| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 271, 22 September 2008
Welcome to this year's 38th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The feature story of the this week's issue is package management or, more precisely, an attempt to create a command-line package management cheatsheet that would cover just about any Linux distribution available today. The first quick version is out today, but we hope to bring you a much improved and more detailed one after this week's feedback and suggestions. In the news section, OpenSolaris releases first test images for its upcoming version 2008.11, Fedora provides a further update on the recent compromise of its servers, Ubuntu responds to the accusations that it contributes little to the Linux kernel, and Phoronix runs a performance benchmark on four different Linux distributions installed on the ASUS Eee PC. Also worth a read, an interesting interview with a senior OpenSolaris engineer and further evidence that Gentoo Linux is no longer that innovative and trend-setting distribution it was just five years ago. Finally, a very happy GNOME 2.24 release week to all the fans of the popular desktop!
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Linux package management cheatsheet
Package management is probably the most distinctive feature of any Linux distribution. While the current trend among most of the major projects is to offer some sort of a clickable interface where users can select a package and install it with a mouse click (e.g. Debian's Synaptic or Mandriva's Drakrpm), these types of programs are generally just graphical front-ends to the low-level utilities that manage the tasks associated with installing packages on a Linux system. And even though many desktop Linux users feel much more comfortable installing packages through these intuitive graphical tools, there is no denying that command-line package management offers two excellent features not available in any graphical package management utility: power and speed.
One problem that many distro-hoppers and operating system enthusiasts encounter is having to master (or relearn) a set of package management commands each time they switch from one distribution group to another. Additionally, the package management tools tend to evolve, with new features and even new commands added to every new version. Some distributions, as demonstrated recently by openSUSE and its brand new ZYpp tool, go as far as developing a completely new package management utility. Others, like Debian, now discourage the use of some established utilities (apt-get) in favour of better alternatives (aptitude) for system upgrades. All these changes make it hard to keep up with different distributions and their package management tools.
So as a feature article of this week's DistroWatch Weekly, we decided to do something different: create a package management cheatsheet that would list popular package management commands in Linux distributions. The first version of this is available in the tabular format below, but we suspect that this won't be the final one. As we receive feedback and suggestions to add tasks and corrections to possible errors, we will expand the table, then convert it into one or two printable formats (e.g. OASIS OpenDocument spreadsheet and PDF), so that everybody can download it, print it out, and keep it handy for that next big distro switch.
So without further ado, here is the initial table listing a few popular package management tasks in Debian and Debian-based distributions (Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc), openSUSE, Fedora and Fedora-based distributions (CentOS, Red Hat, etc), Mandriva, Slackware (using slackpkg, which is not part of a standard Slackware installation, but is available in the /extra repository), Arch Linux, rPath Linux and its derivatives, and Pardus Linux.
||apt-get install <pkg>
||zypper install <pkg>
||yum install <pkg>
||apt-get remove <pkg>
||zypper remove <pkg>
||yum erase <pkg>
|Update package list
||zypper addrepo <path> <name>
||(add <repo> to /etc/yum.repos.d/)
||urpmi.addmedia <name> <path>
||zypper removerepo <name>
||(remove <repo> from /etc/yum.repos.d/)
||apt-cache search <pkg>
||zypper search <pkg>
||yum search <pkg>
|List installed packages
||slackpkg install <pkg>
||pacman -S <pkg>
||conary update <pkg>
||pisi install <pkg>
||slackpkg remove <pkg>
||pacman -R <pkg>
||conary erase <pkg>
||pisi remove <pkg>
|Update package list
||pisi add-repo <name> <path>
||pisi remove-repo <name>
||pacman -Ss <pkg>
||conary query <pkg>
||pisi search <pkg>
|List installed packages
Now, it's your turn. What other package management tasks do you frequently perform that you'd like to see added to the above table? What other distributions would you like to see included? Would you welcome an expansion to non-Linux operating systems, such as FreeBSD and OpenSolaris? Should we categorise the tasks for better usability? Have you spotted any errors? Or commands that have better alternatives? If so, please leave a comment in the discussion area below or send us an email (see the bottom of this page for the general DistroWatch email address).
Testing OpenSolaris 2008.11, Fedora intrusion update, Ubuntu and kernel patches, netbook benchmark comparison, Gentoo decline
Besides the major Linux distributions and BSDs, another free operating system that is preparing for a new release later this year is OpenSolaris. Although its adoption levels seem low and reserved mostly for developers and technology enthusiasts, the project's inaugural release in May 2008 was reasonably well received, especially from the technological point of view. Now working towards its second official release in November this year, OpenSolaris has yet to publish a comprehensive list of features for its upcoming version 2008.11, but those readers who follow the very active OpenSolaris blogs can keep up-to-date with what's happening in the world of Sun's open source operating system. If you are interested in helping to test OpenSolaris 2008.11, you have two options. One of them is to keep the installed base system current with the available tools - just beware of the caveats. The second option is to download the most recent pre-release ISO image: "osol-0811-98 ISOs, the pre-release version of OpenSolaris 2008.11, based on Nevada build 98, are now available in two flavors: osol-0811-98.iso (747MB, supports primary languages and uses gzip compression) and osol-0811-98-global.iso (661MB, supports all languages and uses LZMA compression). Please verify the checksums." Happy testing!
Still on the subject of OpenSolaris, a web site called How Software is Built has published an interesting interview with Jim Grisanzio, a senior program manager, OpenSolaris infrastructure engineering team: "From the perspective of technical advantages, we got a lot of engineering credibility for Solaris 10. There was a big upgrade between 9 and 10, with things like DTrace, Zones, and ZFS. If you ask engineers and other technical people, they would point those things out as being competitive with Linux. In terms of OpenSolaris, those things get most of the attention. ZFS probably is the most important new technology on the whole project, from an open source perspective. It's a new file system, and it has also been ported over to Mac OS. I also just read recently that there's a port started for DTrace, over to Linux. These are the bits of technology where many people would say we have competitive advantage over Linux, although some engineers will argue against that. The Linux community has a vast community and developer base, and that's what we're trying to create. That's where they're mature and we're young."
* * * * *
Following some criticism of Red Hat for the way the company handled the the recent security breach of Fedora download servers, Paul Frields has published a Fedora intrusion update. In it, the Fedora project leader has promised a more detailed report once the investigation is completed: "As always, our team of system administrators makes incremental improvements constantly. Sometimes these improvements involve temporary outages, and such outages may occur in the future as part of normal operations. At this time, however, we believe Fedora's recovery efforts are complete. To reiterate our previous statement, we have not found any security vulnerabilities in any Fedora software as a result of our efforts. The security investigation into the intrusion is still in progress. When that investigation is completed, the Fedora Project's intention is to publish a more detailed report on the matter."
* * * * *
In the meantime, Ubuntu has gone through some rough times of negative publicity during the week. First, it was Novell's Greg Kroah-Hartman, a kernel hacker, who, in a keynote speech at last week's Linux Plumbers Conference, accused Canonical of not contributing enough to the Linux kernel: "In the past three years, from the 2.6.15 kernel to 2.6.27-rc6, Canonical has had 100 patches in the Linux kernel, which means they did 0.10068% of all of the kernel development for the past 3 years. They are ranked 79th of all companies doing kernel development." As expected, these accusations were quickly met by strong objections from the Ubuntu developer community. Matt Zimmerman in Greg Kroah-Hartman's Linux Ecosystem: "Greg considers the 'Linux ecosystem' to be GCC, Binutils, the Linux kernel, X.Org, and a handful of other projects. He disregards most of the desktop stack (including GNOME and KDE), all desktop and server applications, and most anything else that is recognizable to an end user as 'Linux'."
Next, it was the "quiet" addition of licensed media codecs and DVD playback software to the Ubuntu Store, only announced in a Canonical blog, rather than in a formal press release. But as some observed, this decision will almost certainly irk some Ubuntu fans: "It is hard to imagine that Canonical won't get a certain amount of grief for this offering, and that doesn't seem right. On the one hand, they aren't able to legally redistribute these codecs. So instead, they've opted to open an area in the storefront that makes downloading and installing purchased codecs work similarly to installing with Synaptic. ... The bittersweetness? Some will see this as another example of how proprietary formats are hopelessly broken, defy the law, and use the freely available but legally questionable codecs without a word. There are others who will be reminded (or discover for the first time) that the laws governing technology and intellectual property need revision, and rather than circumventing the law, will push for change."
* * * * *
The Linux netbook market has been growing steadily over the last few months as new models appear almost weekly (see this announcement about the new Toshiba NB100, shipping with Ubuntu 8.04). But as the choice of hardware grows, so does the number of available Linux distributions for these products (see this announcement about the new Mandriva Mini). So which distribution offers the best performance on these ultra-portable laptops? Phoronix has done a benchmark comparison of four distributions - Xandros Desktop for Eee PC, Fedora 10 Alpha, Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 and Mandriva Linux 2009 Beta 2 - running on ASUS Eee PC 901. The conclusions? "In some tests the stock Eee Linux distribution was running quite slow and placing far behind Mandriva, Fedora, and Ubuntu, but when it came to the solid-state disk performance Xandros had the lead. Overall though, it appears that Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 had delivered the best performance on the Intel Atom architecture. These are just our initial figures though. We are still running some additional benchmarks on the Eee PC 901 to look for the best Linux OS, but it looks like it is a toss-up right now depending upon how the system will be used. With Ubuntu 8.10 now using the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, the results of the final release will certainly be different."
* * * * *
|Released Last Week
Pardus Linux 2008.1
Ekin Meroğlu has announced the release of Pardus Linux 2008.1: "We're happy to announce Pardus Linux 2008.1 'Hyaena Hyaena', the first update release in Pardus 2008 series. It contains all the bug fixes, enhancements and new feature additions since the release of Pardus Linux 2008. Features: new and improved Network Manager with Ad-Hoc and 802.1x wireless support; two live CD variants with KDE 3 and KDE 4; support for Swedish; international installation CD with support for 11 languages; updated applications - KDE 3.5.10, Linux kernel 220.127.116.11 with improved hardware support, Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1, OpenOffice.org 2.4.1, KDE 4.1.1; hundreds of free software applications with fewer bugs and updated to the most recent versions...." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Kris Moore has announced the release of PC-BSD 7.0, a user-friendly, desktop operating system based on FreeBSD: "The PC-BSD team is pleased to announce PC-BSD version 7.0 'Fibonacci'. This release marks a milestone for PC-BSD, by moving to the latest FreeBSD 7-STABLE and also incorporating the KDE 4.1.1 desktop. Users will immediately notice the improved visual interface that KDE 4.1.1 offers, as well as a large improvement in hardware support and speed from the update to FreeBSD 7-STABLE. PC-BSD 7.0 also offers a large and growing library of self-contained PBI files available for installation, and improvements for other locales on our PBI Directory web site. This release also offers new methods of installation, including a DVD, USB and Internet / network install." See the release announcement, release notes and changelog for further information.
PC-BSD 7.0 - a cutting-edge desktop distribution based on the latest FreeBSD
(full image size: 410kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Foresight Linux 1.0 "Kids"
Ken VanDine has announced the release of Foresight Linux 1.0 "Kid's" edition: "Foresight Kid's edition is now available for your kid's enjoyment. The Kid's edition features a number of education and entertainment applications, a customized GNOME desktop environment, and an innovative set of excellent, up-to-date software applications. The Foresight Kid's edition features the following applications: Tux Paint, an award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 - 12; Tux Typing, and educational typing tutor for children; GCompris, an educational software suite that includes many different activities for children ages 2 - 10; Tux, of Math Command, an education arcade game starring Tux based on the class game 'Missile Command'; games - SuperTux, SuperTuxKart, FooBilliard, GNU Chess, Secret Maryo Chronicles...." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Foresight Linux 1.0 "Kid's" edition - a distribution designed for children aged 3 - 12
(full image size: 618kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
PLD Live 2008.09
PLD Live is a live CD edition of PLD Linux, an independent distribution aimed at more advanced users and system administrators. Version 2008.09, announced yesterday, boots into a GNOME 2.22 desktop environment and provides a graphical system installer: "PLD Live is a live CD project to let you test PLD Linux without installing it to a hard drive. It is also useful for rescuing damaged systems. Features: based on Th (3.0) release; powered by GNOME 2.22; automatic handling of both wired and wireless networks; graphical installation wizard to put PLD on a hard disk (experimental); fast boot time; enabled for updates. The most important software: kernel: 18.104.22.168, GNOME: 2.22.3, NetworkManager: 0.7svn." Visit the sub-project's home page to release announcement.
PLD Live 2008.09 - a live CD edition of PLD designed for rescue and system administration tasks
(full image size: 48kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
- Syllable Server. Syllable Server is a small, efficient server operating system built to be similar to Syllable Desktop, but on the Linux kernel. Due to its light weight, Syllable Server is exceptionally suitable as a virtualisation platform for running other operating systems (or multiple instances of itself), using the QEMU emulator.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 29 September 2008. Until next week,
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SymphonyOS is a Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution featuring a custom-built desktop environment called "Mezzo". Written in Perl and Gtk2::Webkit, Mezzo uses the lightweight but highly configurable FVWM window manager to create an unusual and eye-catching desktop user interface with focus on simplicity and usability.