| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 398, 28 March 2011
Welcome to this year's 13th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Red Hat, Inc., the world's largest and most profitable Linux company, has once again surprised the markets with excellent results. With the company being one of the largest and most influential developers of open-source code, many of us, Linux users, stand to benefit from this enormous and perhaps unexpected success. We cover the company's 4th quarter financial results in the news section. Also in the news, the development of Fedora 15 continues with some pleasant surprises for those who dislike the GNOME 3 user interface, Arch Linux responds to the recent criticism of its package-signing practices, Mageia continues to impress early testers despite the alpha status of its first release and PC-BSD's Kris Moore details the changes in the PBI package format in the upcoming PC-BSD 9. The feature story of this week's issue takes a quick look at GhostBSD 2.0 and Kororaa Linux 14, while the Questions and Answers section deals with wireless connectivity. All this and more in this week's DistroWatch Weekly - happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First looks at GhostBSD 2.0 and Kororaa Linux 14|
This past week I sat down with two ISO images from two projects with the intention of installing them both and writing about whichever one happened to interest me more. However, my schedule took a turn for the hectic and I ended up getting just two days with both projects. I felt both systems were well put together and deserved some attention, so I would like to present my first impressions of...
* * * * *
I had a look at GhostBSD last year when it was in its early stages and, at the time, it was essentially FreeBSD with the GNOME desktop layered on top. The project offered a live disc only as there wasn't any system installer yet. The project has since gained an installer, moving it out of my mind's "technology demo" category. The project's ISO image weighs in at about 1.1 GB and comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours. The GhostBSD website has undergone a big facelift in the past year and I like the new look. There's more information available now, including tutorials and a helpful community forum that welcomes English and French speakers.
The live DVD boots into GNOME 2.32 which has a background that reminds me of the northern lights. The application menu sits at the top of the screen along with some quick-launch buttons and an icon for the system installer is displayed on the desktop. Launching the installer brings up a virtual terminal window where we're shown a series of text prompts and expected to type our responses. The installer is fairly short and doesn't require much knowledge of the BSDs. The experience is much the same as installing OpenBSD -- the interface is simple, but provides us with sane defaults so we only need to provide a minimal amount of information. After confirming which hard disk we want to use, we set a new root password, create a regular user account and pick our preferred shell. After we make it through all the questions the installer copies its files over to our hard drive. I was hit with several disk mount errors while the copying was in progress. When the process was completed I found that, errors aside, the installation had completed successfully.
Rebooting the machine brought me quickly to a green-lit GNOME login screen. Upon logging in I found that GhostBSD comes with a fairly standard selection of software. In the application menu we find Firefox 3.6, Pidgin, and the Thunderbird e-mail client. For office work we have AbiWord and Gnumeric. We're given a movie player, audio player, disc burner and image viewer. There is a system services launcher, account configuration tools and a screen reader. We're also treated to the usual GNOME configuration apps and the GConf settings editor. There's also a graphical package manager and I'll touch on that further down. The only problem I ran into was launching Firefox. The menu launcher, and the quick-launch button, run a script that is supposed to start Firefox. On my test installation the script didn't work. I changed the short-cut to point directly to the Firefox executable and the application worked without any further problems. (This same issue wasn't present when I was working from the live disc.) The OS doesn't include a Flash player, but it does have codecs for playing popular video and audio file formats. We also find the GNU Compiler Collection installed by default. At the base of all this software is FreeBSD-8.2.
GhostBSD 2.0 - adjusting the settings
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Software can be added to GhostBSD through the FreeBSD Ports Collection. This provides users with a little over 20,000 available packages. By default GhostBSD doesn't include a local copy of the Ports tree (which allows users to install ports from their source code), but does include package managing utilities to help acquire pre-compiled software. Pre-compiled binaries can be downloaded using the command line program pkg_add and, for people more comfortable with a graphical interface, GhostBSD comes with a graphical front-end for package management. The GUI is a fairly straight forward tool that is divided into two parts. On the left side of the package manager window are two tabs for displaying installed or available software. On the right side we're given dependency information for any selected packages with buttons to add or remove the highlighted software. I didn't spend much time with the GUI front-end, so I can't comment on its functionality, but the layout and options seemed clear enough.
Performance while using GhostBSD was good, better than I had expected. The GNOME desktop was very responsive, boot times were good and everything ran smoothly. I found the high contrast theme with bright window buttons appealing and didn't experience any crashes. When running from the live disc I found about every other boot-up that my keyboard would stop working. Usually rebooting would correct the issue.
I would have liked to have spent more time on GhostBSD. The project has a pretty good selection of software, from what I've seen so far the performance is good and the package manager puts a friendly face on the Ports Collection. I would like to see more effort go into making the system installer user-friendly and the keyboard bug was an inconvenience, but otherwise things worked well.
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Kororaa Linux 14
The Kororaa Linux distribution is one I had not tried before, but this project has also been through some big changes recently. The Linux distro, run by Chris Smart, was previously a Gentoo-based project aimed at end users. Now the project, which continues its goal of being user-friendly, has been reborn as a Fedora-based distribution. Mr Smart has laid out reasons for this move on the project's website and gives his views for why Fedora makes a good base for Kororaa.
The distribution provides two flavours, GNOME and KDE, which are offered in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. Each of the available ISO files is just over 1 GB in size and I decided to use the 32-bit KDE option for my tests. At first, booting from the live DVD feels just as it would booting plain Fedora 14. The underpinnings are the same and the Anaconda system installer is the same. One difference that stands out is the Help icon on the desktop. This icon opens a PDF file, giving us some information on where to find assistance, links to frequently asked questions and contact information for the project. There is a second icon for launching the system installer and a third called Add/Remove Extras. This last icon gives us the ability to quickly add a Flash browser plugin and ATI & NVIDIA video drivers. It's nice to have these optional non-free items available with just a few mouse clicks.
After the installer has copied the necessary data to our hard drive and the first-run wizard has prompted us to create a user, set the time & date and submit our hardware profile upstream, we're turned over to a graphical login screen. Logging in presents us with a KDE 4.5 desktop that includes the familiar "glass breaking" Fedora background and the same Help and Add/Remove extras icons we saw before. One area where Kororaa sets itself apart from its parent distro is in the selection of software installed by default. Fedora's live ISOs are limited in size so as to fit on a single CD, but Kororaa provides a heavier disc and it allows for more software.
For instance, LibreOffice 3.3 is included, as is Firefox 3.6, the VLC multimedia player, KTorrent, a blogging client, a micro-blogging client, two more video players, two audio players, a CD player, the GIMP and various image viewers. We're treated to a handful of KDE games, the Deja Dup backup tool, several utilities for managing and trouble-shooting SELinux and KPackageKit for handling packages and updates. The application menu additionally includes the various useful Fedora system tools for handling services, users, printers and network configuration. We're given codecs for playing popular multimedia formats, the GNU Compiler Collection and Java. In the background we find the 2.6.35 Linux kernel running the show.
Kororaa Linux 14 - running Ksplice
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In relation to the kernel, Kororaa is the only distribution I'm aware of that ships Ksplice in the default install. The Ksplice tool allows us to apply security updates to a running Linux kernel without rebooting. In theory this allows us to keep our systems up to date without taking the machine offline. Which brings me to a question that rattled around in my mind while I was trying out Kororaa: Who is this distribution targeting? The website says it's trying to make things easier for new Linux users while still being useful to more experienced Linuxers. I'll agree with the latter point. There's lots of software on the DVD, while I was using it the OS generally stayed out of my way, the distro comes with developer tools and the cutting-edge Fedora lies underneath it all, so I see the appeal to experienced users. However, the easy for new-comers aspect, I think, is only halfway there right now.There's helpful documentation available and the desktop environment is laid out with some nice, big icons for web browsers and shutting down the machine and these are good. Having codecs and easy-to-install extras is also good for beginners.
However, there are characteristics here I think will be unappealing to novice users. The application menu is stuffed with software and that's a double-edged sword. We can find almost anything we want, but we have to dig through a lot to find it and I think future releases would benefit from pruning the application menu a bit. The default GUI package manager is KPackageKit and it's an application that, in my experience, isn't stable yet -- hopefully it will get traded in for something else soon. And, being based on Fedora 14, Kororaa's current release will only be supported through to around November 2011, making for a short life span. For the most part I've enjoyed Kororaa and I hope the next release trims down some of the extras in order to take the one-app-per-task approach.
* * * * *
One other thing I'd like to talk about briefly is tribalism in the open source communities. The open source world has its rivalries, lots of them. Some of them have gone on long enough and with enough heat they're almost jokes (GNOME vs KDE, vi vs Emacs, GPL vs BSD, RPM vs DEB). Quite often it's the users of these applications that get into heated arguments, but as we saw a few weeks ago with the GNOME & Canonical debates, developers and project leaders can get involved too. And I think this sort of behaviour is really unfortunate for a few reasons. First, it shows, despite the good will behind the open source philosophies, we can still be petty, uncommunicative people. We might all be working with similar ideals in mind, but a small difference of opinion or a misspoken word is all it takes for the walls go up and the gloves to come off. Second, I think it's harming the open source developers and users with duplicated work.
I'm not speaking of reinventing the wheel. Every so often I think starting from scratch with a better design (while painful at first) can be just the thing to improve technology. As an example, I completely support having both the GNOME and KDE projects. Yes, both are desktop environments, but they have quite different approaches and both designs have merit. I think the same applies to the popular web browsers. Firefox and Chromium both show us web pages, but they have different ways to tackle the task and I think that's good. It's healthy to have variety and competition. Where I think tribalism hurts us is in the "not invented here" mindset -- a reimplementation of the same wheels, rather than a reinventing. It results in duplication of work and incompatibilities, neither of which are good for the users.
I think a good example of reimplementing the wheel is ZFS. Due to the license on ZFS it was possible to port the file system from OpenSolaris to FreeBSD, but not to Linux. This resulted in various projects being created to give us a ZFS Linux kernel module and ZFS-FUSE. Another licensing example is FreeBSD's move to replace its text processing tools with virtually identical tools under a different license. Likewise there's the BSD ELF Tool Chain project to replace the GNU versions of those same tools. Each of these examples features an open source project being re-written, not to improve upon the technology, but because of licensing or philosophical differences.
Another, more day-to-day issue I've run into is the way the GNOME and KDE desktops store their preferred applications in different ways. Let's say you set your preferred web browser in KDE. Applications written for GNOME aren't aware of it and will open links in a different browser until you also change your GNOME preferred application settings. This is an area where we really should have one common method to store and retrieve settings, but the two camps seem unwilling to cooperate. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be a matter of different projects wanting to go their own ways. The Fedora project has been sampling various unfinished front-ends for their package manager for years like a digital Goldilocks while Yum Extender sits on the side-lines.
What's I'm driving at is, I think, that we should all make an effort to stop thinking of my distribution, my web browser and my license against their distro, their browser and their license. Reviewing at least one distribution each week has caused me to see the same problems being solved over and over in the same way, duplicating effort where we could be focusing energy on exploring new territory. I think we should all try to lower our walls a little and work on finding solutions that can be applied across distros, across operating system and even across licenses.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Red Hat increases profits, Fedora adds GNOME 2 style, Arch responds to package-signing criticism, Mageia status report, PBI format in PC-BSD 9
A pleasant surprise awaited Red Hat shareholders last week as the world's largest Linux company reported record revenues in the fourth quarter of 2010. Even better, it seems that Red Hat, the producer of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is on target to become a billion-dollar company in 2011: "'With record bookings and billings in the fourth quarter, we are on a run rate to become the first pure-play open source company to achieve a billion dollars in revenues next fiscal year, a milestone achievement for Red Hat and the open source community,' said Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst in announcing the results." This is good news for the open-source development community since Red Hat is probably the largest contributor and employer in the sector. Nevertheless, the negativity surrounding its source-code "obfuscation" to make it harder for competitors to rebuild Red Hat Enterprise Linux continued last week: "One area where Red Hat has been facing competition is from clones of its own RHEL operating system. Oracle Enterprise Linux as well as the community CentOS both use RHEL as the base. Starting with RHEL 6, Red Hat has moved to make it more difficult for the clones in the way it packages the RHEL Linux kernel."
* * * * *
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is of course based on Fedora, a new version of which is presently undergoing heavy development. Here is a brief update on the current status of Fedora 15: "I've noticed a few changes that came with some updates yesterday that I wanted to share. Fedora 15 appears to have incorporated all of the upstream GNOME 3 changes; the experience is exactly like that from the GNOME 3 live beta based on openSUSE. They added a way in the GNOME 3 Shell System Settings to switch back to the GNOME 2 style desktop which has been polished up some. Fedora has also added some additional artwork for non-GNOME desktops. The GNOME 2 style fall-back desktop in GNOME 3 isn't exactly like the previous GNOME 2.32 desktop but it is fairly close. There are some elements from GNOME Shell present, such as the window styling and decorations (although you do get the minimize and maximize buttons back). You can place application buttons on the top panel but none are there by default. There isn't a right-click desktop menu and the System Settings are from GNOME 3. Although the fall-back desktop mode is a bit different than the older GNOME 2.32 desktop, the changes they have made should go a long way to make GNOME 2 die-hards a little happier."
* * * * *
Arch Linux might have become one of the most popular rolling-release distributions on the market, but it continues facing criticism over its package signing (or lack thereof) practices. Dan McGee, the lead developer of Arch's Pacman package management tool responds to some of the recent accusations in a long blog post entitled "The real story behind Arch Linux package signing": "On June 1, 2008, a day that will live in infamy, the very first patch dealing with package signing showed up on the pacman-dev mailing list. ... What happened next was typical of both Pacman development and OSS development in general- the original contributor of this work sent a few more patches, stopped responding to requests to fix issues in the work, and left it in our laps. For the maintainer of a project, being dumped on like this is never a great thing, but at least here the work was in good enough shape to fix up and commit to a GPG branch for later use." The author also takes offence with a well-known website (LWN.net) for publishing an article on the subject before concluding that package signing in Arch Linux is still on the cards: "With Pacman 3.5 out the door and 3.6 in development, package signing is not falling out of the spotlight. Instead, three different merges plus additional follow-up commits have already taken place of the code that in some cases is 2.75 years old."
* * * * *
Mageia is a distribution that many current and former Mandriva users keep watching in the hope of switching to it as soon as its inaugural release turns stable. Following the first two alpha builds, it looks like the distro is starting to fulfil its promise: "On September 18, 2010, in response to Mandriva's liquidation of its 'Edge-IT' subsidiary and the attendant lay-off of a substantial share of its developers, a group consisting of former Mandriva developers and Mandriva community contributors announced their intention to form a non-profit organization and release a fork of Mandriva Linux called Mageia. Six months later, on February 14, 2011 the alpha 1 version of Mageia 1 was released, two months later than originally planned. However, the alpha 2 release was right on time, appearing a month later on March 15, 2011. How is the Mageia 1 release shaping up? This status report takes a look at Mageia Linux 1 alpha 2 release (updated daily), from a KDE-user perspective." And the conclusion? "I really like the way Mageia is shaping up. I plan to continue with Mageia on my laptop, which I'll be taking with me to the Northwest LinuxFest Conference at the end of April. For an alpha 2 release updated to an imminent beta 1 release, it's becoming very stable. The repositories are getting deep, and the performance is remarkable."
* * * * *
Finally, a quick link to a technical article detailing the changes in the PBI packaging format of the upcoming PC-BSD 9, a desktop operating system based on FreeBSD. Written by Kris Moore, the project's founder and lead developer, the article (PDF format) was presented at the AsiaBSDCon 2011 in Tokyo, Japan earlier this month: "The PBI format (Push Button Installer) has been the default package management system for PC-BSD going on 5+ years now. However, as we looked to the future it became apparent that it was greatly needing an overhaul to both improve its functionality, and expand its usage outside the scope of just PC-BSD. Among the areas needing improvement were how it dealt with identical libraries between applications, the heavy requirements from being implemented in Qt/KDE, and lack of a digital verification mechanism. Starting in April of 2010, work began on reimplementing the PBI format to address these issues, and greatly expand upon its usefulness as a package management system for both PC-BSD and FreeBSD. From this work the pbi-manager was born as a subset of command-line functionality for dealing with every aspect of PBIs, from building, installing, distribution and advanced management."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
All about wireless
Since early 2010 I've been using a laptop made by HP as one of my test machines during reviews. In recent months several readers have pointed out, quite correctly, that the wireless card in this laptop doesn't work with the majority of distributions I test. This has led to various comments and questions about the laptop and its wireless card. Rather than reply to each of these comments individually each week, I decided to collect them and try to answer all your questions at once.
Before I get to the Q&A, I'd like to point out that my reviews consist of my observations and opinions using my hardware. At no point have I meant to imply that my experiences will be the same as another's. That is, where one distribution works well for me (or doesn't work well), I don't expect the same to be true for anyone else if they're using different equipment. My observations that various distros do not automatically detect my wireless card are not attacks on the distributions. I strongly suspect that your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.
What kind of notebook are you using?
I'm using HP's G60-530CA. The wireless card is an Intel WiFi Link 1000. Running dmesg on my machine gives the following identifying details on distributions that work with the card:
iwlagn: Intel(R) Wireless WiFi Link AGN driver for Linux, 1.3.27k
iwlagn 0000:02:00.0: Detected Intel Wireless WiFi Link 1000 Series BGN REV=0x6C
iwlagn 0000:02:00.0: firmware: requesting iwlwifi-1000-3.ucode
iwlagn 0000:02:00.0: loaded firmware version 220.127.116.11
The lspci command reports on the device as follows:
Network controller: Intel Corporation WiFi Link 1000 Series
Does your wireless card work with any distribution?
Yes, indeed it does. I don't have a complete list, but if I recall correctly the following distributions have worked very well with this machine: KNOPPIX, Ubuntu and almost all children of Ubuntu, such as Linux Mint, Peppermint and Wolfer Linux. The exceptions to the Ubuntu rule so far being Trisquel GNU/Linux (a libre distro) and Bodhi Linux).
For that matter, I'm sure it's possible to make the wireless work with any distribution if one is willing to do a little research and downloading. However, I don't think that readers of my reviews would benefit from a detailed description of how to get my hardware working.
Is your wireless card broken?
No, it's working just fine. I use this same laptop for other tasks besides testing distributions and I make use of the wireless card several times a week. Though I haven't done a thorough investigation, I think most distributions simply don't ship the required firmware in their default install. According to this Debian document, the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 1000 driver was introduced in the 2.6.27 version of the Linux kernel, but the firmware is non-free. I suspect that most distributions don't ship the non-free firmware in their ISOs. This theory is supported by dmesg errors saying iwlwifi-1000-3.ucode cannot be found when running non-supporting distributions. That being said, I have found that recent versions of FreeBSD do ship the required driver & firmware, but for some reason the firmware doesn't get loaded automatically. Users have the option of manually loading the module to enable the device.
Why not use another computer for testing?
Two reasons. The first is that I refuse to change a test to improve its outcome. We see that sort of behaviour all too frequently in the North American education system and it does not yield positive results. I've established that the card is in working order and the proper software/firmware exists to make it function on Linux and FreeBSD. If developers want their distribution to work with this card, they can support it. On the other hand, if there are reasons that they are not supporting the card out of the box, that's okay, but I'm not going to change my hardware to match their priorities.
My second reason is that I don't see the hardware section of my reviews to be all that important. Almost everyone reading this is using a different combination of hardware. I mention my test hardware and experiences with it as a frame of reference only. Since other people are using different hardware, we're likely to have different results.
Does the front-end software matter? Does using wicd give different results than Network Manager?
In short, no. On distributions where my wireless card is picked up right away I've found I can use either wicd or Network Manager to connect to the network. On distributions where the card isn't picked up by one application, it isn't picked up by the other. As a side note, I don't recommend trying to run both Network Manager and wicd at the same time. In my experience the two tend to conflict.
You're on the HP payroll.
More of a statement than a question, but I'll run with it. I'm sorry to say that HP has never offered to pay me for... well, for anything, now that I think about it. They certainly haven't shown any interest in paying me to mention that one of their notebook models has a wireless card that doesn't work with most Linux distributions out of the box. I'm sure that their advertising department can come up with better ideas. Of course, should HP offer to send me a new notebook with a more freedom-friendly wireless card, I'll be happy to write about their generosity.
|Released Last Week
GParted Live 0.8.0-5
Steven Shiau has released a new stable version of GParted Live, a Debian-based live utility CD designed primarily for disk partitioning task, with some data rescue tools added into the mix. From the release notes: "This is GParted Live 0.8.0-5. New in this release: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository (as of 2011-03-21); the Linux kernel has been updated to 2.6.38; package OpenSSH was added in this release, by default the SSH service is not started, and if you want to start it, make sure you have change the password and the file /etc/hosts.deny; bug fixed - a workaround was added to make setxkbmap work.". See also the changelog for a complete release history.
Trisquel GNU/Linux 4.5
Rubén Rodríguez has announced the release of Trisquel GNU/Linux 4.5, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution built from free (as defined by Free Software Foundation) components only: "Our latest version is ready for download. It includes a lot of updates, along with an overhaul of the development process which was largely upgraded to simplify automation. This improvement made it easier to apply changes to the upstream packages, leading to a much more polished result. Along with many bug fixes, 'Slaine' comes with a new boot manager for live images, an improved installer which showcases the project highlights, and new programs like the Remmina remote desktop client, the social network client Gwibber or the backup tool Deja-dup. 'Slaine' is based on Ubuntu 10.10, the main packages include: Linux-libre 2.6.35, X.Org 7.5, GNOME 2.32, Mozilla-based web browser 3.6.15, OpenOffice.org 3.2.". Here is the full release announcement.
Trisquel GNU/Linux 4.5 - a 100% "libre" distribution based on Ubuntu
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Zenwalk Linux 7.0
Jean-Philippe Guillemin has announced the release of Zenwalk Linux 7.0, a Slackware-based desktop distribution featuring the new Xfce 4.8 desktop: "Zenwalk Linux 7.0 is available for immediate download. Still desktop, Internet and multimedia oriented, Zenwalk 7.0 is a milestone in the evolution of the distribution. This release brings several major changes at user level and system level. At user level, the Xfce desktop environment has been updated to major version 4.8.1, coming with a new VFS, Xfce 4.8 allows CIFS and SFTP shares browsing through the file manager, making it mostly feature equivalent to GNOME while still a lot faster. The new panel has good support for transparency, and is packaged with many plugins out of the box. We are pleased to announce that OpenOffice.org will be replaced by LibreOffice.". Read the rest of the release announcement for full details.
Zenwalk Linux 7.0 - a major new version of the popular Slackware-based distribution
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Bodhi Linux 1.0.0
Bodhi Linux 1.0.0, the first stable version of the Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the Enlightenment 17 window manager, has been released: "After two more weeks of hacking and user feedback since our final release candidate the Bodhi Team and I are proud to announce the availability of the first ever Bodhi Linux Stable release (1.0.0). This release includes a couple of minor bug fixes and a few final touches polish-wise. For a full change log see here. The first thing you will notice when starting the newest Bodhi disc is that our Plymouth (boot splash) has a sleek new look. In addition to the standard Plymouth being reworked, a text-based Plymouth is now installed by default so older/virtual systems no longer display the harmless 'missing library' message that had looked tacky in the previous versions." Read the full release announcement for more details and several screenshots.
Bodhi Linux 1.0.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with Enlightenment
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Foresight Linux 2.5.0
Og Maciel has announced the release of Foresight Linux 2.5.0, an rPath-based, rolling-release distribution featuring the Conary package management and a choice of three desktop environments: "Foresight is a Linux distribution for your desktop that features a rolling-release schedule that always keeps your desktop up-to-date, a revolutionary package manager, the latest GNOME, KDE and Xfce desktop environments, and an innovative set of excellent, up-to-date software applications. What's new? GNOME 2.32.1, KDE 4.6.1 and Xfce 4.8; Linux kernel 18.104.22.168; the very latest and greatest Chromium and Firefox web browsers, Banshee, F-Spot, OpenShot, Hotot, Pidgin, Gimp...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
Foresight Linux 2.5.0 - the GNOME edition comes with GNOME 2.32
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* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- Dream Studio. Dream Studio is an Ubuntu-based distribution containing a collection of applications for creating stunning graphics, captivating videos, inspiring music and professional websites.
- Tulga GNU/Linux. Tulga GNU/Linux is a new Turkish distribution based on Slackware Linux. The project's website is in Turkish.
- WhirlWind. WhirlWind is a WiFi wardriving live CD containing a collection of open-source and proprietary wireless security applications. Previously a commercial distribution developed by Futures Inc, WhirlWind is now available to private individuals as a free download.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 4 April 2011.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Reinventing the wheel (by dragonmouth on 2011-03-28 10:07:57 GMT from United States) |
Jesse, don't you think having 680 distributions in the Distrowatch database, with another 239 on the waiting list, re-inventing the wheel? How many of them are, for all intents and purposes, duplicates? How many of those distributions are nothing more than vanity distros, created just because the "developer" could create one and so the "developer" could get his 15 minutes of fame? Choice is good but there comes a point of diminishing returns where the message gets lost in the noise. With so many distros around, there is a lot of noise.
2 • Zenwalk 7 and PCBSD 9 (by Mathew John Roberts on 2011-03-28 10:18:36 GMT from United Kingdom)
I've been with zenwalk since the 2.6 days and I have to say that the 7 release is the best i've tried in quite a while. It looks very stylish and has everything I need in it's repo (the only distro i know that has adom in its default repo). Pity firefox 4 didn't make the release. Very much awaiting the 8 series since then they will finally have x86_64 support!
Also I am eagerly anticipating the 9 release of pcbsd. xfce has always been my desktop of choice and its great that they are making pbi tools desktop agnostic.
As a side-note I can't wait for a stable release of openindiana.
Very exciting to see all this free software development!
3 • 680 distributions (by forlin on 2011-03-28 10:33:15 GMT from Portugal)
"...there is a lot of noise"
I do not agree. There are 320 active distributions, it\'s very easy to see it above. Natural user selection is what makes a distro keep active, or go to oblivion. If something need to be changed, its about taking out dead distros from the active list.
So far, the criteria to allow distros to go into the database, looks correct. Look at what happened to distros that were added this year to the database and confirm its true.
For a site like DW, there is only one good criteria to allow new distros in: they must proof to have enough infrastructures to support the users: a site, a forum, and a wiki is the least to be required. From that, everybody will have the means to go there and get information to help him to make a decision.
4 • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 1000 (by Bernard Fuller on 2011-03-28 10:48:47 GMT from United Kingdom)
Odd, that business about the iwlwifi-1000-3.ucode not being in place in some distributions.
Out of curiosity I've just look in a Fedora 14 install and it's there waiting to be called. If it's in Fedora I doubt it's licensing that prevents its inclusion in other distributions.
5 • Revealed at last - that pesky Intel wifi that wouldn't (by gnomic on 2011-03-28 11:19:02 GMT from New Zealand)
Thanks Jesse for 'coming clean' as promised on that hitherto mystery Intel wifi which often doesn't work - not a model I've encountered personally. Just happen to be using antiX M11 rc1 at present, I see /lib/firmware has the requisite firmware, so when you do a review of antiX wifi should be all good :-) Guess I've been lucky in having a couple of machines that use ipw2200 which seems to be just about always present in distros supplying firmware with one or two oddball exceptions - looking at you, Archbang.
Maybe it could be worth trying to acquire a USB wifi stick which doesn't require firmware provided such a beast can be identified (eg with ath5k) and this could be an alternative way of testing wifi when the intel doesn't work. Anyone know of a suitable candidate amongst the plethora of brands? It's not easy to know what is hiding inside the casing, and the makers often seem reticent about disclosing this info. I've been thinking of trying to find such a device myself.
Distros do vary quite widely in what firmware they include or exclude, some for ideological reasons obviously, and some I fear because the machine they tested on didn't have the Wotsit wireless so nobody else needs it either . . . .
6 • Re #3 680 distributions (by DG on 2011-03-28 11:29:57 GMT from Netherlands)
"For a site like DW, there is only one good criteria to allow new distros in: they must proof to have enough infrastructures to support the users: a site, a forum, and a wiki is the least to be required. From that, everybody will have the means to go there and get information to help him to make a decision."
I work with Lunar Linux, which is a small and still active source based distro, but if you were to look at the forum and wiki you would be forgiven for thinking it dead. We have had to block the forum and wiki because we just don't have the manpower to keep cleaning out all of the crap added by the spambots. So having an active forum and an open wiki is not necessarily a good measure of an active distro.
If you want help with Lunar, go to the #lunar irc channel and be patient: Remember that many people do not share your time zone and working hours...
7 • Link bad (by Omari on 2011-03-28 11:33:59 GMT from United States)
The link on reimplementing the text processing tools is leading to a useless page--must have changed just recently.
By the way, I don't see how reimplementing the tools to avoid the GPL is useless. Same goes for the problems with ZFS. It's interesting that you point out two issues that both ultimately arise from the use of the GPL, which is a highly restrictive software license.
8 • BSD licensed text tools (by Omart on 2011-03-28 11:36:19 GMT from United States)
I think you want this:
9 • Wifi and licensing (by Jesse on 2011-03-28 11:48:07 GMT from Canada)
>> "Out of curiosity I've just look in a Fedora 14 install and it's there waiting to be called. If it's in Fedora I doubt it's licensing that prevents its inclusion in other distributions."
That's interesting because, if I remember correctly, Fedora 14 didn't detect my wireless card. It could be that Fedora is like FreeBSD in this regard and includes the firmware, but does not properly detect the device for whatever reason.
I also must point out that some distros (like Debian) do not include the firmware precisely because of the licensing. (See the links I provided in the article.) Also, I don't think Fedora strips firmware from their distro, they've always seemed to be willing to ship non-free blobs to get hardware working. See this page for details: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/FirmWare
10 • Dream Studio (by Thom on 2011-03-28 11:54:06 GMT from Sweden)
Checked out Dream Studio's web site. Saw out they use Tomboy. That means Mono. So, one less distro to try. :-)
:-( :-( :-( three souries for Ubuntu's decision to include Mono.
11 • #9 iwlwifi-1000-3.ucode (by anticapitalista on 2011-03-28 12:40:05 GMT from Greece)
In Debian it is in the non-free repo packaged under firmware-iwlwifi (0.29)
12 • My personal thanks ... (by meanpt on 2011-03-28 10:55:41 GMT from Portugal)
... for such a well written and informative issue. As a noob I would like to see an upfront statement from distro developers on what graphic and wifi cards work out of the box. without having to dig in wikis, forums or whatever labyrinth documentation such a critical information is presented. Me too I'm the owner of an HP with a different wifi card than yours and so far only one distribution could put it at work almost out of the box in live mode, by alloing me to choose a "kernel safe settings" session. And that was a very good start :) in my relationship with that distribution.
13 • Re: #4 Intel Wireless WiFi Link 1000 (by Sitwon on 2011-03-28 12:49:48 GMT from United States)
> Out of curiosity I've just look in a Fedora 14 install and it's there waiting to be called. If it's in Fedora I doubt it's licensing that prevents its inclusion in other distributions.
There's a big difference between the licensing that prevents a firmware from being legally included in a distribution and simply not being "non-free". In the case of Intel's iwlwifi driver, the firmware blobs are entirely legal to distribute with any distro. However, Intel does no provide the source code for their firmware binary-blobs, nor do they explicitly condone modification of the firmware. That last part is what the libre distros are objecting to.
Interestingly, as another Linux users pointed out to me over the weekend, Intel's "non-free binary blobs" are apparently written in Intel's own very well documented machine language. So the binary code is, in his words, "as good as source code".
14 • response to "Reinventing the wheel" byDragonmouth (by John Biles on 2011-03-28 13:13:59 GMT from Australia)
Quote "How many of those distributions are nothing more than vanity distros, created just because the "developer" could create one and so the "developer" could get his 15 minutes of fame?" Been working on TEENpup now Legacy OS for over 4 years now, still no fame! I want to help those who can't afford a new PC so hence I give about 40 hours a week of my time to develop Legacy OS as well as having a full time job. Just because there are hundreds of Distro's out there doesn't mean you have to try each one.
15 • Pandoras Box...OPENED! (by DerFuzzy on 2011-03-28 13:56:37 GMT from United States)
"here are characteristics here I think will be unappealing to novice users. The application menu is stuffed with software and that's a double-edged sword. We can find almost anything we want, but we have to dig through a lot to find it and I think future releases would benefit from pruning the application menu a bit."
I do not understand this position... MORE IS BETTER!
The more software in there READY TO GO for the NOVICE the BETTER...
Or would we rather run new users into the reinforced concrete wall of D E P E N D E N C I E S ! And the resultant torture ESPECIALLY on RPM based distros.
I see this all the time in distros putting up "rules" that there will be one APPLICATION per function! And if my choice is not one of them? And its a PITA to install? But was there in prior versions of the distro? ? Or paring down to a CD... DVD's are where its at.
Thats a good way to turn off LONG TERM USERS for an influx of new user, who will shortly leave any way. Why? Because they couldn't install something, get hardware to work, or simply don't understand that Linux is a replacement OS, not a free version of some other OS.
"One other thing I'd like to talk about briefly is tribalism in the open source .... Second, I think it's harming the open source developers and users with duplicated work."
This really opened the box... and while I agree to a point... I use things like KDE for a reason... I won't go any further, except that some of this is good for Linux, but some of it is bad, and really bad... Such is the nature of when you involve humans in projects. Some don't just get along, and never will.
16 • Re #1 "Reinventing the wheel" (by russoodle on 2011-03-28 14:08:09 GMT from Australia)
I think that, to an extent, Dragonmouth has a point about there being "a lot of noise" and some egotists might be desperate for their 15 minutes of fame.
I also agree with forlin (#3) that "natural user selection" will weed out those without some useful substance, so their "fame" or recognition is likely to be very short-lived and even more quickly forgotten.
We may be spoilt for choice, but ours is the freedom to make the choices for ourselves; Distrowatch helps to make us aware of what's out there and the individual takes it from there, so i'm not complaining.
Regarding #14.....You, John, definitely do not fall into the "vanity distro" category -- your Legacy OS is useful to many and has a strong user-base, from what i've observed on the forums and from my server-logs. It's got some staying-power so far, as it's one of the most popular, most-consistently-downloaded from my site over the past couple of years.
17 • Distro Titles (by Rich on 2011-03-28 14:24:09 GMT from United States)
Jesse, would it be helpful if, when you test a distro, that you have some check boxes like Newbie, Intermediate, Expert, to identify the level the distro is aimed at?
Then just check all that apply.
Or, would that create too much noise?
18 • Tribalism (by art on 2011-03-28 14:27:52 GMT from United States)
Thanks for the editorial comments. I agree with you completely - we could use much less of the divisions that exist and the duplications of effort.
The beauty of Linux is choice.
19 • Arch Linux & package signing (by pera on 2011-03-28 14:57:50 GMT from Serbia)
I think security issue is a bit overrated. Arch Linux is far more secure than Windows,but again most of people use Windows and Internet Explorer(ActiveX) for e-banking.
20 • RE: 5 - 19 (by Landor on 2011-03-28 15:11:34 GMT from Canada)
Here's a USB wireless dongle from TP-Link that is supposedly ath9k: TP-LINK TL-WN722N IEEE 802.11b/g/n. It's only 150 Mbps but it's also fairly cheap with an expandable/removable antenna.
What does Window have to do with a free open source Linux kernel based operating system? Why even reference it?
I personally don't care what people do, or do not do with Windows. On top of that, Security issues for Windows has absolutely zero to do with security issues in the free open source community. In this community if a distribution has a security flaw then it is a big deal until it is fixed. Knowing that the packages do indeed originate from a trusted site, by a trusted maintainer is of paramount importance to anyone with even the most limited understand of security issues and safe practices. Far too often we've seen packages tampered with and it was unknown for a very long time. Even once is far too often.
Keep your stick on the ice...
21 • 19 • Arch Linux & package signing (by Robert on 2011-03-28 15:43:44 GMT from United States)
it is way overrrated. There have been 2 cases in 20 years of package tampering.
22 • @21 (by Fewt on 2011-03-28 15:51:03 GMT from United States)
Do you mean 2 discovered cases? If the packages haven't been signed, and there is no mechanism to validate the signature, there really isn't any way to tell that anything has changed.
23 • RE 19 (by KimTjik on 2011-03-28 15:56:10 GMT from Sweden)
I've never seen any Arch developer deny the virtue of package signing. That or some better technique will eventually be used to tighten repository security. It's not a question about whether such enhancements should be implemented or not, but how.
The fuzz mentioned is isolated to the question of how to implement it. For some reasons a number of individuals decided they didn't like the way Arch developers. There's nothing particularly unique about such differences in opinions. Hence there's no need to diminish the question, just as there's no reason to exaggerate the current situation, and a comparison with Windows serves no purpose.
Package signing won't make a system secure. It might however, if well implemented, be a valuable tool among others to secure a system.
24 • Firware and novice-friendly (by Jesse on 2011-03-28 15:58:39 GMT from Canada)
>> "In Debian it is in the non-free repo packaged under firmware-iwlwifi (0.29)"
Yes, I linked to the package in the article for people who are interested. My comment in post 9 was talking about default installs and firmware on ISO images.
I do try to, in general, make mention if I think a distro is really novice friendly. However, as the comments here often show, people have widely differing views on what qualifies as newbie-friendly. I think if I assigned checks or adopted a rating number system it would just cause a lot of argument.
25 • GhostBSD Installer (by Flip on 2011-03-28 15:59:13 GMT from United States)
Be sure to read all documentation before trying the installer! It is actually a good installer but read the instructions. Of course I know everything there is to know about Linux BSD=not LOL and just started installing the system and it ate my homework LMAO>>>
Note I am not blaming the developer not their fault it is all my fault I was not familiar with the installer just trying to save someone some trouble read ppl
26 • RE: 21 - 23 (by Landor on 2011-03-28 16:07:22 GMT from Canada)
Do you have any data to back that up? If so, why didn't you reference it in your first post? I can think of two cases in around the last 12-18 months alone. You're trying to tell me those are the only times it's ever happened? In 20 years, it's only happened in the last 18 months or so? Like I said, I'd like to see the data.
I have to disagree with the last part of you comment. For a lot of people their distribution's repository(ies) is(are) their only means of security when it comes installing a package. Installing packages from a trusted source only is thee most critical step in having a secure system. It's the most fundamental of safe practices for making an operating system secure.
Keep your stick on the ice...
27 • firstname.lastname@example.org (by John Carter on 2011-03-28 16:25:24 GMT from United States)
"Red Hat Enterprise Linux is of course based on Fedora,..."
Isn't this statement bass-ackwards?
Good points after the reviews though.
28 • RE 26 (by KimTjik on 2011-03-28 16:25:47 GMT from Sweden)
I don't disagree with you in general terms, however sad that possible truth might be. It's however not applicable to the audience discussed in this specific example.
29 • Distro testing and hardware (by Jay on 2011-03-28 17:14:21 GMT from United States)
Since each distro has its own philosophy the value of the testing oby DW is to give a feel of the distro. I am more interested in the overall feel, is the distro well done, and what is its goal. Highlighting that a distro has hardware support problems to me is an alert that to use it I may need to do a little more work to set up my hardware.
I have an old computer with an ancient video card that I sometimes try distros on. Some have problems with the video card being obsolete, some work fine with no problems, and a few I can easily tweak the video driver to make it work. Another computer I have has an odd ball sound card that I have set up manually, it is enough of an odd ball that Windows drivers are spotty for it but Linux distros do support it with some simple configuration.
Another note, I have an old Bluetooth dongle I can get to work in Windows but works fine with Linux, go figure.
30 • Much ado about nothing (by Robert on 2011-03-28 17:30:56 GMT from Czech Republic)
Can you name more than the 2 cases in the last 18-24 months? Only one package actually got into ONE distribution out of the 300 plus distributions. The sky is not falling. 99.999% of hackers go for the easy target with the most users ie Windows.
31 • @27 (by Don Sanderson on 2011-03-28 17:33:09 GMT from United States)
Fedora is the 'test bed' or 'technology preview' for Red Hat.
Those features which prove useful, stable and supportable make it into Red Hat proper eventually.
32 • @Robert - 30 (by Fewt on 2011-03-28 18:04:28 GMT from United States)
Were our comments over your head? You have no reasonable method to discover that a package has been compromised if it is not signed with a private key, you only know of two because someone stumbled on to them. FYI, one of the bad packages (unrealircd) was found in Arch and Gentoo. Not one distro, but two distros, and that package was there for over nine months.
33 • RE 32 (by KimTjik on 2011-03-28 18:31:46 GMT from Sweden)
"You have no reasonable method to discover that a package has been compromised if it is not signed with a private key..."
Unfortunately a key doesn't prove integrity either. Just as package repositories can be hijacked so can keys. Keys have been compromised, case proven, but still it's a good safety measure to at least make it a bit more difficult for ill intentioned individuals.
Your example about unrealrcd is misinterpreted. The cause was to be found upstream, as the original file was comprised, in this case replaced. It wouldn't have mattered how much signing Arch, Gentoo or any of the other affected applied. All users - independent of distribution, and if that distribution made use of signing or not - were effected if installing a compiled package based on the compromised original file.
I don't know whether UnrealIRCd developers, as they themselves suggested, implemented signed keys to at least try to safeguard the original file. Somewhere however in the chain, signed or not, it's a matter of trust.
If a discussion is to be productive we better avoid twisting circumstances to prove something they don't.
34 • @33 (by Fewt on 2011-03-28 18:41:50 GMT from United States)
A non-compromised key proves integrity. They can be stolen, yes. The point is to make it more difficult.
Fair enough about unrealircd.
35 • Android 3.0 source (by Tidux on 2011-03-28 18:57:31 GMT from United States)
Android 3.0's source code isn't publicly available yet. Could some DW staff member/reader with a Honeycomb device make a source-release request to Google? I believe they're obligated to release it to owners of the object code, if not the public, by the terms of the GPL.
36 • CentOS late (by Anonymous on 2011-03-28 19:02:13 GMT from United States)
the community CentOS uses RHEL as the base. Starting with RHEL 6, Red Hat has moved to make it more difficult for the clones in the way it packages the RHEL Linux kernel
Please stop making excuses for the lateness of 5.6 and 6.0. CentOS is clearly a hobbyist project ran by people that want to pretend they are being professional by not communicating with their user base.
37 • GhostBSD installation (by Michael on 2011-03-28 19:02:50 GMT from United States)
I tried to use the GhostBSD installer without any success. It didn't even attempt to recognize my hard drives. It needs major work.
38 • A typo? (by WalterMedak on 2011-03-28 19:31:46 GMT from Canada)
Reading about Fedora 15, I saw the following: "Red Hat Enterprise Linux is of course based on Fedora". Shouldn't read that Fedora is based on Red Hat? :)
39 • Zenwalk 7 and display (by Jozsef on 2011-03-28 20:00:27 GMT from United Arab Emirates)
Unfortunately with Zenwalk 7 I didn't get the expected resolution for my integrated Intel graphic card on motherboard. With version 6.4 it was working fine. I really like Zenwalk but now I'm using Salix. Salix asked me to choose the resolution I want, during installation. That was cool.
40 • @38 a typo (by Jozsef on 2011-03-28 20:06:10 GMT from United Arab Emirates)
I was thinking about the same thing long time already. Because even on Red Hat page, here on Distrowatch, it says it's based on Fedora :D Confusing and funny.
41 • Red Hat and Fedora (by Jesse on 2011-03-28 20:39:44 GMT from Canada)
@27, 38, 40
Red Hat is downstream from Fedora. Software is tested in Fedora first and then the good bits are used to make RHEL. What confuses some people is that Red Hat (the company) sponsors Fedora development. So Fedora is funded by Red Hat (the company), but RHEL is a derivative of Fedora.
From the Fedora Project website: "Fedora is already the foundation for derivatives such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the One Laptop Per Child XO, and the Creative Commons Live Content DVDs." -- http://fedoraproject.org/en/about-fedora
42 • Not "GNOME 2 style" (by Adam Williamson on 2011-03-28 22:40:11 GMT from Canada)
GNOME 3's fallback mode is not 'GNOME 2 style'. It exists to be used on systems which cannot run GNOME Shell for technical reasons - same deal as Unity 2D. It's intended to function as similarly to Shell as is practically possible; although it uses gnome-panel and metacity, you can't expect it to work the way these components did in GNOME 2. Where practical it will be tweaked to work more like Shell.
43 • @#3 Forlin (by dragonmouth on 2011-03-28 22:45:30 GMT from United States)
"There are 320 active distributions"
And 239 distros waiting in the wings. Can you state positively that all those 559 distros are distinct and unique? I am willing to bet that the differences between more than a few are so insignificant that in effect the distros could be considered duplicates.
44 • @14: John Biles (by dragonmouth on 2011-03-28 23:11:46 GMT from United States)
You're sounding a mite defensive, John. I did not mention any particular distro by name.
"Just because there are hundreds of Distro's out there doesn't mean you have to try each one."
That is a self-defeating attitude. If everyone decided not to try any distro beyond the Top Ten most downloaded ones, the rest would die due to lack of interest, yours being among them. Aren't all those distros developed to be tried? If they aren't meant to be tried then they are vanity distros.
45 • Re 39 • Zenwalk 7 and display (by Jozsef) (by urubu on 2011-03-28 23:28:59 GMT from France)
XFCE allows to setup the X resolution withing 3 mouse clicks...
46 • @44 (by Fewt on 2011-03-28 23:31:25 GMT from United States)
> Aren't all those distros developed to be tried?
I'm not sure they are developed just to be "tried", though that is a nice side effect. Many of them, like mine (Fuduntu) for example were created to solve a particular problem. In my case, never expected anyone to use Fuduntu but myself but now we have hundreds of members in our forum 8 people on the team, and thousands of users. It's pretty cool.
We are on the list, and we are extremely active. I'd bet we aren't alone in this regard.
47 • ndiswrapper (by Candide on 2011-03-28 23:38:49 GMT from Taiwan)
Jesse, I was a little surprised that you didn't mention getting wireless working with ndiswrapper. Perhaps that would be a good topic for a future article.
48 • ref 43, ref #3, ref #1 (by forlin on 2011-03-28 23:41:16 GMT from Portugal)
My point was about the number of distros in the database, those who have an announcement at the front page when a new release is made available and their "page hits" is tracked. At the bottom of the p.h.r map, pressing "more statistics" will bring a page with all distros in the database. They're 320.
To the public who visit DW, these are the visible ones. At random there's less changes to find "duplicates" among 320 than among 559, but that was not my point at all.
Two distros may be very similar today, in terms of software offering, but very different at everything else, including their projects for the future. Means that being similar isn't necessarily a bad thing. It may lead to more competition and innovation, which is good for everybody.
Nothing of that can be achieved by those who are only looking for their 15 min. of fame.
49 • A zillion distros (by fernbap on 2011-03-29 00:28:08 GMT from Portugal)
This whole discussion is getting silly.
You walk into a shirt shop. What do you prefer? Having only one shirt of each kind to chose from, or being able to chose between many shirts that are alike, except for small details?
I could add examples like this one ad eternum, but i hope you catch my drift.
50 • @27,@38,@40 (by JR on 2011-03-29 05:26:23 GMT from Brazil)
Fedora came from the source code of the Red Hat a while ago to split the community distribution of commercial distribution, so it's safe to say that the first version of Fedora is based on Red Hat
That said, from then on, Red Hat has incorporated elements of future editions of Fedora, then, it's like based on fedora.
To serve as a comparison: Fedora it's like opensuse, Red Hat it's like SUSE Linux Enterprise. It's just a comparison to try to clarify things ...
or complicate them :)
51 • RE: 28 - 33+34 (by Landor on 2011-03-29 06:18:23 GMT from Canada)
That's a pretty broad statement. From the years of reading this section alone I can honestly say that there have been statements made by many people that they knew little of the internals of the operating system, let alone Arch's structure, but tried it none the less, blindly, and worked towards having a working system. That tells me that although people can state that any given distribution has a target audience, it doesn't always fit. Newcomers can easily be involved as well, and it's those newcomers that should be taken into account the most. I'm sure you can't deny that there are people running Arch with only a rudimentary understanding of what they're doing. :)
Fewt, you shouldn't have digressed so easily on that example. I'll explain.
unrealircd is a perfect example of why signing is important and a major issue. First, let me explain that the developers of unrealircd stated that they themselves stopped signing and such of the package because other people didn't check so basically it was a wasted effort. That in itself denotes that downstream (distributions) failed to check if the package was valid, continually. It shows that there was, and is, a lax attitude within our community towards such security measures. It was this attitude that led to the package being compromised.
Without signing, without ample security measures, any package 'can' be compromised and finding out that it has been gets that much harder. With the fact that any server can be compromised, and the files therein, signing is an appropriate step to ensure that each and every package can be verified. I would go as far to say that without signing, Arch is showing a similar lax attitude towards security that the unrealircd team showed.
A big part of that lax attitude in our community is the erroneous believe that's invulnerable to attacks/intrusions, in whatever form. Ever system is vulnerable, every system can be abused in such a manner. I believe that distributions, from the lead developers, right to all package maintainers are responsible for ensuring the validity of their packages. Being oblivious to the real dangers shouldn't happen, being lazy and not verifying upstream packages, then not signing your built package for your distribution shouldn't happen. That's a disservice to everyone, and one that can potentially bring real harm to a lot of people. I'd also say that if an upstream package cannot be verified it shouldn't be distributed by a downstream distribution. That in itself will make upstream projects a bit more cooperative in ensuring their packages are valid.
unrealircd learned the hard way, with quite a bit of egg on their face. I have to say though, I respect them for admitting that they just stopped, but took immediate steps to make sure it was never the fault of their efforts again.
Let's hope distributions/projects don't have to admit to same that unrealircd did.
Keep your stick on the ice...
52 • Tribalism? Give me a break (by Duhnonymous on 2011-03-29 08:40:39 GMT from United States)
It's easy to equate both sides of a dispute, but the fact remains that there is competition going on between Gnome and other similar projects. This is a good thing. Without this competition, we'd be stuck using the bug-ridden garbage that Gnome developers condescend to give us.
I've personally filed a number of bugs myself, and received the same smug, sneering response that others always get: Gnome developers don't care. That's fine, too. It's their right not to care what we users think, but I also have the right to point out this attitude of their's. This is my duty as a thinking, intelligent, observant person. It doesn't make me "tribalistic" to point out the errors in their ways. It makes me honest. A dishonest person might try to equate my complaint with the moronic complaints that Gnome developers have been making, lately.
But even this is fine. All this false equivalence is doing is convincing me that I'm right to reject Gnome and their efforts to enlighten me with their self-proclaimed brilliance (which, in reality, is just extreme ignorance and hubris).
53 • quibble quibble #45 & #47 Xfce screen res + ndiswrapper (by gnomic on 2011-03-29 09:31:03 GMT from New Zealand)
#45 Hmmm, last time I looked Xfce allows you to alter screen resolution, if and only if, Xorg has managed to come up with a full range of resolutions (aka modes) for that particular hardware. If not, tough luck, and further assembly required, say with xrandr. In recent times I have noticed an annoying tendency for Xorg to come up with 1152x864 on CRTs which will do 1280x1024. The Xfce screen res utility won't fix this, unless I have missed some radical recent change.
#47 Aargh. He said 'ndiswrapper'. Surely something to avoid unless there is absolutely no alternative, so noughties - ie first decade of the century. Given the current state of the Linux art, no reason at all one would hope unless absolutely stuck with some utterly dreadful hardware. Step forward some Intersil 'Prism' chips which were akin to winmodems in requiring a certain OS and associated drivers to work. Search on SoftMAC. There may be other examples of similar infamy. Otoh if someone really wants to write about ndiswrapper, feel free, many already have at great length. No disrespect of course to those who toiled long and hard on the ndiswrapper project.
54 • Jesse: Tribalism & work duplication (by Thomas on 2011-03-29 10:36:27 GMT from France)
Hi Jesse. I almost agree with you: there are a lot of unneeded flames
and a lot of work duplication. However I don't think this is really
Having duplicated and different code bases for projects means that they
don't have the same security flaws, and that's a big win. It also means
that they are more targeted toward (even slightly) different goals that
better suit some user category or some other.
What would be annoying is that ONE desktop environment like KDE and Gnome
(or even XFCE) would be the only one existing. Using Linux and other Unix
systems since '94, I'm not found of these new desktop environments event
if I use them. There are a lot of cases where these environments are way
too heavy. Most developpers only think "new features" but not "lightweight
code". As a result we end up having tons of mostly unuseful softs and
libraries... All these unneeded layers leads to poor CPU and battery perfs.
So even if there are duplicated efforts, it's worth the pain.
55 • Wifi and duplication (by Jesse on 2011-03-29 11:58:06 GMT from Canada)
I don't think you quite followed what I meant by duplication of work. I'm all for there being Gnome and KDE and Xfce, because each of those projects fills a different niche. That's not so much a duplication of work as building a different (yet similar) product.
What I am against is the near-exact recreation of a project. Take the text processing tools I mentioned in the article. FreeBSD uses the GNU text processing tools (like grep). But they're re-writing tools like grep feature for feature so they can put the BSD license on it. That's duplication that could go toward fixing any bugs in GNU grep or working on a new project.
It's less like having Gnome and KDE and more like having KDE and then another project creating New-KDE with the exact same features and layout just so they can put a different license on it.
Likewise with the ZFS issue. Re-creating technology like ZFS will introduce bugs along the way, probably bugs that have already been fixed in the original project. But, because of license issues, there are multiple ZFS implementations floating around. Each with their own problems.
My point was we have many different open source licenses with slightly different purposes and those differences are causing problems. Many different projects with very similar, overlapping, goals. But there are so many walls between the communities that work that could be shared is not.
56 • Wifi (sorry for the double post) (by Jesse on 2011-03-29 12:01:31 GMT from Canada)
>> "Jesse, I was a little surprised that you didn't mention getting wireless working with ndiswrapper. Perhaps that would be a good topic for a future article."
I considered it, but ndiswrapper has always caused me more headaches than it has provided me with solutions. I'm hoping, as someone else pointed out, that with most wireless drivers being made available on Linux now that ndiswrapper is a technology that will slowly be phased out in the next few years. Not that I have anything against their efforts, it's just I see ndiswrapper as a temporary solution.
57 • RE 51 (by KimTjik on 2011-03-29 12:09:41 GMT from Sweden)
"I'm sure you can't deny that there are people running Arch with only a rudimentary understanding of what they're doing. :)"
Of course there is, just as I've noticed the same among Gentoo users. As time goes by a target audience will however make a natural divide between those who had a fling and those who advance.
If no boarder is set there's no end to arguments about where to move it. Such a process could eventually kill the purpose of differentiation. Even if tempted to blame someone else, we ought to take responsibilities for our own acts.
58 • Choice, Choice, Choice (by brad on 2011-03-29 12:11:56 GMT from United States)
Choice will ALWAYS be Linux's GREATEST Strength.. but also it's EVEN GREATER WEAKNESS... I'm an ex distro hopper, I've run the gauntlet from easy to printing 81 page install manual for my current distro.. With all the egotism,zealotism, downright rudeness on forums, irc channels, chatrooms. Choice is a good thing, I was a noob once, Im sure many were BORN USING CLI/Linux and knew it right out of the womb, but many of us were new at one time. These attitudes towards noobs, and people asking simple questions or asking for clarification of simple questions in above mentioned resources, are what keeps it from being the Year of Linux Desktop. It may be the minute of the linux desktop, the hour, the day, if you're lucky the week, but NEVER the YEAR .. until people realize, while choice is good, almost ALL the distros have their place and cater to a different level of learning, diferent degree of "just want it to work" and besides, it's ALL LINUX isn't it? One more Linux user is a good thing right? So be nice to that noob, maybe they don't understand a "simple", RTFM,Go back to windows, you aint ready for the big time yet, et al ad nauseum response to their, (to them) simple question or clarification of an answer to that simple question.. That's my .02 now I'm broke
59 • @49: fernbap (by dragonmouth on 2011-03-29 12:30:34 GMT from United States)
That is a weak analogy. I change my shirt on a daily basis, I do not change my distro with the same frequency, nor do i plan to.
My point being that with so many distros, so much "choice", how does one find the distro one needs/wants? That is what I mean by noise. I recognize the name "Fuduntu" but don't ask me what specific problem it was developed to solve. I have never seen it reviewed or a statement of its target audience. The same goes for many of the distros in the DW database.
60 • @51 Landor & @59 dragonmouth (by Fewt on 2011-03-29 13:32:47 GMT from United States)
Landor - I've had this argument with KimTjik before. I know the importance of signing and checking signatures on packages. I also know that Arch / Gentoo developers as well as the authors didn't follow good security practice or the bad code wouldn't have made it into the repositories. It isn't worth the argument though, if KimTjik and others want to believe that Linux is invincible, let them. He had a point though, in that it wasn't a package signing problem, it was a signature verification and security practice problem with the source itself.
Dragonmouth - I understood your point, I just think that a lot of distributions are created to scratch an itch or solve a problem. Many people finding Fuduntu are finding it because they are searching for a way to solve their problem (Linux on portable computers) and they come across it or hear about it by word of mouth.
You make a good observation though, on the submissions page it would be really helpful to have a one liner comment about each distribution and it's intended audience.
61 • RE 60 (by KimTjik on 2011-03-29 13:53:55 GMT from Sweden)
" It isn't worth the argument though, if KimTjik and others want to believe that Linux is invincible, let them."
Pure nonsens and FUD. It's not only a cheap shot but a lie. What do you know about my security measures professionally and at home? Nothing, since you make unfounded claims. Secondly I've never claimed that signing isn't a good practice, potentially improving security, so what's all fuzz about?
Shall we discuss real matters instead, please?
62 • @61 (by Fewt on 2011-03-29 14:02:37 GMT from United States)
It wasn't intended to be a cheap shot, I'm sorry you took it that way.
63 • The pointless, the useless and other "less" untold thoughts (by meanpt on 2011-03-29 14:16:55 GMT from Portugal)
More and more the writers and experienced comentators in the community are getting harder on new distros. First, the genetics thing. Does the parent name starts with an U? Oh dear... here is another ego-self-centered developer sold to the proprietary evils and lacking in effort or even in imagination and .... *&!=*+#@& ... and so on ... with "pointless" and "useless" being among the nicest words one may read. It doesn't matter the parent source has one of the bigger perceived user's base or ... or mabe it does mater a lot ... . And what is the developind team seeking? A really fast and minimal thing based on what isn't usually fast at all ... . Oh dear, but they're using something on the desktop only few understand how it works ... bad dog ... . The bottom line is we now got a distro based on the latest LTS of the U thing, which is fast on old and not so old hardware, providing the latest releases for software that the parent still doesn't by default, with a light, fully working and reasonably beautifull desktop. Congratulations to the Bodhi's team for the resiliency and the release of the first stable release.
64 • why fragmentation? (by forlin on 2011-03-29 18:10:35 GMT from Portugal)
Based on DW's HPD there's not a big difference among the three distros at the top. Mint and Fedora use to have positive reviews. Mint is often referred as the most user friendly and also the best Linux distro. The few hundred h.p.d. difference to Ubunto may lead to think their user base is about the same.
If the number of visits to each of their sites is a better indication about user base, then it becomes clear that there's a huge difference between them, like almost i million to Ubuntu and less than 1 hundred thousand to Mint.
The price of a distro is the same for every Linux user and distros doesn't engage on monopoly abuse, user lock-in and the like. It mean that users are quite free to choose based on their satisfaction about each distro. On this regards the vast majority decided that Ubunto is better and it may have more users than all the other ones together. For many, including the micro software comp., this is a bad thing. Many others think the opposite, if nothing else, due to the attention from the public they're bringing to Linux.
65 • Too Many Distros? I Think Not (by tdockery97 on 2011-03-29 19:26:55 GMT from United States)
I for one have no problem with so many distros, forks, and spins in the Linux community. I'm old enough to remember when there were two choices: Microsoft for most and Apple for the well-to-do. I think we should remember that no matter how many distros there are, whether they be originals, forks, or vanity, they are all some form of Linux.
66 • @ 45 (by Jozsef on 2011-03-29 19:55:45 GMT from United Arab Emirates)
Driver is not working my friend. The driver is the problem. I don't know what else. Or some weird settings. Anyway I was not able to fix it. Just don't understand why it's working with Zenwalk 6.4 :)
67 • @63: meanpt (by dragonmouth on 2011-03-29 22:56:04 GMT from United States)
Where is it written that Thou Shalt Love Ubuntu? I, for one, do not worship in the Church of U. It is NOT because the name starts with "U", I would not use it or any of its derivatives because I disagree with their basic development philosophy.
To not allow root logons to the system MAY increase security but to then allow access to admin functions just by entering the user password leaves the system wide open to corruption by a careless or spiteful user.
It is repeatedly pointed out that Linux is about choice. This, to me, means that I should have the choice of which packages I will install. The developers of Ubuntu et al. have taken that choice away from me. I must install their choice of packages. To compound the problem, those packages are so tightly integrated into the system that they are impossible te uninstall without making the system unusable. Why is that when I try to uninstall "cowsay" and "fortune", "ubuntu-main" is also uninstalled? I do not need/want every alphabet under the sun installed but *buntus won't allow me to uninstall them without uninstalling the word processor along with the language packs.
I could go on but I think you get the picture. Ubuntu and its children are great for complete newbies. They are great when used only as installed. But when a user wnats or needs to make changes, these distros fall apart like a cheap suit.
68 • Fuduntu and Ubuntu (by Jesse on 2011-03-29 23:14:34 GMT from Canada)
>> " recognize the name "Fuduntu" but don't ask me what specific problem it was developed to solve. I have never seen it reviewed or a statement of its target audience."
Fuduntu has been reviewed on DWW a few times, if you'd like to go back through the issues. Both were in the past six months.
>> "To not allow root logons to the system MAY increase security but to then allow access to admin functions just by entering the user password leaves the system wide open to corruption by a careless or spiteful user."
The Ubuntu distros have root accounts. You can use them if you want. You also have to make a user a member of the proper group to give them sudo acceess. So unless you give a user admin access you don't have to worry about them trashing your system. I think you misunderstand how Ubuntu works. I'm not crazy about the "sudo" concept, but it's easy enough to remove and use regular "root" if you want to.
>> "Why is that when I try to uninstall "cowsay" and "fortune", "ubuntu-main" is also uninstalled?"
I have no idea, but the last times I used Ubuntu and Mint I had no trouble removing cowsay and fortune and nothing else was harmed. Maybe your package database was corrupted?
I suspect your problems with Ubuntu are less related to design philosophy and have more to do with either a bad install or a misunderstanding of how the system works.
69 • Root password on Ubuntu (by trotter1985 on 2011-03-30 00:44:05 GMT from United States)
I don't understand your objection to the Ubuntu approach.
When you install, your user password is the sudo password.
All you have to do is type: sudo passwd root
Then you will be prompted for your sudo password and after
that you can set and then confirm the root password.
No other user, unless you change that in the /etc/sudoers
file, will have sudo password privilege, and from that point
on, it's just like other distros that establish a su (root) password
FYI, I noticed that openSUSE 11.4 now allows you
the option of taking the Ubuntu route, if you prefer. They
used to always set a root password, like Fedora still does.
Now you have the option not to do this.
70 • OpenSuSE (by Dave Postles on 2011-03-30 10:54:51 GMT from United Kingdom)
I'd like to know if Attachmate, now the holding company for SuSE Linux/Novell, is adhering to the agreements between Novell and M$.
71 • @68 - Jesse (by Fewt on 2011-03-30 13:44:21 GMT from United States)
Again, thank you. Your reviews uncovered a lot of things that needed improvement. That said, you should take a look at 14.9 (though, I wouldn't ask you to review it again since you just reviewed Fuduntu twice). You may like what you see.
72 • @67 (by Patrick on 2011-03-30 14:10:36 GMT from United States)
>>> Why is that when I try to uninstall "cowsay" and "fortune", "ubuntu-main" is also uninstalled?
I think you have a basic misunderstanding about how the package manager works. I'm not on an Ubuntu system right now so I can't verify this for a fact, but I'm pretty sure the "ubuntu-main" package is just a meta-package that defines the standard Ubuntu system by defining dependencies on packages that need to be installed to make a _standard_ Ubuntu system, but doesn't contain any software itself. So when you uninstall "cowsay", and it says it needs to uninstall "ubuntu-main", it is just saying your system will not contain the standard Ubuntu package set anymore. It is not going to uninstall your whole Ubuntu system, all the other package dependencies defined in "ubuntu-main" will be left alone. Just the "umbrella-package" will be removed, but that doesn't hurt anything.
>>> Ubuntu and its children are great for complete newbies. They are great when used only as installed. But when a user wnats or needs to make changes, these distros fall apart like a cheap suit.
That is complete nonsense. The 10 million derivatives of Ubuntu, some with completely different package sets, prove this wrong beyond a doubt.
I'm not saying you have to like Ubuntu. I'm sure there are many valid reasons to dislike it. But the ones you mention are not problems with Ubuntu, but mostly a classical case of PEBKAC.
73 • Linux distros (by Eddie on 2011-03-30 14:05:31 GMT from United States)
What everyone here don't understand is GNU/Linux distros are not about choice, at least not about choice of teh developers, but about the choice of the users. In this comments section, practically all try to push their pet distribution down other users' throats. Every developer, even those, who take other developer's distro are trying to make their own repos, which I believe is a waste of time.
For example, if you take Ubuntu base, say the LTS one, why should the developer try to put the user into trouble by trying to keep him away from the said Ubuntu repo? If you take Arch based distros, they don't trouble you, and all you have to do is use "pacman -S" and you are connected to all repos that all Arch users use!
74 • Follow-up from last week, Linux PPC for iBook (by Caraibes on 2011-03-30 16:52:01 GMT from Dominican Republic)
After reading last week's comment, I felt compelled to take my Saturday to wipe Lubuntu 10.04 PPC from my good old Mac iBook G3 (384 megs of ram, 20 gigs of hdd, slow, with a PowerPC cpu... sloowww)
I had manage to get a Debian Squeeze netinst for PPC, worked fine. I choose not to install "desktop", "laptop" & the additional packages on the bottom. So I rebooted in a nice CLI.
After starting with very minimalist xorg, Fluxbox, Epiphany web browser, I went overboard for Lxde, and finally Xfce, who gave me some nice & easy GUI tools.
It uses maybe about 10 megs of ram less than its *Buntu counterpart, and feels nice. I can even "almost" watch Youtube videos in html5 in Epiphany. I say almost, because the PPC CPU is simply too slow for that.
I chose Claws-mail for my Gmail needs, in Pop3... works just fine...
Very very happy with LxMusic (based on Xmms) !!!
The only beef I have with Debian Squeeze is that it won't let me configure advanced keyboard layout from command line, like it used to, back in the days of Sarge, Etch é Lenny... I need a FR layout, so far it was ok from the installer, but with the advanced layout "Apple-Macintosh" instead of "PC generic 105 int"... I finally found the Xfce control panel, which gave me that option, working only when I am in Xfce... If I boot Fluxbox or Lxde, it goes back to "PC generic 105 int"...
It is frustrating, because I am still using my old xorg.conf file who was working great when I was dual-booting that Mac between Etch/Lenny and OSX 10.3... The xorg.conf file is perfect, it works fine for my display, but not for my advanced keyboard layout...
Anyway, Debian/Xfce is a good combo... I am sticking with Stable, as I am not looking for any newer stuff on this dinosaur...
75 • Ram usage Debian PPC (by Caraibes on 2011-03-30 17:27:40 GMT from Dominican Republic)
A quick word to say that Fluxbox is using only 39 megs of ram, after booting... No apps open (only Conky). Once I had autostarted nm-applet and a nice wallpaper, it went up to 49 megs of ram after starting Fluxbox, no apps open... About the same for Lxde... After booting Xfce, ram usage was 69 megs, without other apps running...
76 • Ubuntu (by Jeff on 2011-03-30 20:17:32 GMT from United States)
When I first saw Ubuntu their claim was "Linux for Humans" evidently they now consider only those who can afford a new powerful computer to be human.
77 • Single-boot Debian on Mac (by Caraibes on 2011-03-30 21:17:23 GMT from Dominican Republic)
After those above posts detailing a bit my single-boot Debian Squeeze on the Mac iBook G3 (PPC), I am now writing from my single-boot Lucid MacBook 2.1 (MacIntel).
-Has any of you successfully installed a single-boot Debian on a MacBook ???
(mine is a 2.1, the 2nd generation of white ones, from early 2007, if I recall, it is a "hand-me-down", just like the old iBook)
78 • @73 Linux distros (by Eddie (by meanpt on 2011-03-30 22:33:02 GMT from Portugal)
So far I understand some devs do it to provide applications that ubuntu doesn't, e.g. backporting more recent kernels, ffox releases, libreoffice, not to mention the need to buffer some ubuntu automatic updates that will ruin critical components of the child distro as there can be incompatibilities.
79 • Problems... (by dilscoop on 2011-03-31 15:53:24 GMT from United States)
Most probably the problems are with Distrowatch, rather than the distros...No one to comment, if not for Landor...
80 • #78 meanpt (by Sergei on 2011-03-31 16:04:11 GMT from Russian Federation)
What if the devs send their applications to the Ubuntu repo, so that everyone could benefit from that? You see, if a dev takes a base from Ubuntu, isn't it correct to give back what a dev can?
81 • @80 Backports (by Stan on 2011-03-31 16:53:05 GMT from United States)
Ubuntu wouldn't take them. It is one of the proponents of a very strict fixed-release policy. In other words, no new versions of software, *period*, once a version is released, unless urgent security fixes only available in a new version forces their hand. To get new software, they advise upgrading to the next version of Ubuntu itself.
Now, there is a (woefully underused) official backports repository for Ubuntu, but for some reason, a lot more useful upgrades end up in PPA's instead. Go figure. If Ubuntu isn't even taking packages from its own PPA's from developers who have signed the Ubuntu Code of Conduct to its backports repository, somehow I doubt they'll take packages from downstream distros.
Thus the major reason I tend to prefer rolling-release distributions and fixed-release distributions with less absolutist update policies (e.g.: Fedora, though it's not as good as it used to be in that regard).
82 • Fuduntu and s survey (by Jesse on 2011-03-31 20:32:17 GMT from Canada)
>> "Again, thank you. Your reviews uncovered a lot of things that needed improvement. That said, you should take a look at 14.9 (though, I wouldn't ask you to review it again since you just reviewed Fuduntu twice). You may like what you see."
Assuming development on Fuduntu moves to the next release of Fedora, I'll probably take a look at Fuduntu 15.x.
For those readers who are involved in open source projects, Matt Reid is writing a paper on open source software with a focus on usability. He's looking for input, so please consider taking his on-line survey at:
His contact information is on the page I linked to should you have questions or specific feedback to give him.
83 • GHOSTBSD not booting on acer laptop (by samuel on 2011-03-31 20:40:40 GMT from Italy)
GhostBSD live CD not booting 32bits not booting on an acer aspire 5520G, AMD64, after giving the boot options loses the keyboard, no matter which option is chosen. Noticed the same with PCBSD on the same laptop. Hope GHOSTBSD developers will look into this.
84 • Vinux (by Tom on 2011-03-31 23:05:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
Hi :) I just became aware of Vinux and wondered if anyone here has given it a fair go? I'm not in it's target market but it seems an excellent project collecting together all the Orca stuff and out-of-the-box support for braille-readers and such-like. Who knows, this might help me encourage my work-place to at least try a linux distro as it might meet some of our client's needs.
85 • Fuduntu 15 (by Fewt on 2011-03-31 23:28:51 GMT from United States)
We have looked at Fedora 15 as a foundation for Fuduntu, and are following it pretty closely. We voted the week before last to hold off on releasing 15, and continuing to mature 14 as we feel Fedora 15 isn't quite mature enough yet (and we don't expect it to be on release day).
There were a lot of things missing that our users rely on like Appearance Preferences.
All of the changes that we planned for 15 will instead be released into the 14 series.
86 • OH! (by Fewt on 2011-03-31 23:29:22 GMT from United States)
Yes, I will definitely check out the survey, thanks for the link!
87 • The Canterbury Distribution (by 1 on 2011-04-01 01:56:16 GMT from United States)
Has anyone seen this yet?
I found it on debian.org
88 • Canterbury distribution/Slackware 1.0.0 (by Yum on 2011-04-01 02:37:27 GMT from United States)
Hmmm 2 News on April 1st that sound too good to be true.
89 • Slackware 1.0 = april's fool joke ?!?! (by nedvis on 2011-04-01 03:38:32 GMT from United States)
Is this a April's fool joke or stupid editorial error?
News from 1993-07-16 17:21:20 PST about Slackware Linux release 1.0 is not a news at the end of March 2011.
90 • @89 April Fools Joke (by ConstantOberserver2011 on 2011-04-01 03:45:08 GMT from United States)
Took out all the fun....No foolin'.
91 • whirlwind out of puff (by whirlygig on 2011-04-01 06:45:27 GMT from United States)
It's good that you add unusual distros to the database. But the whirlwind distro listed this week was created in 2007 and neither it nor the website has been updated since. Since this is a wardriving wifi distro it is virtually useless for modern computers - especially laptops and netbooks with new wifi hardware and drivers. Because if the distro doesn't detect your wifi it won't boot into the desktop.
92 • Oh good time (by musty on 2011-04-01 09:16:02 GMT from France)
I remember in 1994 I bought a book "bible UNIX" with a CD containing all the slackware software and DOS script to build floppies. I ripped half of my hair to install X, but what 's a joy to the end. Very good memories.
93 • April fools (by meanpt on 2011-04-01 10:02:30 GMT from Portugal)
:):):):) .. sooooo ... 24 flopies .... reminds me of a book still on sale in libraries on red hat linux ... all about red hat 6 and 7 :):):):)
94 • The good old times - built in floopy disk drive... (by forlin on 2011-04-01 11:27:47 GMT from Portugal)
Many users, mainly those living in Europe, may also remember the great ZX Spectrum.
The ZX Spectrum (the "Z" is pronounced "Zed" in its original British English branding) is an 8-bit personal home computer released in the United Kingdom in 1982 by Sinclair Research Ltd. The machine was launched as the ZX Spectrum by Sinclair to highlight the machine's colour display, compared with the black-and-white of its predecessor, the Sinclair ZX81. The Spectrum was released in eight different models, ranging from the entry level model with 16 KB RAM released in 1982 to the ZX Spectrum +3 with 128 KB RAM and built in floppy disk drive in 1987; together they sold in excess of 5 million units worldwide.
95 • Slackware Linux 1.0 (by Howard on 2011-04-01 11:41:49 GMT from United States)
Well finally, I have something that might work on my Compaq laptop. It's a Pentium 1, 233Mhz, with an amazing 144MB's of ram memory, and a huge 5GB hard disk drive, and what do you know, it even has a removable floppy drive! Why should I need a newfangled CD-ROM to install an operating system? I'm confident a floppy is all I'll ever need to install an operating system. Just look at DOS, no newfangled CD-ROM needed there. All I need are a few floppy disks, and I'm as good as gold.
All kidding aside, wowww, Linux sure has come a long way, since 1993. I can hardly imagine installing anything from 24 floppy disks! Well truth be told, sure I did, in the bad old days. I have done it with DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1x, and later with Win95 from floppy. it's not much fun. I'm very glad CD's and DVD's were invented, or else, we might need a few hundred (or more) floppy's to install a modern version (with KDE or Gnome) of Linux now. After all, a DVD holds well over a thousand floppy disks worth of information, all on a single disk.
96 • Slackware 1.0 (by RobertD on 2011-04-01 11:43:30 GMT from United States)
I just finised installing slackware 1.0 and I must say this linux thing is pretty cool. I think it will be around for a while. ;)
97 • Re: The good old times. (by Antony on 2011-04-01 11:53:26 GMT from United Kingdom)
Yes, great fun in those days. My wife bought me a 16k Ram-pack for it back then as a present - rock&roll :)
Bit of a shame really; yes my current computer is all-powerful, I have a nice flat-screen, hard & optical-drives, etc.........But it seems much less *personal* computing nowadays. Funny old world.
Better leave it there, lest I weep into my PS/2 keyboard :)
98 • Re: 97 (by Antony on 2011-04-01 12:10:35 GMT from United Kingdom)
Ooops, The *it* I was referring to was a ZX81
99 • he's back - slitaz core 20110329 (by gnomic on 2011-04-01 12:20:27 GMT from New Zealand)
I wonder how this 'Slackware' will turn out . . . . Seem to recall installing OS/2 from very many floppies once upon a time. I think they had invented the CDROM by the time I started messing with Linux - though I did have to use a SCSI external model on an Adaptec 1542 initially as my mega-costly 486 had no CD drive included. Hey, it did have a 5.25 floppy.
Meanwhile back in the now, the man with the wordpress blog has issued a version of slitaz which might be of interest - maybe to slitaz fans at least.
As always godane.wordpress.com. Alas no wiki.
100 • @84, 97 (by Patrick on 2011-04-01 13:51:18 GMT from United States)
My wife, who is blind, has been playing with Vinux lately. She first played with it as a live CD and then installed it as dual boot with her Windows 7 and in a VM too. I think it's a great project as it certainly lowers the barriers for blind people to get their feet wet with Linux. Unfortunately, even though things are definitely improving, accessibility in Linux is not on par with that in Windows, so some determination is necessary to stick with it in the face of lost functionality and some frustration. A project like Vinux that focuses on these issues is just what is needed, so kudos to the devs.
It's not quite the same thing, but having missed most of the early, freewheeling and experimental phase of computing before the PC became a dull off-white box (I was too young, my first PC was a 286), I am happy to be able to experience a similar environment by working in the field of deeply embedded systems. There is something profoundly satisfying in writing software that runs on bare metal and having full control over a microprocessor because you've written every single line of code it executes. The barriers for getting into this embedded stuff have been lowered considerably in the last couple of years by projects like Arduino and more recently mbed. There are now also many low cost development tools available that run on Linux, most notably from manufacturers like Atmel for their AVR and AVR32 parts and NXP for their ARM Cortex-Mx's. Development for devices from other manufacturers like ST's Cortex-M3's and TI's MSP430 can be made to work but with more effort and no support whatsoever from the manufacturers. Anyway, those missing the good old days of kilobytes and megahertzes may get some kicks out of playing with these tiny micros and seeing what amazing things can be done with them.
101 • Slackware 1.0 (by YuckTuck on 2011-04-01 20:18:34 GMT from United States)
Allright were the heck did the 24 disc set for Slackware go!
102 • 24-disk Slackware 1.0 (by DShelbyD on 2011-04-01 23:42:05 GMT from United States)
At my suggestion, they are changing to one executable file to go on a 100 MB zip disk. It shouldn't take long for it to re-appear. They know everyone is eager.
103 • zip drive? Spectrum? (by meanpt on 2011-04-01 23:57:19 GMT from Portugal)
Well, I still own a zip drive with those disc cartridges so anything coming for it is welcomed ... I got rid of the zx81 but still have the 128 ...
104 • Debris 2 on old machines and another use. (by PFYearwood on 2011-04-02 13:53:43 GMT from United States)
I found many comments about finding a distro that will work on old machines. There are a few that are designed that way, antiX is one that I have used. Nice, but I am a confirmed Ubuntu user. Though I have use standard Ubuntu and have 10.04 LTS on a PIII with 768 RAM, It does eat a lot of the available RAM, up to 26+%.
I want to share my way of installing a minimal Ubuntu install on older systems. One of the many Ubuntu derivatives is Debris 2. It is based on U. 8.04 LTS. It has a small foot print. It is also semi net install. Open the Update Manager andt there is an option to upgrade to 10.04LTS. It will update only the files Debris installed so you still have a small footprint with a RAM of approx 10%-15% of the 768 RAM. I installed on my 4Gig system. The original Debris found about 800 Meg. The upgrade to 10.04 found 3 Gig.
I have found that Debris 2 with this upgrade makes a good host for Virtual Box as it has a small RAM footprint. Since it is a 32 bit distro, it will only use a 32 bit guest OS.
For those how wonder why there are so many Ubuntu variations, here is one that is useful, at least to me. Thank you Debris team.
105 • Let's play slug bug with Debian Squeeze! (by imnotrich on 2011-04-02 21:54:15 GMT from Mexico)
Probably everybody here's played slug bug with their kids every time a vw bug drives by...so let's have a little fun with my Debian Squeeze install experience.
Insert standard disclaimer, I understand that some of these bugs are only partially Debian's fault - but many of these could potentially deter a novice user from trying to adopt Debian.
I've included solutions for those issues I have been able to resolve, and props for things I found that Debian did right.
During the install, using cd#1 (since the live "dvd" didn't boot and I had problems with the netinstall) I had visible video all the way and no messages about missing blobs. I was excited!
Upon first boot, which I was later able to reproduce several times, no video. BUG!
Solved by setting the nouveau no modeset. But I would ask developers why they still include this bug with no error message or hint about workarounds. It's been known for at least 3 years.
Now I'm at the desktop - yeah! I immediately added the multi-media repos (I was lucky in that this particular day the multi-media repos were online and working-they've been having problems over the last 3 months with uptime), got my flash and java and ttfonts and codecs.
Test websites for Java and Flash say both are working, but Flash will not play videos from youtube in Iceweasel and Epiphany. Attempts to do so crashes out the browser. So I downloaded my favorite browser, Chrome (not Chromium) and again, flash test pages say good but youtube videos bonk. Doesn't crash out Chrome though and the tab stays open. BUG!
Enabling DVD playback was a snap. Very easy for a change. Good work!
Alas, Squeeze did not recognize my microphone! I need to be able to record my voice for work (doing radio and TV voice overs and such) also for use with Skype. BUG!
Tinkering with gnome mixer and alsa mixers didn't help. Just for grins, I installed Audacity and suddenly - my microphone works! Either Audacity overwrote a default setting or one of the dependencies brought by Audacity fixed the problem.
Scid - a chess database program in the repos- The original developer abandoned the project around 2004. Through Lenny, Debian included the old version - which worked great! But some other guy hijacked the Scid project recently and mucked it up. Somehow Debian Squeeze decided to include the new, less improved version of Scid. BUG!
After fighting with the new scid for a while, I gave up and installed the previous version.
But this somehow broke Update manager. The next day, Update manager told me there were 63 updates but refused to show me what they were, and would cause the system to lock up. I went to Synaptic and grabbed the 62 updates I wanted (not the new scid of course - it's junk). BUG!
There seems to be no easy way to tell Update manager to stop offering me a particular update, I don't want the "new" scid. BUG!
Not sure which of all those update was responsible but now I was able to watch you tube videos! Not in full screen or at higher resolutions, as that would still crash out the browser or browser tab. Still, this is progress!
Finally resolved the flash video issue by blacklisting the nouveau driver junk and installing NVIDIA using the dkms method. It was so EASY! Great work Debian!
Once I found a tutorial that is. The procedure was different from Lenny and previous Debians. And now, not only can I watch flash videos in full screen and high resolutions...the colors are much more vibrant and vivid. I'm curious to see what happens when Debian ships a new kernel but hopefully it will update with no issues.
Skype - Yes, I know there is no version of Skype for Squeeze...I'm using a 3 year old version of Skype. It has worked well in Etch, Lenny and now Squeeze...but there is a new problem introduced with Squeeze - no webcam. BUG!
After some experimentation I learned my webcam worked fine, it was a Squeeze problem. The UVC driver had been updated with the Squeeze release, and the old version of Skype (actually the latest version of Skype for Linux) didn't interface with it. Solved by forcing Skype to use the old UVC driver. Now I have webcam!
NTFS support - automatically installed. Great work, Debian! (hint of sarcasm - how many years has NTFS been around? Squeeze is the first Debian release that supported it ootb. Previous releases, you had to scour the repos for ntfs related packages).
USB hard drives including USB hard drive enclosures - automagically automount. Great work!
HPLIP - The version of HPLIP that came with Squeeze recognizes my 4 year old HP printer/scanner. GREAT WORK DEBIAN! The HP version of HPLIP that supported my printer was incompatible with Lenny, and I finally resolved that (partially) by grabbing a version of HPLIP from the backports and going through dependency hell - but I ended up having to configure everything manually as the gui would not run in Lenny. In Squeeze, it worked OOTB. Yippee!
Networking/Samba stuff with windows clients, sharing Debian printers with Windows etc.- a breeze to set up. Great work Debian! Past experience with Lenny and Etch made my hair fall out. Note for Windows 7 fans: Tell your Windows 7 install you're a "work" computer. It will not communicate with Vista, XP or Linux/Samba if you don't (as it won't install networking support).
Internal SD card reader - lsusb recognizes the card reader, and under "computer" I see each type of memory card listed and yet...inserting a memory card causes gnome to lock up. Attempts to mount the card through the gui also cause the system to lock up. BUG! I don't know what's going on here because I also have an external usb SD card reader and Squeeze automounts and reads it with no problem. Mark this one as unresolved so far.
WINE - The version that ships with Squeeze doesn't support two of my favorite windows programs, Bookworm and WORD 2000. Yes, I'm a fan of open office, but open office is not 100% compatible with Word and if retaining formatting/fonts etc is crucial you have to be able to run WORD. Various error messages. Both programs worked fine with Wine and Lenny. BUG! I haven't had time to experiment with older or newer versions of Wine to figure out what's wrong.
I hope this was useful, if not entertaining - I was wrong about Squeeze, it's way better than I expected - not perfect, still plenty of issues like most distros which target "geeks" - but overall a very impressive debut. And you can quote me.
106 • @104 Debris 2 (by Neal on 2011-04-02 22:32:08 GMT from United States)
While it saddens me that Debris 2 will be coming to an end with the 8.04 support dying.....I tried the upgrade to 10.04 and it shelled my system.....totally ruined it so be careful if you do that.
Better yet offer some help to the Debris project and lets get a new version of Debris out. Its a worthwhile project than needs to stay alive. Openbox was always my favorite with 8.04 and Debris nailed it on the head for these older machines we keep around.
107 • Distros and throwback day (by Just me on 2011-04-03 04:29:27 GMT from United States)
Experimentation is a great thing in Linux! And yes, some distros are "vanity" types (I'm thinking of doing one myself, since I see so many distros full of bloat, missing basic features/settings that Windoze has had for decades (!), and enough freaky graphics tricks to bog down a Cray). But will I post it to DW? I don't know. I don't want to sell it, support it, or hear complaints about it, so I can't picture why I should torture the Linux community with my unique flavor. :)
...and for the apparent "throwback" day...I remember Commodore VIC-20's and 64's, 170K Floppies, TI 99-4A peripheral controllers, Atari 800's with 64K RAM, and Coleco's Adam! I'm only 45!
108 • Old hardware (by imnotrich on 2011-04-03 17:02:01 GMT from Mexico)
I remember before floppies, we used audio cassette tapes for data storage.
At 17 I built a Sol 20 from a kit.
At 19 I was managing a Radio Shack store and...selling TRS-80's.
Anybody remember "Hunt the Wumpus" game?
109 • ahhhhh nostalgia (by RobertD on 2011-04-04 00:31:42 GMT from United States)
I too remember my first program using an audio cassette to store data. My eighth grade teacher brought his personal computer to class for us to use. That was in 1981-82. My first program was my name flashing on the screen every few seconds. I then went on to create a game similiar to missile command. The good ole' days.
110 • RE: 104 + 106 (Debris) (by Landor on 2011-04-04 04:50:21 GMT from Canada)
If the Debris team is pretty far behind their next release (accordingly, based on 10.04), why not build your own version of Debris?
I've read the developer has some scripts and/or some packages for Debris, but it would be simple enough to install Debris fully, then do an installed package list. Then you could install a minimal 10.04 and do an installed package listing. Weigh in the differences and build from there, adding what's missing to the minimal 10.04 install. It should be somewhat easy to find any packages/scripts that the developer has added too.
While this might not work exactly as Debris, at worst it should come extremely close. It's all pretty well the same thing in the end, files, files, and more files. Anything you may have trouble with if the developer is worth anything, or the forums, the answer should lie there, and be found in short order. This would also give you a step up in possibly helping Debris build a 10.04 based release as you've pretty well done one on your own.
Keep your stick on the ice...
Number of Comments: 110
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Suriyan was an Ubuntu-based distribution developed by Thai Open Source, an organisation that aims to promote free and open-source software in Thailand. The project's primary goal was to develop an easy-to-use alternative operating system with complete support for the Thai language.