On the Desktop
Linux in the news
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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 EditorialsShould distributors consider merging? Robin Miller argues this point in a NewsForge article called I dream of Susie Mandrake, where he calls for a merger between SuSE and MandrakeSoft. The discussion is motivated by a desire to get the best from both distributions while creating a larger, stronger company with a better chance of survival.
From our reading, enthusiasm for this idea is low in both the SuSE and Mandrake camps. This particular idea may not get too far, but the question in general is interesting: where is the expected consolidation in the Linux distribution market? Even before the times got hard, the prevailing wisdom was that there were too many commercial distributors, and that only a small subset of them would survive. In the long term, how could the market support half a dozen or more major distributions?
The fact remains, however, that all of the major distributors are still out there distributing. None have folded, none have merged (though Caldera did do an acquisition), and none have been acquired. Even if times are tough at many of them, they are all still hanging in there. Distributors, it seems, are not your standard dotcom disaster story.
It's probably still true that this situation can not last. It's a hard market, and it is hard to believe that all of these distributors can set themselves up as services companies. So we will probably see one or more of these scenarios:
As has often been said in these pages, the diversity of distributions is one of Linux's great strengths. While some see the competition between the distributors as wasteful, the truth is that Linux benefits from the contributions of each of them. The non-proprietary contributions, anyway. The Linux community would not benefit from a reduction in the number of major distributions; if it must happen, however, a merger that preserved the best from two distributors might be the best way.
New DistributionsDevil-Linux This week we stumbled across Devil-Linux, a specialized distribution intended for the creation of firewall and router systems. It has its origin in the Linux From Scratch meta-distribution, but quite a few changes have been made. In particular, it can run entirely from CDROM, with all of the needed configuration files being kept on a floppy diskette. As a result, it is hard for a cracker to compromise the integrity of the system, even if they manage to break in.
Devil-Linux is currently at version v0.42, released on July 29. This release includes features like FreeS/WAN, djbdns, and STunnel; future enhancements include intrusion detection, and much more in the way of client and server software.
The GNU-Darwin Distribution also found its way into our attention this week. It is, of course, not a Linux distribution; GNU-Darwin is working to provide a layer of GNU (and beyond) software on top of Apple's Darwin platform. It aims to be "the most free Darwin-based Unix distribution." Apple users may just want to take a look.
Distribution NewsConectiva Linux 7.0 released. The Portuguese version of Conectiva Linux 7.0 is now available for purchase or download. There is an announcement available in Portuguese; a Babelfish translation is also available.
This release includes a lot of the usual features: 2.4 kernel, XFree86 4.0.3, KDE 2.12, etc. Also included is Conectiva's port of the Debian APT tool to RPM, and a new graphical interface that sits on top of the whole thing and provides a friendly interface to package management. The distribution comes in both standard and professional editions.
Debian Weekly News. The Debian Weekly News for July 31 is out. Topics covered include the woody freeze (a release is expected by Christmas), the MIPS port, the size of the Debian archive, and more.
What's up with Mandrake donations? The question was asked after links to the donation page disappeared for a bit. Worry not, MandrakeSoft is still happy to take your money. Interestingly, they posted some statistics on the donations they have been getting. It seems they have been running about $5,000 per month for the last three months; not enough to run the company on, certainly, but significant nonetheless. Those who have earmarked their donations for a specific project have voted strongly for KDE and configuration tools. At the other end, 0.2% of contributors stated that they wanted to support the Sparc port...
Minor Distribution updatesRedmond Linux build 36 has been announced. This release includes a number of new utilities; it also makes the ext3 journaling filesystem the default. See the announcement for details.
Trinux 0.80rc2 is out. There has been, as far as we can tell, no actual announcement of this release, though it can be downloaded from the Trinux web page.
Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet
August 2, 2001