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 May 14, 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

It seems that we should have something to say about Corel's Linux announcement, but the event has been covered in detail elsewhere (see the "in the news" section below). That's what happens when you only publish once a week, I guess. Anyway, we now have another major software vendor solidly behind Linux, we have another hardware platform made expressly to run with Linux, and we have another run of good press. Just another step toward world domination....

The Linux Expo schedules are available on their web site. It looks like an interesting time. Most of the big Linux names will be there. See the Linux Expo web site for more information. LWN co-author Elizabeth Coolbaugh will also be there for those of you who would like to see one of the faces behind the Linux Weekly News. She will also be sending back daily reports from the Expo for the rest of us unlucky folks who will not be there.

Stéfane Fermigier, the force behind, has announced the creation of the Association Francophone des Utilsateurs de Linux et des Logiciels Libres, or the French-Speaking Association of Linux and Free Software Users for most of us. The group, with the somewhat unfortunate (from an English-speaker's point of view) acronym of AFUL, seeks to facilitate and promote the use of Linux in the French-speaking world. Their web site may be found at Bon chance, Stéfane!

The Three Point Linux News site is shutting down, or at least will no longer be maintained. The maintainer, Dave Whitinger, has decided to move on to other things, one of which is a low-bandwidth mailing list for Linux news. See his announcement for more. Many thanks, Dave, for having provided a valuable resource to the Linux community.

What about the new Unix98 standard that is about to be put forth? This standard is supposed to help improve interoperability between Unix systems, kind of like Posix. A bit of suspicion is maybe called for, given that this standard comes out of The Open Group, the same folks who are withholding security fixes for X11. It would not be surprising to see a "Unix98" that Linux, for whatever reason, can not qualify for. Since most people are not much concerned about being able to call Linux "Unix" this is probably not a big problem. But it would not be surprising to see some of the proprietary Unix vendors try to use the "Unix98" designation as a weapon against free systems.

What operating system is most widely used for particular types of servers? Check out the ISP Resource Page's results from their voluntary survey. This survey come up with rather different results than the "infobeads" one we reported on last week.

We got an open letter from Jim Dennis to Dell reacting to Dell's claim (which you can see here) that none of their customers want Linux. Your editors, too, can confirm that this claim is dishonest and untrue. Let the folks at Dell know what you think! But, even better, steer your business toward the many fine retailers out there that sell Linux-installed systems.

Experiments with open source models: what will work in the real world? One interesting effort is the Linux Support Services site which has just opened. They are trying to extend "free software" into "free support," in a more structure way than the newsgroups. According to creator Mark Spencer, they have "77 technicians, 47 customers, and 19 work orders (13 of which have already been closed)." A more development-oriented effort is the Public Software Institute, which seems to be an extension of the old University model ("have the students do the work"). It is good to see these sorts of efforts happening; we have just begun to define the "open source" model, and to figure out how it can really be made to work.

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.

Need top-quality commercial Linux support? Please check out our Linux support page.


Linux in the news

Salon Magazine seems to have truly discovered Linux recently. Dave Coffin sent us a pointer to this article wherein Ellen Ullman goes through the cathartic experience of replacing Windows with Linux. In the process she gets into how various "wizards" and clickboxes and such have dumbed down the process of dealing with computers, and how that is not necessarily a good thing. Part two continues in the same vein, talking about Linux as a backlash against the Microsoft world of cute dialogs and bad engineering. Along the way Ullman discovers the joys of making her Linux system work. "Don't let anyone ever say that Linux is an unsupported operating system. Out there is a global militia of fearless engineers posting helpful information on the Internet: Linux is the best supported operating system in the world." If you read one article this week, this should be it (but the next is good too...)

Gene Mosher used his NC World column to announce the open-sourcing of his "viewtouch" software. Viewtouch is a user interface library with an emphasis on touchscreen and point-of-sale applications; it claims a much wider applicability. Mosher presses the Linux community to put more effort into applications, and to better adopt a network-centric model. He thinks Viewtouch will help that to happen. Let's hope he's right; this is a very good column. Thanks to "Kuraiken" for the pointer to this one.

Linux on lookout for exposure in Inter@ctive Week is another in the series of "Linux begins to be taken seriously in corporations" articles. This one is pretty good, with only a little bit of the "no support" FUD that we have come to expect. "Some observers say that if Windows should falter for any reason, Linux is the most likely alternative." If you show one article to your boss this week, this should be it.

Christofer Neufeld sent us a link to this article in Florida Today about Beowulf clusters. Even though Linux is never mentioned, you know it's there...

Dan Shafer's Project Heresy is an attempt to go for a month using only Linux. Some of us do that just about every month... Anyway, his latest conclusion is that Linux needs HTML authoring tools, which is probably correct. He also says nice things about the GIMP in passing, noting that it is an improvement over PhotoShop in some areas.

Smart Reseller has a review of Caldera OpenLinux 1.2. It's brief but positive, and mentions more than once the quality of Caldera's technical support.

Beyond the Cathedral, Beyond the Bazaar by Jonathan Eunice seeks, as the title suggests, to press past the black and white view of Raymond's paper. It is not entirely successful; most of the space seems devoted to showing how Microsoft seems to share some of the successful traits attributed to bazaar-style development. It finishes with some general principles (get something interesting out early, refine aggressively) that have been mentioned in many other contexts.

Tasty Bits from the Technology Front, in the current newsletter (entitled "Lizard Lips") talks briefly about the Merced chip, and the prospects of Linux support. Things are looking good.

CNN Crossfire hosted Ralph Nader and columnist Mr. Glassman of the Washington Post on May 11th. The topic was "How Merger Mania Will Effect the Nation's Consumers", but it did provide Ralph with another opportunity to mention Linux ...

There is an article in the Sydney Morning Herald with a general discussion of Netscape, Linux, free software, etc. It seems to be a variant of the Guardian article mentioned in the April 30 edition.

There is a belated article in Computer Reseller News about Andreessen's talk in Boston. An interesting angle that didn't appear in other coverage is Marc's prediction that PC's will eventually be given away like cellular telephones, with money made on service contracts.

C|Net talks about the InterBase port to Linux.

O'Reilly's Linux news column talks about the many plaforms supported by Linux.

Transcripts of SomeNet's first online forum, held on Saturday, May 9th, with Eric S. Raymond as guest speaker, are available.

A detailed article by Nicolas Petreley in NC World talks about how to set up an IMAP server on a Linux machine. He actually did it with both the Red Hat and Caldera distributions, and provides a table of the differences between the two.

It's hard to get venture capital for a company that seeks to compete with Microsoft, reveals Inter@ctive Week. Evidently, when Linux starts appearing on 20 percent of corporate desktop computers the VC's will consider investing in it. By then they will be far too late.

OK...for those of you who have not read enough about Corel's announcement. The word from Corel itself can be found on the Corel Computer web site, and in the associated press release. You can also see a transcript of the announcement that was made at the Ottawa Carleton Linux User's Group meeting. Some coverage and a great deal of discussion exists on SlashDot. Yet more coverage is to be had at Linux Resources, PC Week, not one but two articles in, in Wired News, Fox News, and in the Ottawa Sun.

Wired News ran some coverage of the Public Software Institute (mentioned above).

A long missive from Ralph Nader and James Love called Microsoft's Ambitions and Antitrust Policy talks at length about the "Microsoft problem." Linux is mentioned in passing as an alternative.

The French magazine, PC Expert, now has a monthly column on Linux and we hear that another magazine, "Programmez!", is also supporting the free software movement.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Security] A major track on bugtraq has been dedicated to the number of backdoor accounts found on 3Com network hardware. Aleph One posted a summary of several posts. There were some difficulties getting the information through to 3Com but it appears some progress is being made on that front.

Note that it is likely that 3Com is not the only networking company guilty of the use of such backdoors ...

The nestea2 exploits appear to affect HP Jet Direct printer cards. A second posting confirmed the problem for the Direct Jet EX 3.

Duncan Simpson has released check-ps, a program that monitors the output of the ps command for "suspect differences."

Those of you running ISPs may want to check out RFC2267, "Network Ingress Filtering" (dated January 1998), and apply strong filters to all customer lines. Gert Doering pointed out While this won't immediately have any benefits to your network, it has enormous benefits to everybody else -- they can't be attacked by your customers any more. That might be a little bit strong, but it does certainly deny them the ability to use false source addresses in attacks.

A discussion on linux-security centered on "rapid" connections to a tcp-wrapped imap port, their legitimate and not-so-legitimate potential causes. It includes a nice ipfwadm command to help catch where the connection came from, even when tcpd cannot.

Jason Downs pointed out a vulnerability in the 3Com/USR Total Control Chassis dialup port access filters.

Chris Evans mentioned on linux-security how you can try to retrieve possibly truncated or modified log file information after a security intrusion. This only works if the system hasn't been heavily used since the intrusion,

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Kernel] The current development kernel release is 2.1.101. As of press time, there is a 2.1.102 pre-patch available. In these feature-frozen times there are not a whole lot of new features to talk about, just tremendous numbers of bug fixes and development tree merges. Recent patches have been large. 2.2 still seems somewhat distant, there are still a lot of problems to fix.

Alan Cox has prepared the thirteenth pre-patch for the 2.0.34 stable kernel release. The location for the pre-patches has changed a bit; they now live in He is already working on pre14, and may get it out shortly after this newsletter is published. If you are on the edge of your seat waiting for this one, Alan's web site is the best place to look for news.

The Linux Source Driver has moved to a new URL: The LSD is a nice interface which allows browsing through the kernel source. The actual browse interface is not much that emacs can't do, but vi users should appreciate it :-). They also have several old versions of the kernel source available, for the software archeologists among us. See how things have changed since 0.95...

A new version of the SMP FAQ is available (where SMP = symmetric multiprocessor). You can find it either at it's home site (in France), or at the new US mirror.

Actually, a lot of work has been going on in the SMP area recently. SMP users have been hit pretty hard by recent development kernels, which have tended to have lockup problems and other sorts of inconveniences. From the looks of things, SMP should stabilize again in the near future.

How much swap space does a Linux system need? The discussion began with a user complaining that he couldn't use more than 128 MB of swap out of a single swap partition. Linux does, indeed, limit swap partitions to that size; one can always add more partitions if more swap is needed. It was claimed that Linux machines do not need much swap in general, and that performance suffers horribly if a lot of swap is used anyway. A common recommendation was to make sure you have sufficient physical memory for most needs, and throw in 32-64 MB of swap to give the system a bit of a cushion when needed.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to resize an ext2 filesystem without having to start over?. Theodore Ts'o announced the resizefs command, which can do exactly that, in a limited way. There is a catch, though: for the time being only people who own the "Partition Magic" (commercial) program can get resizefs. Ted swears that resizefs will eventually come out in GPL form; see his explanation of the situation if you want to know more.

Are you still using fdisk? A recent discussion reveals that the maintainer (Andries Brouwer) thinks fdisk is old, buggy, and should not be used. What should one use instead? Well...that is not entirely clear. Here is Andries' summary of the problems with fdisk and the alternatives. His suggested alternative, cfdisk, does not appeal to all, since it uses the ncurses library, and thus requires more precious space on boot/rescue diskettes.

Riley Williams has released version 1.0.1 of knl, which is a program for tweaking options in binary kernels. It is a replacement for rdev, swapdev, rootflags, ramsize, and vidmode, all rolled into one program. See the announcement for more.

Current kernel flame wars: (1) should the kernel put out a cute logo and hide most of the boot messages that we now see? (2) should the kernel use Unicode for character strings? People have strong opinions on these topics, but not much will be gained by repeating them here. If some sort of conclusion emerges, we'll let you know.

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  


Reports have been made of a security problem in the su from the shadow package. Fixes are available and they recommend you update shadow-su immediately, if you have it installed.

Red Hat

Kevin Fonda forwarded to us the Red Hat 5.1 Installation Guide, which had been placed in a publicly-accessible spot. We must be getting closer to the release, which, presumbably, will happen during LinuxExpo. New features listed in the guide include:
  • An enhanced installation guide
  • The ability to configure networking using BOOTP or DHCP during installation.
  • Multi-lingual installation
  • A fancier editor for /etc/fstab
  • The ability to install from an SMB-shared volume
  • Linuxconf is now part of the system
  • There is now a separate rescue diskette, woth "additional capabilities."
  • Files in /etc/sysconfig are documented!
  • The AfterStep window manager is included
  • The egcs compiler is included (but they still have gcc too).
  • ElectricEyes has replaced xv.
Other rumors have stated that 5.1 will also include in improved NIS implementation (yeah!), Beowulf extensions, and the latest available alpha GNOME desktop, but the guide does not mention them.


For S.u.S.E. users that wish to download KDE Beta 4, note that S.u.S.E. provides a customized version that you may find easier to install and use.
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  


Jay Estabrook of DEC has prepared out a set of Alpha patches for the upcoming 2.0.34 kernel. Specifically, they are based on the pre11b pre-patch. The actual patches are not (yet) available, but you can pick from a set of pre-compiled kernels containing the patches. Jay is looking for people to test the new kernels; as soon as he is confident that things work, the patches will be released. (If you are planning to try out one of these kernels, please see Jay's followup message describing the naming scheme and a few other things).

There has been a fair amount of discussion this week among people looking for a really good C++ compiler for the alpha. The level of satisfaction with gcc seems to be quite low; evidently DEC's compilers for the alpha perform much better. About the only answer that came out was "run Digital Unix," not a particularly satisfying course of action.


The latest linux/m68k FAQ has been posted.


David Miller has set up an UltraPenguin (Linux on Sun Ultras) mirror in the U.S. for those of use who find the bandwidth to central Europe to be a bit slow. It's at; running on a Cobalt Qube.

The inevitable question came up: has anybody built Mozilla for SparcLinux?. The word is that Jakub Jelinek and David Miller tried to do it, but were unable to make a copy that worked for any period of time. That is scary...if those two can't make it work, it must be seriously difficult.

Kernel 2.1.101 on the Sparc breaks the autofs automounter. If you depend on autofs, wait for 2.1.102.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Software Development]

Embedded Systems

We are happy to include this note from the maintainer of the linux-embedded web site, indicating that he is back on-line, after a brief hiatus, and we should be seeing new information on that site soon.

The product brief for the Hitachi SuperH Risc Processor lists Linux as one of the supported operating systems, though a posting to linux-embedded regarding this processor hasn't turned up anyone using it yet.

Information has been posted regarding a proposal by Technologic Systems to produce a "Linux SBC". It was met with some enthusiasm; we wish them luck.


Sergey Nikitin has released JDK 1.1.6v1.0. It is currently only available for glibc-based systems; a libc5 version is said to be in the works.

The java-linux mailing list changed hands briefly and then moved back. Karl Asha is again hosting the list at During the process, the subscriber list was reset, so if you want your java-linux fix, you'll need to subscribe again. Subscription information is available on the java-linux website.


The inaugural meeting of the Philadelphia Perl Monger's group will be on May 20th.

O'Reilly has announced "Learning Perl and CGI", a web-based perl course.


Oliver Andrich continues to work on making Python easy for Linux folks. He now has a web page for Python and Linux. He has also announced a set of packages for glibc-based Slackware systems to go along with the Red Hat packages.

Neil Schemenauer has released a Python sparse matrix module.


Did you help alpha-test the g77 compiler sometime over the last few years? If so, Craig Burley would like to hear from you. He's looking to thank the early adopters who helped him with this (impressive!) effort.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free
/ Tips / Announce / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News

Here's a project idea without an actual project: a Linux School Management System and/or Linux Gradebooks. Both should be pretty easy to implement with existing tools, but will need to be packaged up and documented to be useful and appealing to the educational world.

The Gimp developers went to the linart mailing list looking for free art to use on the Gimp 1.0 CD. More confirmation that Gimp 1.0 is very, very close ...

Adrian Ratnapala posted a variety of documents on the PenguinPlay list recently, including an Object Space and suggested license for PenguinPlay, a common header file, and suggested header locations.

Joystick driver v1.1.0 is a new project in need of testers ...

Project Independence has been announced, with a goal of Linux for the Masses. This appears to be the distribution that Bruce Perens spoke of; the goals match his directly, though his name was not in the announcement or found on the website. If we're wrong, then the two projects should talk to each other!

As to our position, though no one likes to see duplication of effort, the goal of creating a user-friendly Linux for the average person is worthwhile and we eagerly await the first useable version of it, no matter what the project name or base distribution is.

IBM's System Network Architecture on Linux? Some of you may shudder, but given the number of mainframe or AS/400 systems out there, the availability of SNA for Linux will definitely be a contribution to the cause. The linux-sna project is very new, but the work logs report progress on an almost daily basis.


The Wang suit against Netscape for patent infringement has been dismissed. Although most people expected this result, still people on the mozilla lists were happy to see it stomped on. One interesting side-issue was how much well-researched, relevant information was generated for the Netscape's lawyers from net citizens. They were apparently "blown-away" and the information clearly assisted the case.

Apparently we were wrong and the Mozilla newsletter will be published more frequently than we originally thought. This May 10th issue mentions the Wang patent, spammers, tarballs, missing features that aren't missing, and the standard summary of the status of Mozilla on the various platforms.

A draft glossary for "Jazilla" (java-mozilla) has been posted by Jim Russell and improved through various corrections.

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

Linux and the Commercial World

This was a week for database announcements. Following on last week's Interbase port, this week we hear that Computer Associates has ported Ingres to Linux, and that will be freely available, in a semi-crippleware form. If enough interest develops, they may follow with a commercial version.

More interestingly (to some of us), O2 Tech (now Ardent Software) has ported their O2 object database to Linux. This information was confirmed by telephone by Stéfane Fermigier, though the Ardent website does not yet appear to contain updated information. From Jerel Crosland, we heard the inside information on why they are doing the port. Object databases may well end up owning the database world, so it is encouraging to see this sort of technology coming to Linux.

Karsten Self forwarded a note about an article in the April 9, 1998 issue of C't, a German computer magazine. The text of the article was not available on-line, but the upshot was that Informix will do a native Linux port of some of their products, but they aren't saying which ones as of yet.

Press Releases:

  • O'Reilly: Learn Perl online with O'reilly's and DES's web-based courses
  • XiG:Five new laptops are supported with the Laptop Accelerated-X Display Server v4.1.
  • Wills & Company DB/C, a complete programming environment for the PL/B programming language.
  • For a mere $50,000, you can run Rubicad's LACE design tool under Linux.
  • Red Hat also put out a press release this week, talking about Beowulf clusters. Red Hat intends to package and ship the Beowulf extensions, though it appears they don't actually have a product available yet.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Articles] A recurring FAQ seems to come from people who are trying to use Posix threads on libc5 systems. Often what you get on such systems is the MIT thread package, which is probably not what you want. The way to get good threads performance on Linux systems is to use the LinuxThreads package. And the best way to get LinuxThreads is to use a glibc-based system; glibc not only includes threads, but the library itself is thread-safe. If you are stuck with a libc5 system, you can see Xavier Leroy's note on where to get the latest LinuxThreads.  
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  


Package Version Description
angela! 1.28BETA graph editor
binutils based on binutils 2.9.1 plus Linux/ARM support
chpp 0.3.1 a general purpose preprocessor
Code Crusader 0.13.1 C/C++ development environment
Dpad n/a X-tool for administrating daemons
f90gl 1.1 a public domain implementation of the OpenGL Fortran 90 bindings
gax 1.0 galaxy DB utility for astronomy
getopt 1.0 a drop-in replacement for getopt(1)
Gmp3 0.072a A GTK-based front-end to mpg123
Flick 1.1 IDL Compiler Kit
JCam 0.3 Java-based software for Digital Cameras (Commercial)
kab 0.7.1 minor upgrade that fixes a compilation bug on libc5 systems
kbd 0.96 keyboard and console utilities
knl 1.0.1 Kernel image configurator
ImageMagick 4.0.5 general image manipulation tool (binaries)
JX 1.1.14 GUI library "free for non-commercial use"
logwatch 1.4 a customizable, pluggable log-monitoring system
MH 6.8.5 unofficial Patches to Rand MH
mpg123 patch n/a play MP3 files on a 486DX2/66 at full speed (44.1 kHz) in stereo
nmh 0.25 New development track of MH
nsbd 1.1 Web-based software distribution tool
Oberon 1.0 a modern version of Pascal
pam_smb module 1.0 NT/smbpasswd authentication
ppplog 0.3 calculates PPP phone costs
q2-wrapper 0.02beta Makes Quake2 behave itself
qps 1.4 visual process manager
RasMol 2.6b2 molecule viewer for X
samba 1.9.18p7 SMB file server
SampLin n/a new scientific data acquisition software
SCNN 3.3 cellular neural network simulator
syslinux 1.40 boot loader
whisper 0.1 Internet Phone
WXftp 0.2.0 GUI FTP client now with GTK+ interface
XFCE 1.2.9 toolbar for X11
Xwpe 1.5.9a An integrated development environment


A new version of the Linux Advocacy mini-HOWTO is available.

The May issue of the LinuxFocus magazine has been released.

Gary Lawrence Murphy is building a Linux on-line bookstore, with reviews of Linux books and hooks to

A spanish-based Linux Seminar has been announced.

The May issue of the Linux Gazette has been released.

And here's a preview of the July issue of the Linux Journal.

A mini-HOWTO for ADSL has been posted for those ready to work with this new high-speed digital access line technology.


Please check our Linux events calendar for event information.

Web sites

The Linux Web Map moved to a new server on May 8th. The new address is

The Real Time Linux home page has been reworked and spiffed up. Evidently early versions of the page included a "chainsaw penguin" logo that was more appropriate to an adventure game; the current logo is much more tame.

Lou's Infocom/Linux page propose to get linux users playing Infocom games. Even the lowliest 386/16sx running Linux can join the fun.

New Linux banners! Always some fun to be had ...

Italian speakers may want to check out gli URL più richiesti su it.comp.linux.*, put together by Gabriele Zugliani.

New user groups

A new Linux User Group has formed in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Hampshire Linux Users Group is also new and has formed a mailing list for the group.

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

Linux links of the week

The Linux Programmer's Bounce Point is a link site dedicated specifically to software development resources. This site, in turn, was found in Object News, a "newsletter" that points out a few interesting OOP items in the news or on the net each day.

Now that you've gotten this far, it's time to stop being serious, put on your conspiracy hat, and learn the truth behind Microsoft. This guy isn't serious....right....?

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

Feedback and Corrections

Jeff Silverman wrote in regarding the proposed changes in the U.S. laws regarding shrink-wrapped software that we covered last week. He points out that we missed an opportunity to tell people to write to their representatives and ask that they vote against this ugly thing. He's right, we all need to do that. Speak up, or forever hold your peace...
Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! This page is produced by Eklektix, Inc.