| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 17, 29 September 2003
Slackware Linux 9.1 released
A new stable version of Slackware Linux was released late on Friday. As usual, the news was greeted with plenty of enthusiasm by many die-hard Slackware fans and by much curiosity from users of other distributions. What is so special about Slackware? Unlike other commercial distribution makers, such as Red Hat, Mandrake or SuSE, Slackware doesn't come with any system administration tools, it has an amazingly unsophisticated package manager and the company rarely makes headlines in the Linux media. Yet every a new Slackware release is announced, a wave of excitement sweeps the Linux forums and new sites (this OSNews review is a good example). Slackware is to Linux distributions what vi is to UNIX text editors - many people expected vi to die after an abundance of new, more intuitive and user-friendly text editors were introduced. But instead, vi flourished. And while other Linux distributions have certainly managed to take market share away from Slackware, there are still plenty of people out there -- probably a lot more than many would led you believe -- who would never consider using anything else. If you've never tried Slackware before, give it a partition now - and be prepared to fall in love...
Red Hat and the Fedora Project
On Monday, Red Hat, Inc announced the Fedora Project. While these are early days and the projet's directions are still in the process of taking shape, the motivation behind the decision is clear: the North Carolina company intends to build on its "Red Hat" brand to create a solid business platform. From now on, the term "Red Hat Linux" will solely refer to one of the company's enterprise-class products with hefty price tags on them, rather than a product, which anybody can download and use for free. Red Hat Linux 9 was the last free product with the words "Red Hat" in it. Its successor, the Fedora Project, will no doubt continue in the tradition of fine releases for "developers and operating system enthusiasts", as Red Hat puts it, with the added bonus that the new distribution will be unhindered by commercial motives (the greatly enhanced up2date in Fedora 0.94 beta is an excellent example of this). If you still have misgivings about Red Hat's motives, then relax - this is a great decision which will benefit all of us. The soon-to-be-released Fedora Linux 1.0, code name "Cambridge" will be a very pleasant surprise.
Mandrake Linux 9.2 for Mandrake Club members
The controversial decision by MandrakeSoft to withhold the release of Mandrake Linux 9.2 for several weeks, during which ISO images will exclusively be available to MandrakeClub members, was greeted with widely varying reaction. This is the first time in the company's history that its popular product is not immediately downloadable and many felt disappointed by the decision. On the other hand, those who had joined MandrakeClub previously seemed to approve the policy change. The company is also making sure that the Mandrake Linux boxed sets are ready for shipping before the ISO images are uploaded to mirrors. Overall, it seems that MandrakeSoft is taking resolute steps to assure its long-term survival in the increasingly competitive world of Linux distributions. What's our take? If you enjoy Mandrake Linux and if you use it on a daily basis, then by all means do join the MandrakeClub. At only US$60 per year, it is not only the right thing to do to help supporting future development of your favourite distribution, it is also a genuinely useful and fun place to engage in Mandrake-related activities. It is also be the best place to obtain Mandrake Linux 9.2 when it is released...
|Released Last Week
The Dyne:bolic live CD project released Dyne:bolic 1.0, code name "MAKROLAB": "This is the long awaited 1.0 version of dyne:bolic. It now realizes the first vision i had back in 2001 when i started working on it. The MAKROLAB release has some new important features, despite the announced feature freeze of the beta we still have some juicy news: OpenMosix automatic clustering support (also for xbox!); DRI 3d acceleration on Matrox, Intel and other cards; new ISO generator and online updating system; new software: iceage, mjpegtools, most, gvidm, LiVES, e2undel, ntfstools, parted..." The announcement.
A new bug-fix release (V3.3-2003-09-24) of the increasingly popular Knoppix live CD, version 3.3, is now available: "V3.3-2003-09-24 (small bugfix). Updated cdrecord package to fix permissions of /usr/bin/cdrecord, so CD-recording in user-mode works again (k3b); pcmcia-cs update." See the complete changelog and package list.
Morphix 0.4-1 was released: "New LightGUI, KDE, Game and Gnome combined ISOs have been uploaded. What are the biggest changes? Well, after the recent poll I've renamed Morphix HeavyGUI to Morphix Gnome, and it has Gnome 2.4 together with a host of updates. Gnome and KDE themes have been changed, improved installer, LUFS has been added, the list goes on and on. Also, I've made an OOo minimodule people could use together with mainmodules without it. Partitionmorpher, IsomorphGUI and MCP haven't been included yet, but hoping to have some packages for users to play with soon. If you can't wait hit the CVS, do backup your data if you want to play around with PM." The announcement.
MEPIS Linux 2003.08.01
A new bug-fix release of MEPIS Linux was released: "Today, MEPIS LLC announced the release of MEPIS Linux 2003.08.01. This is an update to 2003.08 CD #1 with changes to address: installation time issues reported by some users; keyboard and localization selection; de localization of the MEPIS utilities. This is primarily an installation-time improvement and bug-fixing release. If 2003.08 already installs and works for you, you do not need this update." The complete change log.
Damn Small Linux 0.4.8
Damn Small Linux 0.4.8 was released. Some of the improvements: "I added Fabian Franz's 'toram' linuxrc routine. So the whole system could be put into RAM. It requires only 64MB of RAM. As suggested, I added a routine that makes an icon for Firebird after download. I did some install clean up. Firebird will only run from the ramdisk as root but runs fine under 'damnsmall' after HD install -- the install script run some perl regex to strip out the sudo from the menu after install. The Firebird icon will act in a similar manner. I restored the ability to chose language specific keyboard layout (e.g. 'lang=de'), the default is US English. The Debian 'wireless-tools' package was added..." More in the changelog.
Source Mage GNU/Linux 0.7
A new version of Source Mage GNU/Linux was released: "The Source Mage GNU/Linux developers team would like to invite you to try our newest release, code named 'Flare'. You can find out more about us sourcemage.org. For a list of the newest changes and please refer to ISO+Release+Changelogs. For the rest of the docs please refer to our wiki. Thanks and have fun!" The release announcement.
Slackware Linux 9.1
Slackware Linux 9.1 was released: "The latest release of Slackware is now online. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible! Release highlights include support for ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, which will be the default in the upcoming 2.6.x kernel series), GCC 3.2.3 (with GCC 3.3.1 as an alternate choice), GNOME 2.4.0, and KDE 3.1.4. Slackware 9.1 uses the stable 2.4.22 kernel, but is 2.6.x ready." The full release announcement.
A new version of the K12 Linux Terminal Server Project (K12LTSP) was released on Sunday: "K12LTSP v3.1.2 is officially available for your downloading pleasure. The vast majority of the difference between v3.1.1 & v3.1.2 are official Red Hat 9 updates & security patches. There have been a couple of significant changes to the K12LTSP packages: Red Hat 9.0.93 (the Severn beta) uses a different naming convention for the Bitstream Vera fonts. The K12LTSP package has been renamed to be compatible with future versions of RH..." See the rest of the release announcement.
Several other distributions released stable or development versions, but did not make any announcements; these are ADIOS 1.33 and 2.0-test3, Aurox 9.1 Live Edition (beta), CDlinux 0.4.5 (beta), ESware 2.0rc2 and Magic Linux 1.2pre3.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
SuSE Linux 9.0
According to this NewsForge story, SuSE Linux 9.0 will be available on from 24 October: "Changes in the new release include a tool to let users with existing NTFS partitions reduce the partition size to make room for Linux. On the software side, 9.0 includes KDE 3.1.4, OpenOffice.org 1.1, the k3b DVD and CD burning tool, and an enhanced collection of audio software. A new SuSE System Doctor rescue system will restore a system following the unintentional destruction or deletion of system-critical files. SuSE's YaST administration tool has a new, clean look, and supports Samba 2.2.8a and NTP synchronization. The operating system itself is based on a SuSE-optimized Linux kernel version 2.4.21."
Update: the above story seems to have been removed from NewsForge, but here is another one by vnunet.com, claiming that SuSE 9.0 will be released tomorrow, 30 September: "One product that will be released imminently is Suse Linux 9.0. The latest version of this product, which is largely aimed at home users, will be available tomorrow, 30 September, Burger revealed exclusively to IT Week."
LinuxInstall.org supports Fedora Project
This is an announcement from LinuxInstall.org: "The Fedora Project is a Red-Hat-sponsored and community-supported open source project. LinuxInstall.org now supports Fedora Project by offering Fedora Core 0.94 Test Release (3 CD-SET) for only $5 including basic installation support. LinuxInstall.org is planning to offer its own distribution based on Fedora
Core Final Release with value added packages when it's available. For more information, please visit linuxinstall.org/fedora.php."
|Web Site News
New on the waiting list
- LGIS GNU/Linux. LGIS GNU/Linux is a modified version of Red Hat Linux with Ximian Desktop 2, Ximian Evolution mail client, Ximian Red Carpet software management tool and OpenOffice.org office suite. It is primarily designed for desktop use.
- Medialinux. Medialinux is a Knoppix-based multimedia Debian distribution on a bootable live CD. It includes nearly 200 audio, graphics and video software. All packages are up from unstable/experimental versions and updated often.
DistroWatch database summary
- Tilix is a new Bulgarian distribution based on Knoppix.
- Trinity Rescue Kit is a Linux distribution based on Mandrake 9.1 binaries. It is designed to rescue/repair/prepare dead or damaged systems, be it Linux or Windows.
- Number of distributions in the database: 177
- Number of discontinued distributions: 24
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 66
- "Your site is amazing to me. I (and other readers) would love to know more about the technical details behind it. How you update the information, etc. I think this might be a good theme for your "Weekly Issue" if you need some."
There isn't all that much to tell really. DistroWatch is essentially an information site, providing a single place to keep up-to-date with the fast moving world of Linux distributions. The honest truth is that, with the exception of the reviews, it provides very little original content. If you'd like to find out any technical details, download mirrors and other information about your favourite distribution, the relevant distribution's web site is always the best, most authoritative place to look. Yet, 15,000 to 20,000 unique visitors view the main DistroWatch page every day and you can't all be wrong about finding value in information provided here, right? So where is the value? Probably in the way information is organised. Instead of searching Google or finding your way around busy FTP servers, you will often find things faster by browsing these pages.
Most of the work to keep the site up-to-date goes into monitoring each distribution, or more accurately, monitoring their web sites, mailing lists, forums and FTP servers. Many developers of minor distributions are happy to see their work mentioned on DistroWatch, so they submit news about releases by email - this is the best way to ensure timely announcements and updates. Failing that, I do visit the web sites of every single distribution at least once a day and note any announcements. I can understand (or at least make out the meaning in) several languages, including Spanish, Hungarian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese, while Babelfish is there for the rest.
Several places have been automated. Those distributions that provide development branches (Mandrake's Cooker, Red Hat's Rawhide, Debian's Sid, Slackware's Current...) get updated on a daily basis with the help of a few bash scripts. These are not always accurate, because many distributions tend to modify package names and version numbers. Debian is the worst by far - the bash script updating the Debian page includes a lengthy "sed" section which renames the "Debian" package names back to their original names. On the other hand, the script fetching Slackware packages is short and sweet, as Slackware package names are generally kept unchanged from their original names. Parts of the statistics page have also been automated and more will follow as soon as I get some time.
Of course, interaction with DistroWatch readers is an integral part of the web site. It doesn't matter if you are a well-known developer (Mandrake's Gaël Duval, Gentoo's Daniel Robbins, Lycoris's Joseph Cheek and [formerly] Red Hat's Bernhard Rosenkraenzer do occasionally write in with a correction or two, or a simple "thanks") or an ordinary end-user, your email with suggestions and corrections is always read and appreciated, even if I don't always have the time to reply. If I don't, please try to understand: except for the translations into various languages, the entire web site is still very much a one-man job, with some help from PHP and bash.
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
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