Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
In line with its newbie-friendly tradition of providing a way to do everything via a graphical user interface, Ubuntu provides a way to do a distribution upgrade by clicking a button at the top of the Update Manager. Since version 10.04 was released on April 29, it was once again time to see how well the upgrade went. Here are screenshots of the entire process.
Last month, the Debian Live Project released live CD and DVD images of the next version of Debian, codenamed "Squeeze." They included an installer that uses the live filesystem rather than packages, so it has the advantages of being fast and allowing you to preview on the live media, what you eventually get on your hard drive. This may not seem like a big deal, since most modern Linux distributions use this installation method, but it's still fairly new for Debian. I downloaded and installed the 64-bit GNOME version.
Mark Shuttleworth recently said that "moving everything to the left opens up the space on the right nicely." But what "innovative options" might he be referring to? To find out, we contacted a member of Ubuntu's design team, Drew A. Gooey-Aubergine, who gave us an exclusive look at what innovative new features Ubuntu users might see on the right-hand side of their windows in future releases.
For the first time, openSUSE now officially supports a "dist-upgrade" feature, similar to Debian's. Which is to say, if you've got openSUSE 11.1 installed, you should be able to upgrade to openSUSE 11.2 by updating your list of software repositories to point to providers of software for openSUSE 11.2, doing a distribution upgrade via the Internet, and have a reasonable chance of success.
I was curious to try Ubuntu's offer of a "one-click upgrade" from Ubuntu 8.10 to 9.04 on my HP Pavilion zd7000 laptop. I was impressed with how easy it was.
Vector Linux 5.9, released in late December of last year, is a Slackware 12.0-based distribution that uses Xfce 4.4.2 as its default user interface. Generally speaking, Xfce requires less horsepower than other UIs, like GNOME and KDE, and so Vector Linux bills itself as an excellent operating system to install on older, lower-powered computers. I've been using it for the past two weeks, and like what I see.
By now, every Linux user's heard of KDE 4.0, and the controversy surrounding its release. Here's one partisan KDE user's take on it — with screenshots.
openSUSE is a popular German Linux distribution that Distrowatch.com lists as one of the "top ten." Version 10.3 was released on October 4th. Underneath its new green artwork, the new version's improvements include cutting down the time it takes to reach the graphical login screen; speeding up and streamlining its package management utility; and making it easier for users to install software using a new "one-click install" process. There's a lot to like here.
The last Kanotix release (based on Debian Sid) came out in October, 2006. Shortly thereafter, a Kanotix co-developer (and many of Kanotix's other developers) left the project, mainly due to a disagreement over whether Kanotix should be based on Sid (Debian's unstable branch) or something less volatile, like Etch (Debian's current stable branch) or Ubuntu. Kanotix's founder now has a new, Etch-based version of Kanotix in development, code-named "Thorhammer."
Unless you're able to deal with such esoteric problems as diagnosing a buggy post-install script, or figuring out how to deal with a major change in the directory structure of X.org, you might occasionally find running a Debian Sid-based system to be more than you can handle. And that's where Sidux comes in. Sidux's goal is to allow mere mortals the ability to run Debian Sid on the desktop, in order to take advantage of the latest Debian software available. Its development team helps guide its users through the occasional bumps in Sid, via IRC and its user forum. Another goal is to offer a consistent release cycle. Sidux comes with a variety of "convenience scripts" and utilities you won't find in Debian proper, that make it easier to do such things as administer your system and install proprietary software.
Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution; its first version came out in 1993. Version 12 was recently released. As its Wikipedia entry notes, it's got a reputation for sacrificing ease-of-use (in terms of configuration and package management tools provided by the distribution) in favor of letting the end user configure the system and its software by herself.
GoblinX is a live Linux distribution based on Slackware 11, written by a Brazillian developer who goes by the pseudonym Grobsch. It comes with five different window managers/GUIs, and uses custom artwork for each of them that's quite unlike anything you've seen before.
We're all familiar with the "big two" desktops for Linux -- KDE and GNOME. Of course, there are many more to choose from. If you asked a group of Linux users, "Which one is best?", the ensuing debate would likely take on religious overtones. Some would even argue that a desktop like KDE is too hard for newbies to use. Still, it's a safe bet that most Linux users don't stray too far away from those "big two," KDE and GNOME. So it's especially interesting to look at some innovative alternatives.
Part 2 of the Fedora 7 "Moonshine" review.