| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 1, 9 June 2003
|Welcome to DistroWatch Weekly
Last week, DistroWatch.com completed its second year in existence. In the beginning, this site was nothing more than a single-page table comparing basic characteristics and most important packages included in 10 popular Linux distributions. Many people found the page a useful reference and suggestions for improvements soon started coming in. Two years later, with 10,000 unique visitors each day and 100GB of file transfer every month, DistroWatch truly is a popular Linux distribution news and reference site. A big THANKS to all of you who have loaded the pages and took the time to write in with suggestions.
We have a useful news and reference site, but where to go next? Up until now, and with the exception of several reviews, DistroWatch has been a factual site, presenting little besides figures, tables, statistics and comparison charts. Perhaps one thing missing from the menu was some sort of an opinion column, a discussion about recent issues and happenings in the Linux distribution world. This is how the idea to publish DistroWatch Weekly came about.
How will the column be structured? The section you are reading now will either comment about a recent event or focus on a particular distribution we find worth mentioning. The next section, called Released Last Week will re-cap all distribution releases over the past week. In the Expected This Week section, we'll try to alert users on any upcoming releases that might appear within a week or so. This is a miss-and-hit thing as a released-when-ready philosophy is a dominant form of coding for most non-commercial and even many commercial Linux projects. The Web Site News will highlight any web site changes, including new features, new distributions added to the database and anything that could go to a web site changelog. Finally, the Reader Feedback section will answer some of the questions brought up by visitors over the past week.
DistroWatch Weekly will also have an area for reader comments. It will be experimental at first, to see how things go. While it is impossible to expect completely flame-free and sucks/rulez-free comments when the topic of discussion is "Linux distributions", please try your best to use common sense when posting. There is a reason why there are over 300 Linux distributions out there. There are people who spend enormous amount of their time coding something they strongly believe in and provide the rest of us with hours of great entertainment once the product is released. If the result sucks, give those developers feedback by providing suggestions and reporting bugs. If it rulez, explain the reasons. There are no guidelines for posting, but all comments that intend to insult, are irrelevant or provide no value, will be deleted.
|Released Last Week
Lorma Linux v.3. The effect of v.3 release took the developers of this Red Hat-based distribution by surprise as many people swarmed the main FTP server in order to download the ISO image. Luckily, new mirrors appeared swiftly so if you have been unsuccessful in getting Lorma Linux, visit the download page again. Why would a new distribution attract so much attention? It seems that the Lorma Linux developers have successfully addressed issues that some users of Red Hat consider as drawbacks - they've eliminated the bloat, replaced Gnome with KDE as the default desktop, included multimedia applications together with the DVD decoding library (one of the great advantages of developing a Linux distribution outside of US) and recompiled all packages for the i686 architecture. We have yet to see any reviews, but Lorma Linux seems like an excellent effort at a distribution designed for home use.
Trustix Secure Linux 2.0 Beta 3. The third beta of Trustix 2.0 still includes many package version updates, which is a good indication that more betas/release candidates will follow. Linux distributions with security as their primary feature tend to have very long development cycles and Trustix is no exception. Don't expect the final release of Trustix 2.0 very soon.
Knoppix 3.2-2003-06-06. Late Friday in Europe saw another Knoppix update with the usual range of package version upgrades, improved hardware detection database and other minor new features.
|Expected This Week
Two popular Linux firewalls should release new development versions of their products. ClarkConnect Broadband Getaway will announce the first beta of the upcoming 2.0 release - based on Red Hat 9, this promises to be a major upgrade. The release has been delayed several times, so expect a long development cycle. In the meantime, SmoothWall has announced an imminent release of the fifth beta of SmoothWall 2.0, code name "Orient". No other details are available at this stage.
|Web Site News
Two new distributions have been added to this site's database last week. One of them was Lorma Linux, a Red Hat-based Linux distribution developed by a small group of Linux enthusiasts at Lorma Colleges in San Fernando City in the Philippines. The other one is LinuxConsole, a Debian-based Live CD from France, developed with a primary objective to satisfy gamers and multimedia users.The total number of distribution on this site's database has risen to 148, of which 17 have been either discontinued or inactive for more than 2 years.
As usual, several new distributions were submitted for inclusion. These have all been queued up and if you haven't seen the long queue, it is available here (as part of the "About" page). It lists 31 new distributions, which are currently on a 3-month waiting list. New in this week's queue: EduLinux, Quantian and Sentry Firewall CD.
Last week has seen the return of Mandrake Linux back to the top of the Page Hit Ranking statistics. This will no doubt cheer up many readers who have written in with complaints and disbelief over Yoper's prolonged stay at number one. Yes, Yoper is not even close to being a widely used distribution, it is probably not the best distribution either. But the Page Hit Ranking simply counts how many times a distribution-specific page on DistroWatch has been visited and Yoper's page count has been very high over the last few months -- and no, it wasn't due to somebody's cheating or manipulating the counter. It was due to a combination of Yoper's clever advertising and catchy press releases that attracted visitors' attention. If anything, it shows that people are still hungry for new products and new distributions.
This being the first issue of DistroWatch Weekly, we don't have any reader feedback just yet, but maybe we could give you some background about DistroWatch and its team. I did say "we", but up until fairly recently, the entire web site was developed and maintained by myself. Things have become more of a team work after several regular contributors have offered help. I have to mention Robert Storey, who is in fact a professional writer of travel guide books and mad about everything Linux. More of his excellent reviews will follow soon. Also many thanks to Andrew Balsa who contributed the recent Mandrake 9 development series of reviews.|
The site has also become more internationalised with several volunteer translators joining the team. There are too many to list them all, but my special thanks go to Ossama Khayat in Kuwait and Zhu Wen Tao in China, who have made the most effort to bring Arabic and Chinese readership to this site and offer content in their native languages. Knowing that even people in countries where English is not widely spoken can benefit from the information here is perhaps the greatest satisfaction coming out from maintaining DistroWatch. (On a related note, if there is somebody who can offer help with translation of a few common terms into Korean, please email me - I'd really appreciate your help).
Finally, a few past reader comments -- to keep in line with this section's title:
"Just a little mail to tell you how impressed I'm about your site. This is such of a HUGE work, I don't know how you're doing to handle all that by yourself and so perfectly! It's so complete and accurate! It's the only web site I visit everyday and I advice it to all the people asking me a good web site about Linux. Keep the good work :-)" (Nicolas Heinen)
"This site is extremely well done and has obviously been very well thought out, executed, and maintained. It looks like maximum effort went into making this page easy to use and easy to understand. The information presented has saved me an enormous amount of time and effort, and made it very easy for me to select the Linux system I want. Thank you so very much for providing such a great service." (Catalina Ramos)
Unfortunately, we cannot satisfy everybody:
"DistroWatch is a site that is esthetically bad. I don't like it." (a poster on linux-egypt.org forum)
Until next week,
|Linux Foundation Training
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|Random Distribution |
OpenLab GNU/Linux was an easy-to-use Slackware-based distribution featuring innovative and user-oriented design. Developed in South Africa since 2001, the product takes shape in the form of an installable live CD. It also includes OLAD (OpenLab ADministration tool) and many other innovations ranging from backend systems, such as the hyperdrive suite which simplifies the handling of removable media, to user-level enhancements, such as the highly integrated desktop theme complemented by the award-winning Nuvola icon set.