Mandriva Readies Linux 2008 Editions for October
Published: September 25, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Commercial Linux distributor Mandriva is getting set to put its next Linux releases out after six months of development and testing. With the upcoming Mandriva Linux 2008, the company will not only roll in new features for the Linux kernel and the various open source programs that ride on top of it to make up a Linux system, but it will also cut back on the number of editions it has from four to three, simplifying its product line a bit.
Mandriva Linux is created through an open source development project called Cooker, which has been in existence since 1998. The Cooker project is analogous to Red Hat's Fedora project and Novell's openSUSE project, and the hundreds of developers who work on the project provides a free Mandriva Linux instance suitable for desktops or servers that has no proprietary software embedded in it. This time around, this entry, purist Linux will be called Mandriva Free Linux 2008, which will be available on Mandriva's mirror sites when the product family ships in October.
A beefier edition of the future Mandriva Linux, which does by necessity include proprietary drivers for video cards, disk controllers, and other closed-source programs (by necessity until the vendors of these products open up their code, that is), is called Mandriva Linux One 2008. This Mandriva edition will be distributed on a single CD and will include access to 16,000 Linux programs that are available through the Mandriva Web site.
The top-end edition is called Mandriva Linux Powerpack 2008, and it is the combination of what were formerly known as the Mandriva Discovery edition and the Powerpack add-ons for power users. This is the most advanced desktop that Mandriva creates, and it also includes all of the server and middleware components necessary for application development workstations and production server environments. Linux Powerpack 2008 is the commercial edition that Mandriva will push companies to pay for, of course, since it is the most complete and it does have full tech support. Mandriva will sell this support through its Web site in October, and is promising "a new attractive price." Boxed versions in localized languages are expected to follow soon thereafter, and will be sold by Mandriva and its reseller partners.
Mandriva Linux 2008 went into beta testing on August 8, and had two release candidates in September--the first on September 5 and the second on September 21. The software includes AMD's proprietary ATI 8.41.7 graphics drivers, which is used for its Radeon graphics cards; the open source radeonhd drivers are also included, but it is new and not thoroughly tested yet. The latest release candidate had a bunch of patches to the Linux kernel for supporting ATA peripherals and support for high-definition audio cards, which had some bugs. The distribution also includes the final Gnome 2.20 graphical user interface, tweaks to the urpmi and rpmdrake package management systems, and over 500 bug fixes since RC1 was launched on September 5.
Mandriva Linux 2008 is based on the Linux 2.6.22 kernel, which has a lot of changes for supporting new hardware (such as quad-core X64 processors) since Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring shipped earlier this year with the Linux 2.6.17 kernel. In addition to the new kernel, Mandriva Linux 2008 includes support for the AppArmor application security extensions that have been made available to the open source community by Novell after it acquired AppArmor two years ago. The 2008 editions of Mandriva's Linux will also include support for the KDE 3.5.7 graphic user interface as well as experimental preview support for KDE 4. The Compiz Fusion 3D graphics software, which is the result of the merger of the Compiz and Beryl 3D projects, is also included.
On the server front, and perhaps most importantly, all server packages have been rebuilt and recompiled with the fstack-protector-all option in the GNU GCC compilers turned on to provide protection against buffer overflows. Also, when servers are set up, the default setting will be to disable remote access to the machines; all prior Mandriva Linuxes enabled this and then administrators had to remember to turn it off if they wanted to lock down a machine.
Mandriva Linux 2008 is supported on 32-bit X86 and 64-bit X64 processors. Mandriva has shown no inclination to support Power, MIPS, mainframe, or Itanium processors, although Mandriva did create a special variant of its Linux for high performance computing two years ago for the French government's Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA). The atomic agency had bought a 40 teraflops cluster made from Itanium-based SMP servers manufactured by Bull, and obviously wanted to use an indigenous Linux to support its applications on the system, nicknamed Tera10.
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