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 21, 1998

Linux articles
Kernel news
Software Development
Free/Open-Source Software
Commercial/Press Releases
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

How should open source software development be funded? One of the crucial difficulties in the open source model seems to be just how all that programmer time will be paid for. Most people assume that relying on volunteer labor will never suffice to meet all of the needs out there. There are a few reasons for this...

For example, people need to eat. Programmers need their supplies of soda and chips. Many of us would produce a lot more free software if we didn't burn ourselves out on our day jobs first. Unfortunately, we have to keep said day jobs, lest we become another one of those people out there with "will write visual basic modules for food" signs.

Another reason is that the people who can pay for software development are often reluctant to give away the product they paid to build. Maybe they do not want to disclose their algorithms. Or maybe they are afraid that their competition will benefit more from a source code disclosure then they will. What happens when some company releases its source with great fanfare, but the cadre of programmers out there fails to rally to their cause? Such fears will certainly disturb the sleep of corporate executives who are contemplating releasing their code.

One clear way out is to find a way to fund the development of code that is meant to be open from the beginning. A recent effort in that direction can be found at This initiative has proved to be controversial. Quibbles start with their overhead rates (a fairly small percentage of donations get through to the programmers). But the really big complaints came as a result of their table of companies that work with open source software, which attempts to balance their benefits from and contributions to the open source community. This table was seen as an attempt to humiliate companies into kicking into the fund, and that is not the way a lot of us would like to see open source promoted. In response to the complaints, the link to this table has been removed from the main site, but the organizers of the fund remain unconvinced that it is not the right way to go.

There are other, similar efforts out there, such as the Linux International Grant Fund. It's not clear that any of them have gone anywhere, though. In the end, putting out a web page and asking people to give you money seems like a difficult strategy. It is hard enough to get people to donate money to help seriously needy people on their own community. They will be less inclined to give money to pay some faceless software engineer the kind of money that such people tend to expect. One can fairly safely predict that very few engineers will be employed in this way.

So how do we pay for free software development? This is clearly an issue require much more thought. Perhaps one of the better models we have currently would be Red Hat Advanced Development Labs. Here we have a company which is making money off open software; it is very much in their interest to improve the code that supports them. And it is in their interest to work on areas where big gaps exist, such as truly good desktops. Caldera's COAS project and SuSE's X servers are also good examples. As is Transmeta's support of the work that Linus and H. Peter Anvin put into Linux. The "enlightened corporate self interest" model may well prove to be the one that works best for open source funding.

Erik Walthinsen announced the Core/Layers project for Linux and a draft of the specification. Coordination is also on-going with the FreeLinux project, which is building a "meta-distribution" to provide a common Linux core for all the Linux specifications.

Only seven more days until the Linux Expo! In a shameless plug, we'll mention again that co-author Liz Coolbaugh will be there and she's looking forward to meeting many of you. Also keep an eye out for the reports she'll be writing when she can squeeze a minute in ...

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Linux in the news

PC Quest, an Indian computing magazine, has done a major special on Linux in their May issue. It includes at least a dozen articles with introductory and howto information; titles include "Installing Red Hat Linux," "Linux for DOS users," the "Linux Corporate FAQ," "Configuring DHCP and DNS," "Supercomputing with Linux," "CD Writing," and quite a few others. Good stuff.

This week is the 25th anniversary of Ethernet. An article in the New York Times talks with Bob Metcalfe about the success of this medium, which, as they point out, is based on the fact that Ethernet is an open standard. "'Bill Gates, et al, have usurped the term open,' Metcalfe said. 'But Ethernet has remained pure; it is a true open standard.'" Linux is mentioned as another interesting open standard. Note that you may be asked for a username and password to see this one; "cypherpunks" will work for both. Note also that they seem to not allow access via this registration to people outside the U.S. Thanks to Jonathan Day for the pointer to this one.

Also in the New York Times: The public hasn't turned against Microsoft yet, but some people are looking at Linux because "they heard it crashes less often."

An article in Computer Reseller News talked about the advantages that Linux has for resellers. "For resellers, 'alternative' means being able to offer clients something that's not vanishingly obscure, yet not available from every other reseller in the country." Happily, they also mentioned that support was available for Linux. A positive and FUD-free article.

C|Net's "Project Heresy," in which they attempt to live without Microsoft products for a month, is now documented in Real Audio format on C|Net radio.

The journal has put out a lengthy, detailed article about open source, its history, etc., with Mozilla at the center of the study. It is accurate and well done.

A good letter, of the "I tried NT and fled screaming to Linux" variety appears in TechWeb News this week.

Sm@rt Reseller wants to be sure we know that Netscape will not be buying any Linux vendors anytime soon.

Infoworld reviews the Eolian Infostorm web cache, which appears to be a turnkey x86 box running Linux and Squid.

PC Magazine reviewed the Cobalt Qube, and were seemingly impressed. It provides " extremely gratifying out-of-box experience." We want one...

A press release from the "Independent Institute," whoever they are, says that antitrust action against Microsoft can only hurt consumers. "Antitrust Is What Losers Do to Winners in the Free Marketplace." One of the factors keeping Microsoft honest, mentioned in passing, is Linux.

A few articles popped up concerning the resurgence of the Amiga platform, and the speculation that an upcoming version of the Amiga OS might be based on Linux. Choose any or all of The Philadelphia Inquirer, C|Net, or a more detailed article in Wired news.

The Ottawa Citizen ran an article about free software and Linux which describes Linux as an alterative to Microsoft. "Linux has the fastest growing market share of any operating system, and will likely continue to grow."

For those following the Department of Justice versus Microsoft proceedings, the full text of the complaint is available.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Security] Thanks go to Chris Evans and Alan Cox for the discovery of some nasty security problems in dhcp and the coordination of the effort to provide fixes.If you are using dhcp, upgrading immediately is recommended.

The Linux-IPSEC team has announced a new release of FreeS/WAN. This is an IPSEC implementation that encrypts all IP traffic between two suitably equipped hosts. It is best suited to Linux machines which are serving as a gateway for a local network. S/WAN is an important step toward the adoption of network-wide encryption and a more secure world; we encourge people to experiment with it.

It appears that "backdoors" have become highly fashionable. The Source Navigator demo had one, that Elmer Joandi reported and could not find mention of in the documentation. Once notified, staff at Cynus shut down distribution and worked overnight to come up with a fix for the problem. New versions downloaded since Saturday, May 16th, should be fine.

3Com issue this report regarding the recent reports of backdoors into their products. In spite of the tone of the actual report, Aleph One forwarded a note from an unnamed engineer at 3Com indicating that the problems have been correctly resolved. Since 3Com will not do it, let us publicly thank Sash Egan, Eric Monti and the bugtraq community for their reports and actions.

The May 1998 issue of SysAdmin magazine contained an article on "Web-Enabled Man Page." Along with the article came a script named for feeding man pages to a web browser. Aleph One found and reported a security problem with this script. His note describes the problem and includes a patch.

Kevin Buhr posted a patched version of IPLogger, which will catch lightning fast scans that might be missed by tcp wrappers. The patches avoid some possible buffer overruns and always include the IP address.

Leendert van Doorn has released the source to nfsshell, a useful tool to manually check or show security problems after a security scanner has detected them. Since the release, it looks like some coordinated efforts are going into the ports of the software to Linux and the addition of some features.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Kernel] The current development kernel release is 2.1.103. 2.1.103 includes additions to the parallel-port IDE protocol stuff, lots of UMSDOS patches, some SCSI driver patches, and other stuff. Perhaps the best news is that, according to early reports, problems with the NE2000 PCI ethernet driver have been fixed.

Alan Cox continues to work on 2.0.34 pre-patches. By the time most of you read this, pre16 should be available on his FTP site. He thinks that they have found the source of a lot of 2.0.34pre problems; it has it's roots in the Cyrix CPU probe, which causes Intel CPU's to do weird things on BX motherboards. With this one behind us, maybe 2.0.34 can finally come out soon

Richard Gooch has put out version 31 of the devfs patch, which strives to create stability in device names even when the hardware changes. See his announcement for more. Still no word as to whether this will go in before 2.2. There have been some calls to that effect recently. It would be a good thing, really; incorporating devfs should not risk breaking other things, and would make life easier for a lot of people.

A new version of real-time Linux has been released. Some details exist in their announcement. Note that this kernel must be compiled with SMP enabled, even if you have a uniprocessor machine.

Gerd Knorr has produced a patch to create a graphical console for Linux Intel systems. Folks who want a higher-level console device, and who have to have that penguin logo at boot time should check this out. It seems to be in an alpha state, just waiting for some people to help out. See the announcement and patch for more.

Where should kernel tarballs unpack into? A vocal group of people think they should go into a directory name with the version number attached, such as "linux-2.1.103," as opposed to just "linux." Some discussion went by; fortunately, this one is easy to resolve. Linus likes things the way they are, and is uninclined to change them...

...but people will ask anyway. But they shouldn't, because the question is listed in the new Questions not to ask on linux-kernel FAQ.

We must be getting closer to a stable kernel release...a big spelling patch has been put out, fixing those dreaded spelling bugs in almost 150 files.

Kernel 2.1.102 brought in the IP firewalling chains code. Ipchains are a similar, but much improved version of the firewalling code. However, you need the latest userland tools to work with them; otherwise you'll find you can't use firewalling any more as of 2.1.102. If your needs include this mix of security (firewalling) and living dangerously (bleeding-edge kernel), head over to the IP Firewalling Chains web site and grab the utilities.

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  


"Hamm" has been moved from "frozen" to "deep-frozen". This means that instead of accepting changes as long as they are bug-fixes, now the changes must be to fix "release-necessary" bugs. This is a good step and hopefully presages a frozen version that can be tested properly. Speaking of which, they still need testers ...

Fixed versions of gzip and several sparc packages have been uploaded in response to security alerts.

Andreas Jellinghaus has re-written the old debian-cd scripts into a new and improved makefile. He's at version 0.1 and response to the announcement was very positive.

Red Hat

Steve Dunham posted a message with some concerns about possible naming conflicts with the Red Hat shared libraries. Alan Cox responded and will be looking into the issue.


We hear from Roger Dingledine that Project Independence and SEUL have spoken. The two projects have different goals so they will remain separate, but hopefully coordination will allow them to share developed products where appropriate.


A slackware mailing list has been announced. You can subscribe to it via the Winds of Storm CircleMUD Page.
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  


If you are building a 2.1 kernel for the alpha, be sure that you do not compile it with SMP enabled. As Linus himself has stated, "SMP does not currently work reliably on the Alpha". People are reporting some other problems with recent kernels on the Alpha, leading to sluggish response when CPU-bound processes are running. No solution has been posted for that one yet.


Derrick Brashear has put out a new version of his sparcaudio driver and utilities. There is now the beginning of an "audiocontrol" program along the lines of the one Solaris has.

Daniel Veillard has established a new UltraPenguin mirror.

If you're seeing group weirdness on your UltraPenguin system, you're being bitten by a glibc bug. You can get a fix here if you don't want to wait for the next release.


The LinuxPPC folks have announced a new Linux installer for G3 Mac systems.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Software Development]


Steve Byrne's jdk 1.1.5v7 was released during the period where was down with hardware problems. We hear from the author that v7 is working substantially better for lots of people. However, if you are on a RedHat 5.0 system, get the latest version of glibc (2.0.7-7) to run with it. That will clear up many problems. Tya 0.6 still works with the new version.

Steve Byrne has his port of jdk1.1.6 up and running, though people working with him are experiencing crashes. He will make libc diffs available for the brave in another day or so.

As an aside, there were comments that 1.1.6 on "other platforms" had some problems. If you experience these, you may want to try running with the "-nojit" option, since 1.1.6 uses a JIT by default. (The tip was posted by Travis Shirk).

On the other java front, Sergey Nikitin's JDK 1.1.6 port is apparently ready to go. In a twist from Steve Byrnes' ports, the first version will be glibc, with libc following.

Paul Reavis has offer to support a Debian-specific Java HOWTO. If you're interested or wish to contribute, contact him.



Jorge Alegre wrote the Python community to share a Python success story. Just warm fuzzy stuff...
  • Httpdapy 0.1b - a port of Nsapy to Apache.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free
/ Tips / Announce / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News

Fredrik Stöckel and Ludvig A. Norin have put out a paper entitled A Open-source software development methodology. They analyze several development projects, and try to come up with a new model to describe how open source development is done.

In response to rumors that The Open Group might be closing their doors, Preston F. Crow posted a statement approved by TOG's CEO. Changes "are in the works" and the Open Group's primary focus will be on its "IT DialTone mission." That certainly seems like it may leave a void behind in terms of leadership and development on X ... emphasis on the word "may".


The rumors are true. Netscape is currently in the middle of a "hellish merge" but the outcome will be the source code for the mail/news portion, barring the propriety database portion. An API will be provided (and evolved) to allow different databases to be plugged in.

The Mozilla group have released yet another tool. Bonsai "is the all-singing all-dancing CVS archive querying tool."

And the winner of the Mozilla logo contest is: number 116! Urs Streidl is the author of the new logo.

The mozilla-java group has addressed the coding style issues and is debating between the Sun and Netscape coding standards. Also up for debate is whether the standards will be "required" or "strongly recommended" and whether a pretty printer program can be found to help turn good comments into beginning documentation. All good issues to resolve early!

The Jazilla Glossary has been updated and password protection removed.


Len White posted a patch to Wine that fixes some compile warnings and a grammar problem.

And Dave Cinege tells us that Quickbooks 5.0 is working in Wine! No one has posted to contradict him yet.

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

Linux and the Commercial World

There is a service pack available for the German version of StarOffice. Check the German website for more information. Whether or not this is available in English is debatable; some have said definitely not, while Phil Risby reports finding and using just such a beast.

[Editor note: The service pack hit the ftp-sites Wednesday, May 20th. See our daily updates page for details.]

Press Releases:

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


Package Version Description
a2ps 4.10.2 Any to PostScript filter
apsfilter 4.9.5 Line printer input filter
AutoRPM 1.6 automated RPM management
egcs 1.0.3 optimized version of the gcc compiler (binaries)
karpski 0.9c Ethernet sniffer
MAT 0.16 Monitoring & Admin Tool (Shareware)
mon 0.37k service monitoring daemon
regulus Commercial ISP accounting package
sanecgi n/a web interface to ALL scanners
Shared Calendars Shareware Web-based shared calendar system
smk 1.1 Smart Mailing list Keeper
sox 12.14 Universal sound processing tool
tcharge 1.3 (X-)watch for telephone charges
wmnet 1.03 IP accounting rule monitor X dockapp
Xnetload 1.4 connection monitor
xosview 1.6.0 system stat monitor
xtide 2.0 Tide clock
Yard 1.14 creates custom rescue (boot) disks for Linux


Chris Harshman is looking for people interested in discussing a standardization of linux to make administration and setup easier. Perhaps the FreeLinux project would be a good place for him to start.

Web sites

The Digital Igloo is a new Linux site. The home of the Linux Challenge, a standing challenge to remove all Microsoft OS's from your system and use Linux instead, the Digital Igloo also has other resources, ranging from Linux Applications, Linux PR, Security, Fonts, Configuration information, and links to many computer news sites.

Christian 'Kochtopf' Scholz has made a collection of banner ads and backgrounds for Linux.

The Linux for Business site tries to make the case for the use of Linux in business situations. They have a fair amount of stuff to fill in, but their project is a good one and deserving of support. Check it out and send them material! is offering free software: see their announcement for details.

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

Linux links of the week

There is a web site containing the list of pending patches to the Linux kernel. Your editor is not aware of how long it has been there; it likely was created in response to the problem of patches getting dropped when Linus is busy with other things. It's a much needed means of organizing the in-queue for patches; have a look if you're interested in what people are working on.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  

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