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 28, 1998

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

Other stuff:
LWN Archives
Linux Links
Linux Events Calendar
Daily Updates

Leading items

The Linux Weekly News has finally moved to its own domain: You should be reading this page from the new URL automatically; please do update any links or bookmarks that you may have. Hopefully people will stop complaining that the URL is hard to type...:-)

Perhaps one of the more important events at Linux Expo will be the BOF on the proposed Linux standard base. The LSB seeks to create a standard for Linux systems, such that an application that runs on one compliant system will run on them all. Please see the announcement if you have not yet read it.

We need something like the LSB. Though the level of incompatibility between distributions is already pretty low, problems do occasionally crop up. More problematic is the sense among some software vendors that "Linux is the system where each user has their own version number." If application vendors can be assured that the full Linux market - at least those interested in buying software - will be available to them, they will be more interested in trying to sell to that market. Even for open source purists, the advantages of having a Linux system standard will be many. (See also Larry Augustin's Freshmeat editorial for more words on the need for the LSB).

There are a number of concerns, clearly, that would have to be addressed in the process of defining and implementing the LSB. Hopefully at least some of these will be raised, and dealt with, at the Linux Expo BOF. A few that are worth considering include:

  • Who decides ultimately what is in the LSB, and what is not? Will Bruce Perens (or whoever ends up leading the project) have the support and authority to work in a Linus-style mode and keep the LSB together?

  • How will LSB compliance be tested and advertised? Should there be a funded group, complete with trademarked symbol, which can judge compliance claims? How will this group be paid for? Testing fees might normally be used, but non-funded distributions, such as Debian, must be able to qualify as well.

  • How do we keep the LSB from slowing down Linux development? Consistency will be a requirement if the LSB is to have value, but Linux needs to be able to move forward. How would the LSB have handled the shift to ELF, or glibc2? Do we believe that changes of that magnitude are now behind us? One idea worth consideration is to tie major revisions of the LSB to major kernel releases, thus minimizing the number of major "Linux system" changes, and making it easy to know where any individual system is at.
The final concern has to do with how the LSB relates to other, existing projects, such as the Core/Layers specification and the FreeLinux project. It is often said that the nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from. It seems unlikely that Linux needs choices at this level, so it seems important that these groups talk to each other and come up with a single solution.

LWN is short-handed this week, due to folks off junketting at Linux Expo and leaving just one loyal, hard-working (and somewhat grumpy) person to write the newsletter. If things look more rushed than usual, you now know why. We will also be short-handed through most of June; a one-week break is possible during that time.

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 see our Linux support page.


Linux in the news

Our nomination for FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) of the week. The Case Against Linux, in PC Week, predicts the coming decline of our favorite operating system. "...Linux is a communist operating system in a capitalist society." And all that capitalist activity around Linux is...not there? ...irrelevant? ...inconvenient? In truth, though, there are a few good points in this story; one helped to inspire this week's editorial, above. (We found this one in Slashdot, there is a fair amount of discussion there for those who are interested).

Nicolas Petreley has another long article in NC World talking about the competition between Unix and NT. The bulk of the article dwells on some of the problems with NT (multi-user multitasking, for example), and shows how Unix handles things better. Linux is called out as a particular threat to NT toward the end.

Also in the "competition with NT" department: the folks at ISD Mag evidently got a lot of response to recent articles on Linux, so now they are hosting a Linux vs. NT forum in San Francisco on June 16. If anybody out there is able to go, could you please send us a summary? Thanks to Keith Outwater for the pointer to this one.

Salon Magazine ran an article on the mystery of Transmeta. They weren't really able to learn much more than anybody else...

IBM has no plans for Linux, according to The Star Online in Malaysia. "...our customers are concerned about liability issues when using public code for mission-critical applications."

Forget Windows; Programmer creates own operating system says the Providence Journal. The story is pretty much a run-of-the-mill "history of Linux" piece, touching on Titanic, potential installation difficulties, and lack of applications.

J William Gurley puts forth his seven fundamental truths of open standards in a Fortune Magazine article. No mention of Linux, but some interesting discussion of how business and open standards mix.

Jeff Papows, president and CEO of Lotus, badmouths free software in this TechWeb Internet interview. They followed that one up, at least, with an interview with Eric Raymond.

There is an article in TechWeb News about Sun joining Linux International. "Linux got a huge boost this week..."

PC Week Online has a review of the Cobalt Qube where they talk mostly about the fact that you still need to have a network to plug it into.

Found in Les Nouvelles Neuves de Linux: An article in French cites Linux as the primary competitor to Windows. It even includes small pictures of Bill Gates (in suit) and Linus (with beer).

Computer Reseller News has a short article on Red Hat 5.1; it reads much like the press release... A more thorough article on 5.1 can be found in TechWeb News.

EE Times author John Cooley sees the writing on the wall, and it says "Linux". "In the [last] three months ... I've read 118 letters discussing the merits of porting EDA tools to Linux. I suspect my universe is trying to tell me something."

Free the Windows source? Some responses by Salon readers can be found in this followup article.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Security] Increasing numbers of attacks on Linux (and other) systems based on the named vulnerability seem to be happening. This is a nasty one, giving would-be intruders instant access to your system. If you have not upgraded your version of bind in the last month, you really need to do so. See the recent CERT advisory for more.

A group of hacker types scared the U.S. Senate last week.

There is an overflow bug in bitchx (an IRC client) which can allow denial-of-service attacks, and possibly worse. If you (or your users) use this client, you may want to apply the fix which was posted.

A new version of Fortify is available which works with glibc2-based browsers. Fortify is a system which provides 128-bit encryption for Netscape, even those versions which have been crippled due to ridiculous U.S. export regulations.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Kernel] The current development kernel release is 2.1.103. There is a 2.1.104 pre-patch available; a quick reading shows that it is full mostly of spelling fixes and other minor tweaks. Further kernel releases are unlikely until sometime after Linux Expo is over.

Alan Cox's 2.0.34 stable kernel release is at pre-patch16. Indications are that this one is working well, and it may well become the official 2.0.34 shortly. The pre-patch may be found on Alan's FTP site (in the UK), or at Dave Cinege's U.S. Mirror.

Richard Gooch has produced yet another devfs release, this one with some RAID fixes.

Some folks are looking for volunteers to help with the development of a Dream SAM9407 driver. The SAM9407 is a DSP chip used in a number of sound cards. See their announcement if you would like to help.

A new version of ftape has been released. Ftape is the driver for "floppy tape" devices. See the announcement for more. There is also the first release of the ftape-tools package to go along with the driver.

The Linux Kernel Checkpoint Project has been announced. It is intended to be a checkpoint and restart capability built into the kernel; they say it is in the "early stages of development."

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  
[DISTRIBUTIONS] Release 0.2 of Small Linux has been released. This distribution is, well, small, fitting on two diskettes. It seems to be aimed at older machines with less than 4mb of RAM.


Debian 1.3.1 r8 has been released. This release contains the fix for the horrendous named bug (you all have installed this one by now, right?) and other stuff. See the announcement for more.

Will there be an official Debian 2.0 CD set? If so, who will put it together? These questions came up this week; it seems that the "official CD" project has fallen through the cracks for the moment. People are working on solutions, so this will probably come together again.

Red Hat

Red Hat 5.1 is out! See Red Hat's product page for details. The new features are essentially what we had said they would be a couple of weeks ago: Internationalization, creation of boot and rescue disks during installation, DHCP for install-time network configuration, Linuxconf system admin utility, the g77 Fortran compiler (as part of egcs), and the new "electric eyes" replacement for xv. Red Hat Linux is now a three-CD set, the third disk being the Linux Applications CD, a set of demo versions of a lot of commercial packages.

Note that while 5.1 will not ship until June 1, it is available for FTP downloading now. If you have to grab it right away, please go to one of the Red Hat mirror sites. You will have a more satisfactory experience that way.

Some folks are asking if a lower-priced 5.0 to 5.1 upgrade will be available. Red Hat's response is that their full OS price is already low enough, they can't afford to do a separate upgrade price. That makes sense, really...


Some SuSE users have asked whether SuSE provides a "contrib" area similar to what Red Hat has. The answer currently is "no." A response from SuSE suggests that they are thinking about it, and that some sort of area for contributed packages should show up in the near future.

S.u.S.E. seems to be going into the bookstore business...

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  


Derrick Brashear has put out yet another sparcaudio release. This one includes the beginnings of support for running the SunOS Real Audio player under SparcLinux.

People awaiting the Red Hat 5.1 release for Sparc are going to have to be patient a little longer; it should be released "sometime this summer."

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


Keven Hester has released a set of Java CommAPI drivers, which allow access to serial ports from Java.

Steve Byrne has put up a test version of JDK 1.1.6 for the "brave, foolhardy, etc." See his announcement if you fit that description and want a copy... (There is also a version built with glibc available at a different site).

If you are waiting for version 1.2 of the JDK so that you can use "collections," there's a couple of other options available to you (that are available now). First, there is a a version of collections which works with JDK1.1 available on Or, you can look at JGL, the "Generic Collection Library," which is said by some to be better.


The request for discussion for the proposed newsgroup comp.lang.perl.moderated has been posted. Patience is called for; the discussion is supposed to last for a minimum of 21 days before a "call for votes" can be issues.

Tom Christiansen decided to really upset the GNU folks...see, for example, the post entitled "GPL documentation == unspeakable evil" if you are really curious. We will not, however, quote all of the followups, lacking sufficient disk space and asbestos.

Tom then finished out with a quick discussion of his upcoming O'Reilly "Perl Cookbook," including a table of contents. He also posted a bunch of tips and code snippits, including: matching multiple patterns, tricks with here documents, watching for disk overruns, insertion-order hashes, nesting subroutines, finding installed modules, printing to multiple files, reading single keystrokes, various ways to open files, capturing stdout and stderr separately, full duplex socket communication, and using magic <ARGV>.


Here's a list of Python events at Linux Expo.

Vladimir Marangozov has put out the first release of pymalloc, an "introspective memory allocator" for Python.

Digicool has put out version 2.1 of their Document Templates system, which allows the dynamic creation of web pages (and other text documents) dynamically from templates and Python code.

Digicool has also release a new version of their (commercial) Principia "web application platform."


GNU Fortran 0.5.23 has been released. The main purpose of the release, according to the announcement, is to bring g77 up to date with gcc 2.8, and some bug fixes.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free
/ Tips / Announce / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News

Version 1.0 of the GIMP manual is out! You can get it at the GIMP FTP site or (preferably) one of its mirror sites. The HTML version is more that 15MB's not light reading. But maybe we can finally learn how to use the GIMP properly and put some decent graphics on this page...:-)

The folks behind the QTEZ project (a development environment for Qt and KDE) have set up a mailing list for interested parties. See the above link for more information.

The GNU folks have made a new set of mailing lists available for users of bison, GNU make, RCS, and flex.


Pat Gunn has released a new Mozilla Newsletter.

Pat Gunn put out a proposal for something called the Mozilla Transformation Services. This service would allow the browser to apply edits to web pages before displaying them, under control of the user. Thus, for example, <BLINK> could be banished from all web pages forevermore, at least for you. No more Doubleclick. Or PICS censoring could be applied. An interesting idea.

A new version of the Mozilla Release FAQ is out. Yes, Pat Gunn posted this one too.

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

Linux and the Commercial World

The rumoured service pack for StarOffice 4.0 in English hit the ftp-sites on Wednesday, May 20th. Thanks to Charlie Stross, who forwarded the information when he noticed it hadn't made it into last week's edition.

There is a web petition out there for gamers who would like to see "Unreal" ported to Linux.

We received a note stating that Scitech's Display Doctor will be ported to Linux, and will probably be available in the fall.

Press Releases:

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


Package Version Description
8hz-mp3 MPEG-3 audio encoder
apache 1.3b7 Beta release of the world's web server
bwatch 1.0.2 Monitor nodes in a Beowulf cluster
chemtool Draw organic molecules under X
diary Web-based group calendar system
glibc 2.0.94 The GNU C library
hexed 1.2 Hexadecimal editor
js 0.1.0 Javascript interpreter
kbiff 0.7 Fancy KDE mailbox monitor
KPGsql 0.0.8 KDE front end for Postgresql
kodometer 0.1 Measure pointer "mileage" 1.9.9 Dynamic library loader
mc 4.1.35 Midnight Commander file manager
mcalc 15 Mortgage calculator
mswordview 0.0.14 Convert MS Word 8 files to HTML
mxapps 1.11 Motif-based mail and FTP clients
nftp 1.22 Shareware fancy FTP client
procinfo 14 Display system performance information
QuoteGrabber 1.0 Shareware grab real-time stock quotes
sfm 1.0 Simple file manager
slidedraw0.0.7 Tcl/Tk slide drawing program
Toshiba Utilities to control Toshiba laptops
xlab 0.8.1 Record and play back X window events
xnetload 1.4.1 Display network utilization
xrn 9.01 X-based news reader
xtrs 2.0 TRS-80 emulator

Web sites

Hardware envy: I want an Itsy in my next Christmas stocking. Eat your hearts out, Palm Pilot people...:-)

The Virginia Tech Linux User Group pages have moved to a new site.

New user groups

"Otis" is interested in starting an Orlando, FL Linux user's group. Drop him a note if you would like to be part of it.

The Irish Linux Users Group is having their second meeting on June 6.

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

Linux links of the week

Xose Vazquez has put together a page entitled Current ports of Linux OS. If you are interested in all the systems that Linux runs on, here is the place to look.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  

Feedback and Corrections

Craig Goodrich took exception to our "whoever they are" comment regarding the Independent Institute, whose pro-Microsoft press release was featured in last week's edition. See the link above if you are interested this group; they are evidently a well-respected public policy think tank. We certainly meant them no insult, disrespect, or harm from that off-the-cuff remark.
Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! This page is produced by Eklektix, Inc.