| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 219, 10 September 2007
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Enthusiasm for Linux and open source software is clearly growing; with last week's announcements about Lenovo's preferred Linux distro poll and AMD's opening up its ATI video drivers, things have never looked this exciting on the Linux-supporting hardware front! But some questions remain: do we really want every major PC manufacturer to support Ubuntu only? And will other distributions be able to catch with the increasing dominance of Canonical's operating system? Read more in our editorial. In the news section, openSUSE shows faith in KDE 4.0, Puppy Linux launches a major upgrade, and StartCom announces a new release of its workstation for audio enthusiasts. Finally, if you live in or near Toronto, don't miss the upcoming Linux conference called Ontario Linux Fest. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (6.5MB) and mp3 (6.2MB) formats (many thanks to Jim Putman)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Ubuntu on ThinkPads?
Will Linux pre-installed on desktop and laptop computers finally become a reality? Following Dell's successful launch of Linux computers in several countries, it seems that Lenovo, the world's third largest computer manufacturer, is the next company that contemplates selling Linux notebooks. Mark Kohut, Lenovo's worldwide competitive analyst, explains the reasoning on the company's official blog:
"We're spending way too much time on the enterprise market and not enough on the enthusiast market. Enterprises have been, and will continue to be, slow to adopt Linux for some of the reasons I outlined, but there are nonetheless a LOT of people running Linux out there, especially on their ThinkPads."
Kohut continues his line of thought in a later paragraph:
"We're not anti-Linux and I'm not anti-Linux. Like other vendors we're trying to figure out what our strategy should be. You all know that I can never comment on anything unannounced, so I took an extreme stance to stimulate discussion."
Attached to the blog entry is a poll asking readers what Linux distribution they would most like to see supported on a ThinkPad? The choices offered are comprehensive (and extensible), ranging from many user-friendly Linux distributions, including PCLinuxOS and Linux Mint to the more difficult ones, represented by Slackware and Gentoo, and even some non-Linux operating systems, such as FreeBSD or OpenSolaris. The results of the poll are rather predictable; those of you who don't like Ubuntu will be shocked to learn that, at the time of writing, just over half of the 17,000+ voters have chosen Canonical's flagship product, while Debian GNU/Linux (11.2%) and Fedora (5.3%) are distant second and third.
This is the second time that a Linux distro poll was conducted on a hardware manufacturer's web site and the second time that Ubuntu is walking away with most of the votes - by a substantial margin. Now, those of you who read DistroWatch Weekly regularly might remember a discussion we had in a recent issue. There, answering a question about the popularity of Linux distributions, we quoted Fedora project leader Max Spevack as saying the following:
"You know, I don't like the competition to see who has loudest fanboys. I have wanted to make Fedora cool, to make it work and make it good. This aligns with Red Hat's larger marketing belief that we're just going to make this software and eventually people will notice it's the best out there on merit. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about where we rank on DistroWatch or whatever."
You have probably guessed where I am heading with this. Yes, Spevack is right - if doesn't matter which position Fedora occupies in DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking or any of the distro polls regularly conducted by Linux web sites. However, when a similar survey is carried out by a major hardware manufacturer, it does suddenly matter. A lot. Because Dell is now selling computers and laptops pre-installed with Ubuntu, not Fedora. And if the Lenovo poll continues in the same manner as it has so far, ThinkPads booting into Ubuntu, and not Fedora, might soon be available from the computer stores near you. If that does not make Spevack at least mildly jealous, then I don't know what does.
But is the fact that Ubuntu has the "loudest fanboys" (or let's just say "loudest fans", since the word "fanboy" carries a negative connotation) necessarily a good thing? If each of the major computer manufacturers conducts a Linux distro poll and Ubuntu wins every one of them, will this give us much choice? Sure, we'll be able to choose between Windows and Ubuntu (as opposed to having no choice at all), but wouldn't it be nicer if we could choose between Windows, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE and Mandriva? Since computer manufacturers are naturally reluctant to support several Linux distributions and since it's impossible to stop all the Ubuntu fans from promoting their favourite distro in online polls, what can be done to ensure a greater choice of Linux operating systems?
The first step would be for Spevack (and other distribution project managers) to admit that Ubuntu has done something right. The second would be to recognise that popularity isn't "fanboyism." It's all very nice to say in an interview that "our distribution is the best and that people will eventually notice." The uneasy truth is, however, that people aren't choosing Fedora, Mandriva or openSUSE, they are choosing Ubuntu. And while it's great to see so much enthusiasm for a Linux distro, I feel uneasy about the growing dominance of one sole project, no matter how good, user-friendly or innovative it is.
In the end, it isn't Ubuntu's fault that it tries to be the best. But if the Fedoras, Mandrivas and OpenSUSEs out there don't take action now, they will soon find themselves marginalised and out of contention by both the end users and the hardware manufacturers. And that doesn't sound like a good thing.
Mandriva Linux 2008: will it be offered and supported by a major hardware maker?
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AMD frees ATI drivers, openSUSE and KDE 4, Puppy Linux and StartCom Multimedia updates
Besides Lenovo's unexpected distro poll, one other item drawing the attention of many Linux web sites during the past week was growing speculation about AMD open sourcing its ATI video drivers. While licensing and some other thorny issues have yet to be ironed out, many Linux users and developers were excited by the news. Ubuntu's Jonathan Carter: "This is real big news, considering that, if you ask most Linux enthusiasts what the biggest problems in GNU/Linux distributions are, it normally comes down to the few extra proprietary software that people have to install, which are usually Java, Flash, drivers and binary firmware blobs." Among them, the video card is probably the biggest issue, since it's unreasonable to expect computer users to be satisfied with a very basic driver powering an advanced video card costing hundreds of dollars. Now, the question is: does this mean that the next video card you'll buy will be an ATI, rather than an NVIDIA? As for me, I'd answer this question with a most definite YES!
* * * * *
We reported last week that, due to a delay in the delivery of the upcoming KDE 4.0, Fedora has decided to remove the new version of the popular desktop from the feature list of Fedora 8. In contrast, openSUSE has indicated that it will go ahead with its original plan. Stephan Binner: "The unchanged plan is to install a selection of KDE 4 applications by default on the KDE desktop of openSUSE 10.3 (some games, krfb and krdc), also from the single i586 install CD. The openSUSE 10.3 repository will have the latest possible KDE 4.0 snapshot available. In the KDE:KDE4 Build Service project we will continue to have packages of weekly snapshots and the release. And of course, we will have more KDE Four Live CDs." On a related note, here is a self-explanatory link written to intrigue all openSUSE and 3D desktop fans: Sneak Peek at openSUSE 10.3: Compiz and Compiz Fusion.
* * * * *
Barry Kauler, the founder and lead developer of Puppy Linux, has announced that the next release of Puppy will be version 3.0, rather than 2.20, as indicated earlier: "Puppy 2.20-alpha will be followed by a beta on about the 16th of September. Considering the enormous changes, a completely new 'init' script, just about every package upgraded, even a new kernel, I have decided that the final release will be v3.00." The blog post hints at the possibility of Puppy Linux 3.0 being released shortly before 29 September, depending on how buggy the betas will be at the time. Some of the changes in the first alpha include a new kernel 22.214.171.124, GCC 4.1.2, a completely updated base system, and even some unusual additions, such as the NetSurf web browser. Keep a close eye on the author's blog if you are interested in beta testing the upcoming Puppy Linux 3.0.
* * * * *
Here is an interesting piece of news for all Linux audio software enthusiasts. Eddy Nigg, the developer of StartCom MultiMedia Linux, has announced that the project's upcoming release, version 6.0.6 (based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5), will be released shortly: "In 2004 StartCom released the first add-on CD, which was a complete set of audio production software to be added to the then StartCom Linux version ML-3.0.3. Announced by Desktop Linux with an article titled "Israeli Linux software transforms PCs into music recording studios", this was the first complete Linux-based operating system which offered this capabilities. Since then, both our distributions evolved parallel to the ever advancing audio related software produced for Linux by the various software writers and projects. ... Today we are expecting the newest version ML-6.0.6, which will be already the fourth release of the MultiMedia Edition."
* * * * *
Finally, two community items that aren't quite distro related, but hopefully some of you will find the information useful or interesting. Andrew Cant from Ontario Linux User Group has emailed us to announce an upcoming event - the Ontario Linux Fest, a one-day Linux conference to be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Saturday, October 13. While the primary purpose of the conference is to present compelling topics of interest to users of Linux and open source software, it is also a social event designed to network and socialize with like-minded enthusiasts. All interested Linux users are most welcome!
The second item is a link an article at Linux.com written by yours truly and entitled A Linux user group in a Pacific paradise. This is a brief account of my meeting in Nouméa with the founder and several members of the Linux User Group of New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific: "What springs to your mind upon hearing the words 'Tahiti' or 'Fiji'? White sandy beaches? Spectacular sunsets? Blue lagoons with colorful marine life? While natural beauty is indeed one of the most attractive aspects of the South Pacific, you might be surprised to learn that on some of these paradise islands there are active Linux user communities and even officially registered Linux user groups (LUG). New Caledonia, which I had the pleasure to visit last month, is one such place." Enjoy!
|Released Last Week
Absolute Linux 12.0.4 and 12.0.5
Paul Sherman has announced the release of Absolute Linux 12.0.4, a light-weight, Slackware-based desktop Linux distribution: "Pardon the rapid-fire release, but the kernel source was misconfigured and the kernel size was too large for older PCs. Also, the source code for ROX was altered for nice interface additions, NTFS read-write was implemented, and K3b now works for user accounts without any extra configuration." Some other interesting items from the changelog: "Updated IceWM, added background color change menu item to 'Settings'; added mime-type to ROX to handle .mp4 audio files (m4a and friends) with Audacious, if not encrypted they will play; updated AbScreen; added nvidia-settings to main menu." See the release announcement and the full changelog for a complete list of changes.
The SystemRescueCd Team has announced the release of SystemRescueCd 0.3.8, a Gentoo-based distribution designed for hard disk partitioning and data rescue operations: "Version 0.3.8 (stable) of the SystemRescueCd project has been released. Changes for version 0.3.8: updated the kernel to Linux 126.96.36.199 with Reiser4; updated ntfs-3g to 1.826; updated PartImage to 0.6.6; updated TestDisk to 6.8; dm-raid 1.0.0-rc14 (device mapper tool); added serial communication tools (minicom 2.2, GTKTerm 0.99.5, C-Kermit 8.0.211); improved the welcome screen (removed images for serial console); updated Oscar (French tool to backup computers)." See the project's changelog for a full list of updates.
Pioneer Explorer 1.1
Technalign has announced the final release of Pioneer Explorer 1.1: "Technalign, Inc. announced today the final release of Pioneer Explorer 1.1. The final release of Pioneer Explorer now provides a functional Ubiquity installer. Pioneer Explorer 1.1 is the community edition of Pioneer and runs as a Live CD allowing users to try before installation. Pioneer Explorer 1.1 includes an expanded Programs folder that allows for individuals to open a simple folder on the desktop, install what they want when they want it easily. The programs folder will continue to be expanded, but currently includes applications most requested by users. The Programs folder includes VM and Innotek virtualization tools, CrossOver Office Standard and Professional, and difficult to install applications. Codecs have also been included." Read the full press release for further details.
Pioneer Explorer 1.1
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Sabayon Linux 3.4f
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 3.4f, the latest revision of the distribution 3.4 version. From the changelog: "Live boot is now 3 times faster thanks to our improved OpenGL configuration tool; Beagle only runs on-demand; Portage has been updated with performance patches; Entropy stack has been updated to the latest SVN; dependencies resolution code completed; multiple source download support completed; installer updates (Vim is on the Core Install along with groff (man pages issue fixed), better release handling, initial Entropy integration; Bluetooth stack updated; ext4 support improved (new e2fsprogs); ATI video drivers updated to 8.40.4." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Gibraltar Firewall 2.5
Rene Mayrhofer has announced the release of Gibraltar Firewall 2.5, a Debian-based firewall distribution: "It is our pleasure to announce the release of Gibraltar version 2.5. After over a year of intensive evaluation, development, and testing, this is our best release so far. This release introduces major new features: web filtering based on dynamic content inspection in addition to the usual blacklist-based approach; SSL-VPN - an HTTPS portal to Intranet services with the SSL Explorer community edition and some of its extensions; captive portal, e.g. for WLAN hotspots, based on Chillispot; an OpenVPN module in the web administration interface; a unified user management based on OpenLDAP and FreeRADIUS, user authentication for the HTTP proxy, SMTP, IPSec user certificates, IPSec/L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN, and the captive portal is now done via a single user database." Read the rest of the release announcement for a detailed explanation about new features.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
- Damn Small Linux 4.0-rc3, the changelog
- Frugalware 0.7-rc1 "MacBook", the release announcement
- NetBSD 4.0-rc1, the release announcement
- MEPIS antiX 7.0-beta2, the release announcement
- Mandriva Linux 2008-rc1, the release announcement
- Linux Mint 3.1-beta, the release notes
- openSUSE 10.3-beta3, the release announcement
- ClarkConnect Gateway/Server 4.2-beta1, the release notes
- FreeNAS 0.685-rc1, the release notes
- Shift Linux 0.5-rc2, the release notes
- Kaella 3.2-rc1
- ADIOS Linux 7.6
- ParallelKnoppix 2.7.1
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The OpenBSD project has announced that its upcoming release, version 4.2 scheduled for November 1st, 2007, is now available for pre-order. What can we expect from the new version? "New or extended platforms (sparc64, hppa, alpha); improved hardware support, including native Serial ATA support, pciide driver, lm driver...; new tools (cwm has replaced wm2 as a simple-looking low-resource window manager, zless, mount_vnd - a utility to configure vnode disks from fstab); new functionality (FFS2, the updated version of the fast file system, pkg_add has been vastly improved, ftp-proxy is now able to automatically tag packets passing through the pf rule with a supplied name, the i386 boot loader can now load amd64 kernels...)" Please see the newly created OpenBSD 4.2 page for a detailed list of new features. The official OpenBSD 4.2 CD images can be ordered through the project's online ordering system (US$50.00).
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
- Kiwi Linux. Kiwi Linux is a modified Ubuntu live CD for the i386 architecture. It includes Romanian and Hungarian localisations, multimedia codecs, encrypted DVD support, Flash and Java plugins for Firefox, PPPoE GUI for accessing local Internet services (Clicknet and RDS) and write support for NTFS partitions.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- FaunOS. FaunOS is an Arch Linux-based live DVD/USB (with a hard disk installer) optimised for the i686 architectures and containing over 570 pre-installed packages.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 17 September 2007.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Porteus is a fast, portable and modular live CD/USB medium based on Slackware Linux. The distribution started as a community remix of Slax, another Slackware-based live CD, with KDE 3 as the default desktop for the i486 edition and a stripped-down KDE 4 as the desktop environment for the x86_64 flavour. The lightweight LXDE is available as an alternative desktop environment.