| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 418, 15 August 2011
Welcome to this year's 33rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Although "libre" distributions are unlikely to gain much mainstream following in the foreseeable future, they play an important role in the Linux distro ecosystem. One of the projects, recognised by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as an operating system built in its entirety from free software components is Kongoni GNU/Linux, a Slackware-based distribution made in South Africa. Jesse Smith takes the project's latest version for a quick spin to see if it meets its release goals. In the news section, Gentoo's new live DVD attracts conflicting reports, Fedora postpones the switch to Btrfs as the default file system, Ubuntu's recent Unity changes draw more criticism, and Unity Linux developers reduce their packaging workload by turning to Mandriva repositories. Finally, don't miss the Questions and Answers section, which discusses the ways and pitfalls of mixing RPM packages made for different distributions. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
From a philosophical point of view it's nice to see some distributions work at making a completely free (libre) operating system. One of the projects trying to promote freedom, as defined by the Free Software Foundation, is Kongoni. This distro has an African theme to it, which we'll touch on later, and their website says they name all of their releases after famous philosophers. I decided to take their latest version, Firefly, for a test run.
The Kongoni distribution comes on a live CD, which weighs in at 677MB. The distro is only available as a 32-bit x86 edition and, according to their download page, the project recommends using Pentium II machines (or newer) with 512 MB or more RAM. After downloading and burning the Firefly release to a CD I booted into the distro's live environment. The graphical boot screen is a pleasant outdoor image depicting, I suspect, the African plains. Upon booting we're turned over to a KDE 4.6 desktop with a soft blue background. The application menu and task switcher are placed at the bottom of the screen and several icons are placed in a widget on the desktop. These icons give us access to the Amarok music player, the Dolphin file manager, the Choqok microblogger, IceCat (a re-branded Firefox), the system installer and the K3b disc burner. We are also given access to a system configuration tool, called KISS, a virtual terminal, the Kopete instant messenger, KTorrent and the KDE System Settings panel.
Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011 - desktop and system settings
(full image size: 501kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Right away it becomes apparent KDE has been set up with all the extra features enabled. Desktop effects, such as window highlighting and transparency, are turned on. The result is a sluggish environment, even on fairly modern hardware. Despite the interface's sluggishness, the included software appears to work well. That is, I was able to run programs, adjust settings and browse the web without any issues. However, some of my laptop's hardware wasn't picked up. My touchpad was handled properly, but audio and my Intel wireless card did not work, the latter due to the lack of non-free firmware in the distribution.
According to Kongoni's website their system installer is unique to the distribution. For the most part the installer uses text-based menus and leads users through simple steps, similar in style to Slackware's installer. We hit an exception to this rule early on when the installer launches the KDE Partition Manager to help us divide up the hard disk. However, with partitions created, we're then back to the text interface where we can format partitions and assign them file systems (ext3, ext4, ReiserFS, Reiser4, Btrfs, XFS and JFS are supported). Next we pick our time zone from a list and the installer begins copying files to the disk. Unfortunately here I hit a wall. The installer doesn't give any indication of progress, but I assumed a distribution on a single CD should take 20-40 minutes to complete its install. After an hour I stopped the process and tried again on my other test machine, a desktop box (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card).
On the desktop machine things were once again a bit sluggish, but I found all my hardware was supported out of the box. I kicked off the installer, went through the partitioning and waited while files were (allegedly) copied to my local hard drive. After an hour and a half without any indication of progress, I terminated the installer. At time of writing I'm not certain if my fruitless install attempts (I made another, also unsuccessful, try in a virtual machine) were due to a bug or if the installer is just so slow it requires more time. Without feedback from the installer it's hard to tell.
Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011 - testing the Gnash plugin
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The rest of my time with Kongoni was spent using the live disc. The CD contains a good supply of desktop software. Included are IceCat 5, KMail, the KPPP dialer, the Konqueror web browser and Kopete for instant messaging. Dragon Player is available for watching videos, Juk is included for listening to music (as is Amarok). There's no office software on the CD. We do find a CD ripper and several privacy & encryption tools, such as Kleopatra, KGpg and the GNU Privacy Assistant. Kongoni features the Back in Time backup program, a document viewer, and Ark for handling archives. Kongoni tries to accommodate people looking for multimedia support out of the box -- the distro features codecs for playing MP3s and popular video formats. Though Adobe Flash isn't included, the Gnash plugin is and it handled most pages I threw at it. The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is on the CD and, under it all, is the 2.6.37 release of the Linux kernel.
Kongoni's primary method of handling packages is to use a ports system. This means the operating system's package manager will download the source code for software and compile it locally. The hope is the resulting executable file will be more efficient than a pre-compiled package. The ports manager, called the Ports Installation GUI (PIG), has a similar layout to Gslapt. Action buttons are placed across the top of the PIG window and a list of available software is shown in the middle. We can filter items by their status and search for items by name. It's fairly straight forward and, despite the wait for ports to compile, the process is smooth and intuitive. The project also claims to be compatible with packages built for Slackware, though I haven't tried performing installs from Slackware repositories.
Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011 - ports installation GUI
(full image size: 327kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
Overall I was disappointed with Kongoni. Granted, the project has its good points. The distro comes with a good range of functionality considering it uses only FSF-approved software. But one big problem was my issue with the installer. I never did get Kongoni to install and I think it's important the user be kept informed of what's going on so we know if a process has stalled or is just slow. But my main complaint against Kongoni is the apparent gap between what the project states is their focus and the distribution they provide. Take the following statement from the project's About page: "Ports mean that the programs are downloaded as source and packages are then built automatically (no user knowledge required). This means smaller bandwidth requirements (a big concern in Africa)."
I question this statement for two reasons, one is that source packages, even compressed, are usually as large or larger than binary packages. It isn't always true, there are examples of smaller source packages too, but my point is that the benefit from a bandwidth point of view will probably be non-existent. Second, the user's machine will be required to compile the ports which, for larger packages, can take hours. For a project which claims to be trying to save bandwidth and targeting lower-end machines, providing software through source doesn't make sense. The bandwidth cost will be about the same and the machines will spend hours compiling updates.
On a similar note, if you were targeting low-end machines (the website mentions Pentium II with 512 MB of RAM) which desktop environment would you use? I'm a big fan of the KDE project, but it is a large desktop environment, perhaps the heaviest available in the open-source world right now. And Kongoni ships KDE with all the desktop effects and features enabled, causing even my fairly modern laptop to drag under the load. In a virtual environment with the project's recommended 1 GB of RAM the desktop becomes nearly unusable as applications can take several seconds to a minute to launch.
I'm not saying Kongoni is a bad project, if their About page had said the distro was aimed at higher-end machines and people who liked building software from source and their releases all carried science-fiction names I probably would have given Kongoni a passing grade. As it stands, the Kongoni team seems to have forgotten their stated goals and it made for a poor experience.
* * * * *
I'd like to shift gears now from a distro which didn't install to a distro which isn't designed to be installed. Most projects these days provide a live CD, but for the system administrator on the go those CDs are often slow and resource hungry. For people who just want to boot into a command line environment with a collection of utilities there's Finnix. The Finnix distribution has been around for some time, but because of its sparse nature the distro rarely makes headlines. Finnix doesn't feature a desktop or sound support, but does come in x86 and PowerPC editions.
I downloaded the latest Finnix release and gave it a try on my test machines. Though light on features, the CD boots quickly and has the usual collection of disk mounting and file system checking programs. According to the project's website, Finnix should work on i486 machines and has a very small memory footprint (using around 25 MB during my tests).
Finnix is based on Debian GNU/Linux and includes the APT package management tools, allowing the user to install and upgrade software from Debian's repositories. I gave installing software in the live environment a whirl and it worked well for me. I was also happy to see the distro will automatically detect and mount local swap partitions, giving the user more memory to play with, helpful on lower-end machines. Though the Finnix boot menu lists FreeDOS as a possible boot option I found neither of my machines were able to boot into DOS, both of them locked-up directly after selecting the alternative operating system. Unfortunately my 90s games will continue to rely on DOSBox.
Finnix is not a distro for most people, but for gurus comfortable on the command line who find themselves doing a lot of damage control, it's a useful tool to carry with you.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Gentoo for crickets and laptops, Fedora delays Btrfs introduction, Ubuntu Unity changes, new direction for Unity Linux
A new Gentoo Linux live DVD was released just over a week ago, the second such product of the year. As with any other rolling-release, source-based distribution, a publication of this kind doesn't represent a particularly big event on the distro's calendar, serving primarily to facilitate new installations and to showcase the latest Gentoo technologies. No wonder interest remains low and Susan Linton even argues that the new version of the Gentoo live DVD was actually released to crickets: "Ah, Gentoo. Gentoo was once one of the most popular distributions going. But somewhere along the line it declined. It has become a fringe distro that, even with dedicated developers and loyal users, can't seem to get its mojo back. I used Gentoo for several years and perhaps the reasons I moved on might be the same others did as well. In 2002 Gentoo was sitting at number three on the DistroWatch page hit ranking. It has been falling down that list every year since. This year it's at 18."
Naturally, most die-hard Gentoo users won't care about what this website's page hit ranking statistics say about their preferred distro. But even new Gentoo users, especially those not afraid of following the project's reputed documentation, can benefit from installing and using this technical operating system. As an example, Techgage's Rob Williams decided to give Gentoo Linux a partition on his laptop just last week, with a rather positive result: "Aside from the wireless issue, another reason I never wanted to use Gentoo on a laptop is because A) software must be compiled and B) it can be difficult to update at times. I can honestly say though, that with more recent updates made to Gentoo's software repository, Portage, updating and getting bleeding-edge software installed is easier than ever (especially thanks to the introduction of an autounmask-write command). With this install working as well as it is, I am glad I decided to give Gentoo another shot on a notebook, and I can't see me moving off it any time soon."
* * * * *
A widely reported news item from the development of Fedora: the projected switch to Btrfs, a journaled file system that was expected to replace ext4 as the default data organising method in the upcoming Fedora 16 release, won't happen until Fedora 17. The reason? Btrfs has yet to meet the stipulated criteria: "Developer Josef Bacik, who contributes to Fedora and Btrfs for Red Hat, has announced that the experimental Btrfs won't become Fedora 16's default file system. In early June, the Linux distribution's Engineering Steering Committee had decided to switch from ext4 to Btrfs, but also vaguely stipulated various requirements Btrfs was to meet before the switch; the requirements were only specified later on. Recently, it became apparent that Btrfs has not met the stipulated criteria. The main reason for this continues to be the still ongoing development of a decent program for testing and repairing Btrfs file systems."
* * * * *
It's fair to say that Ubuntu's Unity user interface has not been universally applauded. Radical design changes and lack of configurability are often cited as the main reasons for the criticism, so many Ubuntu users have been hoping that the distribution's upcoming release will address the shortcomings. Unfortunately, some of the recent Unity changes are now attracting even more severe objections than the original design. Justin Stories explains: "The Unity shell and the top panel was always a design headache for those behind the development. The design in its current form itself was criticized by many and was one of the reasons why many people hated Unity. The daily builds of Unity 2D had a new iteration of the design apparently trying to solve some of the issues associated with the desktop shell. The new design is now causing far more criticism than the current version. The current version has too many things going on the left-hand top corner of the screen. There is the Ubuntu button with Ubuntu logo, the global menu, the application title and the window controls for maximized applications are all crammed into that little space there." The blog post is accompanied by a number of screenshots and a lively discussion.
* * * * *
Much less known (and "hated") is another Unity, a Linux distribution that came into existence long before Ubuntu decided to use the word to name its desktop. The project, created by former contributors to PCLinuxOS and now based on Mandriva Linux, has been somewhat sleepy in recent months, but last week, Unity developer "devnet" stirred the user community with a post entitled "A new direction": "Effective immediately I am moving us to using Mandriva repositories. We will continue to have a 'Unity Only' and 'Branding' repository and repository for our custom packages and various branches (if they have their own), but Mandriva will be our complete source for packages. Now, this decision was made a long time ago as some of you who attended the last developer meeting know that during this meeting we discussed the eventual use of Mandriva's repositories for replacement of ours. No clear steps to get us there were outlined and it was decided that this would happen later rather than sooner."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Mixing RPM packages made for different distributions
Caught-between-a-rock-and-a-package-place asks: For the last four months I have been testing versions of PCLinuxOS, Mageia and Mandriva. I can not decide which one to replace my present Mandriva 2005. Each one has a different repository and not one has all the programs I need. The problem is that with the present installation methods one, apparently, can not grab the RPM file itself. Thus I am not able to grab a program from one distribution and install it on another. I would appreciate an article on the download aspect of package management and perhaps a solution to the above problem. A related problem is knowing when you can take RPMs from older CDs and use them with newer distributions.
DistroWatch answers: First, let's look at some possible solutions to the missing package problem. If you're testing out three different distributions which almost fit your needs, but each one is missing a particular package I recommend taking the following steps:
What about mixing and matching packages from other repositories? It's a possibility, but it's rarely a workable solution, even among distributions which are closely related, such as Mageia and Mandriva. Packages often look for specific libraries and transporting packages to systems other than the one they were built for usually leads to dependency issues. That being said, if you want to try it, you can generally find a distribution's repository and download the RPM (or other archive type) directly from the repository. Mageia maintains a list of repository mirrors and you can find specific packages under the mirror's "distrib/1/i586/media/" directory. Likewise, Mandriva keeps a list of mirrors where you can find RPM packages. Once you've downloaded the package file you want, you can attempt to install it using the RPM command, for example:
- Join the developer mailing list for each project and request your required package be added to their repositories. It could be no one has asked for the package you need and they may add it for you.
- Depending on how comfortable you are with building software, you might consider grabbing the source code for the application and try building it yourself. This isn't as convenient as having a package prepared for you in the repository, but if you really need the program it's one way to go.
- You're testing three different distributions now, consider testing a forth. You may find there is another user-friendly distro out there which suits you and includes the package you require. Mint and openSUSE, for example, I find are comparable to Mandriva and both have large package repositories.
rpm -i mypackage-1.0-i586.rpm
If the command returns errors you can try to force the issue (though I don't recommend doing so) with
rpm -i --force --nodeps mypackage-1.0-i586.rpm
I don't recommend trying to install packages from other distributions or even different versions of the same distribution unless you've tried all the other options without success. Pulling from unsupported sources is a dirty workaround and it's a much better idea to attempt building your application from its source code. That way if you get stuck or have questions, the upstream project developers should be able to assist you.
|Released Last Week
Dimitris Papadatos has announced the release of Monomaxos 6.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution with out-of-the-box support for popular media formats and other user-friendly enhancements: "Monomaxos Greek Linux operating system 2011 version 6.0 (based on Ubuntu 11.04). This is the sixth release of Monomaxos localized in the Greek language that comes as a live DVD. It supports playback of every kind of multimedia material (including HD video) and any kind of Internet content out of the box. It can also be used for setting up a standalone media center. It contains LibreOffice 3.3 in the Greek language with enabled functional spell check. In this release a local Monomaxos repository is used; it includes software chosen by the fans of the project and all the latest ATI and NVIDIA graphic cards drivers." Visit the project's English home page to read the full release announcement.
Monomaxos 6.0 - an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution with a custom user interface
(full image size: 620kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Plop Linux 4.1.2
Elmar Hanlhofer has announced the release of Plop Linux 4.1.2, a small utility live CD (now also with Fluxbox and GNOME options) designed to rescue data from a damaged system, backup and restore operating systems and automate common tasks. From the changelog: "Plop Linux 4.1.2 released. Updated Linux kernel 3.0.1, Nmap 5.51, NTFS-3G 2011.4.12AR.4, OpenSSH 5.8p2, OpenSSL 1.0.0d, Samba 3.5.9, Squashfs 4.2, udev 171, Plop boot manager 5.0.13; setupavg - environment variables set automatically when the user logs in; fpupdate - alias is set to avoid 'Out of memory problem' when running without full path; default kernel compiled for i586 with PAE enabled additional kernel with i486 settings compiled; possible resolv.conf conflict during network boot fixed."
Plop Linux 4.1.2 - a utility live CD with tools for data backup and rescue
(full image size: 620kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Network Security Toolkit 2.15.0
Paul Blankenbaker has announced the release of Network Security Toolkit (NST) 2.15.0, a Fedora-based live DVD featuring a collection of best-of-breed open-source network security applications: "We are pleased to announce the latest NST release, version 2.15.0. This release is based on Fedora 15 using Linux kernel 2.6.40, re-based from latest Linux kernel 3.0. Here are some of the highlights for this release: developed a new interactive dynamic SVG/AJAX enabled network interface bandwidth monitor application that is integrated into the NST WUI for monitoring pseudo real-time network bandwidth rates; added NST RPM packages and NST WUI integration for the Open Vulnerability Assessment Scanner (OpenVAS) and Greenbone security tools; added an NST RPM package for IPv6 network security investigation...." Continue reading the release announcement for a complete list of improvements.
Toorox 08.2011 "Xfce", "Lite"
Jörn Lindau has announced the availability of two new editions of Toorox, a Gentoo-based desktop distribution: "A new version of Toorox has been finished - but this time there are two new variants. The 'Xfce' edition with the lightweight and fast Xfce desktop 4.8.0. The desktop environment needs fewer resources and runs well on older hardware, or lightning-fast with new hardware. The installed applications are the same as of the 'KDE' or 'GNOME' editions. The 'Lite' edition - also with Xfce 4.8.0 - but this one has been shrunk. All of the huge applications have been either removed or replaced by smaller alternatives. Removed Ardour, Cinelerra, GIMP, Samba, IcedTea, Wine, kernel sources. Replaced LibreOffice with AbiWord, IceCat with Midori, Thunderbird with Claws-Mail." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Henry Jensen has announced the release of ConnochaetOS 0.9.0, a lightweight desktop distribution, formerly known as DeLi Linux, designed for old and low-resource computers (Pentium I, 64 MB of RAM): "I am pleased to announce the release of ConnochaetOS 0.9.0. After one year of development and after three years after the last release of its predecessor, DeLi Linux, this is the first stable release of ConnochaetOS. In the last weeks since RC1 we simplified the installer once again, fixed some more bugs and updated the kernel, the web browser XXXTerm and other packages, and produced some documentation. ConnochaetOS 0.9.0 provides: kernel Linux-Libre 126.96.36.199, the IceWM desktop 1.3.7, a lightweight WebKit-based web browser - XXXTerm, GOffice...." See the release announcement for more information.
ConnochaetOS 0.9.0 - a lightweight distro made to run smoothly on old computers
(full image size: 1,425kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Pinguy OS 10.04.3
Antoni Norman has announced the release of Pinguy OS 10.04.3, the third update of the Ubuntu-based desktop distribution with long-term support: "I am proud to announce the release of Pinguy OS 10.04.3 LTS, the third maintenance update to Pinguy OS 10.04 LTS release. This release includes installation DVDs for the i386 and amd64 architectures. Numerous updates have been integrated and updated installation media have been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. This will be the final point release for 10.04. Linux kernel 2.6.32, LibreOffice 3.3.2, Firefox 5.0, Flash 10.3, Java 6u26, VLC 1.1.7. VirtualBox 4.1, Wine 1.2.3." Here is the release announcement as published on the distribution's user forum.
Rocks Cluster Distribution 5.4.3
Philip Papadopoulos has announced the release of Rocks Cluster Distribution 5.4.3, an updated release of the CentOS-based operating system designed for real and virtual clusters: "The production version of Rocks 5.4.3 is now available. New features: the root password supplied during the front-end installation is now used only for the root password of the front-end; to set the root passwords for individual back-end nodes, the user can now use command-line tool. The rationale behind setting random root passwords for all back-end nodes is that, if by some means, an attacker gained access to the root account of a back-end node, and then the adversary could ran an offline attack against the encrypted version of the root password, none of the other nodes would be compromised." See the brief release announcement and the detailed release notes for further information.
Ultimate Edition 3.0 "Gamers"
Ultimate Edition 3.0 "Gamers", an Ubuntu-based live DVD with a collection of Linux games, has been released: "I would like to announce the release of Ultimate Edition 3.0 'Gamers'. Ultimate Edition 3.0 'Gamers' is the first 'Gamers' release built from the 'Lite' edition. This allowed us to add more games while maintaining a fine selection of applications for everyday use. 'Gamers' not only comes with over 30 games that rock out of the box, it includes emulators allowing access to virtually thousands of additional games. Still not happy? WINE, winetricks and PlayOnLinux is also pre-installed, allowing you to play your Windows games. Ultimate Edition Gamers 3.0 has the most games pre-installed of any release to-date." See the release announcement and release notes for a complete list of included games and some screenshots.
Ultimate Edition 3.0 "Gamers" - a live DVD packed with games
(full image size: 712kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Puppy Linux 5.1.3 "Wary"
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 5.1.3 "Wary" edition, a mini-distribution targeting old and low-resource computers: "Wary is our flavour of Puppy that targets older hardware. Version 5.1.3 is mostly bug fixes and minor upgrades to 5.1.2. There have been some significant improvements at the Woof level, such as a close-box on desktop drive icons and faster boot-up. New applications: Default Applications Chooser, Urxvtset. New utilities: picscale, pngoverlay, yad. I decided to stay with SeaMonkey 1.1.18, as 2.2 has a badly broken Composer module. Also, 1.1.18 is smaller and better suited to older hardware -- FlashBlock and AddBlock plugins are included to suit those on dial-up. A couple of projects that have been upgraded in Wary and are worthy of special mention: BaCon and gtkdialog. BaCon is a superb BASIC compiler, and gtkdialog provides sophisticated GUIs for shell scripts." The release announcement.
Another lightweight Linux distribution designed to be as economical on resources as possible is the Ubuntu-based wattOS. Version R4 was released yesterday: "I am pleased to announce the release of wattOS R4. This version has a load of new changes: lightweight Linux running LXDE and updated clean simple interface and smooth new look; new included control panel user interface for simple configuration of the system in a familiar format; wattOS now also has a PPA on launchpad so this application can be updated automatically as well as new wattOS-specific packages will be published here; new music player changed to Audacious with plugin for music stream searching; changed to VLC for video player; changed to lightweight mail client Sylpheed by default; updated version of Fotoxx photo editor; KeePassX password manager; changed from Firefox to Chromium web browser, Flash support included." Here is the brief release announcement.
wattOS R4 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with focus on minimising the energy footprint
(full image size: 792kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Zorin OS 5 "Educational"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 5 "Educational", an Ubuntu-based distribution for schools: "The Zorin OS team is proud to release Zorin OS 5 Educational, the educational version of our operating system designed for Windows users. This new version of Zorin OS Educational is based on Zorin OS 5 Core and uses the GNOME Classic 2.32 desktop environment. Zorin OS 5 Educational includes dozens of educational programs for primary, secondary and tertiary education students. We have included new features, such as an installer welcome video, a new theme and updated artwork, simplified application names, updated software and many program changes to improve the user experience. We have also included our other exclusive programs such as the Zorin Look Changer and Internet Browser Manager." The release announcement.
Frugalware Linux 1.5
Frugalware Linux 1.5, a general-purpose distribution designed for intermediate Linux users, has been released: "The Frugalware developer team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Frugalware 1.5, our fifteenth stable release. No new features have been added since 1.5rc2, but 86 changes have been made to fix minor bugs. If you didn't follow the changes during the pre-releases, here are the most important changes since 1.4 in no particular order: updated packages - Linux kernel 188.8.131.52, X.Org Server 1.10.3, GNOME 3, KDE SC 4.6.5, Xfce 4, LibreOffice 3.4.2, Mozilla Firefox 5.0.1 to name a few major components; new version of Pacman-g2 bringing some nice features; systemd is now the default init system; initial ARM port; The boot splash is now provided by Plymouth; i686 and x86_64 kernels can now boot from EFI...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
Frugalware Linux 1.5 - the project's 15th stable release
(full image size: 747kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7
Alan Baghumian has announced the release of Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7, an updated version of the desktop-oriented distribution and live DVD based on Debian's testing branch: "Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7 brings tons of updated packages, faster live boot and quality new features. This version has been synchronized with Debian testing repositories as of Feb 7, 2010 and brings lots of updated packages. The Parsix DVD images are compiled using Squashfs 4.0 with LZMA compression. Our brand new Linux 184.108.40.206 based kernel with improved configuration is patched using TuxOnIce 3.2 suspension and hibernation, Kon Kolivas's BFS and extra hardware support patches. For the first time we are including certain drivers from kernel's staging tree, including the new experimental nouveau graphics diver for NVIDIA chips." Consult the detailed release notes for a list of new features and major software components.
Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7 - a new release of a Debian "testing"-based live DVD with GNOME
(full image size: 2,054kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- Arc-live Linux. Arc-live Linux is a Brazilian Debian-based live distribution with automatic hardware detection and the Debian installer.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 22 August 2011.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Ubuntu and Unity (by Eric on 2011-08-15 09:16:13 GMT from Netherlands) |
I am currently running alpha 3 of oneiric ocelot on my laptop and natty on my desktop PC. On both computers, I have sqithced to Gnome 3 and 2 respectively. It may not be so much for the Unity interface as it shows up, but far more for the slow speed of it. If Unity would startup my applications faster, I would maybe give it a chance.
2 • Gentoo for crickets? (by joji on 2011-08-15 09:48:40 GMT from Belgium)
Would like to stress the 'universality' of this new Gentoo 11.2 LiveCD.
Where can one find a livedvd which contains that amount of the latest software?
Would like also to quote Susan Linton :
"New desktops include KDE 4.7.0, GNOME 3.0.0, and Xfce 4.8. Some software updates are LibreOffice 3.3.3, Mozilla Firefox 5.0, Chromium 13.0, Opera 11.50, Amarok 2.4.3, and MPlayer2 2.0. The Live DVD actually comes with a lot of software"
Even the latest Fluxbox and LXDE are there. Not to mention all the programming / scripting languages. (am only missing 'ruby')
Just put this DVD on a usb stick (dd) and you may show anybody the richness of Linux.
3 • Gentoo Linux Live DVD (by Alfie on 2011-08-15 09:54:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
Gentoo Linux Live DVD is a pretty good distro. I wish it would provide a installation program. Gentoo is Gnome 3 was very fast and KDE is superb.
Maybe the Gentoo developers would think of us, who are not geeks.
4 • Parsix version date (by David Howard on 2011-08-15 10:34:05 GMT from Israel)
"Alan Baghumian has announced the release of Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7, an updated version ... [which] has been synchronized with Debian testing repositories as of Feb 7, 2010 and brings lots of updated packages."
Surely this date is way out?
5 • Distributions for non-geek people (by Anonymous Coward on 2011-08-15 10:40:29 GMT from Spain)
Maybe Gentoo developers would think of us, who are not geeks.
I don't think they have plans to ease their installation process, as that's not a priority for sure.
Some distributions target new users. Some others target advanced users. Asking Gentoo to have an installer is more or less as asking Linux From Scratch to be easy to install.
There are hundreds of "easy" distributions around, but not so many for really hardcore geeks. May I suggest we leave a little place for them in our Free Software Realm?
6 • Distributions for non-geek people --Gentoo (by Alfie on 2011-08-15 10:53:09 GMT from United Kingdom)
Dear Anonymous Coward, then the Gentoo people should not have issued a Live DVD, which won't give us anything, if we can't install it -- We are not going to go about showing how good Linux is to others and not some Live DVD that won't get installed.
If gentto is that good, I suppose it is, why not include an installer? is it that much troublesome, in this 21st century?
7 • @6 (by megadriver on 2011-08-15 10:57:34 GMT from Spain)
Why a Gentoo Live DVD? To try and lure you into the wonderful world of geekiness, of course :)
Here's your installer:
8 • Unity Interface (by DavidEF on 2011-08-15 12:18:04 GMT from United States)
I've found lots to be disappointed by in the Unity interface, but I've also found that I can get along with it just fine, for the most part. I use Natty with Unity on my desktop computer at home. My laptop suffers from some weird visual glitches when any 3D composited desktop is running, so I use the fallback Gnome2 without 3D accel. desktop in Natty there.
My main complaint is that it seems to be a bit more of a hassle to look through all my installed applications. Occasionally, I like to see what I've got, so I can uninstall stuff I haven't been using, or play a game I forgot I had. To me, it feels like the Unity way of viewing installed applications is like looking through a scope to view a mountain range. Sure, you can eventually see it all, but you miss the big picture that is sometimes more meaningful.
9 • 4@ parsix (by mandog on 2011-08-15 12:00:44 GMT from United Kingdom)
I think it should read synchronized with Debian testing as from Feb 7 2011
Its a very very underrated distro that in the main just works and is fast.
10 • @6 (by larry on 2011-08-15 12:30:36 GMT from United States)
Of course the Gentoo folks should have issued a live DVD without an installer. Why, because they do the work and so they get to make the choices, as in this case not including an installer. If we don't like that we are free to make our own Gentoo like release or wander off and use another distro. Freedom must extend to the developers as well the user.
11 • Gentoo for nongeeks (by nongeek on 2011-08-15 13:03:14 GMT from Germany)
@3 Just try Toorox. You can eve install it.
12 • Gentoo, Live DVD with no installer (by Sitwon on 2011-08-15 13:26:54 GMT from United States)
Of course Gentoo shouldn't add an installer. Having any kind of automated installer would be completely contrary to what Gentoo is trying to provide to experienced users. Gentoo is all about giving the user maximum choice and control, you simply can't do that by bottling up a narrow selection of possible choices into a graphical installer.
If you want a graphical installer but still want to use Portage, there are forks like Sabayon to fill your needs. However, asking Gentoo to give you a graphical installer is like asking a vegan to cook you a steak.
13 • Gentoo for nongeeks (by cphayes0882 on 2011-08-15 13:34:29 GMT from United States)
Im a non-geek, and Im attemping to install gentoo, and seriously looking forward to it. I understand that gentoo's identity, well part of it, is lack of installer. Thats part of what makes it gentoo. If you dont like debian, you try another distro. if you dont like fedora, you try another distro. I see a trend :p But seriously, as 5 said, there should be a linux out there for the "geeks". If you can have a linux for serious newbies, why not for those who wanna delv into the linux world? Not every distro needs to cater to popularity. Might be good for some distros, not all though.
14 • Gentoo install difficulty (by dreaded on 2011-08-15 14:08:57 GMT from United States)
If you think Gentoo is tough, just try LFS. :)
15 • Gentoo for nongeeks (by bapun on 2011-08-15 14:26:17 GMT from India)
Installing gentoo teaches you a lot about your system . If gentoo people start providing a installer , then people start installing gentoo without the handbook but after that they just go to the forum and start asking for help like "how can i install software" . Installing gentoo is a learning curve , if you don't want to learn then other distros are available .
16 • Gentoo for nongeeks (by Scott on 2011-08-15 14:50:07 GMT from United States)
I have to agree with bapun and others. The vast majority of distrbutions these days are aimed at the less experienced user and control is often sacrificed for convenience.
In my humble opinion, one reason Gentoo was so popular at its inception was Daniel Robbins' exceptionally good documentation, making a fairly complex process clear to the non-expert. I remember learning a great deal from using it--in large part, I think, due to his docs.
There's a need for a few distributions that don't cater to the theoretical "average user," whatever that is.
17 • Unity panel (by octathlon on 2011-08-15 14:51:12 GMT from United States)
Can you add panel applets under Unity? Like Drawers or Menus? What about in GNOME 3 for that matter? Is it true that there is no menu (or ability to add one), and you have to type the name of the program you want or else search through pages of icons?
18 • wattOS R4 (by Rachel Carson on 2011-08-15 15:33:22 GMT from United States)
Any love for wattOS? Sounds intriguing, just wish it wasn't based on Ubuntu.
19 • Re: 16 (by sbcc on 2011-08-15 17:19:07 GMT from United States)
Here's a thought. Download it and try it, see if YOU have any love for it, since it sounds intriguing to you. Yes, it'll take some energy, but it won't be wasted, as its really the only way to know if it is going to work for you.
20 • Unity is misunderstood, as is the article referenced (by vw72 on 2011-08-15 18:16:35 GMT from United States)
I think people are missing the point with Unity. It shouldn't be compared with Gnome 2. Gnome 2 is gone, or will be soon. Gnome 3 came with the Gnome shell which elicits just as much negative response as Unity. Since Ubuntu is Gnome based, and desires to remain Gnome based, their Unity desktop is an attempt to fix what they see broken in Gnome shell and should be looked at in that light.
While I am not a big fan of Unity, I do prefer it to Gnome Shell. Both Unity and Gnome shell are in their infancy. It is easy to criticize Gnome for Gnome shell and Ubuntu for Unity, but both changes came about for different reasons.
One way or another, Gnome 2 is going away. Yes, somebody will support it for a long while, just like KDE 3.5, but it will not longer be mainstream. If people want the Gnome 2 look of the interface, they can install XFCE. It does an excellent job. There is also LXDE, KDE or even E17. They all have their pros and cons.
In the end, the discussion should be not how inferior Unity is to Gnome 2. That ship has sailed. It seems that it would be much more productive to focus on what Canonical can do to make Unity more productive (the same could be said for Gnome and Gnome shell).
21 • @ 20 (by Anonymous on 2011-08-15 18:53:06 GMT from United States)
Maybe the discussion should revolve around what usability testing has been done that made both Canonical and the Gnome Foundation decide that "desktop" Linux must now be focused on touchscreen interfaces to the detriment of all other paradigms.
22 • Re: Gentoo installer (by Randall on 2011-08-15 19:06:25 GMT from United States)
What many may not realize is that years ago, there was actually a Gentoo installer. The project was canceled due to lack of interest, although I don't know if that was user interest or developer interest.
I tend to agree with those who say it doesn't need an installer: if you're using Gentoo, you're going to need some familiarity with the command line anyway, and the hardest part of the install (configuring and compiling the kernel) does have an automated script if you don't want to do it by hand. The rest is basically "type these commands into the terminal," which if nothing else gets people familiar with the command line.
23 • Gentoo live DVD (by mechanic on 2011-08-15 20:41:02 GMT from United Kingdom)
Never mind the lack of installer, KWord on the Live-DVD is unusable (according to KDE forums this is a known problem and has been so for some time!) So far it (Gentoo 11.2) doesn't impress.
24 • Kongoni (by Geekboula on 2011-08-15 21:52:49 GMT from Canada)
I also encountered the same problem with Kongoni. I was not able to install on the hard disk. During my test live I really enjoyed by this Distro. But I think Kongoni have only one developer. I had an extended test on the first version and it impressed me.
Kongoni is a great project and I hope that there will be developers interested in this project. Because the base is solid and the goal is fine. Currently I am using 4.5 lts Trisquel in long term test. All my hardware works perfectly include my 2 usb wifi. Gnash does the work for the web without properly.
Good luck Kongoni!
25 • re #18 WattOS (by gnomic on 2011-08-16 01:46:23 GMT from New Zealand)
Love for wattOS R4? Ummm, not a lot so far. Loss of plot is most of what I see. So far haven't found a machine it can boot to a gui live - it does start X Window with startx after delivering a prompt. That's one radeon and one i915. On the i915 closing the lid resulted in the dread blank screen of nothingness on the reopening. This should never happen. No choice but to power off, no console obtainable. Version 3 could at least boot to a desktop.
26 • @20: Gnome 2 vs Unity (by eco2geek on 2011-08-16 02:46:44 GMT from United States)
> I think people are missing the point with Unity. It shouldn't be compared with Gnome 2.
It certainly should be. I don't like Unity, not only because of the dash and global menus, among other things, but because I also have Gnome 2 to compare it with. (Same goes for gnome-shell.) Just because it's new doesn't mean it's new and better.
> Gnome 2 is gone, or will be soon.
Yes, Gnome 2 will be unofficially deprecated as soon as Ubuntu 11.10 comes out, because 11.10 will not include it.
It'd be interesting to know what the numerous distros based on Ubuntu which use Gnome 2.x (chief among them, Linux Mint) are planning to do when Ubuntu becomes Unity-only in a few short months. That might make for an interesting article.
27 • just use anything (by brad on 2011-08-16 02:36:45 GMT from United States)
I believe in using what you can install, figure out, configure, or a distro that drives for you.. I installed Arch.. I learned ALOT, tried 6x to install a fresh install of arch last week.. and having a repo/pacman issue, grant it I've installed arch 5x on 3 computers so clearly I KNOW how to install it, but I couldn't get it reinstalled on this computer it was already on.. I asked for help, but I was banned for not answering the people's helping me questions PERFECTLY to their perfection.. so in regards to gentoo having an installer.. some distros are also mindsets.. and ego's, and some are elitist.. Gotta have those distros so people can bash people on forums for asking questions.. without braggin rights what good is a "geek'ed up distro", and how can you can pick on the new guy.. This egotism is why there's 500 distros and linux is such a niche market.. so i went back to 64bit kubuntu w/everything I like and it just works.. I may install Arch if they let me back on the forums to do more to try to seek out an answer to my problem.. but they dont need me, they want geeks. or maybe enough of other users will have the same problem, wonder if they'll ban'em all for asking questions like i did.. will just wait and see..
28 • I love Unity (by Dan on 2011-08-16 05:07:40 GMT from United States)
It's gotten a lot of people to switch to Xubuntu. XFCE is much better than Gnome3, and more people will likely mean more devs in the future. As long as they permaban any of the GnomeShell and KDE4 UI devs, I think XFCE could jump into 2nd or even 1st place as the desktop of choice.
29 • RE: I love Unity by Brad (by Marti on 2011-08-16 06:14:25 GMT from United States)
Dan is right. Xubuntu (and XFCE) will probably rise up, and I think Lubuntu (and LXDE) will both rise as well. My 4 year old computer (3.3GHZ CPU and 2GB RAM) is more than enough for the Web and OpenOffice; they're pretty much all I do. XFCE and LXDE will help users like me to keep their current box and just disregard Unity, while still keeping Ubuntu.
I installed LXDE (but not lubuntu-desktop) on Ubuntu 10.04 and now choose that Session at Login. LXDE does look a BIT less polished than the OLD Gnome desktop, but the RAM saving is crazy. I hope 12.04 won't break anything.....I have "updated" since 7.10 with NO problems; never did an OS re-install at new LTS time.
Success to KDE, LXDE, and XFCE.....and the plain Window Managers, too!
30 • King Kongoni Installation Issue (by Dr.Saleem Khan on 2011-08-16 08:02:34 GMT from Pakistan)
Hello Jesse Smith,
" But one big problem was my issue with the installer. I never did get Kongoni to install "
I wonder what was your issue with its installation , because I have tested its RC version while back and the installation for current stable release went smooth and I am posting from Kongoni atm, though the installer is a bit tricky indeed .
31 • @27,brad (by TobiSGD on 2011-08-16 09:00:53 GMT from Germany)
Want to try a distro that will teach you Linux and where you will not get banned for asking questions?
Try Slackware and ask your questions at Linuxquestions.org (official Slackware forum). I never have seen people banned there for asking questions.
32 • Questions (by Burt on 2011-08-16 11:58:21 GMT from United Kingdom)
There's no such thing as a bad question, just bad answers.
33 • re #18 WattOS (by Toolz on 2011-08-16 14:27:30 GMT from Vietnam)
I'm not sure about the drive and direction behind WattOS. I tried it two years ago and I expected to see, you know, several little utilities related to power consumption - at least a conky script. If I was getting involved in something called 'WattOS' then I'd be thinking things like backlight brightness, bluetooth/wireless status, status of various devices - preferably dashboard style (conky?) with some educated guess-work put into power status. But no.
Their DW summary says it "strives to be as energy-efficient as possible so that it can be used on low-specification and recycled computers" - sorry but I'm really struggling to parse any logic out of that statement. I'll even leave for another day the argument that powering up old computers is the enemy of energy efficiency.
And trying to be energy efficient while running Ubuntu?!? How daft is that? It seems like they're just trying to keep as light a selection of apps as possible on top of an Ubuntu variant that uses abt 5% less power (see Phoronix) than the main edition. What vision! A dozen Xfce or Openbox Ubuntu remasters would give you a similar experience.
34 • @26 Gnome2 vs Unity (by vw72 on 2011-08-16 16:45:40 GMT from United States)
"Yes, Gnome 2 will be unofficially deprecated as soon as Ubuntu 11.10 comes out, because 11.10 will not include it."
Ubuntu is not the controller of Gnome, it only packages and reuses it. When the Gnome developers discontinued work on Gnome 2, it became deprecated. When the Gnome developers quit supporting Gnome 2, it will become obsolete unless some other group picks it up.
None of that has anything to do with Ubuntu. They are not the only distro that uses Gnome. For instance, Redhat is dropping Gnome 2 for the same reasons as Ubuntu did. The difference is that Redhat has decided to go with the Gnome 3 shell instead of Ubuntu's Unity Shell (and why would anyone expect them to use Ubuntu's shell).
The sad fact is that like it or not, Gnome 2 is dead or dying quickly. Major distros will all cease to carry it. That is why, I said, and still say, that people should quit comparing Unity to Gnome 2 and compare it to the Gnome 3 Shell, which is the new face of Gnome.
All distros that were based on Gnome 2 will need to change. Ubuntu just decided that the Gnome 3 shell was not to their liking and developed their own shell.
As others have posted, though, I think that this will be a boon to XFCE. Not because Ubuntu replaced the Gnome 3 shell with Unity, but because the Gnome developers made such a radical change when they dropped Gnome 2.
It is important to keep straight that Ubuntu is not Gnome. It is also important to keep straight that Ubuntu 11.10 will be running Gnome 3, however it will not be running the gnome 3 shell. Unity is their own custom shell to run on top of Gnome 3 as of right now, in running Gnome 3, there are only two choices - the shell created by the Gnome developers or the shell created by the Ubuntu developers. That is where a comparison should be made.
35 • Gnome (by Jesse on 2011-08-16 18:58:07 GMT from Canada)
>> "The sad fact is that like it or not, Gnome 2 is dead or dying quickly. Major distros will all cease to carry it. That is why, I said, and still say, that people should quit comparing Unity to Gnome 2 and compare it to the Gnome 3 Shell, which is the new face of Gnome."
While a lot of what you say is true, I think it's important to keep in mind just how long some of the big name distributions will be supporting Gnome 2.
Ubuntu LTS will run Gnome 2 on the desktop until 2013
Debian Squeeze will probably support Gnome 2 until 2014
SuSE will probably support Gnome 2 until around 2015
Red Hat and its clones will be running Gnome 2 until at least 2017 by their current schedule.
To put that in context, Gnome 2.0 came out about nine years ago. So Gnome 2 is (by the current schedule) about 60% of the way through its life cycle.
So while you're write that Gnome 2 is dead from a new development perspective, it's an environment which will be around for several years. As such i don't think there's any reason not to compare it to the environments which are attempting to replace it.
36 • Gnome3? (by Ron on 2011-08-16 19:29:50 GMT from United States)
OK another comment. Touch screens - hard to type more than a few words at any kind of effective speed. So, let's see, soon maybe the keyboard will be dropped from desktop Linux. Shucks, the speed, skill, and efficiency of the decades old QWERTY keyboard users is now old stuff. Now we have finger flippers galore!
37 • Desktop environments (by Caitlyn Martin on 2011-08-16 19:58:57 GMT from United States)
Right now, because I'm working on a review, I have the KDE, Xfce, LXDE and Fluxbox versions of a distro installed side-by-side. They don't have a GNOME version or that would be installed as well. You know what? My apps work in all of them. The choice of desktop environment is really a matter of preference. There are trade offs between a full-featured environment which consumes more resources and a lightweight environment with fewer features but better performance. The beauty of Linux is that we have choices and you can choose the one that suits you best.
I am not going to get into Unity or GNOME 3 bashing just like I didn't get into KDE 4.0 bashing. All three of those were pushed out a bit prematurely IMHO and both Unity and GNOME should improve much the way KDE 4 did. KDE nowadays is very polished and works well.
What makes GNOME and Unity different from other desktop environments is that they use a desktop paradigm derived from what is popular on mobile devices and what was tried with far less success on early netbooks. If you like that paradigm then, great, it's what you should use. If you don't then just use something else. No desktop environment is going to please everybody.
Remember that seasoned Linux/UNIX users are not the target audience of that new paradigm and most of us not expected to like it. It's for the masses. Both Ubuntu and GNOME are out to make a Linux desktop experience that can compete successfully with Windows and MacOS among the proverbial ordinary users, whoever they are. Rather than throw stones I'll admit that, once the kinks are worked out, they probably will appeal to some people. For those of us who don't like those desktops, well... like I said, we have lots of other choices.
I also don't expect GNOME 2 to go away anytime soon. In addition to Jesse's very much spot on observations about some distros commitment to keep GNOME 2 alive, it is very possible that a fork will develop just as Trinity developed to keep KDE 3 alive. If that happens GNOME 2 or whatever develops from it could be around for a very, very, very long time.
38 • comparing UNITY with other.... (by JWM on 2011-08-16 20:20:06 GMT from United States)
Greetings, I have used Unity since April. I can't recommend this to anyone to try. If I don't like it why would I wish this on someone else. I am comparing the Usage on Unity to the Usage on Previous Ubuntu because that is what I have experience in. I have no Gnome 3 to compare. As things progress I expect a move to better, faster, do more functionality. In the Unity process I find it less useful, not faster, not better. It takes more clicks, motions, or menus to complete the same actions as before Unity. I use to be a Ubuntu only promoter, but now I see the value of what other distributions offer. The interface battle is not ever, nor will it ever be. Have you ever drawn a picture? For me I keep wanting to add or change one more thing, and then I start to ruin the picture due to over drawing. Can you over draw or over change a project such that it tops out and starts going down hill?
39 • Kongoni-Finnix review + Oz Unity 2.0 - Onyx 64 release (by D01Knight on 2011-08-16 21:02:26 GMT from United States)
Nicely done Jesse. A good review of Kongoni and some interesting info. on Finnix. I really like it when distros try their best to be "Libre". :) Another enjoyable DWW, thanks. :)
Exciting news: Oz Unity 2.0 - Onyx 64 http://www.ultimateeditionoz.com/download was released officially August 7, 2011. An excellent distro based upon Ubuntu 11.04. For all you 64 bit'ers give it a spin. :D 32bit? TBD
40 • @35 Gnome (by vw72 on 2011-08-17 00:30:54 GMT from United States)
Jesse, I agree with just about everything in your post. However, just because Gnome 2 is included in the distros you listed, does not really mean it is supported. Sure, if the gnome developers release a security patch it will be updated in Ubuntu LTS, but no new features are fixes are seriously being worked on. In addition, most of the gnome "applications" are being ported to gtk3 and the new gnome 3 infrastructure.
So while it is true that gnome 2 will be included for a while longer, without active development and fixes, it is feature frozen. Windows 2000 is about the same age as gnome 2, but nobody claims it is still supported. Microsoft developers no longer work on it, just like the Gnome developers no longer work on Gnome 2.
Windows 2000, as long as it isn't broken, it will continue to work. Likewise, so will Gnome 2. The problem for either one arises when it does break.
Like many others, I do not care for the Gnome 3 shell or the Unity shell. However, like it or not, they are here to stay. Sure, the distros will continue to provide back-support for Gnome 2, but that platform is not going to be the future of Linux, unless a major player, takes it up. I just don't see that happening.
41 • @34: Gnome 3 vs. Gnome 2 (by eco2geek on 2011-08-17 02:30:36 GMT from United States)
> Ubuntu is not the controller of Gnome, it only packages and reuses it.
That's why I used the word "unofficially." The reason Gnome 2 will be unofficially dead when it's no longer in Ubuntu is that Ubuntu's the world's most popular Linux distro.
As the saying goes, it doesn't do any good to cry over spilled milk. Gnome 3's user interface is what it is. Bashing it won't produce any positive results.
I would like to express my opinion about why comparisons between Gnome 3.0 and KDE 4.0 don't really hold up. The problem with KDE 4.0 was that it was unpolished and rough around the edges, like beta quality software. The KDE devs' policy was/is, "Release early, release often." They wanted people to use it while it was still in heavy development. (And in retrospect, it wasn't that bad.)
However, if you'll recall, KDE 4.0 did not radically change the user interface. Although we did have to wait a while for desktop icons to come back, it still featured a bar at the bottom of the desktop with an application launcher, a task manager, a system tray, and a digital clock. Everything else that makes KDE the distro you can tweak to the Nth degree got slowly added back in -- and then some.
Gnome 3.0, on the other hand, was not unpolished or rough around the edges when it was released. Maybe its predecessors were, but they weren't released as "version 3.0." The only bugginess I experienced with it was in its text rendering. Other than that, it was quite polished.
But it did radically change the user interface, from a desktop metaphor with panels and menus, to an "Activities overview" that appears when you ram your mouse into the upper left-hand corner of the screen or click the "Activities" button, with a full-screen icon picker, and a slide-in/slide-out workspace/window picker on the right-hand side.
(Canonical, for whatever reason, decided they could make as good or better a UI than Apple's UI, so they came out with Unity, which again was not unpolished in its point-0 release, but was also a radical change from Gnome 2. Now Ubuntu doesn't just package and re-use Gnome; it's got its own version of it.)
Whether or not you think that things will "improve" as Gnome 3 and Unity age depend on whether you agree with their UI choices to begin with. If you don't like Gnome 3's Activities overview, you're probably not going to care if (as a hypothetical example) they make it appear and work 3 times faster in their next version. But we'll see what happens.
Thank goodness for choice!
42 • BlankOn 7 (by Azzorcist on 2011-08-17 04:00:46 GMT from Indonesia)
What is missing from the BlankON release story is the independently developed BlankOn panel for Gnome.
43 • Got to change? (by RollMeAway on 2011-08-17 04:27:24 GMT from United States)
Here is a reasonable assessment of gnome3 and unity:
What I find most curious about these and most other linux projects is "A project has to be actively, constantly changed or it is no good".
Does nobody set out to design a project, eventually meet their goals, and say "Here it is, enjoy", and occasionally modify the project, as new technology requires it?
Do developers get tired of their homes every few years, and say "Well I'm bored with this old house, I think I'll move down the road and build a new one? Wouldn't remodeling or adding on make more sense?
It has been pointed out that any of the major desktops can be tweaked to look like gnome3 or unity, and still have the customization users are accustomed to.
Perhaps if 90% of the users go elsewhere the developers may notice?
44 • @40 Gnome, Windows 2000 (by Toolz on 2011-08-17 05:26:23 GMT from Vietnam)
> "Windows 2000 is about the same age as gnome 2, but nobody claims it is still supported."
True, support ceased in July 2010. This means no updates of any kind. No security updates.
> "Microsoft developers no longer work on it, just like the Gnome developers no longer work on Gnome 2."
Thankfully Gnome is open source. Support will not cease, see #35. Gnome 2 will still be around but nobody in their right minds would connect a Windows 2000 machine to the Internet today.
> "Windows 2000, as long as it isn't broken, it will continue to work."
This is a tautology, and it's also misleading. See above, "nobody in their right minds ...".
A better comparison would be Windows XP (released Oct 2001). Microsoft will not be releasing any more service packs (although they've not stated as much), you can't 'buy' it, and they're not even letting their latest version of Internet Explorer run on it - but they're releasing security updates every month and will continue to do so for some time (I recall we recently passed the 999 day threshold).
45 • RE: 37 • Desktop environments (by Caitlyn Martin (by Béranger on 2011-08-17 05:53:12 GMT from Romania)
"I also don't expect GNOME 2 to go away anytime soon."
This is like saying "I don't expect Windows XP to go away anytime soon." As horrendous, disruptive and productivity-killer as GNOME 3 is, GNOME 2 will go away simply because it's a dead end. Only a couple of LTS distros will provide security patches and nothing more. GNOME 2 is as moribund as Windows XP is...
46 • hmmm... (by shady on 2011-08-17 07:58:35 GMT from United States)
If Gnome-Shell is just a shell of Gnome 3, then can't somebody just come up with a shell that is Gnome 3 compatible but looks like Gnome 2? Everybody wins, no?
47 • @46 Gnome 2 shell (by vw72 on 2011-08-17 12:08:26 GMT from United States)
>>If Gnome-Shell is just a shell of Gnome 3, then can't somebody just come up with a shell that is Gnome 3 compatible but looks like Gnome 2? Everybody wins, no?
The short answer is "Yes" A Gnome 2 like shell can be created to run on Gnome 3. So far, however, nobody has stepped to the plate to invest the time to do that.
I'm not sure that it would be a good investment of limited programming resources when XFCE is configured to pretty much look like Gnome 2.
My preference would be that whoever had the time and energy to apply to building a Gnome 2 shell for Gnome 3 would instead join the XFCE team. That way we would have XFCE for those who want a traditional interface, KDE for those who want to tweak every little thing and Gnome 3 for those who want a smart phone like interface.
48 • @47 (by Brandon Sniadajewski on 2011-08-17 12:32:07 GMT from United States)
Couldn't they just use the "fallback" mode as a base for a gnome 2-llike shell?
49 • RE: 48 Fallback mode. (by Eddie Wilson on 2011-08-17 14:27:12 GMT from United States)
I'm not sure but I believe that the fallback mode will be removed in the new version of some distros. As far as Unity or Gnome 3 goes, we'll just have to see what happens as it develops. With the amount of touchpads and touchscreens being sold now it just makes good business sense. I believe that this is a marked that linux can compete in very well. Don't worry people, we'll always have our desktop distros.
50 • agree with beranger (by linuxdog1 on 2011-08-17 17:39:43 GMT from United States)
it has become my opinion that linux is dropping the older computers and catering to the multi-core machines. it was an option in linux to have a freedom of choice, however if you make every linux based on ubuntu there went your freedom of choice should you wish not to use ubuntu modeled forks.
when a desktop kde or gnome decides to cater to the multi-core os (needs that much cpu to run) just to emulate windows vista or windows 7 then something is wrong. should you wish to run gnome 2, there is no reason why a few servers could not dedicate themselves to people who have such computers.
many people in this world simply almost survive, and here in the usa that is where one class of people are pushing the lower class which has an effect on what you can own. the less you can own, the more the original concept of linux needs to survive ... that is to run on any machine.
debian has taken the stance of limiting how many users can be on the machine which defeats the home which may have 4 or 6 kids plus the parents and multiple machines are simply unaffordable.
i do give shuttleworth and ubuntu huge credit on their start-up concept, however it appears very much even that is changing and people will be left out.
in the age of the internet it has to be hard for those of us who have a decent broadband hookup to consider there are others who have no broadband and even no telephone. furthermore, in some countries a telephone operates on charging by the click so getting an iso or repository updates is simply unaffordable.
to me, my personal experience of coming from the cpm days of 8 inch winchester floppies...linux offered a huge hope that is now being circumvented.
has this all been intentional? i don't thinks so ... however it is consequential.
a 100 meg disto, even though among the easiest to learn from is not always the answer. dsl or puppy is very nice, but can be not what the user was looking for.
the concept of the $99.00usd laptop is then very much left out.
51 • Lower resources (by Jesse on 2011-08-17 18:05:30 GMT from Canada)
You seem to be working under the assumption that Ubuntu is the only distro available. Or that you're stuck between choosing utra-new and mini-distros.
There are lots of full featured distributions which don't take many resources and plenty of mid-range distros too. Debian Squeeze will run a full Gnome 2 desktop with around 128MB of RAM. Zenwalk will run a modern, full featured Xfce desktop with around the same footprint. I can run Mint KDE without any problems on a single-core machine with 1GB of RAM or less.
There are very few (if any) distros out there right now which require a high-end multi-core machine for smooth performance. Most of the full featured distros will work nicely on a single core machine with 2GB of RAM or less.
And where did you get the idea that Debian limits the number of user accounts you can have on a system, preventing a family of six from using it? You can set up hundreds of user accounts on a Debian box if you're so motivated.
52 • Gnome3/Unity RE: 38,40 (by Ron on 2011-08-17 18:06:45 GMT from United States)
"Can you over draw or over change a project such that it tops out and starts going down hill?"
Yes, you sure can, see below.
"Like many others, I do not care for the Gnome 3 shell or the Unity shell. However, like it or not, they are here to stay. Sure, the distros will continue to provide back-support for Gnome 2, but that platform is not going to be the future of Linux, unless a major player, takes it up. I just don't see that happening."
All I can say is: remember the 'New Coke" yes, Coke changed it and tried to shove down our throats, but in the end they had egg on their faces!
53 • GNOME & KDE and stuff... (by davemc on 2011-08-17 18:47:12 GMT from United States)
Seems to me that both GNOME and KDE cater to those with the money, or at least, only seem to care about what they (or their cash contributors) want for the direction of their respective DE's. I really see no difference between that and Microsoft or Apple, other than the proprietary blah blah blah. Its all the same ol, same ol. Whoever throws the money their way gets their voices heard front and center regardless of what the great majority of small donation contributors (or non contributors) want, or so it certainly seems. Comes as no surprise to me and I suppose its only to be expected. Mouths to feed, rent to pay, etc. In the end, the free software movement wins??... I am not so sure about that.
In the case of Unity at least nobody should be "shocked" or "surprised" as to whatever direction Canonical chooses to take. It is a Corporation and should always be expected to take the path that will make money. Its the only thing a Corporation cares about in any case. Someone obviously made the decision that the traditional linux GNOME and KDE (see the summit on KDE5) desktop is dead and buried and we all now must move in the direction of the mobile DE and the cloud. Its both alarming and amusing at once.
54 • @50 (by subg on 2011-08-17 22:09:21 GMT from Canada)
On the contrary, there seems to be too much emphasis on catering to aging computers. Since when did free software subscribe to solving income disparities? That's for the used market and public policy to address.
Gnome, KDE and Unity are merely reflecting the technological norm out there. Why hold developers back from trying new things and utilizing the potential of the technology available (albeit focusing too much on the blingy at times) in order to cater to aging equipment?
55 • Re: GNOME & KDE and stuff... (by tdockery97 on 2011-08-17 22:21:03 GMT from United States)
Yes, I will agree that Gnome 2 may only last as long as the current LTS distros using it. But IMO we will see an upward spiral in the use of KDE, XFCE, LXDE, et. al. There are still millions of us "over 30's" who are not smitten with the cloud and the wannabe touch-screen window managers. I think it highly unlikely that Unity or Gnome 3 will take over the workplace any time soon. So let's enjoy what we have. The future will work itself out.
56 • re #50 no computer left behind? (by gnomic on 2011-08-18 00:10:28 GMT from New Zealand)
Actually as near as I can tell, the original concept of linux was to make a unix-like system available at minimal or no cost on computers that an average person might be able to afford, which in those days meant a box with a 386/486 cpu. Later in the game it could be seen as an advantage for Linux that it would still run in machines that other operating systems had effectively abandoned. Indeed, you can still run Linux on a 386 I believe, if you can find one.
In practical terms today a PIII is probably the minimal cpu which is of much practical use, and Linux still provides a usable user environment on such machines. There is of course 'progress', and much application software is pitched at more powerful machines. The threshold for internet use is constantly being ratcheted upwards, as for example by online services requiring the latest browsers - don't get me started on Flash and streaming video.
Ultimately it all depends on what you want to do with a computer. If you want to create documents or run a spreadsheet and play some older or lightweight games for example, a PIII will still do it. If you want to play the latest games requiring a video card with a gig or more of RAM obviously you need a near new box, likewise to use the modern web to the full.
Ubuntu probably is on a track which leaves much older hardware behind. I am told support for dialup is now vestigial out of the box at least. However there are still plenty of distributions which will run on any machine likely to be still running, bearing in mind that older PIIIs are now over a decade old. There is antiX for example, and Debian as another poster mentioned above. I haven't tried Connochaetos but it is specifically aimed at old hardware. Slackware still runs on PIII machines though perhaps not with KDE4, a lighter desktop might be better.
When is a computer old anyway? I expect some people think of anything from more than 2-3 years ago as old. Personally I am still finding machines from circa 2000 useful for various tasks. The industry of course wants to keep the cycle of innovation churning so that people will buy new stuff. Linux (or of course a BSD) still has to be your best bet for use on older computers.
Not sure where the bit about Debian limiting users to 6 is coming from - incorrect afaik. Now of course if the 6 all want to use the same machine at once, there's a problem. There must be a way to rustle up some free or pretty well free machines for use as server terminals at least surely?
57 • The Best of Both Worlds (by Eddie Wilson on 2011-08-18 12:23:00 GMT from United States)
One of the biggest strengths that Linux has now is being able to cope with anything and being able to offer anything. You have distros in the range from loaded to minimal and everything in between. It may come as a surprise to some people but all computers are not used for the same thing. The idea that a Linux distro needs to be able to run on an old computer as well as a super fast new one is just foolish thinking. There are so many different types of distros that can do so many different things on so many different systems a person should be able to find anything they want. Still you will have people who are never satisfied. They want everything to stay stagnant and not to progress, even tho they can still have what they want in distroland. These people are a real danger to the world of Linux and BSD. They need to be tracked down and punished by being made to use Windows ME. Then they will realize how good they do have it.
58 • @57 The satisfied people (by Deeon on 2011-08-18 16:17:21 GMT from Canada)
There are groups of people, who are really satisfied; Puppy linux, Crunchbang people. They usually don't change their distributions and very friendly to anyone in their forums, even to those who ask silly questions!
59 • @58 The way it can be. (by Eddie Wilson on 2011-08-18 18:42:38 GMT from United States)
See, there is something for everyone. That's the way it can be and the way it should be.
This is off topic but did anyone notice the birthday wish to Linux from Microsoft at LinuxCon?
60 • Re: 58 (by hobbitland on 2011-08-19 10:38:19 GMT from United Kingdom)
Not true I used Puppy Linux and even remastered it. I used on on USB but the biggest problem is it wanted to copy everything into RAM from USB. Also the change in Puppy 5.x I did not like. I have dumped Puppy. So people do leave Puppy Linux.
I am using remastered Ubuntu 10.04.3 LTS. I use a fall version of Ubuntu 10.04.3 LTS as a ISO on a USB stick using GRUB2. Just copy new remastered ISO onto USB to update.
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will come without Gnome 3 fallback mode. I don't care as I will be remastering Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with Gnome classic mode added.
61 • Some UI critics just need to get a life. (by Steve Bergman on 2011-08-20 15:45:27 GMT from United States)
Reading the the story on Unity shell criticisms leaves me amused. In the related DW blurbs, phrases like "severe criticisms" and "hated" are used. The linked article documents fatal UI flaws such as:
"The current version have too many things going on the left hand top corner of the screen. There is the ubuntu button (BFB) with ubuntu logo, The global menu, the application title and the window controls (min,max,close buttons) for maximized applications are all crammed into that little space there."
" The window controls are out of place for maximized applications and is away from its normal position of the top-left corner. The menu is also away from the left-hand corner and do not even start after the ubuntu button."
All niggling annoyances, at most. OK. So maybe the invisible "mouse-over" menu issue, also mentioned, was a questionable UI decision. But should hardly instill hatred into the heart of any normal, emotionally stable person.
Unity took some getting used to. I didn't care for it at first. But I have switched back to Gnome 2 a couple of times, and immediately noticed that I missed features I'd quickly gotten used to in Unity. So despite a few niggling complaints I might have, Unity is my standard desktop now.
I would strongly urge anyone who "hates" Unity to seek professional help immediately.
62 • It's right in your own back yard... (by Steve Bergman on 2011-08-20 16:47:40 GMT from United States)
Honestly, I don't understand why anyone would think that you have to pick some special Linux distribution to learn about the nuts and bolts. Any distro will do. Certain distros absolutely force you to pour over outdated HowTo's, post questions to forums, and tear out your hair during grueling, hours long, trial and error sessions, just to get something simple working, like printing to your printer. And perhaps it is helpful to some to be forced by the distro into that kind of "immersion". Something like learning a new spoken language. There's something to be said for the "sink or swim" approach.
But I'll tell you what. I've been a Unix/Linux admin since 1988. And while I certainly enjoy tinkering around, I've also spent more than my fair share of time futzing to get something simple working, while my users waited, because the unix/linux distributor couldn't be bothered to provide the tools to make something that most people take for granted should be dead simple, actually *be* simple in their product. And I decided, long ago, not to put up with it when I have a choice.
Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. I'm not too proud to use a gui tool, when it makes sense. So I use the server long term support version of my cushy distro of choice. And have never had cause for regret. Using a Linux distro which is a throwback to the 90s can probably be a useful learning tool. But it's best not to confuse that with a "badge of honor".
The right tool for the job, and all that.
Care-worn *n?x Admin who's experienced too many adrenaline spikes over the years
63 • 57 The Best of Both Worlds (by Eddie Wilson) (by Stagnation Lover on 2011-08-20 22:32:24 GMT from Brazil)
>>> Still you will have people who are never satisfied. They want everything to stay stagnant and not to progress, even tho they can still have what they want in distroland. These people are a real danger to the world of Linux and BSD. They need to be tracked down and punished by being made to use Windows ME. Then they will realize how good they do have it. <<<
And Windows 7 users should be punished by being made to use the upcoming VectorLinux 7: Unlike the preceding version 6, it doesn't include the handy VASM Control Center. Also no Vpackager and no SeaMonkey anymore... Then they will realize how happy they could be if Robert Lange and collaborators simply had kept everything "stagnant" in their distro, just as in the much superior version 6.
Well... It's now quite clear why both PCLinuxOS and Mandriva became so popular in the whole world: Their developers have common sense, and thus they want userfriendliness to stay "stagnant" in those lovely distros.
Yes, "stagnation" is a good thing! Just take a look at Ubuntu, the ever changing crap...
64 • @ 62 his comments are interesting. (by Jay on 2011-08-21 04:08:56 GMT from Germany)
"Certain distros absolutely force you to pour over outdated HowTo's, post questions to forums, and tear out your hair during grueling, hours long, trial and error sessions, just to get something simple working, like printing to your printer."
If a developer(s) made a distro a post it on the web for everyone to use, then it is up to him/the to answer to questions, not through the forums. Most times, the forum replies don't fit and it takes pages and pages to get to a coherent answer. Use at your risk, we won't help is the biggest problem the developers have, and Linux.
65 • re #64 run up a distro, have all the answers??? (by gnomic on 2011-08-21 12:13:55 GMT from New Zealand)
Can we return to the real world? Unless you have a service level agreement as they are sometimes known, you have no right to expect an answer to any question anytime. It's all use at your own risk and sorry if it ate your hamster surely? I seem to remember reading that in the small print, certainly with any distro which comes from a country with a litigious environment.
It is pretty well impossible to generalise given the wide range of Linux distros from the made by one bloke tested on one computer variety through the essentially amateur efforts with something of a community through to the half dozen or so major corporate versions where money and SLAs might apply. If you use Linux then a realistic appraisal of the level of support you can expect is part of the game. Last time I looked commercial operating systems have rather limited free support.
Once a distro acquires any significant number of users help from the main dev or teams of devs becomes increasingly unlikely as there just isn't time in the day to help someone tie their laces. That task largely devolves on the faithful helpers who gather round any distro which acquires a certain critical mass.
The fragmentation inherent in the wide range of Linux distros is perhaps the greatest weakness for Linux and also its greatest strength. Maybe it's a kind of biodiversity thing.
Number of Comments: 65
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