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 18.104.22.168 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.
We've just been notified that gOS 2.0 will be released next week at the 2008 Consumer Electronic Show. This Linux distribution started making news two months ago as the conceptual Google Operating System and shipping on a sub-$200 (USD) Everex PC. This distribution is very easy to use and features integration with popular Web 2.0 services such as YouTube, Google Calendar, and Google Maps. This next gOS release, codenamed "Rocket", adds a few features and more Google love. Accompanying this release will also be a gOS Software Developer Kit.
Along side Ubuntu Studio and other multimedia-oriented distributions, Musix is a Debian-based distribution led by Argentinian developers that is currently at version 1.0. Released in time for the new year was Musix 1.0r3 Test 4, which contains an arsenal of free software multimedia programs ranging from Ardour to Rosegarden to Audacity. This distribution, which ships KDE as its default desktop environment, also includes other desktop programs such as aMSN, AbiWord, IceWeasel, and more. If you're looking for a deep dive into the Linux multimedia world, Musix is a distribution worth trying.
While Ubuntu Linux continues to grow -- in both popularity and new advancements for the Linux ecosystem -- and dance in the limelight, it isn't the choice for everybody. For those that may still be searching for their right Linux mate, Zenwalk 5.0 is a distribution worth trying out. Previously we have referred to Zenwalk as an unsung hero among Linux distributions and with the forthcoming 5.0 release it asserts a very well rounded Xfce desktop.
The second alpha release for the Ubuntu Hardy Heron family is now available. In addition to the new Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 2 build, also updated are Kubuntu, Edubuntu, JeOS, Xunbuntu, Gobuntu, and Ubuntu Studio. The major changes impacting all of these distribution derivatives is a massive Debian update and switching over to the Linux 2.6.24 kernel. With Ubuntu 8.04, PulseAudio is also the default sound server. While KDE 4.0 packages are available for both Kubuntu 7.10 and Kubuntu 8.04, Kubuntu 8.04 Alpha 2 uses KDE 3.5.8 by default. In this release, some of the other updated packages include Amarok, Qt, Dikigam, and there is also Adobe Flash support in Konqueror.
Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 2 is due out tomorrow, and while we'll have more extensive testing as the Hardy Heron release nears in April, today we are publishing our first -- very initial -- benchmarks of Ubuntu 8.04 using the 12-19-2007 daily build and comparing these results to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. These tests are focused upon OpenGL gaming, encoding, disk, and memory performance.
KDE 4.0 Release Candidate 2 was made available yesterday as the last testing release before the final KDE 4.0 build next month. If you've been wanting to try out this latest version of KDE 4.0, but aren't yet ready to fully upgrade, there are Linux LiveCDs already available that integrate KDE 4.0 RC2. Two of these LiveCDs are the OpenSuSE-based KDE Four Live 0.8 and a KDE 4.0 spin of Kubuntu.
The first alpha release of OpenSuSE 11.0 is now available for download. OpenSuSE 11.0 integrates a number of new packages, including GCC 4.3.0, the latest Linux 2.6.24 development kernel, X.Org 7.3, ALSA 1.0.15, GIMP 2.4, and Yast2 2.16. OpenSuSE 11.0 Alpha 0 is available as a DVD or via KDE and GNOME CD spins.
The first alpha release of Ubuntu 8.04 was scheduled to be released today, but the official release has been pushed back until tomorrow. However, a preliminary CD image of this first alpha release for Ubuntu 8.04 LTS has surfaced today on the Internet. While there is still seven more Ubuntu 8.04 test releases planned before the final release of Hardy Heron in April, we have already started exploring this first Hardy Heron LiveCD.
Last month, following the availability of Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" was the release of Mythbuntu 7.10. Mythbuntu is an Ubuntu derivative and has been around for less than a year, but they have been making great progress with this MythTV-optimized distribution. We have been testing out Mythbuntu 7.10 in several different configurations over the past few weeks and today we have our thoughts to share on it as well as a rough overview for those that may have not yet tried this Linux distribution.
With its lime green theme, the appearance of Foresight 2.0 Alpha 1 is certainly distinct from most other desktop Linux distributions. However, it's color theme is not all that's unique about this new development release. Foresight Linux 2.0 Alpha 1 contains an updated package set with GNOME 2.20.1 along with a Tar based installer for reduced install time, Compiz Fusion integration, new tool chain using GCC 4.1.1, and a smaller default install size.
Back in March we had compared the performance of Ubuntu and Fedora as we tested Ubuntu 6.10 and Fedora 6 along with development versions of Ubuntu 7.04 and Fedora 7. During those benchmarks, Ubuntu 7.04 Alpha 5 had a slight lead over Fedora but the race was extremely close. In August we compared Ubuntu and Fedora again along with Xubuntu, Mandriva, and SimplyMEPIS, but using older PC hardware. In these benchmarks, the results were also close but Mandriva was the leader. Now with the release of Fedora 8 last week, we have run a new set of benchmarks comparing it to the month-old Ubuntu 7.10.
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