Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Distributions page.
Lists of Distributions
Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.
News and Editorials
Red Hat Linux for SPARC?. A discussion this week on the sparc-list centered around the plans of some people to move either to OpenBSD, which has official support for SPARC, or to SuSE Linux, which, among others, also supports the SPARC platform. Vincent Cojot then pointed out that Red Hat's Rawhide distribution still contains SPARC support and pondered whether the lack of a Red Hat 7 on SPARC did not, in fact, preclude the possibility of a Red Hat 7.1 on SPARC.
Rather than just speculate, we called Red Hat and asked. Current policy is to continue to support SPARC in the Rawhide distribution, making it freely available for those willing to download and use this development snapshot. However, a shrink-wrapped version of 7.1 for SPARC will not be released unless there is "sufficient customer demand".
So options for SPARC users abound; use Red Hat's Rawhide development, bang on Red Hat for a stable SPARC release, or, as suggested on sparc-list, move to another distribution with a more solid commitment to the platform. Possibilities in the Linux arena include Debian, Linux-Mandrake, and SuSE.
It is understandable that Red Hat does not want to pay the cost of producing shrink-wrapped boxes that won't sell. On the other hand, there is another reason to support the SPARC architecture. To gain or hold onto the role of leader in the Linux business, it is necessary to be perceived as a "one place shop", e.g., people don't want to run Red Hat on Intel, Linux-Mandrake on SPARC and SuSE on the Alpha. Even as similar as Linux distributions are, there are minor quirks between them that mean sys admins will prefer to use only one primary Linux distribution. Red Hat, in choosing to make their support for the SPARC platform weak, has opened up a chink in their armor, in their market lead, that other distributors will be happy to exploit.
Linux Package Management Needs a Wakeup Call (LinuxToday Australia). LinuxToday in Australia took a look at the competing standards for package management, focusing on Red Hat's RPM and Debian's apt-get. "Unfortunately, if you're a developer, you have to supply your software in both .rpm and .deb if you really want to make a Good Impression on the Linux community. Some commercial developers actually do this, leaving Debian and Red Hat users happy, and users of other distributions grumbling. Are you running Slackware? Stampede? Sorry, you're out of luck. Even SuSE has problems installing many .rpm packages." (Thanks to Andre Pang)
Note that, in the long run, it is the distribution vendor who has an obligation and an incentive to support multiple package formats. SuSE, Caldera and other systems that use RPM, yet do not seamlessly install software distributed in RPM format, are paying a price. Right now, they each develop their own repository for rpms, an overhead cost that multiplies as applications continue to proliferate. In addition, it is a base principle for all operating systems that the more applications that work on your system, the more in demand your system will be. If commonly-distributed rpm files don't work on your distribution, consider it a bug and get the problem fixed.
Meanwhile, the true winner will likely be the first distribution that can handle both rpm and .deb files. We know that Debian is working on improvements to make this possible, but we haven't heard of similar work going on within the RPM-based distributors, at least so far. It's just a software format -- the solution should not be that hard to produce.
BSD to leapfrog Linux? (ZDNet). With an introduction obviously meant to fan BSD vs. Linux flames, this article from ZDNet is actually more about the growth of BSD through its five major distributions - FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, BSDI and Darwin. "FreeBSD and OpenBSD have about 4,100 and 1,000 packages, respectively, in their "ports collections," while NetBSD has about 2,000 in its "package source collection." Coleman and openpackages.org hope to standardize on an effective admininstrative tool and packaging format for all the BSDs that could simplify BSD administration and make more software available to all BSD users."
New DistributionsThe following distributions were spotted for the first time this week:
Linux bundle group test (IT Reviews UK). Last week IT Reviews did a side by side comparison of the five leading Linux distributions - Corel, Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE, and TurboLinux. "Corel is a desktop operating system at heart, with few server features, but would fit in well with existing Microsoft machines on a network. But for us, the clear winner for use on workstations was Mandrake. This new version delivers even greater ease of use than the renowned version 7.1. It offers a well thought-out graphical installer, DrakX, with good features, excellent hardware detection and support, well thought-out default configuration of the desktop environments, and a broad range of software packages."
Best Linux News. A review of Best Linux was published this week. The Duke of URL took a look at Best Linux 2000 R2. "BestLinux brings two main things to the table, extensive language support and a beautiful new installation program - both of which are top notch."
Eridani News. Eridani Linux 6.3 was released this week. Eridani is a Red Hat-based distribution out of of the U.K. This latest version is built on both Eridani 6.2 and Red Hat 7. "As before, we have all the updates and security fixes that have been released by Red Hat, we have this time attempted to steer a mid-way path of providing up-to-date components while using a known stable base (and a compiler that can compile the kernel ;-)".
Nedit, licq, gnapster, KDE2 and other additional packages are also included. For more information on Eridani, please check out their Distributions Survey, which they were kind enough to fill out and return to us today.
Debian News. Debian joins GNOME Foundation. An official announcement from the Debian Project has been released stating that project's recent acceptance of an invitation to join the GNOME Foundation's Advisory Board.
Due to our early publishing schedule last week, we have two editions of the Debian Weekly News available for your reading pleasure this week: November 22nd and November 29th. The latest news is the implementation of package pools for Debian's non-US archive. The process seems to be going well.
Embedded Debian got a boost this week when the Information and Communication Theory Group of the Delft University of Technology announced they had Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 running on their LART embedded system. The LART is based on the Intel SA-1100 StrongARM processor, and produces around 250 MIPS of performance on less than 1 Watt of power.
The original driver to get the system going the first time was from the ARM Linux project, but then Debian was chosen to complete the project, because it is supported by more applications.
Red Hat News. Red Hat Linux 7 is now available for the Alpha platform. Red Hat, Inc. announced this release in conjunction with Compaq. In addition, the press release notes that Red Hat Linux 7 is now bundled and pre-loaded on selected Compaq ProLiant Servers and selected Compaq Deskpro models.
Along with the announcement, Red Hat also released four bug-fix announcements and fourteen updated security announcements, in order to provide updates for the new Alpha version. We asked them about the large amount of updates to a brand-new product. Erik Troan commented, "We included all of the security fixes which were available when we cut the gold master. As the gold master was cut many weeks ago to allow time for production, recent fixes weren't yet available for inclusion".
Check this week's Security Summary for links to the related security updates and descriptions of the security problems they fix. Below are the four recommended bug fixes that should be applied after installation.
With Red Hat's stock near its lowest point since its IPO, Upside decided now was a good time to check with Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik about where the company is and where it can go. "We're a sheer open source play. That's purely the business that we're in. During the road show, somebody asked me when we're going to give up this open source gimmick, which couldn't be farther from the truth. We are deeply committed to open technology deployment, as well as the licensing model and the viability of our offerings."
Red Hat Center, a non-profit foundation, announced a gift in the amount of $100,000 to Cornell University's Legal Information Institute (LII) to fund improvements to LII's web site. The grant enables LII to write software that will let web users read any portion of the U.S. Code as it was in effect at particular points in time.
SuSE News. SuSE Linux 7.0 for Alpha is now available. SuSE released version 7.0 of their distribution for the Alpha processor today. SuSE Linux also supports Intel and PowerPC as well as the SPARC and S/390 architectures.
Special-purpose boot floppies have been made available for SuSE users to help with a couple of different problems. If you're having difficulty installing SuSE on a system with an ASUS A7V motherboard, take a look at this boot disk for the ASUS A7V. If you're trying to support the latest ServeRAID controllers, this ServeRAID boot floppy should be of assistance.
In both cases, instructions for updating the kernel or drivers after installation are also provided, so that your system will continue to support this hardware correctly.
Hard Hat Linux News. Hard Hat Linux from Montavista won the Penguin Playoff Awards for for "Best Embedded Solution" this week. The Penguin Playoff awards are jointly sponsored by Linux Journal and the Linux Business Expo. Hard Hat's extensive development tools, which are Free Software, were mentioned as a key factor in the award.
Montavista's commitment to Open Source and its choice to make its tools Open Source, rather than proprietary, sets it apart from several of the other key players in the Linux embedded market.
Mini/Special Purpose DistributionsThe following mini/special purpose distributions released updates this week:
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
November 30, 2000