Two Popular Distributions Release Development Milestones

On Thurday, September 2 two leading Linux distributions released milestone developmental versions on the road to their next releases. OpenSUSE released Milestone 1 of 11.4 and Ubuntu released a beta of their upcoming 10.10, codenamed Maverick Meerkat, for developers and community testers.

openSUSE 11.4 Milestone 1

OpenSUSE 11.4 will brings lots of fixes and improvements. The most significant changes in this milestone are seen in the package management system. Libzypp, the backend that serves as the dependency resolver and software API for YaST and Zypper (openSUSE's package management system), has been updated and will support more networking protocols. MultiCurl will replace the old MediaAria backend. It supports HTTP and FTP downloads as well as Zsync transfers and Metalink downloads. Zsync will reduce wait-time for users and server load for openSUSE by only downloading the changes to each individual package. Multicurl also brings support for using password-protected repositories. Additionally, certain bugs in MediaAria caused poor performance at times and these are now eliminated with MultiCurl. Perhaps the most important benefit of MultiCurl is its ability to download multiple streams simultaneously. All this adds up to a major speed increase for openSUSE YaST users.

Other updates seen at this time include Linux 2.6.34, XOrg 1.9, GCC 4.5, KDE 4.5, GNOME 2.32.0 Beta 1, and Firefox 3.6.8. The next milestone is expected on September 30 with public release of final on March 10, 2011.

Ubuntu 10.10 Beta

The one and only beta for the 10.10 development cycle was released on the same day. This cycle Ubuntu developers have been concentrating on the overall user experience. They are tweaking little things here and there to make things a bit more logical. Some of this is just the wording of menu entries and package descriptions, others take the form of theme and color changes as well as redesigned interfaces for Ubuntu tools such as the Software Center.

But they are working on some more significant changes as well. The installer has been streamlined even more than found in the last release. Partitioning is the first step now so that the new system will be installing while users finish answering the tedious timezone, username, and password questions. In addition, the installer offers to install non-free multimedia codecs and plugins - something that even experienced users might appreciate.

Some other highlights are a new default photo manager (Shotwell), the Sound indicator has been enhanced to include music player controls, and the boot process is faster. Also included is Linux 2.6.35, GNOME 2.31, Xorg 1.9, GCC 4.5.1, and Firefox 3.6.9.

The release candidate is expected on September 30 with final release scheduled for October 10.

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