| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 330, 23 November 2009
Welcome to this year's 47th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Chromium OS, Google's long-awaited entry into the operating system market, finally made a tentative appearance last week. Although it created much excitement on many technology news sites, the new Linux-based distribution doesn't target general desktop computers; instead it attempts to kick-start a new era of cloud computing on netbooks and other portable devices. Fedora 12, the latest version of the popular distribution and the other big topic of discussion last week, has been hit by an unprivileged package installation controversy, while its unofficial LXDE edition has been withdrawn due to a nasty bug. But other than these two issues, the new release looks great - read our first-look review to find out more. In other news, Ubuntu removes GIMP from default installation, FreeBSD prepares for the imminent arrival of 8.0-RELEASE, openSUSE re-evaluates its decision to remove the DHT technology from the Transmission BitTorrent client, and founders of Qimo 4 Kids, an Ubuntu-based distribution for children, discuss the beginnings of their project and the motivation behind using open source software to start a charity. Also in the news section we link to interviews with Fedora's Paul Frields and Mandriva's Buchan Milne. Finally, this week's Questions and Answers column considers the pros and cons of rolling versus time-based distribution release models. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at Fedora 12
I've been using Fedora (and Red Hat Linux before that) on and off for about seven years now and I would say that Fedora is a distribution consistently on the cutting edge of open source software. This means that I've been regularly wowed by new technology and occasionally left virtually bleeding and scrambling for alternative install media. Overall, my experiences have been positive, especially with the project's version 11 release, and I have been looking forward to Fedora 12 for the past few months.
The Fedora distribution comes in various flavours, depending on your needs. There's an all-in-one installation DVD for 32-bit and 64-bit Intel machines. The DVD also has a PowerPC edition. If you'd like to try before you install, Fedora has live CDs. These live CDs feature either the GNOME desktop or the KDE desktop and I decided to try my luck with the KDE live CD. While my download was in progress, I took a look around the web site. The Fedora Project, being a cutting-edge testing ground for new technology, has a technically geared website. It's easy to navigate for people familiar with computers in general and Linux in particular, but for newcomers to the open-source scene, the terms and information are likely to be overwhelming. The site gives the impression of a project run by open source enthusiasts for open source enthusiasts.
To test Fedora, I ran it on my trusty desktop system (2.5 GHz CPU and 2 GB of RAM) and my LG laptop (1.5 GHZ CPU and 2 GB of RAM). To see how the operating system would perform with fewer resources, I also ran it in a virtual machine. The live CD booted up and presented me with a fresh, modern KDE 4.3 desktop. A folder plasmoid (widget) was open, presenting a single icon: a short-cut to the installer. Also on the desktop were the usual taskbar and application menu. Right away I started the installer and got down to business.
The Fedora system installer hasn't changed much over the years. It's a simple, powerful, point-n-click interface that guides the user through the necessary steps. I confirmed my time zone, keyboard layout and set up my partitions. The partition manager was where I hit my first snag. Both of my test machines have fairly small (by today's standards) hard drives and I tend towards tried-and-true over latest-and-greatest where my file systems are concerned. For those reasons, I decided to format my root partition as ext3. The installer refused. I went back and wiped my drive and started from scratch and, again, the installer refused to use any file system other than ext4 for my root partition. My swap space was created without complaints. From there, I configured GRUB and was prompted to create a root account password. Then the installer copied all of its packages to my local drive. It's interesting to note that the DVD edition of the installer allows the user to select which packages are set up on the system, but the installer on the live CD does not. Once all the packages were installed, I was prompted to reboot the system.
On first boot, the user is asked to go through a few more steps, namely reading the license agreement, creating a regular user account and confirming the correct date and time. The final step is the system asking for permission to send a hardware profile to Fedora. This is, in my opinion, an excellent idea and one I always opt into. The process is fairly anonymous and it gives the developers an idea of what sort of hardware they should target.
Fedora 12 - the system installer, KDE help center and power management pop-up
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At this point, all the questions are answered and the user is presented with a graphical login screen. This is fairly standard, except that the text labels for the menus have been removed and replaced by graphical icons. The icons blend into the background a bit making the design nice on the eyes, but the part of my brain used for technical support cringes away from the idea of explaining to a user, over the phone or via e-mail, that they have to click on the "third white dot from the right".
Desktop and applications
The Fedora desktop is a pleasant blue and devoid of icons. By default, Fedora sets up KDE to use the Desktop view, which does not display regular icon files. It is possible to get a more classic desktop, with regular icons, by changing the desktop settings. The application menu uses the Kickoff style of grouping by default. This is easily changed, for those who prefer the classic grouping. The menu is full of useful items, most of them fairly typical to a KDE desktop. There are a wide variety of useful administrative tools, which make changing authentication methods, managing user accounts, altering network connections, configuring the firewall and managing SELinux easy tasks. There's the usual collection of fun KDE games, along with some image viewing and drawing applications. There are applications for managing downloads, web browsing and instant messaging.
Also in the menu, we can find the popular K3b disc burner, along with a video player and an audio player. The Office section has the complete KOffice suite and things are rounded out with a wide range of simple apps, including a standard calculator and text editor. The contents weren't so much a surprise of what is available, but what was not installed by default. Notably there is no GIMP, no Firefox web browser and OpenOffice.org has been traded out for KOffice. I was inclined, at first, to believe these choices were made because of space restrictions. However, the total install size from the Fedora 12 KDE live CD is 2 GB. Comparatively, a Mandriva 2010 KDE install contains 3 GB and includes all of the software I've listed above as missing from Fedora. I'm left wondering why the CD images of both distributions are close to the same size, but Fedora includes a third less software. Of course, these packages can all be downloaded from Fedora's repositories post-install, but it would be nice to have them on the disc.
To be fair to Fedora, where its CD lacks some popular software, it makes up for it in performance. I found Fedora booted up quickly, requiring about half the time Mandriva 2010 takes. Once on the desktop, the system continued to perform well. For a Linux desktop, KDE has a reputation of being heavy, yet the Fedora setup is very responsive. When testing the operating system in a virtual machine with 512 MB of RAM, the performance was sluggish, but still usable.
Hardware and system configuration
Fedora continues to be one of the leaders in out-of-the-box hardware support. My video cards were detected and set to their maximum resolutions and sound worked flawlessly without any tinkering. My network connection was detected and enabled by default as was my laptop's wireless card (Intel 2200). I was also happy to note that my laptop's USB mobile Internet device (Novatel wireless modem provided by Rodgers) was detected and used properly. My only complaint about hardware was with my laptop's touchpad. The pad would respond and move my mouse pointer, but tapping the pad wouldn't act as a click without some work. This isn't a big deal, but it's a short-cut I've grown to like. After adding a few packages and editing a configuration file, my touchpad returned to its typical behaviour.
The System Settings control centre is a handy way to manage the Fedora system. From here, the user can adjust the desktop look and feel, manage updates and associated settings, configure sound and tweak networking aspects of the operating system. There are also tools for handling fonts, printers and accessibility options. The controls are well laid out and I especially like that moving the mouse over the categories gives a break-down of what's included in that section. This makes it easier for new users to determine, at a glance, whether they need to be adjusting things in the Display or Desktop category, for example. There's an Advanced tab, which allows the user to configure all the gritty details of the KDE desktop. The KDE specific services, login screen, file associations, hardware interaction and desktop searching can all be handled from this location with ease.
Fedora 12 - the KDE Control Center and Add Widgets dialog
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The Fedora team is dedicated to free ("libre") software. This means that proprietary plug-ins, such Adobe's Flash and MP3 codecs, are not included in the distribution. At least not directly. For users who want access to restricted codecs, Flash and other additions, there is the RPM Fusion repository. The RPM Fusion group provides a huge amount of software which, for one reason or another, cannot be included in Fedora. Fortunately, the YUM package manager makes adding third party repositories as easy as clicking the proper link on RPM Fusion's web site.
In the past, the YUM package manager has taken criticism for being slower and less powerful than other package managers, such as apt-get. However, in the last few releases, YUM has made a great deal of progress. For one thing, it's fast now. Installing new software is really just limited by the speed of the system's Internet connection. The YUM software has also become more flexible and helpful. If updating a group of packages fails for whatever reason, YUM will offer to try to work around broken packages to make sure the rest of the system is kept up-to-date. In a similar fashion, installing new packages is also more fault tolerant.
My favourite feature though, which was introduced as a plug-in for Fedora 11, is "presto". The presto plug-in, now installed in Fedora 12 by default, enables YUM to download only the required pieces of new updates. Let's say, for instance, a minor bug is found in Firefox and one file is patched. Previously, YUM would download the entire new Firefox package to replace the old one. With presto, a smaller package containing the updated data is downloaded. Testing this feature showed that my downloads were reduced to about one quarter of their previous sizes on a regular basis. (On one fresh Fedora 11 install, with presto enabled, the size of my updates was reduced from 1 GB to 150 MB. One of my Fedora 12 installs had its updates reduced from 45 MB to 27 MB.) This may not seem like a lot to home users with fast connections, but it will save dial-up users days over the life of the release. Small office networks without an update proxy can save multiple gigabytes of data transfer in a very short time.
Security and services
The Fedora team has generally taken security seriously and great steps have been taken to lock down the distribution without getting in the way. The system installer will allow partitions to be encrypted from the start, making the process nearly transparent. This is especially handy for laptop owners. I tried this on my own laptop and found there was no noticeable performance trade-off in exchange for the encryption. Another security feature that has become more polished is SELinux. In earlier versions of Fedora, I found myself disabling SELinux as it would constantly get in the way. Now it has been tuned enough that regular tasks aren't blocked and the configuration tools are getting better for end-users. I hope this trend toward user-friendliness continues as SELinux can be a very powerful asset when locking down a system.
Fedora 12 - the SELinux Administration dialog and K3b disc burning application
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On Fedora 12, most network services are disabled by default, the exception to this is Sendmail which is blocked from outside access by the firewall. In previous releases, OpenSSH has been running by default and I think this is the first time I've found it disabled on a fresh install. Though these steps have been positive, Fedora has also taken a step backward on the security front. Fedora 12 allows unprivileged users (users with non-root accounts) to install packages from the Fedora repositories. This can be done using the graphical package manager and poses a serious security risk to any system running with multiple users, since any local user can now install thousands of software packages, introducing vulnerabilities or possibly filling the root partition. As of the time of writing, the Fedora team had been contacted regarding this issue and refused to revert to a more standard behaviour. There is a workaround for those who wish to return to the more commonly accepted behaviour.
Though not new in Fedora 12, I'd also like to comment on the MinGW compiler. The function of this compiler is, in essence, to make it possible to take source code for Linux applications and build a Windows executable binary from that source. I tried this on a few applications and found the complier worked well for small projects, but medium-sized projects wouldn't compile properly or wouldn't run once compiled. I'm not sure how much these failures were due to missing dependencies, problems with the WINE compatibility layer or how much was a result of the compiler. I think this is a handy tool and I hope it's something that Fedora continues to support as it may greatly reduce the time cross-platform developers need to spend running Windows.
After spending several days with Fedora, I find that I'm happy with this release. The live CD by itself was a bit underwhelming, but the distribution as a whole has been excellent. This is probably the most stable and most polished release the Fedora team has put together to date. Security is strong over most of the system, though the hole introduced in the software management system is a concern. Package management is fast and KDE feels like it's getting the attention it deserves. The system is responsive and I have yet to run into any serious problems. Due to the distribution's cutting-edge nature and fast support cycles, I probably won't recommend Fedora to Linux newcomers. Fedora is for those who have some Linux experience and want to explore what the future holds. For distro hoppers, this is a solid release and well worth experiencing.
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A quick note about the graphical package manager issue. In the above review, I mentioned an on-going concern with the graphical package manager which would allow regular users to install software from the Fedora repositories without knowing the root password. My review represents the situation as I saw it up until Friday or Saturday, depending on your time zone. Realizing that things would continue to progress after that point, I asked Adam Williamson to keep me informed as things changed. He kindly did, and by the weekend the developer in question had made the choice to require regular users to input the root password in order to install packages. Shortly afterwards, an update was made available to implement this new behavior. In total, the time from the official release of Fedora, to the time the issue was brought forward, to the time the software was patched was less than a week.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Chromium OS sources, Fedora LXDE update, Ubuntu and GIMP, FreeBSD 8.0, openSUSE third-party packages, interviews with Paul Frields and Buchan Milne, Qimo 4 Kids
Much of the excitement on many Linux news sites last week centred around the new Chromium OS (yes, that's the correct name, not Chrome OS - at least while it's in development), Google's new Linux-based operating system, which saw its first public release in the form of source code. Intended for netbooks and other mobile devices, this long-awaited entry by Google into the operating system market is a rather different piece of software that some might have expected. In fact, this early release is really just a browser through which one can access to online applications. So before you get too excited, it's important to understand two things - firstly, it's just a very early developer's release and secondly, it isn't intended as a general desktop system: "Chromium OS is unsuitable as a desktop operating system because it is not intended to be a desktop OS. Chromium OS is for netbooks and other portable internet devices, and it is not meant to replace the likes of Linux and Windows on your desktop computer." The above comes from a first-look review of Chromium OS as published by MakeTechEasier. For those who aren't deterred, here is a link to the building Chromium OS page that provides detailed instructions on how to create a bootable Chromium OS USB image. Have fun!
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For many of those who prefer to run final releases instead of testing early development builds, the focus was on Fedora 12, the new release of the popular distribution sponsored by Red Hat. One of the new "features" in this release, the unprivileged package installation policy, which received much media attention, has been reverted and users will now have to enter the root password in order to install software packages. Another issue, concerning those who prefer the lighter Fedora with LXDE, is ongoing though: "I have just asked the web site administrators to remove the Fedora 12 LXDE Spin from the BitTorrent tracker because we found a major bug that makes the images unusable. The problem is a crash in lxde-settings-daemon that triggers abrt, the automatic bug reporting tool. Because lxde-settings-daemon gets restarted by lxsession, the bug reporting tool goes into an infinite loop, consumes all CPU power and makes the computer crash when the overlay image of the live OS is filled up." The author promises to deliver new images in a few days.
Still on the subject of Fedora's latest release, here is a 3-page interview with Fedora project leader Paul W. Frields: "We've got something for just about everyone. If you're a desktop productivity user, we have better mobile broadband and we have dead simple Bluetooth tethering to your 3G phone. Web sites are able to publish Fedora packages using a simple HTML object tag, and we now support a number of Broadcom chipsets out of the box. For people who are developers, we have the latest Eclipse, the very popular integrated development environment that's a little more powerful than it was before. It integrates with the new release of System Tab, which hardcore developers can use to diagnose problems, or to diagnose places where their code may be making numerous system calls where they could get by with only one. For system administrators, we have a huge assortment of virtualization features -- things like the Kernel Shared Memory (KSM) feature. If you have multiple copies of very similar environments running on guest machines, KSM will actually go and find memory pages that are identical from one guest to the other, and it will eliminate the duplicates and point all the guests to a shared copy of the page."
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For many news sites specialising in reporting about Ubuntu, the prime topic last week was the upcoming removal of GIMP from the default installation: "The decision has been taken, and it seemed pretty final that GIMP will not be included in Ubuntu 10.04 by default. The decisions behind this are based on a few factors: the general user doesn't use it; its user-interface is too complex; it's an application for professionals; desktop users just want to edit photos and they can do that in F-Spot; it's a Photoshop replacement and Photoshop isn't included by default in Windows; it takes up room on the disc." While some of the above reason behind the move seem a little feeble, it goes without saying that GIMP will still be available for installation through the usual channels so anybody who does use the popular image editing application can easily get it. Still, the more nostalgic among Linux users will remember that GIMP, originally released way back in 1997, was the first "killer" desktop application created for the Linux platform. Ruthlessly banishing it to an online repository might evoke a sentimental tear or two...
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This week will see the final release of FreeBSD 8.0 (some of the project's mirrors already carry the CD, DVD and USB images for certain architectures), a new major release of what is probably the most widely-used free UNIX available today. For many FreeBSD users this will mean another upgrade. This article, entitled "Update your FreeBSD software with care", comes at the right time: "Certain operating systems make upgrading easier than others, as do certain applications. FreeBSD in particular offers specific explanations of gotchas and difficulties that might affect users when software is updated, and also makes it easy to audit installed software for vulnerabilities. In cases where a test network and the resources of research in depth are unreasonable expectations, the key to ensuring upgrades go smoothly without breaking things is to have a step-by-step process for updating that makes minimal research easy to perform and directions for solving updating problems before they affect your system easy to find and follow. Thanks to the UPDATING notes provided by the FreeBSD Ports system, such a process is easy to develop."
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Our first-look review of openSUSE 11.2 briefly mentioned the possibility of adding third-party repositories and packages to openSUSE. For those who would like more information on the subject, here is an excellent article entitled "Enhancing openSUSE 11.2: Adding Repositories and Packages" by openSUSE community manager Joe Brockmeier: "openSUSE comes with an enormous amount of software in the official repositories. But, sometimes you just need something that isn't in the default release. Either because the package isn't offered through the official repositories, or because you want to track software that's ahead of the current release. Adding a repository is a piece of cake. Just go to YaST (and give the administrator's password) and then select 'Software Repositories' from the Software group. You'll see the list of configured repositories you have already. Click "Add" at the bottom of the dialog. Here you'll get the Media Type dialog, where you can start the process of adding a repository."
If you've been using openSUSE, but found that you can no longer download torrents from torrent sites, here is the reason - the BitTorrent's fallback DHP technology has been stripped from openSUSE, apparently due to possible legal issues in Germany: "The tracker closure has spurred several discussions about DHT, BitTorrent's fallback technology for when central trackers are unavailable. According to some, DHT has some problems of its own. Novell, for example, decided to ship openSUSE with the BitTorrent client Transmission, but not before stripping DHT support." However, as the article explains, this decision is likely to be reverted in the next openSUSE release: "After discussion with Novell's German lawyer, it was agreed to include Transmission with DHT in future releases, but with an added pop-up informing users that they should only use the BitTorrent client for legal transfers. This means that the next openSUSE release will include a fully-functional BitTorrent client."
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It is always interesting to read interviews with those hard-working developers who help delivering all the great new distribution releases year after year. Last week, the official Mandriva blog talked to Buchan Milne, a Mandriva Linux contributor and package maintainer of several popular server components: "Feature-wise, I think Linux is doing well, especially in terms of catching up with features compared to proprietary UNIX, and current distributions allow more flexible and cost-effective solutions for problems where the answer was previously 'Big iron' or expensive proprietary software. However, the challenge (for 'generic' Linux distributions) in making products that provide easily configurable but advanced features available remains. Standards such as CIM/WBEM need to receive more attention, as they would allow projects to maintain configuration interfaces for their own software that could be exposed to other tools. Another natural weakness is the low penetration into the desktop market, which means that even if Linux servers provide a better solution for managing Linux desktops and equivalent features for managing Windows desktops, the primary motivation for implementing Linux servers over Windows servers is financial."
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Finally, a fascinating look at Qimo 4 Kids, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution for very young children - through the eyes of the project's founders, Michael and Michelle Hall: "QuinnCo is a very small not-for-profit located in central Florida. In fact, it's just the two of us, Michelle and I, operating out of our house and garage. We take in second-hand computers, fix them up if they aren't working, then put Ubuntu or Qimo on them and give them out to kids and families in need. We have given out approximately 50 computers this year." How did it all start? "When our son Quinn was 4, he was already showing an interest in our computers. I had an old tower that I wasn't using, so I installed Ubuntu on it for him along with some games, and he took to it like a fish to water, teaching himself how to do things I never showed him. Because of that, I bought another computer from a yard sale, set it up the same way, and gave it to his daycare facility. About 3 months later, I had one of the kids from his class run up to me out of the blue and thank me for their computer. Talking about it to Michelle that night, she convinced me that we should start up a charity to do this on a larger scale, and QuinnCo was born." A truly exciting story showing the possibilities open source software can provide to those who look for them...
Qimo 4 Kids 1.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution for children with games and education software
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|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling versus time-based release model
Keep-on-rolling asks: Why don't more distributions move to rolling releases instead of starting over and breaking things every six months?
DistroWatch answers: By a rolling release, I'll assume you mean having a package repository that steadily updates, rather than having a base repository for each version of a distribution and then adding updated packages in separate repositories. In that sense, a rolling release sounds a lot more simple, doesn't it? It must be more straight forward to maintain one pool of software packages, instead of separate branches for each release and their updates. So why don't more distributions use the rolling release concept?
Perhaps, if I may, it would be a good idea to flip the question and ask: "Why DO distributions use separate repositories for different versions?" There are two reasons which spring readily to mind. The first is that having a fixed "release" repository and a separate "update" branch for each version insures there is a safety net. If an update breaks something on your computer, it's nice to be able to go back to a previous safe point. Granted, some package managers will do this with rolling releases, but it's nice to know you have that firm base. The second reason is that a lot of people, server administrators for example, prefer stability over "latest and greatest". This approach is also good for your average end user, most developers and anyone else who wants their operating system to be predictable. In short, a lot of users like having a solid base and applying only required bug fixes and security updates to their machines. They like stability over the latest features and the separate repositories for each version provide that for them.
What I'm driving at here is that a rolling release is fairly easy to manage and it's great fun for hobbyists who want to stay on top of things. However, it's probably what enthusiasts and cutting-edge developers want and not what anyone else wants. For those reasons, I think you'll find most distributions will continue to supply fairly static release branches.
I'd like to add that the two concepts are not completely exclusive of each other. Fedora, for example, has the constantly changing "Rawhide" repository, Debian has "Unstable" (Sid), Mandriva has "Cooker", openSUSE has "Factory" and Slackware has "Current". While the usability of these repositories may vary a lot, they are essentially constantly rolling releases. As the Mandriva Wiki says: "[Cooker] is an entire distribution unto itself, that is constantly in progress..." My point is that most of the big name distributions do provide rolling releases, if you want to try them.
|Released Last Week
Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0 "LiveDVD"
Attila Crăciun has announced the release of the "LiveDVD" edition of Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0, Slackware-based live DVD (not installable) for 64-bit systems: "I'm happy to announce that a new version of Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0 'LiveDVD' is ready for download. This new version brings the option to boot the DVD into KDE 4.3.2, Xfce 4.6.1 or to the command-line interface. The live DVD is powered by Linux Kernel 188.8.131.52 with advanced features and optimized for performance. Also, you will find the award-winning K Desktop Environment version 4.3.2 and the Xfce 4.6.1, Firefox 3.5.5 and SeaMonkey 2.0 (including Flash and 64-bit Java plugins), Thunderbird and KMail e-mail clients, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, newly added SuperTuxKart and FooBillard games, Blender - an open source, cross platform suite of tools for 3D creation, the IA32 emulation to run 32-bit programs, Gambas, KMyMoney2, Scribus, WINE...." Here is the full release announcement.
Bluewhite64 Linux 13.0 "LiveDVD" - a Slackware-based live DVD for x86_64 systems
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Parted Magic 4.6
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 4.6, a specialist live CD designed for disk management and data rescue tasks: "Parted Magic 4.6 is a mostly a bug-fix release with some usability improvements. Key changes: many fixes and changes for Netbooks; GNU Parted bug 'ERROR: Current NTFS volume size is bigger than the device size!' is fixed; Parted Magic Save Session uses xz instead of 7-zip; ClamAV was added, but you have to download the definitions yourself; Flash Player can be downloaded and installed from the panel's application launcher; a simple program to change the keyboard layout was added to the desktop; a new program added (lxrandr) to re-size the display while running inside of X.Org; ROXTerm was replaced by an svn build of LXTerminal; Clonezilla was removed from the main Parted Magic image because it's not possible to make a rescue ISO without downloading a template." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement.
Momonga Linux 6.1
Takaaki Tabuchi has announced the release of Momonga Linux 6.1, a Japanese community distribution modelled on Fedora. This is a minor bug-fix and security update to Momonga Linux 6 (released in July), containing minor kernel and application updates, with most of the base system remaining unchanged. Among the updated packages are Linux kernel 184.108.40.206, X.Org Server 1.6.5, KDE 4.3.2, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, Firefox 3.5.5, Apache 2.2.14, Postfix 2.6.5, and Emacs 23.1. Some additional packages and hardware devices, such as KDE devinfo, iwl1000 and iwl6000 firmware, LXDE desktop and x3f-tools, were added to the distribution. Users running Momonga 6 can update to the latest version with yum, but upgrades from earlier versions are not supported. See the release announcement and release notes (both links in Japanese) for more information.
openSUSE 11.2 "Edu Li-f-e"
Jigish Gohil has announced the release of the "Edu Li-f-e" edition of openSUSE 11.2, an openSUSE variant designed for children and students, with educational applications, Sugar desktop environment, LTSP server software, and out-of-the-box support for multimedia playback: "openSUSE Education community is proud to announce openSUSE-Edu Li-f-e - Linux for education based on openSUSE 11.2. The Li-f-e flavor bundles the best software openSUSE has to offer, such as popular desktop environments, educational application, development suites, multimedia, and great out-of-the-box user experience. Some highlights of what makes this a very special distribution: latest desktop environments - GNOME 2.28 (default), KDE 4.3.x, Sugar 0.86, IceWM; applications include tons of educational applications, graphics, development, office suite, and complete multimedia support; LTSP server...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Fedora 12, the latest version of the popular open-source operating systems for desktops and servers, has been released: "The Fedora Project, a Red Hat, Inc. sponsored and community-supported open source collaboration, today announced the availability of Fedora 12, the latest version of its free, open-source operating system distribution. Fedora 12 includes a robust feature set for desktop users, administrators, developers and open source enthusiasts alike. New enhancements available in Fedora 12 include next-generation Ogg Theora video, virtualization improvements and advancements to NetworkManager, among numerous others." See the press release, release announcement and release notes for further information.
Klaus Knopper has released KNOPPIX 6.2, a new version of the popular Debian-based live CD/DVD with LXDE as the default desktop: "The current version 6.2 has been completely updated from Debian 'Lenny', 'Testing' and 'Unstable', and uses kernel 220.127.116.11 and X.Org 7.4. Microknoppix is a complete rewrite of the KNOPPIX boot system from version 6.0 and up, with the following features: high compatibility with its Debian base; accelerated boot procedure; LXDE as graphical environment - a very slim and fast desktop with extremely short start time and low resource requirements; amount of installed software greatly reduced in the CD edition; network configuration handled by NetworkManager...." Read the rest of the release notes for more details.
KNOPPIX 6.2 - a new release from one of the pioneers of Linux live CDs
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Thierry Nuttens has announced the release of NuTyX 2009.1, a French desktop-oriented distribution based on Linux From Scratch with a hybrid (binary and source) package management borrowed from CRUX. The new release comes with a number of new features, including the first-ever GNOME edition, the ability to install the distribution into LVM volumes, a simplified text-mode system installer, and a new graphical package management front-end. Please refer to the release announcement (in French) for further details.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
- VENENUX GNU/Linux. VENENUX GNU/Linux is a South American desktop distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux and intended primarily for Spanish-speaking users. It adheres strictly to the principles of free software as defined by the Free Software Foundation.
VENENUX GNU/Linux 0.8 RC2 - a Latin American distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux
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- Zorin OS. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed especially for newcomers to Linux. It has a Windows-like graphical user interface and many programs similar to those found in Windows. Zorin OS also comes with an application that lets users run many Windows programs. The distribution's ultimate goal is to provide a Linux alternative to Windows and let Windows users enjoy all the features of Linux without complications.
Zorin OS 1.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution for new Linux converts
(full image size: 1193kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Asturix. Asturix is a Spanish general-purpose Linux distribution based on Kubuntu.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 November 2009.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
TA-Linux was a free Linux distribution that targets Linux power users. Its main goal was to have a small base installation that the end-users can expand to include the software they need. The secondary goal was to support as many different architectures as possible, at this time x86 was fully supported with Alpha, Sparc, PPC and PA-RISC around the corner. Extra software not included in the base was handled using a system resembling the *BSD ports system, called Collection, which handles installation, upgrading and dependencies. The primary way of installing new software was to download the source, compile and install it (totaly automatic). The user can also choose to install already built binary packages, also automaticaly using the Collection system.