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ComputerWorld has put up this article about the merger of the Linux Standard Base project and the Linux Internationalization Initiative. "Some industry observers have long predicted a splintering of Linux into incompatible versions, but most analysts agree that there have been few signs of that so far. There have, however, been some serious compatibility problems - the most notable when Linux was switched to a different set of C libraries a few years ago."

ILOVEYOU - Apache Hack

CNN has reprinted a Nicholas Petreley article from LinuxWorld on the ILOVEYOU virus. "Put bluntly, most developers in the Linux community would not be stupid enough to create a program as insecure and dangerous as Outlook. And if anyone were foolish enough to do so in the open source community, such a design would not be likely to survive the peer review it would receive." (Thanks to Jay R. Ashworth).

Focusing primarily on the recent Apache hack and ILOVEYOU virus, Raju Mathur talks about the downside of standards, at least as far as security is concerned. "For example, the teardrop, boink and other ping of death attacks were so successful precisely because they exploited a standard: the Internet Protocol (IP, commonly mis-referred to as TCP/IP) stack."

News.com covers the break-in at apache.org. "Because of the comparatively mild damage and the fact that the intruders told Apache how their attack worked, Apache termed them 'white hats'--helpful hackers, not the more malicious 'black hat' category."

Legal Issues

Lawrence Lessig talks about the value of open source and the questionable value of software patents in this interview, subtitled The Democratic Promise of Open Source and the Patents that Might Drag it Down . "It is true that there hasn't been a legal test to GPL, but it is not fair to suggest that GPL is vulnerable to a legal test. One reason the absence of a legal test is a good sign is that in fact GPL does rest upon a pretty good legal foundation, which the Free Software Foundation, founded by Richard Stallman, has prepared a legal defense for." (Thanks to Phil Austin.)

Bruce Perens has put up an editorial on Technocrat about how free software will be hurt by those using tools like Napster to bootleg music. "...the widespread bootlegging of music by Napster users justifies, in many people's eyes, the way we're being prosecuted over our free software DVD players... I compare it to Tiananmen square. We are enjoying the short dance of freedom before governments come in with heavy weapons. And the worst thing about it is that we are giving them a good reason to do so."

This brief Newsbytes article looks at the ongoing battle between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and MPAA over DVD encryption. "While the MPAA and others say that the DVD encryption codes are trade secrets and should be treated as such, the EFF contends that not only do the DVD protocols not meet the minimum standard for 'trade secrets', but that the Website postings are a clear example of constitutionally protected free speech."


Tim O'Reilly writes about the Linuxcare layoffs; the result is a lengthy article on how he thinks the free software services business will really go. "Linuxcare's initial business model involved a great deal of reliance on phone-based tech support and other low level services; they are now repositioning themselves for higher-level professional services such as creating private label versions of Linux. They are absolutely right to think bigger. The service opportunity is immense, but it isn't necessarily in the obvious places."

Upside reports on the layoffs at Linuxcare. "Such a purge was hardly unexpected, especially given last month's pulled IPO following the surprise dismissal of CEO Fernand Sarrat and resignation of chief information officer Doug Naussaur. With prospects of outside investment dwindling, executives need to minimize overhead or risk running out of cash."

Here's an E-Commerce Times article about the end of Linux stock mania, with an emphasis on events at Linuxcare. "Some analysts have pointed out that although Linux-related stocks have returned to more appropriate levels, Linux market share has actually continued to grow. Once Linuxcare gets its house in order, it could still expect a strong offering." (Thanks to Jay R. Ashworth).

LinuxPlanet has chimed in with this column on the troubles at Linuxcare. "Within the Linux community there is sometimes an outright dismissal of sales as an important component of every commercial concern. There are some who feel that Linux and Open Source is above such mundane concerns; something so superior like Linux and Open Source shouldn't be sullied by the muck of the commercial world. But guess what: the bazaar actually exists, and a company like Linuxcare needs to realize that it needs to play by the rules of the bazaar, not by the rules of the cathedral."

Here's a Reuters article on the Linuxcare layoffs. "Linux industry sources said that the company's venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is shopping the company, with the two most likely purchasers speculated to be Red Hat Software Inc. and VA Linux Systems Inc."

News.com reports on the layoffs at Linuxcare. "The layoffs affected all parts of the company except the core programming 'gurus,' Pat Lambs, head of the office of the chief executive, said in an interview today. No future layoffs are planned, she added."

Embedded Linux

The O'Reilly Network looks at Linux tools for the Palm Pilot. "The tools included in the pilot-link package over many different services, all command-line oriented. Be aware that some of them are experimental, so it's a really good idea to back up your Palm before using them."

Also on the O'Reilly Network: this article about the "Yopy," a Linux-based PDA that is supposed to come out real soon now. "The derivation of the name Yopy is as nebulous as the device itself. One reporter claims it is Korean slang for 'young and full of cash.' The official GMATE web site says that it means 'spirit of young and intelligent who want speedy usage of multimedia function through a PDA.' You decide for yourself."

Here are two articles from the Wireless Developer Network:
This one about Microwindows, a small X-Windows for embedded Linux, and this one about Linux7k, for handheld devices.

News.com covers Lynx Real-Time Systems' name change to "LynuxWorks." "Changing names, though, will take less time than changing the company's business model. It will be at least two or three years before the company's revenue from Linux surpasses that of the proprietary LynxOS, chief executive Inder Singh said in an interview."

LinuxDevices takes a look at the transformation of Lynx Real Time Solutions into Lynux. "According to Singh, some customers who are initially interested in LynxOS move to BlueCat Linux, some go the other way, and some actually decide to use both. The result of this dual-OS strategy, says Singh, is the ability to meet the needs of more applications and, consequently, more customers."

Upside ran this look at Lineo. "For the last six months, the Caldera Inc. spinoff has played corporate Pac Man, gobbling up smaller companies at a pace of one acquisition per month. Lineo, which makes Embedix, is pushing to broaden its technology and engineering base."

The Salt Lake Tribune writes about the recent investments in Lineo. "Lineo has hired more than 140 people since September and now employs about 160. It also has bought six small Linux companies, including one in Japan and one in France, so far this year."


Here's a LinuxMall.com article looking at the cutbacks at Wide Open News. "VA Linux and Red Hat are not the only Linux companies clipping on press passes to attract visitors to their site. LinuxMall.com, the largest online retailer of Linux distributions, applications and various merchandise, started an original content news site in March and intends to spin that news content site off as a separate but affiliated news site, LinuxNews.com."

Red Hat has laid off most of the "Wide Open News" team, according to this News.com article. "The Wide Open site will remain on the Web, but in a less ambitious form. The site will be populated with stories from a handful of syndicated news partners..."

Here's an article on LinuxMall.com about a supercomputing project in Sweden. "[Terrence] Brown's group has a multifaceted approach aimed at tying clustering efforts together. 'We are creating a new Linux distribution (and tools) that will allow anyone to easily create a general purpose supercomputer--a Vanilla Beowulf--without being a Linux programming expert,' Brown said."

ComputerWorld reports on software smugglers - people who slip unapproved operating systems into corporate settings. "At first glance, many information technology managers from traditional backgrounds recoil in horror at the thought of open-source operating systems. The freewheeling exchange of source code seems like a recipe for total chaos, and every IT manager knows that preventing chaos is the most important part of the job."

Here's a Reuters article casting doubt on the chances of the Corel/Inprise merger happening. "'I would guess that there is a less than 50 percent probability the deal will go through,' said Duncan Stewart, fund manager at Tera Capital Corp."

This ZDNet article looks at whether a split-up Microsoft would port Office to Linux. "Many Linux supporters said they doubt whether an applications spin-off from Microsoft, given its Windows-oriented corporate culture, would be willing to port Office to a rival operating system."


LinuxDevices has published a whitepaper by Cornelius "Pete" Peterson, President and CEO of NETsilicon, Inc., on the coming of age of universal device networking. "Highly integrated system-on-chip (SOC) integrated circuits, low-cost networking, Linux, and the Internet are key enablers of what surely represents a significant "phase transition" in the evolution of modern technology."

SecurityFocus takes a look at Network Address Translation (NAT), and the firewalling features present in Linux to build a basic Linux firewall. "The latest versions of the Linux kernel are not necessarily the most stable and reliable versions that have been made available. If your machine does not need the latest drivers, download and install a reliable, stable, well tested kernel; kernel 2.0.38 is known to be all three."

Joseph Pranevich addresses the reports that the 2.4 kernel is late in this LinuxToday column. "The traditional world of commercial software loves release dates and release announcements. Often, products are announced months (occasionally, years) before they are actually released with dates and feature lists that are occasionally wholly inaccurate. Open Source projects, as a general rule, don't make these kinds of announcements."

LinuxPapers has a new article on Installing Linux. "Installing Linux has for a long time been considered 'difficult'. This is due mainly to its history: the first Linux distributions had extremely basic installation tools, that pre-supposed a substantial amount of technical knowledge, especially about hardware. Fortunately, today the situation is drastically different. "

This week's Linuxcare Dear Lina column talks about setuid shell scripts. "For instance, if any temporary files are created or read, a malicious user could exploit a race condition, change the contents of the file, and take control of the script. Another potential danger can arise if the shell programmer becomes careless with command arguments. In this case, dear, the script could accidently spawn an interactive shell. Eek!..."

Machine Design has put up an introductory article, which is available in PDF format only. It's reasonably positive, though it dwells overly on "fragmentation" issues. There's also a survey of available design software. (Thanks to Robert K. Nelson).

Reviews and Interviews

Mark Minasi has written a book entitled, "The Software Conspiracy: Why Software Companies Put Out Faulty Products, How They Can Hurt You, and What You Can Do About It". Bryan Pfaffenberger takes a look at the premise of the book in this LinuxJournal article. "Flash back to the 1950s, and take a look at the average new car produced by one of Detroit's "Big Three" auto makers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler). You'd see lots of cool features: big, gutsy V-8 engines, flashy chrome bumpers, and (in 1957, anyway) fins that made the cars look like low-flying rockets.

If you owned one of these monsters, though, you'd discover another, less-appealing characteristic: shoddiness. The cars were riddled with defects and needed frequent repairs. They weren't safe, either, and they were murder on the environment." (Thanks to Kevin Cullis.)

AboutLinux reviews IBM's TopPage for Linux. "I originally intended this review to be fairly short; but the more I used TopPage the more I wanted to write about it. I had to stop myself before this review turned into another manual for TopPage; after all, the one provided by IBM is already pretty good :-) If you are getting the impression that I liked TopPage for Linux, you would be right."

SunWorld has finally gotten around to looking at The Cathedral and the Bazaar. "The paper is fascinating, but the slight trouble with it is that Raymond is a tribesman. In that sense, Raymond tries to be as factual as possible, but he can't be objective. He can't help but assume as background that hacker culture is inherently superior to its opposite, the culture of Dilbert-like programmers in big commercial companies. However true that may be, Raymond is unable to rise above his prejudices, which weakens the paper just that little bit." (Thanks to Cesar A. K. Grossmann).

Olinux.com.br interviews Steffen Seeger of the General Graphics Interface (GGI) project. "LibGGI is useable already. As far as KGI is concerned, the KGI console subsystem is quite useable already, though there are still some known bugs, so this part of KGI could be labeled being in beta testing state. The KGI drivers, however, are still alpha or early development."

zocks.de has an interview with Mathieu Pinard from Tribsoft, Inc. about porting Jagged Alliance 2 to Linux. (English text follows the German text.) "When did you start thinking about porting to Linux?
When I was an OS/2 user, it was very hard to get new games. It was about 1994 when I first wanted to do games for alternative OS, but I didn't have the time to make games. In 1999, I really wanted to start something, and porting was the ideal solution because doing a new games would have been too big, too long and too risky.

LinuxMall.com talks with Greg Lindahl, the engineer behind the "Jet" cluster. "We saw a particular bid, the one at the Forecast Systems Lab, as a potential breakthrough for a Linux-based cluster supercomputer. The FSL bid was fairly unusual because FSL has a history of taking risks, and the procurement process itself looked very fair and focused on buying a system with the highest possible performance on FSL's weather codes."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

May 11, 2000


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