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Open source Nouveau graphics driver on the up

Following on from Fedora – always something of a pioneer amongst Linux distributions – Ubuntu is also now planning to merge open source Nvidia driver Nouveau into the kernel. Nouveau does significantly more than the old open source 'nv' driver, including 2D video acceleration on systems with recent GeForce chips and support for suspend to RAM (ACPI S3). 3D support (using the Gallium3D library) remains a distant dream – at least for now.

Although the open source Nvidia driver is already included in the Ubuntu repositories, it's to be officially premiered in the forthcoming LTS version, Ubuntu 10.04, code named "Lucid Lynx". There is also a feature request for Nouveau on openSUSE, but its status remains 'unconfirmed', and it's not clear what will become of it. Suse 11.3 is not scheduled to hit the streets until mid July 2010. It looks more likely that the noveau driver will be widely adopted with the news of its incorporation into the forthcoming Linux kernel 2.6.33.

openSUSE looks to be taking its leave of its faithful old graphics configuration tool Sax2, which is now no longer being maintained. In practice this almost certainly means the end of Sax2, especially with's automatic configuration getting ever better.

Elections at openSUSE and Fedora

Three new members, two community representatives and one Novell employee, have recently been elected to the five-man openSUSE board, where they will serve a two-year term. The board supports the decision making process within the community and promotes communication and interaction between the different areas of the openSUSE community. The group's fortnightly IRC meetings on the #opensuse-project channel on Freenode went public in mid November.

Elections are also taking place at Fedora, for the Fedora Board, Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo) and the Fedora Ambassadors Steering Committee (FAmSCo).

A name for Fedora 13 has now been chosen; the next release, scheduled for the 27th of April, 2010, will be called Goddard (after scientist Robert H. Goddard). Traditionally the new name always has a connection with the old, the link here being rocket science.

Off the beaten track

A little more off-beat is Linux distribution Ulteo, Mandriva founder Gaël Duval's new baby. The client-server system is based on Debian and Ubuntu and allows users to use both Linux and Windows applications via a browser. The latter are delivered using Windows Terminal Services. A CIFS or WebDAV server is responsible for data transfer over the network.

Zoom The Ulteo Virtual Desktop.

It's not just Linux land that's seen plenty of goings-on in recent weeks. FreeBSD 8.0, originally scheduled for a September release, finally came out in late November and included revamped WLAN, USB and NFS stacks. From this release onward, the ZFS file system, familiar from Solaris, is no longer designated as experimental.

FreeBSD-based free storage server FreeNAS has been forked. In future there will be a Linux offshoot going by the name of OpenMediaVault while iXsystems, a major FreeBSD developer, will also collaborate on the BSD version of FreeNAS.


Both Ubuntu and openSUSE are kicking off the next release cycle with a first alpha version. Ubuntu 10.4 Alpha 1 was released on the 10th December, while openSUSE 11.3 Milestone 1, scheduled for the 12th, has yet to arrive. There is good news for the KDE fans in the Ubuntu camp – Kubuntu 10.4 is to be an LTS (long term support) release. Plans to do this with the current 8.04 LTS version fell through as a result of the switch from KDE3 to KDE4.

The long-awaited LXDE Spin of Fedora has become available within the last few days. The lean version should have been released at the same time as Fedora 12, but a serious system-crashing bug discovered late in the day delayed this.

Zoom The LXDE variant of Fedora.

The movers and shakers at Fedora-based learning platform Sugar (known for their association with the One Laptop Per Child project) have now released version 2.0 of Sugar on a Stick. The portable Linux distro is specially designed for children and is also suitable for classroom use.


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