On the Desktop
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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
Aleph ARMLinux. A commercial distribution supporting the ARM hardware platform is now available. Aleph One Ltd, a UK firm, is now shipping Aleph ARMLinux, a general-purpose distribution based on Debian, with the current version being based on Debian 2.2. It currently supports Acorn/Castle RISC PCs and comes with a "Guide to ARMLinux" book with installation instructions and Linux basics taught from a RISCOS perspective. ARMLinux developer Wookey was kind enough to fill out a distributions survey for Aleph ARMLinux, to provide lots of gory details about the distribution.
Aleph ARMLinux will remain tied to Debian, with new releases planned to matched the Debian release cycle. When asked why they chose to produce Aleph ARMLinux, Wookey commented:
The only one existing for ARM was very old (aout/RedHat3 vintage) and done by a hacker for hackers. We felt that a professionally supported and documented up-to-date distro was something people wanted and was necessary to spread the user base. The Debian ARM effort (primarily by Netwinder people) made this possible.
Over 4000 Debian packages are supported in the distribution (courtesy largely, of course, to the work of the Debian-ARM team), but the default install is only around 200MB. It is almost entirely compatible with the File Hierarchy Standard and with the LSB. They reported around 70 sales of the distribution in the first 8 weeks of its availability.
Although the ARM-based Acorn PCs are less-well-known in the US, they are extremely popular in the UK. Aleph ARMLinux is likely to find a warm reception as a result.
An Interview with Joseph Cheek (SlashTCO). Here's an interview with Joseph Cheek, founder of Redmond Linux, a user-friendly Linux distribution.
[SlashTCO] So tell me a bit more about the ease of use aspect of Redmond Linux.
.comment: Not Forking But Branching. LinuxPlanet looks at the large number of Linux distributions. "I don't know of anyone who has looked closely at the situation and doesn't believe that there will be a shakeout, a winnowing out of the weak sisters in the Linux world. We'll begin to see distributions cease to distribute. There are too many of them for all to survive and there's too little to distinguish one over another."
A developer's perspective on PocketLinux (LinuxDevices.com). Part 5 of a series from Jerry Epplin on the status and history of Linux on PDAs looks at Transvirtual's PocketLinux, the Java-based solution for handheld devices. "PocketLinux for the iPAQ uses the handhelds.org kernel and builds a GUI platform on top of it. But PocketLinux, provided by Transvirtual Technologies, is in a sense more ambitious than the others, in that it is targeted toward development by both programmers and non-programmers."
Conectiva News. Conectiva has announced the release of an updated Apt package for managing software packages on Linux sytems. The new release now supports RPM 4. Apt is a tool for managing packages developed by the Debian team, originally supporting only the .deb package format. Alfredo Kojima added support for handling RPM packages. Conectiva is the first distribution to use both Apt and RPM (instead of Apt and Debian .deb packages).
Linux-Mandrake News. MandrakeSoft announced this week Linux-Mandrake 8.0 beta 1, also dubbed "Traktopel". They've got the Linux kernel 2.4.2, KDE 2.1 and the latest versions of GNOME, Nautilus and Evolution. As always with beta versions, remember that they are intended for the brave/foolhardy. No guarantees and no whining ... though bug reports will surely be welcome.
Red Hat News. Only three weeks after its release of "Fisher", the first beta version of Red Hat 7.1, Red Hat has now announced "Wolverine", the latest beta. Diff'ing the new announcements oddly enough seemed to indicate that the latest beta no longer contains their Itanium support. It does include Linux 2.4.1, with additional fixes. Tcl/Tk 8.3.2 has been backed out in favor of Tcl/Tk 8.3.1, while Pine has been upgraded to Pine 4.33. It contains a new warning about Cardbus network cards and network cards that use the tulip driver.
Wolverine has its own mailing list, separate from the Fisher list, so you'll need to sign up if you want to follow the discussion directly.
SuSE News. According to a notice posted to the SuSE Security Announce mailing list, SuSE will discontinue support for versions 6.0, 6.1, and 6.2 effective March 19th, 2001. Support for 6.3, 6.4 7.0 and 7.1 will continue for two years after each of their respective release dates.
Meanwhile, SuSE 7.1 is now available for purchase at the SuSE shop.
"SuSE is the first Linux distribution to come with the 2.4 kernel.
Although this kernel is still considered experimental and therefore
cannot be supported, it is available for Linux users who are ready
to try it.
As well as the 2.4 kernel, SuSE linux 7.1 comes with great features
like the Reiser Filesystem, the Logical Volume manager, ALSA (the
Advanced Linux Sound Architicture), KDE 2.0 and YaST2, the ultimate
installation and configuration tool, which now has an automated FTP
As well as the 2.4 kernel, SuSE linux 7.1 comes with great features like the Reiser Filesystem, the Logical Volume manager, ALSA (the Advanced Linux Sound Architicture), KDE 2.0 and YaST2, the ultimate installation and configuration tool, which now has an automated FTP update feature!"
Slackware News. Recent changes in the Slackware development tree include a security fix for sudo, more XFree86 changes, ProFTPD updates (which may include security fixes), and many updates and additions to the /contrib directory. Most of these changes occured in both the Intel and Sparc trees. No Alpha changes were recorded this week.
Coyote Linux News. Coyote Linux author Joshua Jackson has asked people who want to mirror the Coyote Linux site to contact him directly first. Apparently a number of sites have begun to do so recently, resulting in a hammering on the site that is causing availability problems.
Debian News. For German-speakers, the announcement of a new Debian GNU/Linux book in German will be quite welcome. Entitled "Debian GNU/Linux Anwenderhandbuch", it is available both in print form and on-line. A description of the book (in German) is also available.
Jason Gunthorpe announced that random passwords had been assigned to Debian accounts where the passwords were still in DES format instead of MD5 and had not been changed in over a year. Many developers may not notice, if they are accustomed to using SSH. However, for emergencies, knowing your actual account password may turn out to be useful -- you may want to check and see if your name is on the list.
A new mailing list specifically for the discussion of prospective packages or packages that need work has been created (presumably to siphon off some of the traffic on debian-devel). It is called debian-wnpp.
Corel Linux News. Corel Linux surfaced again after months of inactivity and rumours with Issue 3 of The Qube, the February edition of a "Quarterly" newsletter from Corel. They talk a bit about their plans for the future and also announce the availability of a beta version of Corel Linux OS Second Edition, with support for French, German and International English. Just in time to convince potential investors that there still is a real product there ...
Turbolinux News. Turbolinux, Inc. announced the beta 3 release of Turbolinux for the Intel Itanium processor this week.
Embedded DistributionsSupport for the Intel XScale processor was a popular theme this week for Embedded Linux distributions. LynuxWorks announced the availability of for the BlueCat Linux for the Intel XScale microarchitecture, followed quickly by a full article from C|Net News.com covering MontaVista's demonstration of their Hard Hat Linux on the Intel XScale. The Intel XScale is apparently the planned successor to the StrongARM chip and is geared specifically for use in handheld computers and wireless devices.
Minor distribution updates
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
March 1, 2001