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 April 30, 1998

Linux articles
Kernel news
Software Development
Free/Open-Source Software
Links of the week
Feedback and corrections

Other stuff:
The LWN Archives
Our Linux links page
Our Linux Events Calendar
and our Daily Updates page

Leading items

There is apparently a move in Congress to add teeth to shrink-wrap software licenses. The beginnings of an opposition effort can be seen. Some of the complaints with the proposed law seem somewhat far-fetched (could they really force you to sue them only in Nigeria?), but there is certainly some merit to what they are saying. Of course, the best solution may be to just use software without shrink-wrap licenses to begin with...

The next time that somebody says Linux is not a supported operating system, point them to the Red Hat commercial support page. The Red Hat program has finally gotten off the ground, providing vendor-backed support for the full Linux system that they ship (what other vendor supports web servers, PostgresSQL, and the whole pile of other stuff that most of us end up using?). With any luck, this program will not only increase the quality of support available to Linux users, but it should also help to rehabilitate all of the "back door" Linux systems that are said to lurking in companies everywhere.

We can not resist mentioning, of course, that Eklektix, Inc., the publisher of the Linux Weekly News, has been named a Red Hat support partner. Our Linux support page has more information for those who are interested.

"Which is better, StarOffice or Applixware?" has become a constant refrain on newsgroups and mailing lists for the past three months now. Now 32 Bits Online has written reviews of StarOffice, Applixware, and the Andrew User Interface. Start your reading with their overview and finish with their verdict.

Time to get extreme. The Extreme Linux folks are gearing up for Linux Expo. There will be a few Linux clusters on display, and lots of cool software demos. See the Extreme Linux News posting for more. It's also worthwhile to check out the new Los Alamos "avalon" cluster, which hit a computation rate of just under 20 GigaFlops. That's serious supercomputer territory.

One should not underestimate the importance of the various Linux cluster efforts. Traditional supercomputers are getting ever more expensive, are made in foreign lands (meaning that government labs and such in the U.S. have a hard time buying them), and are running into performance limits. A Beowulf cluster blows these systems out of the water, especially when price is considered. They are going to own the high-end supercomputing market before too long.

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Linux in the news

National Public Radio did another segment on free software, featuring Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond. See the above URL if you want to listen to the piece via RealAudio.

Smart Reseller has a brief piece on profiting from alternative platforms. Their point is that it can be done; their advice on how to get there is less than revolutionary ("know your customer"). Linux is mentioned in passing.

Also in Smart Reseller: their "CyberCynic" talks about why Mozilla is not worth the price. He sees Netscape's browser as being fundamentally different from other open source systems (including "...the venerable Linux, increasingly an operating system of choice for businesses as well as power-users").

Inter@ctive Week has discovered that it's hard to buy a computer without Windows. In fact, they claim that it can not be done. We know better. There are many vendors of Linux-installed systems. Somehow those folks have to make themselves better known to the mainstream press.

A Network Computing article on BeOS also mentions OpenLinux as a possible threat to Microsoft's dominance. Thanks to Jeff McNeal for pointing out this one.

Salon Magazine says that, sooner or later, Microsoft is going to have to think seriously about releasing the source to Windows. Offhand, it seems that they would have to be pretty desperate before doing that. It is interesting to wonder, however, what might happen if the Windows source ever did become free...

Those who would like to read about Caldera's allegations that Microsoft is blocking hardware vendors from offering alternative operating systems on their machines can choose from TechWeb, ZDNet, Inter@ctive Week, and even MSNBC.

An article in the Baltimore Sun talks about equipping the schools with computers cheaply. His recipe calls for used hardware, and Linux. "Believe it or not, the world's best computer network system, Linux, is free ...".

A new free operating system? Wired news reports on the JOS (Java Operating System) project, which intends to produce a free operating system reminiscent of Linux, but "more user friendly." One wishes them luck, but one also wonders if their effort wouldn't be better spent on GNOME...

The Guardian, in the UK, ran an article on Linux and open source software. Thanks to Jon Ashley for the pointer to this one.

The Saint Petersburg (Florida) Times has a brief article on the benefits of open source software. They mention specifically the advantages of being able to inspect cryptographic code, and mention Linux as well.

ZDNet talks about operating system advocacy, with special mention of Linux advocates. It's a reasonable article, actually, with talk of the more childish among us, and of those who would like to take a more reasoned approach.

Marc Andreessen's talk in Boston generated a lot of press attention, some focussing directly on the "Linux threat to NT." Take your pick of articles from C|Net, InfoWorld, PCWorld, ZDNet, MSNBC, and Computer Reseller News. An impressive amount of attention from one talk.

Jesse Berst, in ZDNet AnchorDesk, talks about the systems used by Internet service providers. Number three on the list was Linux (behind "Unix" and NT), much to Berst's surprise.

A belated report of the "Open Source Summit" appeared in Performance Computing's "Unix Riot" column.

LAN Times discusses open source software, with an emphasis on Mozilla. It's a not entirely positive article, with a lot of the old "no support" FUD (fear/uncertainty/doubt) that some folks still bring up.

ISD Magazine talks about the lack of support for Linux in the electronic design industry, even though people are clamoring for it. Once again we hear: "[Linux is] not a commercially supported operating system, and therefore neither hardware vendors nor software suppliers want to produce products for it." The folks at Red Hat (and elsewhere) really need to get the word out on the support issue.

A slightly different sort of press mention: the credits page for Fast Company Magazine gives credit to Linux for making their servers work... Fast Companies do indeed seem to be catching on.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Security] The latest CERT advisory covers vulnerabilities in xterm and Xaw which can be used to gain access to a root shell. The advisory, containing information provided by the Open Group, shows which versions of X are vulnerable. Most versions are affected and immediate steps should be taken to protect your system.

We noticed patches for this problem had been released to X Project Team members, a group that does not include XFree86 and no patches for XFree86 are currently available.

lpr-0.31 has been announced. Security problems were found almost immediately in version 0.30, which could allow users to gain root access, so installation of the new version is highly recommended. Red Hat has made RPMs available.

Chris Evans reported a problem with cxhextris under Red Hat where a person running this game can get access to the "games" account.

Michal Zalewski reported a bug in pico, the editor including with pine 3.96 and the way it handles embedded control characters. Although pine can be configured to display such characters rather than execute them, when pico is called to reply to a message or compose a new message, the control characters will be executed, with a wide variety of potential results.

Thomas Roessler reported that in Debian's hamm (soon to be Debian 2.0), /usr/bin/suidexec can be used to obtain a root shell. This can be fixed by upgrading to suidmanager 0.19.

The 8th USENIX Security Symposium has put out a call-for-papers. The conference will be held August 23-26, 1999.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Kernel] The current development kernel release is 2.1.98. The announcement that Linus sent out indicates that it is a smallish bugfix release. Linus also dropped a lot of patches that people had sent in; he has been more concerned with diapers than dentries these days. This lossage created a certain amount of disgruntlement among some of the kernel developers, some of whom had put in a lot of effort to get some important fixes in. After they grumbled for a while, though, life went on. Linus is recovering well.

Nonetheless, this episode has pointed out that the "Linus model" has an important single point of failure. When Linus is out, nothing happens, and people's time is wasted. Linus should really have a deputy, somebody he trusts to put in patches and generally help with the whole process. Having a deputy and heir-apparent would also help calm some of the "what if Linus joins the Hare Krishnas?" worries that surface at times.

There is a pre-2.1.99 patch available in the usual places. It incorporates many of the fixes that fell on the floor before 2.1.98; Linus claims that "all known bugs should be fixed". Your editor, unfortunately, still is unable to get it to boot on his SCSI system, so there are still some funnies lurking in there somewhere. This patch does finally incorporate Richard Gooch's MTRR patch, meaning that faster video operations are in our future.

On the stable kernel front, Alan Cox has put out a 2.0.34 pre12 FAQ. Therein he explains that he has a couple of things to fix before the pre12 patch goes out, and that it could be "a week or so" until that happens. Until then, pre11b is said to be solid for most people, though at least one report says otherwise. The pre11b patch is available on Alan's FTP site.

Adam Richter has put out a draft generic conf.modules file containing all of the non-hardware-dependent module definitions that one might want to use with kmod. His first shot is here. It is still necessary to add hardware-specific entries (to identify the proper ethernet card driver, for example), so one can not forget conf.modules altogether, but it is a step in the right direction.

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.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  


Proposed Debian Constition v0.7 is now up and available for comments. These should go to debian-devel. No amendments are currently proposed and a vote is currently planned in approximately two weeks. Of course, the likelihood of debate ending is certainly optimistic ... talk seems to die down for a while but is always revived when a new draft of the Constitution is announced!

Apt 0.0.7, the debian package manager, has been "prepared". If you are using an older version, you should upgrade. A few more things will changed before apt is actually included into slink (Debian 2.0).

Rick Macdonald announced deb-view.el 1.5, the latest version of his deb file viewer for Emacs.

Red Hat

The primary news at Red Hat this week is their Red Hat Support Partner Database. We already beat this horse in our leading items, so we'll just say, check it out if you're interested.


Requests for technical support from the U.S. S.u.S.E. office met with slow to delayed response last week. This was due, at least in part, to Comdex and should be resolved now. A posting to suse-linux-e mentioned that if you do not get a response from, try Of course, you should remember that there are fewer native English speakers at!
Please note that not every distribution will show up every week. Only distributions with recent news to report will be listed.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  


Closer than they thought? The alpha version of hamm (to be released as Debian 2.0) definitely still needs work, but the list of packages marked standard or higher than still need to be worked with is small. Only the boot disk problems remain a stumbling block ...


Derrick Brashear has put out a new version of the audio driver for SparcLinux. No, it doesn't work with 2.1 kernels...

Some people have noticed that SunOS emulation is not working properly in recent 2.1 kernels. The reason for that is that it has been explicitly disabled in the source; the developers do not think that it is currently stable enough to inflict upon the world. Nonetheless, some folks have pointed out that you can go into the file:

and un-comment the SunOS code. Said folks claim it works for them, but one should approach this change with extreme caution...and don't complain if something bad happens to you.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Software Development]

Embedded Systems

Paul Moody has posted his miniHOWTO for Embedded Linux, entitled One approach to an embedded Linux, and is accepting suggestions, comments and constructive abuse. His system is based on RedHat 4.2.


The folks at The Software Farm have announced version 0.9 of the Mica graphics framework. Mica is "a modern object-oriented 2D graphics library with a heavy emphasis on ease of use, portability and the ability to mix common user-interface widgets with not so common widgets and graphs".

They've been busy over at The Hungry Programmers as well. They announced the release of Japhar 0.04 on Tuesday, April 27th and have started another "insanely ambitious" project, SQRL, which aspires to be a full SQL-92 DBMS someday ...


Perl Scripts/Modules Announcements:

The latest version of w3mir, 1.0.2, has been released. W3mir is a full-featured web mirroring program which can copy or mirror from single files to multiple sites, handling frames, CGI, client-side-imagemaps, CSS and more ...

For you perl trivia buffs (you know who you are), statistics on posts to comp.lang.perl.misc were posted by Greg Bacon.

Some very basic perl command-line scripts for Bayesian inference are available. These scripts facilitate elementary tasks such as model comparison, multiplication of data by priors, integration over parameter spaces and so on.

  • Authen::ACE 0.90, Perl interface to SecurID
  • IO-stringy 1.203, I/O on in-core objects like strings and arrays
  • MailCclient 0.2, provides access to mailboxes in many different formats via the c-client API
  • Stat::lsMode, formatting file modes and permissions the way that ls -l does
  • X11::Wcl,provides access to the Wcl-2.7.3 GUI Interface library


Sean Reifschneider has put out a Request for Comment for his Syslog module bug-fix for Python 1.5.1.

Not exactly Linux, but of general interest, python 1.5 is now available for Beos and apparently 1.5.1 will follow "soon".

Version 0.6 of 'Fnorb', the Python CORBA ORB, has been announced. Like ILU from Xerox PARC, Fnorb gives the Python programmer access to the wonderful world of CORBA. It supports all CORBA 2.0 datatypes (including Any's) and provides a full implementation of IIOP.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free
/ Tips / Announce / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News

The Linux PenguinPlay Project has moved. They received many offers of help after publishing their need for a new server. They send thanks and they can now be found on the SunSITE Denmark server ( They've also updated the contact page on their web site.


Mozilla's first CVS server is now on-line. Along with it, there is also a new source drop on the FTP server. Check Jamie Zawinski's posting for details.

The Java Mozilla project is continuing their work on a java preprocessor for the project.


Bertho Stultiens has placed a preliminary copy of the new resource compiler for Wine, wrc, on his server for those who are interested in an advance peek. He requests that comments be returned directly to him for now.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Articles] OS News ran an excellent article by Red Hat's Donnie Barnes on RAID and Linux. Anybody who is interested in large-scale storage (and high reliability) on Linux systems would be well advised to have a look.

On Leonard Zubkoff's web site you can find, among other things, everything you need to update the firmware on BusLogic SCSI cards. Given that some cards were shipped with some pretty unpleasant bugs, this can be a nice thing to be able to do.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  


Package Version Description
BASIC 1.1 BASIC interpreter
BOIL 1.0beta1 C-like interpreter language
CodeCrusader 0.13.0 a free C/C++ development environment inspired by MetroWerks Code Warrior
CorporateTime 4.0 Commercial Calendaring/scheduling system
dennis 0.7alpha DNS configuration tool
fnorb 0.6 CORBA Object Request Broker for Python
gdb 4.17 The GNU debugger
grep 2.2 GNU grep
IO256control 1.0 allows networked access to local hardware
IspMailGate alpha Virus scanning and PGP support for sendmail (Commercial)
keirc 0.1 irc client for KDE, supports TCL Script
kISDN 0.4.3beta an isdn4linux frontend for KDE
kmandel 0.36 fractal program for KDE 1.9.8 dynamic linker/loader
linuxcad 1.5 CAD and visual modelling software (Commercial)
linux-lite 1.0 ultra small linux kernel based on linux-1.0.9
lzop 1.00 a real-time file compressor
MPC 0.6.5 multi-precision calculator
mUH 1.1b IRC-bouncing tool
MultiMail 0.12 Blue Wave & QWK packet reader for Unix
ObjectManual n/a Auto C++ to HTML, MIF & JAVA Documentation Generator (Commercial)
JX 1.1.13 a full-featured C++ application framework and GUI class library for X
wormdat 1.1 a tool to manipulate WanDAT 2000 DAT tapes as WORM drives
wxWindows 1.68updated, 2.0alpha a free multi-platform C++ GUI toolkit
Xwpe 1.5.8a An integrated development environment



Clay Kasow has developed a portable Perl HTTP web server with fast Perl CGI. He calls it the MacPerl WebServer. He is in need of more feedback and bug reports.

Under the SEUL auspices, Doug Loss is starting a project to create a modified Visual Tcl that educators could use as they use the HyperCard software on a MacIntosh. He's got permission from Stewart Allen, the author of vtcl, to do so, but is looking for some Tcl programmers to help him out.


Dave Strout has converted all of the HOWTO docs from the Linux Documentation Project into Aportis Doc format for viewing on Palm Pilots.

Wojtek Skulski has put together a posting summarizing Oberon resources available to Linux developers. Oberon is a modern version of Pascal, designed by Niklaus Wirth and Juerg Gutknecht at ETH Zurich.

The PostgreSQL Database HOWTO Version 6.0 has been released.

Version 1.4.1 of Joffer's Linux RIVA128 Xconfigurator Guide has been released. His home site is You can get to the Riva128 guide from a link in the left-hand frame.


Conference Linux98 will be held on May 16. in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference languages will be Danish and Swedish. We wish them good luck!

Web sites

The Linux Search Engine has been announced, a web-based interface for a database of bookmarks related (mostly) to Linux.

New user groups

The Westbo Linux User Group is a new Swedish Linux User's Group which has just been started recently. Their website is

Mailing Lists is a new mailing list which plans to follow up and expand on some of the ideas discussed in Kendall Clark's Users-Group-HOWTO, and Paul L. Rogers' Advocacy-mini-HOWTO. Any topic related to user groups is "fair game", including the creation of a group, the revitalization of an old group or just how to have the best group possible.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  

Linux links of the week

A bit of amusement can be found in the Rampantly Unofficial Linus Torvalds FAQ, which is on Eric Raymond's site.

Another good newsletter out there is Tasty Bits from the Technology Front. What brought them to mind now is that the current issue talks about exclusionary web sites - those which exclude certain classes of users. One of these sites is, unfortunately, a Linux site which treats Internet Explorer users in a seriously rude way. While we haven't gone out of our way to support IE users here (though we did make sure the page worked back at the beginning), we certainly don't think it is appropriate to insult them. This is not the way to push the Linux cause.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  

Feedback and Corrections

Alan Cox sent us a clarification on support of gcc 2.8.* and egcs with the Linux kernel. The 2.1 kernel can apparently be built with these compilers; it is certainly intended that 2.2 will work with them. In the case of 2.0, nobody has taken the time to really make sure that everything works OK, so folks building 2.0 kernels should stick with the older gcc.

The Bochs software we've mentioned in the last couple of issues apparently has some very strong supporters. Alexander Bradley was one who wrote to us expressing his concern that the true potential of Bochs was not correctly stated. Bochs emulates the x86 architecture on any Unix platform, be it a Linux PC or a DEC Alpha or a Sun 4m architecture. That means you can use it to run Win95 under Linux or Linux under Win95, as previously mentioned, or you could use it to run Linux on an HP, DOS or OS/2 or BeOS on a Sun box, or ..., well, you get the point! One thing we don't underestimate is how enthusiastic users of Bochs seem to be! They appear to have good reason ...

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