Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Back page page.
Linux-driver.com aims to be a complete resource for people trying to get Linux running on particular hardware. There's the usual collection of HOWTOs and such; they are also aiming to get a collection of actual drivers together.
If you are looking for commercial Linux software, consider having a look at the Linux Product Guide. They have put together a nice database of commercial alternatives, including pricing information.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
September 30, 1999
Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
A number of this week's letters refer to this unpleasant article in the National Post.
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 12:45:10 -0700 From: Pascal Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: About LinuxOne I have been through the LinuxOne web site. A very interesting walk ! LinuxOne is founded and managed by a military industry and NASA executive veteran, a venture capital representative acting as CFO, a physicist & philosopher with MBAs in marketing and "high technology management", and a salesperson. The marketing VP is listed as the one with technology insight. The LinuxOne CEO expects to "rival Microsoft in its formative years", based on his own business plan. There seems to be no VP of engineering; the web site never talk about software developers, except in the "employment" page. They announce a "strategic relationship" with MandrakeSoft, to open a development center in China and release a Chinese version of Mandrake. It might be possible that their developers are in China. Why don't they talk about them ? They announce they will "place carefully selected software modules in the public domain [...] to encourage other companies to port their applications [...]", maybe confusing free software with public domain. They announce on September 9 that a beta release will be available for free download. Well.. "download" is either UPS or FedEx 8-}, and free is down to $9.95, from a listed standard price of $29.95. Could one be more excited with free software than that ? LinuxOne "plans to distribute the Apache server software to its customers", adding that the "Apache Group has [...] captured a significant portion of the server market". Sounds like they believe Apache is a commercial product, which will be ported to Linux and help them differentiate their products ? They announce high quality support, but there is no support organization to be found. They announce seminars, but there is no speaker's name listed. They will offer consulting services from "recognized experts in the Linux arena", but their employment page don't list any consultant position. They intend to develop and port application software. This may be a way to get out of the Linux distribution traffic jam. Which applications ? None of the managers claims to have experience in the application software arena. They seems to be interested with high availability, which make me think they are looking for big account business, a fit for their corporate background. This is a very Corporate America startup. Make me feel good about Red Hat. -- Pascal F. Martin.
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 19:19:25 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: mail-archive.com I implemented and run The Mail Archive (http://www.mail-archive.com) and want to share my experiences. The service was originally started to fulfill a personal need ("I waste too much time sorting my mail") about two years ago, and then evolved into a Internet service. Mail-archive.com runs on Linux and makes use of lots and lots of free software. The best engineering aspect was not having to re-invent the wheel. Because *nix software is programmer friendly, it was quite easy to tie things together. (And there were a lot of things! htdig, MHonArc, nmh, the system logging daemon, apache, cron, make, rpm, the GNU file utilities, and maybe more that I'm forgetting.) I was able to concentrate on the unique aspects of the service and not have to re-invent every little (or big) thing. Keeping the work simple and small was an enormous win. Also, the underlying software proved robust at all levels. I ended up putting millions of files on an ext2 partition, and processing an enormous number of emails (with varying degrees of compliance to IETF standards) through MHonArc. Everything has held up great, and I've seen my feedback incorporated into several pieces of software. Things run automatically and don't crash. In summary, it was possible to produce a quality service, on a hobbyist sized budget, with a hobbyist amount of development time. It wasn't dead trivial -- I have had to learn, from necessity, some things about performance tuning and system security. But I'm very happy to have avoided the all too common morass of complexity, expense, time, and poor reliability (I could easily see this service implemented with some expensive proprietary database and going downhill from there!) Thus far the service has supported hundreds of free software projects, including some that are well known. Blackdown's java-linux project, xmame, and the Linux-Mandrake distribution use our service for primary list archives. Both the arabic-linux and the linux-il mailing lists use the service; while it may be a bit much to expect peace in the Middle East through Linux, I take it as a good sign. Anyone involved with a free software project is welcome to help themselves to the archiving service. Also, anyone interested in creating similar services (like a quality online bug tracking service, hint, hint), consider yourself encouraged. Cheers, Jeff Breidenbach email@example.com
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 22:32:38 +0200 From: Bernd Paysan <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: GPL and "internal projects" (Corel beta) Lawyers should be able to read the GPL. It says especially in point 6 "6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [...]" This also covers "internal projects", which usually restrict rights of recipients of informations by NDAs or other contracts. These contracts are null and void if the information given to them is a GPL'd program - or the license to use the GPL'd program terminates immediately. Note that the GPL is an individual license (it talks about "the recipient"), thus the program isn't licensed to a company, but to persons. Moving a disk from cubicle 318 to cubicle 319 is a distribution in the terms of the license, and henceforth any restriction or limitations are null and void *and* cause the license to terminate. In other words: IMHO the current treatment of "internal projects" with modified GPL'd software are based on the goodwill of the participants, as nothing prevents them to redistribute the software they get under GPL. More so for less internal projects like a public beta test, where nobody risks getting fired. Note that there's a sort of "death penalty" in the GPL, point 4: "4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License." This means if you don't comply to the GPL, you don't have the right to use/modify/distribute any other GPL'd program. The attempt is sufficient, it doesn't need to be successful. I'm not for drastic measures, but Corel's lawyers should know that they did sort of "chop their own head off" by violating the GPL. -- Bernd Paysan "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself" http://www.jwdt.com/~paysan/
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 11:21:13 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com From: Seth Cohn <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Mwave nonsense Corrections from a former MWave user... > First, a small factual clarification. The modem in the tp600 may be > considered a WinModem, but the processing is done by an on-board DSP > chip (the MWave), not by the host processor. Further, your statement > that the lack of interface specs is what's holding back WinModem > compatiblity is also not true. In fact, IBM has refused to release specs for quite a while, except under NDAs, and Linux being what is it, developers refused to play that game, since it was a very proprietary system. Under Windows, Mwave caused nothing but problems, and was poorly supported by IBM and IBM licensees (most of who blamed IBM for the problems) > All important specs on the MWave are in > fact public (Linux driver writers have worked with a lot less). Untrue. Untrue for Windows drivers, Untrue for Linux. Raph's web site points to http://watson.mbb.sfu.ca/ as an Mwave site. This site's been down for a year or more, and it was always unofficial, but still much better support than anyone else ever gave. IBM refusal to release drivers was talked about in the Mwave support lists, over and over. 56K drivers existed, but weren't released for ages and ages (if ever) > From what I can tell, it would be fairly easy for IBM to make the > modem work under Linux. This is based on both familiarity with the > technical issues and some informal conversations with IBM'ers. The > software is already written and ships with Windows 9x. Agreed. They have the Mwave specs. They have the source. > If IBM were > unwilling to release it as free software, I don't think anyone would > fault them for releasing it as binary-only. Yes, we would. Binaries would suck, just as they did under Windows. Mwave was a good idea, and if you bought one early, you could upgrade from a 14.4 modem, all the way to a 33.6 or even 56K modem, just thru software. Voice features, Faxing, and other stuff was just a software package away. But IBM didn't understand Open Source yet, and they cut the throat of Mwave, even to the point where the _authors_ of the code couldn't send us copies of working code, because of fear someone 'higher' at IBM would discover they'd 'leaked' it, even though IBM never intended to distribute it at all. Searching for 'Mwave' and 'Linux', you'll find lots of warnings to stay away from Mwave. The only answers were workarounds like loading dos drivers for soundblaster clone usage, then warm rebooting into Linux. Seth Cohn
From: "Bermingham, Charles E." <email@example.com> To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com> Subject: National Post article Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 09:45:56 -0500 I just read the National Post article you pointed me at in your "daily" section. I have two comments: (1) Does this guy hold stock in Microsoft? Or is he simply a conservative business-man who has taken on the notion that the whole Linux world is a Communist plot? Ehter way, I found his commentary insulting and arrogant. Since it would not be effective or appropriate to respond to his commentary with this opinion, I'm just venting. I have no idea how one would even attempt to get anything across to a boor like this. (2) If the above isn't true, this guy is an eminently superb troll. And if that's the case, a pox on him. I guess I could make one more comment: I remember that in the early 1970's, a lot of conservative business-types and artist-types thought Woodstock was the funniest and stupidest thing imaginable, in public. Sometimes I wonder if, in private, these same people were making deals for the residuals in the back rooms? And if *that* is the type of person this is, I can only say: rats are shrewd, but people get tired of rats. That's why we create rat traps like anti-trust laws.
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 21:29:09 +0100 From: "Dirk A. Niggemann" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Anti-Corel Article in National Post Hi, I think I've noticed a disturbing tendency in editorials in some of the online computing press- I would like to hear what the editors of this publication think. One of your major roles, like many 'linux in the news' sites is to provide links to articles that may be of interest to the linux community. Unfortunately, I feel that this practice reveals of the great weakness of 'news portal' sites (Slashdot, I think being even more vuilnerable, due to the 'informal' nature of the reader population, and the fact that its links are largely reader-submitted.) - The slashdot effect can be very easily exploited by online publishers seeking to up their hitcount. I think that some online publications are placing an overly great emphasis on 'hit-count' as a measure of the 'success' of articles, and journalists and editors are exploiting the tendency of the linux community to keep a close eye on its representation in the media by publishing the equivalent of usenet 'trolls'. I think the authors of some articles are hoping to draw hits simply by publishing an inflammatory 'hey lets bash Linux/Unix/Free Software/Macs/etc....' article because they know: a) There is a core of linux advocates and fans who spend a lot of time looking through online news sites for linux articles, who will react strongly to any anti-linux article. b) These people will provide these llnks to linux-specific news sites. c) The linux news site will quickly publish the link, making it widely visible to the community. d) This will cause a 'slashdot effect' like stampede to their article, upping the hitcount before the article has even been read (and potentially discarded as time-wasting by the more astute of the community). e) Reader talkback will first be dominated by the 'L1NuX R00lZ' style of flamage. f) Any intelligent critiques of the of the article will be drowned out in the stream of random invective, effectively relieving the article's writer of posting and intelligent riposte/repy. g) The hitcount and amount of mail regarding the article make the article's writer look good witb their editor, independently of the article's quality. I think the National Post article you linked to, containing a bitter (and not very fact-filled) critique of Corel, with a few rather sharp digs aimed at Slashdot, Linus Torvalds, the Open Source Movement, and Mac users (Mac Users? hmmm.. this appears to be getting rather- scattergun) has all the needed characteristics of such a troll article- It is short on facts, long on biased opinions, and written in a tone precisely tuned to incite foam at the mouth of the less calm members of the linux community. I can easily accept that there are many people with strong opinions on this subject either way, but I do find it deplorable that some online publications are exploiting this to increase their visibility. Admittedly, the community is somewhat gullible on this, but it is a natural vulenrability that publishers are learning to exploit (increasing their 'ratings'- think banner ads here). I cannot suggest realistically that you should not publish links to such articles- (since they are a valuable source of 'how not to do PR for Linux') but at the same time I wish someone would take a closer look at this phenomenon (link-trolling?). Would the responsible publishers release their hit stats under some circumstances?. Are there 'pay-per-hit' or 'clickthrough-indpendent advertising-revenue' deals with publishers out there? How could you find out? I also suggest categorising certain articles as 'flamebait'. The main issue here is not with, say, the equivalent of the Mindcraft report or some of the critical 'installation nightmare' articles. I am looking more at the editorial side of the spectrum (such as Metcalfe's 'Open Sores' article) where there is a good chance the article's author is presenting their opininons to deliberately incite people (and atract them as a consequence). It seems, in cyberspace, you need to insult your audience to get good ratings. Scary. (The really odd thing is- the article actually mentions the slashdot effect. It's as if the author is _daring_ somebody to realize they're trolling.) Thanks, Dirk.
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 13:38:21 +1000 From: Matt Atterbury <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Anti-Linux pages Hi backpagers, I couldn't reach the anti-linux page http://members.home.com/drestinblack/linux (typo) maybe, but I could reach http://come.to/consortium. I really wouldn't know how to counter the arguments of Sawman, as there are no arguments, just a bunch of rabid anti-linux claims. If this is strongest "argument" s/he can put, I don't think pro-linux'ers have to worry about this person. Basically, this site is not even worth visiting to check out what s/he has to say (IMO), but that will probably only make you do just that! :-) m. -- -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- firstname.lastname@example.org "klaatu barada nikto"