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E.3. Distributions

There are two major multiplatform distributions of Linux available for m68k. They include kernels that can handle most, if not all, of the supported hardware:

Debian (http://www.debian.org)

Debian is the only multiplatform distribution that officially supports Linux/m68k. Debian 2.1 was the second Debian release to include Linux/m68k packages and installation tools; this release, with more than 860 MB of compressed package files, is almost certainly the largest distribution of free software for 680x0-based systems ever produced.

Debian is developed by a worldwide team of volunteers, and the Debian/m68k team is in many respects a microcosm of this structure, including members from Europe and North America working on Amigas, Ataris, Macs, and VMEbus systems.

Two commercial distributions, Whiteline Linux/68k and Eagle Linux M68K, have been based on the 2.0 Debian release, and may be updated for 2.1. In addition, the official Debian CD-ROMs are reproduced and sold by more than two dozen vendors worldwide, for between U.S. $5 and $20 for a two CD-ROM binary-only set, and the complete distribution can be downloaded for free from Debian's worldwide mirror network.

Additional information specific to Debian/m68k can be found at http:// www.debian.org/ports/m68k/.

In addition, there are two commercial distributions from Germany that are based on older versions of Debian:

Whiteline (Atari)

http://www.atari-world.com/dlm/linux.htm

Eagle (Amiga)

http://www.eagle-cp.com/www/m68k.html

Red Hat (http://www.redhat.com)

While Red Hat Software does not officially support Jes Sørensen's m68k port of its distribution, it is available on CD-ROM from the company as part of its Rough Cuts package. Red Hat for m68k releases generally follow the official releases by Red Hat Software. The current m68k release, as of this writing, is Version 5.1; a beta release of 5.2 is also available for testing, which features Red Hat's Xconfigurator program to simplify configuration of the X Window System. Like Debian, the distribution is available on CD-ROM from several vendors and can be downloaded via FTP from sites in the United States, Italy, and Denmark. The unofficial Red Hat port comes with an installer for Amigas; Atari and Mac users have reported some success with manual installations. More information can be found in Ron Flory's unofficial Red Hat installation FAQ at http://www.feist.com/~rjlory/linux/rh/index.html.

The choice of distribution is largely a matter of taste; generally, people who run Debian on one system will want to run it on others, and the same goes for Red Hat. If you've never used Linux before, however, the choice can be somewhat daunting (and one us early hackers never had to face). Debian certainly has the edge in package availability, although its increasing size does make it more cumbersome to install. The commercial distributions from Germany may be of interest if you can take advantage of their technical support (which means you probably would find a strong knowledge of German helpful).

However, Debian and Red Hat for m68k can be purchased for much less than you'd spend to buy Red Hat's official package for Intel, so you may want to try them both. In any event, there is a wide user base for both noncommercial distributions, which is more than willing to help users with their questions.



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