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Project name: ND LINUX


A Linux distribution, often simply distribution or distro, is a member of the Linux family of
Unix-like computer operating systems. Such systems are built from the Linux kernel and
assorted other packages, such as the X Window system and software from the GNU project.
Distributions optimized for size tend to use more compact alternatives like busybox, uclibc or

Since the kernel and supporting packages are free software / open source, Linux distributions
have taken a wide variety of forms — from fully-featured desktop and server operating systems
to minimal environments such as typically for use in embedded systems, or for booting from a
floppy. Aside from certain custom software such as installers and configuration tools a "distro"
simply refers to a particular assortment of applications married with a particularly compiled
kernel, such that its "out-of-the-box" capabilities meets most of the needs of its particular end-
user base.

There are currently over three hundred Linux distribution projects in active development,
constantly revising and improving their respective distributions. One can distinguish between
commercially-backed distributions, such as Fedora (Red Hat), SUSE Linux (Novell), Ubuntu
(Canonical Ltd.) and Mandriva Linux and community distributions such as Debian and Gentoo.

In the early days, a would-be Linux user was required to be something of a Unix expert, not only
knowing what libraries and executables were needed to successfully get the system to boot and
run, but also important details concerning configuration and placement of files in the system.

Linux distributions began to appear soon after the Linux kernel was first used by individuals
outside the original Linux programmers. They were more interested in developing the operating
system than they were in application programs, the user interface, or convenient packaging.

Users were attracted to Linux distributions as alternatives to the DOS and Microsoft Windows
operating systems on the PC, Mac OS on the Apple Macintosh and proprietary versions of Unix.
Most early adopters were familiar with UNIX from work or school. They embraced Linux for its
stability, low cost, and for the availability of the source code for most or all of the software

The distributions were originally simply a convenience, but today they have become the usual
choice even for UNIX or Linux experts. Linux also has proven more popular in the server
market, primarily for Web and database servers, than in the desktop market.

A typical desktop Linux distribution comprises a Linux kernel, GNU tools and libraries,
additional software, documentation, a window system, window manager, and a desktop
environment. Most of the included software is free software/open-source software which is
distributed by its maintainers both as compiled binaries and in source code form, allowing users
to modify and compile the original source code if they wish. Other software included with some
distributions may be proprietary and may not be available in source code form.

Package management
Distributions are normally segmented into packages. Each package contains a specific
application or service. Examples of packages include a library for handling the PNG image
format, a collection of fonts, or a web browser.

The package is typically provided as compiled code, with installation and removal of packages
handled by a package management system (PMS) rather than a simple file archiver. Each
package intended for such a PMS contains meta-information such as a package description,
version, and "dependencies". The package management system can evaluate this meta-
information to allow package searches, to perform an automatic upgrade to a newer version, to
check that all dependencies of a package are fulfilled and/or to fulfill them automatically.

Although Linux distributions typically contain much more software than proprietary operating
systems, it is normal for local administrators to install software not included in the distribution.
An example would be a newer version of a software application than that supplied with a
distribution, or an alternative to that chosen by the distribution. If the additional software is
distributed in source-only form, this approach requires local compilation. However, if additional
software is locally added, the 'state' of the local system may fall out of synchronization with the
state of the package manager's database. If so, the local administrator will be required to take
additional measures to ensure the entire system is kept up to date. The package manager may no
longer be able to do so automatically.

Most distributions install packages, including the kernel and other core operating system
components, in a predetermined configuration. Few now require or even permit configuration
adjustments at first install time. This makes installation less daunting, particularly for new users,
but is not always acceptable. For specific requirements, much software must be carefully
configured to be useful, to work correctly with other software, or to be secure, and local
administrators are often obliged to spend time reviewing and reconfiguring assorted software.

Some distributions go to considerable lengths to specifically adjust and customize most or all of
the software included in the distribution. Not all do so. Some distributions provide configuration
tools to assist in this process. Note that such adjustments are typically site-specific and it is not
possible for anyone, including a distribution's designer, to configure the software provided to
meet individual requirements. As with all operating systems, Linux and its distributions require
its users/operators/owners to perform system administration. Linux distributors differ from most
operating system vendors in not claiming that "no administration is required." This honesty can
worry potential users who have been told otherwise in marketing claims of other operating

By replacing everything provided in a distribution, an administrator may reach a 'distribution-

less' state: everything was retrieved, compiled, configured, and installed locally. It is possible to
build such a system from scratch, avoiding a distribution altogether. One needs a way to generate
the first binaries until the system is self-hosting. This can be done via compilation on another
system capable of building binaries for the intended target possibly by cross-compilation.

Broadly, Linux distributions may be:

1. Commercial or non-commercial;
2. Designed for enterprise or for home usage;
3. Designed for servers, desktops, or embedded devices;
4. Targeted at regular users or power users;
5. General purpose or highly specialized toward specific machine functionalities, for
example firewalls, network routers, and computer clusters;
6. Designed and even certified for specific hardware and computer architectures;
7. Targeted at specific user groups, for example through language
internationalization and localization, or through inclusion of many music production or
scientific computing packages.

The diversity of Linux distributions is due to technical, organizational, and philosophical

variation amongst vendors and users. The permissive licensing of free software means that any
user with sufficient knowledge and interest can customize an existing distribution or design to
suit his or her own needs. Technical variations include support for different hardware devices
and systems or software package configurations. Other differences are motivated either by
technical decisions, philosophical or even historical reasons. Some distributions specialize in use
on desktops, servers or routers.

Some well-known Linux distributions include:

1. Slackware, one of the first Linux distributions, founded in 1993, and since then actively
maintained by Patrick J. Volkerding
2. Debian, a non-commercial distribution maintained by a volunteer developer community
with a strong commitment to free software principles
3. Ubuntu, a newly popular desktop distribution maintained by Canonical that is derived
from Debian
4. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, maintained by the American company of the same name,
which also provides a community version in the form of Fedora
5. CentOS, a distribution derived from the same sources used by Red Hat, maintained by a
dedicated volunteer community of developers.
6. Mandriva, a Red Hat derivative popular in France and Brazil, today maintained by the
French company of the same name
7. OpenSUSE, originally derived from Slackware, sponsored by the company Novell
8. Gentoo, a distribution targeted at power users, known for its FreeBSD Ports-like
automated system for compiling applications from source code
9. Knoppix, a Live CD distribution that runs completely from removable media and without
installation to a hard disk
10. Linspire, a commercial desktop distribution based on Ubuntu.

Distributions are organized into sections by the major distribution they are based on, or the
package management system they are based around.

1. Debian-based

 Knoppix-based

 Ubuntu-based

2. Gentoo-based

3. RPM-based

 Fedora-based
 Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based

 Others (RPM-based) such as SUSE

4. Slackware-based

 SLAX-based

SUSE Linux
A desktop-oriented Linux distribution supplied by Novell, Inc. SUSE is one of the most popular
distributions in Europe. Like Red Hat Linux, it is a large distribution on several CDs/DVDs. Free
Eval versions is available for the SUSE Linux Enterprise versions. It includes a multipurpose
configuration tool called YaST.

 OpenSUSE - A branch developed by the community and sponsored by Novell.

OpenSUSE maintains a strict policy of insuring all code in the standard installs will be
from Free/Libre/Open-Source Software solutions, including Linux kernel Modules.
Novell's enterprise Linux products are all based on the codebase that comes out of the
OpenSUSE project.
 SUSE Linux Enterprise Server - A server-oriented Linux distribution supplied by Novell,
Inc. and targeted at the business market.
 SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop - A desktop-oriented Linux distribution supplied by
Novell, Inc. and targeted at the enterprise market.
 SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time - A specialized version of the SUSE distribution from
Novell designed to support low latency for time critical operations.

OpenSUSE is a community project, sponsored by Novell, to develop and maintain a general

purpose Linux distribution. After acquiring SUSE Linux in January 2004, Novell decided to
release the SUSE Professional product as a 100% open source project, involving the community
in the development process. The initial release was a beta version of SUSE Professional 10.0 and
as of October 2007 the current stable release is OpenSUSE 10.3.
Beyond the distribution, OpenSUSE provides a web portal for community involvement. The
community assists in developing OpenSUSE collaboratively with representatives from Novell by
contributing code through the open Build Service, writing documentation, designing artwork,
fostering discussion on open mailing lists and in Internet Relay Chat channels, and improving the
OpenSUSE site through its wiki interface. Novell markets OpenSUSE as the best, easiest
distribution for all users.

Like most distributions it includes both a default graphical user interface (GUI) and a command
line interface option; it allows the user to select which GUI they are comfortable with (either
KDE or GNOME), and supports thousands of software packages across the full range of open
source development.


OpenSUSE has a lot of features which makes it distinct from other distribution such as

• AppArmor: gives certain applications rights based on how they run and interact with the
• YaST: a system management application which OpenSUSE uses as a Control Center.
• Xen, VirtualBox, K virtual machine and Qemu: virtualization software
• KDE (extended with such tools as Kickoff and KNetworkManager) a desktop
• GNOME: a desktop environment.
• Compiz Fusion: a 3D desktop that runs on XGL or AIGLX.
• Beagle: desktop search
• OpenOffice: productivity suite

Customization of SUSE distribution includes the following.

 Include RPM software that is not included by default

 Remove software that is included

 Edit software

 Personalize the distribution

 Standard settings for your country, company

 Fix any problems RPMs in the current OpenSUSE version.

The new distribution based on OpenSUSE is named “Malu Linux“. This new distribution is
developed in accordance with the new IT Policy of the Kerala State Government,
accentuating Free and Open Source software. “Malu Linux” comes in two flavors: The
Office Edition and Enterprise Edition. The office edition is aimed at Government Offices and
Schools while the Enterprise edition is purely for server purposes. Both the edition comes
with the bare minimum packages with the exception of all the server packages for Enterprise
edition. Both the edition comprises of an additional CD known as the Packager, which
contains all the required and optional packages that the user may find appealing on his/her

The aim of the new Linux distribution is to eliminate the cumbersome process of installation and
make it more users friendly as well as allow users to select the bare minimum package. The
Office editions are mainly aimed at offices as well schools and for novice users. While the server
edition as usual comes equipped for server purposes as well as for advanced users. The theme
behind the project is to minimize the dependency on proprietary software and help to make
people aware about Software freedom and Open Sources, which is the core concept in the Kerala
Government IT Policy. And C-DIT as a government organization is committed to abide by
government laws and is a major player for the state government in the IT arena of the State. The
Open Source Technology team along with the Free Software Foundation, Kerala Chapter is
mainly responsible for the propagating the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) concept in

The workflow for the above project can briefly summed up in following steps.

The following steps outline a normal work flow to build a package. These steps are repeated
more than once till a satisfiable outcome is obtained.

1. Install requirements

Identify and install all the required rpms. Rebuild the source rpms.

2. Configure build

Configure the build tool. There are some settings that have to be configured to match
local environment.

3. Create source directory

Create a directory somewhere that is accessible to root. This is the location where the
files used to build the package are put.

4. Get project source files

Get the project's source files necessary to build the package.
Most projects provide source files in compressed tarballs.

5. Create the spec file

Start the usual RPM creation process. Create a spec file for the package.

RPM spec files should be written according to the OpenSUSE Package Conventions.

6. Build the package

Build the package within the directory containing spec file, source, and patches are.

7. Test the package

Test the functionality of your package.

Among other customization, one major process is the localization of Operating System which
includes support for local languages and “Malu linux” support for Malayalam language is
provided which itself forms a major work.

Microsoft Windows have established itself very well within the home as well as office arena
although most of the users are using the pirated packages. The Microsoft as well other
proprietary software developers have influenced the users so much that its virtually impossible to
leave them out completely and go for the not fully developed or matured alternatives. The Open
Source communities have made rapid strides in various areas which the Microsoft and other
proprietary software dealers considered to be their fort. One such improvement is the support for
3D acceleration and virtual desktops. The “Malu Linux” uses Compiz and other 3D acceleration
tools that enables the Opens Source users also to be at the same level of satisfaction like others.
Since replacements for some proprietary software are still very behind the “Malu Linux” comes
equipped with some proprietary software like flash player, real player, acrobat reader etc,. and
codec such as the support for DVD, and other audio and video codec, Network drivers and
Video drivers such as the ATI and NVIDIA drivers.

Hardware Requirements

Malu Linux supports most PC hardware components. The following requirements should be met
to ensure smooth operation of Malu Linux:


Intel: Pentium 1-4 or Xeon

AMD: Duron, Athlon, Athlon XP, Athlon MP, Athlon 64, Sempron or Opteron
Main Memory

At least 256 MB; 512 MB recommended

Hard Disk Space

At least 500 MB for minimal system; 3 GB recommended for standard system

Sound and Graphics Cards

Supports most modern sound and graphics cards

Hardware Requirement for the Project “ Malu Linux”

Processor : Pentium IV or above

Hard Disk : 20GB or More ( IDE/SATA)

Memory : 256MB or Higher

Software Requirement

Operating System : OpenSUSE Linux with running RPM.

Tools : YaST2, Qt and Shell Scripts

Installation with YaST

Install Malu Linux™ system with YaST, the central tool for installation and configuration of
your system. YaST guides through the installation process and the basic configuration of the
system. During the installation and configuration process, YaST analyzes the current system
settings and hardware components and proposes installation settings based on this analysis. By
default, YaST displays an overview of all installation steps on the left hand side of the window
and provides online help texts for each step. Click Help to view the help text and Steps to switch
back to the overview. We can also adjust the settings if we want to fine-tune our system
according to our needs and wishes. Background information is provided where appropriate.