On the Desktop
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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 Editorials
Slackware faces new obstacles, challenges. LinuxToday broke the news this week that Wind River, having purchased BSDi and vocalized its displeasure with all things under GPL and particularly with Linux, has laid off the Slackware development staff. Patrick Volkerding later confirmed the news, indicating that he, too, would be laid off, but stating strongly that Slackware is not folding up shop. He has sufficient funds to publish the next edition of Slackware, which is nearing release, but not enough funds to pay Chris Lumens, David Cantrell, and Logan for their on-going work.
Note that Slackware is one distribution that has always paid its own way, bringing in sufficient revenue to keep the project going, without making millionaires of anyone. As long as Patrick Volkerding continues to lead the project, it is probable that Slackware will continue. The major impact of these new money problems will be a temporary distraction from development (noticeable already in this week's Changelog entries, or lack thereof) and possibly a difficulty supporting the new Alpha and Sparc versions of Slackware.
In our experience, Slackware has possibly the most loyal following of all Linux distributions, even if that following is not large compared to the number of Red Hat Linux users. The next few months will demonstrate the worth of that loyalty.
For those Slackware users that would like something concrete they can do to show their support, Slackware now has a Paypal account. Simply donate money via Paypal to "email@example.com".
MandrakeSoft's Donations Page. On a similar note, though not accompanied by similar bad news, MandrakeSoft's Donations page is now on-line. In response to customer demand, MandrakeSoft has promised to provide a mechanism by which fans of the Linux distribution can donate money. In particular, many Linux-Mandrake fans that download the software for free have asked for a means by which they could also support the company.
The page accepts donations and allows the contributor to specify the Linux-Mandrake project they would like to support.
The Linux-Mandrake donations page and Slackware's Paypal account will be interesting tests to see how much, if any, money can be raised on a regular basis via voluntary donations. It is a particularly interesting way to support a commercial company and an interesting contrast, for example, to LinuxPPC's decision to become a non-profit organization, allowing such donations to become tax-deductible.
We will be watching the results with interest.
Red Hat Linux 7.1. Here is the announcement from Red Hat on the release of Red Hat Linux 7.1. It includes, of course (and among other things), a 2.4 kernel, tighter "out of the box" security, a new "customization guide," and the TUX web server.
Although the most impressive improvements have been made in the server arena, desktop users can also look forward to new versions of Gnome, KDE, XFree86 and Mozilla. A new graphical version of Kickstart is intended to improve unattended installations.
The security enhancement include such common-sense ideas as disabling network-based services by default and extend to configuring a firewall as part of the installation.
Also announced by Red Hat was its new "Software Manager," which makes more Red Hat Network services available.
Ratatosk closes down. The Ratatosk Project was an effort by Martin Skjoldebrand to provide a database of available distributions. Unfortunately, due to time commitments, Martin has closed the site down and moved on to work on the mhd helpdesk system. He has offered to make a copy of his distributions database available to people that ask.
SuSE News. Joshua Uziel pointed out a couple of weeks ago that the Sparc version of SuSE Linux was available for download. This week, SuSE Linux announced the release of the media-kit for SuSE Linux 7.1 for the Sparc architecture, containing a jewel case with the CDs. No printed documentation is included; the on-line documentation must be used.
Tomsrtbt News. Tomsrtbt comes out in favor of free beer. Seemingly in response to this week's LWN article on how some distributions are making it harder to download a CD image for free, Tomsrtbt has announced that the distribution will be "available as a downloadable media image forever". Incidentally, tomsrtbt-1.7.250 has been released. (Tomsrtbt is a floppy-based distribution).
Turbolinux News. Turbolinux, Inc. has announced the availability of Turbolinux Server (TLS) 6.5, its enterprise level Linux distribution. TLS 6.5 supports five languages, including English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese (traditional and simplified). This version includes a journaling file system.
Debian News. Debian 2.2r3 has been released. This is a bugfix release, consisting mostly of security updates.
Debian has posted a press release noting how to go about adding the 2.4 kernel to a Debian 2.2 distribution.
Red Hat News. In addition to the release of Red Hat Linux 7.1 this week, Red Hat also put out a bugfix advisory for their Update Agent. This bugfix closes multiple bug reports and applies to Red Hat Linux 6.2 and 7.0. New packages are included for up2date, python-xmlrpc and rhn_register.
deepLinux News. A package manager has been added to deepLinux ExOp, at customer request. The DeepLinux package manager is based on the Slackware package manager, with minor cosmetic changes intended to make the package manager easier for people migrating from support Unix systems such as Solaris.
Slackware News. A new version of the Slackware Administrators Security Toolkit has been released, version 0.1.2.1. "This release fixes an installer issue and a potential race condition, includes more documentation, clarified XFree86 versions (not updated for X 4.0 yet), and removes shell limits".
Linux-Mandrake News. From the MandrakeForum website, here are some interesting headlines from the past week:
More Distribution updates
SuSE Linux 7.0 Professional review. Bill Henning has resurfaced with a review of SuSE Linux 7.0 Professional, the version of SuSE Linux aimed at proficient technical users. Of course, SuSE Linux 7.1 is already out there, but the review of the documentation provided with SuSE Linux is worth a peek. "The documentation is nothing short of excellent - it is very comprehensive, and they have had much more success in removing "germanisms" from the documentation with this release".
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
April 19, 2001