On the Desktop
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
Agenda-VR. The addition of Agenda-VR to our distributions list marked the perfect opportunity to split handheld distributions out of the general embedded distribution lists. Given the growing popularity of PDAs, the pace of the Linux development in this field and the likelihood that playing with the OS on your Linux PDA might be the primary reason you chose to purchase it, separating out Linux Distributions for PDAs seemed like the "right" thing to do.
Agenda-VR is the Linux distribution that runs on the Agenda VR3 PDA. They've got a nice, interactive tour on their site of the product from the website and provide information on both the old and new versions of their OS. Unfortunately, when we tried to download the software, the links were not working.
Other useful resources include Russell Stuart's Agenda Development Page, which gives tips on downloading and compiling code, and the SNOW compiler for the Agenda PDA. SNOW is an application binary interface for the MIPS CPU architecture developed initially by Jay Carlson and adapted for the Agenda by Shane Nay. It produces shared libraries that are loaded at a fixed location in memory, similar to some of the older Linux shared libraries, providing enhanced performance in exchange for the time involved in tracking library location and relinking programs when libraries are modified. [Thanks to Tony Audas].
Estimating the size of GNU/Linux.
David Wheeler has released More
Than a Gigabuck: Estimating GNU/Linux's Size, his second
white-paper to address the size and development costs of Linux.
It analyzes the source code from Red Hat 7.1 to draw a number
of conclusions, including:
Sentry Firewall CD. Sentry Firewall CD is a Slackware-based (currently Slackware 7.1) distribution that fits on a single bootable CDROM and takes configuration information from either a floppy drive or a local hard drive. As the name suggests, it is tailored primarily to provide a basic firewall environment. In addition, it can also serve as an intrusion detection node. In both cases, the advantage of running off the CDROM is that, even if hacked, the base operating system cannot be modified. So a reboot with a backup configuration floppy, for example, should get a damaged firewall back up and running immediately. Running the configuration off a read-protect floppy, rather than the internal hard drive, decreases the vulnerability of the system one step further.
Sentry Firewall CD is also hosted on Sourceforge. Thanks to David A. Bandel for the reference.
Linux-Mandrake News. The second release of MandrakeFreq is now available. This is a snapshot of the still-in-development Linux-Mandrake 8.0 and is intended only for power-users that like to live life on the bleeding edge. It includes KDE2.2alpha2, Linux 2.4.5, XFree86 4.1, Evolution 0.10, Nautilus 1.03 and Mozilla 0.9.1.
This week's Linux-Mandrake Community Newsletter reports the opening of MandrakeBizcases.com, a new site where business users can share their experiences using Linux-Mandrake products. They also provide a Mini-FAQ about the PPC beta released last week, including what hardware it supports, where the files can be downloaded and how to start the installation.
We were also pleased this week to hear of the creation of the Mandrake Cooker Weekly News (this week's version is permanently archived at this address), a new weekly feature that will be following the bleeding development edge at Linux-Mandrake. It promises "concise, hot information" on what they are currently developing internally, what new packages are available, development policy issues being discussed, etc. It will be available either as an email newsletter or on the web.
Between these two new features and Mandrake Forum, the availability of information on Linux-Mandrake is starting to rival that of volunteer distributions like Debian, where almost all information is available on-line. It is a model we strongly encourage for all distributions or development projects, since such a news source can do a lot to bind a community together, as well as providing a valuable historic resource.
Red Hat News. XFree86 4.1 is in Rawhide. People using it should note, however, that Red Hat removed libXIE.so from XFree86 4.1 when they installed it because the XFree86 team deprecates the use of that library. Unfortunately, Mozilla 0.9.1 uses that library. As a result, libXIE.so will go back into the next Rawhide build. However, it will not be included in future official versions of Red Hat. Developers take note; use of that library will make your program incompatible with future releases of Red Hat and other distributions that follow the request of the XFree86 team.
SuSE News. SuSE users reported the same problem with Mozilla 0.9.1 and XFree86 4.1.0 as mentioned above. As a result, libXIE.tar.gz should now be available for download in the XFree86 4.1.0 directory at SuSE. Installing it should fix the problem.
Meanwhile, US-based SuSE users will be cheered to hear that deliveries of SuSE 7.2 in the US were reported starting on June 18th.
Slackware News. On Thursday, June 15th, the Intel Changelog indicated that current had been frozen in preparation for the upcoming release. That did not prevent, though, the addition of Gcc 3.0 on an "experimental" basis or an upgrade of Qt to version 2.3.1.
Several people commented that they have been using -current extensively and consider it to be highly stable. Meanwhile, Patrick Volkerding again stated that the official release of Slackware 8.0 will be "soon".
On the bug-fix side, a patch to lpr went in for a known problem and updates to fetchmail and rxvt went in to resolve security issues. Several ham packages were upgraded by Arno Verhoeven. A LILO configuration problem that was causing partition tables to be rewritten at boot was resolved. e2fsprogs was downgraded to 1.19.
No Changelog entries went in for the Alpha or Sparc platforms.
A new version of the Slackware Package Management System was released this week, version 0.1.3. It now supports one-step packaging, and "automagic" document copying in addition to cleanups to the code.
Caldera News. This past week, some members of the caldera-users mailing list began to speak openly of moving to alternate distributions, due to frustration with Caldera and the lack of recent releases. No specific links are provided, since members of such a list should have the right to vent a bit without becoming a media focus. Nonetheless, if Caldera is still interested in having a user community, we certainly hope they are reading their own mailing lists. These people liked OpenLinux and don't want to leave it, but felt they are reaching a point where they have no choice.
Only a day or so later, an unofficial comment was posted that OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 will be released on the 29th of June.
Debian News. The Kernel Cousin Debian Hurd shows a lot of active development over the past week. A problem with getsockopt() has been fixed.
Conflicts between packages using high port numbers for network connections became a topic of conversation this week. It was quickly agreed that Debian needed to produce a mechanism to prevent conflict between packages, even though all high numbered ports are "up for grab", as an expected part of the "integration process" that any distributor provides. The mechanism by which they will prevent conflicts has not yet been chosen. A separate port registry, additions to /etc/services, or using the IANA registration were mentioned as possibilities.
KRUD News. The next monthly release of KRUD 7.1 will contain all the library updates needed for installing gnucash 1.6.0. Sean Reifschneider reported that the libraries that needed updating all installed without problems. KRUD 7.1 is based on Red Hat 7.1, but comes as a subscription service with a new CD each month, bundled with all related security and bug fix updates, as well as additional software chosen by tummy.com.
Trustix Secure Linux 1.4.90 released. Trustix Secure Linux 1.4.90, the beta release of this distribution before 1.5 comes out, has been released. It contains a number of new features; it also has incompatibilities with the last stable release (1.2), so prospective users should proceed with care.
RTLinux News. FSMLabs announced this week that RTLinux now supports the Motorola PowerPC 860. It is currently available, along with the RTLinux Development Kit for several PowerPC 860 evaluation boards.
Coyote News. The Embedded Coyote Linux distribution is nearing a usable state. Automatically-updated ISO images are available for those that would like to check it out.
Minor Distribution updates
The e-smith server and gateway (Linux Journal). The Linux Journal reviews the e-smith server and gateway distribution. "In some ways, having problems while doing a review is not such a bad thing. You get to call tech support which gives you a feel for how quickly your questions and concerns will be answered. I am happy to report that not only did I not have to wait in a queue, but the person I spoke with was knowledgeable, helpful and open to the suggestions I made regarding the whole installation process."
Review: Red Hat Linux 7.1 (Duke of URL). This review of Red Hat Linux 7.1 finds, once again, that the .1 release cleans up well after the .0 version. "They have overcome almost all of the issues with the premature release of gcc 2.96 in version 7.0. They have again provided gcc 2.96 but this time it works well and can compile to the standards for both C and C++. They have also increased their currency by allowing a properly configured KDE to be included with the distribution. Thus catering to both desktop environment crowds. The inclusion of XFree86 4.0.3 and the anti-aliased xft render extension by default is also a nice touch."
Thanks to contributors. We want to thank readers who have written in to nit-pick on the categorization of various distributions, contribute new distribution links and more. This does a great deal to improve the quality of our information and it is much appreciated. Particular thanks go this week to Daniel James.
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
June 21, 2001