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 June 4, 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

Will Linux obtain Unix98 certification? A few weeks ago in this space we surmised that the Open Group's Unix98 program would be used in an attempt to freeze the open source systems out of the Unix market. What better way to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about Linux than to say that it is not truly Unix?

It appears that we may have called that one wrong. The Open Group (TOG) held the unveiling of the Unix98 specification at the Uniforum conference last week. In the audience was a certain Eric S. Raymond, who asked the question: what would be involved in getting the Unix98 certification for Linux? The surprising answer is that TOG is very interested in getting Linux certified, and is willing to consider bending some rules to do so. See the press release for more.

So why is TOG, which has not recently distinguished itself with its friendliness toward the open source community, interested in certifying Linux? The key seems to be in this quote from the press release: "Since the Linux OS is proving to be increasingly stiff competition for NT in [the low-end server] marketspace, it's in the best interest of all Unix vendors for Linux to get branded so that it may compete more effectively and keep the low end UNIX 98-compliant. " In other words, the proprietary Unix vendors have already written off the low-end server market. However, to their surprise, Linux is making inroads there, so they might as well let Linux harass Microsoft in that realm. If Linux succeeds there, they have a nice buffer between the Gorilla and their high-end systems; if Linux fails, that reduces the threat they face from it. To the proprietary Unix folks, maybe this looks pretty good.

We queried Eric Raymond on this meeting; the response he sent back was:

I walked away happy. It's probably true that the proprietary Unix vendors behind OpenGroup would like to see the Linux hackers as a children's army they can throw at Microsoft, in the hopes we'll at least force Microsoft to spend energy defending their desktop monopoly. That doesn't bother me at all. If they want to make the same strategic concession to Linux that they foolishly did to NT, that's fine by me. We'll just eat their lunch at the same time we're munching on Microsoft's.

We can not think of a better way to say it. Anybody who has been following the press section in this newsletter has seen that Linux is being taken increasingly seriously in the server arena. This is a battle that Linux can win. We have a better system, and one that improves literally every day. Even in this world, where technical merits are not always (or even often) the crucial factors in information technology decisions, we are making major inroads. And we have just begun. It is a fun time.

So where does Unix98 certification fit in? If TOG is willing to award this certification to Linux without requiring compromises that we are unwilling to make, we should probably go for it. Even though the days when people called Linux a "toy system" are well behind us, additional marks of "respectability" can only help to get Linux into new environments. If nothing else, Unix98 certification would show that we have forced the proprietary world, which often wished to ignore us, to acknowledge that Linux is indeed a major force in the computing world.

The 1998 Linux Expo is now history! We enjoyed it thoroughly. If you missed it, start planning for next year! Due to the amount of information available, we've set aside a special page just to cover the Linux Expo.

One of our major topics last week was the Linux Standard Base (LSB). Lots of developments occurred at the Linux Expo, so we've devoted another page to the LSB, its current status and future possibilities.

Stéfane Fermigier, of fame, sent us a note describing a report to the French Government recommending the use of open standards and free software.

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Linux in the news

The Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray heads out on another one of those try to live for a month without Microsoft products journies. On one hand, he compares the exercise to writing a novel without the letter "e"; on the other, "...the history of the past 20 years has taught me not to bet against the geeks. "

The Gartner Group has sounded off again; this time they ask: Free Unix: Do you get what you pay for? Their assessment is only very faintly positive; they don't believe that Linux will make any significant inroads into the commercial world. Among their predictions: "...these operating systems will not find widespread use in mainstream commercial applications in the next three years, nor will there be broad third-party application support." Given that third-party application support is getting broader every day, it's not clear how they are reaching these conclusions.

TechWeb has an article following up on Corel's open source announcements, from the Linux Expo angle.

Wired News covers the InfiniteOS incident, wherein the free MacOS wannabe used some GPL'd code from Linux, but did not put their code under the GPL. Now it looks like InfiniteOS will, indeed, end up under the GPL.

32BitsOnline has another Linux feature: Linux Journeys. This seems to be the beginning of an ongoing series on cool Linux web sites; here they concentrate on applications.

The press release on the NT networking security problems found by Bruce Schneier mentions Linux briefly (implying that it has a better implementation).

Yet another Ralph Nader press release mentions Linux as a great example of how things can be done.

In TechWeb News: How should Sybase go about the business of surviving? "Sybase should support Linux fully and support it for next to nothing."

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Security] A number of security problems exist with Red Hat 5.1; see the Distributions section below for details.

Sentry, an open-source port scan detector for Linux and other Unix variants, has been updated to detect and respond to many advanced scanners.

A Call for Papers has been issued for the 1999 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, scheduled for February 3-5, 1999, in San Diego, CA.

In case people haven't gotten the message yet, information that you provide to a web site is not private. This also includes the passwords you use to register on a site.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Kernel] The current development kernel release is still 2.1.103. No additional 2.1.104 pre-patches have been issued. Linux Expo put a stop to most kernel development work, as all the relevant people were off drinking beer together instead.

Stable kernel 2.0.34 will be out as soon as Linus releases it. Alan Cox and company have decreed that the pre16 patch is good enough, so that process is finished. According to a message that Alan sent to linux-kernel, work will begin immediately on a 2.0.35; it will include fixes for Cyrix problems, and more Alpha stuff.

Perhaps work should begin on problems with the AMD K6 CPU as well. Andreas Haumer did an extensive series of crashme tests with the 2.0.34 soon-to-be kernel; a number of cases produced crashes. In every case, the machine involved had an AMD CPU. Further tests by others on the net produced similar results. Nobody seems to know just what the problem is yet, but there appears to be something ugly lurking there.

Richard Gooch continues to refine the devfs module. Here's the announcement for version 33, which tweaks handling of IDE devices.

Should the running kernel be able to tell you how it was configured? This discussion was perhaps the rowdiest in an unusually sleepy linux-kernel (meaning only 100 messages/day or so). It would be nice to be able to ask which options had been enabled when the kernel was built, so a couple of folks independently produced patches to create a /proc/config device. When read, it would spit out the configuration used to build the kernel. Quite a few people objected, though, calling the idea an example of unneeded kernel bloat. Gerd Knorr posted his scheme for managing kernel information which requires no /proc additions... Your editor's prediction is that this development will not make it into the mainstream kernel, but he's been wrong before...

A read/write UFS (Unix filesystem) implementation has been completed and is sitting in the vger CVS archive, waiting to be merged. The implication is that it will go in before 2.2. Read-only access to UFS filesystems has been available for a while; it seems we'll soon get full access to filesystems created by various Berkeley-derived systems, including SunOS, *BSD, and NextStep.

And, speaking of filesystems, a project to implement the QNX4 filesystem has been announced. They have a mailing list, and, of course, are looking for volunteers. See their announcement if you're interested.

A new version of the joystick driver has been released.

Geert Uytterhoeven is looking for people to test his new abstract console driver on Sparc and MIPS systems. See his posting for more info. If you're wondering what the abstract console driver is all about, you can read more on his console driver page.

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  


Version 0.8 of the proposed Debian constitution has been announced.

A new mailing list for Debian security-related announcements has been created. It will use digital signatures for moderation, so should remain low-volume and (hopefully) no-spam.

Security fixes have been released for kdebase, premail, and mailx. Note that the premail announcement mistakenly lists the package to be upgraded as samba; this is a typo and the premail package is the one to upgrade.

The linuxconf demo at the Linux Expo generated excitement and lots of discussion on the Debian list. Some fears, doubts and misconceptions have been laid to rest and it seems like Debian will be looking closer at the current version and future plans for the program.

Red Hat

Reports rolling in on Red Hat 5.1 look pretty good so far. Every reported upgrade has been successful and resultant problems minimal. However, that said, there are already eight reported problems in the errata, so if you want a clean system, be sure to install the updated rpms as well.

A number of the reported problems with 5.1 are security related. Thus far, updates have been announced for security problems with initscripts, linuxconf, and a big announcement for xosview, bootp, metamail, and dhcp. A number of these fixes involve programs installing with the setuid or setgid bit set; this sort of error really shouldn't happen. Red Hat has essentially acknowledged this; further errors of this type are probably unlikely.

Meanwhile, we performed a Red Hat 5.1 upgrade here; check out our notes if you're interested in how it went.

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  


The folks at LSL have made a version of Mozilla compiled for Linux/Alpha available. You can find it on their Mozilla/AXP web site. Some people are reporting some difficulties, while others say it works great. It is a great thing to have a real browser available for this platform at last.

There have been a number of posts to the effect that Red Hat 5.1 is not entirely stable on the Alpha. Alpha users who lack a taste for adventure may wish to wait just a little while until some updates appear in the Red Hat errata.

An Alpha Linux installation HOWTO is available on the CCSF LUG web site.


According to this note from Donnie Barnes, the Sparc version of Red Hat 5.1 will ship "before too long now." They evidently have a private beta out being tested (they don't want more testers, don't ask). Since the last Red Hat release for Sparc machines was 4.2, a lot of patience has been called for; just a little bit more is needed.

For the truly impatient, however, the UltraPenguin distribution looks an awful lot like Red Hat 5...

Stéphane Casset ran and posted the Byte benchmarks on both UltraPenguin and Solaris 2.6. The results? Linux beat Solaris on almost every test. The comments are in French, but the numbers speak for themselves... Even better is that there is a whole set of performance improvements just now going into the development code which should skew the numbers even further.


The latest Linux/m68k registration stats have been posted.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Software Development]


Sun's Java Tech Tips and Java Newsletter have been released. It seems that Java beans have received the official nod: 100% Pure Java certification and the JavaBeans Activation Framework will be core to the Java Development Kit release 1.2.

We don't usually mention rpm announcements, but for java, access to binary rpms is rare enough, we thought we'd point out a recent announcement and a mirror site for those of you that want to try them out.

Sergey Nikitin has released a new version of the Java development kit v1.1.6.


A new perl group has start up in San Francisco.

Perl Scripts/Modules Announcements:

  • Db::Ctree 0.06, module to access Faircom's Ctree database
  • Net::SOCKS 0.03, updated to support supports SOCKS5 with username/password authentication
  • MLDBM 2.00, updated to support additional modules capable of data serialization
  • WWW::Search 1.018, updated to handle Altavista's new format
  • VMS::Device 0.01, module to provide the functionality of the DCL lexicals F$DEVICE and F$GETDVI


Andrew Kuchling posted a Linux Expo trip report from the Python programmer's point of view. Definitely a nice read.

Christian Tismer proposed removing the global statement from python, but after some fairly gentle discussion, he's agreed to drop the idea. However, if he ever gets to write a Python cookbook, options for avoiding the use of the global statement will definitely be included.

Marc-Andre Lemburg posted his final version of the Callable-Methods Proposal, which he has now implemented and made a patch available.

The call for papers for the 7th international Python conference has been posted. Look it over if you would like to contribute.

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

Free/Open-Source Software News

The ICGnu project seeks to replicate the functionality of the commercial ICQ messaging system. They have set up a web site and mailing list; see their announcement if you would like to help.


It was asked on the mozilla-general list, how successful has open-source been? In spite of the small amount of time since the announcement, Mike Pinkerton was able to answer definitely that it has been successful and they are receiving numerous bug fixes, features, and feedback from developers and content providers alike.


Christian Reiniger announced that the first revision of the messaging system is in CVS.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
        News/Press Releases]

Linux and the Commercial World

The Itsy made a splash at the Linux Expo ... here's some more information on the product excerpted from their web page. Note that they are building a mailing list for people who want to build nifty stuff for the itsy.

Speaking of cute little Linux machines... Cobalt Microserver, makers of the cool blue Qube server, has put out a press release stating their support of the open source model. This comes as no real surprise, but it's nice to see them reaffirm it anyway.

For those who want to download the SP3 service pack for StarOffice 4.0, it is highly recommended that you start at, register and follow the links. The registration will keep Star Division aware of the number of people using the Linux products, encouraging further support and development. The links will give you access to a long list of mirror sites, to make the experience more pleasant ...

Corel Computer has set up their Netwinder development project page. Everybody at Linux Expo raved over this machine, it looks like a nice one...

Press Releases:

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  
[Announcements] Please note: we are considering dropping the following software announcements section. Scoop over at FreshMeat does a far better job of it; we figure we can spend the time instead working on other sections of the newsletter, or simply drinking beer.

Please tell us what you think! Spare us a click to say whether we should eliminate the software announcements section:


Package Version Description
bd4 6.02 Action/strategy game
ddt 1.5 Graphical desktop application launcher
dfm 0.9.8 Desktop file manager
hpdriver 1.3 Ghostscript drivers for HP inkjet printers
kcyradm 0.1alpha Cyrus imap administration utility
Kit first ICQ-like chat system
leap 1.2 Relational database system
NetStreamer 0.15 Stream audio over low-bandwidth links
NoSQL 1.1 Simple relational database system
PIC 2.2 Programmer for Microchip PIC 16?84 processors
sfm 1.1 Simple file manager
spam Sendmail 8.9 spam filter extensions
xmcd 2.3 Motif-based CD player
xtide 2.0beta1 Tide clock


The Gnuotes project, which plans to create a Lotus Notes-type capability for Linux, is starting up and looking for help.


The Italian Conference on the Linux Operating System has been announced, with a call for papers. It's October 7-9, in Rome. Sign us up...

Web sites

For folks who want to try out glibc2, but do not wish to commit to it yet: here is a guide on how to install glibc2 as a secondary library.

The June issue of the Linux Gazette is out.

New user groups

EdLUG, a new user group in Edinburgh, Scotland, will meet the first Thursday of every month in the Holyrood Tavern ... sounds like the perfect place!
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Tips / Announce / Feedback  

Linux links of the week

This week's links range farther afield than most...back to more strictly Linux-related stuff next week.

The Educational Object Ecology is a slightly different sort of cooperative development project. These folks have put together a large collection of Java applets, mostly with some sort of educational application. Source is not available for all of them, but much of the software found here is truly free.

Most folks in the Linux world tend not to worry much about the much-hyped "year 2000" problems. This Y2K site never mentions Linux, but it certainly makes one think about what could really happen. Maybe the problem is worse than we think. Y2K skeptics would be well advised to give this site a glance.

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

Feedback and Corrections

Eric Raymond took exception to our use of the term "hacker" to describe the band of folks who scared the Senate last week with their claimed abilities. The proper term, of course, is "cracker", or any of a number of other things we can't print here (we're a family Linux newsletter!).
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