While our friends at DistroWatch only rate Zenwalk as the 19th most popular Linux distribution, we have been very impressed by their recent releases and have felt that it is a distribution worth trying as it is an unsung hero. With the Zenwalk 5.2 Beta having been released yesterday, we immediately took this new release for a quick test-drive.
Back in January of 2007 we had looked at Linux Virtualization Performance as we had compared a running native OS (at that time, Fedora Core 6) against the same operating system running as a virtualized guest OS using Xen, QEMU with the (once closed-source) kqemu kernel module, and then KVM. In this testing we had found that KVM had performed well and won a number of the tests, but it wasn't the clear winner nor it had won by a substantial margin. However, the Kernel-based Virtual Machine had premiered with the Linux 2.6.20 kernel and it has matured quite a bit over the past year and a half since its christening. With that said, we are in the process of conducting new Linux virtualization benchmarks to see how these various implementations compare today. While the full comparison isn't yet ready, due to much interest surrounding Linux virtualization on desktops and servers, this morning we are publishing some initial benchmarks from the Phoronix Test Suite when running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS as the host OS and then running it as the guest operating system with hardware-based acceleration through KVM.
Less than a week after the release of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS "Hardy Heron", the Free Software Foundation has gone ahead and released version 2.0 (named DeltaH) of gNewSense. For those not familiar with gNewSense, this is one of the few distributions certified by the Free Software Foundation as being a truly free Linux distribution. gNewSense 2.0 is essentially Ubuntu 8.04 LTS but with a few modifications to make it more free by removing some binary-only components. New in gNewSense 2.0 is also new artwork, switching the default web browser from Mozilla Firefox to Epiphany, Blag's deblob script in the kernel, and non-free GLX being removed from X.Org/Mesa. Here are a few screenshots from this latest release.
In Q4'07 we had looked at Ubuntu's power consumption with all of their Linux releases going back to Ubuntu 5.04. While Linux has improved in recent years when it comes to power efficiency and optimizations, more processes running on the desktop had canceled out any real power improvements. Following that article was a look at power consumption between Windows and Linux. We had used an old desktop system in that comparison and Ubuntu 7.10 was consuming the most power while idling but Fedora 8 Test 3 had consumed the least amount of power and had beat out both Windows XP and Vista. While using the desktop, however, both versions of Windows had consumed less power than Fedora and Ubuntu. With Ubuntu 8.04 LTS now available, we have decided to run another simple power comparison. This time we are using a Lenovo ThinkPad notebook and an AMD server as we see whether Ubuntu Hardy Heron or Microsoft Windows Vista consumes less power.
In early February, Sun Microsystems had released a second preview release of Project Indiana. For those out of the loop, Project Indiana is the codename for the project led by Ian Murdock at Sun that aims to push OpenSolaris on more desktop and notebook computers by addressing the long-standing usability problems of Solaris. We were far from being impressed by Preview 2 as it hadn't possessed any serious advantages over a GNU/Linux desktop that would interest normal users. However, with the release of OpenSolaris 2008.05 "Project Indiana" coming up in May, Sun Microsystems has today released a final test copy of this operating system. Our initial experience with this new OpenSolaris release is vastly better than what we had encountered less than three months ago when last looking at Project Indiana.
While all of the Solaris excitement at Phoronix as of late has been around Solaris Express Developer 1/08 and the forthcoming release of OpenSolaris 2008.05, today Sun Microsystems has announced the immediate release of Solaris 10 5/08. This update to their Solaris OS includes major enhancements for those running Intel hardware, a number of new features, updated applications, the introduction of Solaris OnDemand, and updated drivers.
Long before Sun's Project Indiana came about, BeleniX has been one of our favorite GNU/Solaris distributions. BeleniX has been a LiveCD based upon OpenSolaris, but with yesterday's release of BeleniX 0.7 it is now a source-level derivative of the Project Indiana blend of OpenSolaris. Today we're taking a quick look at this new release.
Back in December we looked at the initial Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 2 performance by comparing it to Ubuntu 7.10. In that article we had found the performance between the two releases to be roughly the same. Now that we're nearing an end in this development cycle as Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) will be released later this month, we've ran a new set of benchmarks comparing the latest Ubuntu 8.04 packages to the previous Gutsy Gibbon release.
The beta of Fedora 9 was released just short of two weeks ago, but the Fedora Project has released new Rawhide snapshots of Fedora in its live form. No installation DVDs are being made available due to bugs, but there are 2008-04-04 Rawhide snapshos for both the GNOME and KDE LiveCDs. The KDE spin is already upgraded against the just-released KDE 4.0.3 release, which most noticeably has KHTML, KWin, and Okular improvements. Here's a few screenshots from Fedora 9 Live KDE (2008-04-04 Rawhide).
Gentoo 2008.0 Beta 1 has been released. This is no April Fools' Day joke, it's really here. The Gentoo Foundation has had its share of problems as of late, there was never a Gentoo 2007.1 release, and this first beta is coming a bit late, but Gentoo 2008.0 Beta 1 is now available. We have some screenshots up of the Gentoo 2008.0 Beta 1 i686 LiveCD.
If you're still on the quest of finding the best desktop Linux distribution for your needs, one worthy contender that often goes overlooked is Zenwalk. Zenwalk is a Slackware-based distribution that uses the Xfce desktop environment and is light-weight but comes with a variety of useful desktop applications. Zenwalk Live 5.0 was released this past week and it features LiveCD install support and capabilities for easily remastering your own Zenwalk LiveCD media. In addition, Zenwalk 5.0 has a few extra enhancements in the area of natural language support, multi-media, and WiFi drivers (both native and through ndiswrapper).
It's been almost two months since Fedora 9 Alpha was released, which we subsequently previewed. Now with the release of Fedora 9 just being 35 days out, Red Hat has pushed out the beta release of Fedora 9 (codenamed Sulphur) with many more features implemented and ready to be tested. We have taken the time to explore the features of Fedora 9 and the progress that has been made.
Last November we had looked at Mythbuntu 7.10 and found it to be an excellent MythTV distribution. With its LiveCD MythTV front-end capabilities and intuitive Mythbuntu Control Center, this distribution is far more than just a re-branded edition of Ubuntu with a couple MythTV packages. Being released in tandem with Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" next month will be Mythbuntu 8.04 and today we are taking an early look at this spring refresh using the recently released beta.
There's just about a month left until Ubuntu 8.04 is officially introduced, but the second to the last testing release is now available. The Ubuntu 8.04 beta came out last night and hardens up Hardy Heron on both the desktop and server ends for this first LTS (Long Term Support) release in nearly two years. The Canonical team and all involved free software projects have done a phenomenal job and Ubuntu 8.04 is shaping up to be their best release yet. Ubuntu 8.04 ships with many GNOME enhancements found in the recent 2.22 release, PulseAudio integration, virtualization improvements, and it uses the Linux 2.6.24 kernel.
Introduced in Ubuntu 7.10 was install-time encryption support where using the alternate installer one can fully encrypt their disk in an LVM using dm-crypt. Unfortunately, the Ubiquity installer in Ubuntu 8.04 continues to lack LVM and encryption support, but using Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 6 we have looked at the performance cost of this encrypted configuration on Ubuntu Linux. Rather than looking directly at the disk read/write overhead caused by the encryption process, we have provided some benchmarks to see how the real-world performance is impacted in both gaming and other desktop tasks.
The beta release of Fedora 9 has been pushed back another week to March 20, because of stability issues, but to see the progress made by the Fedora / Red Hat developers we did a clean Rawhide installation. Some of the features that have been shaping up well for Fedora 9 include EXT4 file-system support, encrypted file-system support, Firefox 3.0 integration, GCC 4.3 support, enhanced NetworkManager capabilities with "out of the box" support mobile broadband (GSM/CDMA) devices, inclusion of PackageKit, and Upstart replacing SysVinit. Some of the packages currently making up Fedora 9 include GNOME 2.21.92, Linux 2.6.25 RC, X Server 1.5.0 RC 0, and OpenOffice.org 2.4.0. For your viewing pleasure, here are a few screenshots of the latest Fedora 9 Rawhide code as of today.
The final alpha release for Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron is now available. Among the features that are available to Ubuntu 8.04 users are Firefox 3 Beta 3, the Vinagre VNC client, PolicyKit, PulseAudio, improved Virtualization capabilities, and even improved memory protection. Ubuntu 8.04 will use the Linux 2.6.24 kernel with X.Org 7.3 and GNOME 2.22.0. Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 6 is accompanied by new alpha builds for Kubuntu, Kubuntu-KDE4, Edubuntu, Ubuntu JeOS, Xubuntu, Gobuntu, and Ubuntu Studio. The final release of Ubuntu 8.04 is planned for April 24 and it will be an LTS (Long Term Support) release.
Last week when traveling to Europe for FOSDEM and other business meetings, I had picked up a new 9-cell battery for a Lenovo ThinkPad T60. While an additional three battery cells will noticeably extend your battery life, you can also extend your battery life by taking a few simple steps to optimize your Linux desktop that will also reduce your power consumption and heat output. In this article are a few simple steps to take in order to extend your notebook's battery life on Ubuntu.
Canonical will not be officially supporting KDE 4 until Kubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" but for Kubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" will be a KDE 3.5 spin and then a community-supported Kubuntu 8.04 version based upon KDE 4.0 (though a few KDE 3 applications are still bundled). Arriving today, albeit a week after the Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 5 release, is the first KDE 4.0.1 Hardy Heron build.
Last year leading up to the release of Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn" and Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" we had published several articles looking at various aspects of this desktop Linux distribution. These articles had varied from looking at Ubuntu's power consumption for the past six major releases to presenting the visual history of Ubuntu and how its graphics have evolved since Ubuntu 4.10. With Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" shipping in just two months, we are once again looking at Ubuntu from several points of view. In this article, we are looking at Ubuntu's boot performance for the past five releases through the use of Bootchart for measuring its boot time, disk throughput, and the running processes.
With the alpha one release of OpenSuSE 11.0 we had talked about its brand new installer that was powered by Trolltech's Qt4, and now with Alpha 2 becoming available there are more notable improvements. OpenSuSE 11.0 will ship with GNOME 2.22, but until that is available there is GNOME 2.21.90, which is the latest development build. For KDE users, Alpha 2 has integrated KDE 4.0.1 which replaces the KDE 3.5 branch for this desktop Linux distribution. OpenSuSE 11.0 Alpha 2 contains the Linux 2.6.24 kernel, D-Bus 1.2-rc2, ALSA 1.0.16-rc2, and other new open-source packages. Alpha 2 is available via GNOME and KDE LiveCDs and an installation DVD that contains only open-source software.
Hitting the web this past week in addition to Fedora 9 Alpha, OpenSuSE 11.0 Alpha 2, and Yellow Dog Linux 6.0 was the first beta release for Myah OS. This is a desktop Linux distribution that is assembled via custom build scripts and its own package management solution. This beta release brings forth a GUI front-end for the Myah Package Manager, Myah update icon applet, live installer support for EXT3/XFS/ReiserFS, and live installer support for installing to a USB flash drive. Myah OS 3.0 Beta 1 ships with the Linux 22.214.171.124 kernel, GCC 4.2.2, Xfce 4.4.2, and X.Org 7.3. While Myah OS is a one man operation and its developer, Jeremiah Cheatham, goes to the extent of creating a truly custom distribution, it's unfortunate that the theme and even the cursor are abominable from our perspective. Aside from that, it's an interesting distribution.
In addition to Project Indiana Developer Preview 2, Solaris users can now rejoice over the next release in the Solaris Express Developer Edition family. SXDE 1/08 is the quarterly update to Sun's next-generation Solaris Operating System that is built from the latest OpenSolaris Nevada technologies. This first SXDE release of 2008 brings a host of new features for the developer such as NetBeans 6.0 and the GlassFish v2 application server. Even for those that aren't developers, SXDE 1/08 brings new features further down on the Solaris stack such as the Sun xVM virtualization server with support for libvirt, support for the Intel 4965 wireless chipset with 802.11n capabilities, and a variety of new services.
With Fedora living on the front-line of Linux technologies, Fedora 9 Sulphur will be shipping with KDE 4.0 as opposed to holding off until KDE 4.1 with Fedora 10. With the release of Fedora 9 Alpha this morning, we've taken both the GNOME and KDE versions for a test spin. While this alpha release is shipping with KDE 4.0.0, and Fedora 9 final release will likely ship with KDE 4.0.3, this desktop LiveCD had worked out fairly well in our initial usage tests. For your viewing pleasure we've included some screenshots of Fedora 9 KDE Live Alpha.
On this Super Tuesday here in the United States, Red Hat has this morning released the first and only alpha release for Fedora 9. This ninth Fedora release, which has been codenamed Sulphur, will ship in April and go head-to-head against Ubuntu 8.04 LTS "Hardy Heron", but what features can one expect in this forthcoming release? Among the features being worked on are encrypted file-system support, updating the KDE spin to KDE 4.0, PackageKit integration, and switching to upstart initialization. In this article, we are taking a brief look at Fedora 9 Alpha and the features planned for Fedora 9.
Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 4 was released yesterday afternoon and today we have screenshots of this latest Hardy Heron development release. Alpha 4 integrates the latest GNOME 2.22 packages such as Vinagre and Brasero, introduces a world clock applet, and virtualization improvements that we already talked about earlier in the week. Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 5 will ship in late February and the final release will come this April.
One of the features that was introduced a year ago into Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn" was support for KVM, which is the Kernel-based Virtual Machine. The Kernel-based Virtual Machine provides full virtualization support for Linux when running on x86 hardware with either Intel's VT or AMD-V technology, which means you can run unmodified guest operating systems such as Linux or Microsoft Windows within your Linux host operating system. As we had shared in benchmarks, KVM -- even back to its infancy -- has been quite fast at virtualization when compared to Xen or kqemu. However, the KVM virtualization support found in Ubuntu hasn't been the most user-friendly. Installing and then managing these guest operating systems in Ubuntu 7.04 and Ubuntu 7.10 has required using the command-line interface and thus requiring the user to be familiar with the various QEMU options. However, in Ubuntu 8.04 this has all changed for the better now that virt-manager and libvirt are available from the main Ubuntu repository.
It's been a while since we last checked out a Solaris Express Community Edition (SXCE) build, which represents the most recent work done by the OpenSolaris community in the road leading up to Solaris Nevada, and is usually updated on a bi-weekly basis. With yesterday's release of SXCE Build 81 we had decided to take it for a spin. For those that have never tried out Solaris Express Community Edition, it ships with the GNOME desktop (v2.20.2 right now) and a variety of open-source desktop applications that one is accustom to seeing on a Linux box, such as Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, and Pidgin. Solaris Express Community also bundles in some proprietary components such as NVIDIA's Solaris display driver, NetBeans IDE 6.0, Sun Studio, RealPlayer, and StarOffice. For those more interested in OpenSolaris for server purposes, SXCE also bundles an Apache 2, PHP 5, and MySQL 5 stack.
The Mandriva team is busy cooking up a new spring release with the first development release being codenamed Ophrys. The first beta release for Mandriva Linux 2008 Spring is now available, and it features a new XML-based package meta-information system, new multimedia keyboard support, Perl 5.10 integration, the latest GNOME and KDE packages, and the Linux 2.6.24-rc8 kernel. KDE 4.0.0 is available from Mandriva's Cooker /contrib repository, but in Mandriva 2008.1 Beta 1 it doesn't ship by default.
Last week OpenSuSE 11.0 Alpha 1 was released, and in addition to including KDE 4.0, PulseAudio integration, and various package updates, Alpha 1 features improvements to the OpenSuSE installer. This installer uses Qt4 and is much improved, which warranted us taking a closer look.
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