I apologize for any downtime this evening. I upgraded my server operating system from Red Hat 9 to Fedora Core 3 Secure (just seemed like a ‘secure’ idea). There might be a few places that don’t have the right permissions, so please have patience with me. Please report any problems you see and thanks for reading!
Note: The experiment/review of the 5 desktop distros will begin tonight! I’ll have mrs.devnet post with initial impressions of Mandrake 10.1 Community after she installs it. We’ll have a more formal review after 3-4 days of use and then we’ll give her a 3 day break to go back to windows. After that, we’ll move on to the next distro. After all have been used, we’ll pick the best two distros and have a sudden death between them. At the end of things, we’ll declare a winner.
Not all distros are created equal. This is something I’ve found out the hard way during the past 10 years I’ve experimented with Linux. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to search for the most new user friendly distribution of Linux I could possibly find on the market in order to recruit my friends and acquaintances to Linux. In order to find the best of the best, I’ve selected 5 distributions of Linux that are some of the top rated ‘Desktop’ linux distros (according to distrowatch.com and user opinion). I’m going to install each one of these distros for a week and let my wife try to do all of the stuff she normally would do (blog entries, surf web, email, burn CD’s, listen to mp3s, link her portable media device) and see how each one stacks up to each other. My wife is a new user to Linux. While she does know the basics of what Linux is…she’s never used a Linux desktop. I hope this qualifies her as a ‘new user’.
I’ve selected the criteria that all distros will be judged on which I will post after I install Knoppix to hard disk and do a quick comment under the ‘distros’ category here (sometime next week). I install these distros before hand to ensure that there are no large issues that cause problems for me so that when we go to actually rate these distros…they’re all on the same starting point. I also do a quick commentary with my take on the distro so you know my biases and opinions (which I will eliminate from the rating process as much as possible).
We’re one week away from posting the criteria of rating and 2 weeks away from getting started. It is important to note that if any hardware conflicts arise, I will not help my wife resolve them. She has told me that if something that ‘just works’ in XP doesn’t work in Linux, she’s giving up on that distro and moving on. That sounds a lot like what a new user would do so I have no problems with that. So, some reviews might be quite short. I’ll be equipping my wife with the command alsaconf and that is it 🙂 We’ll really know what distro is great because the hardware configuration (posted earlier in another entry) is really standard and isn’t cutting edge new…if a distro can’t detect and install what I’ve got…they not really that great. If I were to add a modem to this, I’m sure that it would really throw a kink in many distros spokes…but I think I’ll save the modem/winmodem tests for a part II of this feature. I’ll publish each review by mrs.devnet in the ‘reviews’ category here with as many screenshots as possible. Countdown, 2 weeks.
[sarcasm]You absolutely have to love M$ for their fantastic business sense and fair tactics they use to accomplish their business objectives.[/sarcasm] There was this guy I went to college with who never did any original work. I mean, we used to go into the library and he’d pull up 15 articles on the subject his paper was and he’d pull 15 different paragraphs out of each of them. Then he’d ever-so-slightly change the words around a bit. Then he’d re-arrange the paragraphs so that it was harder to track down and he’d pass it off as his original paper. I would have to say, he must have graduated and gotten a job at Microsoft…because that is what they’re trying to do now.
According to eWeek,”Microsoft is claiming some form of IP rights over ‘a total of 130 protocols which Microsoft is offering for license.’ ” The stupid part about it is that these IP Rights are IETF RFC (request for comment) documents. Microsoft cannot show patent support for these claims, but on the other hand, no one can show that they don’t have rights to these claims either.
One thing is certain, if things get down and dirty…M$ will have the financial and legal means to prosecute or bully anyone they feel they need to in order to make a point or an example. Perhaps something should be done in the open source community to counteract this. I would say that a large number of open source supportive companies banding together to offer support for each other and the movement would suffice…but of course this won’t happen. They’re trying currently without much success…just do a search using your favorite search engine on “Linux Core Consortium” and look at the list of names that are absent from full support….among them are Redhat, Novell, and Sun Microsystems.
Many of you may have heard recently that Fedora Core 3 contains “SELinux” or Security Enhanced Linux. Then you may just say, “hmm..how bout that” and move on. Most of us don’t realize what SELinux actually is and where it came from. Recently there is a new book entitled, “SELinux NSA’s Open Source Security Enhanced Linux” that has been published by Bill McCarty for the O’Reilly Network.
I first noticed and downloaded SELinux about 2 years ago when there was no documentation supporting anything with it. I installed it, configured it, and had a server set up in about a day. I’ll have to say that it is just as easy to work on as a slackware box and most of my documentation issues were solved in slackware forums. Does this mean it utilizes packages from slack? No…everything is from source but there isn’t any cool portage or emerge system to manage things. You simply have to know what you’re doing. But recently, Distributions are now packaging the secure functions of SELinux into their respected distros.
From the LinuxInsider article, “In December 2000, researchers at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) working with Network Associates and MITRE released a B1 Class operating system to the public known as SELinux. Although many Linux professionals have heard of SELinux, few recognize that its heritage reaches back to the work of David Bell and Leonard LaPadula, work begun in 1973. Bell and LaPadula’s work helped define the criteria that make up the U.S. Government’s Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC).”
There is much attention focused by some of the more cutting edge distributions like Fedora Core, Gentoo and the beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4. The question becomes, will other distros follow? Should they follow? I think the answer is a definitive yes on this issue.? But if all distros flock to this standard will it lessen its importance? Perhaps. Perhaps it will become ‘run of the mill’ and assumed until the next big thing comes along. And perhaps it won’t.