[conspire] CABAL meeting, Saturday, Aug. 13

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Aug 12 16:02:51 PDT 2011

Hey there!  CABAL gathering tomorrow, 4 pm to midnight.
(After the weekend, Deirdre and I will be driving to the World Science
Fiction Convention in Reno.)

I'm just about to burn a few CDs and DVDs:

# ls -lh *.iso | awk '{ print $5" "$9 }'
2.0G aptosid-2011-02-imera-kde-full-i386-amd64-201107131633.iso
473M aptosid-2011-02-imera-xfce-amd64-201107131632.iso
468M aptosid-2011-02-imera-xfce-i386-201107131632.iso
4.4G CentOS-6.0-i386-bin-DVD.iso
4.0G CentOS-6.0-x86_64-bin-DVD1.iso
1.2G CentOS-6.0-x86_64-bin-DVD2.iso
3.8G KNOPPIX_V6.7.0DVD-2011-08-01-EN.iso
621M pclinuxos-phoenix-2011-07.iso
348M systemrescuecd-x86-2.3.0.iso
4.3G ubuntu-10.04.3-dvd-amd64.iso
4.2G ubuntu-10.04.3-dvd-i386.iso
20M ubuntu-natty-powerpc-minidisc-2011-04-22.iso
20M ubuntu-oneiric-powerpc-minidisc-dailybuild-2011-06-27.iso

Let's see what we have, there:

Aptosid is my favourite way to install Debian, lately, and also a really
good, cutting edge live CD distro, that you can use for a lot of
purposes.  The 2 GB DVD thing is a bi-architecture (both ia32 and
x86_64) image of an extremely full-featured KDE 4.6 desktop system.  

The other two discs are XFCE 4.8 variants, one for each architecture.

Aptosid has a quarterly release schedule that they more-or-less stick
to, so you always have really good support for recent hardware.

I mentioned recently a minor gotcha:  The aptosid developers
understandably refuse to take the legal risk of shipping firmware image
files for hardware whose sponsoring companies haven't given the public
permission to redistribute those files.  (The aptosid CD/DVD images, by
policy, contain only 'DFSG-Free' contents.)  There are _very_ easy ways
to make aptosid fetch and install such non-free firmware files off the
Internet at the end of installation and drop them into /lib/firmware,
detailed here:  http://manual.aptosid.com/en/nf-firm-en.htm  _However_,
say your machine's connection to the Internet is via its Broadcom
BCM5705 ethernet chip, which is one of Broadcom's 'Tigon' series and so
needs the 'tg3' ethernet driver.  Unfortunately, your Broadcom ethernet
chip can't be initialised until Linux has that firmware file, and it
can't get the firmware file off the Internet while your box's Internet
access is offline:  Chicken and egg problem.

Broadcom's attorneys could resolve this roadblock for the cost of 
postage, but they simply don't care.  Same problem applies for a number
of network hardware chips:  See cited page.

CentOS 6.0:  Yeah, this is the release of their version of RHEL6 that
was delayed, occasioning much 'End of CentOS predicted.  PNG at 10' 
commentary from the more vapid IT press drones (who claimed everyone
would need to migrate to Scientific Linux, or Oracle Linux, or God Knows
What).  Personally, I didn't see the issue:  The CentOS developers
worked first on 5.6 (RHEL5 Update 6), and only got to the parallel 6.0
(RHEL6) branch when they were done.  Personally, I'll care about RHEL6
only when it's actually used in production, and so far everyone I know's
sticking with RHEL5.  Seems to me as if the CentOS developers merely had
a healthy sense of priorities.

It's worth mentioning that there are official live CD images of CentOS
5.x and unofficial images of 6.0.  I suspect that, for whatever reason,
they are less picky about the legal exposure from questionably licensed
firmware files.  So, for example, a firm I work with that uses CentOS
5.6 extensively on rack machines keeps a PXE-bootable image of the
CentOS 5.6 live CD on the kickstart server for maintenance/recovery
purposes.  That way, it's guaranteed that the maintenance image will
have 100% of the hardware drivers used on production machines because --
hey! -- same distro as used in production.

Knoppix 6.7.0.  Still healthy.  The default desktop these days is
LXDE, but you can also start into KDE4 or GNOME.  Klaus Knopper has
moved Knoppix even closer to full Debian compatibility, but still
cherry-picks things from Debian-unstable and -testing.  And it's still a
really fine general-purpose live distro.

PCLinuxOS 2011-07 'Phoenix' is another XFCE 4.8 installable live CD,
this one an rpm-based distro originally forked from Mandriva.
PCLinuxOS's desktop distros -- and they have Enlightenment, Fluxbox,
GNOME, IceWM, KDE, LXDE, Openbox, and XFCE variants -- are all very
polished and very leading edge.  If you like RPM-based distros but
CentOS / Fedora dissatisfy, try PCLinuxOS.

SystemRescueCD is not for installation but rather rescue / maintenance 
/ forensics / partitioning / backup-restore, etc.  Not that it matters, 
but it was originally based on Gentoo.  I keep my copy updated.

Ubuntu for PowerPC.  PowerPC's been an unsupported platform for the
*buntus for quite a long time, now.  Starting v 7.04 Gutsy Gibbon, it
became an _unofficial_ but still available (community-maintained) disc.
After a while, it dropped off the map because of build problems (not to
mention that, hey, your PowerMacs are getting pretty ancient).  But, if
you do some searching, you can still find unofficial,
don't-complain-if-it-doesn't-work-for-you 'InstallationMinimalCD' isos
for 11.04 Natty Narwhal and 10.10 Maverick Meerkat (18 MB each) that
use a text-based ncurses installer and fetch all needed packages off the

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