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No worries: head of MEPIS Linux is fine

Users of the popular Linux distribution MEPIS were getting worried about the distribution’s leader, who had been rather quiet lately.

Some Linux distributions — Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Novell, for example — have thousands of people working on them over the course of a month. Others, like MEPIS, have one developer, and users of the popular Linux desktop distribution were getting worried when Warren Woodford, MEPIS’s CEO, had been laying low for the last month.

Usually, Woodford is an amazingly productive Linux developer. His MEPIS distribution is well-regarded and has tens of thousands of users. He keeps in touch with them via the main MEPIS Web site and by the community site, MEPISLovers. Since Woodford released the last beta of MEPIS 7, MEPIS 7.0 Beta5, Woodford had been quiet. Too quiet for the peace of mind for some MEPIS Linux users.

Some of them began to worry that he was in ill health. As one member of the MEPISLovers site wrote to me, “The general tone is that he’s gravely ill and that MEPIS is going the way ‘Libranet’ went.” Libranet was a one-time popular Linux distribution. After the death of its founder, Jon Danzig, in June 2005, the distribution struggled on for a time under his son Tal, but eventually went under.

The truth, however, has nothing of tragedy in MEPIS’s case — and everything of the mundane. Linux-Watch was able to reach Woodford. He said, “I’m fine. MEPIS was slowed down, because I finally had to reenter the workforce as a consultant in order to pay the bills. I can net more in two weeks of consulting, then in a year with MEPIS.”

That doesn’t mean he’s stopped work on MEPIS by any means. “I have Beta 6 in the mirrors and I will issue a press release soon. Next week, I will have a corporate apartment near my client and then I will be able to resume a regular development schedule for MEPIS. I hope to go final very quickly, maybe around Thanksgiving.”

This version of MEPIS is a return to its Debian roots. The last edition, version 6.5, was built around Ubuntu. However, Woodford didn’t care for how packages were being maintained for older versions of Ubuntu, so he decided to go back to Debian and use Debian 4.0 for the basis of his distribution.

The ISOs and deltas for 32- and 64-bit processors are now available from the testing directory at the MEPIS subscriber site and public mirrors. The current pre-release, beta 6, includes updates that include KDE 3.5.8, Linux kernel 2.6.22.10, and Skype 1.4.0.118. Additionally, icaclient 10.6, which enables Linux to work with Citrix’s WinFrame and Presentation Server, had been added to the MEPIS pool. The first release candidate is scheduled to be released around Nov. 10 and a second release candidate around the 17th of the month. The final release is, as Woodford said, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 24.

So, there you have it. Woodford and MEPIS are both fine. It is, however, a bit sad that even an excellent Linux distribution, if it doesn’t have a large company behind it, can’t support its founder.

A version of this story was first published in DesktopLinux.

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