| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 332, 7 December 2009
Welcome to this year's 49th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! FreeBSD has long been recognised as a fast, stable and reliable operating system, powering large server farms of some of the biggest web sites and search engines on the Internet. This week Jesse Smith installed the project's latest release, version 8.0, on his home server to ascertain that it works as advertised. What were his findings? Read on to find out. In the news section, Fedora project announces a lightweight variant with LXDE as the main desktop, Canonical confirms that Kubuntu 10.04 will be an LTS release, the FreeNAS project considers switching to Debian, and ClearOS presents an excellent alternative to small business - no Linux knowledge required. Also in this issue, links to interviews with Klaus Knopper from KNOPPIX and Ubuntu's Daniel Holbach, a PLD announcement of a live CD featuring the first beta of KDE 4, and another from PC-BSD which confirms that the upcoming version of the desktop FreeBSD system is now feature complete. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the DistroWatch.com November 2009 donation is Parted Magic. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at FreeBSD 8.0
Sometimes it feels to me as if Linux distributions overshadow all other aspects of the open source ecosystem. It can be very easy to jump from one flavour of Linux to another, and to yet another, without being aware of the many other options available. This week, I decided to go in a different direction and explore the latest offering from the BSD communities: FreeBSD, version 8.0.
The FreeBSD operating system is very flexible and well-suited to many different environments, including embedded systems and desktop machines. However, as the project's motto, "The Power To Serve," indicates, FreeBSD gains most of its strong reputation from running servers. Keeping that in mind, I borrowed an old desktop box with a 1 GHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM and installed the latest version of FreeBSD on it to see how it would function as a home server.
One of the first things that stand out about the FreeBSD project is its web site. The layout is easy to read, the presentation is professional and there is more documentation than you can shake a USB stick at. It is wonderfully easy to find just about any information one needs on this site. When troubles arise or when advice is needed, there is a friendly community forum. The latest version of this operating system comes in several different flavours, including a CD edition, with the basic system, and a DVD edition with all the bells and whistles. The operating system will run on 32-bit and 64-bit x86 architectures, Sparc64 and PowerPC systems, among others. All in all, there's a wide variety to choose from and likely a download to suite just about everybody. I grabbed the CD image for i386 machines and got to work.
Before we get to the fun part, I think a bit of disclosure on my part is important. It's rare that I use any of the BSDs in my work or personal life. It's even rarer for me to work as an administrator on a BSD system. And, finally, this review marks the first time I've installed from scratch, configured and run a FreeBSD server. I'm hoping that if any mistakes appear in my review that a FreeBSDer will set me straight in the comments section below. With that out of the way, on to my adventure!
Installation and first boot
When booting off the CD, the system provides a boot menu and taking the default causes the system installer to run. The FreeBSD installer is made up mostly of text menus which guide the user through a fairly long and detailed process of setting up the system. This would probably be a lot more daunting if it weren't for the verbose and helpful prompts and sane defaults. The defaults are good enough, in fact, that I was able to float through most of the menus without changing anything. The people who built this installer managed to mix together a very powerful, fine-grained configuration tool without making it scary for novice FreeBSDers. The installer walks through setting up partitions and mount points, configuring the boot manager and choosing which packages are to be installed. We then move on to setting up a network connection, enabling any needed network services and selecting a time zone. At the end, the installer requests a password for the root account and recommends creating a regular user for day-to-day tasks.
When the new system starts up, the user is shown a text-based login. Upon logging in, some useful suggestions are given. These suggestions direct the user on how to get help from the FreeBSD website, mailing lists and manual pages. In addition, at each login, a brief tip is displayed, which may be helpful for new users or at least provide some interesting trivia. Some tips I saw included how to use the command-line calendar and how to prevent my terminal from beeping. The system comes with a small selection of shells out of the box, limiting the user to a plain sh, csh or tcsh. Configuration files can be altered with the popular vi editor. At this point, the server is full of potential.
The hardware of a server tends to be pretty boring to people accustomed to three dimensional desktops. However, it's still important. During my time with FreeBSD, my keyboard worked without any problems. My PS/2 mouse was configured during the install, though it was never used. My video card didn't have much to do, as I was using a text console the whole time, but that worked without issue. My only hardware complaint was with the sound card. My sound didn't function out of the box and, at the time of writing, I've been unable to get it working. I've asked for help with this from the community and some volunteers are kindly helping me trouble-shoot the issue.
The FreeBSD project takes security seriously and an effort is made to keep things locked down without hampering the user. The installer makes certain that the root account is password protected and recommends the creation of a non-root account and explains why this is a good idea. By default, all network services are turned off. One thing I found unusual on FreeBSD is that the contents of home directories, including the root user's, are open to be read by other users. This can be altered to keep home directories private, but it struck me as an odd default.
Creating new user accounts on the FreeBSD system is very straightforward. The system administrator runs the "adduser" command and answers some basic questions about the new user. Most of these questions have reasonable defaults, making the process go quickly. Removing users is similarly simple. The administrator can get rid of unwanted users, or at least their accounts, by running "rmuser" followed by the login name. This is fairly safe, as the tool confirms the request before deleting any data.
The core FreeBSD system is largely expanded by the Ports collection. This is a massive library of software which acts in similar fashion (for the end user) to Linux repositories. At this time, there are over 18,000 software packages in the FreeBSD Ports collection, allowing the operating system to take on just about any role the system administrator wishes. New binary packages can be installed by running the "pkg_add" command and providing the name of the desired package. If you're not sure of the name of the package, a complete list can be found on the FreeBSD website. The "pkg_add" command is simple to use and powerful, resolving any dependencies between packages. Unwanted packages can be removed using a companion tool called "pkg_delete". Both of these tools worked very quickly and well on my machine. My only complaint when using pkg_add was that download progress was not displayed, even when the program was run in verbose mode. This resulted in some concern on my part when I wasn't sure if a large package was still downloading or if it had stalled.
Of course, it's important to keep software updated on a regular basis. To do this, the "freebsd-update" tool is provided. This program makes it easy to download and install updates for the core operating system. In case an update has unwanted effects, the freebsd-update program can also undo a recent update, restoring the system to its previous state. When a release of FreeBSD is nearing the end of its support cycle, the update tool will warn the administrator and, on request, can update the current system to the next release version. Since the Ports collection is effectively separate from the core FreeBSD system, it has its own update mechanism. This difference between the main operating system and Ports may take a little getting used to for people coming from a Linux background. One of the Ports update tool is called "portupgrade". Actually, there are a few methods of keeping your Ports applications updated, but this one seems the easiest. While the concept of having different update tools on the same system may take a while to get used to, the applications themselves work well and function in a similar way to their Linux counterparts.
The FreeBSD operating system doesn't take up many resources. With a complete collection of binaries, the compiler, documentation and the Ports system, my install required about 1 GB of disk, plus some swap space. In total, running a fresh installation used about 60 MB of RAM. The system is light and the command line is responsive. At various points during the week, I had four users simultaneously logged in, downloading packages, testing the network services, using the compiler or searching for files. At no point did the system become sluggish or even give any indication it was being used by other people.
The ZFS file system is included in FreeBSD 8.0 and from previous experience I've found it to work very well. However, my little server didn't really have the resources to properly experiment with it. For systems with enough RAM and disk to justify its use, I highly recommend taking a look at FreeBSD's ZFS implementation - for the snapshots feature, if nothing else. Being able to restore files without reaching for separate backup media can be a wonderful time saver.
A server wouldn't be very useful without some network services running, so I grabbed a few using the pkg_add package manager. The first service I installed was the bftpd FTP server. Getting it up and running was fairly easy. I copied the example configuration file to the /etc directory and ran the bftpd program. This produced an error stating that a log file couldn't be created. I found this was because the directory where the log file was supposed to go didn't exist. I created the directory, re-ran the bftpd program and, voilà, I had myself an FTP server. My next step was to download the dhttpd web server. Getting it functioning was very straightforward - all I had to do was run the dhttpd command. Then I had a web server and no content. I created a few HTML files and confirmed that my web server was working. Since the system installer had already configured OpenSSH for me, that left the machine with three network services running. Each of them has worked without any glitches thus far.
It's useful to be able to offer network services to the world and it's also good to be able to pick and choose who can access those services. Bearing that in mind, I decided to set up a firewall. The FreeBSD Handbook mentions three different tools (Packet Filter, IPFILTER and IPFIREWALL) which can be used to erect a firewall. Each of them seemed equally up to the task and I selected IPFILTER, also called IPF, because its syntax looked most familiar to me. For administrators who have a firm grip on firewall concepts, IPF is fairly straight forward. It certainly isn't GUI level point-n-click easy, but I was able to get a working filter configured in short order with the help of the project's documentation.
In the past, I've referred to FreeBSD as both stable and powerful and this release confirms that reputation. After spending a week installing, configuring and using the latest version of FreeBSD, I'd like to add that it's a very mature and polished operating system too. On the surface, the system looks complex and arcane, but great lengths have been taken to make each step of each task smooth for the administrator. This is largely thanks to the FreeBSD Handbook, but credit should also be given to unusually clear man pages. I found the output, error messages and defaults for most commands were helpful, increasing the refined, friendly feel of the system. There are a number of minor surprises for people coming from Linux systems, mostly in small differences in commands and the layout of the file system, but nothing significant. In fact, I found the FreeBSD directories to be clean and well organized. At various points during the week, I visited the project's forums and always found a friendly community member willing to answer questions. Version 8.0 of the FreeBSD operating system is fast, powerful, well crafted and rock solid; I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in setting up their own server.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Fedora release LXDE spin, Kubuntu confirms LTS status, ClearOS and PC-BSD prepare new releases, PLD test first beta of KDE 4.4, FreeNAS stays with FreeBSD, interviews with Klaus Knopper and Daniel Holbach
The much-awaited lightweight spin of Fedora 12 with LXDE, delayed due to a show-stopping bug, was finally released last week: "Fedora 12 LXDE spin available for download. Sorry it took so long. While the actual problems were solved within two days, it took a little longer to create the new ISO images." For those who have never tried the LXDE desktop, here is a quick introduction from the Fedora LXDE desktop page: "LXDE, the 'Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment', is an extremely fast and energy-saving desktop environment. It is maintained by an international community of developers and comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard shortcuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE is not designed to be powerful and bloated, but to be usable and slim. A main goal of LXDE is to keep computer resource usage low. It is especially designed for computers with low hardware specifications like netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers." The Fedora 12 LXDE spin is available from the project's download page (torrents only) in i686 and x86_64 flavours.
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Reports about Kubuntu being just a second-grade member of Canonical's distribution line-up surface from time to time on popular Linux web sites. Some of this feeling was undoubtedly caused by the fact that the current LTS (long-term support) designation only applies to Ubuntu proper, but not to Kubuntu. Although this decision was taken as a result of the doubts over the extended supportability of the end-of-the-line KDE 3 desktop at the time of release, many users found it a rather flimsy excuse. Luckily, there is good news on this front - the upcoming Kubuntu 10.04 will be an LTS release: "The Ubuntu Developer Summit happened in Dallas last week with 200 developers from every part of Ubuntu as well as upstream and hardware vendors around. Naturally, the best-looking of the lot were the Kubuntu contributors who turned up to discuss the next six months in the world's finest KDE distribution. The 10.04 'Lucid Lynx' will be a long-term support version and it's exciting that KDE 4 is now at a stage of maturity where this will be possible to do for the first time. LTS means fixing, completing and assuring over and above any new features." The first draft of the Kubuntu "Lucid" specifications is available on this page.
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The developers of ClearOS, a server distribution formerly known as ClarkConnect Server and Gateway, have been busy working on their first release since switching to the new name. Last week ITworld took the distribution, which features a web-based configuration interface, for a quick spin and found it to be an excellent server operating system for small businesses: "ClearOS doesn't ask for its users to become expert Linux administrators. Indeed, its interface hides all of Linux's complexity away. While it's built solidly on Linux and other open-source programs, a non-technical user could use ClearOS and never know what was his server's hood. For those of us who do like to know what's going on in the engine, ClearOS's foundation is CentOS, which, in turn, is based on Red Hat's RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and Red Hat's community Linux distribution, Fedora. Unlike many Linux distributions which take an everything and the kitchen sink approach to what software they include, ClearOS includes only those programs it needs to deliver its server features. Indeed, with its modular construction, you only end up running the software you need to run and not one application more."
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PLD Linux Distribution has been around for many years, but it has always remained very inward-oriented, more of a "distribution for developers and hackers" than for general users. However, effort is being made to change this by the live CD team which semi-regularly releases some interesting work. Its latest image, announced over the weekend, is a bootable system featuring the first beta of KDE 4.4, as well as the new KOffice 2.1.0, the just-released Linux kernel 2.6.32, the latest Opera browser, and many other KDE applications: "I decided not to release a stable update of KDE 4.3.4, but instead to update to the latest preview of the upcoming 4.4 version - KDE 4.4-beta1. Surprise, surprise - it's stable! It has some bugs, of course, but not of the type that you see at first sight. The kernel got updated too - it's now the latest 2.6 kernel - 2.6.32." There is no system installer on the live CD, but the developers promise to deliver one in a future version. A live USB image is also in the planning stage. For those who wish to take a closer look at this lesser-known distribution or who want to investigate the first beta of KDE 4.4, here is the quick download link: pldlive-kde4-4.4b1-1.i686.iso (569MB, MD5)
PLD Live 4.4b1 - a live CD featuring the first beta release of KDE 4.4
(full image size: 268kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
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A somewhat controversial announcement from the FreeNAS project hit the news wires last week. According to media reports and based on a discussion on the project's forum, this specialist operating system providing free Network-Attached Storage (NAS) services will switch from its current FreeBSD base to Debian GNU/Linux for its future releases: "My decision to use Linux for the next version was because there are too many bugs in the core FreeBSD system. Simply have a look into the bug tracker. FreeNAS does not run on many systems, mainly new hardware gives trouble. The main reason is the driver problem with FreeBSD which seems to be no problem with Linux because there are great companies that support it." This rather inflammatory statement was not taken kindly by some FreeBSD fans. However, later in the week, project founder Olivier Cochard-Labbé made a new announcement. It now seems that FreeNAS will continue as a FreeBSD system - after being offered sponsorship by iXsystems (the same company that also sponsors the development of PC-BSD): "A great surprise: iXsystems, a company specializing in professional FreeBSD, has offered to take FreeNAS under their wings as an open-source, community-driven project. This means that they will involve their professional FreeBSD developers in FreeNAS! Personally, I will come back to actively work on FreeNAS and will begin upgrading it to FreeBSD 8.0."
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Speaking about PC-BSD, last weekend brought about the latest alpha release of the upcoming version 8.0. This is the first build based on FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE, with KDE 4.3.4, NVIDIA driver 195.22 (which, for the first time ever, is now also available for 64-bit systems), a re-written system installer, and new artwork. From the release announcement: "Here are some of the notable changes: FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE; NVIDIA 195.22 drivers; KDE 4.3.4; brand new SysInstaller with new look and feel, new backend, support for a wider variety of file system layouts, ability to change and try different keyboard layouts; install either PC-BSD or FreeBSD from the same disk; Using glabel on file systems to prevent issues with device renaming; improved splash graphics, theme data; fixed KDE printer tool in system settings; added new tool, 'Life Preserver', which allows backing up the system to a remote SSH + rsync system." The current PC-BSD alpha is now considered feature complete, with the developers starting to focus on bug fixing rather than on adding new features. According to the above announcement, a first public beta of PC-BSD 8.0 is expected within the next two weeks.
PC-BSD 8.0 Alpha - the upcoming release of PC-BSD is based of FreeBSD 8.0 and will have a brand new system installer
(full image size: 416kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
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KNOPPIX, a distribution that pioneered the concept of easy-to-use live CDs with automatic hardware configuration, has slowed down its development in recent years. Luckily, it hasn't stopped and the recent release of version 6.2, along with a specialist edition for visually impaired users (called ADRIANE), has been well-received. Last week the distribution's founder and developer, Klaus Knopper, spoke to the Linux User & Developer magazine about the beginnings of the project, the latest KNOPPIX release, his involvement with the LinuxTag conference, and other topics: "Q: What do you think of KNOPPIX in its present form? A: There is always room for improvement. The main challenge is keeping up with compatibility to new and partly 'defective by design' hardware, which is the reason for the quite long 'KNOPPIX cheat codes' list with workarounds for known hardware problems. Nowadays, I think of KNOPPIX more as a device-independent operating system with applications, rather than a bootable CD or DVD. Modern methods of booting include Flash memory (as in cellphones and digital cameras, which make a perfectly bootable disk) and booting over a network. The trimmed-down 'Microknoppix' restart of KNOPPIX is also a good platform for other projects that focus more on specific applications than on a full desktop installation, such as kiosk systems or boot/repair consoles."
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Finally, one more link to an interview, this time with Daniel Holbach, a Canonical employee and member of the Ubuntu community team: "Q: When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What's your role there? A: When Ubuntu had its 'Warty' release I was busy with my thesis and I found that I needed a newer version of a library for what I was working on. I knew that it would involve packaging and Michael and Sébastien Bacher helped me a lot to get the job done. In the meantime I had read about Ubuntu's goals, especially from a community perspective and it excited me a lot that this was so clearly codified and everybody was working together like that. I definitely wanted to be part of it. The community was much smaller back then, so it was easy to stay on top of almost everything that was happening. I helped out with supporting users on IRC and on the mailing lists and after some encouragement, I started to help out with packaging and trying to think of ways to best organise all the technical tasks in our growing community."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
32-bit versus 64-bit computing
Shave-and-a-haircut, two bits asks: I'm considering going from 32-bit to 64-bit but I'm worried about driver availability, codecs and browser plugins. Should I be? Also, is there really a big performance benefit?
DistroWatch answers: When looking at the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit flavors of the x86 architecture, x86_64 is really more of an extension to the previous 32-bit processors than a separate system. For all practical purposes, it's backward compatible. This is good because it means if you've purchased a 64-bit machine, you can choose whether to run a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system on your hardware.
The main benefit of running a 64-bit operating system is that it allows applications to access more memory. If you have an application which would like to access more than 4 GB of RAM, then a 64-bit system is for you. Some operations, such as heavy number crunching may also be slightly faster. On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to 64-bit systems. The pointers in 64-bit code take up more space, causing 64-bit executable files to be larger than the 32-bit variants. Larger executables mean programs may take longer loading.
Problems with codecs and plugins are pretty much a thing of the past. Most organizations have developed 64-bit flavors of their software and the large distributions have made a lot of progress over the years making sure things work smoothly. So there aren't really any barriers preventing someone from making the switch. However, for most Linux desktop users there isn't really any reason to move to 64-bit, yet. You're unlikely to find any Linux applications which need that much memory and I have yet to see any noticeable performance improvement when running a desktop on a 64-bit operating system.
Finally, I'd recommend taking a look at your distribution's forum. There may be a section specifically for people using 64-bit systems. Reading through these posts, or asking some questions about migrating, will give you a better idea if moving to the 64-bit version of your distribution will be worth it for you.
|Released Last Week
Manuel Kasper has announced the release of m0n0wall 1.3, a minimalist firewall distribution based on FreeBSD: "After almost three years in beta, I have decided that m0n0wall 1.3 is now good enough for production. It's basically a re-release of 1.3b18, with two fixes thrown in. No major bugs have been reported any more, but as always, upgrade on your own risk. Major changes in this release (since 1.23): switched base operating system to FreeBSD 6.4; consolidated net45xx, net48xx and wrap images into a single 'embedded' image; switched bridge implementation to if_bridge - bridge member interfaces will now always be filtered; IPv6 support (enable on advanced setup page); firewall support for IPsec traffic; IPsec NAT-T, DPD and dynamic tunnels; countless bug fixes and other improvements." Read the release announcement and changelog for additional details.
Ben Zhao has announced the release of CDlinux 0.9.5, a compact, minimalist live CD with the Xfce desktop and several popular applications: "This is yet another maintenance release concentrating on stability and usability. There are only a few new features: UTF-8 console (use the 'fbcon' command); add AbiWord back and upgrade to 2.8.1; Korean support; more optional add-on modules. And some bug fixes: fix a bug in the drcom package; modify rc.font to omit removable devices. Package upgrades: Linux kernel 22.214.171.124, X.Org Server 1.6.5, CUPS 1.4.2, Poppler 0.12.2, Samba 3.4.2, Firefox 3.5.5, JRE 6 u17. CDlinux 0.9.5 will be the last version using the good old X.Org 7.4. In the upcoming 0.9.6 we'll upgrade to the brand new X.Org 7.5." Visit the distribution's news page to read the release announcement.
Linux Mangaka Chu
Linux Mangaka is an Ubuntu-based distributions designed primarily for the fans of Japanese Manga and Anime, with an innovative set of desktop themes, a large variety of programs for graphics design, many freely available Google applications, and a number of games. The project's second release, named Chu, is now available for download: "The English edition of the free, complete, easy and fast Anime Community Linux Operating System is out. Features: EXE programs compatibility, MAC/WIN key open menu, music preview on mouse-over-file, codecs for video and audio; Flash Player plugin for Google Chrome; huge pack of multimedia and Internet tools." Read the release announcement and visit the distribution's About page to learn more.
Calculate Linux 10.0
Calculate Linux 10.0, a Gentoo-based distribution for desktops and servers, has been released. The new version comes in several editions, including Calculate Directory Server (CDS), Calculate Linux Desktop with either KDE 4.3.3 (CLD) or Xfce 4.6.1 (CLDX), and Calculate Linux Scratch without a desktop (CLS) or with GNOME 2.26.3 (CLSG). Some of the features in this release include: a complete client-server solution; full compatibility with Gentoo Linux, support for German, English, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian; addition of a pre-configured AdBlock Plus add-on to Firefox, addition of EisKaltDC P2P client, Kbluetooth.... See the release announcement (in Russian) for additional details.
Calculate Linux 10.0 - a Gentoo-based distributions for desktops and servers with integrated client-server management tools
(full image size: 856kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Michael Zanetta has announced the release of Pentoo 2009.0, a Gentoo-based live CD featuring a selection of applications and tools designed to perform penetration testing: "Pentoo 2009.0 final is there. Nights after nights, we polished this version, and it looks really nice. The most notable changes: new Linux kernel 126.96.36.199 with Aufs and Squashfs-LZMA; new WiFi stack 2.6.32-rc7 with injection and fragmentation patches; QEMU with virt-manager so you can play some virtual machines in there; lots of tools updates (MSF, exploit-db, Kismet, SQLmap, Firefox and add-ons); some tools additions (Airpwn, Wapiti, PPPd) and some graphics fixes (NVIDIA, Intel); enhanced cracking software (NTLM/MD4/MD5 CUDA brute force cracker; WPA PSK rainbow tables generation accelerated through CUDA, STREAM or PADLOCK; John The Ripper with MPI support)." Visit the project's home page to read the complete release announcement.
Pentoo 2009.0 - a Gentoo-based security-oriented distribution with Enlightenment
(full image size: 626kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Carsten Schöne has announced the release of stresslinux 0.4.136, an openSUSE-based live CD designed for testing computer system(s) on high load and monitor their health under extreme conditions: "Release published (0.4.136). This release is the first one which is available as 32-bit and 64-bit build; it contains all official updates from the base distribution and additionally updates the following packages to current versions: stress, nbench, nepim, netperf, lm_sensors, Memtest86+ and BusyBox. These packages are added to the distribution: dbench, tiobench, rsync and firmware packages for different kernel drivers. There are some fixes to smartd, hddtemp, ifstatus, environment and usability." Visit the project's home page to read the release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
November 2009 DistroWatch.com donation: Parted Magic receives US$350.00|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the November 2009 DistroWatch.com donation is Parted Magic, a specialist live CD designed primarily for hard disk partitioning tasks. It receives US$350 in cash.
"The Parted Magic operating system employs core programs of GParted and GNU Parted to handle partitioning tasks with ease, while featuring other useful programs (e.g. PartImage, TestDisk, TrueCrypt, G4L, Super Grub Disk, ddrescue, etc...) and an excellent set of documentation to benefit the user. An extensive collection of file system tools are also included, as Parted Magic supports the following: ext2, ext3, ext4, FAT16, FAT32, hfs, hfs+, JFS, Linux swap, NTFS, ReiserFS, Reiser4, and XFS. Parted Magic requires at least an i586 processor and 256 MB of RAM to operate or 128 MB in 'Live' mode. Features: format internal and external hard drives; move, copy, create, delete, expand and shrink hard drive partitions; test hard drives for impending failure; test memory for bad sectors; benchmark computer for a performance rating; securely erase entire hard drive, wiping it clean from all data; gives access to non-booting systems to rescue important data; runs from the CD, no install required." In brief, Parted Magic is an indispensable tool that no serious computer user should ever be without!
Parted Magic 4.6 - a perfect tool that makes all those unpleasant hard disk management tasks click-and-point easy
(full image size: 920kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
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$22,843 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).
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New distributions added to database
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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, 14 December 2009.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
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