| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 368, 23 August 2010
Welcome to this year's 34th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week we take a long, hard look at Salix OS, a Slackware derivative, which recently hit version 13.1.1. How does it perform and what does it offer over vanilla Slackware? We also catch up with Fedora's new Project Leader, Jared Smith, and chat with him about Fedora, the future and fixed release dates. It was a fairly quiet week as far as new releases go, Ubuntu pushed out a minor point release, Nexenta reached a new milestone, Alpine hit version 2.0.0 and Zenwalk put out a call for people to test their new live CD. In the news section we talk about multitouch technology coming to Ubuntu, new developments from the FreeNAS project and running the latest KDE on OpenSolaris. Be well and happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Caitlyn Martin)
Taking a Long Look at Salix OS 13.1.1
Salix OS is a desktop-oriented Slackware derivative which made it's début last year. It has attracted more interest that is typically seen when a new distro turns up, particularly one based on Slackware. Late last year I was using another Slackware based distro, VectorLinux 6.0, as my main Linux desktop at home and I was well satisfied with it. However, it was becoming increasingly clear that I needed a distro with a 64-bit version so I began looking for alternatives. Salix OS came highly recommended and I have been using it ever since.
Currently Salix OS is available in two versions. The original version, with an Xfce desktop and a selection of popular Linux applications, is available for both i486 (optimized for i686) 32-bit and x86_64 64-bit architectures. The LXDE Edition, introduced last month, features the lightweight desktop and a matching suite of lightweight applications. The LXDE Edition is only available for 32-bit Intel architecture. 64-bit packages of the desktop and all the applications in the LXDE Edition are in the Salix OS repository. Both editions use a traditional installer. Salix Live, the live CD version of the distro, is currently at version 13.0.1 and is not included in this review.
Salix OS LXDE Edition 13.1
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Salix OS 13.1, based on Slackware 13.1, was released in April. 13.1.1 is a new maintenance release for the standard (Xfce) version announced last week. It includes all the upgrades and patches offered since then. Anyone who has been using Salix OS 13.1 and has kept up on updates is effectively running 13.1.1.
When the issue of ease of use comes up either in the Salix OS forum or on their mailing list some of the developers are quick to say "we are not Ubuntu." What they mean is that being newcomer-friendly or familiar to users migrating from Windows is not one of their design goals. A couple have described the target audience for Salix OS as "lazy Slackers", users familiar with Linux in general and Slackware in particular who don't mind having additional tools to reduce their workload, while maintaining the maximum compatibility with Slackware possible. Salix OS adds automated dependency resolution, enhanced internationalization and localization, a larger repository of applications, and a well equipped suite of administration and configuration tools for both the GUI and the command line. The developers do meet their goals but can't avoid making the system more user friendly than vanilla Slackware to newcomers as well.
For this review I used two very different systems. The first is an eMachines EL-1300G small-footprint desktop sporting an AMD Athlon 2650e processor (single core, 1.6 GHz CPU with 512 K L2 cache), 4 GB RAM, an onboard NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chipset and a 160 GB 7200rpm SATA2 hard drive. I ran both the 64-bit Xfce version and the 32-bit LXDE Edition on this system. I also used my HP Mini 110 netbook which features a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 2 GB RAM, an on-board Intel GMA 950 graphics chipset, and a 16 GB SSD in lieu of a hard drive. Both 32-bit editions have been installed and tested on the netbook.
Slackware has a well-earned reputation for reliability and stability. The challenge for any Slackware based distribution is to maintain those strengths while adding features that make their offering compelling.
Installation and configuration
All the editions of Salix OS are available for download as a single iso image and all will fit on a single CD. Salix OS supports installation from CD, from within an existing Linux or Windows installation using an image on an existing partition on a hard drive, or from a USB stick. Installation across a network and automated installations, such as Red Hat's kickstart, are not supported.
While a thoroughly modern graphical installer is included in Salix Live, that version has not been offered in the 13.1.x series of releases yet and is still based on Slackware 13.0. The standard, installable editions of Salix OS use an ncurses based (text) installer which is similar to Slackware. While many will find this old fashioned I actually prefer this installation style as it is often far more flexible and configurable and it works well on almost any hardware. I installed the desktop system from a CD, the Xfce edition on my netbook from an image on my SSD and the LXDE Edition from a USB stick using UNetbootin following the simple instructions in the Salix OS wiki.
Salix OS needs a bare minimum of 840 MB to install a core system without X. A full installation requires 2.5 GB. When additional applications and upgrades are considered figure on 3 GB of space to install Salix OS on a typical system.
The installer and documentation are in English. While most of the tools and applications built for Salix OS include a wide variety of translations the installer is decidedly, and, for a distribution based in Europe, perhaps surprisingly monolingual. No other languages are supported.
When booting into the installer you are presented with a plain text introductory screen. For most users simply hitting enter and loading the default kernel will just work if you are installing on a modern system with a Pentium II or better processor. The huge.s system, for older legacy systems, is also available. It is also possible to pass any special kernel parameters required to boot a system at this time.
Once the installer loads it will first ask whether or not to keep the default US English key mapping or if you would like to select something different. Salix OS then offers two installation options: auto-install, which wipes the entire hard drive and takes defaults, or a more traditional installation which will prompt the user with a variety of questions. I really don't have the ability to test auto-install on my systems so, from this point on, I will only be describing the interactive installation process.
The next step is disk partitioning, which is handled by cfdisk. The installer next asks for you to specify, at a minimum, partitions for swap and for your root file system. You can optionally define additional partitions as desired, typing in the name of each mount point you wish to use. ext4 is the default file system. Support for ext3, ext2, ReiserFS, JFS, and XFS is also available during installation. I used ext4 on both systems and have had no problems at all.
The Salix OS offers a choice of three types of installation: a full system, a "basic" installation of the core OS, X.org and the desktop environment (Xfce or LXDE, depending on the edition used) with no applications, or a "core" installation which is truly minimal and doesn't include X. Instructions to add X to the core installation are available in the wiki. Unlike Slackware, Salix OS does not offer the option to choose individual packages or groups of packages during the installation process. This makes installation decidedly simpler but far less customizable. After installing the system files the installer also offers the option to create a USB boot stick and to use either a standard or frame buffer console.
LILO is the only bootloader offered during installation. GRUB is available in the repository and can be installed later. The installer offers automated LILO configuration or the ability to edit some of the bootloader configuration file in expert mode. I've found that the automatic process usually fails to detect other Linux distributions, including additional instances of Salix OS or Slackware.
After bootloader configuration the installer then asks you to configure your time zone, decide if numlock is to be enabled on boot, and decide if SCIM (used for Asian languages) should be enabled. I found it interesting that a tool only used for Asian languages can be toggled on by an English-only installer. The next step is to set the root password and to setup one or more users. The installer does give the option of creating and fully configuring as many users as you want. The system then reboots and installation is complete.
There is no X configuration included in the installation process. Salix OS boots into the GUI by default and no option to change this behavior is offered during installation. On both of my present systems the automated hardware detection now included in X.org worked properly. This would not have been the case with my old and now defunct Toshiba laptop which used a Trident CyberBlade XPi graphics chipset. Users with some legacy systems or with graphics chipsets which are not natively supported will have to force a boot into runlevel 2 and run xorgsetup or, should that fail, manually create an xorg.conf file.
The installer also does not offer any options to configure networking. If you have wired Ethernet with a chipset supported by the Linux kernel and if you use DHCP you will have a functional connection immediately after installation. You will find, however, that your system has the unlikely name of darkstar. If you use a static IP address or want something other than default settings for wired networking you will need to use netconfig at the command line just as you would do in Slackware. Despite having a suite of rather nice graphical administration tools for other tasks, Salix OS has no pretty GUI tool to configure your network. It does, however, have a GUI tool if all you want to do is change your hostname and domain to something other than darkstar.example.net or add entries to your /etc/hosts file.
In general Salix OS does not provide a lot of proprietary drivers, nor does it package them and include them in the repository. On the desktop the old nv driver was installed for NVIDIA graphics. nouveau is blacklisted by default and not included in Salix OS. Proprietary NVIDIA graphics drivers are also not included. The same is true for wireless chipsets. The Broadcom BCM4312 chipset in my netbook is neither detected nor supported by Salix OS the way it is in some other distributions. In both cases I had to download the drivers from upstream sources, build my own packages if I wanted them tracked by the package manager, and then install them.
Unlike many other Slackware derivative distributions, Salix OS does not provide its own custom kernel but rather uses the same one that Slackware uses. It is no surprise that, just as in Slackware, some manual configuration of the kernel is also a good idea. The hugesmp.s and huge.s kernels enable support for an extremely wide range of hardware by default and are quite large. To have the hardware supported in loadable kernel modules, as is done by most distributions, you need to install the Slackware generic kernel and create an initial RAM disk image (initrd file) at the command line using mkinitrd. Then you must manually edit your LILO or GRUB bootloader configuration to use one of the two generic kernels (with or without SMP support) and the newly created initrd file. The default kernel will work well for most people so this step is not necessarily required.
While installation went smoothly on the desktop I cannot say the same for the netbook. Salix OS 13.1 suffers from the same problem with I reported in my review of openSUSE 11.2 and Pardus Linux 2009 which causes the installer to hang. Specifically, in Salix OS the installer freezes at:
Triggering udev events: /sbin/udevadm trigger
As I have learned the Broadcom 4312 wireless chipset is incompatible with the b43 kernel module and the ssb module on which b43 depends. It appears that the wireless chipset conflicts with the ssb module, causing the system to freeze. Some distributions, notably Ubuntu and most of Ubuntu derivatives, have managed to correctly detect problematic Broadcom chips and avoid this issue. Slackware 13.1 does not and neither does Salix OS 13.1.x.
The workaround is to pass ssb.blacklist=1 to the installer as a kernel parameter and installation proceeds normally. Fortunately the installer does let me add kernel parameters to my LILO configuration so that the system can boot correctly after installation. This issue appears to affect several models of Broadcom chipsets in a wide variety of netbooks and notebooks, including models by Acer, Compaq, Gateway and HP.
Salix OS 13.1.1, Xfce 4.6.1 desktop
(full image size: 538kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
Changes since Salix OS 13.1 and 13.0.2a
Salix OS 13.1 is based on Slackware 13.1 so all the changes announced for the newer version of Slackware also apply to Salix OS when comparing to the 13.0.x series of releases. This includes the 188.8.131.52 kernel, updated libraries, development tools, desktop environments and applications. The default desktop environments now included are Xfce 4.6.1 and LXDE 0.5.0. KDE 4.4.3 and a wide variety of lightweight window managers are also available in the repository. Changes specific to Salix OS between the 13.0 series and 13.1 included the new and improved salixtools, a suite of both command line and graphical system administration tools.
Salix OS 13.1 also introduced the salix-update-notifier, which puts the icon for gslapt, the graphical package manager, on the panel when updates are available. This functionality has been in other distros for a very long time but it is new to Salix OS. Clicking on the icon launches that package manager, displays the available upgrades, and gives the user the option to install them immediately.
Salix OS 13.1.1 expanded salixtools further, adding graphical LILO bootloader configuration, graphical ALSA (sound) configuration, graphical management of the hosts file, and a small tool to rebuild the system icon cache in Xfce. In addition, it is now possible to use the installation CDs as a local repository for the package manager. Of course, Salix OS 13.1.1 includes all the patches, upgrades and bug fixes released since version 13.1. The 64-bit version also now includes gnash, a free alternative to Adobe Flash Player, necessitated by the fact that Adobe has dropped support for 64-bit Linux.
OpenOffice.org is now at version 3.2. The new LXDE Edition, which uses lightweight apps, does not include OpenOffice.org by default but rather includes AbiWord 2.8.4 and Gnumeric 1.10.1. Firefox has been upgraded to version 3.6.8 in 13.1.1. The LXDE Edition uses Midori 0.2.6 as the default browser. Media players included have also changed, with Exaile 0.3.1.2 and Parole 0.2.0.2 as default offerings. Brasero 2.28.3 is now the default CD/DVD burning tool. Unlike a certain more popular distro I could mention, GIMP 2.6.8 is included by default.
Running Salix OS 13.1
While I no longer have old, legacy equipment on which to judge the relative speed of a distribution without doing benchmarks, I will say that Salix OS does still, subjectively, seem to be faster than some other distributions on my netbook. Both the Xfce and LXDE Editions have a look and feel that I find to be polished and well thought out. The initial selection of applications is good and there is a reasonable variety of additional choices in the repository. If you are used to a distribution with a huge repository like Debian, Mandriva or Ubuntu the selection will still seem small. However, when compared to other Slackware derivatives and, of course, Slackware itself, the selection is quite good, particularly for 64-bit systems where there are far fewer Slackware based options.
Out of the box Salix OS complies with U.S. law including the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) so, as you'd expect, multimedia support out of the virtual box is quite limited. However, if you go to the Multimedia menu (Xfce) or the Sound & Video menu (LXDE) you will see an item called "Install multimedia codecs". This provides a one-click method of installing patent encumbered codecs and the matching GStreamer plugins. After installation is complete Salix OS sports very complete multimedia support. Additional media players available in the repository, such as VLC and MPlayer, will take full advantage of any and all codecs which are installed.
Wireless is managed by wicd, which makes configuration and use simple and painless. If your wireless chipset is supported natively by a Linux kernel module configuration will be no more difficult that in any of the supposedly newbie-friendly Linux distributions. In addition, NDISwrapper is installed by default and a graphical tool is provided for adding Windows drivers that NDISwrapper can use, making the process of using an unsupported chipset simpler than in many if not most distributions.
The Broadcom 4312 in the HP netbook fell into a third category: a chipset which has a native Linux driver which works very well, but it is proprietary. I was able to use a script from Slackbuilds.org which allowed me to easily compile the driver and build the necessary package. Once the correct driver was installed and wicd was configured to use the correct interface (eth1 on my system) wireless worked as expected. This process should be no problem for an experienced Linux user but would undoubtedly be more than a bit daunting to many newcomers.
I ran into a similar situation with printing. While there is a menu item for printer management there really is no Salix OS specific tool. The default browser opens the CUPS web interface. I use two printers: an HP LaserJet 1020 and an older Epson Stylus C66 color inkjet. The color printer is correctly detected and configured out of the virtual box by Salix OS. The HP uses the foo2zjs driver which is included in many Linux distributions but not in Slackware or Salix OS. I had to go to the driver developer's web page, download the source code, compile it, install it and download the firmware. Once I did that the printer worked perfectly and can be managed both by CUPS and the usual HP tools which are included in Salix OS. This process is automated once the printer is detected in many of the more user-friendly distributions but in Salix OS, as in Slackware, it is entirely do-it-yourself.
I did run into one significant bug in addition to the aforementioned installer problem with my HP netbook: I have no sound through the internal speakers. Sound works properly through the headphone jack with external speakers or headphones. It also works in other distros and worked fine with Salix OS 13.0.2a. Once again this is an upstream problem which also shows up in Slackware 13.1. I've been told that if I apply a patch that Ubuntu has in their build of ALSA and compile the patched code it will work but I have not had time to confirm that as of yet.
Provided I get the sound issue resolved I must say that Salix OS 13.1.1 runs very well indeed on my netbook but it did take a fair amount of effort to get to this point. By comparison, on the desktop all the hardware "just worked" but I still had to go upstream for printer and graphics drivers and build my own packages for a few favorite applications.
Whenever I've run into issues and brought them to the Salix OS forum I have found the developers to be very accessible and the community to be very friendly and helpful. While there most certainly is a do-it-yourself ethos within the community everyone seems to be willing to help to the best of their ability. Over the past 10 months I have yet to see a rude or unhelpful response even when a newcomer asks a less than clueful question. While the developers may not be trying to attract newcomers to Linux they certainly go out of their way to work with them. The community around any distro is tremendously important and I have been nothing but impressed with the Salix OS community. They may not be the largest Linux distro and they don't always have answers but when it comes to being friendly they certainly aren't lacking.
Package management and security concerns
Salix OS uses Slackware apt: slapt-get at the command line and the graphical gslapt package manager. I've used these tools for years in distributions like VectorLinux and Wolvix but Salix OS, by far, has the best implementation I've seen. In 10 months it has literally been flawless for me. Yes, there have occasionally been missing dependencies but one post in the forum is all it takes to get an issue resolved. The package management software has never been the problem. This is also the first distro in which I have seen the dependencies correctly listed in gslapt for every package I check. Either Slackware apt has matured or the Salix OS developers have done a better job with it than anyone else.
gslapt graphical package manager
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In terms of look and feel, gslapt will look familiar to anyone who has ever used synaptic in a Debian based distribution. There are no category groupings for packages in Salix OS and there are other numerous small differences but the basic functionality is essentially the same. Similarly, at the command line the syntax of slapt-get is different from apt-get but what you can do with the two tools is very close at this point.
The Salix OS developers have been very quick to make security patches available, Salix OS leverages the upstream Slackware repositories so patches to Slackware are available almost immediately to Salix OS users, albeit with dependency checking and resolution added. In cases where Salix OS packages are different from or not included in Slackware repositories the patches have appeared equally quickly. Keeping a system patched, secure and up-to-date is as easy in Salix OS as any distribution I've tried.
One minor thing worth noting: the update notifier in Salix OS is conspicuously inconspicuous. What I mean by that is that other distros use icons like an exclamation point on a bright red background or a circle of arrows on a bright red background. Salix OS has no such in-your-face notification. They just use the ordinary gslapt icon in light blue and white. While I most certainly don't want obnoxious alarm bells or pop-up notifications I will say that the notification in Salix OS is so subdued that I have been known to miss the fact that it is there for quite some time. It's a minor quibble and a personal preference but I do wish the notification was a bit more obvious. Those red icons in other distros are awfully hard to miss.
Slackware also excludes some security tools which are vital in the enterprise but which are either unlikely to be used or seen as overkill in a home environment. Doing so reduces both complexity and overhead. Slackware does not include PAM, which is used to allow a wide variety of authentication methods. It also does not include SELinux. For a home or small office desktop system these choices are sensible ones. While some other Slackware derivatives do implement PAM (i.e.: Zenwalk), Salix OS developers have chosen to retain Slackware's simplicity and do not implement enterprise-level security tools.
Slackware compatibility and third party resources
According to the Salix OS developers their distro is 99.9% compatible with Slackware. There are a handful of packages which are different than Slackware 13.1, representing bug fixes and patches, additional features, and in one case a newer version. In addition slackpkg and sbopkg were designed to use a single repository while Salix OS uses more than one, so those package management tools are not compatible.
In addition, the various and sundry third party package repositories for Slackware are not recommended for use with Salix OS. To quote the Salix OS wiki: "One is always free to direct gslapt/slapt-get to any other third parties' package repositories, which may or may not handle dependencies, which may or may not be of sufficient quality and which may or may not be compatible with Salix. In such a case, you should know what you are doing because you may or may not end up breaking your system. " In a forum discussion the slacky.eu repository was specifically discouraged.
What does work well with Salix OS 13.1.x is using slackbuild scripts to compile from source and build packages on a Salix OS system. The best-known site for Slackware build scripts, slackbuilds.org is an excellent resource. I've also used slackbuild scripts from Robby Workman's repository rather than his ready built packages as I would on vanilla Slackware and had good results. Note that any of these scripts would have to be modified to run depfinder and include the output if you want your packages to support dependency checking.
Internationalization and localization
Support for languages other than English has always been an area where Slackware is rather weak compared to other distributions. It provides many of the necessary packages but provides no easy way to switch languages. This is one area where Salix OS 13.1.1 really shines when compared with vanilla Slackware.
Salix OS uses GDM as its default display manager. GDM supports changing language and/or locale on a session-by-session basis. In addition, one of the salixtools is gtklocalesetup, a GUI tool for changing the default system language and locale. Using Salix OS in a multilingual home or office should be no problem at all.
gtklocalsetup language/locale tool
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Salix OS also includes all the relevant packages from the Slackware repository including a full set of international Aspell dictionaries and international fonts. SCIM, Anthy, and the basic tools needed for Asian language support are part of Salix OS and, as already noted, SCIM can be enabled during installation. FriBiDi is also included for supporting languages written from right to left such as Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Yiddish. The Salix OS repository also includes language packs for Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird as well as for OpenOffice which are not included in Slackware.
The Salix OS forum includes a section dedicated to translations. There is an active Salix translation project at Transifex as well as ongoing efforts to translate the web site and documentation. The image below shows Salix OS 13.1.1 running set for Hebrew as the language and Israel as the locale. Note that the localization is incomplete at this point.
Salix OS 13.1.1, Xfce 4.6.1 in Hebrew
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The Salix OS developers do meet their stated goals: making a distribution for "lazy Slackers" rather than one that is generally easy to use for everyone. Some other Slackware derivatives, such as VectorLinux and Zenwalk, have done more to make their distributions friendly to Linux newcomers at the cost of straying further away from their Slackware roots. Salix OS developers made a conscious choice to go in a different direction. In some ways Salix OS reminds me of VectorLinux four or five years ago: it definitely takes me more time to install, configure and tweak it to suit my needs than a typical Linux distro does but, much like VectorLinux back then, the end results are definitely worth the effort. How much effort depends very much on the hardware used, as the very different results with my two systems illustrate.
I've found that Salix OS, once setup to my liking, is a thoroughly modern distribution that takes no more effort to maintain and administer than any other Linux distribution. It succeeds in maintaining the stability, reliability and performance that Slackware is so well known for while offering the kind of conveniences that allow me to concentrate on my work rather than tinkering with my system. The package management, which includes automated dependency checking and resolution, works as well as any I've seen. The somewhat larger repository and the system administration tools definitely reduce the time spent on software installation and maintenance. I appreciate being notified automatically that patches are available. I also appreciate the everything is well integrated and works as it should out of the virtual box.
There are some bugs and annoyances in Salix OS 13.1.1 but nothing show-stopping. In general the Salix OS developers have delivered a very good product in a rather short period of time and there is real improvement in the customized tools for Salix OS in each release. Unlike far too many Slackware distributions Salix OS also delivers a 64-bit build that is ready for prime time.
Is Salix OS for everyone? No, it isn't. If you are looking for something that "just works" immediately after a simple installation process with no effort then Salix OS may not be for you. If you are a newcomer to Linux who is looking for something familiar then Salix OS probably should not be your first choice. If you are willing to do a little work to get everything just so and want a relatively lightweight distribution that is reliable and performs well then Salix OS may be just the ticket.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu gets multitouch, FreeNAS developments, running KDE 4.5 on OpenSolaris, the Java drama
Ubuntu is working on bringing better multitouch technology to Linux. While the Linux kernel has support for multitouch hardware, to date not a lot of work has gone into recognizing gestures and the "grammar" of multitouch input. Canonical has also expressed an interest in building a FOSS stack which will make developing applications with multitouch easier in the future. OSNews has a short article on the work Canonical is doing in this area.
* * * * *
Things have been fairly quiet in the FreeNAS community since iXsystems got involved with the network storage project. However, things have been moving forward and
news recently appeared on the FreeNAS blog that a new experimental snapshot is available for testing. People interested in testing out this development release should look at the project's corresponding readme file.
* * * * *
Last week Mike Larkin gave a great interview over at
bsdtalk about ACPI, how it works and its status on OpenBSD. He talks about vendor support, challenges in the specification and the progress the OpenBSD team is making. An educational talk for people interested in the work that goes into making their notebook suspend and resume.
* * * * *
This is a difficult time for fans of OpenSolaris. The project has been left out in the cold of late. However, the community continues to work with existing builds and demonstrate what can be done with the technology. One of these community projects is
Korona, "a live DVD that makes it easy to peek at the current state of porting KDE 4 to OpenSolaris." If you'd like to see how KDE 4.5 handles on a Solaris box, Korona can help you do that.
* * * * *
Most of us have a favourite distribution, one that we keep coming back to. Though the process of picking a favoured distro is generally a subjective one, some people like to test, score and benchmark different systems to see if there is an objective way of picking the best. Jeff Osier-Mixon put three distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE) through a series of tests and kept score in a short, but interesting read on the differences between these popular distros.
* * * * *
A serious vulnerability in the Linux kernel was
fixed last week. The problem, which would allow GUI applications to gain root access via the X server, has been corrected and a patch is making its way into the various source trees. The above report links to a PDF file which explains how a specially crafted PDF document could be used to exploit the security hole and gain root access.
In other kernel-related news, the drivers for ATI's Radeon HD 5000 series are coming along nicely. ATI has been working to get open source drivers for the 5000s into the mainline kernel and the code is approaching production status. With this show of support from ATI and the work on Nouveau moving quickly forward, advanced open source video drivers are becoming the standard on Linux.
* * * * *
There has been quite a bit of talk in the past week about Oracle and Google going toe-to-toe over Java. The debates and reports have raised a lot of emotion, confusion and questions about just what is going on and what is at stake. Martin Heller offers
an explanation along with a few strong words on the subject. It's still a legal mess, but Heller does a nice job of clearing up the technical questions and the case's potential impact on the FOSS community.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Introducing Jared Smith, Fedora's new Project Leader
In a practise fitting for a cutting-edge distribution, every few years the Fedora project swaps out its Project Leader and brings in a fresh face. Back in July, Paul Frields stepped down as Fedora's Project Leader and Jared Smith moved into the role. Mr Smith was kind enough to take some time out from his whirlwind schedule to talk about Fedora and his new job.
DW: Jared, could you please give us a little background on how you got involved with Linux in general and Fedora in particular?
JS: I started using Linux about twelve years ago. I was working and going to
university at the time, and had taken a Unix class where I learned the
basics of how to survive on the command line. A few months later, the
company I was working for needed a server to do dial-up on demand and
share the dial-up connection between multiple employees. Linux seemed
like a good fit, so I dived in and installed Linux on a spare machine and
got the system working. Over the next couple of years, I was able to use
Linux for several other work projects, and things snowballed from there.
DW: What skills or strengths do you feel you bring to the Fedora Project
I've been using Fedora since the Fedora/RHEL split happened. I generally
tried to help out with testing betas, filing bugs, and so on. A few
years ago I started to get more involved, helping out with various
projects, the documentation team and infrastructure teams.
JS: I think my experience as a community relations manager for the (open
source) Asterisk project and my real-world experience in the business
world have certainly helped to prepare me for this role. I'm a technical
guy who doesn't mind diving into the command-line and tracking down
nitty-gritty problems, but at the same time I'm a people-person too.
It's an interesting intersection of both technical and soft skills that
you don't always find in the open source world.
DW: Fedora 14 will be the first release under your direction. Is there a
specific area you're hoping to focus on, either in the distro itself or
in the Fedora community?
JS: From the standpoint of the distribution, it's my job to continue to push
Fedora forward as a cutting-edge Linux distribution. This obviously
includes all the individual parts that make up the distribution -- the
installer, the packages, the update mechanisms, and so forth. If you
think about it, though, Fedora is more than just bits and bytes on a
disk. Our value proposition is in our collective knowledge and ability
to make meaningful change. In that regard, much of my energy and focus
is to improve the Fedora community. In short, I want our community and
processes to help people along the journey from being an outsider to
being a Fedora user, from being a user to being a contributor, from
being a contributor to being a collaborator, and from being a
collaborator to being a leader.
DW: Most Fedora releases have shipped after their original release dates.
Recently some people have suggested Fedora try harder to stick to its
schedule, others think Fedora should be more concerned about "releasing
when ready". Which do you see as being more important?
JS: Great question! The most important thing to me is that the Fedora
distribution is in as good as shape as possible when it ships. We'd be
doing our community a great disservice if we shipped an incomplete
product simply because we'd reached some arbitrary date on the calendar,
or some marketing department said it was time to ship.
DW: The Fedora Project is constantly changing. Are there any changes you
want to introduce during your time as Project Leader?
Having said that, it is very important that we try our very best to
stick to the release schedule. I have to give big kudos to John Poelstra
for the hard work he does with the Fedora release schedule. We now have
much more insight into the schedule than we've ever had before, and much
more detail about each of the milestones that must be reached in order
to ship the distribution on time. I've also got to give a big shout out
to the Fedora QA team. With their help, we've created a test suite that
we're using to help us measure our progress as we get closer to the
JS: Absolutely! One of the great things about the Fedora leadership model is
that we try to avoid the STP problem (where STP stands for "Same Two
People" or "Same Ten People"). Having regular changes in leadership (and
smooth transitions between leaders) allows for a rich variety of
thoughts and ideas. If I have the exact same ideas and opinions as the
previous leaders, I'm doing something wrong. I obviously have my own
personal opinions, and I work closely with the Fedora Board and the
various steering committees and sub-projects to try to build consensus
on the things I think will be best for Fedora.
DW: Do you have any plans for attracting more users/developers to the
JS: One of my first duties as the new project leader was to visit a couple
of conferences in Latin America and interact with our users and
developers there. In both Chile and Brazil, I had the chance to talk
with Fedora users, Fedora developers, and Fedora Ambassadors. In almost
every case, the conversations centered around the journey from user to
contributor to collaborator to leader, and how we as a community can
help others in their progress.
DW: The Fedora Project is supported by Red Hat. Are there any plans to
make Fedora profitable on its own? Perhaps through donations, offering
services, partnership programs?
One of Fedora's distinguishing qualities is that we don't want to just
build a large "fan base" of users. We want Fedora users to become
contributors and engage with the Fedora community. Building out a
community of contributors and the power of multiple people participating
is what helps spur innovation in Fedora. It's great to have a large user
base but we're looking to move a step beyond and attract active users
and contributors to the Fedora community.
JS: No immediate plans, no. Red Hat invests in Fedora (both in finances and
in human capital) for several reasons. Primarily, it gives Red Hat an
open and transparent way to work with upstream projects. Second, it
allows Red Hat to pick and choose which projects are mature enough to be
put into its enterprise products. We welcome contributions and support
from other organizations, but traditionally it's been difficult to do
correctly, due to complications such as tax law. I think any substantial
money-making offering (offering services or support, for example) would
take resources beyond Fedora's current means at this time. We do have
some partners who help us deliver both services to contributors and to
users as in the case of mirror hosting/download bandwidth.
DW: What do you feel is Fedora's greatest strength, and its greatest
DW: Is there anything else you'd like to share, on Fedora, Red Hat or the open source community in general?
Fedora's greatest strength is the wonderful group of people who give of
their hearts and minds to advance the cause of freedom and transparency.
I can't give enough thanks to the thousands of collaborators who
willingly give up their own personal time to make Fedora better.
As far as Fedora's greatest weakness... that's a tougher question to
answer. I guess I'd have to say that Fedora's greatest weaknesses are
the many misconceptions about Fedora that continue to be spread within
the Linux community in general. Part of my job is to help tell the
Fedora story, and I'm very optimistic that as people find out how Fedora
really works, they'll be enthusiastic about becoming part of the
project. Contributors can get involved directly in pretty much any part
of Fedora. For example, there's a new contributor working on the Design
who is helping to design
which may be seen
potentially by millions of people. The feature process allows any
community contributor to help bring new software and capabilities into
the distro (e.g. Peter Robinson's work integrating Moblin in previous
releases, and now MeeGo for Fedora 14).
JS: Again, a big "thank you" to everyone who helps make Fedora what it is.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't thank the previous Fedora Project Leader,
Paul W. Frields, for his friendship and mentorship. He did a fantastic
job, and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors as he moves
on to a different role within Red Hat.
|Released Last Week
Robbie Williamson has announced Ubuntu 10.04.1, the first maintenance update to Ubuntu's 10.04 LTS release: "This release includes updated server, desktop, and alternate installation CDs for the i386 and amd64 architectures. This is the first maintenance release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, which continues to be supported with maintenance updates and security fixes until April 2013 on desktops and April 2015 on servers. Numerous post-release updates have been integrated, and a number of bugs in the installation system have been corrected. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS." See the release announcement for further details.
Nexenta Core Platform 3.0
Nexenta Core Platform (NCP) is a project combining the OpenSolaris kernel with the GNU/Debian user experience to provide a versatile and powerful ZFS-based server platform, and Anil Gulecha has announced that NCP 3.0 RC3 becomes the official 3.0 release: "This is the same ISO as the RC3 release. For the near feature, the move to NCP 4.0 will be in 2 phases. The first immediate change would be to move from OpenSolaris b134 to a recent Illumos build. With this the Nexenta project will change its base from OpenSolaris to Illumos, a branch of OpenSolaris ON gate, with closed bits replaced with open code. Note that you can use the SUN_PERSONALITY variable to get the original OpenSolaris userland rather than GNU, if you so prefer." You can find the release announcement here.
Alpine Linux 2.0.0
Jeff Bilyk has announced the release of Alpine Linux 2.0.0, a specialist distribution designed for x86 routers, firewalls, VPNs, VoIP boxes and servers: "Alpine Linux 2.0.0 released. New since version 1.10 stable branch: improved threading support with NPTL; paravirtualized KVM guest support (virtio); paravirtualized Hyper-V guest support; various new and updated applications like Asterisk 184.108.40.206, BusyBox 1.17.1, Dovecot 1.2.13, OpenSSL 1.0.0a, Postfix 2.7.1, Samba 3.5.4, SQLite 220.127.116.11; support for X.Org via network install and lots of new or updated desktop applications like: AbiWord 2.8.6, GIMP 2.6.10, Gnumeric 1.10.8, Inkscape 0.48, Xfce 4.6.2.... The 2.0 series introduces an ABI-incompatible version of uClibc with NPTL threading support, this means that you cannot mix packages from older relases with version 2.0." More details can be found in the release notes.
Parted Magic 5.3
Patrick Verner has released a new version of Parted Magic, a specialist live CD designed for data rescue and disk partitioning tasks: "Parted Magic 5.3 updates BusyBox 1.17.1, FreeType 2.4.2, NTFS-3G 2010.8.8, udev 161, Linux kernel 18.104.22.168. Some other adjustments have been made to improve memory usage. We dropped Unionfs in favor of Unionfs-fuse. The main pmagic-5.3.sqfs is now one Squashfs instead of the split-up method. If anybody was having issues with G4L, give this version a try. Some other minor bugs were fixed. We are no longer supporting or supplying a USB ZIP file. Our official method for booting from USB is UNetbootin. People that know what they are doing shouldn't have any problem extracting the ISO image and executing the syslinux command. Supplying a USB zip was inviting too many people that had no clue how to boot from a USB drive and offering complex documentation was just adding to the confusion." You can read the rest of the announcement on the project's home page.
Stanislav Hoferek has announced the release of Greenie Linux 7.1L, an Ubuntu-based, user-friendly desktop distribution optimised for home users in Slovakia and Czech Republic (English is also supported): "Another Greenie Linux release is here. Greenie 7.1L is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. What is new? Graphical design was replaced by our own theme called GreenieTree, new icons, new wallpapers. Newly added and re-added applications (Ufraw for editing RAW images, Fotoxx as an additional graphic editor and WINE for running Windows applications). Also, all upstream updates are included and a few bug fixes and additional translations are now also on the CD." Visit the Greenie website for the release announcement.
Frugalware Linux 1.3
Miklós Vajna has announced the release of Frugalware Linux 1.3, a general-purpose distribution designed for intermediate and advanced Linux users: "The Frugalware developer team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Frugalware 1.3, our thirteenth stable release. No new features have been added since 1.3rc2, but 94 changes have been made to fix minor bugs. If you didn't follow the changes during the pre/rc releases, here are the most important changes since 1.1: updated packages: Linux kernel 2.6.35, X.Org server 1.8, GNOME 2.30, KDE 4.4.5 to name a few major components; for the first time we're offering an official graphical 'netinstall' image; this time we've verified that no workaround is needed to install this release in VMware; the monolithic configuration of X.Org is now split to the xorg.conf.d directory; updated image libraries...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
Frugalware Linux 1.3 - the project's 13th stable release
(full image size: 999kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Yuri Stanchev has announced the release of NetSecL 3.0, a security-enhanced Linux distribution. Unlike the previous versions which were based on Slackware Linux, this one openSUSE Studio as its build tool: "It was time for a change and we at NetSecL realized that the new version of NetSecL 3.0 is a live DVD and installation based on openSUSE. Once installed you can fully enjoy the features of grsecurity hardened kernel and penetration tools or if you like to do some penetration testing you can directly run all tools from the live DVD. NetSecL firewall is included and most of the penetration tools are ported to the new platform. Also we'd like to mention that we've got many other programs up and running with grsecurity enabled, which is great success especially when it comes to programs like WINE, OpenOffice.org, Vuze, QEMU and many gnome applications." See the release announcement and release notes (PDF) for further information.
Lunar Linux 1.6.5
Stefan Wold has announced the release of a new set of installation CD images for Lunar Linux, a source-based distribution: "The Lunar team proudly announce the final release of Lunar Linux 1.6.5. The last known issues with the ISO image have been resolved. We added support for hybrid ISO images in the last minute, which means that it's a lot easier to install it from a USB stick. New features in 1.6.5: based on Linux kernel 22.214.171.124 and glibc 2.11.2; hybrid ISO support; added support for the ext4 file system; added option to change preferred /etc/fstab style; UUID, LABEL or device name; OpenSSH and Screen are now part of the live CD to allow remote assistance during install. Summary of changes since 1.6.4: isolinux updated, all modules refreshed...." More details can be found in the release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- mFatOS. Based on Ubuntu, mFatOS is optimized for Persian-speaking users.
- Plinx. A Linux system developed by Proofpoint.
- Me-OS. An openSUSE-based distribution with a focus on ease of use.
- Pinguy OS. An Ubuntu-based distribution with a focus on providing an attractive, rich experience out of the box.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 August 2010.
Caitlyn Martin and Jesse Smith
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • 1st this week? (by Tom on 2010-08-23 10:02:09 GMT from United Kingdom) |
Wow, i don't often get in first. Thanks Caitlyn for another excellent review and Jessse for the short articles and the whole team for keeping DW so far ahead and up-to-date that it is easy to recommend the front pages to linux noobs.
Good luck and happy Monday all, regards from Tom :)
2 • Ati's 4000 series (by Tom on 2010-08-23 10:18:02 GMT from United Kingdom)
Great to hear about the 5000 series getting support but how can i get a 4870 to work? Any links would be great if anyone knows an answer. I have trouble in Ubuntu and in Fedora despite this supposedly being one of the best graphics cards ever produced and highly sought after by many. I did try openSUSE and a few others but would prefer to stick Ubuntu if possible.
Regards from Tom :)
3 • Interview with Jared Smith (by Stuart on 2010-08-23 10:31:06 GMT from United Kingdom)
Interesting to read the interview with Jared, and get his take on the Fedora project. With regards to the weakness of Fedora, it would have been interesting to know what misconceptions he thought were prominent?
I've used Fedora on and off over the years, and for me the only thing separating it from Ubuntu/OpenSuse is the difficulties facing a pragmatic Linux user. Such as if you need 3D graphics for 3D modelling or CAD, installing proprietary drivers is more difficult than it needs to be. And while their SELinux configuration has improved, even the latest version gives grief if you try and install software outside of the repositories - a problem I've never had with AppArmour.
4 • Great distrowatch weekly! (by JD on 2010-08-23 10:46:30 GMT from United States)
Wow guys and Gals thanks for writing such a great distrowatch weekly.
This one was so jam packed it was crazy! Anyway just giving some well deserved kudos.
5 • Salix (by Burt on 2010-08-23 11:12:36 GMT from Netherlands)
Great to see Salix get a good, well rounded review. For those who want a solid Slackware base that's simple and logical to install this is it. Coupled with slackbuilds and sbopkg Salix is a good choice for intermediate users.
6 • Great Salix review! (by claudecat on 2010-08-23 11:29:32 GMT from United States)
I can't recall reading a more detailed and downright informative distro review EVER, neither here nor anywhere else. Great job Caitlyn! As a Slackware dabbler at least, I shall be giving Salix a try in the near future.
And just a general "holy crap do I love this site"... It's my homepage on all my various incarnations of linux... between the desktop, laptop, and two netbooks, that's probably 40+ instances of the penguin. What's more, DW is the only site for which I disable Adblock Plus... so... it's like true love.... (swoon). Keep up the fabulous work all!
7 • @6 (by Burt on 2010-08-23 11:47:26 GMT from Netherlands)
What's with the sarcasm?
8 • Lunar Linux (by DG on 2010-08-23 12:10:51 GMT from Netherlands)
Just a quick followup on the announcement of the Lunar Linux 1.6.5 ISO release:
Lunar is a source-based distribution, so it's not "instant Linux desktop for new users"
and therefore not for everyone, but if you have toyed with the idea of having a (b)leading edge system or learning how the internals of a Linux system works, then
Lunar could be for you. It's higher level than Linux From Scratch, and doesn't have
the complicated use flags of Gentoo. It's not better, or worse, just different, and you
do need to know what you are doing, or be prepared to learn!
Setting up a basic server is relatively straightforward, and then you get to add the
services and packages you want, rather than installing everything and removing
what you don't want as happens with some other distros. Setting up a desktop
emvironment with Xfce4 or KDE4 is relatively straightforwarrd but as this is a source
based distro it may take a little time, depending on your hardware.
One feature of Lunar is that if a package is out of date or missing, it is relatively
easy for the user to update or create that package and submit it for inclusion in
the central package repository, called the Moonbase.
The reason I'm posting? I'm a minor Lunar developer, and we are always on the
lookout for feedback and help. We're not looking for world domination, but a few
more hands making light work would be really useful.
9 • Irony (by Tidux on 2010-08-23 12:12:10 GMT from United States)
So let me get this straight - there's a massive vulnerability in the Linux kernel with nasty PDFs as the attack vector... and you link a PDF to tell us about it? I think I'll wait until my distro's next kernel update to read that one.
10 • Linux kernel vulnerable? Screw this I'm going back to Windows (by Sam on 2010-08-23 12:31:57 GMT from United States)
Grrr. Blew all my humor in the subject line.
11 • fantastic review & question about SalixOS and LVM (by MikeD on 2010-08-23 13:35:40 GMT from United States)
just wanted to pass along kudos for an excellent and in-depth review of SalixOS. One question, does SalixOS offer any help or shortcut to setting up encrypted LVM compared to a typical Slackware installation?
12 • Mr. Smith at Fedora (by Joe on 2010-08-23 14:45:35 GMT from United States)
One of my first linux systems was Red Hat, but I soon realized that installing new programs with RPM was hopelessly arcane and needlessly time-consuming. The problem with Red Hat/Fedora is that program dependencies are not found auto-magically as with apt-get or synaptic. Adding programs with RH and, I suppose, Fedora becomes an ordeal. I will never use Fedora, or any of its rpm relatives, as long as dependency issue is not resolved. It's not worth the time--even for bleeding-edge tech.
13 • Caitlyn - 64-bit motivation? (by Dave on 2010-08-23 15:06:14 GMT from Canada)
Hi Caitlyn -
Thanks for the detailed and practical review of SalixOS. I always enjoy your posts here and at OReilly.
When you say:
"it was becoming increasingly clear that I needed a distro with a 64-bit version"
What's driving you towards 64-bit Linux?
I've never seen the advantage, and imagine that 32-bit versions get more development and testing. I'm not too technical, but I thought that PAE kernel's even allowed you to address more than 2Gb RAM with 32-bit kernel, the only compelling argument for 64-bit linux I've heard.
Looking forward to your thoughts/explanation.
14 • Welcome back, Caitlyn! (by John on 2010-08-23 15:08:37 GMT from United States)
Glad to see you back on the Weekly!
15 • Redhat packages (by Jesse on 2010-08-23 15:22:28 GMT from Canada)
>> "The problem with Red Hat/Fedora is that program dependencies are not found auto-magically as with apt-get or synaptic.... I will never use Fedora, or any of its rpm relatives, as long as dependency issue is not resolved. It's not worth the time--even for bleeding-edge tech."
Redhat/Fedora has had automatic dependency resolution for about six or seven years now. So far as I know, all RPM-based distros have dependency resolution.
16 • RE:13, It depend on what you're doing. (by Eddie Wilson on 2010-08-23 15:24:18 GMT from United States)
I know that your question was directed toward Caitlyn but I just thought I would tell my experience. As a serious hobby I do a lot of video and audio editing, transcoding and such things as that. I have used a lot of 32 bit distros and now I only use 64 bit distros. For most daily task you won't be able to tell much of a difference but on graphic and audio intensive task I can tell a lot of difference between the 32 and 64 bit systems. So I guess it all depends on what you are going to use your system for. I have no problems with 64 bit distros operating properly. I believe most 64 bit bugs have been cleaned out. That's just my experience. Yours may vary. :)
17 • Responses to questions so fa;, sbopkg not compatible with SalixOS (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-23 16:54:46 GMT from United States)
#5: @Burt: I mentioned in the review that SalixOS is *mostly* compatible with Slackware. sbopkg is NOT compatible with SalixOS. It is designed to work with a single repository while SalixOS, by design, requires multiple repositories. One thing that has been emphasized both in the Wiki and forum is NOT to use sbopkg with SalixOS. Stick with the packaging tools provided with the distro.
Slackbuilds, OTOH, are the best way to get software not included in the repository.
#11: @MikeD: Sadly, no, there is nothing added to SalixOS for dealing with LVM. SalixOS sees itself as a desktop distro and I guess the developers see LVM as a server tool. With inexpensive multi-terabyte home NAS solutions becoming increasingly common LVM for desktop and small office/home office systems does make sense nowadys. Anyway, that would be a great item to post in the suggestions section of the SalixOS forum for future releases.
#13: @Dave: I think Eddie Wilson pretty much already answered your question in #16. If you use applications that push the CPU to the limit you will definitely see much better performance with a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit system.
Thanks to everyone for the kind words this week. It's good to be back. Hopefully my schedule will allow for me to write for DWW now and again.
18 • @ # 10 (by Anonymous on 2010-08-23 16:57:26 GMT from United States)
Well if your going to start throwing your money away Sam why not blow $1000 bucks on a new Mac, because nothing ever goes wrong with them right? :P All sarcasm aside though, I thought I'd point out to Joe/#12 that PCLOS actually uses apt to get it's rpm files and resolve dependencies, (at least as far as I understand these things), so it isn't so cut and dry as one way vs another because bits of different systems can be used.
19 • #12: Completely inaccurate statement about RPM, yum, etc... (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-23 17:25:27 GMT from United States)
@Joe wrote: "One of my first linux systems was Red Hat, but I soon realized that installing new programs with RPM was hopelessly arcane and needlessly time-consuming. The problem with Red Hat/Fedora is that program dependencies are not found auto-magically as with apt-get or synaptic."
When was the last time you used an rpm-based system? 1994? It's been more that the six or seven years Jesse mentioned in #15. Remember that rpm is the equivalent of dpkg on a Debian-based system. yum is the equivalent of apt-get or aptitude and then there are various graphical front ends. yum does automatically resolve dependencies and always has.
20 • RPM Dependecies (by davemc on 2010-08-23 18:03:42 GMT from United States)
I agree, YUM and its various frontends handle dependencies flawlessly by my experience, and their repo's are every bit on par with Ubuntu's. Classic case of "head in the sand" there. Hey, welcome to the year 2010!
21 • One more 64-bit motivation... (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-23 18:18:46 GMT from United States)
In the interest of full disclosure I also have to add that I do some software development work. In order to compile or test 64-bit software you need a 64-bit machine :)
Even if that wasn't true I still wouldn't run anything other than a 64-bit distro on my 64-bit hardware. Sometimes the performance difference is huge.
22 • Sarcasm? umm... none intended (by claudecat on 2010-08-23 18:26:04 GMT from United States)
As an english only speaker/reader, I'm hard pressed to discern where any semblance of sarcasm might have appeared in my post. I was entirely sincere in my love for DW and the sheer quality of Caitlyn's Salix review. Really! I have given up on all attempts at humor in linux forums/comments etc, due to the language barrier issues (all on my part). My only intent was to complement DW and especially Caitlyn's insanely great review. Shoes for industry, etc (like anybody's gonna get that one).
23 • @22 (by Jose on 2010-08-23 19:12:14 GMT from United States)
Would you be talking about Firesign?
I haven't listened to my old LP's for close to thirty years. May have to have them converted to CD!
24 • @12/15/19 (by RS on 2010-08-23 19:24:02 GMT from United States)
RPM is actually superior- deltaRPMs... from wiki "PatchRPMs and DeltaRPMs, the RPM equivalent of a patch file, can incrementally update RPM-installed software"
This bandwidth saving feature will become more important once the 'net becomes "neutral" in the few years.
25 • sbopkg (by Barnabyh on 2010-08-23 20:03:11 GMT from United Kingdom)
I believe use of sbopkg may be discouraged because it is still in a testing phase and the project themselves are making all sorts of disclaimers.
I can't really see though how it would interfere with slapt-get / slackpkg sources as it is entirely different from that. Of course you gotta know what you're doing and not let it upgrade original packages from your Salix system, but that's always the issue when you have different sources and package managers, but there's nothing preventing you from mixing all these. The easiest would be though to keep track of the handful of SBo packages manually if you use SlackBuilds.org, less confusing, and most of the time they won't need updating until the next release.
26 • DWW & RE: 2 - 24 (by Landor on 2010-08-23 20:37:29 GMT from Canada)
I enjoyed the article about Salix. I haven't tried it, although I do like Slackware and have enjoyed testing out a couple of its derivatives, I always find myself coming back to one thing, If I'm going to use an intermediate level distribution, for me, I might as well use one that's geared towards the advanced instead. That's just personal opinion though, and preference in that regard. The project looks like it's doing a lot of good things, just like many others.
I too have to agree with the one comment. I noticed a couple times during the interview things were not answered clearly. I would have liked to have seen a further explanation on the misconceptions of Fedora within the community.
It was a great issue this week.
My son is using a high-end 4 Series Card at the moment. A few years ago I swore from dealing with another card that someone else purchased that I'd never use ATI. Some may say that the 4 series had some of the best cards made, that doesn't always mean the drivers are the same. Though I don't appreciate (an understatement)the fact that NVIDIA's drivers are closed I will say their binary drivers are far and above better when it comes to Linux and for me, I won't use anything else but NVIDIA unless it's a chipset, then it would be Intel.
deltaRPMS have a huge flaw. One which I've considered shutting down presto over. The time it takes to build the update after is horrendous. Yum/RPM is slow as it is in package management and deltaRPMS makes that ten times worse in my opinion. It's also a waste for those with a high speed connection.
Keep your stick on the ice...
27 • 16 • RE:13, It depend on what you're doing. (by Anonymous on 2010-08-23 20:37:42 GMT from United States)
You don't either. You just saying that. All you do is surf and read dww.
28 • #25: Don't shoot the messenger (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-23 21:21:46 GMT from United States)
@Barnabyh: What I wrote in the article about sbopkg was a direct quote from the SalixOS developers. I paraphrased similar forum comments in my comment #17. So... please don't shoot the messenger. The SalixOS developers warn against using sbopkg so if you do so it is definitely at your own risk.
Both slapt-get and the standard Slackware package tools definitely do work well so, at least from my perspective for my use, I see no reason to look farther.
29 • Correction to my review: sbopkg is actually OK if modified (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-23 21:25:59 GMT from United States)
The following came from one of the SalixOS developers and it clarifies the issue of sbopkg. It seems you CAN use it if you make a one line modification:
"Concerning sbopkg: while you are right about your comment about slackpkg - it should never be used in Salix - you're not right about sbopkg and I don't think anyone here ever discouraged the use of sbopkg. sbopkg actually has no knowledge of repositories. It only "sees" which packages are installed in your PC, no matter where they came from and uses the SBo repository to build new packages. It works fine in Salix, just as it does in Slackware. There is a small issue though. A single line of code has to be edited in sbopkg in order to work in Salix. If you search the forums here for "sbopkg" you'll find the thread. After editing that line, everything works perfectly fine. I've been considering about adding an sbopkg package in the salix repositories for some time, I'm still not sure if it's a good idea to do that though."
30 • Re. Correction (by Barnabyh on 2010-08-23 22:46:12 GMT from United Kingdom)
Thanks for the clarification Caitlyn.
31 • @30 • Supprising article on security a.o. Linux (by Cuda on 2010-08-23 23:09:51 GMT from Canada)
Interesting blog, I read a few pages and was surprised at some of the security holes in the kernel/X server. Much as we'd like not to admit, our beloved OS does have it's flaws.
Now if you'll excuse me, my computer needs me. Be right there dear.
32 • Salix 13.1.1 (64-bit) (by Joe (Maine) on 2010-08-23 23:55:07 GMT from United States)
Excellent review of Salix!
I've been using it on my Compaq 64-bit laptop for the past few days. Easily configured my wireless etc. Good selection of software updates in the "official" repository.
One problem I encountered: the Opera web browser is in the Salix repository, but it refuses to work after apparent installation. What I get in the menu is (no symbol) Opera @@. When I click on it nothing happens. I reinstalled - no change; then uninstalled, rebooted, installed - no change. I rebooted and installed from the command line - still the same menu item and absence of result.
I checked the Salix support site: no mention of my problem. There were some comments about successful installation of Opera on perhaps previous versions of Salix. Perhaps it is the 32-bit version that everything works well.
Overall I'm happy w/ 64-bit Salix on my laptop: small, fast, wireless worked painlessly. Worth a try.
33 • Salix and 64-Bit (by reuben on 2010-08-24 01:15:21 GMT from United States)
I'm going to probably take a lot flak from slackers, but I think Salix is what Slackware should be. Kudos on the simplified package selection and dependency resolution. And the artwork is just perfect. Any chance of a KDE disc?
Also, if you have a 64-bit CPU then I see no reason to run a 32-bit OS. None. 4 years ago I had a few minor issues, but I have none today.
34 • something is wrong with this (by technosaurus on 2010-08-24 01:32:13 GMT from United States)
"...links to a >PDF< file which explains how a specially crafted >PDF< document could be used to exploit the security hole and gain root access."
I'll be reading that one right away
35 • RE: #2 and #26 (by Andrew on 2010-08-24 01:59:56 GMT from Australia)
I think this is a pain felt by many Linux users.
From what I can recall, ATI went open source (ish) with respect to their graphic card drivers, though little has been seen. I remember at the time thinking 'Great, as soon as ATI cards work out of the box with great performance I'll switch to the red team', but I haven't seen this happen.
I'll still only buy Nvidia cards for my Linux machines (including dual booters) as their closed sourced drivers just work. This is a real pain as the 5 series from ATI are fantastic and Windows 7 now takes the worry out of installing drivers (note: this last comment isn't meant to bring out a flame war, it's mean to illistrate that the pain of Windows XP and installing graphic drivers is long gone and how Windows 7 now 'just works' with recent graphic cards from BOTH Nvidia and ATI).
36 • SalixOS (by Ed on 2010-08-24 02:24:34 GMT from United Kingdom)
What do SalixOS, MEPIS, DesktopBSD, Zenwalk and Calculate Linux all have in common?
They produce easier-to-use versions of good operating systems by small changes, including lightweight administration tools. Rather than attempting to recreate operating systems, they adapt them. This is good, because then development effort may be focussed on the base distros, where it can benefit more Linux users.
@33: It does seem to provide a more sensible starting package set and a nice extra repository; however, I am not sure that many traditional slackers would like to use the GUI tools or slapt-get much.
Ladislav Bodnar: I liked this review and your recent one comparing SalixOS, Zenwalk and GoblinX -- thanks!
37 • This week on DWW (by VernDog on 2010-08-24 02:50:05 GMT from United States)
Excellent review this week....Caitlyn Martin was on her game! I'm sure it will get linked to by many reviewers.
The whole DWW this week was great.
38 • 64-bit Flash Support? (by RO on 2010-08-24 03:05:25 GMT from United States)
I thought I had seen recently that Adobe has omitted updating Flash for 64-bit linux, or is that just specific distros? I am fairly sure its beta for RHEL 3 or 4 that I tried a year or 2 ago has not been updated for the latest RHEL 4 that we use where I work for software installation kit distribution, and other support internally.
This has been a issue for me there since I support an Oracle product, and Oracle has gone to a fully Flash support site, "My Oracle Support" (MOS, or POS. as find myself thinking frequently - it is such a PIG). When I am uploading/downloading multi-100-MB files (and the occasional GB+ file) for Oracle support issues or updates, I prefer to use the internal RHEL server with the company's high-bandwidth internet connection instead of my work PC from home with a much more limited broadband connection, especially for uploading.
Fortunately, Oracle finally realized how restrictive this was for many customers' support people, and have an almost fully-functioning HTML-based alternative support site, but it does lack some functionality, so I keep hoping that 64-bit RHEL 4 will get full Flash support, but that does not seem forthcoming.
Anyone have more solid info on the issue?
39 • Is Wolvix dead? (by Just me on 2010-08-24 05:42:29 GMT from United States)
Did something happen to Wolvix? I've been trying to connect to their website for a few days, but haven't been able to...
40 • #38: No Flash support for 64-bit Linux (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-24 05:48:09 GMT from United States)
Adobe has pulled the plug on 64-bit Linux support for Flash, at least for now. See:
A new version of gnash came out a few days ago and it works much better than previous versions. A lot of websites that did not work with gnash before seem to work just fine now. That may be a good alternative for you.
Sadly, any 64-bit Flash version for RHEL, whether it's 3.x, 4.x or 5.x, is going to have a serious security vulnerability. See:
There is no way Flash should be installed on any 64-bit RHEL systems in an enterprise environment that is at all concerned about security.
41 • @36 (by Burt on 2010-08-24 07:04:16 GMT from Netherlands)
Quote "What do SalixOS, MEPIS, DesktopBSD, Zenwalk and Calculate Linux all have in common?
They produce easier-to-use versions of good operating systems by small changes, including lightweight administration tools. Rather than attempting to recreate operating systems, they adapt them. This is good, because then development effort may be focussed on the base distros, where it can benefit more Linux users"
I couldn't agree more. Good post.
42 • Thanks (by win2linconvert on 2010-08-24 07:50:29 GMT from United States)
Just wanted to say thanks for another interesting and informative issue of DWW.
43 • package managers (by koroshiya.itchy on 2010-08-24 09:16:13 GMT from Belgium)
Regarding the package manager debate my vote goes clearly for apt-get.
I have tried several distributions in the last years, from Debian to OpenSolaris, through Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, FreeBSD, Gentoo, OpenSuse, etc.
In my own experience, no other package manager is as fast and reliable as apt-get. You seldom find any dependency issues, if at all, and normally they are resolved quickly and easily. I cannot say the same about any other package manager I have tried this far.
I know little abot package management and I am not fanboy, this is just my experience.
44 • Re: #43 - package managers (by Anon on 2010-08-24 12:48:23 GMT from Norway)
I will not dispute that apt-get is good, perhaps even 'best', but my experience with pacman in Arch surely beats my experience with apt-get for speed and ease. That is of course just my experience, for whatever it's worth.
45 • RE 26 (by Alex on 2010-08-24 12:48:39 GMT from Indonesia)
>> deltaRPMS have a huge flaw. One which I've considered shutting down presto over. The time it takes to build the update after is horrendous. Yum/RPM is slow as it is in package management and deltaRPMS makes that ten times worse in my opinion. It's also a waste for those with a high speed connection.
But it makes ten times better for those who had a slow connection.
46 • RE:27, Don't Be Silly (by Eddie Wilson on 2010-08-24 13:00:59 GMT from United States)
Now why do you want to say something like that? What I said should be common knowledge for anybody who knows anything about computers. By the way I don't surf. That is so 90's, but I do read a lot of DWW.
Now I feel silly answering a non-person. :)
47 • Re: 26, 45 Delta RPMs (by Fred Nelson on 2010-08-24 14:12:22 GMT from United States)
>> [Landor] deltaRPMS have a huge flaw. One which I've considered shutting down presto over. The time it takes to build the update after is horrendous. Yum/RPM is slow as it is in package management and deltaRPMS makes that ten times worse in my opinion. It's also a waste for those with a high speed connection.
> [Alex] But it makes ten times better for those who had a slow connection.
Or fast hard drives and CPU's for that matter (to say nothing of SSD's). I have both a fast connection and a fast hard drive, so the time it takes to rebuild the RPMs is only slightly less than just downloading the full ones, but I keep delta RPMs on to be nice to the mirrors; bandwidth costs them money after all, that they are for the most part generously donating to the FOSS community.
48 • Delta-deb files. (by Eddie Wilson on 2010-08-24 15:28:34 GMT from United States)
Has anybody heard any updates on the development of delta-deb files or is that ideal just dead? I haven't seen anything new in some time.
49 • excellence to be noticed here (by grindstone on 2010-08-24 17:13:04 GMT from United States)
in these times where a half-page screed on release day passes for a "review", you reminded me of the times when people actually used their system for a while before spraying out characters.
50 • 64-bit flash player to RO (by koroshiya.itchy on 2010-08-24 18:40:08 GMT from Belgium)
The solution proposed by Adobe consist in installing a 32-bit browser and the 32-bit flash player. This works.
An easier solution is trying Gnash as proposed above and check if it works well enough for you.
More sophisticated alternatives would involve chroot, emulation or virtual machines.
Another solution would be googling for ' Adobe Flash Player for 64-bit Linux 10.0.45.2 Alpha' and check what it gives. However, beware of the bugs and security vulnerabilities of that plugin (well, in fact, all versions of flash are buggy and, provided that they are closed-source, most likely will also expose you to all kind of security vulnerabilities anyway). Not recommended.
51 • Gnash, WebM, and re:Slackware/SalixOS (by Reuben on 2010-08-24 19:50:46 GMT from United States)
Just tried the new release of Gnash. I watched a few youtube videos and they all seemed to skip. Watching videos in WebM in Firefox 4 Beta 3 seemed a bit smoother, however the framerate seemed to drop in a few points. This is with 360p video. What are these videos doing that they eat up so much CPU time? This is an Athlon 64 3000+ (2GHz).
@36: I guess I just don't understand slackers. slapt-get beats the hell out of slackpkg. Whatever.
52 • Flash, gnash and so on... (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-24 20:41:46 GMT from United States)
#50: @koroshiya.itchy: "The solution proposed by Adobe consist in installing a 32-bit browser and the 32-bit flash player. This works"
Actually it works for some people some of the time on some distros. As I discussed in the comments section of my O'Relly article linked in #40 this can be problematic. In the Debian forums this approach has been reported to cause frequent lock-ups. That's my experience on Red Hat clone distros as well. Also, not all 64-bit distros include the 32-bit libraries. It is far from a perfect solution and for many people it is no solution at all.
@51, Reuben: "Just tried the new release of Gnash. I watched a few youtube videos and they all seemed to skip." Funny, because I've watched a number of YouTube videos, both embedded and on the YouTube website and they have been flawless for me on 64-bit SalixOS with the latest gnash. I wonder if there is something related to your specific graphics chipset, libraries or other system configuration issues involved. What distro and version are you using? Does the skipping happen on 32-bit or 64-bit systems or both? Just curious.
@50 again: "An easier solution is trying Gnash as proposed above and check if it works well enough for you."
That is what I am recommending at this point. With the latest version more than 2/3 of sites with Flash seem to work for me, up from about 50% with the previous version. It's a huge improvement but for many people it still won't be good enough.
"Another solution would be googling for ' Adobe Flash Player for 64-bit Linux 10.0.45.2 Alpha' and check what it gives. However, beware of the bugs and security vulnerabilities of that plugin (well, in fact, all versions of flash are buggy and, provided that they are closed-source, most likely will also expose you to all kind of security vulnerabilities anyway). Not recommended."
I agree with your non-recommendation. If someone is going to do this I recommending installing the Flashblock plugin and enabled Flash on a case-by-case, only as needed basis to mitigate the security risk as much as possible
Both Flash and gnash are very resource hungry as Reuben notes so, actually, using Flashblock and only turning on the Flash support as needed is a really good idea for maximizing system performance as well. This is what I am doing with gnash.
If you want to try gnash and it isn't in your distro's repository there are ready built packages for Debian, Ubuntu, gNewSense and Fedora at http://getgnash.org/packages/ The SalixOS 13.1 package should work equally well in Slackware 13.1 and some other Slackware derivatives.
As always, YMMV...
53 • Huge kudos to the SalixOS developers (by Caitlyn on 2010-08-24 20:47:40 GMT from United States)
Huge kudos to the SalixOS developers, both those who responded in the forum and those who wrote to me privately. They have precisely this sort of attitude that got me so up on VectorLinux five years ago. Instead to circling the wagons and attacking me for daring to find flaw in the distro they are taking the issues I reported as constructive criticism, rolling up their sleeves and discussing fixes. It's this oh so positive approach that sets SalixOS apart from many other distros. A great community and developers who care about their users really can make all the difference in the world.
54 • KDE 4.5 (by Darkman on 2010-08-24 21:53:36 GMT from United States)
Suggestion for upcoming article-- how about a basic tutorial on KDE 4.5?
55 • RE: 45/47 - Fedora Alpha (by Landor on 2010-08-24 22:36:47 GMT from Canada)
I agree with both of you. For those with a really slow connection and possibly paying for every kb downloaded, it's perfect. Also, Fred, that's exactly the only reason I left it on. I'd feel very selfish and ignorant if I abused a mirror (which it would be in a sense) just because I wanted faster.
I would love for one person to finally answer this question for me. I've brought it up a number of times. When Fedora is delayed by a week or so due to what they consider critical, why is the ISO always before the first release date? I was looking on the mirror and the ISO has a date of Aug 12, 12 days ago. Can they tell me why we waited for the ISO? Was it to fix something? If it was to fix something, why wasn't the fix built into a new ISO and reseeded? I really don't understand this.
Keep your stick on the ice...
56 • RE: 52/55 Gnash/Fedora (by Reuben on 2010-08-24 23:28:12 GMT from United States)
I was trying this on Arch amd64. It's not major, but it will occasionally pause for just a millisecond. The video card is a GeForce 7800GS with the nvidia driver. Have not tried 32-bit. Also, the official flash when it was available crashed instantly on my system. I'm just waiting for youtube to convert more of their videos into the WebM format so we don't need flash, at least for youtube.
I'm guessing that there is an error with the time stamp. However, sometimes the release date will be a couple of days after the ISO is created in order to allow it to propagate to mirrors. Anyways delta rpms suck on an Atom N270, but on a real CPU they are fine.
The alpha wouldn't install on my computer. Filed a bug report and hopefully I'll have a good experience with the beta.
57 • RE: 56 (by Landor on 2010-08-25 05:06:28 GMT from Canada)
I'd be able to agree with you on the time stamp error but the checksums are the correct date and it happens pretty well every time they're delayed for a release of whatever release, be it stable, alpha, beta, whatever. Also, I downloaded both the KDE and LXDE spins to try on the netbook and when I checked updates after installation some are notices/updates from August 10th. I'm gonna talk about that further on too. :)
I should have said that about the deltaRPMS too. I'm using Fedora on my netbook and it just crawls. IIt would be even faster if I wasn't lazy and updated via the command line too. :) But, as it stands, rebuilding the rpm on the netbook for the updates already with Fedora 14 Alpha is taking an almost estimated seven minutes. I'm waiting for 14 to fully release then I'm switching my desktop over to it as well.
There's one thing to point out as well too about these older ISOs. It's obvious to me that they're from at least 11/12 days ago, that's a massive amount of updates. Fred in post #47 pointed out that most mirrors are doing this freely, if not all. Wouldn't it be prudent for Fedora (and more respectful of the mirrors, let alone end-users/testers) to release an updated ISO? I forget the numbers now for KDE, but it was over 200 for updates. LXDE was 183. For KDE that meant a third in size of what the ISO took to download, and more than half the size again for LXDE. That is insane. I know this is an Alpha and we can expect tons of updates, but that many right after it's announcement? So as I said, it's obvious to me this is an older ISO. Think of all the people downloading it, then updating. During testing at least, kind of negates any value of deltaRPMS. I'm pretty sure it would have been less bandwidth used to upload a fresh(er) ISO to the mirrors.
Rant off, and btw, I'm actually enjoying the Alpha. Other than the above, it looks great so far taking into consideration it is an Alpha, well, except the wallpaper. :)
Keep your stick on the ice..
58 • Jared Smith - Don't be such a face man! (by polycarp on 2010-08-25 12:44:27 GMT from United States)
Okay, response after response in the interview made Smith sound like a typical "is this good for the company?" $-eating-grin middle-management type, but when he answered the weakness question... REALLY?!
The interview left me wondering how many "pieces of flair" Smith will expect Contributors to wear.
59 • Fedora Interview (by Ed on 2010-08-25 13:28:06 GMT from United Kingdom)
I couldn't help but think that the Fedora Project Leader was just spreading fedora propaganda and saying little actual content -- the interview seemed a little false and cheesy to me. To say that Fedora's greatest weakness is the misconceptions about it is basically a way of saying that it doesn't have any major weaknesses and then setting the agenda to rebut these misconceptions. It didn't really answer the question.
60 • re 59 - Interview (by 5hady on 2010-08-25 15:59:27 GMT from United States)
Asking about one's weaknesses is a pretty retarded practice to begin with. It happens in job interviews quite often and usually leads to silly answers like "my biggest weakness is I work too hard" or "my coworkers sometimes feel left out because I take care of everything" or some such other crap. I don't blame the guy for answering the question the way he did.
61 • Question (by Jesse on 2010-08-25 17:17:05 GMT from Canada)
@60: "Asking about one's weaknesses is a pretty retarded practice to begin with. It happens in job interviews quite often and usually leads to silly answers like "my biggest weakness is I work too hard" or "my coworkers sometimes feel left out because I take care of everything" or some such other crap."
I think you might miss the reason why interviewers ask this type of question. It has less to do with discovering a person's weakness and more to do with finding out how honest and self-aware they are. If an interviewee gives BS answers, like the ones you suggested, they're either dishonest or not very socially skilled. An answer along the lines of "Gosh, I dunno. Let me think..." shows they're more honest, but not self-aware. Some people give too honest answers like, "I have a real problem respecting authority."
When I put forward the "What's Fedora's weakness?" question I was hoping for a frank and self-aware answer like, "We're rushing releases too much and missing our scheduled launches. I'm planning to push for a nine month release cycle to give our developers and testers more time." Or "We have a limited number of desktop re-spins compared to other projects and I'm hoping to change that so we have separate Server, LXDE and Xfce spins along with Gnome and KDE."
I'm not saying those are actually problems, but that's the sort of response I was hoping for as it would show awareness of a problem and show some thought was going into fixing it. The response I got was more along the lines of, "Other people think we have problems."
62 • out of the topic and in all honesty ... (by meanpt on 2010-08-25 18:24:58 GMT from Portugal)
... the last release of Peppermint One is doing really fine, with firefox 4 already in beta 4. What do I mean by "fine"? Within low resources (virual environment with 416 MB of Ram thrown in), have had no crashes when abusing of youtube videos, which is one of my "acid" tests for any distro ... In fact, the One have been faring much better than Ice, with Chromium. I would like to know what others using this last One release have to report.
63 • Re: 8 - Lunar Linux (by DG on 2010-08-25 19:57:27 GMT from Netherlands)
The reason I'm posting? I'm a minor Lunar developer, and we are always on the
lookout for feedback and help. We're not looking for world domination, but a few
more hands making light work would be really useful.
No, seriously. We could really do with some help keeping GNOME up-to-date.
64 • @ 58 (by William Lumberg on 2010-08-25 20:00:07 GMT from United States)
Mmmm, yeah... See, they just want contributors to express themselves.
65 • @55, 57 (by Adam Williamson on 2010-08-25 21:52:47 GMT from Canada)
Landor: our release process is all publicly documented so you can look it up yourself, but I'll give you a quick summary.
For each pre-release we schedule a freeze point, a date for a test compose, and a date at which to start doing release candidate composes.
The TC and each RC have to go through release validation testing:
For an RC to be declared gold and released, it must have passed through the entire validation process with no release critical issues being detected (and any release critical issues detected in any other way must also be resolved). Release critical issues are defined by the release criteria:
Once RCs are being built, QA does the testing and keeps track of the blocker bugs. We schedule a release date, which is always a Tuesday, and the Wednesday prior to that is scheduled as the 'go/no-go meeting', at which the final decision on whether the latest available RC is good to go out as the release is made. The point at which we start spinning RCs is usually a week before the go/no-go meeting.
In other words, there's a 6 day 'wait time' built into the schedule between an RC being declared gold and the release actually being done. That time is used to set up all the documentation around the release, spread the images through the mirror system, update the websites and translations, and so on - all the work around a release which isn't the actual engineering.
So the image that goes out as a given Fedora pre-release or release will always be at least six days old on the day of release. It's usually a little more, because the RC is unlikely to have actually been built on the day of the go/no-go meeting. If things went really well, it would be the RC1, which would have been built about a week before the go/no-go meeting, so the image could be 13 days old. If things were more hairy, it'll be 7-8 days old, having been built just a day or two before the go/no-go meeting.
In the F14 Alpha case, we spun an RC3 a day or two before the initial go/no-go meeting. Under testing, it proved to not meet the release criteria, so at the go/no-go meeting (August 11th), we made the 'no-go' decision; that was when the week's slip was announced. That meant that the release date was re-set to be one week later, and a new go/no-go meeting was scheduled for one week after the first go/no-go meeting. The next day (August 12th), an RC4 image was spun which fixed the one definite release blocking issue from RC3. We had one other issue which was a potential blocker, but with full testing of RC4, we decided it wasn't a blocker. RC4 passed validation testing in all other ways, so at the second go/no-go meeting - on August 18th - we declared RC4 gold and gave the go-ahead for the release, which happened six days later, on the following Tuesday, August 24th. Hence the 12 day gap; RC4, built August 12th, just after the slip, was eventually declared gold for release as F14 Alpha.
Regardless of the minutiae of the process, if you think about it for a minute, it should be obvious that a release image is not going to be a day or two old when it comes out. The image has to be tested after it's built, and comprehensive testing takes two days at a realistic minimum (we've fudged it in a day before, but not been particularly happy). The image has to be synced to mirrors, websites have to be prepared, release documentation has to be written; all this takes time, and can't be completed until after the image is declared gold, because until then you can't be sure what's going to be in it. This is unavoidable in any release process. 12 days is a slightly bigger gap than usual, but that's just because of the circumstances (we only had to fix one issue after the slip, and it was done very quickly after we decided to slip).
"Wouldn't it be prudent for Fedora (and more respectful of the mirrors, let alone end-users/testers) to release an updated ISO?"
No, that's not practical. You can't test a moving target.
At the point where we enforce a partial freeze for pre-releases, we stop pushing updates from updates-testing to the stable repository for the release in question (which is what the images will be built from), except for fixes accepted as important enough to go into the pre-release. This stabilizes things so we can properly test the package set that will go into the pre-release and make sure it will work. If we just kept taking all changes while we were trying to validate release images, it'd make it far too hard; along with the fixes we needed for the important issues testing identified, we'd be taking dozens of extra changes each day, any one of which could invalidate the testing we'd done and cause some new problem. So non-critical updates just keep going into updates-testing, but they don't go into the stable f14 repo which we're building the RCs for the pre-release from.
Once we've built images we're confident with for the pre-release, we re-open the stable repo for the pre-release and start pushing packages into it from updates-testing, as per usual. Of course, this happens a week before the pre-release images are actually *released*, so by the time that happens, there's a big set of updates available from the stable repos, and that's what you see on first install of the Alpha. But that's fine. We don't *want* to have a process whereby all those changes get into the pre-release image, because then we'd never be able to be sure that the pre-release image was actually of sufficient quality to go out (or even that it worked at all). As long as we make sure the actual pre-release images are of good enough quality, even if one of the updates happens to cause trouble, it's not a catastrophe; you can back it out and go back to the version from the release images, or just reinstall if all else failed. If we had a process where we just kept accepting updates and made a best-effort to release a vaguely working set of pre-release images from that rapid-fire update hose, we'd be much more likely to release pre-releases that were really badly broken, and there's no way to recover from a badly broken set of release images like you can from a bad update. There's no known-good to fall back on.
tl;dr summary: if you just think about how a release process has to work in order to produce bits that can be reasonably safely said to work properly, you'll realize that it's pretty inevitable that the images will be 'old' by the time they're actually released, and that updates will immediately be available for them. This is fine, it's not a problem, just a consequence of a properly managed release process.
66 • @61 (by Adam Williamson on 2010-08-25 21:57:19 GMT from Canada)
Or "We have a limited number of desktop re-spins compared to other projects and I'm hoping to change that so we have separate Server, LXDE and Xfce spins along with Gnome and KDE."
This isn't true. Fedora has GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE spins, for desktop options. (Go to http://get.fedoraproject.org/ and click 'Desktops'). There are several other spins available - click 'Spins', which sends you to http://spins.fedoraproject.org/ , and see the list there.
"I was hoping for a frank and self-aware answer like, "We're rushing releases too much and missing our scheduled launches. I'm planning to push for a nine month release cycle to give our developers and testers more time.""
Jared wouldn't say that, because it's not what he thinks. Like quite a lot of us within the project, he thinks a slip of one week or possibly two on a 26 week schedule really isn't a terrible disaster, and isn't anything to beat ourselves up about too badly. It doesn't really hurt anyone if we delay a release by a week to make sure it works properly, after all.
67 • #65 Fedora release delays (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-25 22:25:42 GMT from United States)
@Adam: Thanks for the clarification. I have repeatedly expressed the opinion that distros should be released when they are ready, not on a hard, fixed schedule. I, for one, appreciate the cautious approach the Fedora Project has adopted.
68 • @66 (by Fred Nelson on 2010-08-25 23:25:14 GMT from United States)
One easy way to fight that perception is to put all the spins up on the main download page, instead of only putting the 32-bit GNOME spin there and forcing people to click multiple times to get anything else. It certainly if nothing else gives a perception of purposefully ignoring the other desktops, when Fedora's KDE implementation, for example, is better than Debian's IMHO. You should go back to the get-fedora-all page as the default, and add in Xfce, LXDE, etc... under KDE so it's all there and convenient in one page.
"Possibly confusing newbies" is not an excuse. People who can't even look up or ask a friend what the different desktops are or whether their CPU is 32 or 64-bit have no business installing an OS. Albeit Ubuntu is even worse, and claims that that the 64-bit edition is "not recommended for daily desktop usage." WTF? I've been using 64-bit desktop Linux for years with no problem.
69 • Fedora (by Robert on 2010-08-25 23:38:02 GMT from United States)
The problem with Fedora is that no matter how many new releases are put out, what you basically get is a beta version of RHEL. While Fedora is fine for advanced users who like to play around, it shouldn't be recommended for new users coming from Windows. Ubuntu is far better for that group of users.
70 • regrarding updated ISO's (by Robert on 2010-08-25 23:48:35 GMT from United States)
I believe it was Landor who asked why Fedora doesn't release an updated ISO, and I'm wondering as well.
Ubuntu just released an updated 10.04.1 ISO which includes hundreds of updates from the original ISO released in April. And Peppermint developers say they will release updated ISOs even more often - say once a month.
71 • @70 Updated ISO's (by Fred Nelson on 2010-08-26 00:01:58 GMT from United States)
That's only because Ubuntu 10.04 is a LTS release. They do not release updated ISO's for their normal releases. Keep in mind that 10.04.1 came four months after the initial release, and Fedora and Ubuntu (non-LTS) maintain a six-month release schedule. So only two months additional to wait anyway.
Not that more frequent ISO's wouldn't be nice, but they are the exception, not the rule among the major distros. Or if you're talking about development versions (as Landor was), you're always free to download a *nightly or netinstall ISO image instead. ;)
Nightlies from various distros:
72 • Problems (by Jesse on 2010-08-26 00:10:34 GMT from Canada)
Adam, if you'd read the rest of my post you'd see that I wrote "I'm not saying those are actually problems, but that's the sort of response I was hoping for". I was giving those items as example of the type of comment I would have liked to see. At no point was I implying those were actual issues with Fedora.
73 • Re: Fred (by Robert on 2010-08-26 00:11:39 GMT from United States)
The point is, releasing updated ISOs can be done - and are being done. In fact, the developer of Peppermint, which is based on Ubuntu, has said he will continue updating ISOs because it isn't that difficult to do.
It should be noted that not everyone has a high speed broadband connection, and when doing an update with over 200 updates it takes alot of time. It can also be a security risk during the time the update is in progress if the security patches haven't yet been installed.
74 • Re Gnash for support.oracle.com (by RO on 2010-08-26 00:13:11 GMT from United States)
No go - at least for Gnash 0.8.7 that is available in the latest OLPC XO RC update (in the Gnome desktop/Firefox 3.5.9). Since that is for a XO-specific version of Fedora 11, it might be well behind what is available for RHEL 4 (or ahead ;-). It "sort of" renders the www.wral.com/weather flash forecast insert faintly, so who knows?
I am not going to worry about it too much as I can use the html version of the support site now for most upload/downloads with Oracle from our server (and their ftp site for the GB+ db copies), and I use my 'modern' XP work PC for any of the stuff that needs their Flash site.
Interesting that one of the objections raised by Oracle techies during the pre-release testing of the Flash site was that their organizations would not let them use Flash due to security concerns - with good reason it seems.
Thanks for the feedback, y'all.
75 • @73 Updated ISO's (by Fred Nelson on 2010-08-26 04:05:07 GMT from United States)
While I agree that updated ISO's would be nice (as I said in my last post), your best bet right now is to use a netinstall, which will download only what's needed including the updates. I know that at least Fedora, Mandriva, and Debian have netinstall ISO's for their stable versions, not just development versions, should you so desire to get all the updates right off the bat and without downloading the old versions first. For Gentoo and Arch, that's actually the main and recommended way to install.
The only downside of that method is that you can't do much with your computer during the netinstall process (unless it's in a chroot from another distro, but that's more advanced than even most Linux users will attempt), but otherwise it's perfect for bandwidth-constrained users.
76 • net install (by jerry on 2010-08-26 04:30:29 GMT from United States)
Net installs on debian take forever, almost just as long as doing an update.
77 • #74 - gnash 0.8.8 is a huge improvement over 0.8.7 (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-26 05:37:56 GMT from United States)
gnash 0.8.7 had many problems that were fixed in 0.8.8 and worked on far fewer websites. Once again, visit http://www.getgnash.org and get the latest version for the OLPC XO. Judging gnash by an older, inferior release is not exactly a fair test.
78 • Updated ISO-> use daily ISO (by Jan on 2010-08-26 10:06:35 GMT from Netherlands)
Some distro's have a daily or weekly updated ISO.
I have experienced that sometimes updating the install from a live-CD takes longer than downloading an ISO. So a daily/weekly ISO is very nice.
79 • fedora spin (by Leroy on 2010-08-26 11:46:31 GMT from Serbia)
I was testing the alpha of the Fedora 14 LXDE spin (and yes, there are a number of spins, including KDE, LXDE, and XFCE, and more), but was a little disappointed that font rendering improvements (since patents expired, but this didn't make it into 13) aren't here yet?
80 • Re-installs and large updates. (by Anonymous on 2010-08-26 13:08:42 GMT from Poland)
I was thinking about version installs/upgrades versus rolling-release. Is it impractical for Fedora just to go the whole hog and to become rolling? In one aspect I think Fedora is already somewhat akin due to its 'edgy' character.
More generally, a rolling-release distro (whichever) could be attractive in cases where downloading is routinely slow/expensive?
I admit that I do not know the ins and outs of the release models, so could someone say if, all things considered, it is more work to maintain/provide rolling rather than fixed releases?
81 • @72 • Problems (by Jesse (by meanpt on 2010-08-26 15:47:01 GMT from Portugal)
I completely agree with you. For the sake of the credibility, not only of the fedora leadership but also of their sponsors, statements should be as clear as clean water. What's in their mind? This isn't a dish washing detergent buyers' community ...
82 • RSS feed completely fucked up (by blah on 2010-08-26 16:16:00 GMT from France)
Ok, this is getting annoying... the rss feed is completely screwed up since several weeks and you're not doing anything about it... I guess I don't really need to read distrowatch anyway.
83 • @66 (by Reuben on 2010-08-26 16:35:06 GMT from United States)
>>Jared wouldn't say that, because it's not what he thinks. Like quite a lot of us within the project, he thinks a slip of one week or possibly two on a 26 week schedule really isn't a terrible disaster, and isn't anything to beat ourselves up about too badly. It doesn't really hurt anyone if we delay a release by a week to make sure it works properly, after all.
I don't really care about waiting the extra week. I did laugh pretty hysterically when I heard that the whole release process was pushed back by a week after Jared said he being on time was going to be a new feature.
Anyways, there are pros and cons about working with a deadline. Sometimes people won't finish things unless they know they have a looming deadline. On the other hand, it sometimes means shoddy work has to be shipped.
84 • Lubuntu 10.10 alpha3 (by Henning on 2010-08-26 18:48:28 GMT from Denmark)
Good news. "Lubuntu Restricted Extras" are awailable for Lubuntu 10.10.
Makes it a lot easier to run flash, java etc.
85 • re: 84 (by Henning on 2010-08-26 18:52:36 GMT from Denmark)
Did some spellchecking.
That would be :available, not "awailable"........Doh!
86 • Zenwalk LIVE! (by Gustavo on 2010-08-26 19:44:19 GMT from Brazil)
Now everyone should try this excellent distribution.
87 • Re: #80 • Re-installs and large updates. (by Anon on 2010-08-26 20:52:19 GMT from Norway)
I have been using a 'rolling release' distro, Arch, for nearly 30 months now, and I spend between 5 and 10 minutes a week to stay updated. My Internet connection is relatively speedy, as is pacman, Arch's package manager. YMMV...
Before Arch, my main distro was Slackware-based (Bluewhite), and my days were calm. And boring. Arch is much more fun, with surprisingly few problems upto now - touch wood!
Arch is a *little* bit more demanding for a beginner or first install, but by no means difficult. The recommended regular upgrades also keeps you (me!) a bit more alert about what I am running :)
88 • Re: 87 (by Anonymous on 2010-08-26 22:28:28 GMT from Poland)
Post 80 was mine. Thanks for your response.
Sorry for not explaining myself better.
I have actually used a couple of rolling distros - PCLos and sidux.
I used sidux for ages and it is a bit of a misconception really that to use such a distro will be asking for trouble.
Anyway, when I said: "...all things considered, is it more work to maintain/provide rolling rather than fixed releases?", I meant the work/hassle involved for distro providers.
Also, when I mentioned rolling distro as attractive in conjunction with slow and/or expensive internet, it was not posed as a question. It was more as a response to earlier comments about routine installs/large updates.
Again, sorry for not being clear.
89 • Re 88 (by Anonymous on 2010-08-26 22:47:14 GMT from Poland)
Not doing too well at all.........I neglected to include Sabayon, alongside PCLos and sidux in post 87.
90 • RE: 82 RSS feed completely fucked up (by ladislav on 2010-08-26 23:43:38 GMT from Taiwan)
Does anybody else have a problem with the RSS feeds? It seems to be working fine here and nobody else has complained (normally I get lots of emails if RSS feeds get screwed up).
In future (as with every bug report), please email me directly and give me the details about the problem so that I can look into it.
91 • About Pinguy OS (by Antoine on 2010-08-26 23:53:13 GMT from Brazil)
Pinguy is Ubuntu with a bunch of innutilities. Beautiful, but not very useful; more time spent polishing all the whole bargagge than installing some things in a pure Ubuntu. Or use Mint.
For not being dishonest, it`s very good to know some good hidden Linux software on scene and seeing how a desktop can me personalized to look like. Just a tip: MacOS-like apps-menu (in the top bar) does not fit well for our system, not every software work with that and then all we get is a General Mish Mash of Everything. Nice fonts, though.
92 • RSS (by Anonymous on 2010-08-27 00:42:28 GMT from United States)
I clicked on the RSS icon in my Firefox address bar.
It appeared to stall the browser.
After about thirty seconds or so the browser loaded the Distrowatch RSS menu.
Then I could pick and choose anything there, at this point it worked ok.
I do not know why the initial clicking on the icon took so long.
Maybe that is the problem previously mentioned.
If I did not wait it out, to see what would happen, then I too might say it was broken.
But it just was slow to load, and Firefox v3.0 would not do anything untill it did.
My desktop however was not at all noticibly affected.
There was no extra network activity while I was waiting.
The browser simply just was totally occupied with my RSS request.
Although I have never seen this happen before or anywhere else.
Thanks ladislav for what you make possible here.
93 • RSS again (by Anonymous on 2010-08-27 00:50:43 GMT from United States)
I just retested my previous #92 situation.
The browser only hangs (uses lots of cpu) when I select DWW.
All of the other selections news, ogg etc are very snappy.
Perhaps, ....i don't know what to say as yet.
This only uses local cpu and I do not see net activity, which I do watch on another machine.
It is doing something and takes quite a while to finnish it.
I may explore further, unless you already know what or why, or both.
94 • Re: #88 - Rolling distros (by Anon on 2010-08-27 01:19:14 GMT from Norway)
Thanks, Anonymous, but I was obviously not paying enough attention to the context.
The more I think about the question you ask, the more I think the answer is 'it depends'...
How much testing is being done on packages from upstream, how big repositories are being maintained, how much tweking is being done to match the distro profile/personality, and so on. Looks like the distro pool encompasses most every combination possible :)
95 • Just when you thought Debian was boring: (by Anonymous on 2010-08-27 01:23:53 GMT from United States)
From todays Debian Project News:
If you want performance without data security that is.
96 • Re: #77, Gnash 0.8.8 Update (by RO on 2010-08-27 03:03:32 GMT from United States)
Thanks for the info, Caitlyn, but I am not too worried about updating Gnash on the XO. I will wait to see what the final release package has after they finish with this RC testing (repositories broken right now for finding co-reqs for installing fbreader). It darn sure could not handle the Oracle Flash website (unless Gnash can do on Linux with the 40MB free on the XO/Gnome that Flash on a 4GB Core Duo/XP uses 200MB+ to do ;-). Although I could see if the login screen still balks at not detecting Flash (9+) in the browser, which is how I "tested" the XO the other night.
And I doubt I would be able to motivate anyone at work to authorize installing Gnash on our RHEL server, although it is for "development", and my manager is the "business owner", and he is cool. So it might be worth a shot if I can test it somewhere else like my home Ubuntu 8.04 Server with 2GB RAM. But then I would have to figure out how to set up a browser that does not use the mozilla library where the current Flash plugin is ... maybe a new vm under VirtualBox ... someday. This is getting to be a tail wagging the dog situation.
To Perdition with Oracle/Flash anyway! Oh, I still need their infernal support - Rats!
Maybe Steve Jobs should have a heart-to-heart with his Silicon Valley neighbor, Larry Ellison, about the evils of Flash (as they both plot against Google's Android).
97 • It's back! - that elusive Debian-based live CD with Enlightenment (by gnomic on 2010-08-27 07:22:21 GMT from New Zealand)
Some weeks ago I mentioned a lightweight live Debian with Enlightenment, but the download wasn't available at that point as the maker was taking a break. Back now - see http://www.ibiblio.org/refracta/
Quite fun if you like that kind of thing. The current iso is 464MB. Based on Debian 5.0.5.
98 • OpenBSD and ACPI (by disi on 2010-08-27 08:43:00 GMT from Germany)
hehe, I talked to one of the FreeBSD kernel developers at LinuxNacht in Berlin this year about this.
At the time I was convinced that the Linux kernel is better, because you have so many options to tweak power management. From CPU trottling over hibernation to shutting down certain PCI devices.
Unfortunately those options come with a lot of complexity :(
That's really great of the BSD guys to provide such a good kernel, where you put "1" to enable certain features, rather than handle 5 different govenors and stuff.
I'll see if I set up Gentoo/BSD on my laptop to see the improvements on the BSD kernel. About 2 years ago there was nearly no power management support in the kernel. They really made an effort here...
99 • @78 - Updated ISO-> use daily ISO (by forlin on 2010-08-27 17:00:55 GMT from Portugal)
To be added to the list...
100 • extlinux as bootloader instead of grub (by Cuda on 2010-08-27 20:30:18 GMT from Canada)
I just noticed that the extlinux bootloader now includes support for ext4 and btrfs. I was wondering if anyone here uses it instead of grub on their main system. I did some searching and doesn't seem too many people are doing that, only found a couple of references. It seems like it might be a nice, light alternative to grub, especially on lower-end systems and systems where you don't need all that grub offers. I think I will try it in a VM first, before borking my host system.
101 • Brief review of Gnash 0.8.8 (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-27 22:04:06 GMT from United States)
I've written a brief review of Gnash 0.8.8 at: http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/08/gnash-088-a-huge-improvement-o.html Feel free to comment, Digg, whatever...
Oh, and yes, this comment is shameless self-promotion :)
102 • Caitlyn isn't Gnash 0.8.8 supposed to offload to gpu? (by Anonymous on 2010-08-27 22:24:13 GMT from United States)
"The only bad news is that Gnash 0.8.8 is still extremely CPU hungry" - or is your test machine integrated gpu?
103 • #102 gnash (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-08-28 01:58:59 GMT from United States)
@102: My system has an nVidia graphics chipset. I didn't look into how Gnash is supposed to work. Whether or not it is supposed to use the gpu as well the fact remains that sometimes it brings Firefox to a halt, the whole system to a crawl and top show 100% CPU utilization. I think it's less frequent than in earlier versions but it still happens.
104 • @99 @78 Daily ISO (by Jan on 2010-08-28 09:51:31 GMT from Netherlands)
Thanks, added to my bookmarks.
Considering the huge efficiency benefit for the user who want to try/install a distro I wonder why there are so few distro's with a daily/weekly iso.
However the most important have them.
Of Mandriva, Suse and Mint I cound not find any.
105 • thunderbird email back-up (by Anonymous on 2010-08-28 14:10:00 GMT from Canada)
Thunderbird came with Ubuntu 10.04 and there have been updates.
This morning I thought it was about time that I backed up my emails.
I found that the "help" button on the thunderbird page was useless, even the link to their home page did not work.
Googled their home page and found about 7 posts about backups. The last was 2 months old from a rep.
They are working on a back up system!!!!!
How many times have you seen advice here on DWW to "backup,backup,backup"
How can Ubuntu ship an app that has no simple backup ?
(other than cloning the hard drive)
Or is it that with Linux there are no distros that have a simple backup app. for emails?
(that will have the same format (readabilty) as the receive page)
(insert Mark Twain here)
106 • 105 mail backup (by Anonymous on 2010-08-28 15:23:03 GMT from United States)
That's why I use claws-mail. Backup is as simple as saving Mail & .mail dirs.
107 • @105 email back up. (by Paul on 2010-08-28 21:07:39 GMT from United States)
I have my Evolution client leave copies on the server. I must admit that having to download over 600 emails each time I upgrade my desktop does take awhile unless I keep /home.
108 • Backup Thunderbird (by Jesse on 2010-08-28 22:56:13 GMT from Canada)
>>How can Ubuntu ship an app that has no simple backup ? (other than cloning the hard drive)
I'm all for the app having a backup function, but with Thunderbird it's wonderfully easy. Just copy your Thunderbird folder to wherever you want it. I think the folder is usually called ~/.thunderbird or ~/.mozilla-thunderbird. You could perform the backup with a quick command like
tar czf thunderbird.tar.gz ~/.mozilla-thunderbird
All of your stuff (contacts, e-mail, etc) should be in there.
109 • #108~/.thunderbird or ~/.mozilla-thunderbird (by Anonymous on 2010-08-29 00:12:25 GMT from Canada)
Both of "~/.thunderbird or ~/.mozilla-thunderbird" have a folder
which has over 40 files or folders
There are emails in some but all seem to have the programming symbols included, which does not help to easily read them.
I will have to spend more time trying to figure out what is what
110 • @109 • #108~/.thunderbird or ~/.mozilla-thunderbird (by Cuda on 2010-08-29 16:48:09 GMT from Canada)
Just back up the whole .mozilla-thunderbird (or .thunderbird if that's what you have) folder on a regular basis. The folder contains not only your emails and contacts, but also your email configuration and thunderbird extensions. If you ever have to restore, then you won't have to re-enter all those settings or download any extensions you may have.
111 • Post #39- Is Wolvix dead? (by Just Me on 2010-08-29 18:12:29 GMT from United States)
As of Aug 28th 2010, I was able to enter the Wolvix site. But it was missing in action for about 4 days...
112 • 97 • It's back! - that elusive Debian-based live CD with Enlightenment (by gnomi (by meanpt on 2010-08-29 18:18:18 GMT from Portugal)
Thanks, Installed it, tried it, and found it's not useful for a non-English keyboard user. I still don't like the Enlightenment, as the small letters make my eyes looking even older.
113 • Refracta =Debian-based live CD with Enlightenment (by RollMeAway on 2010-08-30 01:44:22 GMT from United States)
I tried the live CD also.
First time I've seen enlightenment setup to approximate a "standard" panel.
Most distros of e that I've seen try to be as unusual and different as they can,
which makes them too foreign for most people.
Refracta shows the potential to actually replace a standard desktop with enlightenment.
114 • typo (by john on 2010-08-30 08:35:05 GMT from Japan)
Salix OS does not provide it's own
it's means it is - should be "its"
Number of Comments: 114
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