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Development projects

All roads lead to SourceForge. A substantial part of Larry Augustin's LinuxWorld keynote was devoted to SourceForge. And rightly so: since its launch in November, SourceForge has grown to host over 1600 projects and [SourceForge] almost 10,000 developers. That list grew impressively again when it was announced that the KDE and CMU Sphinx projects were also moving over to the site.

Why has SourceForge been so successful? It seems that VA Linux clearly saw a gap in the infrastructure available for open source development projects. It is not sufficient to have the source in the open; a living project needs source repositories, bug tracking systems, high-bandwidth download capability, mailing lists, a web presence and more. SourceForge provides all of this via a combination of well-written (open source) software, heavy-duty hardware, and massive bandwidth. Developers who move their projects to SourceForge can concentrate on development; SourceForge makes much of the rest just happen.

SourceForge sounds like a great thing, and it is. But there is one aspect of it that is a cause for concern. Linux and the Internet are, by nature, distributed beasts and better for it. SourceForge has just created, instead, the greatest concentration of free software development that has ever existed. What happens if something goes wrong with SourceForge?

And a lot of things could go wrong. Earthquakes. Crackers. VA Linux Systems goes out of business. Or VA gets acquired by a company that does not share VA's good intentions. Or Larry Augustin retires to Mongolia and is replaced by Steve Ballmer. With the latter scenarios, it is a little disturbing to note that SourceForge's terms of service can be changed at any time without notice. Essentially, SourceForge reserves the right to do anything without telling its users.

SourceForge also has no posted privacy policy (the TOS mentions one, but it's not there - they tell LWN that one is in the works). The value of the SourceForge registration database and mailing lists alone make that lack a bit worrisome. Some of the free mailing list services on the net have done some pretty unethical things with the lists they host. VA's current motives are not in doubt, but companies can change; imagine a scenario where Dell decides to push VA out of the market, VA's stock drops to $7/share, Larry Augustin is shown the door, and a slash-and-burn CEO replaces him. It's not that far-fetched. What then becomes of SourceForge?

Be it by spam, vandalism, natural disaster, or corporate unpleasantness, SourceForge presents a number of scenarios by which free software development, or at least a large portion of it, could be shut down - at least for a while. What the open source development community needs is competition for SourceForge. This statement can be made without criticising SourceForge or VA Linux Systems in any way. One can say "complementary sites" if "competition" does not sit well. But concentrating this much of the free software development process in one spot - any spot - is asking for trouble.


Netscape may release Mozilla M14 as a branded product. Jim A. Roskind of Netscape posted this note describing Netscape's thoughts for the M14 release. If all goes well, and the number of "beta stopper" bugs can be brought to a minimum, M14 will go out as the first real "Netscape branded" release of the Mozilla browser. After nearly two years, the Mozilla project may be on the verge of realizing its promise. Expect to be hearing a lot more about Mozilla in the near future.


Linux Knowledge Base alpha release. The Linux Knowledge Base Project has announced the alpha release of its site. Check it out and give them feedback on what you see.

Linux Knowledge Base LinuxWorld report. Here is this week's news report from the Linux Knowledge Base project. It takes the form of a report from the LinuxWorld conference. "To be honest, I was rather surprised just how easy it was to get people interested in collaborating together. It really was amazing to me how everyone I talked to wanted to work with us for the benefit of the Linux community. This isn't the same cut-throat world that so many in the Windows world are so painfully aware of." The poor folks also talk about the misfortune of being placed next to the SCO booth.

Linux in Education Report. Here is this week's Seul-EDU Linux in education report. Integration of various education tools seems to be a theme this week, along with a mention of the new K12 Linux site.

LPI Certification has taken a step forward with the announcement of the completion of the merger with Digital Metrics. This merger gives the LPI access to all of Digital Metrics' exam questions. It also gives those who have obtained certification from Digital Metrics a path toward completion of LPI certification.

The LPI has also picked up Maxspeed as a platinum sponsor.


GLHeretic for Linux 1.0. The first stable release of this port of DOS-Heretic has been announced. "The game runs on Linux/x86, Linux/m68k, Linux/Alpha, FreeBSD, Netwinder, SCO-Unix, and other UNIX machines. "

On the Desktop

The AbiWord Weekly News. Here is the first edition of the AbiWord Weekly News. Top news this week: a surge of downloads for the new edition and another prize: Show Favourite in the Office Suite category from last week's LinuxWorld. Some development news and project of the week items are included as well.

LinuxWorld Gimp status report. Dennis Tenney sent in a brief report on Michael J. Hammel's talk on the Gimp at LinuxWorld this week:

Michael J. Hammel presented a summary of Gimp's past, present and future at the LinuxWorld trade show in New York city on February 3, 2000. The immediate future is a stable 1.2 release in about March or April. This release added too many features, improvements, and just plain cool stuff to list (I took three pages of notes).

Active development is ongoing on the Gimp Hollywood. Developers include folks actively working inside the Hollywood film industry.

The Gimp project is looking for people to help with translation into various languages as they move toward a stable 1.2 release (based on the 1.1 development series). Help is needed with most middle European languages, Japanese and others.

GNOME summary. Havoc Pennington's Gnome Summary for February 2 came out too late for last week's LWN. ome of the news for the week: the Australian Research Council is funding work on a Haskell binding for GNOME, the GNOME Sysadmin Guide is off to a good start, Gnumeric zoom has been implemented, plus documentation, help system and Nautilus news and more.

KDE moves to SourceForge. For those wanting to know more, the KDE project has put up a small FAQ about the move. The main part of the KDE project that is moving to SourceForge is the CVS repository; the FTP server may also move at some point. The web site (www.kde.org) and other resources are staying put for now.

Mosfet at LinuxWorld. More KDE news and development information can be found in Mosfet's report from his trip to LinuxWorld.

Search Engines

udmsearch news. Kir Kolyshkin wrote to us to provide the latest udmsearch news:
We are now reached version 3.0.2. It's still beta but proves usable, although not rock-solid. The major improvement in 3.0 is threaded indexer (implemented only on FreeBSD by now), which was achieved by massive code rewrite.

We are also making first steps to divide the data between few SQL servers in order to share the load between it. This will allow to build relatively big but still fast search system. The feature is not yet ready, but so far we implemented so-called "multidict" mode using MySQL, which improves search speed even in traditional configuration (with one SQL server).

Other improvements include ability to mirror any sites while indexing, InterBase support and of course, there are some speed improvements and bugfixes. And now we have a new cool-looking website (http://mysearch.udm.net) thanks to ram@izhcom.ru.

Website Development

Midgard 1.2.6-beta2 released. Version 1.2.6-beta2 of the Midgard application server platform has been released.

The path to Zope Zen has been nicely laid out in How-To: Gain Zope Enlightenment By Grokking Object Orientation, posted by Chris McDonough on the Zope.org site. "If you're a nonprogrammer or a programmer who has only a passing understanding of object orientation, this document is for you. If you're an 'OO zealot' already, it's not going to be very helpful. Go watch television instead."

Zope Weekly News for February 9th. This week's Zope Weekly News announces Zope 2.1.4, a bugfix release that has security implications and is therefore recommended.


The latest Wine Weekly News is from February 7. The big news appears to be the opening of Corel's CVS server containing its latest Wine enhancements. This development should help to speed Wine's progress by allowing work to move more freely between Corel's version and the official Wine project.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

February 10, 2000

Project Links
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Development tools


Upcoming Java 2 versions submitted. Sun has announced that it has submitted its "Java 2 Enterprise Edition" and "Java 2 Standard Edition" to the "Java Community Process" program. "With this announcement, the Java Community Process program is further strengthened as a sound and successful community-based model for evolving Java technology."


The Perl Journal. The latest edition of The Perl Journal (subscription only) focuses on poetry. A table of contents is available.

Perl 5.6 beta1. A new development release of Perl, version 5.6 beta1, has been announced. Details on the changes in this release may be found in the release notes.


A review of the Python Essential Reference by David Beazley has been posted by Danny Yee. "Given that the online documentation is functionally very similar, however, I suspect that only those with a preference for printed documentation will end up using it as a reference."

Here is Dr. Dobb's Python-URL for February 7. It covers the latest in the Python world, and points out some Python poetry...

And here is the Python-URL! for February 3, which arrived too late for last week's LWN. It contains some reminders about upcoming competitions and conferences, links to reports back from the Python conference, ActivateState's decision to join the Python consortium, and a selection of recently released software and books.


TclX (extended Tcl) 8.2.0 has been released, see the announcement for details.

Here is this week's Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL with an extensive rundown of recent developments in the Tcl/Tk world.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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