Linux Weekly News

Bringing you the latest news from the Linux World.
Dedicated to keeping Linux users up-to-date, with concise news for all interests
Published February 12th, 1998

Linux articles
Kernel news
Software Development
Feedback and corrections

Other stuff:
The LWN Archives
Our Linux links page

Leading items

The Free Software community changes its name? "Open Source Software" is the term brainstormed recently in Silicon Valley by Eric S. Raymond (author of the Cathedral and the Bazaar paper mentioned in the last edition). Check out the reasonings in his article.

Netscape has put up a FAQ page regarding the source release of their browser. Lots of questions remain. It does appear, though, that the initial source release will support Linux; that may not be the case for other Unix variants. Here is the FAQ.

Many of you will have seen this bit of amusement regarding some computing difficulties on a recent space shuttle mission, but for those who missed it...

Got some feedback, some news to publish, or something else you would like to tell us? is our address.

Or would you like to be notified when new editions of the Linux Weekly News are published? Click here and send a blank message.

Please see our contact page for other contact information.

Here is the permanent site for this page.


Linux in the news

A columnist at the Boston Globe has an idea: Netscape should start selling Linux to go along with its browser. According to the article, Netscape needs a weapon to combat Microsoft's control over its operating system. Adopting Linux could provide that weapon. Overall a very favorable and high-profile article.

Dave Winer's article on Linux gives his take on the pros and cons of free (er - I mean "open source") software. He, too, suggests that Netscape get into the Linux world.

How about Sun supporting Linux? This editorial by Simon James and contributed to Slashdot suggests that Sun's next logical move is exactly that. Think Sun might be listening? Naa ...

In our last issue, we mentioned the increased popularity of Linux in Australia. Emmanuel Galanos responded, pointing out that Australia's top selling computer magazine, APC, now has regular Linux articles. After checking the page out, this editor found a Linux newsgroup built into the magazine plus 45 Linux-related articles. That's a definite presence!

Red Hat and Netscape together? At least for a friendly chat ... from Red Hat's on the road report, we learn that Red Hat Software president Bob Young and developer Erik Troan met with Netscape on February 5th.

The Czech computer monthly "Softwarove noviny" awarded the Linux 2.0 operating system with its award "Product of the Year 1997".

A comparison of NT, unix, and Linux systems as web servers is apparently in the March issue of Byte. It's not yet on their web site, stay tuned.

[Security] A rumoured buffer-overflow on Linux dynamic linkers has been confirmed for versions 1.7.14, 1.8.2, 1.9.2 (and probably others). This buffer-overflow, though difficult to exploit, can allow a root shell to be ripped out of a dynamically-linked suid binary. Details provided by Rafal Wojtczuk on the linux-alert list.

Yet another problem! Even if you have upgraded your libc after a security problem was reported, if your old, vulnerable binaries are still on the system, it may be possible to exploit them still, using LD_PRELOAD. This has produced a great deal of discussion on bugtraq, but the clearest explanation so far comes from Aleph One. Note that this thread is still ongoing, so the information may change!

Now there's a reported problem with KDE Beta 3. Here are details and a patch to fix the problem.

Vixie cron 3.0.1 allows hiding files of any kind and size in crontab entries, because quota is ignored. The results are somewhat amusing ...

A recent Call-for-Participation went out for RAID'98, the first international workshop on Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection. It's to be in Belgium, but all proposals and talks must be in English.

[Kernel] The current kernel release is 2.1.86. The bugfixes keep rolling in, with 2.2 (still distant) in mind. TCP still is said to have problems (though it generally seems to work).

Some patches released: The devfs patch is up to v19, against 2.1.86. Alan Cox put out a set of diffs for plug-and-play operation. Stefan Reinauer put out a /dev/bios driver, allowing the flash BIOS to be rewritten.

The BIOS writer actually drew a fair amount of concern from people who were afraid they would accidentally overwrite the BIOS on their machine with that new version of Doom. That, of course, would be an unfortunate thing to do. Suggestions for making it harder to trash your computer included requiring writes to start at an offset, creating a separate /dev/biosguard device which would have to be written first, a similar thing with /proc/bios, or simply putting it into a module that you would have to manually load first. No clear resolution was achieved as of this writing.

Work continues on IO-APIC detection and use on a variety of motherboards. Autodetection now seems to work on almost all boards with Ingo Molnar's latest patch for 2.1.85. While I have seen no definitive word, I would expect this code to fold into the 2.1 tree before 2.2 is released.

Where is 2.0.34?. One more release in the 2.0 series seems to be needed, and 2.2 is still a little ways away. The answer is that Alan Cox is trying to put together a 2.0.34 release; his current patch is available here . It includes a lot of work from the (currently moribund) Linux Maintenance Project, plus a bunch of other stuff.

Problems continue with gcc 2.8 and the Linux kernel. There is a bit of a, um, disagreement as to whether the problems are with gcc or with the kernel itself. Certain strong personalities are refusing to put in workarounds until the gcc folks at least change their documentation to match the current performance of the compiler; see notes from Linux and Alan Cox if you're interested. Meanwhile, use of 2.7.2.* or egcs is recommended.

Just where is the line between binary-only modules that can become part of the kernel, and those that can't?. Henrik Storner asked this question and created a flurry of posts; his summary of the discussion does a good job of describing the outcome. Binary "firmware" is OK, binary "libraries" are not.

It was asked whether the Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) would ever go into the Linux kernel. Linux has needed kernel-space packet filtering for some time, and BPF seems like the right solution. Well, timing is everything; BFP was added in 2.1.75. The new "Linux Socket Filter" has an interesting new twist, though: instead of being applicable just to raw packets from the network devices, filters can be pushed onto any socket. Thus applications can do their own filtering or firewalling.

Since we're a weekly publication, chances are we'll be behind a rev or two on the kernel release by the time you read this page. Up-to-the-second information can always be found at LinuxHQ.


Caldera's lawsuit with MicroSoft is alive and well! Caldera's antitrust complaint against MS has been amended to introduce evidence that Microsoft illegally created a technical tie of MS-DOS into Windows 95. The case is scheduled for jury trial in November of 1998. Here's some more details.


The growth in the number of Debian policies, intended to guarantee the quality of the distribution, has spawned a need for automating the process of determining if a package is compliant with policy. As a result, work is beginning on "lintian", a a collection of shell/perl/python scripts to check Debian packages (binary and source packages) for compliance with latest Debian policy. The original descripton of lintian and the intention behind it have generated both discussion and approbation on the debian-devel list.

The first warnings from running lintian over the entire Debian release can be found here . The volume of warnings is astounding (over 30,000) but many of them report the same error and can be quickly fixed. Also, some of them may be due to bugs in lintian. Question is: if you disagree with lintian's interpretation of policy, is that a bug?

Notices of updates to the libc5-libc6 autoupgrade script will no longer be posted to debian-devel. However, the latest version can always be found on

In response to a thread about bad-publicity for Debian resulting from "doing things differently" than other distributions, Manoj Srivastava recently posted a draft explanation of the technical reasons for the "Debian way". This, of course, spawned its own thread but did improve everyone's understanding of the issues involved ...

Problems with PCMCIA support for Debian were recently pointed out. Although fixes may not make it into the alpha version of the Debian 2.0 boot floppies, one of the developers has also suffered as a result of the problems and is therefore highly motivated towards fixing them.

egcs is now the official Debian compiler! The latest release has been recompiled for the Alpha and uploaded to the Debian master. It can also be acquired from

The latest ppp package for alphas under debian is available for testing from as well.

Mike Dorman is soliciting assistance with dpkg update, no programming experience required. Check out his request if you've been looking for an opportunity to help!

Red Hat

Fermi Lab is now supporting core utilities and applications on Red Hat Linux. Check out the details.

News from the Red Hat Linux User's FAQ reports several new features, like a new mirror site in Italy, plus the ability to tell what's been updated or added with a quick glance. Check out the latest news for a list of FAQs that need to be written.

When the question was asked on the redhat-list, why doesn't Red Hat post its bugs, the quick response was that an external bug list, bug posting, and bug tracking system was currently being worked on.

In the beginning stages is a HOWTO on replacing Windows NT server with RedHat Linux. The author is interested in constructive criticism; check it out here.

If you're trying to install Star Office 4.0 under Red Hat 4.2 or 5.0, there are some nice tips on the Web page:


The installation of applixware under S.u.S.E differs slightly from under Red Hat. Instructions were recently posted to the suse-linux-e mailing list. These instructions should come with each Applixware shipment, but did not in some cases.


Mitsubishi has suspended production of Alpha chips according to an article in Samsung will be ramping up Alpha production, however, to fill the gap left by Mitsubishi. There is another article there which casts a generally gloomy light on the future of Alpha, saying that "all wintel, all the time" is where we are heading. Some of us aren't convinced...


If you're interested in rumours, with a pound of salt attached, check out these musings regarding the upcoming merced chip from Intel. Part of these musings regard Microsoft's plans to port NT to Intel but they are countered in part by this article in the January 19th issue of LANTimes. In any case, the port of Linux to the Merced platform will be important.


A sparc version of Debian 2.0 is planned and may even make release with Debian 2.0. The problem with install disks is almost resolved, but libc6 releases of dpkg, silo and perl are still needed.

How fast is a SparcStation IPC really? In response to queries from some users, replies were posted to the effect that an IPC is roughly equivalent to a 486/40, with the IPX's being more like a 486/66. Bear in mind that these are old machines being talked about here! It is also a (sad, for some of us, even if understandable) fact that the Sparc development has tended to emphasize the newer Sun4m and Sun4u machines, at the expense of the older Sun4c's.

For more comparisons, see a page of benchmark results put together by Geoff Koehler.

[Software Development] Sun's support for a Linux port of Java 1.2? Dr. Alan Baratz, the CEO of JavaSoft, expressed his opinion that "this should *just happen*". A rambling but heartfelt update on the process of working with Sun was posted by Miko Matsumura to java-linux. Thanks, Miko!

Commercial support for Linux Java? Novare International Inc. is a small Dallas-based software developer with a track record working with the Debian, GIMP and Gnome projects. The response to their recent proposal to provide a commercially supported Linux port of Java has been very positive and very loud! The primary desire of respondents was to have a Linux version of Java that tracked Sun's releases as closely as possible. This would open a lot of doors for Linux use in software development houses ...

Recently mentioned cool tools for java: a java decompiler and a java debugger.

[Articles] Many people in the US have mentioned difficulties getting StarOffice downloaded. The sunsite location works, though several tries may be required. Remember that the ftp command reget is your friend to get a file that has previously been partially transferred.  


Package Version Description
ADABAS D 10.0 SQL database (commercial)
angela! 1.7 BETA graph editor w/ Tcl/Tk interface
Dialup Gui Expect-based Gui for controlling dialup sessions
DISLIN 6.3c Data Plotting Library
FPRINT 3.0.0print text files using vga console fonts
Freeciv 1.5 a turn-based strategy game
IPADv0.5.3 Intelligent vector drawing package (commercial)
ktalkd 0.4.1 Enhanced talk daemon
kSirc 0.8 a scriptable X irc client
Linux C library 5.4.44 a bug-fixing release for libc 5.4.38
Linux Logo 1.04 shows system info with a linux logo
LLNL XDIR 2.1beta3 Unix/Motif-based graphical FTP client
PERMEDIA1.0 driver for GGI-0.0.9
plotutils 2.0 GNU plotting utilities
rawk 2.0 the kernel 2.0 binary for a custom awk language
SmallEiffel0.82 Eiffel compiler, now GPL'd
suck 3.9.0 retrieve news from remote NNTP server
Tsinvest 0.4 stock trading program
Token-ring driver Olicom Token-Ring driver for OC-3118 and OC-3137 Adapters (Commercial)
Viewmol 2.1 GUI front-end for some scientific applications


Greg Lindahl is trying to convince Digital to release versions of their commercial C/C++ and Fortran compilers for the Linux/Intel and Linux/Alpha platforms. He needs a list of people who would be interested in buying such animals if they existed. If you're interested in potentially faster executables, check out his message.


Cheap*Bytes has announced several new CDs, including Slackware 3.4, Debian GNU/Linux 1.3.1 Revision 6 and Red Hat 5.0 (with several updates) plus Netscape Communicator and Netscape Navigator.

Linux Gazette issue #25, February 1998, is out and can be found at:

If you need to get a Riva128 video card to work with Linux Xwindows, check out this guide.


A patch for the logiscan-0.0.5 scanner driver has been posted, to work with the 2.1.X series of kernels.

Mailing Lists

Two new mailing lists have been created for those planning to install Linux on the Dell Inspiron or Dell Latitude CP. Details here.

A new mailing list, samba-ntdom, has been created for the discussion and development of a freeware NT domain controller. This is currently functional in the Unix Samba SMB file server.


FLUX, the Florida Linux User Xchange, welcomes Jon "Maddog" Hall, Executive Director of Linux International, to their February meeting, February 16th.

The Asia & Pacific Rim Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT), Manila, Philippines will be held 16-20 February, 1998.

The exponet + INTERNET WELT WIEN 98, will be held February 17 - 19, 1998, in Vienna, Austria and will feature a Linux conference on February 18.

Web sites

Free IP Registry services are now available on These are free public services, with no restriction for non-profit/personal uses and most commercial uses. Check out their announcement for more details.

Yggdrasil has announced "Ground Zero", a new repository of hundreds of rapidly updated cutting edge GNU/Linux programs. Primarily an ftp site, Ground Zero's web page is at

New user groups

Scott Jenkins and Clay Fandre are trying to get a Linux User Group going in Minneapolis/St Paul, MN. Check out their recent message.

Feedback and Corrections

A reader from DEC's Unix support group took a bit of exception to our article last week in which we note that a Linux system reseller has stopped selling Alpha-based systems. We made it sound as if this cessation were permanent, which is in fact not the case; they plan to start selling these systems again sometime in the Spring, when Samsung starts selling Alpha chips.

Ralf Baechle pointed out that while David Miller did do the initial MIPS port, he hasn't done any further Linux/MIPS work in some time. Ralf is now maintaining that port, and certainly deserves credit for the work he is doing.

In our last edition, we mentioned that some Netscape problems could be a sign that a new version of bash was needed. Reader Brett Viren responded with a more imaginative solution, involving an edit of the Netscape binary. Not necessarily a better solution, but quicker and more amusing!

Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! This page is produced by Eklektix, Inc.