What's New on Calculate Linux (Feb 2012)

The new Browse Packages implementation

Lately, not only numerous packages have been replaced by newer versions, but also the Browse Packages service has changed. Before Calculate Linux 11.12, the system was updated from a Gentoo RSYNC mirror - that is, the Portage update and the overlay update did not always coincide. From now on, the main portage tree will be stored on Git and synchronized exactly at the same time as the Calculate overlay. All we did was to transfer the update source onto our server, but the impact was good: the browsing service should never again mark packages as available before they are actually included in Calculate Linux. Such descrepancies may seem trivial, but when a long-expected update comes to life (as with KDE 4.8), they tend to gain priority. In fact, any delays in processing the overlay were as yet due to testing and preparing binaries.

Note however that, since CL provides several profiles, while the package service shows the basic Gentoo masking, the masks it displays may sometimes differ from what is actually masked in Calculate.

Whatever it takes, though, Calculate remains 100% compatible with Gentoo, and you can revert to RSYNC syncing whenever (and if) you like: just remove the /usr/portage/.git directory. The default update procedures are now simultaneous, thus permitting to make new package versions available and resolve dependencies in time.

Calculate Tempates now available in the overlay

Calculate has never ceased to develop, and development means evolution as well as revolution. When something does not satisfy us any longer, we abandon it, no matter how strong the butthurt. Now I am thinking about our Calculate Templates; those are, let me remind you, the configuration files used to set up Calculate Linux. We were intentionally sticking to the calculate-templates package, in order to be able to:

  • guarantee that the syntax, the variables and the functions be fully compatible, since calculate-templates is related to the Calculate Utilities version;
  • easily port templates to other systems.

The well known contras were the following:

  • While calculate-templates was responsible for setting up other packages, it could be updated after them;
  • The templates’ updates were rather sparse, as they mirrored the package development. We had to patch the Calculate Utilities instead, and even to make unfinished versions available, when the fixes were too many.

Why now?

  • As we’ve recently migrated from Gitosys to Gitolite, we can now define access rights with more flexibility, on the directories’ level. It means that potential developers, should any more show up, will have easy access to the overlay.
  • eselect 1.3 now sees the Calculate Overlay profiles without any patches needed! This was what made us imagine new, uncommon solutions.
  • Basically, templates do the same thing as ebuilds: they are meant to configure packages, though in a more flexible way. We believe they should be kept together.

Switching to Gnome 3

Let’s face reality. Gnome 3 will be soon marked as stable in Portage, and Gentoo maintainers will have stopped supporting Compiz in a month. We could not ignore this, so the new Gnome is currently being tailored to the traditional Calculate Linux Desktop look. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Gnome 3 is perfect for such chops and changes, but we are working on it, we really are. We do not plan on forking gnome-shell, though (as it was done by Linux Mint), but will rather use the original source code and polish up the extensions.

Binaries now available for CLS and CMC

Calculate Scratch Server was the first to get binary repositories; Calculate Linux Scratch (our minimal desktop) and Calculate Media Center (the multimedia center) abided. To state things plainly, all CL versions now have binary updates available.

Following up Calculate User Map

A month ago, we launched the Calculate User Map service, so that any user could make themselves known to others. And we’re at the very beginning of it. The people you see on the site are pioneers of a new system, so to say! If you’re not on our map yet, you can add yourself anytime: all you need to do is register on the site and check the My Account page. Once you have located yourself on the map, you might even realize there’s another CL user living next door…

A growing French community

Once many man pages were translated into Russian (this was done, indeed, by my very humble self), we have been working hard to promote Calculate Linux among the French. Our new multichannel Web IRC Chat, especially the FR channel, was implemented because the French community really needed it. French-speaking forums and a maillist in French were created as well and will, or so we hope, become quite popular (should you be interested, please check here and here). What’s more, we’ve finally started translating various Calculate documentation into French. If you would like to contribute, feel free to join in :wink:

Calculate Linux 11.14 and 12 coming soon

As you can see, this time we’re not versioning the distribution after the month when it was released: Calculate 11.14 will be the next and then followed by a major release, Calculate Linux 12. This shouldn’t confuse you. We just wanted to make clear that we are not bringing in anything revolutionary yet. That’s why we will not be releasing CL 12 immediately, even though CL 11.14 is sure to include Gnome 3 - which is big change indeed.

We firmly believe that Calculate Utilities 3 will be the key news for Calculate Linux 12. Namely, a freshly (re)baked installer will be ready for the release. Calculate 3 will feature a new client-server solution and provide full functional compatibility between the GUI version and the console version of each utility.

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