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The Fedora Extras license audit

Last year, the Fedora Core distribution went through a process of auditing the licenses on every package it distributed. This long task, handled by Tom Callaway, led to a number of changes as programs with problematic licensing were discovered. Among other things, the cdrecord package was reverted to an earlier version and the openmotif library was dropped altogether. It was not a lot of fun, and some users were upset by what seemed to them to be an exercise in excessive free software zealotry. But the end result was worthwhile: Fedora Core could claim, with a high level of confidence, that it was a 100% free distribution.

But Fedora Core has seen its last release. The upcoming Fedora 7 release will include a great many packages which have not been through the license audit process. Fedora's commitment to free software has not changed, but its ability to be sure that nothing in the distribution has a non-free license has gone away. All of the code which went into Extras, and which is now part of Fedora, is supposed to be free, and almost all of it certainly is. But there might just be a surprise or two in there.

So it looks like the license audit process needs to start all over again. Auditing Extras has been on the project's "we'll get around to that" list for some time, but the merging of the repositories has brought a new urgency to the task. In this context, Tom Callaway has announced the beginning of the Extras audit.

There's just one little problem: Extras is a rather larger set of packages than Core was. So Tom is asking for help:

Sound like fun? Well, no. But it is something that we do need volunteers to help with. So, if you're interested in taking on this challenge, let me know. The more people we can get to help in this task, the quicker it will be completed. We have about 2550 source packages to check.

This would be a good opportunity for anybody with an interest in Fedora to help out; coding skills are not required. What is required is the ability to look over the files in a source distribution - not just the COPYING file - and make sure that the licenses presented there are consistent and free.

In the short term, Fedora would help itself tremendously by putting together some sort of checklist for those who would participate in the auditing process. Longer term, the project may need something like the debian-legal community - a group not known for letting non-free licenses slip by. For that matter, a package which is free for Debian should also be free for Fedora, and vice versa. Maybe distributors should consider working together to avoid duplication of effort while ensuring that everything they are shipping is free software.

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New Releases

Fedora Core 6 (Zod) Re-Spins from Fedora Unity

The Fedora Unity Project has announced the release of new ISO Re-Spins (DVD and CD Sets) of Fedora Core 6. These Re-Spin ISOs are based on Fedora Core 6 and all updates released as of January 11th, 2007. The ISO images are available for i386 and x86_64 architectures via BitTorrent. PPC images should also be available, but will have had only limited testing.

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Gamix Basesystem Beta 3 Released.

Gamix is Mandriva-based Linux build that facilitates the creation of boot CDs so developers may create Gamix versions of their original software. Basesystem Beta 3 is available as an ISO download.

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openSUSE build service released

Novell has announced the release (under the GPL) of the openSUSE build service code. There is also a tool named KIWI which is useful for the creation of system images. "As a result, open source developers can more quickly build a Linux distribution that meets their particular use case, rigorously test it to ensure product quality, and easily package it for quick installation." More information can be found on the Build Service page.

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Distribution News

Here comes the Spring: a new life cycle for Mandriva Linux

Mandriva has announced a new Mandriva Linux release schedule. The consumer oriented products will go to a 6 month release cycle. The corporate product line will remain on an 18 to 24 month cycle with a 5-year support lifetime. "This spring, Mandriva users will enjoy a new version of Mandriva Linux. Built on the current Mandriva development branch, this new version will provide up-to-date and newly released open source software. Also expect some new breakthrough technology, to be announced shortly. The name for this new version is Mandriva Spring."

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Welcome to The UbuCon - New York City - February 16, 2007

The second UbuCon, an Ubuntu user and developer event, will be held at Google's New York City offices on February 16. "February 16 will be a special day for Ubuntu users and the Ubuntu curious. If you're already an Ubuntu user, come on by - tell your story of how you're using Ubuntu Linux; help out at the installfest; or just hang out with some interesting people. If you're not an Ubuntu user, then here is your chance to learn what the fuss is about."

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New Distributions


BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions) is a Linux distribution developed by the National Resource Centre For Free/Open Source Software in India. It's based on Debian and made specifically for the Indian environment with a pleasing Desktop environment coupled with Indian language support (Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu and Tamil so far) and other packages that are most relevant for use in the government domain. Subsequent versions will support the educational domain and eventually add support for all 22 of India's languages. The BOSS 1.0 live CD was recently announced.

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Distribution Newsletters

Debian Weekly News

The Debian Weekly News for January 23, 2007 is out. Topics include Erinn Clark, co-founder and leader of Debian Women and in the top 10 of girl geeks, Chris Fearnley's rebuttal to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols argument that Debian is in trouble, Debian and the one Laptop per Child Project, French DebianEdu Developers Meeting, Debian's History 2006, Debian-Installer for Sony PS3, Woody Distribution archived, and much more.

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Fedora Weekly News Issue 74

The Fedora Weekly News for January 22, 2007 covers Fedora Unity releases updated Fedora Core 6 Re-Spins, Fedora LiveCD On-Demand Service, Flash Player released for i386 Linux, Fluendo makes proprietary codecs available to Linux users, Fedora 7: The Linux Knight in Shining Armor?, and several other topics.

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Ubuntu Weekly News: Issue #28

The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter December 14, 2007 covers the recent community council meeting, herd 2 release, the new screencast team, the new xubuntu-users mailing list, Ubuntu Forums weekly update, bug stats, upcoming meetings and events, Ubuntu-Women IRC Meeting, feisty changes, Main Inclusion Requests, weekly quiz update, and much more.

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DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 186

The DistroWatch Weekly for January 22, 2007 is out. "Continuing the post-release coverage of FreeBSD 6.2, this week's issue brings an exclusive interview with Matteo Riondato, a FreeBSD developer and the release engineer of the FreeSBIE live CD. The news section then delivers the usual round-up of miscellaneous news from the distribution world, including a story about the upcoming release of Mandriva "Metisse" edition with a new 3D-enabled desktop environment. Also in the same section, PCLinuxOS launches the first experimental release of the distribution's 2007 version, Fedora Unity announces new, up-to-date re-spins of Fedora Core 6, gNewSense prepares for the release of version 1.1 - now also with KDE, and the T2 project introduces a new minimalist rescue live CD with uClibc. Finally, we are pleased to present BOSS GNU/Linux, a new Indian distribution with the noble goal of providing complete support for India's 22 official languages."

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Package updates

Fedora updates

Updates for Fedora Core 6: hal-cups-utils (bug fix update), ghostscript (bug fix update), diffstat (new version fixes a crash), coreutils (bug fix), device-mapper (update to latest stable release), lvm2 (update to latest stable release), lvm2-cluster (update to latest stable release), elfutils (update to 0.125), man (bug fix), hplip (update to 1.6.12), cups (bug fix), logrotate (bug fix), scim-bridge (update to 0.4.9), scim-tables (update to 0.5.7), selinux-policy (bug fixes), libgpod (update to 0.4.2), spamassassin (bug fixes), rhythmbox (update to 0.9.7), libxslt (upstream release 1.1.20)

Updates for Fedora Core 5: device-mapper (update to latest stable release), lvm2 (update to latest stable release), screen (bug fixes), spamassassin (bug fixes)

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Mandriva updates

Updates for Mandriva Linux 2007.0: glibc (bug fix, sparc64 updates, Unicode 5.0 support), mozilla-firefox (fixes x86_64 packages), mandriva-doc (fix broken links in Help buttons).

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rPath updates

Updates for rPath Linux 1: group-devel, group-text-tools (include rMake tool), filesystem (include the /sys directory).

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Ubuntu updates

Updates for Ubuntu 6.10: cli-common (automated backport upload), lzma (automated backport upload), dosemu-freedos (automated backport upload), flexbackup (automated backport upload), beagle (automated backport upload), mailman (automated backport upload), gajim (automated backport upload), supertux (automated backport upload), wine (automated backport upload), ubuntu-docs (stable release update), libnss-ldap (bug fix), xdg-utils (Dash shell bug fixes), idjc (bug fix), eclipse (bug fixes), totem (upload to edgy-updates), glibc (propagate to edgy-updates from edgy-proposed), gnome-hearts (bug fixes), rpy (bug fixes), kdbus (bug fixes), kiso (bug fixes), siege (bug fixes), wxwidgets2 (bug fix), apt (bug fix), popularity-contest (bug fixes), kxdocker (bug fixes), qpsmtpd (bug fix), update-manager (bug fix), linux-source-2.6.17 (initial release of a line of kernels for edgy-proposed), obconf (bug fix), evolution-jescs (bug fix), flashplugin-nonfree (automated backport upload), xfce4-xkb-plugin (bug fixes), cinepaint (bug fixes), spampd (bug fixes), update-notifier (bug fix), curl (bug fixes), glibc (bug fix).

Updates for Ubuntu 6.06 LTS: gnome-commander (new upstream release), liferea (automated backport upload), dosbox (automated backport upload), langpack-locales (upload to dapper-updates), glibc (propagate to dapper-updates from dapper-proposed), flashplugin-nonfree (automated backport upload), linux-source-2.6.15 (initial release of a line of kernels for dapper-proposed), qpsmtpd (bug fix), dosemu (bug fixes).

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Distribution reviews

PCLinuxOS 2007 Beta 2 (Test 1) ( reviews the recently released beta of PCLinuxOS 2007. "The time is drawing near. The highly anticipated release of the all new PCLOS is right around the corner. Tex and the gang are uploading a beta to mirrors for public testing, but this lucky gal has been running an early beta on my new laptop for a coupla weeks now. I know, I can feel it in my bones, that this release will cause quite a stir. PCLOS already has one of the most loyal fan-bases in the game, but this release will bring more users than ever. I even think some larger distros will be feeling a bit of dread as announcements go out. Not only is the all new PCLOS the most beautiful yet, but it is updated to include some of the latest and greatest software available - all on top of an all new modern code base. Development has been long and hard, but the results will soon be known far and wide. Here's a bit of a sneak peek for those interested."

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Knoppix 5.1.1: Now with eye candy (

Dmitri Popov reviews the Knoppix 5.1.1 live CD on "The new year has brought a new release of the Knoppix live CD. Along with the usual updates to application software, the most noticeable change in version 5.1.1 is the inclusion of the Beryl 3-D desktop with the Emerald theming engine. Since support for Beryl is still experimental, the 3-D desktop is provided in Knoppix as an option. To enable it, you have to use the knoppix desktop=beryl cheat code on boot. Considering the current status of Beryl, the new 3-D desktop works surprisingly well; it starts without any problems on a lowly Acer TravelMate 243 laptop with an Intel 82855 GM integrated graphics controller, and it feels snappy and is a joy to use."

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Dreamlinux 2.2 MME -- when dreams come true ( reviews Dreamlinux 2.2 MME. "Dreamlinux is an operating system that boots from a Live-CD with the option to install on a hard drive as well. Dreamlinux is not just another Live-CD based on Debian, it's not another distro coming with XFCE 4.4. Dreamlinux 2.2 MME is a polished multimedia system from which Xubuntu developers could really learn a lot and which has the potential to demolish Windows Multimedia Center as far as the functionality is concerned. This review concerns Dreamlinux 2.2 Multimedia Edition."

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Damn Small Linux steps up to v3.2 (DesktopLinux)

DesktopLinux takes a look at Damn Small Linux 3.2. "DSL boasts a nearly complete desktop that includes XMMS (MP3, and MPEG), an FTP client, a links-hacked web browser, spreadsheet, email, spellcheck (US English), a word processor, three editors (Nedit, nVi, Zile [emacs clone]), Naim (AIM, ICQ, IRC), SSH/SCP server and client, a web server, calculator, and USB support. It soon will have PCMCIA support, as well, the team said."

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