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
Niche Linux Distributions rub elbows with Mac enthusiasts. Linux Distributors LinuxPPC and TerraSoft (Yellow Dog Linux) were present in force at this year's MacWorld. Although the conference was timed to match the release of this InfoWorld review of SuSE 7.0 on the PowerPC, SuSE wasn't present at MacWorld. Though we haven't verified this, we expect that the other major Linux distributors weren't there either, even though some of them offer PowerPC versions of their distributions.
Why not? Given the number of conferences and expositions around the world demanding their attention, and the cost of attending them all, it isn't too surprising that they didn't find time to make it to MacWorld. For now, with the exception of LinuxPPC and TerraSoft, it was an Apple and Microsoft-dominated event.
In addition, the Mac community is as different from the Linux community as the Microsoft community is. They have their own history, language, and concerns, which may or may not overlap with the concerns of the Linux and Open Source community. We believe the future will overlap more, but for now, there is definitely a gap.
Companies like LinuxPPC and TerraSoft form bridges between communities. By choosing to focus solely on the PowerPC architecture, they also form a closer alliance with the Mac world. Not only can they justify the expenditure of funds to mingle at MacWorld, they couldn't possibly justify missing it.
Within that statement lies the potential future for these companies. They won't ever take over the entire Linux world but their success, presuming they do survive, will rest on their ability to become a known and understood part of both worlds. After all, if you are a Mac enthusiast looking at Linux for the first time, to whom would you rather talk? A large Linux company that sees the Mac world as just another piece of the pie? Or a small Linux company whose livelihood depends on understanding your unique needs and finding a way to support them?
In Mexico, Net Not a Priority (Wired). Wiring Mexico's schools won't happen at the behest of government - or Microsoft - according to the new President of that country. Instead, it will happen through the private sector, and with open source. "Open source software would solve [the piracy] problem," [Gary Chapman, director of the 21st Century Project] said. "You can get all the functionality without paying the software fees." In fact, Red Escolar, a project that aspires to wire every Mexican school to the Internet, uses free applications Linux and Gnome on its computers, he said.
Windows Meets Linux (Duke of URL). The Duke of URL posted a review of WinLinux 2000. "The hardware support is pretty poor and it would be nice for this distribution to hack the kernel like Red Hat and Mandrake do to include terminology, and maybe even include something like the drivers for the Lucent Winmodem -- since people using Windows generally have devices like that. Before WinLinux can be a serious contender, they need to do some kernel hacking."
BYO Linux. BYO Linux, otherwise known as "Build Your Own Linux", appears to have borrowed the idea behind BYLD, Build Your Linux Disk. BYLD helps you build your own Linux distribution on a single floppy disk. BYO Linux helps you build your own full-size Linux distribution.
The site is nice and heavy on the documentation side. If you've been wanting to build your own distribution but were a bit daunted by how to get started, this will provide an excellent base. Computer science professors might want to take a look ... it would be a nice, though large, assignment to hand out to some truly enthusiastic students.
TA-Linux. A new entrant onto our list of small, disk-based distributions, TA-Linux was built by Kaj-Michael Lang. In size, it runs between 65MB and 250MB. "I had a couple of reasons for making TA-Linux. I was not happy with the distributions out there, except Slackware but Slackware had one problem, it's only for x86 (ok, sparc version is available now, but wasn't when I started to work on this) and I wanted to run an identical distribution on all of my linux capable machines."
For now, the x86 version is the only one available for download, but an alpha version is also promised.
FREESCO. Hoyt Duff dropped us a note to point out the FREESCO distribution, another single-floppy distribution primarily intended to function as a router (FREESCO == FREE ciSCO). They promise that it is "insanely" easy to use.
Critical to Debian users and developers, 61 long-orphaned packages are scheduled to be officially removed from Debian unless a new maintainer steps up to shoulder the work. Critical orphaned packages include fnlib, a font-rendering library used by Enlightenment applications, tclx8.0.4 (Extended Tcl), the entire SIAG office suite and more. It would be a good idea to check the list carefully to see if there are any programs that you will miss.
For more Debian news, check out this week's Kernel Cousin Debian.
For news on the Debian GNU/Hurd project, check out this week's Kernel Cousin Debian Hurd
Linux-Mandrake and a fully anti-aliased KDE desktop. Information on how to get XFree 4.0.2, freetype2, libqt2 and more all working together to support fully anti-aliases fonts is the topic of this MandrakeForum article. Strictly for the very brave, but the results appear to be worth it: "You really won't believe how utterly beautiful this is, especially if you haven't spent years with those crappy Linux fonts in front of you".
With luck, we'll all be sitting where he is someday. It's nice to know that a more beautiful desktop is definitely getting closer. Note that only a few graphics boards are currently supported in this configuration. In addition, the configuration is apparently quite a CPU and disk hog.
Virtual Linux and CCLinux update. Last week, we mentioned the Virtual Linux project, working to provide a CD-based version of Linux-Mandrake. Since then, several of our readers pointed out that the link we provided for Virtual Linux on freshmeat.net was no longer functioning. We checked with Scoop; the project author was having problems getting his software uploaded. Once those problems are fixed, Virtual Linux should return.
Similarly, reports came in that our link to CCLinux was no longer functioning either. We checked with CCLinux author FBW who confirmed that there were known problems with the server on which CCLinux is hosted. So CCLinux will be back, but there is no estimate yet on when that will be.
Slackware News. Slackware-current has now been upgraded to the Linux 2.2.18 kernel. In addition, glibc 2.2.1 has been installed, replacing the version of glibc 2.2 patched last week due to security issues.
Prosa, EtLinux rise from the ashes (LinuxDevices.com). Former Linuxcare embedded Linux company Prosa may be resurrecting the EtLinux distribution it lost when Linuxcare's European facilities were closed. "At this time, a restart of Prosa and EtLinux is in process, under the direction of Davide Barbieri, who was formerly the General Manager of Prosa Labs and later served as General Manager of Linuxcare Italia following Linuxcare's acquisition of Prosa."
Installing Microwindows on the iPAQ (LinuxDevices.com). In part 3 of a series on the history and future of Linux PDAs, Jerry Epplin looks at using Microwindows on the Compaq iPAQ. "Microwindows supports two APIs: the Windows GDI and Nano-X, an X-like API intended for low-footprint applications. On top of Microwindows the toolkit provides FLNX, a version of the FLTK application development environment modified to target Nano-X rather than X."
Mini/Special Purpose Distributions
Minor distribution updates. Here are some minor distribution updates released this week:
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
January 18, 2001