| 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mini-distribution which impresses with its usability and interesting themes, while the usual Q&A section has been replaced by an interview with Dru Lavigne, a well-known BSD personality and an author of a collection of excellent books on FreeBSD.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
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|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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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|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
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Austrumi (by Anonymous on 2010-09-06 10:55:22 GMT from United States) |
Austrumi has always been my choice for the best of the mini-distros.
2 • Nice (by Barnabyh on 2010-09-06 11:00:00 GMT from Germany)
Austrumi looks and sounds interesting, I'm gonna give it a spin. The auto-login issue is a problem though.
3 • Austrumy = PAE enabled (by meanpt on 2010-09-06 11:10:47 GMT from Portugal)
... meaning it requires PAE enabled processors ... which isn't good news for really old stuff ...
4 • Austrumi (by RichardS on 2010-09-06 11:36:02 GMT from United Kingdom)
Thanks for the Austrumi review. I've used several versions, starting from the old days when it was a gloriously tiny 50MB.
To me, its strength is as a LiveCD etc. rather than as an installation. Austrumi includes tools to customise and create your own Live version with your own choice of Apps.
It's still hard to believe that even the relatively "bloated" current versions of Austrumi load faster on my PC as a LiveCD, than this PC's fully installed WinXP... and run faster.
ps. The main language is Latvian (as is the forum); As with many Linux distros, the "English" setting is actually US "English" so is set for a US keyboard layout.
5 • DistroWatch swag (by Jesse on 2010-09-06 11:38:07 GMT from Canada)
For those of you who are fans of DW and would like to show that love to the world, we have a DW Cafe Press store where you can pick up shirts, mugs and other fun items with the DistroWatch brand on them.
6 • 4 out of 5 new "releases" last week *buntu based!?!? (by Chris on 2010-09-06 13:08:00 GMT from United States)
I really, really think Distrowatch needs to fold all of the Ubuntu based "distributions" in under Ubuntu's umbrella instead of letting them stand as independent distributions. I've noticed, recently, that a lot of so called new distributions are really just Ubuntu re-spins (not to be confused with true forks of Ubuntu, like Linux Mint.) Last week, 4 out of the 5 new distribution releases are really just Ubuntu re-spins. Come on Distrowatch! Let's get real, shall we?
7 • Distrowatch Swag? (by Jim on 2010-09-06 13:18:47 GMT from United States)
Looks like all women's stuff. No kidding, I think I saw two shirts for men, both ridiculously priced "organic".
8 • Re: 4 out of 5 new "releases" (by Toolz on 2010-09-06 13:49:20 GMT from India)
Mint is just a re-spin too. You definitely can't consider it a fork.
9 • Astrumi and on (by Tom on 2010-09-06 13:56:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
The "start button" menu from anywhere using a simple mouse-click is reminiscent of a couple of other tiny distros such as AntiX. Has anyone compared? Is AntiX still available anywhere or is it still hidden away in the Mempsi site or somewhere else difficult to find?
I really like the minimised consoles showing up especially if i could move them to one of the other desktops/workspaces if they got in the way. Usually i minimise to get rid of stuff but this feature could really help work-flow imo.
"As with all Slackware-based systems, my Intel wireless card was not picked up", presumably Wolvix 1.1.0 is not included in this sweeping but understandable generalisation? Of course the 1.1.0s are too old to be talked about now even tho they seem acively maintained and the newer ones are still beta so obviously we can\'t talk about them either. However, i still find the 1.1.0s are excellent at hardware detection rivalling knoppix and others that have hardware dertection as a main USP.
Ubuntu is the number 1 most popular in terms of hits and in terms of mainstream articles even appearing in mainstream press quite often now. It is inevitable that spin-offs will grow perhaps to rival even Puppy.
Good luck and regards from Tom :)
10 • Re: 4 out of 5 new "releases" (by Toolz) (by Chris on 2010-09-06 14:15:58 GMT from United States)
No, actually Linux Mint really is a fork of Ubuntu. It forked way back at Edgy Eft (6.10.) The AMD64 version forked at a later version, but make no mistake, Mint is a fork in spite of its compatibility with the latest Ubuntu repositories. Linux Mint develops many of its own system tools and utilities. It has its own wifi tool, its own package manager and many of its own system configuration tools. I'm not a Mint user by the way, but I used to use in regularly, which is why I know the history of its development.
11 • Austrumi: My experience (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-06 14:35:50 GMT from United States)
I've played with Austrumi on and off for years. First, hardware support has always been limited and, as noted in comment #3, it has never been meant for older machines and does not support legacy hardware well. It never worked on my old Toshiba laptop, for example, as in it would not even boot.
I have been able to get it to run as an ordinary user with X (I have not tried the latest version) so I haven been able to get it to work with reasonable security. The autologin with root is really unacceptable to me as we discussed last week.
In general, I've always found something broken in the distro somewhere, though what is broken changes from release to release. I always come away feeling Austrumi is promising but incomplete or in need of further work. After so many years and so many versions I have come to the conclusion that it will never be finished.
12 • Right click on desktop for application menu (by Felix Pleșoianu on 2010-09-06 15:04:19 GMT from Romania)
To whom it may concern, the vast majority of window managers open the application menu at a right-click on the desktop. That has been true since just about forever. Yeah, yeah, I'm nitpicking. But seriously, the Linux desktop doesn't end at Gnome and KDE. :)
13 • Austrumi and pacakge management (by Josh on 2010-09-06 16:35:06 GMT from United States)
Good review this week. This is one distro that I am now quite interested in taking a look at. I may have some quirks, but it sounds promising.
@11: "In general, I've always found something broken in the distro somewhere, ...."
I could say this about many distros I've tried. Most distros will never be finished fully, just like those other OS's on the market. But, I guess thats a good thing, since if it was finished there may not be need for innovation as often as its seen.
One final note, reading the opensuse part; "...distribution's package manager which promises to be able to download bits and pieces simultaneously from several servers". This sounds like limewire or a bit torrent client. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of combining a torrent client and a package manager. If the download link is lost, the torrent client usually can resume with no problem, and there may be a speed boost, if any at all. Either way, its a nice thought.
Thanks for the DDW, its been an enjoyable one.
14 • What I hate about distros... (by uz64 on 2010-09-06 16:57:27 GMT from United States)
They always seem to come out with some very, very attractive themes... openSUSE 10.1 and the current 11.3 for example, and then as soon as the next version comes along... it's replaced. Sometimes with something equally or almost as good, sometimes with something nice, but not near as good. sidux has a history of some very pretty themes as well, IMO. Why can't they just stick with something for a couple versions if they can manage to come up with something so good? It seems all the major distros suffer from this.
The desktop wallpaper is simple to change, and some distros might put past versions' desktop backgrounds in a package in their repository, but the bootloader, boot, desktop manager, and desktop environment splash screens aren't so easy.
15 • Austrumi (by Kristaps on 2010-09-06 17:09:03 GMT from Latvia)
I am really happy to see that this DistroWatch Weekly looks at distribution, which comes from my country! I also did not expect such positive feedback from commentators. Thank You! :)
However, the overwhelming majority of my countrymen are using Ubuntu or LinuxMint. This is probably because Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution in the world and the community, documentation and description is more complete than in the case of Austrumi (in translation from Latvian: "East").
Also thank You for review Jesse! :)
16 • PC-BSD (by Ron on 2010-09-06 17:47:14 GMT from United States)
I have always liked PC-BSD. I just never liked their forums which, the last time I used them, where not that active. So I went to the Free-BSD forum to ask the same questions. WOW. Don't do that. The most common answer I got when I did that was "PC-BSD is not Free-BSD." Which is true but come on, lol. So I just gave up on it for now. I am sure the PC-BSD forum will get better in the future.
17 • @9 antiX home page (by Paul on 2010-09-06 17:52:38 GMT from United States)
I had trouble finding antiX today to get the latest. I googled and found it at
I put it on an old PII Gateway E4200 with 386 Meg. I like the monitor outputs that Anticapitalista included. Except, they were darker in past versions. Is there anyway to make them easier to see?
18 • antiX development (by anticapitalista on 2010-09-06 18:54:39 GMT from Greece)
antiX is alive and well and the latest released version antiX-M8.5 was upgraded on 28 July 2010.
Find it here:
Though it is in the Testing folder, users should use it rather than the antiX-M8.5 released in April 2010 as bugs found have been squashed.
There is also an antiX-core (<100MB) available for Testers to try out. This has a basic cli installer. antiX-core is akin to Debian's net-install iso. It only includes the basics (plus a liitle bit more ;) )
antiX forum is here:
19 • buftracker, google (by foobar on 2010-09-06 19:11:37 GMT from Poland)
I hate developers repeating the mantra: "google it". It's like saying: our software is ok, it's just you being too stupid.
20 • @19 googling or searching a forum (by Brock Landers on 2010-09-06 19:29:38 GMT from United States)
That is because developers get tired of answering the same question over and over because a user is too damn lazy to search a forum or google it.
21 • Finding information (by Jesse on 2010-09-06 20:33:19 GMT from Canada)
>> "That is because developers get tired of answering the same question over and over because a user is too damn lazy to search a forum or Google it."
Developers do get tired of answering the same question time and again, but if that's the case they should let someone else answer. (Or write proper documentation.) If a developer or support person can take the time to write out a forum response telling someone to Google it or search the forum, they could just have easily spent that time either writing out an answer or providing a link. Taking the time to respond with, "Google it yourself, it's been asked before" not only isn't helpful, but it makes the developer/support person come across as a jerk.
On a completely different note, how do people here feel about the format of this week's question and answer section? Do you like having questions supplied by the readers, or do you prefer the standard format?
22 • Linux Mint is not a respin. (by Anonymous on 2010-09-06 20:40:59 GMT from Moldova, Republic of)
Linux Mint is not a respin of Ubuntu, it is a full project with its own goals.
They don't plan to use Ubuntu only as there base, but there is also a work on creating a better Debian based distribution than Ubuntu, called LMDE- linux mint debian edition, which will be as easy as ubuntu based, but much faster and easier to update.
23 • #13: Clarification (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-06 20:46:35 GMT from United States)
Josh, you are quite right, of course. A distro is never truly finished. I clearly didn't explain what I meant. Let me try again.
Better distros seem like they are ready for prime time. They work as expected most of the time and usually don't have major show-stopping bugs. When they do it's news. I've always found Austrumi buggy, or else things didn't work the way I would expect. A good example Jesse found was the installer that doesn't let you know what it's doing or that it is even working. That isn't a bug per se but it is strange and, IMHO, poor design.
Austrumi always is small and fast. It always has elements I really like. It always looks so very promising. It also always fails, at least for me, to deliver a satisfactory computing experience. It is always tantalizingly close, as in close enough to make me look again later.
24 • antix-core (by Saleem Khan on 2010-09-06 20:53:36 GMT from Pakistan)
Ref@ 18 antiX-core is great, I am enjoying the KDE4 installed with it .
More about antix is available at
25 • Great donation selections! (by Verndog on 2010-09-06 22:00:10 GMT from United States)
Before I even read this weeks DWW, I want to thank you for selecting Clonezilla and Xiph.Org. Great, great products both!
26 • @21 (by Brandon Sniadajewski on 2010-09-06 23:31:29 GMT from United States)
A good way is to have a little of both, with more questions coming from the readers. It allows us, the readers, a chance to ask questions that may not have been thought of.
27 • DWW (by Landor on 2010-09-07 00:03:57 GMT from Canada)
I have to echo Verndog's comment. Thank you to all the parties involved in the donation to two great projects, CloneZilla and Xiph.Org. They're more than deserving.
Also, thank you for representing our questions, one of which was mine :), in the interview the Dru Lavigne.
On the news. I've been working on a project with my netbook and testing different configurations. I'm using Gentoo both on the netbook and under VirtualBox, but to test out different options/configurations quickly I've been using Debian Squeeze under VirtualBox as well. I first tried their Alpha installer for the netinstal and had a problem, then switched to a daily build. It would seem at least from that Squeeze may have a bit more work.
Regarding the PHD ranking here. Ladislav, is it possible to (I looked for a way briefly) see just one specific distribution's ranking across all the dates available, or even have that placed on the distribution's page? Similar to what you get when you look at the "more statistics" link at the bottom of the ranking on the main page, but as I said, only for one specific distribution. Sorry if I'm creating even more work for you somehow. :)
A great DWW again this week!
Keep your stick on the ice...
28 • @21 (by RS on 2010-09-07 01:09:08 GMT from United States)
"Or write proper documentation."
LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Never seen any!
29 • Jesse- the aborted review? (by captain obvious on 2010-09-07 02:24:42 GMT from United States)
I'd love to see a smackdown review of some garbage distro. If you took the time to download and burn the iso, why not share your views? You don't have to wax poetic about every distro you test-drive... Dig that turd back out and smear it on the wall here.
30 • #27: PHD? (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-07 02:26:40 GMT from United States)
Landor wrote: Regarding the PHD ranking here.
PHD? Is that "Piled Higher and Deeper"? Are you trying to say we have a lot of well educated people here? Just asking...
31 • #29: The problem with "aborted reviews" (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-07 02:30:31 GMT from United States)
There is a price to be paid for writing a less than positive review. The fans of that distro can get downright nasty at times. I did post a couple of well deserved negative reviews based on my experience. The openSUSE 11.2 review immediately comes to mind. I got nothing but grief for writing it. You have to have a very thick skin, be ready to get lots and lots of hate back, and have a high pain tolerance to write one.
32 • @14: I agree about themes (by Dan on 2010-09-07 02:43:18 GMT from United States)
If one of the distros would pick a theme and stick with it a year or two, they would develop more of an identity with users. Microsoft and Apple are both well aware of this. They make changes every 2-3 years, and usually the changes are just minor tweaks. The various Linux distros do nearly complete makeovers every 6-8 months. It's wasted effort, and makes the distro seem more in flux and not established.
33 • openSUSE 11.2 review? (by M. Edward (Ed) Borasky on 2010-09-07 03:30:22 GMT from United States)
Caitlyn, what was the price you paid for your openSUSE 11.2 review? I'm an openSUSE fan, but I would *never* trash a reviewer who wrote a negative review.
I'm still on openSUSE, BTW - running 11.3. I didn't see a lot of major change from 11.2 to 11.3, though. Both of them seem to be well-polished.
34 • @ 31 Thick Skin (by captain obvious on 2010-09-07 03:33:49 GMT from United States)
"Journalism" shouldn't involve the weak. Seriously though. If some clown releases a distro which accomplishes nothing they set forth to do, who is the victim? The newbie who installed it because no counterpoint to their bs was offered, most likely. People using remastersys to tweak ubuntu and release a "new distro" should be dismissed summarily. I see nothing wrong with informing the community about such poseurs. No one knows me, I'll write a scathing review and sleep just fine. Fanbois be damned. Maybe a new standard needs to be put in place for a distro to qualify as such. I propose anyone using remastering tools be denied entry to the list of active distros.
35 • #33 review (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-07 04:17:04 GMT from United States)
@Ed: openSUSE 11.2 was touted by Novell as offering much improved netbook support. In the nearly one year I've owned this HP Mini 110 it is the only distro that has utterly failed to run properly on it. The issues on the other laptop I tried were easily overcome but they shouldn't have been there in the first place. Hopefully 11.3 sorted things out. I haven't tried it yet because I've been really happy with other distros on the little machine.
36 • interview (by x on 2010-09-07 04:56:37 GMT from United States)
Dru Lavigne is and has always been a valuable resource of information. Although this interview mainly focused on PC-BSD, her knowledge of unix-like operating systems and associated issues, coupled with her ability to effectively communicate make her an invaluable resource. I would encourage the experienced and novice to read some of her works. She is a contributor and educator and promoter of open source software.
My thanks to both the interviewee and interviewer for making this available to Distrowatch followers.
37 • RE: 30 (by Landor on 2010-09-07 05:33:32 GMT from Canada)
As I said yesterday, I even enjoy some of my mistakes, today is one of them. :)
I'd certainly agree with that. There's definitely more than a fair share of well educated people here. :) Education as I like to always use this term, is subjective. For the majority there's always something learned that's brought to the table. :)
Let's see what else I can type incorrectly this week. :)
Keep your stick on the ice...
38 • Re: User-submitted questions (by eco2geek on 2010-09-07 06:09:20 GMT from United States)
@21: It was interesting to have reader-submitted questions answered. Thanks for asking, and keep up the good work.
(Re: Austrumi and autologin: It's got an autologin configuration tool in the settings menu, although I didn't install and try it. One thing that took me about 3 times to get right was using the "lang_en" cheatcode. I kept typing in "lang_us" and ending up with the UI in Latvian. Sigh.)
39 • re 4 out of five distros.... (by mikkh on 2010-09-07 09:31:33 GMT from United Kingdom)
Yes it's getting very silly now
I quickly scan any new release announcement to see if the dreaded U word is there
If it is, I don't even bother reading it fully - there's no point
And do we really need to know about Alpha releases on the main announcement section? It's just pure hype and very annoying to read about 4 or 5 alpha releases of Ubuntu when other distros with final or near final releases get reduced to a link in the recently released section and don't get mentioned at all in the main section.
Even the die hard 'fanbois' don't download every alpha release surely?
I don't even want to know about betas personally and think the main window should be reserved for release candidate and final releases only
Do I hate Ubuntu? No, I just don't think it's anything special compared to other Debian clones like Mepis or Parsix
Ubuntu's only claim to fame IMO is the 'wubi' installer, which is fantastic for Linux newcomers and should be adopted by every distro. Are Ubuntu deliberately blocking other distros using it - this is open source right?
40 • @39 'wubi' installer (by DavidEF on 2010-09-07 11:26:14 GMT from United States)
Open source? Yes! Actually, it was developed by some entity 'other than' Ubuntu. I remember when you had to download it separately to use it. But, after all, it WAS developed for the expressed purpose of installing Ubuntu from inside a running Windows environment.
I think there are actually other tools that are available in some other distros that do something similar. In fact, if memory serves me right, WUBI wasn't even the first. But, since Ubuntu is the most popular Linux, it stands to reason that WUBI will also be the most heard-of tool to perform this work.
Maybe someone else can remember the actual names of the other programs or the distros that use them. However, I do agree that distros that don't yet use a tool like WUBI should adapt it and use it.
41 • Real Distros (by Cuda on 2010-09-07 11:53:02 GMT from Canada)
Ladislav woudn't have much of a website and wouldn't get too much advertising income if all the derivatives and clones were removed! At least he has a "Based on:" label on each distros dedicated page.
Most people subscribe to the "Bigger is Better" philosophy - "OMG, Ponies!! There's 1,000 Linux distributions!!!!". Remember the gOS PC sold at Walmart was a mini-itx board inside a full tower case for the same reasoning.
42 • Dirt review (by Jesse on 2010-09-07 12:17:29 GMT from Canada)
"I'd love to see a smackdown review of some garbage distro. If you took the time to download and burn the iso, why not share your views? You don't have to wax poetic about every distro you test-drive... Dig that turd back out and smear it on the wall here."
There are days I'm tempted to do just that. Every so often I find a distro which trips all over itself and results in time wasted. But I don't plan on doing any smackdown reviews. (Though I do get an odd number of requests for them.) I have two reasons for this.
1. A smackdown review is likely to be short. Maybe a page long. If it really does crash and burn there isn't much to write about. How many ways can I write "It doesn't work"?
2. I try to give projects a fair shake. That means if I experiment with something and it mostly works, I'll review it, but if it doesn't work at all.... Well, it could be a bad product or it could be a hardware issue. Or I'm over-looking something, etc... If a project doesn't work on my machines at all I can't do a real review on it. It would just be trash talking.
Which makes me wonder why so many people seem to want to read me rip a distro a new one? Is there really that much anger and bitterness toward developers that you'd want to see me drag their names through the mud just because their creative work didn't mesh with me or my hardware? Why would I want to smear someone's pet project?
I believe there is a fine line between honestly pointing out a project's flaws and just being mean for the sake of.... ego? And I try to stray toward the former.
43 • Mint Debian !!! (by m1k on 2010-09-07 13:00:52 GMT from Italy)
After Sidux departed,finally a good news
I think that will be my new distro!!
VERY GOOD !!!
44 • antiX (by onmypath on 2010-09-07 13:34:15 GMT from Canada)
@17 Edit the default_color line in ~/.conkyrc - I changed to MintCream which gives a good contrast with the background in antiX 8.5. This is (IMO) a superb distro which should receive more acclaim - thanks anti. This is my first post - apologies for any errors.
45 • Mint Debian... (by coman norbert on 2010-09-07 14:22:04 GMT from Romania)
It is realy fast!!!
This release is absolutely fantastic... good job Clem.
46 • Mint Debian (by Henning on 2010-09-07 14:39:09 GMT from Denmark)
Right now I am running it from a usb-stick on my 10 inch Compaq Mini netbook.
It does feel quite fast, even running in live mode from the usb stick.
The release announcement says that you should expect it to be rough and not quite as user friendly as Ubuntu based versions of Mint.
Well, I havent seen anything rough and unfriendly yet.
Flash works out of the box, as far as I can see it has most of the usual applications available by default, and there is Synaptic Package Manager if you want to install more.
47 • Ref 42 - Dirt Review (by dialup on 2010-09-07 16:35:53 GMT from United States)
There aren't that many good, thorough distro reviewers out there. If those objective reviewers don't mention distributions that have significant problems, that's a disservice to readers. I'm not suggesting a full review eviscerating a project. Rather, something like a short other-distros-tried final section that gives positives/negatives.
48 • LinuxMint Debian (by GustavoRybarczyk on 2010-09-07 16:36:06 GMT from Brazil)
Announcement of the Year!!
49 • 31 • "aborted reviews" by Caitlyn Martin and Polls (by Verndog on 2010-09-07 16:39:03 GMT from United States)
I wish DW had a way to have polls, so we could see more user response. I remember that review of suse and all the comments.
As I see it, those hate comments would be negated by having more "hidden" users selecting a poll.
Its much easier to select yea, nay, good or bad on a poll than to write a worded comment. And to prevent multiple votes, make it based on the users IP address coming in.
50 • Austrumi download (by phil on 2010-09-07 16:42:42 GMT from Canada)
I tried to download Austrumi 2.1.6 from their web site. The only link I found for the iso file is a ftp server that require a login/password. I tried various combinations of "Anonymous" and Austrumi, to no avail. I probably missed something somewhere. Could anyone tell me how to download?
51 • @41 • Real Distros (by Cuda on 2010-09-07 16:46:03 GMT from Canada)
After rereading my comment, I didn't mean to offend Ladislav or any readers. There is a use for all the myriads of distros and Distrowatch faithfully organizes, categorizes and reports on them and allows us to compare and make a choice for ourselves. I personally don't understand why anyone would choose Ubuntu or Mint over Debian for example, but that's just me. But after reading some of the excited comments about "Mintian", I don't really want to take the fun away from those that made the comments.
I think some of the U's and M's would really be surprised at how easy things are in the big D. It's almost boring sometimes, when will something break...???
52 • Questions/Developers and PCBSD (by rec9140 on 2010-09-07 16:49:34 GMT from United States)
"That is because developers get tired of answering the same question over and over because a user is too damn lazy to search a forum or google it."
Thats well TOO BAD.. That comes WITH THE TERRITORY! GET OVER IT! Support your software or keep it to your self!
This is one thing I do not tolerate on my forums and mailing lists. While not related to software directly the nature of this sector is cyclical and the same Q's tend to turn up over and over... Some one either chooses to answer or not... BUT...
"Search,RTFM, GISYF" etc.. BS is NOT TOLERATED. You will get banned and removed quicker than you posted that crap. If you have the time to post that then you have the time to post a polite and HELPFUL response... OR DON'T POST!
As for the PCBSD... is this not the same bunch of slimeballs that had a temper tantrum with some one trying to help their distro improve??? Why not ask that Q.? ? ? ? I want hard hitting no punches pulled reporting.. NOT a schmooze fest...
53 • 49 • 31 • "aborted reviews" by Caitlyn Martin and Polls by Verndog (by Cuda on 2010-09-07 16:53:11 GMT from Canada)
"I wish DW had a way to have polls, so we could see more user response."
I think it would be good to have thumbs-up/thumbs-down counters beside each comment. Many news sites use this feature. An easy way for the reviewers to gauge public opinion from the silent majority. And also for commenters to get a glimpse at how their comments are taken - maybe a few of the regulars would change their tone if they knew.
54 • Mint Debian Yay! (by fernbap on 2010-09-07 17:14:28 GMT from Portugal)
"I personally don't understand why anyone would choose Ubuntu or Mint over Debian for example, but that's just me. But after reading some of the excited comments about "Mintian", I don't really want to take the fun away from those that made the comments."
I personally don't understand why anyone would buy pre-made salads in the supermarkets, if they can buy the legumes themselves and then manufacture the salad at home, using exactly the legumes you want.
Am i making my point clear enough? Most of the public buy pre-made salads. Most of the public don't want to spend their time in the kitchen.
And yes, you have an enormous variety of pre-made salads to chose from.
55 • Mint Debian (by GustavoRybarczyk on 2010-09-07 17:21:58 GMT from Brazil)
The reason is simple: the only flaw Mint has (had) is being based on Ubuntu.
56 • @54 • Mint Debian Yay! (by fernbap (by Cuda on 2010-09-07 17:25:20 GMT from Canada)
Do you have any research to show that most of the public buys pre-made salads?
I think we can agree we're dipping into major marketing territory here. There will be certain market segments who prefer to buy pre-made salads because they don't have the time to make one from scratch, can't toss, or have a kitchen phobia for example. And vice versa.
Funnily, I would expect the people who buy pre-made salads would do so in order to have more time to tinker with their favourite distro.
Debian allows me to toss my own salad. :-)
57 • Questions (by Jesse on 2010-09-07 17:35:24 GMT from Canada)
1. I find it difficult to take seriously your insistence on keeping a civil forum with that much aggressive ranting and personal attacks in your post. For example...
2. "As for the PCBSD... is this not the same bunch of slimeballs that had a temper tantrum with some one trying to help their distro improve???"
You're probably thinking of the OpenBSD vs GNOBSD from several months ago(?) I did have an interview with one of the OpenBSD developers earlier in the year and we touched on that topic.
3. "Why not ask that Q.? ? ? ? I want hard hitting no punches pulled reporting.. NOT a schmooze fest..."
In the Q&A section this week, all the questions were supplied by the readers. If you wanted to see a no-punches question, then you should have submitted one.
58 • 56 • @54 • Mint Debian Yay! (by fernbap on 2010-09-07 17:39:44 GMT from Portugal)
"I think we can agree we're dipping into major marketing territory here."
Of course! But that is the whole point of the "Linux on the desktop" concept. You have to cater to the correct target public, and that is in what Linux has failed so far in order to make the Linux Desktop popular and easily accepted by the Destop target public.
DWW commenters are biased by nature, because DW is not ment for the general public in the first place. Don't expect the general opinion expressed in this comments section to represent the opinion of the majority of the public. That's the main reason why so many of the commenters consider the hit rankings here as meaningless, because it doesn't express their own views on how they think things should be.
Personally, i usually buy a pre-made salad and then improve on it, adding my "personal touch". Saves a lot of time and you can also express yourself.
59 • Austrumi so far... (by Josh on 2010-09-07 17:58:10 GMT from United States)
@23: Yea, I understand that more now than when I read your statement. Thanks for the clarification. I was more just making a statement than anything else though. Though, I fully agree with your last statement Caitlyn.
Though Austrumi isn't so far ready, my time with it so far has really intrigued me with some of its features, especially the left click desktop menu and the minimize to icon. Mouse movement across the screen with just those 2 abilities was cut considerably. No going to corner or bottom of the screen for different things all the time. Definitely not ready for prime time, but very promising.
60 • Ubuntu netbook interfac (by Barista Uno on 2010-09-07 18:21:26 GMT from Philippines)
The Ubuntu 10.10 netbook UI looks great. Not too much razzle and dazzle like the ones for Meego and Jolicloud.
61 • Linux Mint LXDE Perfect OS for Netbook (by Linux My Passion on 2010-09-07 18:25:29 GMT from India)
Its my 3rd distro of LXDE that I tested others were OpenSuse's LXDE and Mandriva's LXDE. I felt Opensuse rocks in all department but for novice user Mint and Mandriva is best as they provide free codecs. Internet through GSM 2G/3G enabled phone using Mint and Suse is Awesome while Mandriva fails .......
Read the full review below
62 • Linux Mint Debian (by tdockery97 on 2010-09-07 19:09:05 GMT from United States)
On the surface of your announcement, you make it sound as if LMDE is replacing the Ubuntu-based editions. LMDE is in addition to, not in place of Mint Main.
63 • Shotwell replacing F-Spot (by Luke on 2010-09-07 19:12:39 GMT from United States)
This is a great move in my opinion, as F-Spot is written in Mono and Shotwell in Vala. All other things being equal Shotwell should be significantly faster, and as a bonus it reduces Ubuntu's dependence on Mono.
Yorba's other projects look promising as well. They're completely focused on Shotwell at the moment but it'll be interesting to see what they do with Lombard, their video editor.
64 • your saying (by DAve on 2010-09-07 19:46:03 GMT from United States)
@56 Debian allows me to toss my own salad. :-)
65 • confused (by ray carter on 2010-09-07 20:47:38 GMT from United States)
I'm really confused. When I go to the 'full statistics' page which, I guess, lists all the active distributions, I find nine different variants of Ubuntu, but I only find one Mint. I would think I should either find at leat five Mint variants or only one ubuntu if things are consistent at all!
66 • Linux Desktop Market Share: Debunking the 1% Myth (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-07 21:00:12 GMT from United States)
Here is this week's exercise in shameless self-promotion :) I have a new article for O'Reilly Broadcast on Linux desktop market share with lots of links to sources. Please visit: http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/09/debunking-the-1-myth.html
67 • RE: 65 confused (by ladislav on 2010-09-07 22:20:03 GMT from Taiwan)
We've discussed this many times before, but here are the reasons again:
1. Firstly, most of the official Ubuntu sub-projects (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc.) started out as community projects before being absorbed into Ubuntu. As such, they were added to the DistroWatch database before they became part of the Ubuntu family of projetcs. It just doesn't feel right to remove them now.
2. Secondly, if a project has its own web site and domain, it is considered a separate distro. If it doesn't, it is considered an edition of a distro. Hence Kubuntu is a distro in its own right, while Linux Mint "Debian" is just an edition of LInux Mint.
I am not saying that the above is the "correct" rule for categorising distributions, but that's how things are here at the moment. But no matter how we organise the projects, there will always be readers saying that our way is incorrect and we should use a different method. You just can't please everybody...
68 • Reviews/Interviews (by Landor on 2010-09-07 23:57:10 GMT from Canada)
I'm only one voice out of many here but I prefer the approach that we've seen DistroWatch Weekly maintain for as long as I've been reading here, objectivity with respect and decency.
I personally see no reason to focus on negativity when they key behind all of this has always been community.
The few times there have been anything here even remotely negative it has only fostered that kind of response in kind.
Keep your stick on the ice...
69 • Austrumi download and reviews (by Jesse on 2010-09-08 00:50:25 GMT from Canada)
In response to post 50, looking for the Austrumi download, I just went to their main website and clicked the Download link on the right-hand side of the page. it links directly to an ISO file. I didn't need any username/password to download.
70 • Lightning 1.01.B With Thunderbird 3.1.2 (by Darren Mccormac on 2010-09-08 02:30:53 GMT from Australia)
Just a quick question
I Have trying to get PBI Version of Thunderbird 3.1.2. to work with the included version of Lightning Calendar (1.01B) to Play nicely with each other :-(
Any ideas would be greatly welcome.
71 • RE: 70 (by Landor on 2010-09-08 04:43:28 GMT from Canada)
I just did a quick search and found a person that installed Thunderbird on Ubuntu then tried to install the plugin directly from Mozilla and it didn't work. They then installed it via Ubuntu's repositories and it functioned properly. I know this is PC-BSD we're discussing, but do they have the plugin as a PBI? If they don't, maybe you can request a PBI get built for it and try it out that way.
Hope that helps you somehow.
Keep your stick on the ice..
72 • #68: Negative reviews (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-08 05:17:42 GMT from United States)
I can't speak for any other writer but I know that I never have set out to write a negative review. Based on my previous experience with SUSE I really expected to write something truly positive. It just didn't work out that way. The same was true for my review of Absolute Linux, the only other negative one I did for DWW. Some people I really respect had highly recommended the distro. In both of those cases I believe I hit one bad release from what are otherwise perfectly good distributions. Even the best distros have a bad release now and again if they last for any length of time.
To me what is important in any review is honesty. I am going to report my experiences, both good and bad, as accurately as I can. The net result, as you'd expect, is that most of my reviews are mixed. There is no perfect distro. There are very few that are truly awful. Almost all are somewhere in between. The trick is to highlight what is important to readers, present things fairly, and let people make up their own minds. That's what I try to do. Do I succeed? Not always. I am human after all despite rumors to the contrary :)
73 • The new Mint Debian (by Chris H on 2010-09-08 05:20:44 GMT from United States)
Sorry, I can't agree with you all, that the new Mint is great.
The installer got the value of 'utc' wrong in /etc/default/rcS, screwing up the time.
Sidux had a problem with this also; there you set your time zone on the boot screen.
btw, my time zone is America/Los_Angeles.
Also, the fstab is screwed up.
The uuid of the swap file is wrong.
The root directory of mint is just given, like /dev/sda5,
instead of UUID=12345678...
imho, the new Mint Debian has a lot of rough edges.
74 • General Comment (by x on 2010-09-08 06:45:39 GMT from United States)
Years ago, I was searching for information about the capabilities of various operating systems. This was, and still is a major undertaking. One of things I discovered was Distrowatch's static page. While the information was very limited and only covered a handful of Linux distributions, it was the best available from a neutral viewpoint. It has grown considerably since then and is, with the exception of the rankings and comments, the only non-biased resource for information on open source operating systems.
The comment section sometimes turns in to a bash the competition and promote a particular product, without providing any real support for the statements. It is very easy to criticize others in a demeaning manner.
I am constantly seeing demands for features that actually take considerable time and effort to incorporate into any operating system. No effort or time is spent on the coding and documentation by the requester, just the demand and then the anger at being rejected. Most of these 'requests' do not rank very high on the massive list of priorities of most of the developers.
I do think the instructions for configuration and installation need to be revamped so new users are better able to handle this themselves. This is the main reason reviewers place so much emphasis on how easy a distribution is to install and not much time spent reporting the other aspects of the system. (It would probably take a full year to thoroughly review all aspects of any operating system)
Personally, I am glad to see so many distributions and reviews of the lesser known. Small ones sometimes influence larger ones, certainly the larger ones influence the smaller distributions. The inclusion of the BSD's is important, because a BSD operating system was the first complete open source project. It is a different approach, non the less an important part. The perceived weakness of the BSD style license helped solidify the acceptance of the GPL. Part of freedom is a choice of license options, something certain entities would like to take away.
I am deeply appreciative of the effort Ladislav and others make to present this unique and useful website. Anyone who posts a comment should also be grateful that Ladislav allows us as much freedom and latitude as he does, very few sites are as accommodating.
75 • Re: 49 • 31 • "aborted reviews" ... and Polls (by DG on 2010-09-08 07:15:10 GMT from Netherlands)
""" I wish DW had a way to have polls, so we could see more user response. """
I don't know how this could be implemented, but it would be really useful if there
were some way to add a series of "gizmos" at the bottom of each review. There
would be one "gizmo" for graphics card, one for network card, wireless, etc. Each
"gizmo" would allow the user to select specific hardware from a list, or add other[*],
and then to rate the installation experience for that hardware (works out of the box,
works after manual configuration, only works with major hacking, doesn't work at all).
This would allow statistics for how well that distro performs with different hardware.
And finally there would be a simple "rate this distro" option. [1 IP address - 1 vote]
[*] "other" hardware would be verified by a moderator and added to the list
76 • from the austrumi 2.1.7 desktop - via wireless (by gnomic on 2010-09-08 07:17:55 GMT from New Zealand)
"As with all Slackware-based systems my Intel wireless card was not picked up." Hmmm, this seems a bit on the sweeping side. I had no trouble using wireless on Salix for example using a couple of ThinkPads with Intel wireless. As for austrumi, /lib/firmware has the necessary for a number of Intel wifi chips (2100,2200,3945,4965,5000,5100,5150,6000 also rt2860/70). There doesn't appear to be a gui utility for connecting, but using iwconfig to associate with an open access point and then dhcpcd to get an ip address worked here.
I fear austrumi doesn't really qualify as a distro, it'š a bit too quirky and unfinished for that, I'd class it as a project. Got it to play a VCD (remember them?) with MPlayer but not a commercial DVD, no dvdcss. Nor an audio CD. There is also the oddity around trying to mount a USB stick where /dev/sdb1 does not exist. dmesg shows the device has been recognised but it can't be mounted. Never seen this before. All is OK with drives present at boot. There are a few keyboard aberrations as well,eg having to type the apostrophe twice to get it to appear on screen. It is pretty quick by live CD standards.
It does feature Chromium 7.0.499.0. Maybe one day this browser will be able to handle proxy settings like its fully-grown brethren.
77 • mint debian (by m1k on 2010-09-08 08:05:41 GMT from Italy)
never seen before a system so fast...
78 • @21 (by jake on 2010-09-08 08:53:25 GMT from United States)
"Developers do get tired of answering the same question time and again, but if that's the case they should let someone else answer."
If the question's been asked & answered already in a public place (usually several times), why should it be re-answered? Shirley it'd be better to show the user how to find answers on their own? One proper way of showing the user how to find the answer is "metacrawl it". The problem isn't "providing answers for users", rather it is "users not interested in learning how to find answers". Teach a wo/man to fish ...
"(Or write proper documentation.)"
That documentation already exists for FOSS, by definition. (Yeah, yeah, I know ... see "not interested in learning how to find answers", above.)
"If a developer or support person can take the time to write out a forum response telling someone to Google it or search the forum, they could just have easily spent that time either writing out an answer or providing a link. Taking the time to respond with, "Google it yourself, it's been asked before" not only isn't helpful, but it makes the developer/support person come across as a jerk."
If Mr/s Chowdertrowsers asking the question can't figure out how to dig up the information themselves, especially if they are capable of accessing, reading & comprehending DWW and other similar forums ... Well, again, all I can say is "teach a wo/man to fish". If they are incapable of fishing, let 'em starve ... I don't have time to feed them & theirs along with me & mine ... not unless they are willing to pay me, that is. You might see this as me coming off as a jerk ... I see it as me coming off as a businessman. They CAN get the info themselves, if they want to learn how. If they require my services, I will charge them for it. My time is worth real money.
"On a completely different note, how do people here feel about the format of this week's question and answer section? Do you like having questions supplied by the readers, or do you prefer the standard format?"
I see it as an overall positive ... if nothing else, it will give the interviewer input from both old-timers & newbies (all ignorable), while at the same time allowing the interviewer to choose the overall direction of the interview as finally published. Hopefully the old-timers will structure questions more to educate than to troll ... This could be a good resource for newbies, down the road.
79 • @78 (by Andy Axnot on 2010-09-08 12:39:50 GMT from United States)
Who you callin' Shirley? :-)
80 • RE:78 Where are you talking about? (by Eddie Wilson on 2010-09-08 14:37:16 GMT from United States)
Are you talking about charging people money for info on Free Support forums? You have a choice in not wasting your time in free support forums. Free support forums are not for businessmen. If it's paid support then you are getting paid for your aggravation. I do understand what you are saying and that sometimes it can get real irritating, but it would be better not to answer at all if we feel we have to be rude or come off as a jerk.
On documentation, you are correct when you say their is a lot of FLOSS documentation. Sometimes the documentation is very good. Sometimes the documentation is not complete, is outdated, is hard to find, and so on. Sometimes it's not a matter of being lazy so much as being frustrated you cannot find what you are looking for and asking a question in a forum seems to be the next logical step.
That's why most distro forums now have a Beginners Section. If beginners irritate a person then it's better to stay away from them.
81 • @80 (by fernbap on 2010-09-08 15:43:24 GMT from Portugal)
"but it would be better not to answer at all if we feel we have to be rude or come off as a jerk"
Truer words were never spoken.
82 • What constitutes a 'new' distro? (by Anthony Hall on 2010-09-08 16:31:39 GMT from United Kingdom)
I realise this might appear antagonistic but really its not my intention. There seems to be a lot of 'new releases' that are basically an existing distro with a different wallpaper and one or two apps removed / replaced from some repository or other.
Followed by a 'donate here' button.
Is there some criteria for passing something off as a new distro or can anyone chance their hand with a slight modification of an existing distro?
I'm not saying I could do better myself - I can't which is why I don't bother.
83 • ouch (by Anonymous on 2010-09-08 17:49:49 GMT from United States)
As the Luddite who asked the 'stupid' question I must say the pointing to specific forums was helpful, I mean at a certain point in distro hopping you just start tossing things aside instead of digging into things and giving the level of feedback you know you ought to. After posting the question I did find that the onboard card for my main machine had a known flaw that was addressed in linux by specific help from nvidia, though I doubt that BSD got any of that TLC ported to it. I'll try to bug the manufacturer about it a little, but I have to wonder if there are enough GeForce 6150 SE cards around for it to be worth fixing by the BSD folks themselves. I suppose I'll have to start asking these questions before I buy next time and not just accept the fact that it works with the OS that's preinstalled, or else be SOL again next time.
84 • @77 • mint debian (by meanpt on 2010-09-08 18:07:54 GMT from Portugal)
... sorry ... after some problems with the installer, a huge update with lots of warnings referring missing items, I didn't find it fast at all ... in fact. it's sluggish and even slower than some buntus derivatives I have installed (including he Gnome's UberStudent and the 10.04.01 itself) . Already deleted it. The good? Well, my belief they can do better than this :)
85 • Mint Debian (by fernbap on 2010-09-08 19:05:02 GMT from Portugal)
Definitely o rough edges yet to iron out.
Install went smoothly (See? That's not so hard to make a graphics installer from scratch, is it?). Grub detected my other OSes correctly.
Then updates (276 files to download omg!).
It works well, and at least on my machine it's considerably faster than Ubuntu.
I like it overall.
The main issues are with apps default configs. None of the 3 video players worked, wrong output devices in all of them.
Also, the volume applet in the panel assumed my output sound device was the hdmi interface in my video card. It works well after you correct it, but then defaults again to the wrong device in the next login.
You should always expect some issues in a first release, and i have confidence in Clem's work and believe all these issues will be sorted out quickly.
As this is a rolling release, i expect things to get well in the next weeks.
I like it overall, specially its performance.
86 • Mint Debian (by anticapitalista on 2010-09-08 20:11:00 GMT from Greece)
I tried it out as well and was surprised that they didn't upgrade the apps before releasing this as a stable release. Not a good move IMO.
Having said that, I much prefer it to any of the Mint Ubuntu versions. (I still hate that Mint menu though)
87 • Mint Debian, what is the difference with Mepis, Parsix (by Jan on 2010-09-08 20:55:11 GMT from Netherlands)
I have tried Mint Debian.
There are other fully Debian based distros, like Mepis and Parsix.
I tried Mepis some time ago. I think Mint Debian has more recent packages (Firefox in the most recent version) ?
Can anyone add more experiences to place Mint Debian between the established Debian-based distros?
88 • Mint Debian (by Sly on 2010-09-08 22:21:48 GMT from United States)
I haven't tried Mint Debian yet, but the move by Clem, if successful, would put Mint on par with Ubuntu. (both would be Debian based) The next logical evolution is for Mint to become an independent distro. Of course it to do that takes time and resources, but I think it's great!!!
89 • Re:80 (by jake on 2010-09-09 05:51:38 GMT from United States)
"Are you talking about charging people money for info on Free Support forums?"
No, of course not. (Where in mine, or the one I was replying to, was "Free Support" mentioned, BTW?) What I'm talking about is showing people how to find the answer for themselves (if it already exists), *without* providing the actual answer, or link to the answer. Spoon-feeding "how the world works" isn't exactly a good way to teach humans once they are old enough to be capable of rational thought. Remember, these people are (in theory) embracing the concept of FOSS, to the point of joining a forum to find answers.
On the other hand, I'll happily spoon-feed you if you want to pay me. I've made a pretty good living rolling out Slackware-based solutions at businesses & schools over the last dozen years or so ...
"On documentation, you are correct when you say their is a lot of FLOSS documentation."
ALL of FOSS is fully documented. That's the point of "open source" ... you can actually get the source code, and read it for yourself. It's not my fault if you can't read the source ... That's gap in your education, not mine.
"That's why most distro forums now have a Beginners Section."
Whole 'nuther kettle of worms ... those "most distros" that you speak of aren't trying to teach their new users how to use Linux, rather they are trying to teach the newbies their distro's way of doing things. Kinda like Redmond & Cupertino. And for the same reasons.
90 • @72 Human And Quite Lovely, Besides Brilliant! (by casanova on 2010-09-09 06:04:18 GMT from United States)
I`ve been seeing a lot of Caitlyn Martin around lately, from reviews here and the O`Reilly site with a very pretty picture included. I just installed VectorLinux and the credits mentioned a Caitlyn as a repo maintainer. Was that you, Ms. Martin? I must say the combination of intellect, beauty and knowledge gives me hope for our species.
91 • @90 • @72 Human And Quite Lovely, Besides Brilliant! (by meanpt on 2010-09-09 10:06:22 GMT from Portugal)
:) ... cof, cof ... is it telepathy, or what? ...
92 • Dint 9 (by zygmunt on 2010-09-09 11:38:32 GMT from United Kingdom)
UNetbootin using Mint 9 debian DVD iso gives a bootable USB pen drive. Live USB boots very speedily! Install unproblematic apart from GRUB boot loader which has no option to install it in the boot partition. On my 2 disk machine the order of the disks seems to change from distro to distro, so I didn't want to wreck my current boot loader. Have not found a chainloader to work yet on the mixed multiboot GRUB/GRUB2 distros installed. Guess it will have to be patched up using grub-setup from one of them after mounting the Dint 9 partition for access.
93 • 92 • Mint 9 Debian (by zygmunt (by meanpt on 2010-09-09 12:35:55 GMT from Portugal)
... more strangely, I did find the live session from the ISO runs faster (and better) than the installed version ... go figure ...
94 • RE:Didn't Mean To Offend (by Eddie Wilson on 2010-09-09 12:57:59 GMT from United States)
Sorry Jake I didn't mean to offend you. I just have different views than you do and I believe my views are correct. Source code is not "documentation" in my opinion, rolling out Slackware-based solutions is not teaching in my opinion, and I don't agree about the "most distros" statement you made. This is just the way I feel about things and of course these are just my opinions which carry no weight for anyone else. Even tho I may not agree I do respect yours and others opinions. There's no further need for debate. BTW I haven't needed spoon feeding since the late fifty's so I'll pass on that.:)
95 • #93 (by zygmunt on 2010-09-09 13:43:29 GMT from United Kingdom)
... memory faster than hard disk??? better??? don't know!!!
96 • @94 I wouldn't apologize (by Dan on 2010-09-09 15:32:13 GMT from United States)
People like Jake are what is keeping Linux confined to nerds. He's likely one of those guys who thinks only CS majors should use linux, and that normal people just dumb it down.
97 • @90 Human And Quite Lovely, Besides Brilliant! (by Mr. Martin on 2010-09-09 16:22:15 GMT from United States)
Comment deleted (off-topic).
98 • Mint9DEB (by capricornus on 2010-09-09 16:43:41 GMT from Belgium)
I liked Mint7 a lot, and Mint8-was-a-wait, but 9=mine. I run the 32 and 64 GNOME version. But DEB got the Sidux-feel: it runs faster than any before. I ran and run it on a Px2 cpu with Nvidia gc, enough memory and SATA disk, DualScreen (1440x900 x2), PowerLine direct VDSL, and I had no problems whatsoever. The 276 upgrades surprised me, that's true. But after the 10 more minutes, who cares? I think it is good for Mint and good for DEB to have a nicely made alternative, user friendly, newbie friendly.
But please, let someone do something about GRUB2: an annoyance IME.
99 • Caitlyn Martin (by casablanca on 2010-09-09 17:21:43 GMT from United States)
Comment deleted (off-topic).
100 • @94 & @96 (by jake on 2010-09-09 18:33:23 GMT from United States)
94: I'm not offended, far from it. Source *is* documentation, even if you (and many others) don't read that particular language. Me rolling out Slackware isn't intended to be teaching, it's intended to make me money. For more, see below ... Agree or disagree about my take on "most distros", but it's true. Same for Mac OS; most Mac users don't know anything about BSD, any more than most *buntu users know anything about Linux. They know how to use the GUI interface, but they don't have an understanding of how the underpinnings work. And please note that I don't think that's a bad thing!
96: Far from it. I've been settling people into UNIX[tm]-like desktops for around thirty years. Frankly, the more the merrier ... Since moving my Wife, my techno-phobe 70+ year old Mom, and techno-can't 95 year young Great Aunt onto variation of Slackware targeted specifically at their needs, support calls from them have dropped from 4 or 5 a month each, to virtually none. Now, instead of visiting Mom & Auntie several times a month to "fix my Windows, please", the Wife & I visit them on alternate weekends for tea. (They live about 100 miles from me, in opposite directions.) Much nicer.
Please note that ANY amount of documentation won't help most of the userbase. After nearly 40 years in computers and networking, I've come to the conclusion that people just aren't equipped to understand technical terms, even of the most basic nature. For an example, remember all those VCRs blinking "12:00" or "88:88" back in the '80s & '90s? Even today, I can't tell you how many times I reset the clocks in people's microwave ovens ... and you expect people to come up with usable documentation for something as complex as a typical Linux distro?
Shirley it would be far better to come up with a distro that just works. The *buntus and derivatives are doing just that, but they are doing it in a way that I don't like. I'm an old pre-BSD UNIX[tm] hack, and I don't like the shovelware/kitchen sink approach. Is my Slackware solution right for the masses? Probably not ... I bought the hardware & targeted the users in question's specific needs. Not everybody has an old-school hacker in their back pocket. Is there an answer somewhere in the middle? Probably. IMO, it'll probably act a lot like a Mac.
Why Slackware? Because my fingers know it ... I've been using it for over 15 years, since Mark Williams Company was obviously about to close down. Prior to that, I had been using Coherent (desktop) and BSD (servers) ...
 I had to plug a new USB printer into Mom's machine a few months ago, but to be fair I'd have had to do that under any OS ... She's afraid to plug anything into her computer by herself.
101 • RE:100 Any BSD's now on your desktops? (by Eddie on 2010-09-09 19:06:11 GMT from United States)
Have FreeBSD installed now and working well. I believe that PC-BSD is about the same. Are you currently using any BSD's in a desktop capacity?
102 • Re: 101 (by jake on 2010-09-09 19:40:00 GMT from United States)
No. I run BSD on the servers only. Most are headless, a couple have serial terminals, all can be controlled through a serial multiplexer from a dumb terminal in my office, or from a terrminal session running on my deskdop computers.
I have looked at the desktop BSDs recently, and all I can say is "about time, guys!". I will probably install a copy on a spare computer or three in my CopiousFreeTime[tm] ... I've always liked BSD, since before it was BSD :-)
103 • BSD (by David on 2010-09-09 19:53:28 GMT from United States)
I know you didn't ask me, but I use openBSD as my desktop. My desktop is a Toshiba laptop and everything works except for my TI Multi-media card reader. I don't use flash so this has not been a problem either. Wireless is solid using wpi0 and the firmware written by Damien Bergamini.
BSD in my opinion is far superior to Linux. And openBSD is by far the best BSD in my opinion. A lot of other distro's (linux) could learn a thing or two about proper documentation from the BSD world.
104 • Re: 103 BSD vs. Linux (by Sly on 2010-09-09 20:22:25 GMT from United States)
Please give us a few nuggets to back up your statement of why you believe BSD is superior to Linux. I haven't ventured into BSD territory, but if I ever do, it would be nice to have a little background.
105 • BSD (by David on 2010-09-09 20:42:39 GMT from United States)
Code quality = fewer bugs!
106 • Source & Documentation (by Squalphin on 2010-09-09 21:39:42 GMT from Germany)
If you would be a full time programmer you would know that source != documentation. It's a lot faster to grasp what a particular code does by reading a good documentation about it, than just reading the code. Especially when an application has around 20k lines of code which is not uncommon. I don't think that anyone could just start hacking on linux just by reading the code. This could take ages.
Also if code only would suffice as documentation, we wouldn't need any comments in our code. But without comments it can be very hard to understand what a coder before you did. Of course reading both, code and documentation together gives the best results.
107 • Re: 106 (by Sly on 2010-09-10 00:01:46 GMT from United States)
Yea....lot's people are happy with Linux for some reason.... So, I think many would take you to task for that broad statement. So you still haven't given me anything for me to hang my hat on.
108 • @106 (by jake on 2010-09-10 00:14:27 GMT from United States)
"Good documentation", yes. But that documentation seeks to describe a fast-moving target, especially in the FOSS world. Fool's errand? I think so, at least at this stage of the game. Far better to make systems easy to use for kernel coder & newbie alike.
It'd be nice to write code to documentation, but it doesn't work that way in the FOSS world ... For what I think are obvious reasons.
Agree on better/more comments in source ... even hints would help occasionally ... I've seen some real doozies (along the lines of "Don't touch this, ever, it works even though nobody can figure it out anymore.") ... And yes, C isn't as easy to read as your average post in DWW's comments section. But some of us have been working with both C and the kernels since their inception. At least the syntax doesn't give me headaches like Aramaic, Latin & Koin Greek ... Other computer languages are also fairly easy to parse. Probably helps that I've written compilers for a dozen or so languages ... It's all ones & zeros when you boil it down. Complex, yes. Complicated? Not so much.
109 • Documentation (by Landor on 2010-09-10 00:29:35 GMT from Canada)
There's some fine projects that produce an amazing amount of documentation for Linux. Everyone has to remember that Linux is simply Linux, no matter the machine it is on, to a degree of course. A lot of things in Linux don't get dated either. An example, using mke2fs to create a file system, extremely straightforward. For those things that do get dated you apply information from one distribution or project to the one you're using, if it lacks adequate documentation.
I think in all fairness we have to try to remember that some projects are really smal (many cases one individual) and don't have the resources to both build a distribution and fully document it.
Keep your stick on the ice...
110 • The importance of documentation (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-10 05:14:49 GMT from United States)
I'd like to echo the comments by Squalphin and Landor: documentation is invaluable and important. Many developers hate to document things and their products are the poorer for it.
I don't know how many times I've been contacted by a headhunter or told by a potential client that my stressing my documentation skills on my resume has been something that impressed them. I wrote 50+ page standard configuration documents for a government agency, more security audits than I care to remember at the moment, and, of course, lots of article for O'Reilly and DistroWatch. The fact that I not only am willing to document but highlight it as a strength for me has opened doors, even during this difficult economic period. For example, it looks like I landed a new client this week (doing remote administration and maintenance of clustered Linux servers) and both the CEO and the systems admin who did the tech screening commented on my willingness to document my work.
Yes,it is true that some Linux newbies won't understand all the docs. Writing a good getting started guide is a special skill all its own. One of Ubuntu's great strengths is good documentation top to bottom. The same is true for Red Hat. IMHO that contributes to their leadership on the consumer desktop and in the enterprise respectively.
111 • @ documentation ... (by meanpt on 2010-09-10 11:01:31 GMT from Portugal)
.... and you're all right about this. But Jake put the finger on the right place: "But that documentation seeks to describe a fast-moving target, especially in the FOSS world.". And this isn't still a unsolved issue ... it's harder than the highway business: you invest to build and continue to invest in maintain and upgrade it ...
112 • RE: 110 - 108/111 (by Landor on 2010-09-10 23:58:07 GMT from Canada)
In our community documentation can be in many forums, especially man pages. They've been around forever and in most cases will suffice. I know most people would prefer to read documentation in some form of a text or .html file though. I learned most, or all of, what I knew early on in my computing experience by just issuing -h after the command. I'll admit though, even I don't read man pages or do the former at all really any more. :)
I know of another person that is proficient in writing documentation and proudly expresses their abilities in their work too, Daniel Robbins from Gentoo. I think that's one of the reasons why Gentoo has good documentation. I wouldn't doubt he was part of the driving force behind it.
I think for a lot of projects, unless they are rather large the developers have to consider a lot of things. For a project that has maybe 10 developers, they all can't be in the IRC or forums solving problems, developing new releases of a distribution or application, and writing documentation. Usually when you're doing one thing you have to put the other off for another time. That's usually the case for documentation since it's almost always the least in demand at the moment. As you pointed out Jake, most people will go and ask a question first before reading. That puts the primary focus on the forums and IRC.
Keep your stick on the ice...
113 • Re: 112 / man pages (by DG on 2010-09-11 08:19:44 GMT from Netherlands)
"""In our community documentation can be in many forums, especially man pages."""
But these days when FOSS might be targeted at more that just Linux/BSD,
a simple man page is just not enough to reach all possible users. However,
I thought it a sad day when the GNU people decided to move away from man
pages in favour of info pages. Yes, a huge man page can be hard to navigate,
but having to learn emacs (or vi) key bindings to be able to read info pages is
really overkill for new users, especially non-programmers moving from M$.
114 • RE: 113 (by Landor on 2010-09-11 09:29:19 GMT from Canada)
It's true, a lot of distributions are trying to target a broader audience. For reading man or info pages Konqueror had (has with KDE 4?) the ability to pull either one up. You'd type either man:mke2fs or info:mke2fs, in the address bar. Just another thing Konqueror had/has the ability to do.
Keep your stick on the ice...
115 • Man and info pages (by Jesse on 2010-09-11 14:20:58 GMT from Canada)
Konqueror does indeed still have the man: page option in KDE4, though I don't think Dolphin does. Konqueror may not be outstanding at any one task, but it's a wonderful multi-purpose tool. The only thing it doesn't do is make me breakfast.... though I'm hoping my eggs:// patch makes it upstream someday.
I agree with the previous poster that the info pages are a pain to navigate. I much prefer to either have a simple man page or HTML-based documentation. The info pages feel like some sort of weird middle ground where no one wins.
116 • #115 xman (by Caitlyn Martin on 2010-09-11 15:20:15 GMT from United States)
Many distros also have xman, a GUI man page browser, which is not at all difficult to navigate and does not require KDE libraries.
117 • RE:115 (by Anonymous on 2010-09-11 15:28:07 GMT from United States)
Yes I agree about info page reading.
I have found for me, a good alternative; "pinfo".
This info reader uses lynx style navigation and makes reading info much easier.
It also seems to render the pages "nicer" for me.
Although man and info pages abound, I usually preferr good readme's in the doc/"package" directory.
An even better bonus is when good example usage is found there.
This makes it easier to understand how a totally new package (to me) works.
Sometimes when all you have is a man page which only shows the basic command line flags, the same info as using "command -h or --help", this does not help very much and I usually turn to books or the net for more enlightenment.
When I am just browsing documentation, I preferr using mc's built in viewer, very fast and scales well to large xterm sizes; again it too I have set up for lynx navigation.
Thanks DW, and yes this has been a better issue this week.
118 • sidux to aptosid (by Chris H on 2010-09-11 21:57:07 GMT from United States)
When I ran smxi today, there was the announcement
that sidux has become aptosid. http://www.aptosid.com
Perhaps Ladislav can cover the story.
119 • Sidux to aptosid? (by Gene Venable on 2010-09-12 00:10:16 GMT from United States)
yikes, I haven't run SMXI yet today so I didn't know Sidux has changed names or gone under.
It would be nice to see DW coverage of this.
No wonder people were looking at the Linux Mint Debian variant for a substitute for Sidux.
I have always disliked the Sidux crew based on my experiences with them, but I still liked Sidux itself. Sorry to see it go.
120 • RE: 115 (by Landor on 2010-09-12 01:01:01 GMT from Canada)
Thanks for the information on it still being there Jesse. Another feature I always liked about Konqueror was being able to set up the right click menu to open a terminal in the current directory. An act of laziness on my part, but a valued option none the less. :)
Actually, I've been looking at different file managers and this was one of the things I was happy to see as a default option in PCManFM, though from the menu instead of the right click menu, that I remember.
Keep your stick on the ice...
121 • Ref#115 Konqueror (by Verndog on 2010-09-12 02:06:44 GMT from United States)
Konqueror does have many faces. I also am amazed at its utility.
A log of what it can do I end up trying because someone mentioned it in passing.
I really should read up on its docs. Its not just a browser.
122 • Re: Sidux (by Brandon Sniadajewski on 2010-09-12 03:21:35 GMT from United States)
I just ran over to sidux.com and it does say that the sidux project is dead, and that aptosid was set up almost immediately afterwords.
123 • kongoni ? (by RollMeAway on 2010-09-12 04:44:33 GMT from United States)
Tried the new release. That is I booted into the live DVD and started the installer.
I chose hdb, it is already partitioned, and said 'done'.
Prompted me: Do you want to format hda2? ...Hell no, why do you ask?
Gave up after a couple of tries.
If I read the release note correctly, sounds like it will install grub2 to the mbr of hda,
"Whether you like it or not" !
Can't find any forum or mailing list, comments are disabled on the webpage.
No feedback possible.
Strike three. YOU'RE OUT!
124 • sidux -> aptosid (by anticapitalista on 2010-09-12 12:22:13 GMT from Greece)
aptosid is sidux renamed. The devs and the sidux.ev fell out, sidux.ev wanted to keep the name sidux so the devs just rebranded their product from sidux to aptosid.
125 • Tiny Core (by Togo on 2010-09-12 13:51:19 GMT from Germany)
DistroWatch's finest moment was the excellent interview with Tiny Core founder Robert Shingledecker in the March 23, 2009 edition of DW. I hope Mr. Shingledecker's health is holding up and he is feeling well.
126 • Moving from Slackware to Crux (by Robertd on 2010-09-12 18:43:23 GMT from United States)
It has only been a little over a month since I started using Linux (Slackware) and I have learned a hell of a lot. However, I think I am ready to dig a little deeper under the hood. I do not think I am ready for LFS but have decided to try Crux.
Has anyone had any experience with this distro? I like the keep it simply philosophy and I am already use to the BSD init-scripts from using Slackware so I think the transition should not be terribly difficult.
Number of Comments: 126
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