| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 331, 30 November 2009
Welcome to this year's 48th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Small-screen displays have become an interesting playground for developers of Linux-based systems where creative engineers let their imagination run freely. Whether this is good or bad depends on many factors, but the fact remains that this freedom has already resulted in plenty of experimental interface designs which are exciting to check out and test. They diverge significantly from that "standard" desktop design pioneered by a large software company and provide a surprise or two along the way. Read our first-look review of Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 for one such promising, though still incomplete, netbook interface design. In the news section, FreeBSD brings a variety of new features in the latest version of its popular operating system, Mandriva worldwide user communities complement the official products with a range of additional options, and Debian project leader hints at a possible release of "Sqeeze" in the middle of next year. Also in this issue, a link to an Ubuntu Netbook Remix optimisation guide, a preliminary development and release roadmap of openSUSE 11.3, and an update to the latest changes in Mandriva's development branch. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Caitlyn Martin)
First look at Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 Technology Preview and the KDE Plasma-Netbook 4.4 interface
By now almost anyone who keeps up with Ubuntu knows about the Ubuntu Netbook Edition (formerly Ubuntu Netbook Remix). What many people are not aware of is that there is now a Kubuntu Netbook Edition and an Ubuntu Moblin Remix in development as well. By the time Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" is released next April netbook users will have three Ubuntu variants customized for their smaller systems. Development versions of the forthcoming Kubuntu and Moblin variants were released simultaneously with Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" in September. This week we take a look at the Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 Technology Preview. Since the name of the release is more than a mouthful I'll refer to it as KNE from here on.
I will admit that I approached installing and evaluating KNE with some trepidation. Every Canonical document about the new release makes it very clear that this is an incomplete product and very much a work in progress. It's difficult, at best, to judge an upcoming release based on alpha code. KNE isn't even alpha yet and some basic functionality is still missing. The desktop environment, called Plasma-Netbook, will see its first release as part of KDE 4.4. I knew I was looking at something on the bleeding edge and I also knew that criticism of the product as it exists today is simply unfair. There have been numerous upgrades since the initial release of the Technology Preview and as I've worked with KNE I've seen it slowly evolving and improving. What I describe today, what already works and what still needs work, may change with the next set of upgrades.
To evaluate KNE I decided to stick with the intended platform, which means I only used my netbook: an HP Mini 110 which has a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 16 GB SSD. The Mini 110 uses Intel 945 GME graphics and Intel HDA audio. All of the components in the Mini 110 are commonly found in a wide variety of netbooks from different manufacturers. KNE is available for Intel i386 and ARM processor architectures. This review only covers the i386 build.
Installation and Configuration
KNE is currently available for download as an ISO image which can be burned to a DVD. I chose to use UNetbootin to create a bootable live USB stick. KNE is not included in the UNetbootin menu so I had to download the ISO to my hard drive and choose the option to use an existing image. This worked perfectly and I booted into a working live KNE system. The live system includes an icon to install to a hard drive. Since I wanted to give KNE an extended test drive I did just that. The installer asks the typical questions and should be straightforward enough for anyone with even a modicum of Linux knowledge to use. There were no issues whatsoever and I was able to install to /dev/sda7 and have KNE run side-by-side with an existing distro which was correctly recognized.
Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 desktop
(full image size: 361kB, screen resolution: 1024x576 pixels)
Once I was up and running I discovered that while my wired Ethernet connection was correctly configured, neither the wireless connection nor the 3G modem were available in KNetworkManager. In addition, my printer was not configured. All of this was expected as proprietary drivers are required for both the wireless and 3G connections and proprietary firmware is needed for my HP LaserJet 1020. In a standard Ubuntu installation a pop-up notifies me that my hardware requires proprietary drivers and gives me the option to install them should I so choose. No such notification was given in KNE. A visit to the System menu revealed a Hardware Drivers icon which brought up an applet which searches for the necessary drivers and allows them to be installed and activated one by one.
Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 Hardware Drivers applet during the initial search
(full image size: 359kB, screen resolution: 1024x576 pixels)
The applet displayed the packages I needed: the open-source b43-fwcutter package to extract the firmware for my Broadcom 4312 wireless chipset and the proprietary broadcom-sta package. Clicking on the b43-fwcutter package correctly installed and enabled the software. Clicking on the broadcom-sta package, the second step, caused my system to lock up. The bug which caused this has been corrected in the updated 2.6.31-15 kernel, which is now available. If you have a Broadcom chipset you'll need the kernel upgrade before the driver can be successfully installed. With the upgraded kernel both the Hardware Drivers applet and wireless networking worked as expected. Since I don't have 3G service as yet I was unable to test the modem software and driver with KNE. Running the HP Setup program did correctly download and install the firmware for the printer and then configure CUPS. The process was simple, straightforward and no different from a standard (K)Ubuntu system.
Running Kubuntu Network Edition 9.10 Technology Preview
The only thing the new Plasma-Netbook desktop seems to have in common with a standard KDE desktop is the default theme and the wallpaper. I also found the way the desktop works to be quite different from other netbook-specific desktops. Expect to take some time to get used to the new way of doing things. There is a learning curve, precious little documentation as yet, and a few tricks to get around the incomplete or missing pieces of the desktop environment that I mostly found through trial and error.
The default desktop has four main items: a top panel which resembles what you see on a normal KDE, GNOME or Xfce desktop. This panel automatically hides itself to leave maximum screen space for applications. Below this is what is initially an empty bar with arrows on either side. Below that is a set of icons listing the various program categories you would normally find in the KDE "K" menu on a standard Kubuntu install. Finally, a tab on the right edge of the desktop replaces the cashew on the regular KDE 4.x desktop.
Clicking on any of the category icons restores the panel and displays a new set of icons for all the applications in that category. A "Home" icon is also added to the top, left corner of the screen which, if clicked, takes you back to the default desktop. If you mouse-over an application icon a yellow star will appear in the upper left hand corner. A single click on the star adds it to the empty bar. This allows you to place your favorite application icons on the desktop and always have them visible regardless of which menu you enter. If you mouse-over a favorite icon a red minus sign is displayed in the top left corner of the icon to allow it to be removed from the favorites bar. If you click on any application icon other than on the star or minus, that application is launched.
KNE 9.10 Hardware Drivers Graphics Menu with favorites displayed
(full image size: 408kB, screen resolution: 1024x576 pixels)
Switching applications and controlling the panel will eventually be controlled by a widget in the top left corner of the screen which the Kubuntu Wiki describes as "incomplete". Invisible would have been a better description. If you have very sharp eyes you will notice a tiny line near the top left corner of the screen along the top edge. Believe it or not, that's your widget. Mousing over that spot will restore the panel and clicking on the tab which displays either the application you were last in or the number of running applications, brings up a black screen with thumbnails of all the open applications, each with their icon superimposed on the lower right corner of the image. Sadly, KSnapshot doesn't work in this screen. It's a unique visual application chooser and I would have liked to have shown it here. If you click on a thumbnail the application in question will reappear either in full-screen mode or in a window on the desktop, whichever state it was in when last used.
There is another nearly invisible, undocumented desktop feature. If an application is windowed on the desktop and is then minimized while touching the bottom of the screen you will notice that part of the bottom of the display has yet another little line. That is the minimized application. If you click there the application will reappear. Once again you will need really sharp eyes to spot this future, incomplete functionality.
The default panel includes two tabs, one for Applications, which is the default desktop I have been describing, and one called Newspaper. Newspaper includes windows for a news feed window, weather, sticky notes, a calendar, and a cartoon. Unfortunately right now the news feed is only news about KDE and there is no way to configure it for anything else. I can see how this tab will eventually be quite useful, but at this time it is very limited.
Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 Newspaper
(full image size: 334kB, screen resolution: 1024x576 pixels)
Plasma-Netbook does support multiple virtual desktops, something I find essential on a small netbook screen. Unfortunately there is no desktop pager on the panel and no way to add one at present. There actually is no configuration tool for the panel at all and no way to customize it or to add widgets. You can remove widgets but I'm not at all sure you can get them back if you want them later. The only way to change desktops is to enable screen edge movement from one desktop to another. As you can imagine this can make using the nearly invisible, incomplete widgets nearly impossible unless you enable a rather long delay. Considering that you need those
widgets to change applications or access the panel, this makes using multiple desktops inconvenient at this time.
On a brighter note, Yakuake, the drop-down terminal emulator for KDE, works perfectly well in the Plasma-Netbook desktop. I find the application switching system in KNE a bit cumbersome at present. Yakuake allows easy access to a terminal window even when another application is in full screen mode. One interesting little quirk is that there is no Development icon category. If you add an application that would normally fit into that menu the icon is simply lost. For example, I installed Bluefish and no icon appeared anywhere. If I used Alt-F2 and start typing bluefish it auto-completes for me and the familiar Bluefish icon appears.
The selection of applications is essentially identical to a standard Kubuntu installation. KPackageKit and aptitude work exactly as they would in Kubuntu. No functionality is hidden and the interface hasn't been simplified for non-technical users in the way some other netbook desktops have been. KNE has access to all the packages for Karmic Koala in the repository by default. The KDE applications are all from KDE 4.3.2, the version used in the current Kubuntu release. Only the Plasma-Netbook desktop itself is development code. One additional bug is worth mentioning. The automated package update tool included in the ISO image has a bug which displays an empty box while updates are being installed. One of the recent updates does, in fact, fix this bug and correctly shows download and installation progress.
Kubuntu Netbook Edition 9.10 really is incomplete. Despite the missing functionality and a few bugs it's pretty easy to see just how promising the Plasma-Netbook 4.4 desktop is. I was also pleasantly surprised that most of the issues fall into the category of inconveniences, not show-stopping problems. It's really surprising just how usable this pre-alpha development code already is.
Too many netbook interfaces take the cell phone paradigm to the point where it could only be appealing to new and non-technical users who don't do a great deal of work on their diminutive systems. KNE still offers something that resembles a netbook/cellphone interface but does it in a way that doesn't handcuff the experienced user who needs to multi-task and do advanced work.
Right now Kubuntu Netbook Edition is too rough around the edges for me to use it regularly. In that sense it is precisely as advertised. I am generally not a fan of netbook desktop design and I usually choose a conventional desktop environment for my HP Mini 110. Once completed it's quite possible that Kubuntu Netbook Edition may become the first netbook optimized desktop I could actually learn to like. This is one project that will be worth watching to see how it progresses.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
FreeBSD 8.0 features, Mandriva community spins and Cooker changes, Debian "Sqeeze" freeze target, Ubuntu Netbook Remix optimisation tips
It took much longer than expected at the beginning of the development cycle, but FreeBSD 8.0 eventually arrived amid plenty of excitement in the BSD user community. The operating system's internals include some interesting improvements, such as various new virtualisation features, a ZFS file system that is no longer considered experimental, a re-written USB stack, experimental support for the MIPS architecture and, as always, support for various new hardware components. Those who use binary packages only on their systems have a relatively easy task to upgrade to FreeBSD 8.0, but for those who like to compile every port from source, here is a handy tutorial entitled "How To Upgrade FreeBSD 7.2 To FreeBSD 8 Using csup": "csup is a general-purpose network file updating package. Source-based upgrades from previous versions are well-supported and recommended to gain full control of your FreeBSD 8 kernel and base systems." The FreeBSD installation DVD includes binary packages for KDE and GNOME desktops, but those users who favour a lighter alternative can download the semi-official CD image with Xfce: "This release includes the latest OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, as well as AbiWord and Gnumeric for those who prefer them. Gnash has been dropped (Linux Flash plugin works very well now)."
FreeBSD 8.0 with KDE 4 and an official wallpaper from the project's Logo page
(full image size: 426kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Mandriva Linux, once an undisputed leader of desktop Linux (and a distribution that many people loved to hate at the time), has been through many ups and downs throughout its relatively long history. Fortunately, it seems that right now it finds itself at the top of the curve. The reason? The strong support it has been receiving from the many Mandriva user communities around the world. As a consequence, several contributed builds of Mandriva Linux 2010 for a variety of tastes and purposes have been made available recently. One of them, an Xfce build of Mandriva Linux 2010 (an installable live CD), announced last week by Stéphane Téletchéa, is now available from the official Mandriva mirrors (look for it in the devel/iso/contrib/2010.0/ directory). Similarly, the German Mandriva users' group has released an LXDE edition of Mandriva Linux 2010 (news story in German) - an installable live CD with support for several languages, including English. And finally, those who have been looking for 64-bit Mandriva 2010 "One" images but couldn't find them (unfortunately, Mandriva does not provide any) are also in luck - the Community64.net web site (in French only for now) has started building 64-bit live CDs of the latest Mandriva release. The KDE edition is already available for download from this page (also in French, but the links are self-explanatory), with more to come in the next few weeks. It's refreshing to see all this community involvement contributing to the growth of Mandriva Linux!
Mandriva Linux 2010 "LXDE" edition - created by a Mandriva users' group in Germany
(full image size: 911kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
One other Mandriva product that deserves a mention here is Mandriva Flash, the distribution's bootable USB Flash drive (complete with a Mandriva logo) containing the latest version of the popular operating system. The 2010 version of the product was announced last week: "Mandriva Flash 2010 is the ideal companion for travellers. You can now take your desktop wherever you want with Mandriva Flash. Plug in the USB key, boot up your PC and within a handful of seconds the Mandriva Linux 2010 operating system is ready for work. Mandriva Linux 2010 is completely operational, needs no installation and fits into your pocket. Mandriva Flash 2010 also allows you to install the Mandriva distribution onto your home workstation in just a few clicks. You will find the Mandriva Linux 3D workstation and the complete Linux system, such as Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Skype, Google Toolbar, and the OpenOffice suite...." The product (8 GB) is available from Mandriva Store for €49.90 or US$59.90. A very useful gadget and a nice way to support Mandriva if you enjoy their distribution!
Still on the subject of Mandriva but turning towards a more technical subject, Frederik Himpe has an update on the latest developments in "Cooker", Mandriva's development branch: "The Qt and KDE development snapshots have been updated to the latest versions - Qt 4.6-rc1 and KDE 4.3.77; desktop effects are now enabled by default in KDE and Nepomuk is now using Virtuoso as its back-end to store data, which should give faster tagging and indexing. OpenOffice.org 3.2 beta 1 is now in Cooker, a very noticeable change is that its start-up performance has improved. Firefox 3.6 beta 4 is now in main/testing. For the first time, a development snapshot of Google's Chromium browser is now available in Mandriva Cooker. The Sysklogd system log daemon has been replaced by rsyslog. Cooker now includes version 2009.11.14 of the NTFS-3G driver, this is a major upgrade with support for file permissions and sequential writing to compressed files and performance improvements...."
* * * * *
Development of the next stable Debian GNU/Linux, version 6.0 and code name "Squeeze", is in full swing, but when exactly will it arrive? With Debian's "release when ready" policy one is never sure, but the current project leader, Steve McIntyre, is hopeful that it could happen as soon as around the middle of 2010: "The Debian GNU/Linux project is looking at a development freeze in March next year for its next release, Squeeze, the project leader Steve McIntyre says. A freeze means that no new features are incorporated and only bug fixes are done. The release does not take place until all release-critical bugs are squashed. McIntyre was hopeful that this would translate into a release sometime by the middle of the Northern summer." However, history suggests that these kinds of wishes and hopes of Debian project leaders are rarely respected by the project which depends on more than a thousand individuals and which seems to have a life of its own. Still, it's nice to see that there is a tentative target, even if it could eventually be missed by months...
* * * * *
Finally, a link to an interesting optimisation guide for the users of the latest version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR): "I recently got a new Eee PC and installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 'Karmic Koala' (which is going to be renamed to Ubuntu Netbook Edition starting with 10.04 'Lucid Lynx') and even though UNR is already somewhat optimized, I don't like how some things work and also there is room for a lot more optimizations. I would like to share with you these optimizations, all with screen real estate and low power consumption in mind. A part of this article is for Eee PC only, but most work on any netbook!" The guide has tips on improving the battery life, optimising the taskbar and the GNOME panel for usability, getting a more space-efficient browser and more. Some of these tips are specific to the Eee PC, but most can be applied to any of the popular netbooks. Happy tweaking!
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Busy at the office asks: What is a good alternative to MS Office?
DistroWatch answers: I'd say a root canal is a good alternative to Microsoft Office. Joking aside, there are at least three good open source office suites well worth looking at. Each of them is free, both as in beer and freedom.
- OpenOffice.org (OOo). This is probably your best bet for an all-in-one solution. OpenOffice.org runs on most of the popular operating systems, including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and Solaris. I haven't tried to, but I think you can compile it for BSD as well. The OOo collection comes with word processor, spread sheet, presentation, drawing and database programs. In my experience, each of them has worked very well. If you're concerned about file format compatibility, OOo is probably your best option too, as it generally handles files from MS-Office 97-2003 very well. It also handles file formats from various other office suites. Compatibility with MS-Office 2007 seems to be hit or miss depending on which distro you use. I think Novell's family of Linux distributions and the Windows build of OpenOffice.org support '07 formats, but some other distributions don't include it, perhaps for legal reasons. The only complaint I generally hear about OOo is that it's very large and, at times, sluggish. It's getting better in its performance with each release, but it's still not snappy.
- KOffice. KOffice, as the name implies, is closely tied to the KDE desktop. It is a comparatively light office suite and, so far as I know, will only run on platforms which also support the KDE desktop. The suite comes with a word processor, spread sheet, drawing program, and presentation software. On the compatibility front, KOffice is a bit limited compared to OpenOffice.org, but efforts are being made to allow KOffice to import all versions of MS-Office files. On the positive side, KOffice is very fast and user-friendly. If you're running a KDE desktop, it's well worth the time to check out KOffice.
- GNOME Office (AbiWord & Gnumeric). The GNOME desktop also has office applications, though they operate more independently. AbiWord is a word processor and Gnumeric is a spread sheet program. They work well either together or separately. Both programs work on most popular operating systems, including Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. The last time I checked, both applications would handle file formats from a wide range of other office suites, including MS-Office 97-2003 and OpenOffice.org. These programs will run well on low-spec hardware and their small size and portability make them a good choice for people who work with a lot of different environments. The only real drawback being that, so far as I know, there's no presentation software associated with them. There was an attempt to provide some GNOME presentation software via Agnubis, but that seems to have fizzled.
|Released Last Week
Scientific Linux 5.4 "Live CD/DVD"
Urs Beyerle has announced the release of the "Live CD/DVD" edition of Scientific Linux 5.4, a distribution rebuilt from source packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 and enhanced with extra scientific and other software: "Scientific Linux Live CD/DVD 5.4 has been released for i386 and x86_64. Features: live CD/DVD can be installed to local hard disk; runs from USB key; changes can be stored persistently on an external device; can be mounted over NFS (diskless client). Software: Linux kernel 2.6.18, OpenAFS client 1.4.11, X.Org 7.1, 3D desktop with Compiz and AIGLX, ALSA sound library 1.0.17; GNOME 2.16.0 (standard desktop), GIMP 2.2.13, OpenOffice.org 2.3.0, Firefox 3.0.15, Thunderbird 18.104.22.168, KDE 3.5.4 (only on DVD)." Here is the brief release announcement.
Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop 2.0
Ulteo, an open-source enterprise established by Mandrake Linux founder Gaël Duval, has released Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop (OVD) 2.0, an appliance operating system delivering virtual desktops capable of running both Linux and Windows applications remotely: "Ulteo introduces open-source virtual desktop OVD 2.0. This new release delivers both Linux and Windows applications as complete virtual desktops - and also via web portal. Key features: ease of use, deployment and management - only a web browser with a Java plugin is required on the client side; interoperability - full integration with existing infrastructures, including Microsoft environment...." Read the release announcement and visit the features page (with screenshots) for more information.
FreeBSD 8.0, a major new update of the popular operating system for servers, desktops and embedded devices, has been officially released: "The FreeBSD Release Engineering team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE. This release starts off the new 8-STABLE branch which improves on the functionality of FreeBSD 7.X and introduces many new features. Some of the highlights: Xen Dom-U, VirtualBox guest and host, hierarchal jails; NFSv3 GSSAPI support, experimental NFSv4 client and server; 802.11s D3.03 wireless mesh networking and Virtual Access Point support; ZFS no longer in experimental status; ground-up rewrite of USB, including USB target support; continued SMP scalability improvements in many areas, especially VFS; revised network link layer subsystem; experimental MIPS architecture support." Read the release announcement, release highlights and release notes for additional information.
Tiny Core Linux 2.6
The rapid development of Tiny Core Linux, a minimalist desktop distribution in 10 MB, continues with the release of version 2.6 earlier today. What's new? "Updated blkid, libblkid, and libuuid; updated rebuildfstab to drop extra mount points and to reflect removals; new select utility replaces dialog; updated xsetup.sh, mktclocal and tc-terminal-server using select; updated cpanel Apps Audit replaces mktclocal on panel selection; updated missing link libpng.so; dropped cryptohome support; updated tc-config to reflect recent changes; BusyBox mount and losetup replaces GNU variants; updated rc.shutdown for BusyBox syntax; updated tce-load to support BusyBox mount; dropped support for ziofs and cramfs, all extensions are now Squashfs; dropped BusyBox ed, eject, fsck, expand and unexpand applets; BusyBox lsmod, insmod, rmmod, modprobe replace GNU variants...." Here is the complete changelog.
Greenie Linux 6K
Stanislav Hoferek has announced the release of Greenie Linux 6K, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution optimised for Slovak and Czech users: "Greenie 6K is based on Ubuntu 9.10 'Karmic Koala', with many up-to-date applications, including Linux Kernel 2.6.31, GNOME 2.28, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, Firefox 3.5, WINE 1.1.33 and also some new applications, such as Google Chrome (web browser), Imagination (slideshow creator), PDFMod (PDF editor), StarDict (a dictionary with support for Czech), Empathy (Internet messaging client, Pidgin is included too). Because of lack of free space on CD, several programs have been removed, including Inkscape, Alien and Mencoder. Greenie 6K also brings several changes to Greenie Toolbar, Firefox (with new speed dial), Bash aliases and graphic theme." Here is the brief release announcement.
Greenie Linux 6K - the latest release of the Slovak distribution is based on Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala"
(full image size: 1,180kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Musix GNU/Linux 2.0
Marcos Guglielmetti has announced the release of Musix GNU/Linux 2.0, a 100% libre, Debian-based distribution with a collection of software for audio production, graphics design and video editing: "It is a great pleasure for us to announce the availability of version 2.0 of the MUSIX GNU/Linux free operating system, after a year of hard community work. You can get MUSIX 2.0 in two ways: live DVD (plus hard disk installer) and USB (persistent, minimum 4 GB). Major new features: Linux kernel 22.214.171.124 real-time 'full preempt', ready for low-latency audio operations either live or installed to hard disk; custom KDE as default desktop (you can also run GNOME, IceWM, Fluxbox, LXDE); based on Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 'Lenny'; improved installer and start system; persistent USB edition; extensive and updated set of applications...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Musix GNU/Linux 2.0 - a "libre" distribution for musicians and other artists, based on Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny"
(full image size: 211kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Linux Mint 8
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 8, a beginner-friendly, Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution: "The team is proud to announce the stable release of Linux Mint 8, code name 'Helena'. The 8th release of Linux Mint comes with numerous bug fixes and a lot of improvements. In particular, Linux Mint 8 comes with support for OEM installs, a brand new Upload Manager, the menu now allows you to configure custom places, the update manager now lets you define packages for which you don't want to receive updates,the software manager now features multiple installation and removal of software and many of the tools' graphical interfaces were enhanced." Read the release announcement and visit the what's new page (with screenshots) to find out more about the new release.
Linux Mint 8 - the latest release of the beginner friendly distribution, based on Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala"
(full image size: 683kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Debris Linux 2.0
Stefan Emmerich has announced the release of Debris Linux 2.0, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution with GNOME and Openbox in under 200 MB: "After a long time of development, we finally present Debris Linux 2.0. Because of the large amount of testing and the fact that it is based on a very stable Ubuntu LTS version, Debris Linux 2.0 has proven to be a very stable system. Debris Linux 2.0 is package compatible with Ubuntu 8.04 'Hardy Heron' - you can use all packages for this release from the Ubuntu repositories, except for those depending on the Ubuntu kernel! Changes since RC1: fixed the clipboard issue; new feature - build-fstab will also update the swap partition's UUID used for hibernation resume; updated Firefox 3.0.15; Ubuntu security updates. Debris Linux 2.0 will provide security updates until April 2011." See the release announcement and changelog for more details.
Debris Linux 2.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution combining the GNOME desktop with the Openbox window manager
(full image size: 760kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Macpup Foxy 3.0
Johnny Lee has announced the release of Macpup Linux 2.0, a variant of Puppy Linux with the Enlightenment 17 window manager, attractive artwork, Mac OS X-like user interface, and extra desktop applications: "Macpup Foxy 3.0 is based on Puppy Linux 4.3.1 (Linux kernel 126.96.36.199). It includes all the updates from the 4.3.1 service pack and has all the applications from 4.3 plus Firefox (updated to 3.5.4) and GIMP 2.6.3. It also has D-Bus 1.2.16 and Sakura 1.2.3 compiled and installed from source. The Enlightenment 17 window manager was also compiled and installed from source. You can also use JWM, use the exit menu to change window managers. Please note that not all the options in the e17 system shutdown menu work with Puppy Linux - that is why the exit menu was added. The battery module in this build of Enlightenment 17 had a problem of maxing out the CPU, so I removed it from Fox 3.0." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
Macpup Foxy 3.0 - a Puppy-based desktop distribution with Enlightenment
(full image size: 1,704kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
openSUSE 11.3 development and release roadmap
The openSUSE project has published a preliminary development and release roadmap leading towards the distribution's next stable release - version 11.3. The effort will bring a total of 7 milestone releases (the first of which will be published in just two weeks, on 12 December), two release candidates and the final release on 15 July 2010. For a detailed breakdown of all development builds please visit the openSUSE roadmap page.
* * * * *
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 7 December 2009.
Caitlyn Martin, Ladislav Bodnar and Jesse Smith
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Freespire was once a community-run Linux distribution sponsored by Linspire. Freespire was discontinued in 2008. Starting in 2017 Freespire became a free operating system based on Ubuntu and run by PC/OpenSystems LLC. Freespire features the Xfce desktop environment.