Particularly Exciting Week in Linux
Linux is usually exciting, but this past week brought several nice developments. Slackware announced another developmental milestone for their next version. Bodhi Linux reached 1.0. Foresight announced their first release in two years. Zenwalk developers released version 7.0. And SimplyMepis gets a release candidate.
One of the geekiest releases of the week came on March 22 with Slackware 13.37 RC 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716. Patrick Volkerding named the upcoming version 13.37 as a play with numbers to dub the next Slackware "LEET." Volkerding said he hoped that appeased those who were always complaining that Slackware didn't use codenames like some other distributions. But then to further perpetuate the already geeky image of the distribution, the next developmental snapshot after Release Candidate 2 was named after the mathematical constant Pi (π), another highly geeky concept in some circles. Volkerding is adding an element of fun to a sometimes dry process and his efforts are certainly being noticed. The question is will he be able to top it?
This particular release includes Linux kernel 126.96.36.199, KDE 4.5.5, Xorg X Server 1.9.5, GCC 4.5.2, Firefox 4.0, GIMP 2.6.11, and MPlayer 20101213. Volkerding said Slackware 13.37 is just about ready, but he waiting for Linux kernel 188.8.131.52. A new addition to the boot routine is Memtest86+, a component that provides memory hardware testing included with several distribution boot options. Third-party DVD images are available on ftp.df.lth.se.
The little-distro-that-could has seen its first major stable release with 1.0. This mimimalistic distribution burst onto the scene less than six months ago and has create a bit of a mini-sensation. Whether it's the do-it-yourself spirit or its anti-kitchensink persona, it certainly has reviewer's interest. Most have been highly encouraging for this team of developers, that is as small as the distro.
Bodhi ships with the Enlightenment desktop (with some LXDE components), a shell emulator, light-weight Web browser, small file manager, and a software manager. Lead developer Jeff Hoogland says that Bodhi 1.1.0 will probably be released late May with a kernel upgrade and Bodhi 2.x shouldn't be expected before Summer 2012.
Zenwalk got a major update recently too. 7.0 was released on March 25 bringing Linux 184.108.40.206 with BFS, Xfce 4.8.1, GCC 4.5.2, Xorg X Server 1.9.5. Zenwalk began life in 2004 as a small, fast alternative to Slackware. It offers one application per task and simplifies the Slackware install routine. It features IceCat Web browser, LibreOffice 3.3, GIMP 2.6.11, and Pidgin 2.7.11. Other software includes Totem movie player, Gmusicbrowser music player, and Brasero CD/DVD creator.
Warren Woodford announced SimplyMEPIS 11.0.RC1 on March 28. This developmental cycle began with a few major issues, but things are really starting to come together. The boot issues seem to be cleared up for most users, but folks with older NVIDIA cards still may have problems. This release came with Linux kernel 220.127.116.11, NVIDIA drivers 260.19.21, KDE 4.5.1, Firefox 4.0, and Libreoffice 3.3.2. No official word when the final will emerge, but Woodford usually tests three release candidates before going gold.
One of the more exciting announcements came from the Foresight camp on March 27. Foresight has been a bit quiet for almost two years. A few developmental snapshots have appeared in the last two months, but before that Foresight Linux 2.1.1 was released on May 15, 2009. Foresight is an interesting project as it uses the Conary package management solution.
Conary is a bit different from other package managers in that it can actually pull in updates from a wide range of sources and also only pulls the files that have changed rather than an entire package. It also offers users the mechanism for safe rollbacks. All these features make Foresight an excellent distribution for those that prefer a rolling distribution over regular fresh installs. Linux for Devices has an excellent explanation of the Conary package system.
This release also brings GNOME 2.32.1, KDE 4.6.1, and Xfce 4.8.1 sitting on Linux kernel 18.104.22.168, Xorg X Server 1.8.0, and lots of lots of software.
I love the Spring with the smell of fresh distros swirling in the air.
Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.
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