer lots of options, sane defaults and not require any command-line interaction, this is it. Mandriva is setting the bar higher and I strongly recommend giving it a try.
openSUSE 11.2 Gold Master, Fedora 12 crunch time, Ubuntu media coverage, Sabayon 5.1 updates, Puppy and BackTrack server compromises, Jolicloud for your netbook
Following the releases of Mandriva Linux 2010 last week and Ubuntu 9.10 the week before, it's the turn of openSUSE to get ready for the expected swarm on their download servers later this week. This is the first new openSUSE release in nearly 11 months, so chances are that it will be a very different product compared to 11.1, despite a minor version bump. What can we expect? Here are some of the highlights taken from the draft release notes: "new Installation QuickStart guide and other documentation, Firefox with special settings is now the KDE default browser; Thunderbird 3.0 beta4, which will go final shortly after the 11.2 release; system upgrade with zypper; MySQL 5.1; the kernel by default mounts file systems with the 'relatime' option." A lot more information will undoubtedly become available as the week progresses. And for those readers who can't wait for the official release date, FOROSUSE.org, a Spanish openSUSE community site, has published links to a mirror that seems to be carrying the final openSUSE 11.2 CD and DVD images, as well as torrents. Have a lot of fun!
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Another distribution that is preparing for the final release is Fedora whose version 12 is expected on 17 November. But, according to Adam Williamson, there is a slight possibility that the release could slip: "We're still pushing to make the Fedora 12 final release on time but without compromising on quality. It has been a little hairy over the last two days but we've got what we think is a solid package set in at last, and a first release candidate build has been cut. We still need to do some heavy testing on it and make a final call on whether we're going with the planned release schedule -- that will happen on Monday -- but at the moment I'm hopeful. We'll make the right decision either way, if we ought to slip the release we will do, and Fedora 12 should be one of the highest quality Fedora releases for a while." If you'd like to help with the last-minute testing, download the most recent nightly build from this server and give it a good spin!
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Those who followed some of the popular Linux news sites after the release of Ubuntu 9.10 must have been horrified (or, for those belonging to the Ubuntu haters camp, delighted) by the amount of negative media coverage given to Canonical's latest release over the past week. This is how The Register summed up the event in "Early adopters bloodied by Ubuntu's Karmic Koala", a story with over 1,200 comments on Slashdot: "Ubuntu 9.10 is causing outrage and frustration, with early adopters wishing they'd stuck with previous versions of the Linux distro. Blank and flickering screens, failure to recognize hard drives, defaulting to the old 2.6.28 Linux kernel, and failure to get encryption running are taking their toll, as early adopters turn to the web for answers and log fresh bug reports in Ubuntu forums." Similar stories have been told on other web sites, including the distribution's official forums. Is the latest Ubuntu really bad, or is it just the case of a vocal minority making a mountain out of a hill? Please discuss your experiences below.
With the "Karmic Koala" release behind them, the Ubuntu developers have now moved on to the next challenge: Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx", a LTS (long-term support) release expected in April 2010. According to Steve Langasek, it will be based on Debian's "testing" (rather than "unstable") branch: "I'm happy to report that the Lucid Lynx is now open for uploads. We do not recommend that users upgrade to Lucid at this time; it is likely to be in very considerable flux until the initial round of merges is complete. As ever, any developers wishing to take the plunge at this early stage should ensure that they are comfortable with recovering from anything up to complete system failure. Automatic syncs from Debian will begin shortly. Because Lucid is an LTS, auto-syncing will track the Debian testing series for this cycle, rather than Debian unstable as we normally do. We expect this more conservative policy for package syncing will enable us to prepare a more stable long-term support release."
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The recently released Sabayon Linux 5.0, the most popular Gentoo variant designed for the desktop, was a culmination of many months of development effort. That, however, hasn't stopped the developers from starting to work on the next big release, version 5.1. In fact, the first beta builds have now been released for internal testing: "Last week Fabio released the 5.1 beta 1 ISOs for the testing team and it's looking pretty good, which it should be since it's mostly just updated packages. If you are doing your 'equo update && equo world' regularly than you already have 5.1. 5.1 will just basically save a person from having to do so many updates. I believe the latest GNOME will be included in 5.1." Besides the main release, there is also talk about a new Sabayon "Gamer's DVD": "Fabio is also going to put together a gamer's DVD. You can find more information and ask questions on the forum. The details are sketchy yet and we will of course post more information at a later time."
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Security is a topic that has been hotly debated on these pages recently, with Puppy Linux on the receiving end of the more paranoid among the readers and, at the same time, defended by vocal Puppy supporters. Ironically, it was a Puppy community web site at puppylinux.org that became victim of an attack over the weekend: "For your information. I don't know if it can compromise your own system by visiting it, best to stay away." At the time of writing, the site, running an unspecified Linux according to Netcraft, displays the following message: "ALBOSS PARADISE @ IRC.ASCNET.BIZ poor puppy destroyed by BULL DOGS (:" Sounds more like a prank than a malicious attack. But even if there was no evil intent here, one can never be too secure - as proven by the experts behind Offensive Security (who also develop the BackTrack distribution) whose web site was also compromised last weekend: "Today, as we were watching our Apache logs, we noticed unusual requests. A quick analysis showed that our web server was compromised through a vulnerability in the Wiki software we use for the free Metasploit course."
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|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Distributions and real-time Linux kernel
A fifth-level Linux ranger asks: There should be no need for Ubuntu Studio - why can't a real-time kernel be the default for a distro which is meant to be a desktop one, not a server one? For servers, there is Ubuntu Server edition, right?
DistroWatch answers: I admit that the finer points of kernel design are a bit out of my league; however, I'll try to answer this question as best I can. A real-time kernel is designed in such a way as to make sure certain tasks are performed when they should be. This is handy when the user is recording sound and needs low latency, for example. I imagine a real-time kernel is also an important thing to have if you're using your computer to, say, track flying objects on radar. In these cases, overall system performance is less important than knowing a certain task is going to be done at a given time or that the system will do something every N number of milliseconds. The trade-off is that making sure those few tasks get completed when they're supposed to means everything else is treated as a secondary concern.
There are a lot of schedulers out there and (I think) most of them try to make sure that each process gets an equal amount of CPU time. This means that (assuming equal priority settings) each process gets a fair allotment. Most schedulers keep all processes on the machine running smoothly. For those of us not tracking missiles or recording high quality audio, this is usually what we want. All other things being equal, I think the time-share approach is slightly more efficient than the real-time approach.
For a rather strained analogy, imagine you're in a line at a bank. With a regular time-share scheduler, each person starts at the back of the line and moves forward. No one gets special treatment, and everyone gets served on a first-come, first-served basis. If the line was being managed with real-time scheduling in mind, a few special people would be able to skip the line and get served right away. This is great for those few special people, but it means everyone else is made to wait longer.
In short, a real-time kernel isn't the default for most distributions because it's not what most people want. Most users want all their programs to respond quickly and run smoothly at the loss of precise timing.
|Released Last Week
Dimitris Papadatos has announced the release of Monomaxos 4.0, a Greek desktop-oriented distribution based on Ubuntu (and a screensaver showing magnificent images of Greece): "Monomaxos Greek Linux operating system version 4.0 (based on Ubuntu 9.04). This is the fourth release of Monomaxos localized for the Greek language that comes as a live DVD. It supports playback of every kind of multimedia file (including HD video) and any kind of Internet content out of the box and can also be used for setting up a stand alone media center (including XBMC media center). It contains OpenOffice.org 3.1 in Greek with functional spellcheck. A large variety of open source software installed in this live DVD provides solutions for all needs of the modern user." See the release announcement (in Greek) for further information.
Monomaxos 4.0 - a Greek desktop distribution based on Ubuntu
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Mandriva Linux 2010
Mandriva Linux 2010 has been released: "Mandriva is proud to introduce its brand new release: Mandriva Linux 2010, code name 'Adelie'. Included in this new release, 'Smart desktop' technology, coming from a European research project. Your desktop is tasks oriented. Organize your personal data (mails, documents, images, videos). Notate it, add your comments and tags. Now your data is easy to find through your projects. Boot time has been improved again. Mandriva Linux 2010 comes with 3 brand new designs - choose the one you prefer. You can also choose one of the 11 extra backgrounds contributed by community members." Read the release announcement and release notes, and visit the what's new page to learn more.
Imad Sousou has announced the release of Moblin 2.1, a Linux distribution optimised for Intel Atom-based netbooks: "The Moblin project steering committee today announces the project release of Moblin 2.1 for Intel Atom processor-based netbooks and nettops. This project release includes the broadest feature additions, customer requested improvements, and overall polish to date. With this community release you will see significant feature additions and improvements including enhanced browser functionality and plug-in support, UI enhancements, support for 3G data connections, Bluetooth device management, input method support for localized languages, integrated application installer for the Moblin Garage, performance and stability improvements, and additional overall help and documentation. In addition to the various new features, this new version of Moblin includes several hundred bug fixes and incorporates feedback from users and the developer community." Read the rest of the release announcement which includes a detailed list of all improvements.
Moblin 2.1 - a much improved update of the distribution for Intel Atom-based netbooks
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Scientific Linux 5.4
Troy Dawson has announced the release of Scientific Linux 5.4, a distribution compiled from source packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, but enhanced with extra scientific packages, file systems and other software: "Scientific Linux 5.4 has been released for both i386 and x86_64 architecture. There are packages that we used to have to add to Scientific Linux, that are now in Enterprise 5, and so we do not have to add them ourselves. FUSE, and its kernel modules, are now provided by the upstream vendor. The Atheros wireless chipset is now supported by the upstream vendor. We have added the iwlwifi 5150 ucode (firmware), as well as updated the 3945, 4945, and 5000 ucode. Lua has been also been added to the release. Scientific Linux release 5.4 is based on the rebuilding of RPMs out of SRPMs from Enterprise 5 Server and Client, it also has all errata and bug fixes up until November 1, 2009." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Rafael Bonifaz has announced the release of Elastix 1.6.0, a CentOS-based Linux distribution that integrates the best tools available for Asterisk-based Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) into a single, easy-to-use interface: "We are proud to announce the release of Elastix 1.6 stable. It can be downloaded in 32-bit or 64-bit ISOs. This release has several improvements from Elastix 1.5 that fix bugs from Elastix and CentOS. Here are some of the more important changes: Asterisk updated to 184.108.40.206; Dahdi updated to 220.127.116.11; Asterisk now supports Huawei modems as trunks; Elastix 32-bit and 64-bit synchronization, now both editions have the same packages; Elastix package now provides elastix-additionals for easier updates...." See the release announcement and changelog for a complete list of changes.
Stephan Rickauer has announced the release of BSDanywhere 4.6, an OpenBSD-based live CD featuring the IceWM window manager: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of BSDanywhere 4.6 - OpenBSD at your fingertips. Here's a quick summary of the changes since 4.5: upgrade base system to OpenBSD 4.6 and packages accordingly; replace Enlightenment desktop (E17) with IceWM, for which we use a slightly adjusted 'icedesert' theme including BSDanywhere wallpapers - it starts quicker, is easy to customize and very stable; space we gained by swapping the window manager has been spent on adding the XMMS music player, the Irssi chat client, the XFE file manager, the Mutt email client and the OpenNX client; ddb, the kernel debugger, may now be invoked from the console using CTRL-ALT-ESC....." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
BSDanywhere 4.6 - an OpenBSD-based live CD with IceWM
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Warren Woodford has announced the release of SimplyMEPIS 8.0.12, a maintenance update of the beginner-friendly, Debian-based desktop Linux distribution: "MEPIS LLC has released SimplyMEPIS 8.0.12, an update to the community edition of MEPIS 8.0. SimplyMEPIS 8.0 uses a Debian 'Lenny' stable foundation enhanced with a Long Term Support kernel, key package upgrades, and the MEPIS Assistant applications to create an up-to-date, ready to use desktop computer system. The updated components on the SimplyMEPIS ISOs include recent updates from the Debian 'Lenny' pool and also the security-patched Linux kernel 18.104.22.168, ALSA 1.0.21 and updated drivers for Aufs and NVIDIA 185.18.36. Some of the packages were updated to enable compatibility between MEPIS 8.0 and the upcoming MEPIS 8.5 which will feature KDE 4.3." Here is the brief release announcement.
Tiny Core Linux 2.5
Robert Shingledecker has announced the release of Tiny Core Linux 2.5, a very small (10 MB) minimal distribution with a graphical desktop based on Linux kernel 2.6, BusyBox, Tiny X, FLTK toolkit: "Tiny Core continues to get smaller and faster. Change log for 2.5: updated rebuildfstab for speed improvement; updated tc-config and tc-functions for NFS-PXE support; updated tce-load and tc-config with cp construct replaces tar pipe and rsync, speed improvement; updated tc-config for Microcore + no wbar = no X bug; updated exittc now norestore will uncheck the default backup option; re-implemented /opt/tce boot-time support; updated flwm system menu with transparent shell options; added home/tc/.wmx to /opt/.xfiletool.lst to protect basic system menu...." Read the rest of the changelog for further details.
Volker Theile has released FreeNAS 0.7, a FreeBSD-based NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting CIFS, FTP, NFS, AFP, RSYNC and iSCSI protocols: "Today I am proud to announce the release of FreeNAS 0.7. Majors changes: add ability to configure the login shell for a user; upgrade Samba to 3.0.37; upgrade Transmission to 1.72; local users must join the 'ftp' group to be able to login via FTP if 'Local users only' in 'Services, FTP' is enabled; upgrade lighttpd to 1.4.23; add a user portal, this allows a local user to login and change the password; upgrade ProFTPD to 1.3.2a; upgrade iSCSI initiator to 2.2.3; Upgrade NTFS-3G to 2009.4.4; upgrade e2fsprogs to 1.41.8; add Adaptec AACRAID 32/64-bit driver to 5.2.0 Build 17517; upgrade inadyn-mt to 02.14.10; upgrade fuppes to SVN-0.640." See the release announcement for a complete changelog.
iMagic OS 2010
Carlos La Borde has announced the release of iMagic OS 2010, a commercial desktop distribution based on Ubuntu's long-term support (LTS) branch. What's new in this release? "New interface - a flashy boot screen based on our brand new wallpaper, a sleek black desktop, colored with bright blue and white icons, as well as a glowing menu button; magicOnline - an easier way to install software, magicOnline v3 sports a colorful, easy-to-use interface, and a whole host of time saving innovations; magicEssentials - small, quick applications designed to make using iMagic OS that much easier, play music through magicSongs' glossy interface, write a note in magicWriter, or remove Windows viruses with magicScan; support - live chat, magicGuides, application documentation, and integrated email support all make getting on your feet with iMagic OS even easier." Read the rest of the release announcement for all the glory details.
Kai Hendry has released Webconverger 5.7, a Debian-based distribution for web kiosks with the Firefox web browser as the only application: "Webconverger 5.7 features a Debian 'Lenny' back-ported Firefox 3.5 build. Overall I would consider this release as experimental. There is a couple of new known bugs introduced with Firefox 3.5, namely you can now non-persistently change configuration settings in the about: URL and browse the local file system - this introduces possibly some security issues. I've disabled the Debian installer again, I am finding it far too complex and I am tempted to write my own simpler installer based on dd. I've enabled Firefox's Private Browsing feature by default. Strictly speaking since the ~/.mozilla directory is purged between sessions, making this feature is totally unnecessary and probably introduces problems." More information can be found in the release notes.
Zenwalk Linux 6.2 "Core"
Emmanuel Bailleul has announced the release of Zenwalk Linux 6.2 "Core" edition, a minimal Zenwalk distribution without any graphical servers intended as a starting point for building a custom desktop or server system: "Zenwalk Core 6.2 is ready! Like the plain 6.2, Zenwalk Core 6.2 is mostly new code (nearly all packages have been updated), and the base system has been slightly modified (ext4, kernel 22.214.171.124). The switch to LZMA for package compression has reduced the overall size of the ISO image to 170 MB. Here's a summary of important changes: Kernel 126.96.36.199; LZMA compression for packages; ext4 as main file system; faster boot (tuned init scripts); bus auto-detection in the installer (will choose appropriate kernel depending on the architecture, SATA, PATA, SCSI); latest development tools... In brief, all you need to create a personalized build platform, your favorite desktop environment or a clean and secured server machine." Here is the brief release announcement.
François Dupoux has released an updated version of SystemRescueCd, a Gentoo-based live CD designed as a tool to carry out system administration tasks, such as rescuing data after a crash or creating and editing hard disk partitions. From the changelog: "Updated the standard kernels to Linux kernel 188.8.131.52 with Btrfs update from 2.6.32; updated the alternative kernels to Linux kernel 184.108.40.206; updated DMRAID to 1.0.0-rc16 and mdadm to 3.0.2 (hardware and software RAID); updated LVM to 2.02.51 (Logical Volume Manager version 2); updated xorg-server to version 220.127.116.111 (graphical server and drivers); support for framebuffer video in the standard kernels (boot option 'vga=xxx'); replaced Xvesafb with Xfbdev (run 'wizard' to use this graphical mode); updated GParted to 0.4.8 (graphical partitioning tool); added Super Grub Disk 1.21 (includes GRUB 1.96)."
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
October 2009 DistroWatch.com donation: OpenSSH receives US$350.00|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the October 2009 DistroWatch.com donation is OpenSSH, a free version of the Secure Shell connectivity tools developed by OpenBSD. It receives US$350 in cash.
Most DistroWatch readers probably won't need any introduction to this extremely useful and popular tool, but for the benefit of those visitors who are new to Linux, here is a quick quote from the OpenSSH page at Wikipedia: "OpenSSH (OpenBSD Secure Shell) is a set of computer programs providing encrypted communication sessions over a computer network using the ssh protocol. It was created as an open-source alternative to the proprietary Secure Shell software suite offered by SSH Communications Security. OpenSSH is developed as part of the OpenBSD project. OpenSSH was created by the OpenBSD team as an alternative to the original SSH software by Tatu Ylönen, which is now proprietary software. The OpenSSH developers claim that it is more secure than the original, due to their policy of producing clean and audited code and the fact, to which the word open in the name refers, that it is released under the open-source BSD license."
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with a cash contribution. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for a future donation. 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$22,493 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).
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DistroWatch database summary
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And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 16 November 2009.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
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