Friday, April 20, 2007

CentOS 5.0, OLPC, Linux Mint download statistics, Ubuntu "Feisty" delays, FreeBSD ZFS integration, interview with the "distro guy"

CentOS The most interesting release of the past week was undoubtedly the one delivered by the CentOS development team. CentOS 5.0, based on the recently released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, is the second project (after StartCom Enterprise Linux) that has successfully rebuilt Red Hat's latest enterprise distribution into an installable and fully-supported Red Hat clone. Although CentOS has never been able to break into the DistroWatch's top ten list, there is little doubt that this is a very popular distribution - especially on servers and business desktops. And its most important feature? Besides virtualisation, IPV6 support and other enterprise-level characteristics inherited from its famous parent, the most important one is its long-term support - CentOS 5.0 will be supported with security and bug-fix updates until at least March 2012. For more information about CentOS please visit the project's web site at CentOS.org.

CentOS

The CentOS 5.0 desktop
(full image size: 117kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)


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OLPC Another project that attracted much attention last week was the OLPC live CD. As many readers will know, OLPC, or One Laptop Per Child, is a Red Hat-sponsored initiative to develop a US$100 laptop designed for children in developing countries. Given the low-cost components of the laptop, Red Hat is also designing a heavily customised, light-weight operating system based on Fedora, but with a unique user interface called Sugar (see this review for some first impressions and screenshots). The first live CD image demonstrating the concepts of the user interface appeared on Red Hat's servers last week and the interest in it -- 122,000 download attempts were made within the first few days -- surprised the developers. Bear in mind that this is an early prototype designed for developers to demonstrate the product, so it will still undergo substantial changes before it is declared ready for deployment on the laptop.

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Linux Mint Speaking about downloads, here is an interesting piece of statistics found in the latest Linux Mint weekly newsletter: "Seven mirrors were made available for [Linux Mint 2.2] Bianca. Three of them counted 592,950 downloads." Linux Mint has been climbing rather dramatically on the DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking statistics and the download figures -- nearly 600,000 (!) downloads recorded by just three of the seven available mirrors -- confirm the simple truth: many Linux users are looking for a distribution that works out of the box, without any post-install installation of device drivers, multimedia codecs and browser plugins. Linux Mint has delivered exactly that. And although the advocates of Free Software will not be pleased by this fact, there is little doubt that many computer users are attracted to Linux not because it offers the freedom to modify the source code, but because it's good, it's fun, and it's free of cost.

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Ubuntu The much awaited Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn" release candidate failed to show up last week - due to several serious bugs: "The Ubuntu 7.04 release candidate has been delayed due to bugs discovered during validation testing, specifically problems with certain ATA chipsets and problems with the connection status displayed by the network-manager panel applet. There is no updated ETA yet, but the core development team is actively working on the problems and expects it to be a matter of days." The project expects the final release to take place later this week as scheduled, although a slight delay is still a possibility.

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FreeBSD Here is something of interest to the users of the FreeBSD operating system. As announced by Pawel Jakub Dawidek on the FreeBSD current mailing list, the ZFS file system, originally developed by Sun Microsystems, has been integrated into FreeBSD: "I'm happy to inform that the ZFS file system is now part of the FreeBSD operating system. ZFS is available in the HEAD branch and will be available in FreeBSD 7.0-RELEASE as an experimental feature. Currently ZFS is only compiled as kernel module and is only available for i386 architecture. AMD64 should be available very soon, the other architectures will come later, as we implement needed atomic operations." And while on the subject of the BSD operating systems, the OpenBSD project has released the song that will accompany the upcoming release of OpenBSD 4.1. It is entitled Puffy Baba and the 40 Vendors.

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Packt Publishing has published an interview with yours truly, the founder and maintainer of DistroWatch.com: "There's no dearth of Linux distributions. This isn't the first time I've said this. Neither will it be the last. But why the chaos? Why are there more failed distributions than successful ones? Ask the distro guy, Ladislav Bodnar, maintainer of DistroWatch.com. Excuse me if the above sounds like those 15-second commercials during super bowl. As a Linux journalist, DistroWatch is an important tool of my trade. For over half a decade the website has been keeping track of every distribution related activity. And like the many distros it lists, DistroWatch is a one-man show. From its humble beginnings, Bodnar has turned DistroWatch into the most comprehensive, and respected, directory of Linux distributions, it is today." Read more in Meet the Distro Guy.

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