I sometimes suspect that there are people in the world who think the first three letters of the Greek alphabet are Alpha, Beta and RC. We are well into another major release cycle of Linux distributions, and things are getting interesting. As I sit here, installing the latest Mepis RC on another computer (the dm1), and thinking about the fact that I wrote this article once already, and it got lost in the move to the new ZDNet UK, I figure I have time to more or less reproduce it. But of course, things have moved along in the week since I last posted it, so here we go again...
The biggest news in this release cycle is that almost everyone is going to Linux kernel 2.6.32. That's a big jump, since most of them were running 2.6.28 or earlier in their current releases. That's not just a matter of numbers, it is an indication of development, design, improvement, and device/peripheral support. Another area of note is that the distributions which include the KDE desktop are mostly updating to KDE 4.4, which is really starting to show why the KDE developers went through so much pain with the change from KDE 3.5. X.org has also been updated, in particular the open source drivers for ATI and nVidia graphic cards are now much more complete, and much more powerful. There's lots more, of course, but my objective here isn't to make an exhaustive list, it is to say that good things are coming, and lots of them, so keep your eyes open.
Here is a brief list of where some of the major Linux distributions are today, and what their schedules are supposed to be, in roughly chronological order:
- SimplyMEPIS: just released 8.5 RC3, and honestly the pre-releases have been so good, for so long, that the final release can't be far away now. It loads easily and works fine on everything I have around here.
- easypeasy: currently on release 1.6 Beta. This is an Ubuntu Netbook Remix derivative specifically optimized for the Asus eeePC.
- Ubuntu: 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) Beta 1 is due out today, final is due the end of April.
- Fedora: recently released 13 Alpha, final is due in early May.
- Mandriva: currently on 2010.1 Alpha 3, final due in early June. However, they haven't been doing too well hitting their schedule, so don't be surprised if this one doesn't show up until July.
- openSuSE: currently on 11.3 milestone 3, final due in mid-July. It seems to me that this one has a long way to go, because I can't get it to load and run on anything yet. But then I haven't tried very hard, because it is so early.
- PCLinuxOS: surprise! Just as a lot of people were starting to wonder if this one was defunct, up pops a fresh development version. Currently on 2010 Beta 2. I haven't seen a firm schedule for the final release, but it will likely be by summer, and could be a lot sooner.
It's going to be a fun and interesting few months!