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
Is Early Release Good for MandrakeSoft?. Displaying how much Linux-Mandrake users tend to care about their distribution and the health of MandrakeSoft, the company that produces it, this thread appeared on MandrakeForum to discuss whether or not MandrakeSoft's provision of free ISO downloads for upcoming releases is a good idea or not, from a financial standpoint.
For example, the Linux-Mandrake 8.0 boxed just became available for purchase this week, but the ISO version of the two CD set was made available three weeks ago. For those three weeks, the only way to get a hold of the new distribution was either by downloading it for free or buying it from a reseller like CheapBytes. Neither option generates revenue for MandrakeSoft. A lot of arguments were made in favor of schemes to encourage, reward or require people to buy the official boxed sets instead.
The official comment in return was that MandrakeSoft is confident that wide distribution of Linux-Mandrake, no matter in what manner, will boost the popularity of the distribution and eventually boost sales. In the meantime, customers that want to make sure MandrakeSoft benefits when they download the software can do that by making a direct donation.
At the current time, three of the leading Linux distributors, MandrakeSoft, SuSE and Red Hat, are each choosing very different approaches to the problem. SuSE has placed a restrictive license on their installer and, as a result, prohibits the redistribution of their ISO images by resellers like CheapBytes. Red Hat makes beta versions of their upcoming distributions available, but the final version is held back so that it can be released at the same time the boxed sets become available.
In the next couple of years, we'll get the chance to see exactly which of these business models appears to work the best, another example of competition at work.
HP selects Debian as prime distribution. HP voice for Open Source, Bruce Perens, has announced that HP is making Debian its prime target for Linux support, though the company has no plans on abandoning other distributions. "HP has already started vending Debian to customers, and will be offering Debian support and training. This does _not_ mean that HP will de-support other Linux distributions. HP certifies its hardware with several distributions. In our software production process, we will handle differences between Linux package formats and the package dependency tree. As LSB continues to develop, we hope to get out of certifying for individual distributions and producing variant packages. Thus, supporting LSB is now a priority for HP."
As with Corel's decision to base Corel Linux on Debian, HP's decision is rooted in the non-commercial nature of Debian development. Although Debian is the base for commercial distributions like Progeny GNU/Linux and LibraNet, Debian itself is not in the business of making money. That means that monetary issues will not pollute the development stream. It means that HP's engineers can earn their status as Debian developers and receive the same privileges as any other Debian developer.
In addition, HP also cited the Debian Free Software Guidelines as part of their reason for choosing the distribution. The careful (some might call obsessed) work done to separate out software whose licenses are not fully Free guarantees redistribution of Debian without restriction or fear of legal repercussions.
Perhaps most of all, this reflects HP's status as an engineering company. They have chosen the distribution that, for them, is best for their purposes. They are not worried about having a distribution that has been enhanced to appeal to novice users; they are concerned about one that their own engineers can work with and collaborate on freely.
In fact, one might speculate that if Debian GNU/Linux did not exist, HP would have felt compelled to develop their own distribution, in order to guarantee that their own developers would have full access and privileges in the development process. Given the number of distributions we already track, it is nice to see multiple companies able to support a single distribution with confidence.
Argentina Embraces the Penguin (Wired). Wired News covers the influx of a penguin (Tux) in Argentina. "... the penguin named Tux is starting to draw a lot of attention, because a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Salta (UNSa) is distributing the Linux OS -- whose mascot is Tux -- throughout this region. The distribution is called Ututo, named for a fidgety local lizard that pokes its nose into every hole and is never at rest."
Check the February 8th LWN Distributions Summary for our coverage of Ututo. It is designed to run directly off of a CD, in order to eliminate the installation hurdle for new and inexperienced computer users.
Openwall GNU/Linux.Openwall GNU/Linux, also known as "Owl", has announced their first pre-release. Owl is a security-enhanced Linux distribution, with its primary focus being pro-active source code review, plus some security-hardening kernel patches. The system is designed to be rebuilt easily entirely from source code and supports both the Intel and Sparc platforms. It uses the RPM package manager and tries to be compatible with multiple other Linux distributions, particularly Red Hat.
Debian News. The Debian project has announced it will be attending two shows in Germany this month: Internet World Berlin and Magdeburger Linuxtage.
Meanwhile, this week's Debian Weekly News is out, with more news on plans for the upcoming release of Woody. In addition, a first mention is made of plans for the release after Woody. A whole new design is planned for the Debian-installer.
Bill Bennet has written an article on using rsync to get a Debian CD image file. The goal is to spread the load among all the Debian mirror sites instead of hammering just the Debian ISO mirrors.
The May 15th Kernel Cousin Debian Hurd is out and available, displaying fairly strong development activity.
Linux-Mandrake News. MandrakeSoft announced the immediate availability of boxed sets of Linux-Mandrake Version 8.0 (Standard, PowerPack and ProSuite Editions) in retail outlets.
SuSE News. SuSE announced this week that SuSE Linux is ready to run on the IBM iSeries, the hardware series previously known as AS/400. According to their press release, SuSE is the first Linux distribution to run on this platform, which is aimed at enterprise-level ecommerce customers.
Slackware News. The version of mc in slackware-current has been downgraded due to complaints about the latest version combined with a belief that the problems were not likely to get fixed any time soon.
Other upgrades include WindowMaker, proftpd (including a fix for the globbing security vulnerability), Samba, OpenSSH, mysql and a number of other minor updates.
The Sparc port was also upgraded to Linux 2.2.19.
Yellow Dog News. TerraSoft put out a press release announcing their development freeze for the upcoming Yellow Dog Linux 2.0 release. As a result, Yellow Dog Linux should be available on-line and via resellers within roughly two weeks.
SuperRescue CD News. SuperRescue CD 2.0.0 was released on Friday, May 11th. The new release is based on Red Hat 7.1.
Hard Hat News. MontaVista Software announced this week Hard Hat Linux support for the IBM NP4GS3 network processor. "IBM's PowerNP reference platform is an integrated hardware, software and services platform, featuring a packet routing switch module along with a PowerPC control point microprocessor. It allows equipment manufacturers to configure a 'real world' network switch or router environment to conduct thorough development, integration and testing before building their products".
MSC.Linux News. MSC has announced the release of a new version of its MSC.Linux distribution, which is oriented toward cluster deployments.
DSPLinux News. DSPLinux is an interesting distribution from a marketing perspective. Their press releases sometimes almost miss our screen for distribution news because they market DSPLinux as a software development kit (SDK) rather than an operating system or distribution. Nonetheless, it comes complete with kernel, so it is a Linux distribution.
This week, RidgeRun, the company behind DSPLinux, announced DSPLinux SDK Release 1.0. It uses the Linux 2.4 kernel, standard GNU development tools and their Appliance Simulator. "The Appliance Simulator allows developers to run the DSPLinux OS within a simulation environment that models a real embedded device. Developers can create, debug, and fully simulate a host of embedded appliances, all before target hardware development systems are required".
The Appliance Simulator is one of four proprietary products that are included with DSPLinux. The resulting bundle is sold for $5,000 per developer seat, a wee bit more than the cost of the average Linux distribution.
Minor Distribution updates
Distribution ReviewsProgeny GNU/Linux, based on Debian, was the focus of multiple reviewers this week.
Progeny Debian (ZDNet). ZDNet Reviews examines the Progeny GNU/Linux distribution. "Progeny's installer isn't perfect, but it gives Red Hat's a run for its money, offering both text and graphical modes. The installer works equally well when booted from a floppy or a CD, and it supports network installations. Hardware detection was passable; mouse, video, and USB detection was good; but sound and PCMCIA devices were problematic."
Progeny Debian 1.0 Linux (LinuxLookup). LinuxLookup reviews Progeny Debian 1.0. "Progeny did a great job on their distribution. They take pride in their quote 'Leading edge, not bleeding edge'. Basically they chose not to package all of the latest program versions. Instead they used the 'tried and true' method and created a very stable Linux distribution, one that beginners can install with little trouble."
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
May 17, 2001