[conspire] New distros: SimplyMEPIS 6.0-1 DVD, GParted LiveCD 0.3.1, PC-BSD 1.2

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 14 15:37:09 PDT 2006

I think it was John Andrews at the most recent CABAL meeting who asked
me if I happened to have install media of one of the desktop-oriented BSDs 
-- and I had to confess I didn't:  I keep pretty current CDs of FreeBSD, 
NetBSD, and OpenBSD.  Also, I monitor the progress on DragonFly BSD,
which is not ready for prime time.  (Long story.)  

But those are all old-school BSDs, and would not be deemed especially
"desktop"-friendly.  For that, one turns to desktop-focussed offshoots:

PC-BSD:  The most popular.  Based on FreeBSD; has KDE prebuilt.  Graphical 
         installer.  Graphical package tool in development.

FreeSBIE:   Live CD based on FreeBSD, with HD installer.  Has toolkit
            for designing/mastering your own FreeBSD-based live CD ISOs.

DesktopBSD:  Installable KDE-oriented live CD built using FreeSBIE, which 
             is based on FreeBSD.  Graphical package tool.  In general, 
             is a mainstream FreeBSD with a few extra tools, rather than
             having more radical departures as does PC-BSD.

RoFreeSBIE:  Installable KDE- or Window Maker-oriented live CD built using      
             FreeSBIE.  This one is from Romania.  (Thus the "Ro".)  

I've just installed and burned the 2-CD PC-BSD v. 1.2 release, so we'll
be prepared the next time someone asks.

SimplyMEPIS 6.0 DVD:   I've been a bit conflicted about DVD media.
They're a genuine advance: six times the storage (single-layer variant), 
about 2-3 times as fast to install, and _new_ machines have been coming
with compatible drives.  Also, it saves room in my bulging disks
collection.  On the other hand, they sure ain't a universal

Since many new distro releases are available in both formats, my current
policy is to do DVD format _solely_ for full-sized desktop distros
that would be painful on older machines, e.g., 
SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, SimplyMEPIS.  For important distros that 
cover multipe categories (including, say, older server), I'll sometimes 
burn both DVDs and CDs, e.g., Fedora Core 5.  A CABAL visitor wanting to
install SLED or SimplyMEPIS on some old machine may end up being 
disappointed, but I think that'll be rare.  Mostly, if a machine doesn't
already have a DVD reader, it's too slow anyway.  And, hey, the drives 
are cheap to retrofit.

SimplyMEPIS 6.0-1 DVD is the first release Warren What's-His-Name's
(Woodford) made in a while, and seems to be pretty well received.
I believe 6.0's the first full release he's built on Ubuntu (as opposed
to Debian).  It's known as a very polished KDE-based desktop Linux
(live CD with installation option) with excellent hardware support /
autorecognition, and particularly good for laptops.  Sorry, x86 (32-bit)

(Other good things to try on x86 laptops:  Kanotix, Kurumin.  Kurumin 6.1
is just out, with NdisWrapper, Intel ipw2200 for Centrino wireless,
automatic "powernow" power-saving support where useful, etc.  I haven't 
yet decided I care enough to update my copy.)

BTW:  What's with these guys (MEPIS, Kurumin) ignoring 64-bit
Opteron/Xeon?  Are they insane?  Kanotix has 64-bit covered, however,
except that beta releases are 32-bit only.

Oddly enough, I'm a little more interested in the GPart live CD -- which
looks like a key addition to my toolkit.  Quoting DistroWatch:

   It's a fact, GParted is the first partitioning utility that makes it
   possible to move all supported file systems, even to the beginning of
   a hard disk: "This release includes one of the most exiting features
   since the first release - we finally have full move support! Although
   it should be considered a bit experimental, our tests worked out
   perfectly and we didn't see any errors so far." 

Release notes elaborate:

   You can now move and copy NTFS filesystems and still boot Windows
   from them  [...]

Basically, the GParted disk is an i386 live CD offering a copy of GParted,
a GNOME app (C++, gtkmm) front-ending GNU libparted, which does all the
work of "creating, destroying, resizing, moving, checking and copying
partitions, and the filesystems on them. This is useful for creating
space for new operating systems, reorganizing disk usage, copying data
residing on hard disks and mirroring one partition with another (disk

Supported filesystems:  ext2, ext3, FAT16/32, HFS/HFS+ (partial
support using hfsutils), JFS, linux-swap, NTFS, ReiserFS (including
Reiser4), UFS (partial support), and XFS.

Personally, my preferred way to resize/move a partition is to copy the
entire contents to elsewhere, delete, recreate, and copy the data back,
but I know people want the change-in-place approach, and go around with 
byzantine multiboot setups that they expect to survive casual

Other stuff:

RHEL5 beta1 is out (a _public_ beta, but the full release will be the usual
restricted stuff).  I'll probably download i386 and x86_64 Client
Edition DVDs.  The big advance is Xen virtualisation support.  They're
obviously retructuring their product definitions:  AS/ES/WS product-line
differentiation is gone, and it's now just Client and Server variants:
Server includes clustering / failover / load-balancing software and the
GFS cluster filesystem.  Client omits those and includes Evolution and

Closely related is FC6, just out in its third and final prerelease (but
I'm not downloading the test releases, but rather waiting for the full
release in mid-October).

OpenSUSE just put out the alpha4 test of v. 10.2.  Again, I'm not biting
on that, personally.

Mandriva Linux 2.07 will probably be out tomorrow -- but then available
for download only to paying Club members for the first two months, if
they follow last year's practice.

If people want anything else, let me know!

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