| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 207, 18 June 2007
Welcome to this year's 25th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The first release candidate of Slackware Linux 12.0, Linus Torvalds' entertaining exchange with Sun Microsystem's Jonathan Schwartz, and Linspire's promise of a "better Linux" through a partnership with Microsoft were the most interesting headlines of the past week. We comment on these and other events of the week. In other distro-related news, the Debian project announces a tentative release schedule for Debian "Lenny", Max Spevack talks about the upcoming Fedora 8, and, in an exclusive DistroWatch interview, Adam Williamson introduces a number of projects that will shape the future of Mandriva Linux. Finally, don't miss the list of changes and updates to the DistroWatch package list as used for tracking version numbers of important software applications. Happy reading!
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Interview with Adam Williamson, Mandriva Linux
Mandriva Linux, once the most popular desktop Linux distribution, has had a fair share of ups and downs in recent years. After almost going bankrupt in 2003, it went through a period of acquisitions and rapid growth until a wave of financial troubles forced it to lay off several developers earlier this year. But it's not all bad news. Mandriva's recent products have received positive reviews in the media and there is a sense of optimism suggesting that the company's most pressing financial problems have now been dealt with. With the upcoming release of Mandriva Linux 2008, scheduled for October 2007, everybody is once again working hard to make the next version a resounding success.
DistroWatch asked Adam Williamson, Mandriva's Community Manager and Bugmaster, a few questions about the current situation at Mandriva.
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DW: Adam, thank you very much for your time. My first question is this: what is the current mood at Mandriva? Is it all doom and gloom after the recent round of retrenchments or is the worst over after concluding the new venture capital deal?
AW: Obviously it never helps the mood at a company when people leave, and a lot of the people who left recently had extensive internal connections and it's sad to see them go. But there is a sense of optimism around our latest projects and products (including Corporate Desktop 4 and new Flash variants), and around some of the changes happening with the Mandriva community and the development process.
DW: Many users and reviewers agreed that Mandriva Linux 2007.0 and 2007.1 were superb releases. Despite that, the Linux community hasn't really embraced them - at least, in the sense that you don't see the same kind of excitement and enthusiasm for Mandriva as you see for Ubuntu on Linux news sites, blogs, forums, etc. What do you think are the main reasons for this?
AW: My personal thought is that there's a kind of lag time for Linux distributions. Our problems really started to set in around the release of 2005 LE (10.2), but this wasn't really immediately obvious from the outside: we still got the press time, we still had the user base, we still looked like everything was going great. By the same token, when you start to fix problems (both with the distribution itself and with areas like support and community involvement), you don't see the results right away - it takes longer for people to get over their bad memories of prior problems. You still see a lot of people criticising Mandriva for issues that were resolved several releases ago, or saying they won't try new releases because of the bad experience they had with 2005 or 2006. For us, this is obviously frustrating, but we have to accept that it's a consequence of mistakes we made in the past, and be patient.
DW: Most Mandriva developers have openly disagreed with some of the decisions made by the company management in recent years. In retrospect, what do you think were the biggest mistakes that contributed towards the rapid fall in the popularity of Mandrake/Mandriva Linux?
AW: Mandriva has always had a culture of openness, where differences of opinion between staff members are not suppressed. I'm sure anyone who's worked for any tech company (or, really, any company!) will tell you that front line workers often take different positions and perspectives from management.
Again speaking personally, I believe the problems that have affected the popularity of Mandriva are really quite simple. The most fundamental one is simply quality of the product. Around the time of the 2005 and 2006 releases, the bar for Linux distributions in some senses was being rapidly set higher by various competing products, and Mandriva took some time to adjust. We still had our historic strong points - hardware compatibility, the Mandriva Control Center, user-friendliness, our extensive development community - but the improvements made by many of our competitors meant that it was no longer the case that our strong points were sufficient to make people overlook our weak points, which tended to be mostly in the area of quality control and overall polish. 2006, especially, was released with several clear bugs and deficiencies which absolutely should have blocked the release. We definitely learnt from that, and for both releases since we have had a process around release time which has ensured that all really critical known bugs have been fixed before release. This is why the release quality of the 2007 and 2007 Spring products is far higher than that of 2006.
There are some more technical issues related to distribution quality which we have also worked on. Prior to the merger with Conectiva, we had a fairly primitive build system which relied on packages being built and uploaded manually by developers and contributors and then retrospectively synchronised into a CVS repository for tracking. Since the Conectiva merger, we have adopted the Conectiva build system more or less entirely. This is a far more robust system, which involves developers and contributors submitting source packages directly to a Subversion repository, from where the final packages are built in a controlled environment by an automated build bot service. This significantly reduces the occurrence of several build-related problems, makes monitoring of many typical problems (such as packages requiring rebuilds) far easier, and has also allowed us, since the release of Mandriva Linux 2007, to implement a new repository system which makes it very simple to provide both security / bug-fix updates and also new version backport packages for stable releases. There have been several other improvements of this nature which will have a consistent and ongoing effect on the quality of the distribution, a trend which should become obvious after a few more releases.
Beyond this, our problems have been in the same areas as they long have been: problems with service reliability, a tendency to overreach in the development of new products and services (which are then often abandoned), some inefficiencies in providing customer and technical support, and communication problems. Mandriva has been a bit behind some of our competitors in terms of having a culture of communication, both internally and among our developer community. A lot of people just don't hear about a lot of the cool stuff and hard work that goes on in the Mandriva world, and this is something we've been trying to address for a year or so now, with things like Planet Mandriva, the Mandriva team blog, improved communication with news sites, and my own role within the Mandriva community.
DW: Some people argue that there is no place for Mandriva Linux in the enterprise space; we already have the highly profitable Red Hat, the very aggressive Novell and the new darling Ubuntu. In your opinion, wouldn't it be better if Mandriva abandoned the enterprise market and focused all its resources solely on the home desktop?
AW: Still speaking personally, no, I don't think so. Both markets are equally attractive for Mandriva. The home desktop market does seem the most immediately attractive, but it comes with its own considerable problems. You mention the new darling Ubuntu; trying to sell a desktop Linux product that is competing against the free-as-in-beer Ubuntu, the free-as-in-beer openSUSE, various other popular free-as-in-beer distributions (including the extensively Mandriva-based PCLinuxOS) and even our own very capable Mandriva Linux Free edition presents its own unique challenges. I've been trying to promote the viewpoint inside the company for a while now that selling software, per se, in the current Linux market is not a very attractive position to be in, when so many of the competitors, for various reasons, do not need to sell software. It puts you at a natural disadvantage.
The home desktop market is an important one for Mandriva for a variety of reasons: it does still provide a significant proportion of our revenue, and it has special significance for the Mandriva project as it's where we started out and where many of our community members and contributors have come from. So for all these reasons, we will be maintaining our commitment to it. The enterprise market has been increasingly important to Mandriva for the last few years, and if you examine our financial results, you will see that we have actually been quite successful in expanding our business in this market. We have considerable cost advantages over our main competitors in this space for certain types of enterprise, and we also have the advantage of being the only truly European-based enterprise distributor, which is attractive to many European companies. I think it's a stronger position for Mandriva to continue to address both markets than to attempt to focus on one.
DW: Mandriva Flash 2007.0 looked like a very successful product. Yet, two months after the release of Mandriva Linux 2007.1, there is still no Mandriva Flash 2007.1. Why?
AW: We want to make sure it works perfectly! The original Flash did not come out until several months after the release of 2007, and the 2007 Spring Flash will be no different. We have to test the product carefully before release, as it's rather hard to fix any problems once we've committed to an image. We hope this won't dissuade anyone from buying a Flash, as we will be running an upgrade program for Flash 4GB owners to update their Flash to 2007 Spring, the details of which haven't been finalised yet.
DW: Does it take 2+ months to make sure that Mandriva Flash "works perfectly"? After all, the product that eventually ends up on the USB key is the same as the one you've already released on a DVD, right? Or are there any major differences between the two? And if there are, why can't all the testing be done during the product's development period?
AW: We also like having Flash come out a few months after the main distro from a sales / marketing point of view. The reason is that otherwise we have a very cyclical sales situation: every six months, big noise and whoopee and sales for two weeks, then five months and two weeks of basically sod all. Nothing new to promote, market, discuss. If we have the Flash on an offset cycle from the main distro, we have something new to promote, market and discuss every three months. It flattens out our sales curves a bit and gives us a chance to be in the news for more of the year.
DW: Let's talk about the upcoming release of Mandriva Linux 2008, currently scheduled for October 2007. What can we expect from the new version?
I see 2008 as a kind of 'new start' for Mandriva, while building on the improvements in quality that were seen in the 2007 series. It will feature a lot of significant user-visible changes. Most obviously we will be moving to a new kernel version, after staying with 2.6.17 for the last two releases. All the other new versions you'd expect to see will be there - GNOME 2.20, the latest Mozilla suite and OpenOffice.org, and so on. There will be some headline features along the lines of the Metisse support in 2007 Spring, of course, but we're not revealing these yet! Beyond this, though, there will be quite a lot of fundamental updates. Personally, I have been working on a project which is quite close to some of our community members' hearts - rebuilding all the old packages in the distribution which, for various reasons, have not been rebuilt for several releases. The new Bug Squad
has been cleaning up the bug database, which has led to a pretty big rush of fixes for old bugs. In general, there's a sense of 'spring cleaning' in the development process at the moment. I expect the overall impression people get of 2008 will be one of improved reliability, maybe with things they thought might never get fixed or improved being addressed.
Our awesome development community is also coming up with some great stuff. In particular, a few of the development volunteers have formed a team
to focus on improving Xfce within Mandriva, to make it a really top-notch desktop alternative alongside KDE and GNOME.
One personal project I'm hoping may bear some interesting fruit: I've packaged Gtk+ WebCore
in the Mandriva development distro. Gtk+ WebCore is a GTK+ port of Apple's WebKit web rendering toolkit, which is of course in turn based on KDE's KHTML, and which is the basis for their Safari browser. Gtk+ WebCore was started a couple of years ago by Nokia, brought to a minimally-releasable state and then kind of left dormant. Recently, the lead developer has been active on it again, and there's been an initial release of a new Gtk+ WebCore based browser, Midori
, which I've also packaged. Both Gtk+ WebCore and Midori are pre-alpha state and not really usable for serious web use yet (on the one hand pages actually render really well because the fundamental technology is very mature, but on the other hand the browser has almost none of the features you'd expect, and the whole thing crashes at the drop of a hat), but it's a fun technology to play with, and I'm hoping that by the time 2008 gets released it will have been developed to the point where you can at least use it regularly if you're really determined! It'll be nice to have a GTK+ alternative to the Gecko-based browsers.
DW: How does the Mandriva development team decide which new features to implement in the next release?
Near the start of the release cycle, we start both an internal discussion and a discussion among our development community to decide what features people are interested in working on for the next release. You can see some of the public side of this in this Wiki page
(the rest you'll find in mailing list archives). There's a similar page on our private internal Wiki which covers the goals for each product team. Besides this, the open nature of Mandriva development means sometimes people can just turn up and do things. Our leading position in support for 3D desktops is quite heavily based on work provided by a contributor, Colin Guthrie, who just showed up during the 2007 development cycle and started submitting work to make the 3D desktop technologies work smoothly with Mandriva. With a little help from Olivier Blin, who is the internal developer responsible for drak3d, the whole project was born. We're occasionally accused of wasting too much time on 3D desktop stuff that we could be spending on 'more useful' work - people who make this criticism usually don't realise that 3D desktop work takes up only part of the time of a single one of our paid developers!
The other team with an input is the marketing team. They can suggest some features and ideas based on what they think will be attractive to users.
DW: The Metisse 3D desktop was an interesting addition to Mandriva 2007.1, but it has failed to generate excitement in the Linux community. Will we continue seeing Metisse in the upcoming release or will it go the way of Kat (the infamous desktop search tool), which was abandoned after just one release?
AW: No, Metisse won't go the way of Kat. Metisse is a more robust project with a proper team and funding behind it. Also, to put it simply, Metisse works a lot better already than Kat ever did. Kat was a great project, but it was really too immature to be included with Mandriva at the time it was, and that put a lot of pressure on the developers. Ultimately, it was overtaken by other technologies.
DW: We don't hear much about your Brazilian office these days. Do you still actively cooperate with your South American colleagues or has the ex-Conectiva part of Mandriva become largely a marketing and sales office for Mandriva Brazil?
AW: Well, I hope you can see from the above comments that this is not the case at all! The Brazil office has actually become increasingly important to the development of Mandriva. For instance, right now, the maintainer of Firefox and Thunderbird is a Brazilian developer (Marcelo Leitner). He's also responsible for printing. Gustavo Boiko is our X.Org maintainer. Luiz Capitulino is in charge of kernel updates for stable releases, and he did an excellent job on the 2007 series. Helio Castro is heavily involved in KDE work: he built the KDE 3.5.7 Mandriva packages that are available at kde.org, for instance. Andreas Hasenack packages various important applications (including Postfix), and is heavily involved with developing and maintaining the build system. Claudio Matsuoka is our Bugzilla administrator. Really, the fact that you don't hear much about 'the Brazilian office' is an indicator of how successful the merger has been: we really don't often think in terms of a 'Brazilian team' and a 'French team', we just see one big development community. The Brazil-based developers work together extensively with both the French developers and the wider volunteer community.
DW: Is there anything that you'd like to say to our readers? What interesting things about Mandriva do not many people know about?
AW: The most common misconception about Mandriva is that it's 'not free'. This takes several forms - the belief that you have to pay or join the Club to get updates, or that the freely available versions of Mandriva are crippled demos. In truth, we have one of the longest and best records of freedom. The Free edition of Mandriva, which is both free as in speech and free as in beer, has been going since Mandrake began in 1998. It's not crippled and it's not a demo: it's a fully-functional distribution which is used as a primary operating system by thousands of people. Every free / open source package in the Mandriva distribution is available to the public at no cost from our repositories, none of them are reserved. All official updates are, and have always been, available without payment, membership, subscription or registration to anything. We used to differentiate our commercial editions on the basis of the non-free software included in them, but in recent years, with the importance of non-free software to Linux users declining and the amount of non-free software we make available at no cost increasing, this difference has become very small, and we're increasingly focusing on the support, services and documentation that come along with a purchase of a commercial edition.
The best 'feature' of Mandriva that most people don't know about is the new repository system. Since the release of Mandriva Linux 2007, we have been using a new, segmented repository system. The best thing about this is that it allows us to provide an official, cohesive source for new versions of software for stable releases. The repositories for each Mandriva Linux release are split into four sections: main, contrib, non-free and restricted. Main contains free / open source software that is officially supported. Contrib contains free / open source software that is not officially supported. Non-free contains non-free software that is available to the general public, and restricted contains non-free software that is only available to purchasers and Club members (it's a very small section).
This split has always been in place, but what's new is the subdivision of each section into four repositories: /release , /updates , /testing and /backports . /release is the 'reference' repository: it contains the exact version of each package that was current at the moment the release was finalised. /updates contains security and bug-fix update packages - it's the repository used by MandrivaUpdate. /testing contains candidate updates: when a bug is reported and we plan to release an update for it, we first place the update in /testing for interested users to test and verify that the bug is fixed and no other problems are caused. /backports is the repository for updated versions of packages. We don't put these in /updates , as it's not good policy to mix updated versions with security and bug-fix updates, and users in conservative environments don't want this kind of update. However, many users do want to have new versions of major applications when they're released, and the difficulty of providing these has always been one of the biggest drawbacks of the standard distribution repository system of software installation in Linux. The /backports repositories solve this problem for Mandriva, making it trivial for packagers to provide updated versions of applications for stable releases, and easy for users to use these packages if they choose.
In Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring, using the /backports repositories is as easy as running the repository configuration tool, adding the standard set of online repositories, and then enabling the /backports ones (by default, they are added to the list, but not enabled). This system has been a huge success for 2007 and 2007 Spring, and it has allowed us to provide such important new releases as Pidgin, new versions of Mozilla Firefox, Ekiga, Xfce, SeaMonkey, vdr, freevo, Enlightenment 17 and many more all in one official, centralised place, using the same buildsystem as all the other official repositories. It even allows us to add interesting new applications during the life of a release: for instance, Colin Walters' experimental GNOME shell replacement, Hotwire, has been introduced to the 2007 Spring /contrib/backports repository since the release of 2007 Spring.
Compare this situation to the case with other distributions, where if you want to add interesting new applications and keep existing ones up-to-date, you wind up adding several dozen single-purpose repositories provided outside the official repository framework, which are frequently unaware of each others' existence. To my knowledge, we're the only stable release-based distribution with a framework like this in place.
DW: Adam, thank you very much for your answers and all the best!
Torvalds vs Sun, Slackware 12.0, interview with Fedora's Max Spevack, Debian "Lenny" release schedule; Linspire's "better Linux"
Last week started with an entertaining exchange between Linus Torvalds, the maintainer of the Linux kernel, and Jonathan Schwartz, the President and CEO of Sun Microsystems. It revolved around a Sun product that everybody seems to want these days - the ZFS file system used in Solaris. Torvalds argued that Sun is highly unlikely to release this interesting piece of software under the GPL and made a number of negative remarks about some of the practices at Sun. Perhaps surprisingly, Schwartz responded on his personal blog and even invited Torvalds for dinner in his house: "I'll cook, you bring the wine." While the post avoids giving any hints as to the future license of ZFS, perhaps the meeting between the two important technology leaders will result in better understanding of each other's position in today's software world.
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Patrick Volkerding announced last week that Slackware's development tree, called "current", has reached a release candidate status: "It's that time again, and here we have Slackware 12.0 release candidate 1!" So it's Slackware 12.0, after all! But did you know that in 1999 Slackware went from version 4.0 to version 7.0 in the space of a few months? Patrick Volkerding explained the reason: "I think it's clear that some other distributions inflated their version numbers for marketing purposes, and I've had to field (way too many times) the question 'why isn't yours 6.x' or worse 'when will you upgrade to Linux 6.0' which really drives home the effectiveness of this simple trick." It seems that the Slackware founder won't have to worry about this problem for a while; with 12.0, his next release will have the highest version number of any major distribution on the market!
Slackware Linux 12.0-rc1 running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 137kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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In what is surely one of the best interviews of the year, Fedora's Max Spevack talks to LWN about the just released Fedora 7, the upcoming changes in the project's development infrastructure, and the new features in Fedora 8: "We're looking at a far less ambitious Fedora 8. With so much new stuff in Fedora 7, we'd like to give all of our infrastructure changes a chance to settle in and get some polish, and also give some of the contributors who have been going non-stop on Fedora for the last few months a development cycle that is a bit less stressful. But that doesn't mean we don't have some things planned. The best thing for people who are interested in Fedora 8 to do is look at our Wiki, where we will be tracking potential features over the course of the release cycle." Don't miss it!
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The Debian release team has announced an internal release schedule for the project's next version, code name "Lenny". The date? Early September 2008: "Probably the most interesting thing in this mail is the schedule we have discussed for Lenny. After looking at the (known) release dates for some of the major software packages, we have decided to release Lenny in the second half of 2008, probably early September 2008." As always, Debian releases are still done on the released-when-ready basis and all of the project's recent releases were delayed by months, but it's nice to see that a goal for Lenny has been set. The announcement, published on the debian-devel-announce list, also talks about changes in the release management team, release policies, architecture "requalification" and other interesting topics.
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Do you miss the Gentoo Weekly News, which used to be one of the best-loved weekly distribution newsletters, but which has faded into oblivion in recent months? The good news it that the publication will make a comeback back in July: "Feeling out of the loop without the GWN? Missing your weekly summary of what's new and news worthy in the Gentoo community? The GWN will be back in full force in July! The GWN staff certainly apologizes for this delay. As we are a community of volunteers, certain set backs can inevitably creep up. New internal policies and procedures are in the works, as well as cross training to ensure ample coverage is always available. In short, we hope to not find ourselves in this situation again and appreciate your patience while we strive for improvement!"
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So Linspire is the latest Linux company that has succumbed to Microsoft's racketeering, er, I mean, its Intellectual Property (IP) protection scheme: "Microsoft and Linspire have developed a framework to provide patent covenants for Linspire customers. The patent covenants provide customers with confidence that the Linspire technologies they use come with rights to relevant Microsoft patents." By signing the deal, Linspire asserts that all its customers are now protected from any potential IP rights by Microsoft, which claims patent violations in the Linux kernel.
If you are wondering how the word "racketeering" comes into the picture, here is an excerpt from a recent interview with Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth: "Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won't say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: "It's an unsafe neighbourhood, why don't you pay me 20 bucks and I'll make sure you're okay," that's illegal. It's racketeering. What Microsoft is doing with intellectual property is exactly the same."
He further clarifies this point in the latest entry of his personal blog: "Allegations of 'infringement of unspecified patents' carry no weight whatsoever. We don't think they have any legal merit, and they are no incentive for us to work with Microsoft on any of the wonderful things we could do together. A promise by Microsoft not to sue for infringement of unspecified patents has no value at all and is not worth paying for. It does not protect users from the real risk of a patent suit from a pure-IP-holder (Microsoft itself is regularly found to violate such patents and regularly settles such suits). People who pay protection money for that promise are likely living in a false sense of security."
Nevertheless, Linspire's Kevin Carmony insists that the pact with Microsoft was done purely out of love for humanity, for creating a "better" Linux with Microsoft's help: "I'd prefer to use diplomacy and cooperation, than go to war. Linspire plans on working with Microsoft, just like we have with dozens of other partners, to build a better Linux. The choice to use, or not to use, the 'better' Linux we strive to produce will always be up to you, but I like the idea of finding a mutually advantageous way for Microsoft and Linspire to work together." Very touching indeed - until you remember that Microsoft has repeatedly labeled Linux and its license as a "virus", "pac-man" and "cancer", that Microsoft has been trying to discredit Linux at every opportunity, and that Microsoft has recently hinted at a possibility of future lawsuits against Linux users for patent violations. With partners like that, who needs enemies?
There is a reason why, despite being one of the most user-friendly distributions on the market, Linspire has attracted no more than a trickle of users. Its frequently changing attitudes, a constant barrage of meaningless press releases, failures to deliver promised products, and now the dubious pact with a company whose history of destroying powerful competitors is well documented, makes Linspire a highly suspicious player on the Linux distro scene. It has been around for over five years; yet, its current management still doesn't get Linux and open source software - instead of engaging the community and exploiting the concept of sharing, Kevin Carmony chooses to fly to Redmond to meet with suits!
Avoid this so-called "better Linux" like plague.
|Released Last Week
Karoshi is a PCLinuxOS-based school server with a simple graphical interface that allows for quick installation, setup and maintenance of a network. The project announced a new release earlier today: "Karoshi 5.1.3 released. The changes are: remastered on the latest version of PCLinuxOS; main control panels changed to use Ruby so that all features can be seen at a glance; desktop Independence gained by changing from Konsole to Xterm and adding a variable for the file manager; Network Configure scripts changed to check to see if default DNS server is up; network backups - the new version has changes so that backups are kept in current, father, grandfather, and greatgrandfather folders to simplify rotation...." Read the full release announcement for further information.
Berry Linux 0.81
Yuichiro Nakada has announced the availability of an updated version of Berry Linux, a Fedora-based English/Japanese live CD featuring many of the latest desktop Linux technologies: "Berry Linux 0.81 released." The new version is based on Fedora 6 with a number of updated applications. It boots into Linux kernel 2.6.20 with the FUSE overlay file system version 2.6.5 and support for SSHFS and NTFS-3G. The live CD also includes NVIDIA 1.0-9639 and ATI 8.37.6 proprietary kernel drivers and Kudzu, the hardware detection utility, version 1.2.71. Among software applications, Berry's Rasp-UI window manager has been updated to version 0.05, Audacious to version 1.3.2, GIMP to version 2.2.15, and xine-lib to version 1.1.7. Flash Player 9.0.31 and the latest WINE 0.9.36 are also included. Read the complete changelog for additional information.
The Zenwalk Linux development team has announced the release of Zenserver 0.5, the project's new server edition: "After over four months of development, Zenserver 0.5 has been released. There has been a huge amount of changes since last release. Zenserver 0.5 features the 188.8.131.52 kernel with the Grsecurity patch, lighttpd, PHP, MySQL, BIND, Postfix, Samba, full development tools, WebLua, and ZSAdmin for effective and simple systems administration. ZSAdmin is capable of enabling web scripting languages for lighttpd, system configuration, configuring inetd, configuring MySQL, and more." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Yellow Dog Linux 5.0.2
Terra Soft Solutions has announced the availability of an updated release of Yellow Dog Linux, version 5.0.2: "We are pleased to announce the release of Yellow Dog Linux 5.0.2, a single Install DVD with support for the Apple G4 and G5 computers, Sony PS3, and IBM 'System p' servers, including the JS20/21, OpenPower, and current POWER5 systems. Yellow Dog Linux 5.0.2 offers: kernel 2.6.22-rc4; SDK v2.0 for Cell BE; more than 70 bug fixes and updates; continued support for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems; beta IBM 'System p' support. The IBM Software Development Toolkit (SDK) for Cell Broadband Engine (Cell BE) is a complete package of tools which allows developers to program optimized applications for platforms built upon the Cell BE. The SDK is composed of development tool chains, software libraries, and sample source." More details in the release announcement.
Linux Mint 3.0 "Light"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 3.0 "Light" edition: "Cassandra Light edition was released and is available for download. The purpose of the Light edition is to bring an edition of Linux Mint which doesn't contain: proprietary software, patented technologies and support for restricted formats. In some countries where the legislation allows software patents to be enforced, the Light edition provides a way for users to legally download Linux Mint. The following components are not present in this Light Edition: Macromedia Flash, support for encrypted DVDs, Windows codecs, support for restricted multimedia formats, unrar, Sun Java (replaced by GIJ)." Read the complete release notes for more details.
Linux-EduCD is a Polish live CD focusing on education, graphics, office and multimedia use, and designed specifically for use in Polish educational institutions. The latest version is 0.8, released earlier this week. Linux-EduCD 0.8 is the project's first release based on Ubuntu; it includes both GNOME 2.18.1 and KDE 3.5.6, a number of educational and scientific packages, LAMP software (MySQL, Apache, PHP, Python), software for development (Ruby+ Rails, Java 1.6 with Eclipse, MzScheme and DrScheme, Ada95/2005+GPS, Gambas, Glade), networking support and popular multimedia codecs. For more details please read the full release announcement on the distribution's home page (in Polish).
Yoper Linux 3.0
Tobias Gerschner has announced the release of Yoper Linux 3.0, a fast, i686-optimised distribution featuring the KDE desktop and using the SMART package management technology: "The Yoper team is proud to announce the long-awaited stable release of Yoper Linux 3.0, codename 'Titanium'. This release ships with kernel 184.108.40.206, including the Con Kolivas patch set and SD scheduler, X.Org 7.2, KDE 3.5.7, KOffice 1.6.3, Firefox 220.127.116.11 and a vast range of other cutting-edge desktop packages. This release will be followed by a bug-fix release in about 4 weeks time. It will only contain simple application updates and bug fixes." Read the rest of the release announcement and refer to the changelog for a complete list of changes.
Yoper Linux 3.0 - a fast, good-looking desktop distribution
(full image size: 241kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Pioneer MigrationSERVER 2.1
Dianne Ursini has announced the release of Pioneer MigrationSERVER 2.1: "Technalign, Inc. has announced the release of Pioneer MigrationSERVER 2.1. Pioneer MigrationSERVER replaces previous versions and the 2.1 release staging for the Technalign Trailblazer Framework. MigrationSERVER 2.1 includes additional functions such as software RAID, DHCP, and the Squid Proxy Server to mention a few, which install simply by clicking a button on the web interface. Users can use either SSH or Webmin to manage their servers and both have been included as options for server management. Technalign's MigrationSERVER allows customers to drive down their server and acquisition costs." Read the rest of the press release for further information.
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.90
Alan Baghumian has announced the final release of Parsix GNU/Linux 0.90: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of the most perfect version of Parsix GNU/Linux ever, 0.90r0 codename 'Barry'. This version brings the recent open source technologies bound into a quality live and installation CD-ROM right to your desktop and laptop PC. Highlights: improved live functionality and i18n support, vastly improved installer system to install and enable proper functions needed by specific hardware automatically, and fully integrated update installation mode. Software packages: Linux kernel 18.104.22.168 with CK and Suspend2 patch sets, GNOME 2.18.2 desktop, X.Org 7.2, OpenOffice.org 2.0.4, GNU Iceweasel 22.214.171.124...." Please read the release announcement and release notes for full details.
Parsix GNU/Linux 0.90 - a new version of a distribution based on Debian "Lenny"
(full image size: 448kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
The annual package database update|
After analysing all your suggestions during the past week, below is the final list of updates to the list of packages tracked by DistroWatch:
- Banshee: a music management and playback application for GNOME
- Beryl: an OpenGL accelerated desktop
- Compiz: a compositing window manager that uses 3D graphics acceleration via OpenGL
- JRE: a software bundle from Sun Microsystems that allows a computer system to run a Java application
- Kaffeine: a full-featured multimedia player for KDE
- Metisse: an X-based 3D window system
- NTFS-3G: a read/write NTFS driver
- QEMU: an open source machine emulator and virtualiser
- VirtualBox: a family of x86 virtualisation products for enterprise and home
- xfsprogs: a set of utilities for managing the XFS file system
- apache-tomcat (a new name for jakarta-tomcat)
- KTorrent (replaces BitTorrent)
- cdrkit (replaces cdrtools). A somewhat controversial decision, but due to the licensing changes in cdrtools, it look like the project is going the way of XFree86 - in a year or two no distribution will use it any more. Also, frequent anti-Linux comments by the cdrtools developer haven't helped the matters.
- GParted (replaces QTParted). GParted is a very active project, while QTParted has stagnated in recent years.
- Pidgin (replaces GAIM)
- TeX Live (replaces TeTeX). Some readers suggested to keep both TeX Live and TeTeX, but it doesn't make sense to track a package that is no longer in development. As a compromise, those distributions that ship with TeTeX will have the TeTeX version number indicated in the TeX Live row.
- Wireshark (a new name for Ethereal)
- XdTV (replaces xawtv)
The package list will be updated later this week. If your preferred package didn't make the list, don't despair - please try again next year ;-)
- GNU Patch
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- DetaolB. DetaolB is a fast, modular and minimal live CD that fits on a 20MB media. It is currently designed to run primarily in emulated (virtualised) environments.
- Nimbus. Nimbus is a new Brazilian live CD based on Slackware Linux and SLAX.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 25 June 2007. Until then,
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre is an unofficial "libre" variant of Arch Linux. It aims to provide a fully free (as in freedom) distribution based on the packages of the Arch Linux project, with packages optimised for i686 and x86_64 processors. The goal is to give the users complete control over their systems with 100% "libre" software. Parabola GNU/Linux-libre is listed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as a fully free software distribution. Besides a standard installation CD image, the project also provides a live/rescue DVD image with MATE as the default desktop environment.