| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 370, 6 September 2010
Welcome to this year's 36th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! With the arrival of September the development of all major distributions tends to accelerate dramatically. We are seeing a first milestone release of openSUSE, a new freeze stage in the never-ending quest for a stable Debian, an important test day on the way to Fedora 14, and dramatic improvements in the revamped Ubuntu Netbook user interface. For more details on the above stories please check out the news section below. Our feature article this week is a review of AUSTRUMI, an interesting mini-distribution which impresses with its usability and interesting themes, while the usual Q&A section has been replaced by an interview with Dru Lavigne, a well-known BSD personality and an author of a collection of excellent books on FreeBSD. Finally, we are happy to announce the recipients of the DistroWatch.com July and August donations - they are Xiph.Org (the developers of Ogg, Vorbis and Theora, among other products) and Clonezilla (the creators of a free and open-source hard disk cloning solution). Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (33MB) and MP3 (36MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Peering timidly at AUSTRUMI (2.1.6)
It wasn't originally my intention, when I set out, to review AUSTRUMI. At the beginning of the week I'd actually downloaded and started to examine a different project which promised to make various tasks easier. However, after a few hours of trial and error I realized the OS was going to cause more frustration than computing bliss and I tossed it aside. At which point it dawned on me that I had been planning to review AUSTRUMI months ago and never got around to it. So I headed over to their web site.
The site has a fairly simple layout with a pleasant colour combination of blue and white. The text of the site is provided in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Italian and a handful of other languages. The project, which is based on Slackware, is described as focusing on being small and fast. To aid in this effort, AUSTRUMI will run entirely from RAM (the downloaded ISO is a mere 138 MB). The web site also provides a link to a third-party forum where users can find help and exchange tips.
Firing up the live CD caused a gold and black boot menu to be displayed. The user is prompted to boot the system, loading everything into RAM (which is the default) or run from the CD. Booting into the live environment brings up an attractive desktop with a system monitor along the top of the screen, a quick-launch panel on the right and a weather applet in the bottom-right corner. By default, the system doesn't use English (I didn't recognize the default language), but it is possible to select a preferred language from the boot menu.
A little experimenting showed that left-clicking on an empty part of the desktop brings up the application menu and right-clicking brings up a settings menu. Though it took a little while to train myself to stop moving my mouse toward a corner of the screen to bring up the menu, once I got used to the idea the menu was wherever I was, I came to enjoy the concept. One thing which I didn't really get used to though was rolling the mouse wheel (intentionally or by accident) would also bring up the application menu.
AUSTRUMI 2.1.6 - browsing the web
(full image size: 312kB, resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Putting aside the menus and applications for a moment, I'd like to focus on the installer. AUSTRUMI's system installer is one page with four fields. These cover the location of the source ISO image (or CD), where the distro should be installed, any partitions which need to be created and their sizes and file systems. The tiny partition manager supports the ext family of file systems, swap space, FAT, Btrfs and ReiserFS. Though the simple layout (and lack of assisting documentation) is best suited for Linux veterans, it works well enough.
What I found disconcerting though is that once the user clicks OK, the installer doesn't ask for confirmation or show any signs of progress, it simply disappears. It vanishes and the system monitor at the top of the screen shows that something is happening. A few minutes later a small window pops up and displays a log of what happened (in a terse combination of English and another language) and that's it. It doesn't give any indication if the installation was successful, just that partitions were created. Fortunately, in my case, a restart caused my computer to boot from the local hard disk and things worked normally.
One of the first things I noticed about running a locally installed AUSTRUMI is that the user is automatically logged in as root. It's possible to create other users and set passwords for the various accounts, but this doesn't prevent root from being logged in at start-up. There is a configuration tool available which will allow the user to disable auto-logins. Unfortunately turning off auto-logins on both of my test machines caused X to not start properly at boot time. I was able to access text consoles, but X (and thus the desktop) was effectively disabled. Another thing which became obvious (once I'd re-installed) is that the desktop remembers the user's language settings, removing the need to manually choose a language at the boot menu.
The application menu comes with a fairly good collection of software when compared to the distro's small size. When installed to the hard disk, AUSTRUMI takes up about 480 MB of drive space and provides the Chromium web browser; the Geany text editor (and development environment); an excellent, if somewhat classic-looking, file manager; a multimedia player; Skype; AbiWord and Gnumeric. The application menu also contains a BitTorrent client, PDF viewer, a small selection of games, GIMP and some configuration programs. Of special note is the services and daemon manager, which has a nice layout and makes handling services straightforward. (No network services were running by default.) AUSTRUMI additionally comes with codecs for playing popular audio and video formats and a Flash plugin for web browsing.
AUSTRUMI 2.1.6 - playing media files
(full image size: 594kB, resolution 1366x768 pixels)
I think a few more things should be said about AUSTRUMI's user interface. By default, is has a pleasing look and feel. Though I found the quick-launch bar to be a strange beast. It would move away (to the right) if I clicked its left side, but stayed still if I clicked its right side. I couldn't find a way to change the icons displayed on the quick-launch bar, at least not under the default theme. But this is where the distro gets more interesting. The system comes with a handful of themes which allow the user to not only change the general look of the desktop, but also the way in which it works.
One of the themes closely resembles a proprietary desktop with the Cairo quick-launch dock, which is easily customizable. There are other themes too, at least one of which resembles another commonly used operating system. Each of these themes gives a distinct look, but also makes minor adjustments to the way things work, making the user feel more at home in whichever environment best fits their habits. At first it struck me that AUSTRUMI was trading away some of its identity, but I found I really enjoyed being able to mimic other desktops and show them off to people who had different computing backgrounds.
Aside from having the application and configuration menus come to your mouse, wherever it is, AUSTRUMI's default desktop also makes minimized windows more easily accessible. It's possible to select a window from the taskbar, as with most desktop systems, but minimized windows are also shown in miniature on the desktop. The user can double-click on a mini-window to restore it to its full size and these mini-windows can be dragged around the desktop to best suit the user's work flow.
The operating system did fairly well with my hardware. I ran the distro on my HP laptop (2 GHz dual-core CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Intel video card) and a generic desktop machine (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card) and both machines were handled well. In both cases my desktop was set to the machine's maximum resolution, audio worked out of the box on both computers and my laptop's touchpad was handled smoothly. As with all Slackware-based systems, my Intel wireless card was not picked up. I also ran AUSTRUMI in a VirtualBox virtual environment and found performance to be good overall. The distro will function, when run from the CD, with as little as 64 MB of memory. I found that rarely, even when web browsing and playing videos, did I need more than 100 MB. The system is light and, especially when run in RAM, incredibly responsive. My only complaint in this area was that, as with my recent Puppy review, the integration with VirtualBox and my computer's mouse was not smooth -- the guest and host mouse regularly got out of sync.
On the package management front, AUSTRUMI uses GSlapt and connects to the Slackware repositories. This provides a strong collection of software for the small distro. The package manager's GUI will be familiar to anyone who uses other, similar front-ends, such as Synaptic. For the most part I didn't have any problems upgrading, removing or adding software. Though on some occasions GSlapt would tell me it was missing dependencies. Most times it would find the required software libraries, but a few times it wasn't able to, leaving me to either discard the application I wanted or hunt for the dependencies manually on the web.
AUSTRUMI 2.1.6 - package management
(full image size: 538kB, resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Usually around this time I feel it's appropriate to give a summation of the whole experience, and this week I'm having trouble putting the features of AUSTRUMI into a few simple "pro" and "con" points. Take the web site, there's not much information there and it contains virtually no documentation, but the maintainers have gone to the trouble of translating the text into several languages. In the distro itself, I find myself thrilled with the collection of configuration programs provided and quite put off by the installer's cryptic and, occasionally, invisible nature. The distribution locks down services and makes adjusting daemons wonderfully easy, but then the system falls apart if auto-login is disabled.
The package manager is generally fine, but then the repository seems to be missing a few pieces. In short, this week I've been playing with AUSTRUMI and the experience has been filled with highs and lows. There are some things I can say about this distribution which I did enjoy without qualification. The performance is excellent, whether running from the CD, hard disk or completely from RAM. AUSTRUMI delivers here in a way few other systems can. Another point in this distro's favour is the themes. These aren't simply colour changes or window buttons placed on the left or right, but complete desktop rearrangements which provide the user with an assortment of environments to choose from. Which brings me back to the interface.
AUSTRUMI 2.1.6 - using an alternative theme
(full image size: 411kB, resolution 1024x768 pixels)
Having the application menu and (separate) configuration menu follow the user's mouse placement was, to me, very welcome once I got used to the concept. It's a great time saver, especially on larger screens. The way minimized windows could be positioned anywhere on the desktop to suit the user was also a great characteristic. I find it interesting that KDE and GNOME are trying to reinvent the way we interact with the desktop and meanwhile AUSTRUMI is offering all of these themes and little tweaks which make the GUI so much more intuitive and my flow between tasks smoother. I think the larger projects should take a look at what AUSTRUMI is doing here and take notes.
Unfortunately, the GUI and speed aren't enough to make me recommend this distro, at least not for regular use. The auto-login problem and unusual installer lead me to believe this isn't so much a distribution for day-to-day work as it is a strong demo. It can show people unfamiliar with open source how fast and flexible Linux can be. That in itself, I feel, is enough to suggest a look at this distribution.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
openSUSE launches 11.4 development cycle, Debian publishes 6.0 release update, Fedora announces systemd test day, Ubuntu improves netbook interface
Somewhat unexpectedly, the first development build of openSUSE 11.4 was released last week. Although we are at the very beginning of the development cycle (with the final stable build only scheduled for March 2011), the long headline of the official announcements tells us about the many new features and improvements in the new release. Perhaps the most important among them are performance improvements of the distribution's package manager which promises to be able to download bits and pieces simultaneously from several servers. There is also talk about new versions of the major components, although those will certainly change before the final release. The distribution's artwork will also get an update, while its GNOME team has started planning for inclusion of the many new features in the upcoming GNOME 2.32. Other than that, enjoy the development ride and don't forget to report the bugs you find!
* * * * *
Debian GNU/Linux is another distribution that should get a fair amount of attention during the remainder of this year. Will "Squeeze" finally get out of the door? While nobody dares to predict the release date of the project's next stable release, there are some hints that we are getting closer to the D-day. Neil McGovern in last week's release update: "Squeeze has been frozen for some time now, and the previously mentioned relaxed attitude towards new releases will be hardened. Additionally, to continue our release efforts, exceptions for packages that were waiting in the NEW queue/uploaded shortly before the freeze are dropped. From now on, a new version may only contain changes falling in one of the following categories: fixes for release critical bugs; changes for release goals; fixes for severity; translation updates; documentation fixes." The update also includes one other interesting piece of information - the code name of the first post-Squeeze release: "We will continue to use Toy Story character names for Squeeze's successor. The next release will be called 'Wheezy' (the rubber toy penguin with a red bow tie), and will be Debian 7.0."
One more useful piece of information from the Debian world - backports.org, an unofficial and unsupported repository of up-to-date Debian packages has become backports.debian.org. This means that users of the backports.org repository should update their sources.list file: "After several years of slacking by everybody involved it finally happened: backports.org has become backports.debian.org. For that to happen several things had to get changed and streamlined, so please make sure to read this announcement to avoid too many surprises. The website and the mirror moved to backports.debian.org/ and the archive is now available below debian-backports/. Even though we expect the old entries to continue to work for a while, you might still want to update your sources.list entry. ... The origin and the label of the archive changed to 'Debian Backports' so if you used them for pinning you will have to modify your apt.preference configuration. Additionally the archive is now signed by the standard ftpmaster signing key, currently the Lenny key." Be sure to read the announcement if you use backports on your Debian installation.
* * * * *
The beta release of Fedora 14 is just around the corner (it is expected to ship on 28 September) and it could include a very important though experimental feature called systemd, a brand new initialisation system. Adam Williamson has sent out an urgent plea for testing the new code: "It's test day time again, folks, and this one's a biggie! You may have read about the brand new initialization system, systemd, written by Lennart Poettering. At the moment, we're planning to use it as the default initialization system for Fedora 14. Obviously, this is a bold step with a fairly new piece of code. This week's Test Day, which will take place on Tuesday 2010/09/07 rather than the more usual Thursday, is on systemd, so it's a very important one! It will also serve at least two functions: as usual, the testing will help us to improve the code so that if it does go into the final Fedora 14 release it will work as well as possible, but the Fedora steering committee will also be using the results of the Test Day to help inform their final decision as to whether to go ahead with systemd for the beta and final release, or whether to revert to upstart." Those who'd like to participate in testing systemd should look for instructions on the Fedora Wiki page.
* * * * *
Finally, a quick look at the just-released Ubuntu 10.10 beta, including the new Netbook user interface, as provided by this article at Ars Technica: "The beta ships with GNOME 2.31, which introduces support for the new dconf configuration storage system. Ubuntu's standard F-Spot photo tool has been replaced by Shotwell, a relatively new application that is developed by non-profit software group Yorba. Although it's not as feature-complete as F-Spot, it's progressing quickly and has a lot to offer. Canonical has continued its work on panel indicators, especially the audio indicator which now has playback controls in addition to a volume management slider. This will eliminate the need for individual audio applications to have their own notification area icons. The Ubuntu Netbook Edition has seen particularly dramatic improvements during this development cycle due to Canonical's work on the new Unity user interface. Unity, which was initially introduced in May, has matured very rapidly. It has a global menubar that works surprisingly well."
The netbook user interface gets a radical revamp in Ubuntu 10.10.
(full image size: 329kB, resolution 1024x600 pixels)
|Interview (by Jesse Smith)
Dru Lavigne, PC-BSD
Dru Lavigne is the Director of Community Development for the PC-BSD project. In the past few months she has been revitalizing the project's documentation, streamlining feature requests and gathering feedback from the community. She is also the author of three books on the subject of BSD. Recently Dru agreed to answer questions submitted by DistroWatch readers. Here are your questions and her responses.
* * * * *
DWR: What is your opinion on the differences between the BSD license and the GPL, and how it works for how BSD does things? Why would a developer choose a license which allows a commercial entity to use their code and make money from it without giving anything back (i.e. OS X)?
DL: For the differences, let's look at the strategic reasons why a company or organization would choose one license over another.
An academic license (such as the BSD, MIT, or Apache license) is a good choice for new technologies and standards looking for a broad base of adoption. In such cases, the underlying goal is to make a well-vetted, common base upon which any organization can extend, add features to, and thereby differentiate themselves in the marketplace. This makes good business sense for many reasons: collaborative effort allows the technology/standard to mature quickly, each organization saves effort and resources as they don't have to reinvent the core, organizations can differentiate themselves by concentrating on niche markets, and consumers benefit from a wider range of choice. TCP/IP, Apache, OpenSSH, and BIND are classic examples of technologies that benefited from this type of licensing.
A license with strong copy-left, such as the GPL, is a smart choice for a large, well established company looking to dominate a market technology. The combination of using their brand to promote the open source product, being able to afford the resources required to maintain a new (or steer an existing) open source project, and being able to make up for missing software sales revenue by providing support, can effectively remove competing closed-source alternatives. It is very hard for any company to compete with "free" and even harder to remain in business if the open-source application competes with their core revenue stream.
When it comes to an individual developer, it is often a matter of personal philosophy. Many developers are happy to see their code used as widely as possible and think it's pretty neat to know that their code is being used in ways they never thought of or would never have had the time to implement themselves. And there are many developers who wish to defend the four freedoms defined by the free software philosophy. It really is a matter of personal choice.
DWR: Going back to the basics, it'd be interesting to know why one might choose a BSD operating system over a Linux distro, and vice versa. What is/are the core function(s) of BSD, and what sets it apart from Linux (other than the different licensing schemes)?
This really depends upon what the user expects to see in a distro. Brand new users (who don't know what to expect) might not even be able to tell the difference between a Linux and a BSD system that are running the same window manager. If you have been using a particular system for a while, it can be frustrating to find that the tools you like to use are either missing or in a different location -- but this can happen whether you go between Linux distros or between a Linux and a BSD system. When it comes to features and hardware support, BSD and Linux are pretty much on par, with some differences. Obviously, if a specific feature or piece of hardware that you have to have is not supported, that will determine which system/distro you should use. Other than that, any distro/system that meets your needs is a good choice.
The clincher for me is the difference in the development process, and I say that as a non-developer. How a product is created behind the scenes affects its usability for end-users. There is much to be said for having a sound release engineering process, a searchable code repository and commit messages going back to the day the project started, build farms for an integrated kernel and userland that reduce the likelihood of library incompatibilities, and security and documentation teams. If you're interested in learning more about the "BSD way of doing things", check out these resources:
DWR: What are some of the philosophical differences between the BSD kernel and Linux kernel coders? And can things like drivers be shared between the two camps?
Philosophy varies a bit by BSD project, with each project stating their goals:
One of the differences I see between the Linux kernel and the BSD projects is that BSD provides excellent mentorship opportunities designed to assist coders in obtaining a "commit bit" (the right to modify a portion of the code repository). Rather than being limited to submitting patches, a developer can work under a more senior developer in the same area of code interest who already has a commit bit. That developer can vet their code, discuss design ideas, make sure the code matches style guidelines, and most importantly, won't break anyone else's code when it is committed. Once the mentor is pleased with the coder's progress, they can recommend them for a commit bit. In addition to the Style Guide, or man(9) on any BSD system, the projects also provide resources to assist new developers:
As for sharing drivers (or other code), there are major design and philosophical differences between the Linux and BSD kernels. The source for both is freely available and developers often read other developers' code to see how they implemented a design. Because of the nature of the BSD license, Linux coders are free to reuse BSD code as long as they meet the BSD license's copyright notice and disclaimer requirements. BSD coders tend to rewrite code as there is a preference for BSD licensed code that meets the BSD style guidelines.
DWR: Could you please compare and contrast BSD Ports and Linux package management?
Linux package management varies by distro, so I'll explain how package management is handled on BSD systems.
FreeBSD and OpenBSD use ports and packages. The ports system provides Makefiles, allowing you to pass make targets and compile your own software. The packages system provides pre-compiled binaries, allowing you to quickly install software from the command line. Both use the same package management database, meaning you can use the pkg_info command to see what software is installed, regardless of how it was installed.
All of the BSDs support pkgsrc
, which was originally developed by the NetBSD project. pkgsrc supports both compile-your-own and installing pre-compiled software using command-line tools. It is an excellent choice in heterogeneous environments as the same tools can be used to manage software on differing operating systems -- i.e. pkgsrc also runs on Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and most other UNIX-like operating systems.
It should be noted that while ports, packages, and pkgsrc are all well-documented and easy-to-use (once you know how), they are all command-line based.
PC-BSD supports all of the above, plus its own PBI (push button installer) technology that provides a GUI software manager that allows even novice users to safely and easily install, uninstall, and upgrade applications. Advanced users are provided with a Ports Jail console where they can safely compile ports or add packages without affecting the software installed with the operating system.
DWR: I would appreciate hearing your insight into the Oracle/Google lawsuit, Java and patent issues. I would also love to hear about your perspective on some of the new upstart BSD distros that include installers and GNOME/KDE (PC-BSD, GhostBSD, GNOBSD).
DL: It will be interesting to see where that lawsuit goes and if any open source "grass" is affected by the "elephants" fighting. I think that a lot of people are distressed to see all of the work, money, and due diligence that Sun put into its open source efforts being systematically re-closed again by Oracle. FreeBSD has an opportunity to gain former ZFS users who are concerned about CDDL and GPL incompatibility. PostgreSQL has an opportunity to gain former MySQL users. It will be interesting to see what the landscape will look like in five years.
It took a while, but there's been a shift in the BSD mindset to go beyond servers designed for system administrators to desktops designed for users. BSD desktops are starting to catch up, with PC-BSD currently being the most mature of the desktop projects. There are still some design obstacles to overcome (e.g. more laptop wireless drivers, more drivers and GUI interfaces for webcams, etc.) and strides are being made -- for example, the new USB and wireless subsystems for FreeBSD. Once BSD catches up, I think BSD desktop users will have a serious advantage over Linux desktop users due to the solid design principles used by the underlying BSD (server) technologies.
DWR: I would love to try a BSD distro, and I like the look of PC-BSD, but I don't want to download the large DVD image. Are there plans for a live CD edition any time soon? Perhaps one with Xfce or LXDE instead of KDE?
DL: Not that I'm aware of. Of course, if you're volunteering... Seriously, if you're interested in taking on this challenge let us know and if you need any help getting started we can point you at some resources and/or people who have done this sort of thing before.
There currently are a few alternatives to downloading the DVD image. One is to use the boot-only CD or Flash image. The initial download is much smaller, but you will still need an Internet connection during the install to grab the needed components. We also give out thousands of DVDs every year at open source conferences. The main page of the PC-BSD website lists our upcoming events. If there's an event near you, visit the BSD booth to get a free DVD and get your questions answered.
DWR: It is already possible to install ZFS from the GUI installer of PC-BSD. In fact I was able to establish a functioning mirrored "rootpool" using the installer with a minimum of fuss. The problem is that there is no default (suggested) file system layout that is specifically tailored to zpools (like there is in OpenSolaris) and you have to create your own, unlike the default (or suggested) UFS layout provided by the PC-BSD installer. This puts a premium on user knowledge. So I was wondering if future installers will have an even more "user-friendly" approach to ZFS installation, where ideal partition layouts are recommended by the installer?
DL: That is a good idea, we'll look into it.
DWR: Will there be any attempt to improve on the power and flexibility of the BTX bootloader that PC-BSD uses? Is it even conceivable that PC-BSD might incorporate GRUB 2? Right now it is supposed to be possible to install GRUB on PC-BSD, but I think people have had a lot trouble doing this, with GRUB 2 at any rate.
To assist users with the current versions of PC-BSD, we've recently updated the GRUB section of the PC-BSD Users Handbook
. Please let us know if it does not work for you or if you have additional information to add to make this section easier for new users.
As for future versions of PC-BSD, we're looking into it. We didn't use GRUB originally as version 2 was just starting to replace the legacy version. We've also considered GAG, but it doesn't have an auto-detect feature and still requires Linux users to use GRUB or LILO.
DWR: I've tried to install PC-BSD, but if it's not video issues on my new machine it's boot issues on the old one. What can a relative computer Luddite like myself (who'll try something but probably never dig that deep into getting it to work) do to encourage better hardware compatibility on future releases?
Video issues should be the same on Linux or PC-BSD as both use the drivers and configurations supported by X.Org. And, like Linux, PC-BSD also provides native NVIDIA drivers. When in doubt, booting PC-BSD in live mode is an excellent way to test that all of your hardware works before committing to an install.
Should a piece of hardware seem not to work, Google its name with the word FreeBSD e.g. "FreeBSD GeForce 8600 GT". You should be able to quickly find out if it's a known issue, if anyone is working on fixing it, or if a fix has been made available. If hardware support is indeed missing, you can submit a feature request on the PC-BSD Forums
. Doing so helps the PC-BSD developers to prioritize which drivers are needed by users.
DWR: I have been using PC-BSD and plain FreeBSD (with KDE) for quite a while. With FreeBSD you have the option of using it in "rolling-release style" by upgrading your ports on a regular basis. But you can restrict your port upgrades and just upgrade those ports that have security vulnerabilities if you like. Just run portaudit and it will tell you what needs upgrading. Now, as you know, PC-BSD is not a rolling release (unless you use the ports system with it and want to constantly upgrade). But I have noticed that the number of "system updates" in PC-BSD are very few and far between. They seem even fewer then just the security patches provided by FreeBSD (i.e. the portupgrades applied only to the vulnerable ports). So my question is, in light of these fewer system updates, is PC-BSD more insecure then FreeBSD? (I am assuming that one is not using the ports system with PC-BSD.) I realize that a lot of the vulnerabilities that portaudit reports are only relevant if you are using a server, but this is not universally true, and I can't shake the feeling that PC-BSD is significantly behind the curve when it comes to providing package updates that eliminate security problems. If PC-BSD has a flaw relative to FreeBSD (or most Linux distros) this might be it.
DL: This is a good point and I'll look at several aspects of it.
The PBI buildserver is designed in such a way that when the underlying FreeBSD package is updated, the PBI is also updated. This means that any software installed via PBI will be as up-to-date as the FreeBSD package and that Update Manager will notify the user when an updated PBI is available. And, as you've noticed, Update Manager also provides updates for FreeBSD (operating system) security advisories and some PC-BSD specific updates such as the NVIDIA driver.
The interesting part is how to/should you keep the applications that were installed with the operating system up-to-date. Since PC-BSD specific stuff is separated into the /PCBSD and /Programs directories, an advanced user wishing to do so can continue to use their usual portaudit or portupgrade routine on a PC-BSD system. But what about non-advanced users? One approach is to consider the following: i) the average PC-BSD user is not running any server applications and is protected by a firewall that by default disallows incoming connections; ii) a new version of PC-BSD is released about every six months. This is different from a server environment that accepts incoming connections and that usually has a longer upgrade path (e.g. usually doesn't upgrade as soon as a new version is available). Is it a numbers game? How many vulnerabilities arise in a six-month period and are those vulnerabilities a big deal on a desktop system that is protected by a firewall? Good question....
DW: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the PC-BSD project or BSD in general?
There are many people in the PC-BSD project who work hard to create and support a desktop system that is useful to both advanced and new users. User feedback and assistance is always appreciated. You can join us on the forums
, #pcbsd on IRC freenode, and keep up with what's happening on the blog
. If you get a chance to attend a conference with a BSD booth or a PC-BSD presentation, please drop by and say hi!
DW: Dru, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.
|Released Last Week
Zentyal is a new name for eBox Platform, an Ubuntu-based distribution for servers. Version 2.0, announced today, is the project's first release under the new name: "Your favorite development team proudly presents Zentyal 2.0. Zentyal is a Linux small business server that can act as a gateway, unified threat manager, office server, infrastructure manager, unified communications server or a combination of them. The development of Zentyal started in 2004 and currently it is an enterprise-level Linux server solution that integrates over 30 open source network management tools in one single technology. Highlights: new distribution base - Ubuntu 10.04; improved software management: the software management module has been completely revamped, with usability and visual improvements; friendlier graphical environment...." Read the release announcement and release notes for a full list of new features.
Kevin Thompson has announced the release of Element 1.4, a Xubuntu-based distribution designed for home theatre personal computers: "The Element team is pleased to bring you Element OS 1.4 after a two-week delay. We had been experiencing some problems that were introduced in the build cycle such as HDMI audio failure in Firefox, but that has now been alleviated. Notable changes from 1.3 to 1.4 include: Firefox web browser has been updated to version 3.6.8 and as usual configured for ten-foot interfaces; E-Bar editor has undergone a minor revision of its toolbar and some usability changes; HDMI audio switch has undergone minor revisions and now displays your current settings and configurations; Element slim settings, labeled login settings in the menu is a new utility that includes the ability to switch between several login themes...." Here is the full release announcement.
Kiwi Linux 10.08
Jani Monoses has announced the release of Kiwi Linux 10.08, an Ubuntu-based distribution with pre-configured media codecs, full support for Romanian and Hungarian, and Google Chromium as the default web browser: "Finally, after a hiatus of over a year, the Ubuntu derivative tailored for Romanian and Hungarian Linux beginners is having a new release. Its focus is to provide much of the commonly needed software conveniently installed by default but without straying away from Ubuntu in looks or by forming a separate community. Kiwi Linux 10.08 is based on Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS and it only comes in GNOME x86 Desktop CD edition. The main differences from Ubuntu are in the default application line-up: Chromium instead of Firefox because it is snappier, more stable, has built-in page translations, and has a cleaner UI; Shotwell instead of F-Spot; Pidgin instead of Empathy...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete list of differences between Ubuntu and Kiwi Linux.
Legacy OS 2010
Legacy OS is a new name of a distribution formerly known as TEENpup Linux, a Puppy-based operating system for older computers. Version 2010 was released yesterday: "After eight months of development I am proud to offer Legacy OS for download. This release marks the moving away of Legacy OS from a teenager distro to a distro whose sole purpose is to rescue 5- to 10-year old PCs and laptops from ending up in landfill. To do this it has to be usable in a real-world environment and provide compliance with current online standards. Legacy OS comes with Opera 10.10 web browser as default which is also the default email client. Some system files have been updated to allow the current version of Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Java 1.6 and other required plugins and codecs to operate in what in reality is a legacy operating system." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement.
UberStudent 1.0 "LXDE"
Stephen Ewen has announced the release of a lightweight edition of UberStudent, an Ubuntu-based distribution designed for learning and teaching academic computing at higher education and advanced secondary levels: "Like the full edition of UberStudent, the lightweight edition is designed around a 'core skills' approach, which centers on research and writing, study, and self-management skills, essentials required of all successful college students regardless of their major. It does this by providing some of the best cloud computing applications available across each application category. Despite the very useful nature of the lightweight edition, we definitely recommend the full version if you have a modern PC and serious academic work to do. By its very nature and design, the lightweight version does not match the full version's power, elegance, ease-of-use, and expandability." Read the complete release announcement on the distribution's home page.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
openSUSE 11.4 roadmap
The openSUSE project has published a development roadmap leading towards the next stable openSUSE release, version 11.4. Interested DistroWatch readers have probably noticed the release of the first milestone last week. This will be followed by five more milestone builds in roughly monthly intervals, before the development code is frozen and openSUSE 11.4 reaches release candidate status in February 2011. The final release of is currently scheduled for 10 March 2011. The published openSUSE 11.4 roadmap has the world "preliminary" in it, so things can still change but that's the current plan.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
July, August 2010 DistroWatch.com donations: Xiph.Org and Clonezilla projects receive US$250.00 each|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the July 2010 DistroWatch.com donation is Xiph.Org while the recipient of the August 2010 DistroWatch.com donation is Clonezilla. Each of the two projects receives US$250.00 in cash.
Many Linux users will be familiar with Xiph.Org, a foundation developing a number of open-source multimedia projects. Perhaps the most popular among them are the Icecast streaming server, Vorbis audio codec, Theora video codec and Ogg media container. Here is how the foundation describes its activities on the about page: "A market-speak summary of the Xiph.Org Foundation might read something like: 'Xiph.Org is a collection of open source, multimedia-related projects. The most aggressive effort works to put the foundation standards of Internet audio and video into the public domain, where all Internet standards belong.' ... and that last bit is where the passion comes in. Xiph.Org is about open source and the ideals for which free software stands. Open source is not a fad any more than the Internet is. It is a necessary force driving innovation and the Internet forward while protecting the interests of individuals, artists, developers and consumers. We're about bringing open source and open source ideals to multimedia...and media on the Internet needs us."
Clonezilla, on the other hand, is a highly specialist project which most of us won't use on a daily basis, but when the need arises, everybody will appreciate the tool. Clonezilla considers itself to be a free and open-source alternative to Norton Ghost, an expensive, commercial utility designed for hard disk cloning, system backups and related tasks. Here is Clonezilla's description as provided on its home page: "You're probably familiar with the popular proprietary commercial package called Norton Ghost. The problem with these kinds of software packages is that it takes a lot of time to massively clone systems to many computers. You've probably also heard of Symantec's solution to this problem, Symantec Ghost Corporate Edition with multicasting. Well, now there is an open-source clone system (OCS) solution called Clonezilla with unicasting and multicasting. Clonezilla, based on DRBL, Partclone and udpcast, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously."
Representatives of both projects have emailed DistroWatch to acknowledge the donation. Xiph.Org's Ralph Giles wrote: "Thanks for supporting our efforts!" Clonezilla's founder, Steven Shiau, has also emailed us with a brief message: "Thank you for your donation to the project Clonezilla. It's really our honor to get the donation from Distrowatch.com. Appreciate that."
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$25,330 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Fusion Linux. Formerly known as Fedora Community remix, Fusion Linux is a union between Fedora, RPM Fusion repository and a few extra bits. It is a installable live DVD/USB image that includes multimedia functionality out of the box with added desktop tweaks for better usability and additional software. Fusion Linux is 100% compatible with Fedora.
- LessLinux. LessLinux is a distribution that is aimed to be light, embeddable, simple, stupid. It is not based on any existing distribution and is currently solely intended to be used as a live distribution, started from CD, USB or via PXE.
- LightDesktop. LightDesktop is a tiny Linux distribution that boots off Internet. The install/live image is smaller than 32 MB, using Qt which runs on a framebuffer. It also includes wireless support, a WebKit-based browser, a terminal and SSH functionality.
- Securix Linux. Securix Linux is a distribution with a primary goal of providing secured Linux (using specialist features, such as PaX and grsecurity) by default to act as depository of secret and important data.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 13 September 2010.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Syllable Server was a small, efficient server operating system built to be similar to Syllable Desktop, but on the Linux kernel. Due to its light weight, Syllable Server was exceptionally suitable as a virtualisation platform for running other operating systems (or multiple instances of itself), using the QEMU emulator.