| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 416, 1 August 2011
Welcome to this year's 31st issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It's good to break from an established routine from time to time, so this week, instead of the usual distribution review, we are presenting an opinion piece on a possible future of Linux and free software in the light of increasing economic uneasiness, imminent government bankrupts, and collapsing financial markets. Can free software prosper in these uncertain times? In the news section, CentOS developers unveil new, specialist spins of their free RHEL clone, FreeBSD launches an intensive development sprint prior to the upcoming version 9.0, and Debian announces "multiarch" support as a release goal for "Wheezy". Also in this issue, a link to a brief interview with Linux Mint founder Clement Lefebvre and an exclusive questions and answers session with the developers of the Isolator++ unit testing software which was recently ported to Linux. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the July 2011 DistroWatch.com donation is the vsftpd project. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Robert Storey)
Opinion: Is economic collapse good for Linux?|
I would recommend you panic. (Hedge funder Hugh Hendry)
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As I write this, the USA is less than 48 hours from defaulting on its national debt, an event which would be more-or-less the economic equivalent of a comet the size of Texas crashing into planet Earth (as portrayed in the 1998 Bruce Willis action movie Armageddon. Imagine that.
In the movie, Bruce Willis and his motley crew fly the Space Shuttle to the offending comet, land on it, drill a big hole and dump a nuclear warhead down there. Unfortunately, a damaged timer-detonator means that the heroic Mr Willis must stay behind and blow up the comet by hand, saving the Earth but dying in the process. Miraculously, Bruce Willis is resurrected from the dead and goes on to star in The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000). All of which goes to show that you can't keep an action hero down, even with a nuclear bomb.
Fortunately, averting worldwide economic Armageddon this week will probably not involve nuclear weapons. More than likely, the USA's two warring political parties will come to a last-minute budget compromise, agreeing to increase the national debt, thus postponing the Apocalypse until another day. That's good news, especially if you haven't yet prepared your bomb shelter. There is still time to stock up on weapons, ammunition and canned goods. Forget precious metals - gold is for optimists.
So, assuming the requisite last-minute deal comes through, we can all (hopefully) breathe easier. For now. Unfortunately, the world's economy might not be quite as "unbreakable" as Mr. Willis was in the above-mentioned 2000 movie. The USA is not the only country on planet Earth with economic skeletons in the closet. The EU has recently discovered that some of its member states have balance sheets with as many holes in them as Swiss cheese. Asia is still looking good on the surface, but there are rumblings of already-massive real estate bubbles swelling to galactic size, just itching to pop. Everywhere there are dark rumors of unpayable debts, creative accounting standards, and yes, giant asteroids hurtling towards Earth. To make it worse, the USA just retired the Space Shuttle, so it's no longer in service lest we need to nuke another extra-terrestrial threat.
But what does economic collapse have to do with Linux?
Glad you asked. It's always good to look on the bright side of things, especially when facing The End of the World As We Know It. Thus, I would like to posit the theory: "Economic collapse is good for the free-software movement.
Yes, I know that at first glance, my "theory" sounds like a no-brainer. Assuming that the world has grown poorer but people are still living above ground and have electricity, then for sure they'd be running Linux or if they prefer, one of the BSDs. If you can't afford new shoes, then surely you're not going to trade your last bag of salt or used bicycle tire for a Windows or OSX license. So Linux wins, right?
Actually, it's not so certain. Reality often trumps logic. I've spent a good deal of my life living and traveling in the Third World, and I've witnessed at least one pretty spectacular economic collapse circa 1991. True, that was during the dark days of MS-DOS, which few outside the USA actually paid for. Plus, in those days there wasn't a free open-source alternative that you could download from the Internet (which also didn't exist back then). However, in these modern times, we do have Linux, excellent free software that very few Third World citizens even know about, much less use. Despite pleadings from open-source fanatics such as myself, poor folks seldom bother to install a free copy of Linux and LibreOffice, preferring instead to obtain a pirated copy of Windows and Microsoft Office.
It's interesting to speculate just why this is so. Part of the reason may simply be a lack of copyright enforcement. In the freedom-loving developed countries of the West, jack-booted storm troopers from The Intellectual Property Cartel may well break down your door, haul off your computers, and after forensically examining the hard drive, impose harsh fines and criminal penalties if they discover an unlicensed software application or a pirated MP3 file. This scenario is fortunately seldom seen in the Third World, where the police, judges and government officials charged with enforcing the law are also running pirated copies of Windows on their home computers too.
In fact, far from enforcing intellectual property laws in countries where there is little money, there is evidence that software piracy is actually being encouraged by Big Business as a shrewd marketing tool. Bill Gates himself admitted as much in a speech at the University of Washington in 1998. When talking about software piracy in poor countries, Mr. Gates said: "As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."
My own experience backs this up. I've lived half my life in Asia and I've watched this part of the world develop rapidly over the past few decades. When I first came here, you couldn't even buy legal copies of MS-DOS and applications. There were plenty of shops openly selling pirated CDs with all the latest software for around US$2 per copy. Service was excellent - many shops would even replace a defective disk for free. Indeed, Windows XP appeared on the pirate market 35 days before it's official release date of October 25, 2001. But nowadays, most of the software I see for sale is legal, and costs considerably more than US$2 per copy. Bill Gates was right.
That having been said, this business model (using software piracy as a marketing tool) is only likely to succeed when economies are growing, not shrinking. When money becomes scarce, software license becomes an unaffordable luxury. In many poor countries today, electronic shops cobble together their inexpensive computers with a combination of old used and new parts. These shops have no volume licensing agreements with Microsoft, and almost invariably they install pirated Windows copies that deploy various hacks to turn-off product activation. These hacked copies have, in many cases, become easy prey for viruses and root kits, allowing the machine to be turned into a bot for launching DDoS attacks.
Given the security risks, let alone legal issues, it would make sense to avoid pirated software as long as a secure and functional free alternative exists. That should create an opening for Linux. However, Microsoft (and more recently, Apple) have captured the hearts and minds of the mass market. People in the poorer nations understandably want to catch up with the rich developed world, so they want what they perceive to be "the best." Thus, they'd be suspicious of software that advertises itself as being "free." I've often wondered if we free-software proponents shouldn't take a hint from Microsoft and charge US$300 for Linux, in the hopes that people will then pirate it.
This will be the year of The Linux Desktop
It was Windows 98 and its infamous Blue Screen of Death that finally pushed me into trying Linux, and I have not looked back since. And almost every year since then, I've been reading in one oracle or another that "this will be the Year of the Linux Desktop." I'm not quite sure what a "Year of Linux" would entail, but I gather that it would require more than the current 1% desktop market share we now enjoy.
Making future predictions is always a risky business, but hey, it's not (yet) illegal, so here is mine. I predict that WTSHTF (economically speaking), we will finally enjoy the long-awaited "Year of the Linux Desktop." My reason for thinking so is that - unlike in the current Third World - intellectual-property laws in developed countries have real teeth. If you think that the Business Software Alliance is going to just sit around on its hands while computer shops in formerly rich countries openly sell pirated software, think again. All the hard-fought battles by the intellectual-property police to instill fear into the public has, for the most part, been a resounding success. A sophisticated surveillance system and accompanying gulag has been painstakingly constructed just to protect copyrights and patents. These victories will not be given up lightly.
Thus, though we may face economic hardships not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, we can at least look forward to a Linux Renaissance. As the old saying goes, "every cloud has its silver lining."
On the other hand, I could be wrong about this. Perhaps 50 years from now, our grand children will be living in a prosperous paradise, where all the hard physical labor is done by robots. Everyone will have lots of free time to enjoy their holographic 3-D televisions, powered by Micro-Apple software. During the annual 3-month vacation, they'll have a choice of making a trip to Mars or one of the moons of Jupiter.
Alternatively, they could be living in the forest (or what's left of it), gathered around the evening camp fire as the rising tides engulf the ruins of the world's abandoned cities. Tribal elders will talk about magical things they once saw, like electricity, iPhones, the Space Shuttle, Bruce Willis, and an amazing technology called "Linux." The children may suspect it's all a myth, but nevertheless will sit and listen in wide-eyed wonder.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
New CentOS spins, FreeBSD 9.0 features, Debian's "multiarch" support, interview with Linux Mint's Clement Lefebvre
The CentOS project has finally put smiles back on the faces of its faithful users. With the recent release of CentOS 6.0 standard installation DVD images and the subsequent arrival of the live CD/DVD variants, many CentOS users can finally run the latest version of the popular and free Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone. But wait, there is more good news in the pipeline, including a 250 MB minimal CD and a special "LightWeight Server" edition. Fabian Arrotin reports in "CentOS 6 ISO spins": "We plan also to provide two other spins: the minimal one and the LWS one. Good news is that the minimal one is almost finished and being intensively tested. It's meant to be used as a real basic CentOS system - only 186 packages only on your disk. You'll have a very basic CentOS system with only OpenSSH server and yum. The next custom respin (LWS for LightWeigth Server edition) will still be a CD image that will include basic server packages, more or less in the idea of the "Server CD" that existed during the CentOS 4.x days." The author also mentions that the upcoming CentOS 6.1 and 5.7 releases should arrive at the same time as the LWS spin.
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The first beta release of FreeBSD 9.0 has been propagating through the project's mirrors since last weekend (though it has yet to be formally announced), so it's time to take a look at some of the features of this major new release. As always, we will rely on Ivan Voras's blog which delivers a nice summary of what's cooking for FreeBSD 9: "The kernel parts of the DTrace system diagnostic framework were imported some time ago, but they are now completed with the support for userland tracing, making it usable in general userland software development and system administration." Also included is support for the CLANG/LLVM compiler for those who cannot use the recent GNU GCC due to it being licensed under GPL 3: "As the GCC compiler suite was re-licensed under GPLv3 after the 4.2 release, and the GPLv3 is a big disappointment for some users of BSD systems, having an alternative, non-GPLv3 compiler for the base system has become highly desirable. Currently, the overall consensus is that GCC 4.3 will not be imported into the base system. ... The LLVM and CLANG projects together offer a full BSD-licensed C/C++ compiler infrastructure that is, performance and feature-wise close to, or better than GCC."
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Here is something for those who claim that community projects are less inclined to innovate than commercial enterprises. Debian GNU/Linux, the world's largest Linux distribution, has announced that, starting with its next release, it will the first Linux distro to have "multiarch" support: "During this year's annual Debian Conference DebConf11 made the introduction of 'multiarch support' a release goal for the coming Debian release 7 'Wheezy' to be released in 2013. Multiarch is a radical rethinking of the file system hierarchy with respect to library and header paths, to make programs and libraries of different hardware architectures easily installable in parallel on the very same system. " Steve Langasek explains the finer details of the feature: "Multiarch is a major enhancement to Debian's ability to deliver on the promise of being a universal operating system. Not only will it make crossbuilding easier, it also enables better support for legacy 32-bit applications on new 64-bit installations and in the future it will even allow live migrations from 32-bit to 64-bit systems." The Debian Wiki pages have more on the subject, including some relevant external links.
One other Debian-related news. A reader has emailed DistroWatch to tell us about Debian's new policy of providing MP3 support via LAME in its official repositories: "You may want to report on the inclusion into Debian main of multimedia programs like 'LAME' and the 'x264' encoder that until a few days/weeks ago had to be downloaded from third-party repositories because of software patents and other 'intellectual property' issues. Interestingly the package description of "lame" still mentions possible issues with the use of the lame MP3 encoder (MP3 playback had long been allowed in almost all Linux/BSD distributions): 'LAME (LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder) is a research project for learning about and improving MP3 encoding technology. LAME includes an MP3 encoding library, a simple front-end application, and other tools for sound analysis, as well as convenience tools. Please note that any commercial use (including distributing the LAME encoding engine in a free encoder) may require a patent license from Thomson Multimedia.' So, does this mean that Fedora will wind up as the 'freer' (at least in the eyes of the Free Software Foundation) community distribution? Or will Fedora stick to its guns and allow such patent-encumbered software only via unofficial repositories?"
* * * * *
Finally, a link to a brief interview with Clement Lefebvre, the founder and lead developer of Linux Mint: "Q: What is your ideal Linux setup? A: Linux Mint with a few additional installs (Geany, Dropbox, VirtualBox, Glade, Minitube). I rarely keep the same system installed for more than a few months. Sooner or later I need to tinker with it, upgrade it to another base, replace it with something else or simply start using another partition. I usually play around with 10 GB partitions, access my data externally and replicate my configuration. It's quite easy to do nowadays. It takes more or less 20 minutes for a new system to feel like home so I'm constantly swapping between systems. In the end it doesn't matter much whether I'm using Mint on /dev/sda6 or another Mint on /dev/sda9, missing applications can be quickly installed and the data is easily accessible. Still, now and then, I wouldn't mind my music to sit neatly in ~/Music, or to have the whole 1 TB for myself when editing videos."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Unit testing with Isolator++
People who write code are probably familiar with the concept of unit testing. To insure code works the way it is designed to work it's important to run the code through different scenarios and confirm that it returns the results we expect it to. It's also nice if we can confirm unusual data won't make our projects crash. Putting modules of code through a series of trials is called unit testing and it's a good way to make sure all the pieces of a development project function properly.
Unit testing can be a tedious task as it can involve duplicating dependencies, modifying existing code and running the same modules through an array of different test cases. Isolator++ is a product from Typemock which attempts to make unit testing easier. Isolator++ does this by simulating dependencies and allowing us to build unit tests without modifying the original code, the code we're testing. The idea is to speed up the testing phase and remove some of the risk involved. Typemock recently ported Isolator++ to Linux. To mark the occasion, I downloaded the trial package and talked with two of the people behind the test suite: Eli Lopian, Typemock's Founder, and Gil Zilberfeld, the company's Product Manager.
DW: Perhaps you could start by giving us some background on Typemock?
EL: Typemock was conceived in 2004 and launched in February 2005 after being a company that after 3 months of development was in QA for 6 months! We'd also discovered that 87% of the bugs could be found and fixed with unit tests. Our mission is to help developers create better software without bugs by unit testing. In other words, we envision a world where all professional developers practice unit testing and thus create high quality code with minimum effort.
We know that when you develop with unit tests, you can lessen the amount of bugs, speed up development cycles, push products out the door quickly, and be confident that your applications work as you intended, not only in the first stages of the product but throughout the whole product life cycle. Since 2006 thousands of companies around the world, including multinationals such as Microsoft and Nokia, have implemented Typemock's tools to make unit testing easy and to improve the quality processes. Our users are developers from a wide range of sectors such as defense, medical, and finance who therefore demand exceptionally high standards of quality and minimum errors.
DW: What is Isolator and how does it work?
EL: Unit testing is a core practice of agile methodology, and a proven and efficient way to prevent bugs. Isolator enables easy unit testing of any .NET and C/C++ code, especially the most problematic pieces of code in your project. It does it with a powerful "divide and conquer" technique which is a widely used debugging practice, so regardless of how the code is built, with Isolator you can unit test your code without rewriting it. We have a few versions of Isolator, for .NET, Sharepoint, ASP and for C/C++ (on both Windows and Linux). The Isolator API is specifically designed to make tests more concise, more resistant to production code changes and easier to understand for new users - which ensures that developers' time is not wasted re-writing unit tests. Unit tests with Isolator protects your code from regression bugs and allows organizations to feel confident that their final product meets industry standards. The product is packed with great features including automatic code completion that makes writing tests a breeze; and smart Isolation that assures your tests don't break even when you change your code as long as the logic is intact, resulting in less test rewriting.
GZ: Isolator and Isolator++ enable developers to change the behavior of any part of the code seamlessly, without the need to rewrite the code. The tools use interception technology that modifies the behavior of the code during the test, while keeping the original code intact. Database calls, for example, can be faked to run without an existing database. Having tests run automatically replaces the need for manual validation. Tests run faster, you get feedback quicker, and you know exactly at what state your code quality is. This ensures full code integrity before the code reaches QA. The QA team gets cleaner, working code, and that eliminates the back-and-forth bug find and fix cycles, which often holds back the product from being delivered.
DW: As I understand it, you've been selling Isolator++ on Windows for a while and have now ported it to Linux. Was there a lot of developer demand for a Linux option, or are you testing new waters to see if there is a market?
EL: The launch of Isolator++ for Linux comes from our understanding of developer needs. Checking C/C++ code on the Linux platforms is one of the more complex tasks in development and with an increasing number of developers and organizations using the Linux platform we're delighted to now offer a single multi-platform solution that removes the complexities and friction of testing code. In fact one of the early feedbacks we got from users is the same capability of Isolator++ on Linux.
C/C++ is being increasingly used by software developers especially with today's high demand for smart phones and other advanced technologies and from our conversations with developers as well as market knowledge we decided to bring our Windows testing experiences to Linux.
DW: Isolator++ works with Windows and Linux. Are there limits as to which architectures it runs on (x86, ARM, SPARC)?
GZ: In its first release, Isolator++ works on x86 architecture. We'll continue to add support for different architectures based on the feedback we'll get. It is important to state that many organizations currently have multiple architecture targets, using the same code for different purposes. They use one platform to have actual code run (for example a mobile ARM platform), while an x86 is used to run the tests. Those organizations can use their own methodology to get even better quality by implementing unit testing with Isolator++ on their testing platforms, and run the high-quality product on the target architecture.
DW: I took a quick look at the Isolator++ trial edition and I think it would be very useful for creating unit tests for existing projects. Does Isolator++ offer any advantages to new projects who are in a good position to write their own tests from the beginning?
GZ: It's great for both old projects and new projects. C++ code has been collected for years, and you know your application “mostly works”. But what happens when there's a bug? You need make sure your fix does not break anything. Obviously, Isolator++ can help write tests with existing code. New code in C++ is written everyday -- more devices use it: medical devices, smart cars. All these have very high standard of quality, and many have quality regulation standards. Having unit tests written with Isolator++ for this code makes sure your application meets those standards.
DW: Isolator++ retails for $599. Is that for one developer, one studio, one machine? How does your licensing work?
EL: The license is for one developer.
DW: You have customers all over the world. Is there an area where Typemock software is used more than others? Medical software, military programs, databases?
EL: As we mentioned before our users are developers from a wide range of sectors such as defense, medical, and finance who therefore demand exceptionally high standards of quality. In these mission-critical industries a glitch/bug can be devastating so it's imperative to have bug-less code. However software development is a process that connects to everything in our lives today, and Isolator is not limited to any one industry.
Let's take the finance sector for example. Banks now offer connectivity through different devices and their web sites. They want to make sure the functionality of transferring money, or buying stocks works perfectly. If it doesn't they expose themselves to long QA process and even legal implications that can cost an immense amount compared to finding the bug in the development process. It just makes financial sense.
DW: Beside Isolator++, Typemock offers other products. Will we see Linux ports of those products too?
EL: We have exciting products in our lab right now, some of them are built on the same technology as our .NET products and some are new and exciting technology, but I can't talk about these now.
Thank you. For those of you interested in coding, the developers at Typemock maintain a blog where they talk about developer tools, unit testing and upcoming developer events. You can follow their commentary and announcements at the Typemock Blog.
I spent a little time with Isolator++ and the small on-line instruction manual. Maybe I'm set in my ways and have been writing my own unit tests my way for too long. Maybe I would have done better with more examples in the documentation. Whatever it was, I didn't take to Isolator++ straight away. There is a certain appeal in the design, the ability to fake values and functions strikes me as something which can be useful -- especially if one was thrown into a new code base and expected to test it without knowing anything about the modules. However, for people unit testing their own modules or modules with which they are familiar, I haven't found Isolator's approach to be all that different from other forms of testing. And people running on 64-bit machines will be disappointed to learn that Isolator doesn't support 64-bit yet on Linux.
Isolator is another tool for the developer toolbox, but at $599 I don't think it's likely to gain a lot of attraction in the open source community, a place where most of the coding utilities are available free of charge.
|Released Last Week
CentOS 6.0 "Live"
Karanbir Singh has announced the release of CentOS 6.0 "Live", a set of installable live CD and DVD images based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS 6.0 live CD for i386 and x86_64 architectures. The CentOS 6.0 live CD is meant to be a Linux environment suited to be run directly from either CD media or USB storage devices. Due to space constraints, it was not possible to include all the traditional desktop applications on the live CD. You can though enjoy a GNOME basic desktop, view and modify pictures with gThumb and the GIMP, browse the web with Firefox, send emails with Thunderbird and connect to your favorite instant messaging network with Pidgin." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Zorin OS 5 "Lite"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 5 "Lite", a Lubuntu-based distribution featuring the LXDE desktop environment: "The Zorin OS team is proud to release Zorin OS 5 Lite, the lightweight edition of our operating system designed for Windows users using old and low-specification computers. We have released this version ahead of schedule. This new version of Zorin OS Lite is based on Lubuntu 11.04 and uses the LXDE desktop environment, which brings new and updated packages. Many program changes were also made to increase size efficiency and to improve the overall experience. Most notable in this release is that it can now fit on a CD. We have removed WINE, VLC, a few games and other programs to save space and included them into our new and exclusive program, the 'Zorin OS Lite Extra Software'." The release announcement.
Clonezilla Live 1.2.9-19
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 1.2.9-19, a new stable version of the project's Debian-based live CD designed for disk cloning tasks: "This release of Clonezilla Live (1.2.9-19) includes major enhancements, changes and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system was upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2011-07-22; Linux kernel was updated to 2.6.39; Partclone was updated to 0.2.24; Pbzip2 was updated to 1.1.4; Brazilian Portuguese language was added; the Samba file system with hidden share can now be assigned in boot parameter 'ocs_prerun'; xz compression instead of gzip method was used when making Squashfs, therefore the Clonezilla Live ISO image and ZIP file are smaller by about 31 MB...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete list of changes.
Poseidon Linux 4.0
Gonzalo Velasco has announced the release of Poseidon Linux 4.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution with focus on scientific computing: "Poseidon Linux 4.0 is here. Our new release is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (with 3 years of updates guaranteed by Canonical) as our goals are stability, usability and support for the whole system when used professionally at universities, institutes, colleges and at home. Poseidon Linux is a GNU/Linux distribution designed for the academic and scientific community; it includes a large number of scientific applications, covering areas such as: GIS and geostatistics, visualization, mathematics, statistics, physics, chemistry, CAD, engineering, computer graphics, image editing and vector drawing, numeric modelling and simulation, scientific graphs, scientific authoring...." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement.
Poseidon Linux 4.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with software for scientific computing
(full image size: 125kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Scientific Linux 6.1
Scientific Linux 6.1, a free "clone" of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1 enhanced with extra software, has been released: "Scientific Linux 6.1 is now officially released and available." Some of the changes since 6.0 include: "A whole new graphical theme called 'Edge Of Space'; we pulled the 'fastbugs' and 'testing' repositories out of the repository file that comes with sl-release, they are now in their own RPM called yum-conf-sl-other. Added several packages to Scientific Linux that are not found anywhere on the Enterprise releases: IceWM - a fast and small X11 window manager; OpenAFS - a distributed file system...." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Garrett D'Amore has announced the release of NexentaStor 3.1, an enterprise-class storage solution built upon the foundation of the OpenSolaris-based Nexenta Core Platform: "After a long and arduous release cycle, I am pleased to report that NexentaStor 3.1 is available now. This release includes a number of key features, including some significant improvements for performance and manageability. Folks using SCSI target mode will probably see the biggest performance boost relative to earlier versions of NexentaStor, especially those folks using NexentaStor to serve up storage to VMware guests -- thanks to the VAAI offload support that is part of this release. And yes, this release includes the fix the long-standing problem with iSCSI timeouts. For ZFS fans, this release also includes the updates for ZFS version 28." Read the complete release announcement for further information.
François Dupoux has released a new version of SystemRescueCd, a Gentoo-based live CD containing a variety of utilities for disk management and data rescue tasks. One of the major items in this version is the brand-new Linux kernel 3.0. From the changelog: "Updated alternative kernels to Linux 3.0 (altker32 + altker64); ipdated firmware in both the initramfs and in the main file system; added support for Linux 3.0 in genkernel; Linux kernel modules are gzipped in the embedded initramfs to save memory; fixed busy CPU in the terminal by downgrading VTE to 0.26.3; updated Parted to 2.4 and GParted to 0.9.0; updated Portage to 2.1.10; updated TestDisk to 6.12; updated Firefox to version 5."
Parted Magic 6.4
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 6.4, a small utility distribution with specialist software for data rescue and disk partitioning tasks: "Parted Magic 6.4. Lots of updates, bug fixes and new features. Parted Magic's kernel is updated to 3.0 and SMP support was removed from the i486 kernel. Some people were having issues with the nouveau X.Org driver, so an option was added to the failsafe menu to revert back to the nv driver. If you add 'clonezilla' to the kernel command line at boot time, you are brought directly into Clonezilla. There are some major improvements in handling of Radeon and Mobile4 video cards. Some major updates on popular core programs as well. Firefox was updated to 5.0, Clonezilla to 1.2.9-19, and GParted to 0.9.0." Visit the project's home page to read the release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
July 2011 DistroWatch.com donation: vsftpd|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the July 2011 DistroWatch.com donation is vsftpd, a fast and secure FTP server for UNIX-like systems.
Developed by Christian Evans and licensed under the General Public License (GPL), vsftpd is one of the most widely-used FTP servers on the Internet. According to the project's website, vsftpd is used as the preferred FTP server by many major Linux and BSD projects, including Red Hat, Debian GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, the Linux kernel, GNU, GNOME, KDE and others. It boasts many features, such as "virtual IP configurations, virtual users, standalone or inetd operation, powerful per-user configurability, bandwidth throttling, per-source-IP configurability, per-source-IP limits, IPv6 and encryption support through SSL integration." The most recent version is vsftpd 2.3.4, released in February 2011. For more information please see the project's website.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$28,690 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Ascendos. Ascendos is a new enterprise Linux distribution with a commitment to compatibility and transparency. The project is in very early stages of development.
- Helal Linux. Helal Linux is an Ubuntu-based distribution with improved support for Arabic, extra software, custom theme, and other features.
- UbuBox SalentOS. UbuBox SalentOS is an Ubuntu-based Italian distribution that uses Openbox as the preferred window manager.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 8 August 2011.
Robert Storey, Ladislav Bodnar and Jesse Smith
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
MirOS is an operating system based on OpenBSD and synchronised with the ongoing development of its parent. The most important differences between OpenBSD and MirOS include a completely rewritten bootloader and boot manager, a slim base system without NIS, Kerberos, BIND and i18n, binary security updates for stable releases, and current versions of the GNU developer toolchain.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Tips and tricks: Creating bootable USB drives with UNetbootin|
|Tips and tricks: Running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi|
|Tips and tricks: Basename, for loop, dirname, aliases, bash history, xsel clipboard|
|Questions and answers: Comparing containers with portable applications|
|Questions and answers: Using "alien" to convert RPM to DEB|
|Tips and tricks: Check free disk space, wait for a process, command line spell-check, shutdown PC when CPU gets hot|
|Questions and answers: Chatting with Jared Smith, Fedora Project Leader|
|Questions and answers: Running GNU/Linux on tablet computers|
|Questions and answers: Linux distributions offering commercial support|
|Myths and misunderstandings: ZFS|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|