| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 36, 16 February 2004
Welcome to this year's 7th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. The much awaited Fedora Core 2 Test 1 finally arrived last week and while it certainly isn't perfect, it comes with many interesting things to explore. If you have installed it and have taken a look around, please leave a comment about your first impressions.
Sex, lies and distributions
One of the main reasons I prefer Linux to proprietary operating systems is the inherent honesty that exists in our small world of Free Software. I still remember my early steps with Linux and its applications, particularly a friend's assertion that Linux has "The Gimp", a graphics editor as good as (if not better than) Adobe's Photoshop, except that it doesn't cost a penny. Having been "conditioned" by Microsoft's sales-driven web sites, I was later shocked to see the following paragraph on gimp.org:
"Warnings. The program(s) might crash unexpectedly or behave otherwise strangely. ... Many people do find GIMP very useful. But it is not a Photoshop killer (for professional Photoshop users, that is). Photoshop has lots of features that the GIMP lacks."
Now compare the above statement with the Photoshop product description from adobe.com:
"Get superior results faster with industry-standard Adobe® Photoshop® CS software, the powerful new upgrade from Photoshop 7.0. You're in control with indispensable new features for graphic and Web designers, photographers, and video professionals."
The shock came from the realisation that, in the world of Free Software, there is no need to claim that some software will enhance your life beyond recognition and produce incredible user experiences you had never before believed possible. In other words, there is no need to lie.
The times they are a-changing
But are things changing? The Linux world has now been invaded by proprietary software companies with great money-making ambitions. As a result of that, we are now seeing more and more of the old-style, self-congratulatory product descriptions and flowery marketing that plague the world of proprietary software.
Just take the latest Xandros newsletter, published last week, as an example. It's headlines read like this:
Even without the rest of the content, there is very little value in this newsletter. All we get is information about how great the product is, selective quotes from reviews that praise it, information about some corporate partnerships, awards, and several obligatory links to the company's online store. With sentences, such as: "Investors who came to the show saw our striking new display booth and witnessed another spectacularly popular $100,000.00 Xandros Giveaway." How exciting... (yawn).
- New! Xandros Desktop Standard Edition
- Upgrade Now to Version 2 of the Xandros Desktop OS
- Xandros Business Solutions Make LinuxWorld Debut
- Computer Associates SVP Endorses Xandros Business Desktop
- Linux Breaks Desktop Barrier in 2004: Torvalds
- Xandros Crowned "King of Linux Desktop"
Where are some useful tips and tricks for Xandros users? Examples of users reporting problems and solutions to those problems? How about including information on ways to take advantage of a great Xandros File Manager feature? Or an interview with a developer? A sneak peek at a next version? Information about new package releases/updates? Or some other truly useful info; a newsletter that every Xandros user will want to print out or save for future reference, instead of just glance through the headlines and hit the <Delete> button?
Xandros is not the only one. Other commercial Linux companies have been sliding towards this sort of communication with their users, replacing practical and useful newsletters with ones full of standard marketing drivel and links to their online stores. What's the point of such newsletters? Why can't these companies visit the web sites of some of the non-commercial projects and take a look at those newsletters? The ones put together by the Gentoo project (in 12 languages!) are hard to beat, while others, like the Debian Weekly News or the recently launched Arch Linux Newsletter are less flashy, but still useful.
What do you think? Is it inevitable that we are going to see more and more product information produced by marketing personnel, rather than software developers? If you use one of the commercial Linux distribution, do you mind this trend? Or is there anything we can do to preserve that type of straightforward honesty and openness as demonstrated by gimp.org? Is there no way that a commercial company can be equally honest about their products without having to resort to marketing propaganda? Please discuss below.
(A note for Xandros fans: please don't waste your time to write that DistroWatch has become an anti-Xandros site. It has not. The above was written in the hope that perhaps a responsible person at Xandros, Inc (and other companies producing useless newsletters) will read it, think about it and implement changes to serve their user community better. Unless I am all wrong and people actually enjoy reading newsletters by Xandros, in which case please feel free to argue your case below.)
|Released Last Week
Buffalo Linux 1.1.3
The Buffalo Linux project continues its fast release cycle with version 1.1.3: "The changes in this version are directed towards sysadmins. It can now directly install RPM, DEB, and Slackware TGZ packages, and also supports bz2 and tar.gz on the fly. The kernel has been upgraded to 2.6.2. The 'newkernel' build feature has been ported to kernels 2.4.24 and 2.6.2. A new Buffalo ISO feature has been added for creating a specialised install CD incorporating both kernel and software package changes." The full announcement.
Vine Linux 2.6r4
The fourth revision of Vine Linux 2.6 has been released. This is mainly a security and bug-fix update, with patches to recently discovered vulnerabilities in cvs, lftp and the Linux kernel, as well as a correction of a bug in e2fsprogs found in the previous release. The new ISO image is available for download from several mirrors.
Bluewall GNU/Linux 1.1
Bluewall GNU/Linux 1.1, code name "space hands" has been released. From the changelog: "This release includes Linux 2.4.24 and 2.6.2 with ext2, ext3, Reiserfs, and XFS (only 2.6) support, Bluewall Perl installer scripts (bw-config, bw-post, bw-install) for making the installation easier and faster by only running three commands, 95 new Debian packages, and a preconfigured initrd to load modules at boot-time. The reboot command/scripts have been fixed and included in the ramdisk. The NetBSD package system (pkgsrc) has also been included." Read the rest of the announcement on the distribution's main page.
Following a new recent Knoppix release, the clusterKNOPPIX project has also produced a new release. From the changelog: "clusterKNOPPIX_V3.3-2004-02-09-EN-cl1 - 2004-02-12. Sync with latest Knoppix release; upgraded to openmosix 2.4.24-1; removed KDE locales; added own bootlogo; added lotsa modules (cipe, cdfs, shfs, lufs, bcm5700, drbd, arla, eagleadsl, hubcot, i2c, zaptel, thinkpad, vaiostat, userlink, unicorn, translucency, sl-modem, qce, lirc, openafs, lm-sensors) thanks to module-assistant."
Feather Linux 0.3.5
A new version of Feather Linux is out. From the changelog: "Changelog from 0.3.4 to 0.3.5: added ntfstools, dosfstools, e2undel, iftop, gtkrecover, bbpager, utelnetd, picocom, bridge-utils, index and various dockapps to show the system status; included Busybox versions of dc and fbset; changed Firebird script to download Firefox instead; added menu options to play CDs and DVDs, and a documentation menu; made small changes to HD install script; added script to save config to HD (use knoppix hdrestore=hda1)."
Lorma Linux 4.1
Lorma Linux, a Fedora-based distribution recompiled for i686 processors, has a new release. Changes in version 4.1: "This new release fixes most of the bugs encountered on Lorma Linux 4.0; a new and improved GUI interface to synaptic when upgrading packages and problems were fixed; recompiled Mozilla 1.5 for a better look-and-feel in browsing; regrouped KDE menu items for easier navigation; removed xine-ui from the package for bigger disk space; added gFTP in exchange of KBear; added LinNeighborhood..." Read about the remaining changes on the distribution's home page.
A new version of INSERT, the Inside Security Rescue Toolkit, has been released. From the changelog: "2004-02-13 v1.2.2. The latest virus database for clamav has been added; the floppy boot image has been removed; instead, a small script and syslinux provide the functionality to generate the boot disk from the files already on the CD; some minor corrections in the captive docu page have been made; wmnet has been removed."
Mandows 1.5 has been released. The new version fixes several bugs from the previous release and includes support for ACPI and ECI modems. Many new packages have been added, including mmbox, gFTP, MPlayer, alsamixergui, GCDmaster, QTParted, Synaptic, Samba, Apache, Grip, xawtv, BitTorrent and others. See the full release announcement (in French) for further details.
This is a new update of the Knoppix live CD. From the changelog: "V3.3-2004-02-16 (more updates and bugfixes). Updated /etc/X11/Xsession to fix X-Login on installed version; updated pcitable for nforce ethernet chipsets; timezone fix from Tim Pope; don't set DefaultColorDepth in XF86Config-4 if using fbdev module; fixed empty /etc/network/interfaces broadcast line in netcardconfig."
Puppy Linux 0.8.2
A new version of Puppy Linux is now available: "Puppy v0.8.2 released. Bluefish v0.7 is now in Puppy, not as an external package but in-built. Now there is an incredible choice of HTML editors. Bluefish is for people who like to work with the code, in contrast with Composer and Amaya that are WYSIWYG (though Amaya does have a very nice code window). Puppy now has scalerx, which is a lovely utility for scaling up the size of PNG images without jagged edges. Puppy has a new HOWTO page on multimedia..." Read the rest of the release notes for additional information.
AL-AMLUG Live CD 0.4.2
This new release from the AL-ALAMLUG Live CD project is based on a pre-release snapshot of Arch Linux 0.6 What's new? "Packages upgrade: KDE-3.2, kernel-2.4.24, etc; new packages: Mozilla (replaced Opera), Flash & Java plugins, gFTP, and MPlayer. (the full package list); bug fix: USB system, hd-install with X fonts cache, and LILO (lilo.conf)." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
ASP Linux 9.2
ASP Linux has announced that version 9.2 will be released on 1 March 2004, when it will also become available for download from its FTP servers and mirrors. Besides the standard product, the company will also produce a bootable live CD. See this page (in Russian) for further information.
|Web Site News
Advertising special: half price until the end of February
If you sign up and start advertising at any time between today and the end of February 2004, you will be eligible for twice as many impressions as normal. As an example US$25 will normally buy you 25,000 banner impressions, but the current special will get you 50,000 impressions instead. Similarly, US$500 will buy you 2 million impressions, instead of the standard 1 million. These are the special rates valid until the end of this month:
• $25 (50,000 impressions)
• $45 (100,000 impressions)
• $80 (200,000 impressions)
• $300 (1 million impressions)
• $500 (2 million impressions)
Just a reminder that we support geo-targeted and regional advertising, so if you offer Linux and Free Software related product and services applicable only to your country or region, you can still take advantage of the above offer and advertise exclusively for visitors coming from your target market. Please visit the advertising page for further details.
Order your own official DistroWatch T-shirt from Hackerthreads.
- eduKnoppix. eduKnoppix is an Italian educational distribution based on Knoppix, designed especially for teachers and pupils (age 12 up). eduKnoppix has two major features: it comes with a comprehensive range of various Mathematics packages, as well as resources to obtain the European Computer Driver's License ONLY with free software.
- X-evian. X-evian is a Spanish live CD based on Knoppix and Debian GNU/Linux.
- OGo Knoppix Live CD. The OpenGroupware.org (OGo) Knoppix CD is a bootable CD which contains a complete Debian GNU/Linux system, a fully configured OGo installation, a Cyrus server and some more Linux software. It's based on the original Knoppix CD created by Knopper.Net Consulting. It's certainly the fastest way to get a usable OpenGroupware.org demo up and running!
Screenshot: OpenGroupware.org's own live CD with the pre-configured OpenGroupware.org groupware client.
(full image size 124kB)
New on the waiting list
DistroWatch database summary
- Rox OS. Rox OS is a Linux distribution which is being designed around bringing a simpler experience to home users. Initially Rox OS will build upon the idea of application directories (AppDirs), that allow for easy drag and drop installation of applications and system utilities, and a simplified file system hierarchy.
- Number of distributions in the database: 259
- Number of discontinued distributions: 31
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 57
On reader suggestions
It's always interesting to read some of the suggestions that readers come up with. Like this one:
"How about adding a link to the latest changelog to each package in the 'latest packages' section? It would save me some time searching for it on the site's homepage each time a new software package is released."
There is nothing wrong with a request like that and I appreciate the reader's time to write in with a suggestion for improvement. But... While it will certainly save him time, it will mean more work for your maintainer, which make me somewhat reluctant to implement the feature. The way things are at the moment, all new features, especially the ones designed to "save time" will go into the appropriately named Timesavers Programme and will only be available to those who join it.
An alternative solution would be to allow the reader requesting a feature to implement it. Consider the following email:
"May I suggest you implement a 'software' benchmark about distros? Such benchmark would state whether a distro implements (and I mean 'it works right away after the install stage'): Java, Flash, RealPlayer, all this integrated with any browser provided in the distro; multimedia capabilities, and DVD playback (yes, with libdecss, and divx); CD burning capabilities; proprietary video drivers (NVIDIA, ATI, ...); 'dependency hell' fix (urpmi, apt-get, ...); a decent control centre, with hardware authoring tool (such as to prevent directly writing into modules.conf, or fstab, or else); an home office productivity tool (KOffice, OpenOffice.org, ...); an account manager (gnucash, ...)."
This is a perfectly reasonable request and something that many readers would likely find extremely useful. Unfortunately, it is a lot of work. If we can get a group of people, each of whom will provide the necessary information for one or two distributions, and enter the data into a matrix for comparison, then we could end up with a very useful table. Is there enough interest in this? More importantly, is there anyone willing to lead this "distro benchmarking" sub-project, set up the table, collect the data and maintain the page? Any interested parties, please comment below or email me directly. Needless to say, any community-driven projects like this will be freely accessible to all visitors.
Luckily, not all email is of "request" type. This one was one of the more pleasant ones to read:
"My name is Jeff, and I'm a regular visitor to the Distrowatch site. In fact, it is the default home page for 2 of the browsers I use most frequently. I think you do an incredible job with the site, and wish that my current situation allowed me to financially support you in some measure. Unfortunately, that's not a realistic option at this time. What I can offer, however, is my time, and my services in writing, proofreading, reviews, webpage assistance, and in any other way which I might be able to support a very useful site while I am sitting at my computer. Please contact me if I can be of any help."
Thank you, Jeff, I appreciate your email and I certainly will take advantage of your generous offer!
That's all for this week, see you next Monday :-)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 188.8.131.52, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Olive was minimalistic Linux live CD based on Debian GNU/Linux. It offers a number of rarely-seen features, such as a unique boot process using a combination of BusyBox and GHLI, a modular script interpreter, a custom package management tool called UniPKG, a read-write live CD infrastructure with Unionfs and Squashfs, and the Enlightenment window manager. The purpose of the project was to demonstrate ease-of-use of Linux and to showcase interesting new technologies.