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Kanotix is a Debian-based Linux distribution aimed at new users or anyone wishing for an easy-to-use system. In 2005 Kanotix was looking good, it was stable, fast, and had some handy extras. But then it suddenly disappeared. Now it's back.
In the early days, Kanotix development continued along, with fresh ISOs being released periodically. It received positive reviews and took its place alongside PCLinuxOS, SimplyMepis, and other smaller but well respected projects. Then it began to experience internal strife. On November 30, 2006, it was reported that problems arose in the project and that co-founder Stefan Lippers-Hollmann had left, taking the Paypal donation button with him. He cited lack of innovation and releases, slipping schedule, unequal workloads, and deteriorating communication as the main reasons. At that time, the last major release had been on December 31, 2005. Between then and January 2008 several developmental releases were announced, but no final release was ever announced, and nothing has been heard since. Most considered the project dead.
Until now, that is; Kanotix Excalibur 2010 was released on June 8. As it turns out, the project was never really dead. Project founder and lead developer Jorg Schirottke said that test images and specialized builds had been made, but not released publicly, because they weren't installable. In fact, that was the main issue that caused the project to appear dormant to outsiders. The installer needed updates and the developer responsible for it was preoccupied with other obligations. After several test builds and getting the installer fixed a public preview was released in December 2009, but not widely publicized. While the departure of Lippers-Hollmann didn't stop Kanotix, it certainly hobbled it - for a while anyway.
Schirottke states that it was his switch from Debian unstable to stable that caused the friction that resulted in the loss of his earlier team. Despite that, he said he would do it again because "it can be really stressful to support unstable" and with stable "I usually know what impact changes will have. As a result I was then basically the sole remaining developer."
The current Kanotix team is still quite small. Besides head honcho Schirottke, Andreas Loibl works on the installer, Debian Live, and things like Hal and PolicyKit, while Maximilian Gerhard works on announcements, the wiki, web site, and helps in the IRC and user forums. Kanotix also has a core set of loyal users that help with testing.
When booting the live DVD, the first thing one will notice is the lack of customization for KDE 4 and the same theme from 2005 for KDE 3. Again, Schirottke chalks this up to not having the manpower to build new themes right now. In fact, Schirottke welcomes help from anyone with a knack for making themes and wallpapers.
Like its contemporaries, Kanotix offers a nice line-up of software. Amarok and MPlayer are included for multimedia. Iceweasel, Skype, and Pidgin are there for Internet and communications. GIMP and OpenOffice.org 3.2 round out the necessities. Wine is also included. Kanotix uses Debian's APT for package management and is set up to pull from Kanotix repositories, but I'm not so sure there's a lot extra there. However, updates are current and seem to be maintained well.
Kanotix developers announced that they use a 2.6.32-21 kernel with the BFS scheduler, a low-latency desktop scheduler designed by Con Kolivas. Schirottke said that it provides "5% more speed. That may not sound [like] much, but that's usually the same diff from one cpu to the next faster one." Tests to determine any benefits of BFS comprised of application compile times which consistently compiled 5% faster with a BFS kernel. "The latest Kanotix kernels also use the full ck patches [Con Kolivas's full patch set] with 1000 Hz setting - best for gamers and [it] was requested for this usage case." Schirottke states game play was noticeably faster and smoother using the 1000 Hz setting with those patches.
Schirottke says he doesn't develop for any one "specific kind of user", but that it is "mainly users without deep Linux knowledge" who use Kanotix. The team, he continued:
One thing notably missing is the control center. Back in Kanotix's heyday, there was a nice graphical tool for configuring some extras like network connections and 3D acceleration or installing Flash. Schirottke says it was merely a wrapper for his scripts, some of which are still present in /usr/local/bin. Others are stored at the site. Schirottke intends users to use the scripts directly now and he notes, "I think it is a good idea when new Linux users begin to use the Konsole without fear as soon as possible. If somebody uses GUI for everything the learning effect is zero." He also suggests using the included Wicd for network connections. The web site has a FAQ and Wiki to help users install or update the scripts, with hardware and software tips, administration tasks, networking procedures, backup suggestions, and lots more. Some of the information is a bit old, but much is still relevant, and updates to the site are being made as time permits.
Kanotix comes in KDE 3 and KDE 4 flavors for 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. Why offer both a KDE 3 and KDE 4 version? Schirottke explains:
When Kanotix first appeared, Ubuntu was a newcomer and Kanotix was a viable contender for the easier-to-use-Debian crown. They've lost a bit of ground, but it's possible they could rise to prominence again. Kanotix might be ideal for those looking for a personal touch because very few other projects have a lead developer willing to personally answer questions and help in real time on IRC. Kanotix is also ripe for new developers looking for a place to cut their teeth or those who feel under-appreciated in their current projects. Schirottke would welcome the help. And that's where they are. It's a nice start to a comeback, but it feels as though the distribution needs more hammering out and polishing up right now.
New Releasesannounced the fifth update of its stable distribution Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "lenny". "Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won't have to update many packages and most updates from security.debian.org are included in this update." announced the "day 1 release" of its code. "The MeeGo Handset Day 1 image is provided as a community developer preview and we are in a very early and active development state. While we don't recommend installing it on your primary phone just yet, we invite all developers who are interested to have an early look using a development device." More information can be found in the release notes; there's also a number of screenshots available.
Debian GNU/Linuxannounced the opening of its Derivatives Front Desk, "a forum where contributors to Debian-based distributions can meet and discuss the best ways to push their changes back to Debian or otherwise ask for help on how to interact with Debian development." There's a price we have to pay for this fast transition: A few packages are uninstallable on one or another architecture because we couldn't get them to build fast enough. Also, first packages start to depend on other new packages (i.e. atlas), so they couldn't migrate. A few non-free packages had to be removed because they are not binNMUable by our current infrastructure; of course as always we're happy to help them to migrate again to testing once they're fixed." The next time you upload your packages, please review them against the upgrading checklist in the debian-policy package and see if they require changes for the new version of Policy."
FedoraJared's been a long-time user of both Red Hat and Fedora, and an active participant in the the Fedora community since 2007. He's primarily spent his time working with the infrastructure and documentation teams. He's helped with the development of Fedora Talk, our community VoIP telephony system.... Jared has also participated in community events such as various FUDCons and Fedora Activity Days. In addition, he has assisted with toolchain development, release materials, and steering duties as a member of the Fedora Docs team." As always, fedorafaq.org contains lots of straightforward and useful information on how to play DVDs, listen to MP3s, install Flash, and lots of answers to other frequently asked questions." No further updates, including security updates, will be available for Fedora 11."
SUSE Linux and openSUSEThe method of delivery of these notifications differs between the Enterprise and openSUSE products". There are Debian Women, Ubuntu Women and Fedora Women. Where are the openSUSE Women? I'm sure, that there are women who use openSUSE and maybe program on some projects, too. I'm really interested in meeting you and talk about technical things. What about creating a community to bring all of us openSUSE interested women together? " Interested participants should subscribe to the project's new mailing list.
Ubuntu familyUbuntu Developer Week is back again, which means five days of action-packed IRC sessions where you learn more about hacking on Ubuntu, developing Ubuntu and how to interact with other projects."
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