| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 235, 14 January 2008
Welcome to this year's second issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The release of KDE 4.0.0, the deepening crisis in Gentoo Linux and a series of announcements from the Fedora User and Developer Conference (FUDCon) dominated the headlines last week. As expected, the major new version from the popular desktop environment project received mixed reaction from distribution makers and users; while some distros were quick to release binary packages and special KDE 4 live CDs for users to sample the new code, it's clear that the first KDE 4 release is far from ready to take over our desktops. Also in this issue, openSUSE has published a roadmap leading towards the upcoming release of version 11.0 and VectorLinux has announced the first 64-bit edition of its Slackware-based distribution. Happy reading!
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Distributions and KDE 4
The long-awaited KDE 4.0.0 was released last week as scheduled. Even though the expectations -- following a couple of less than convincing release candidates -- weren't very high and the consensus was that the first release of KDE 4 would be more of a "technology preview" than a usable desktop environment for general deployment, it's hard not to see the enormous amount of good work that has gone into the new code. As Kubuntu's Jonathan Riddell put it, KDE 4 is the start of something amazing and this is possibly the best definition of the current release - it's here, it's available, but it's nowhere near ready for the prime time. It's a decent start, though. So let's give the KDE developers a round of applause for the courage to try something new and extraordinary, something that will eventually mature into a stable and reliable desktop environment we can all be proud to use on our computers.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction of distributions was a mixed bag. Although several major ones were quick to build binary packages for installation on their stable or development releases, or rushed to put together quick live CDs for easy testing, none seems to be in any particular hurry to switch its default desktop to the new KDE. Others are clearly not interested in making it available at all. Below is a summary of information about the availability of KDE 4.0.0 in various distributions.
The openSUSE project has a long history of directly supporting KDE development. As such, it is likely to be on the forefront of KDE 4 integration; in fact the current stable version, 10.3, comes with a few components from the new Qt/KDE 4 code base. As for the upcoming version 11.0, the KDE 4.0.0 packages are already in "factory" (openSUSE's development branch), but there is no word yet on whether KDE 4 will become the default KDE in 11.0. KDE 4.0.0 packages are also available for the stable openSUSE 10.3 and 10.2 via the openSUSE Build Service. As has become customary, Stephan Binner has created a new version of KDE Four Live, an openSUSE-based live CD featuring KDE 4; it can be downloaded from here: KDE-Four-Live.i686-1.0.iso (512MB, MD5, torrent).
Kubuntu is another distribution with a timely intent on providing KDE 4 packages for both its stable and development releases. Those running Kubuntu 7.10 or Kubuntu 8.04 Alpha 3 can install the new KDE by adding its repository to the sources.list and installing kde4-core; full instructions can be found here. This will install KDE 4 alongside the existing KDE 3.5 packages - perfect for a cautious test drive. The recently released CD images for Kubuntu 8.04 Alpha 3 still default to KDE 3.5.8 and so should the final release in April, but the Kubuntu development team has hinted that, starting from Kubuntu 8.10, it will concentrate on KDE 4 only. Those wishing to take an early peek at the KDE 4 integration with Kubuntu can also download a live CD containing Ubuntu 7.10 with KDE 4.0.0; here is the quick link: kubuntu-kde4.0-i386.iso (554MB, MD5).
A special live CD containing Kubuntu 7.10 with KDE 4.0.0 was made available last week.
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Mandriva Linux is a distribution that has -- at least historically -- often exhibited more preference for KDE than other desktop environments. As such, it's only natural that the new KDE 4.0.0 packages are available in "cooker" (Mandriva's development branch) and that they can be installed alongside KDE 3.5.8 in the recently released second alpha of Mandriva Linux 2008.1. Binary packages for the stable Mandriva Linux 2008.0 have also been released. The final release of Mandriva 2008.1 will still default to KDE 3.5 though.
The Fedora distribution has traditionally been focusing on GNOME as its preferred desktop environments, but with the increasing community participation in the project, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that KDE 4.0.0 is now included in "rawhide" (Fedora's development branch). Not only that, it also appears to be the default KDE (KDE 3.5.8 is present as well, but these packages have been renamed to kdebase3, kdelibs3, etc.). Moreover, the Fedora community has released an installable Fedora live CD containing a base system from the latest rawhide + KDE 4.0.0 - a good way to evaluate the progress Fedora has made since the release of version 8. The live CD is available for download from here: rawhide-KDE4-i686-20080109.4.iso (694MB, SHA1).
One other distribution that has put together a quick live CD image with KDE 4.0.0 is Shift Linux; however, this appears to be just a remastered Ubuntu with the latest KDE packages. More information is available here. Download: ShiftLinux-KDE-0.6.1.iso (481MB, MD5). (Please note that the above download link does not redirect correctly if accessed with wget or curl, so you'll have to rename the file after download.)
As for the rest, it seems that the policy is to hold back the introduction of KDE 4.0.0 into most distributions. Debian has had binary KDE 4 packages in the experimental branch for a while, but there seems to be no rush to move them into unstable in the foreseeable future. The developers of Gentoo Linux have hinted that KDE 4 might only enter the Portage tree with the release of KDE 4.1 - that is, at least six months from now (update - the KDE 4.0.0 packages were added to Portage on 18 January). The same is true for Arch Linux. As for Slackware, given its highly conservative attitude towards anything remotely experimental, there is virtually no chance that KDE 4 will make the "current" tree any time soon (third-party KDE 4.0.0 packages for Slackware 12.0 are available from here). Likewise, there are no signs of KDE 4.0.0 in the development trees of other independent distributions, including Frugalware Linux and Ark Linux (the latter has, however, promised a speedy integration of KDE 4 into the upcoming alpha version of 2008.1), while FreeBSD's ports tree still only lists KDE 3.5.8.
Fedora's new project leader, Gentoo's deepening crisis, VectorLinux for 64-bit processors
Following the recent resignation of Max Spevack as the Fedora Project leader, many Fedora fans were left wondering who would take over the responsibilities for the upcoming release of Fedora 9. The answer finally emerged last week: "I am very pleased to announce that Paul Frields has accepted a job with Red Hat, and he will be taking over as Fedora Project Leader in February. Many of you already know Paul. He has been part of the Fedora community since 2003, not long after the Red Hat Linux Project officially merged with the original Fedora.us. Paul has worked with Fedora's documentation, packaging, marketing, news, and artwork teams. He also served as one of the inaugural members of the Fedora Project Board." The above was published in Max Spevack's Fedora's way forward, a mailing list post summarising the discussions during the first day of Fedora User and Developer Conference (FUDCon), which took place in Raleigh over the weekend. Apart from announcing the name of the new Fedora project leader, the author also lists some of the project's achievements over the past two years and introduces Jack Aboutboul who has recently been transferred into a full-time job in Red Hat's marketing and brand communications group.
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Gentoo Linux made the headlines last week and once again it was for the wrong reasons. It appears that the Gentoo Foundation's charter as a non-profit organisation was revoked several weeks ago, when it was discovered that all except two trustees had resigned or were unreachable: "There has not been any public explanation from the Foundation's trustees as to why this was allowed to happen, or what steps are being taken, if any, to fix this. This is very bad for the morale of the Gentoo community." The founder of Gentoo also offers a solution - his return as President of Gentoo Foundation: "If I return as President, I will preserve the not-for-profit aspect of Gentoo. Beyond this, you can expect everything to be very, very different than how things are today." The response by the Gentoo community was mixed - some launched a petition supporting the return of Robbins as the project's benevolent dictator, but others seem to be against the idea. Whatever your opinion, one thing is clear: a radical solution is needed to take Gentoo Linux out of the current quagmire. Failing that, the latest news item on the Gentoo Linux home page -- announcing the October 15 weekly newsletter -- could be the project's very last news release.
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The VectorLinux development team has announced a new breakthrough - the first ever release of a 64-bit edition of the Slackware-based desktop distribution. VL64 5.9 Beta 1 is built on top of Bluewhite64 Linux, a project that recompiles Slackware source packages for the 64-bit architectures, but includes all the latest VectorLinux goodies, including Xfce, Fluxbox and JWM window managers, and the usual range of web browsers: "The VectorLinux team is pleased to announce the first public beta release of VL64 5.9-beta1. This is a true 64-bit Linux OS, that is based on BlueWhite64. The build has excellent 32-bit compatibility with Flash working out of the box. We have done our best to duplicate the look and features of the 32-bit edition. We have included the latest Xfce 4.4.2, Fluxbox and JWM window managers. Basically all has been recompiled from scratch to make 64-bit machines scream. We need to warn that this may be too fast for the average user so don't blame us if your PC goes up in flames!" Interested beta testers can download the installation CD image from here: VL64-5.9-STD-B1.iso (699MB, MD5).
|Released Last Week
PCLinuxOS 2008 "MiniMe"
Texstar has announced the release of PCLinuxOS 2008 "MiniMe" edition, a minimalist live CD with KDE: "Here is a little MiniMe 2008. It comes with 18.104.22.168 kernel, ALSA 1.0.15 and a very basic KDE 3.5.8 desktop. This is a minimal live CD that is bootable, plus it can be installed. Add in your own background, window decoration, localizations, preferred applications and supporting libraries to fully trick out your desktop. Other changes: I moved Internet and Clock setup to a Utilities folder on the users desktop. Only one question at boot to select the keyboard. Other utilities include ALSA sound configuration, ATI/NVIDIA installation tool, Make Live CD GUI, Make Live USB key and Redo-MBR with OS-probing utility for adding other GRUB boot entries into the GRUB menu. Root password and user setup moved to first boot after installation to hard drive. Also included are NdisWrapper support files." Here is the full release announcement.
Ultima Linux 8.3
Martin Ultima has announced the release of Ultima Linux 8.3, a user-friendly, Slackware-based live distribution with an automatic update tool: "Announcing the Ultima Linux 8.3 release! I'm not even going to pretend to write all this marketing rubbish, because quite honestly I'm not much good at it and it's a senseless waste of time. Really there's no point anyway, on the surface there's really nothing new - most of the changes are upgrades (kernel 22.214.171.124, KDE 3.5.8, Firefox 126.96.36.199, Thunderbird 188.8.131.52, OpenOffice.org 2.3.1), although you will probably see some really nice new wallpaper images in KDE. There have been a few fairly major changes with this release, so expect bugs, but then again that's what you get with pretty much any new software release... it seems to be stable on my machine anyway." See the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Ultima Linux 8.3 - featuring mostly package updates
(full image size: 148kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
DARKSTAR Linux 2008.1
The DARKSTAR Linux development team has announced the release of DARKSTAR Linux 2008.1, a beginner-friendly, Slackware-based distribution for the desktop: "We have the great pleasure to announce the version 2008.1 of the DARKSTAR Linux distribution. DARKSTAR Linux 2008.1 is a desktop oriented Linux operating system, which is easy to install, configure and use and which targets the beginners in Linux. It has many easy-to-use graphical tools, and a range of applications for office, multimedia and gaming. DARKSTAR Linux 2008.1 is published in a DVD ISO format; it can be run as a live system, or it can be install to hard drive. DARKSTAR Linux 2008.1 includes: Yet another Linux Installer (YaLI), Disk Manager, X.Org Setup, Network Configurator, Package Manager, Time Configurator, Services Configurator, Linux Kernel 184.108.40.206, KDE 3.5.8, OpenOffice.org 2.3.0, Firefox 220.127.116.11...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
DesktopBSD 1.6, a user-friendly desktop operating system based on FreeBSD, has been released: "It is my great pleasure to announce the availability of DesktopBSD 1.6 final. This release is the first stable release of the 1.6 branch and comes with a great number of new features and improvements. It is based on the second release candidate of FreeBSD's upcoming production release 6.3 and provides the user with an enhanced KDE 3.5.8 desktop environment. The most notable new features are: X.Org release 7.3; live CD/DVD feature for testing the system without installation; revised installer supporting upgrades from 1.0 and previous 1.6 release candidates; improved package manager; inclusion of the NVIDIA graphics driver for hardware 3D rendering...." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
DesktopBSD 1.6 - based on the stable FreeBSD 6.x code
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Voltalinux is a server-oriented GNU/Linux distribution based on Slackware Linux and the "pkgsrc" package management system from NetBSD. Voltalinux 2.0 "Viareggio", a new major update, was released yesterday: "Voltalinux 2.0 is out. Voltalinux 2.0 is based on the 2.6.21 kernel, Slackware 12.0, and pkgsrc-2007Q3. The big new feature is the installer. 120 packages ready to be installed (even those for Slackware 12.0). Like all the previous releases, Voltalinux 2.0 has no graphical user interface and is more server oriented as most of the packages are for server use. These include Postfix, Dovecot, SpamAssassin, Pure-FTPd, MySQL, Hylafax, Quagga, Exim, MaraDNS and many more." Here is the brief release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The openSUSE project has published the development roadmap for the upcoming release of openSUSE 11.0. The new version will go through three alpha phases (the first of which is scheduled for later this week) and three beta ones before it reaches a release candidate status in late May. openSUSE 11.0 final will be released publicly on 19 June 2008. For a detailed listing of all dates please check out the openSUSE roadmap page.
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Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Doppix. Doppix is a Mandriva-based Linux distribution developed in Uzbekistan. The project's web site is yet to be completed at the time of writing, but the first test CD images are available for download from its FTP server.
- Linguas OS. Linguas OS is a PCFluxboxOS-based live CD adapted to translation work. It includes OpenOffice.org, Omega T (translation memory program), CAT software, Evince (PDF reader), and other basic tools that can be used for translation work. The main purpose of Linguas OS is to demonstrate to professionals in the translation industry that it is possible to use free and open source software to do their work.
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DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 21 January 2008.
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