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.
Announcing SmoothWall - a distribution for firewalling. A new distribution, called SmoothWall, has hit the net. SmoothWall is a severely pared-down system whose one role in life is to turn a computer into a dialup router and firewall for homes and small offices. It is available for download now; the ISO image is only 18MB.
Many Linux router/firewall projects already exist, such as Bifrost, Coyote Linux, floppyfw, Gibraltar and ShareTheNet. Many of these are, in turn, derived from the Linux Router Project. SmoothWall chose a different route. As documented in their September newsletter (PDF format), co-founders Lawrence Manning and Richard Morrell examined existing firewall/router projects first. They found either commercial products or products that required Linux administration skills.
Feeling strongly that good security should not have to be purchased, they set goals for their product that included GPL licensing, secure Internet connectivity and problem-free installation, even for non-Linux users. This way, the benefits of Linux and Open Source could spread quickly across PCs without requiring people to first "change the way they work". They took their market research to a local LUG meeting (HantsLUG) for feedback and peer review. In addition, the LUG eventually also provided them with additional developer talent for their project.
SmoothWall started with the 645MB VA Linux distribution and then pared it down to 45MB. The finished product requires a 486 machine with a small disk, something they felt would be fairly easily available, either as discards from companies or for small amounts of money.
They recently started hosting their downloads on Sourceforge and have been extremely pleased with the response they've received in a short period of time (63,000+ hits on their website within 37 hours and over 3000 downloads). Due to request, and available assistance, their installation document and FAQs are now being translated into thirteen different languages. That's an impressive start for such a new project.
Darkstar Linux. A new distribution development project was announced on the linux-kernel and linux-ppc development lists this week. Darkstar Linux plans to build yet another Linux distribution. In this case, their goal is to have a distribution that can be consistent across hardware platforms, ranging in size from PDAs to Mainframes. They have stated that they will not restrict the software that is included to any one license; software released under any license that allows free distribution will be considered for inclusion. Presumably their choices will be somewhat restricted, though, based on the need to only include packages that are supported across hardware platforms. StarOffice, for example, would not fit their stated goals, since it is currently only supported on the Intel platform (though, of course, given the licensing of the not-yet-release StarOffice 6.0 under the GPL, this may change).
The project has just begun and they are "seeking system administrators, kernel developers, and userland contributors to help with the development and maintenance of the system. Knowledge of CVS and make(8) is recommended, but not absolutely required".
Distribution list changes. As you may have noticed last week, we've continued to break our distributions list into multiple categories. The work is not yet done and it is, of necessity, somewhat arbitrary, since we list each distribution only once, even though it might fit in multiple categories. Still, check it out, let us know what you think and, above all else, do let us know if you see any errors introduced as a result.
SuSE Linux News. SuSE has announced that a version of its distribution for SPARC processors is now available for download. This expands their platform support to cover Intel, PowerPC, Alpha, Sparc and the IBM S/390.
In addition, SuSE also announced their free test environment for the Intel Itanium 64-bit architecture, along with access to the preliminary version of SuSE 7.0 for IA-64.
Debian Weekly News (Sep 12). This week's Debian Weekly News joyously reports the rapid introduction of KDE packages into Debian. "All of the core of KDE is already present in unstable, and more packages are sure to follow". It is good to see such a swift response to the relicensing of Qt under the GPL.
Other topics this week include potentially new licensing problems with Python 1.6, the possibility of a point release for Debian 2.2 in the near future, to integrate security updates and some packages that didn't make it into the initial release, and, last, a technical discussion on whether or not daemons should automatically be started up if they are installed.
Conectiva Linux 6.0 beta launched. Conectiva has announced the release of the 6.0 beta. It contains an initial release of an RPM-enable apt-get, which should be very interesting. The usual caveats apply: "This is a beta, and quite informal. Do not expect it to work."
Linux-Mandrake 7.2beta2. The latest Linux-Mandrake beta, dubbed ulysses-2, is now available for download in ISO format. [Thanks to Luc Taesch].
Terra Soft simplifies Yellow Dog Linux product line. Terra Soft Solutions has announced the simplification of its Yellow Dog Linux product line. While other distributions are busily adding "corporate" and "enterprise" versions, Terra Soft has decided to combine its "Champion Server" and "Gone Home" into a single product.
Mini/Special Purpose Distributions
Coyote Linux 1.20 Released. The latest, stable version of Coyote Linux, version 1.20, was released on September 6th. Coyote Linux is a single-floppy distribution based on the Linux Router Project. The Coyote website reports, "This version contains full support for Ethernet (DHCP and Static IP), PPPoE, and PPP Dialup connection types."
DragonLinux v2r1. A new release of DragonLinux, v2r1, is now available for download. "DragonLinux v2r1 is based on Slackware v7.1. With our own custom installation we offer a partition-less installation. You no longer need to repartition your hard drive to install Linux. (A bootable MS-DOS or Windows [3.x or 98/98] drive is required.) Linux gurus will note that UMSDOS, as was used in previous versions of DragonLinux, is no longer used."
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
September 14, 2000