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 July 2, 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

John Kirch has done an incredible job outlining, organizing and hammering home the superiorities of UNIX over Windows NT. This is not a flame-fest, but a well-thought-out, defended treatise by someone who knows what he is talking about (in addition to UNIX expertise, John has gotten his Microsoft certification). It takes time to poke through all the various pieces of this paper, but the time will be very well spent.

Alan Cox has drafted The Software Anti Assimilation License, a new open-source licence created for use to protect modifications to code which lies outside the GPL. This is a draft, so please direct your comments and constructive suggestions to Alan. To explicate his intentions more clearly, we'll quote from his home site: I've also been pondering the problem of how to contribute material to BSD license software and prevent it being used in non GPLish ways, but at the same time allow contributions under the original license to be made and used so long as the GPLish modifications aren't used or required by it.

Can the bazaar development model be applied to other real-world problems? OpenContent is actively working on answering that question, with the development of freely distributable instructional materials.

Presentations from the Linux Expo are now available on the Extreme Linux site.

A. (penguin wrangler) send us this informal note on the Edinburgh LUG meeting with Robert Hart on the Beowulf.

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Linux in the news

ZDTV carried a live interview with Linus Torvalds on Sunday, June 28th. This editor was unable to listen for technical reasons, but Eric Potter reports that Linus was charming, as always, though he did slip up and talk about "Lye-nicks" at one point, adding fodder to the theory that any pronunciation will do.

I've never had a customer mention Linux to me, says Bill Gates, in this article in PC Week Online. Well, we've never heard Bill Gates use the word "Linux" before, at least not in a published document. So, his "first" is probably not that far away ...

Linus Torvalds was number five on the Today's Sm@rt 50 People. They were looking for people with the fortitude and political savvy to put a brilliant idea into action. It was fun to note that Linus was the only one in the top nine without certain initials after his name (CEO, COO, etc.) He definitely didn't fit the mold, which suits the Linux community just fine.

The official announcement of Corel's Netwinder came out June 29th. It seems to have some pretty satisfied customers already. ``Conjungi was looking for a Linux-based computer system that had a small footprint, was network ready, and delivered good performance with low power consumption. The NetWinder met all our criteria and surprised us with its advanced I/O capabilities,'' said Mike Simon.

The Cobalt Qube won the Editor's Choice award from PC Magazine. Author Robert P. Lipschutz had nothing but praise for the product. The Qube is an all-around winner, because it provides outstanding functionality without sacrificing ease of use.

Eric Lundquist, on the topic of what Microsoft missed this time, with the release of Windows98, commented the lag between the intro of Win 98 and the release of NT may be seen as the window of opportunity that freeware systems such as Linux needed to gain the corporate support and corporate developer infrastructure necessary to become true challengers to NT.

Almost as much fun as the original idea, the flurry of press interest in the SVLUG Launch of Windows98 has been highly entertaining. Wired News had this coverage, and Newsbytes has a comment as well, but they won't share without a subscription. The Boston Globe and the New Straits Times had mentions of it as well.

The Little Operating System That Could, is the title of an article in Salon Magazine. It includes quotes from Larry Augustin, with VA Research, and Bob Young at Red Hat. Thanks to Dohn Arm for pointing this one out.

June 26, 1998 (Press) Eat The State, "Politics With a Bite", has put quotes from Richard Stallman on their front page and written this article on Free Software. Just an introduction, but as promised, with a strong bite! Thanks to Eric Kidd for the pointer to this article.

Al Tirevold informed us that QST Magazine, produced by The American Radio Relay League, (ARRL) has an article on page 89 of the July issue titled "The Line of Linux," which describes the author's experiences with a 24x7 amateur radio BBS system using Linux. We also noticed that ARRL runs Linux for their website.

John Dodge has been innundated with mail from Linux users. He's now planning on throwing Linux on a PC and learning a bit more about the operating system. He has asked for the letters to cease, at least for a month or two. They probably will, until his article on his experience with Linux comes out ...

Mark Bolzern provided his second editorial on the Linux Standards Base to Freshmeat on Saturday, June 27th.

L'économie du logiciel libre, Un point de vue d'utilisateur, is an article by Par Jean-Paul Smets-Solanes.

The Mining Company's introductory material continues with Introducing Linux, Part 3: Getting Linux , published June 24th.

IDC's The Server Operating Environments: 1998 Worldwide Markets and Trends report now includes summary data on total **Linux** worldwide shipments. This report is not free, but the abstract can be viewed. Unfortunately, to find out what they really say about Linux, purchasing a copy of the report will be required.

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Coming your way, July 1st, SAINT, the updated version of SATAN that you knew must be out there somewhere.

Many security problems have been found recently as a result of the security-audit project. This posting lists all the new Red Hat RPMs that have been released as a result. 4.2, 5.0 and 5.1 RPMs are listed and Red Hat strongly recommends upgrading any packages you use.

Qualcomm, Inc. has released qpopper 2.52 which contains fixes for recently reported buffer overruns. Exploits for these overruns do exist and are being used, so it is recommended that you upgrade to this latest version. Note, qpopper2.2 was the last "free" version of qpopper. Marcus Denker pointed out modifications to the qpopper license.

Okay, it isn't running Linux to the best of our knowledge, but still ... our hat is off to the developers of the "un-copier". The Decopier will remove the ink from paper and transparencies, hopefully offering a replacement to shredders. The security was a good excuse to include this item (though it is likely high-tech spies will find a way to read the ink traces), but what we like is the idea of using the same piece of paper five times ...

The Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. has made a call to the Australian government to abolish controls on encryption. The current export controls are a failure because strong cryptography software is already widely available throughout the world. If we can get even one country to recognize the truth of this statement, the fallacy of other countries trying to prevent the use of strong cryptography would become more and more evident.

A "minimal start" Linux Security Audit website is up and running.

A minor bug in sudo was reported and quickly fixed. Bugs in Satan, cops and tiger have been reported.

A "rather serious" security hole has been report in mailx. Updated versions of mailx released by Red Hat on June 22nd appear to have fixes for this problem and a fixed Slackware mailx is already available.

Patched versions of textcounter are now available, to plug the recently reported problems.

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[Kernel] The developer version of the kernel is currently at 2.1.107, with a 2.1.108pre1 already floating around.

On the "stable" side, Alan Cox has released 2.0.35pre4. He has asked for people to do some heavy testing, particularly on non-Intel CPUs. This one includes the amateur radio updates.

A long discussion on thread implementations continued this week. As an aside, it spawned a discussion of how to improve performance when dealing with transmitting packets over the network in cases where the use of write() is slow or introduces potential coherency problems. The solution proposed was to implement something like the NT or HP/UX sendfile() system call. Linus posted this explanation of the reasons for this. In summary, Linus said, I understand that people are nervous about adding new system calls, and especially something that is most well-known in the NT community. But we've shamelessly stolen from others - clone() was very much influenced by plan-9, as was the /proc filesystem. Let's not be picky about where the stolen ideas come from..

The required code for the system call was very quickly developed (by Linus) and has been integrated into 2.1.108pre1, which, by the way, has WABI working again. Linux predicts that sendfile() will make it into the 2.2 kernel since The changes are so small and so obviously have to work that it would be ridiculous not to have this. Note that this was not a final word, since they were waiting for review and approval from David Miller.

On a more human note, when the discussion got heated, it was amusing to hear David Miller call "Linus" a pin-head. His discussion point was apparently taken well, since no offense was apparent. This is just to point out to anyone that fears Linus may take his "god-hood" a bit too seriously, that he is still surrounded by people more than willing to make his humanity obvious, at least to him.

Spelling changes in 2.1.107 that actually broke some interfaces have been reverted.

We hear from the GGI home site that, as of kernel 2.1.107, fbcon has been included in the kernel. This means that GGI can now display on an unpatched kernel! Sounds like the GGI people are pretty happy about that ...

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.
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Lots of hoopla this week on caldera-users. In reaction to Caldera's announcement of the availability of Netware Server for Linux, several threads erupted discussing the usefulness of Netware, support for a loadable streams module in the Linux kernel and eventually dissolved into rumor and innuendo of a level that this editor has never seen on the group before! Fortunately, like many such fests, people seem to have settled down, some apologies have been passed back and no more gasoline is getting poured on. Apparently Erik Ratcliffe's threat to mandate another hand-holding "Kumbaya" sing-along was more than sufficient to cow people back in line...

Reports are that upgrades from COL 1.2 to COL 1.2.1 are moving smoothly, without problems.


Igor Grobman, co-author of the Official "Installing Debian Linux 2.0 For x86" will talk about the new document and the current state of the Debian Pre 2.0 release at the July 7th meeting of the Philly Linux User's Group.'s new look came out at the same time as the beta release of hamm. Jay Treacy posted some information on the underlying changes to the site. Sounds like some fun stuff, particularly the provision of web pages in the user's preferred language. A request for someone to manage the translations has gone out. If you're interested in helping, subscribe to debian-www. They promise it is low-volume ...

If you're interested in adapting Debian for Brazilian Portuguese, check out this posting from Lalo Martins.

Here's a draft of the Debian Upgrade Release Notes.

Apt is now at version 0.1.1 and has been released to slink -- no more project/experimental!

Red Hat

Many new security-related RPMs have been released. Before people continue to point a finger at Red Hat and blame them for releasing 5.1 and then following it with so many updates so quickly, note that these updates are a direct result of the new security-audit project, which is actively seeking to audit the Linux code for security problems, instead of waiting until they are found incidentally. These problems affect all versions of Linux and all distributions are likely to be coming out with fixes as a result. In the long run, Linux in general will benefit, but in the short-term, expect a continued flow of updates.

There are some interesting details in Red Hat's Press Release for 5.1 for Sparc. It confirms that the UltraSparc is supported with this release, mentions install script improvements, DHCP and linuxconf.


A new version Slackware mailx that fixes recently reported security problems is already available.


Interested in what will be coming on S.u.S.E. 5.3? Here is a list of new features, which includes some UPS management software and an Interface builder for Tcl/Tk and Java by Sun Microsystems amongst a list of other goodies and package updates.

Suse users may want to check out the IRC channel for #suse-linux on the IRCNET or

Please note that not every distribution will show up every week. Only distributions with recent news to report will be listed.
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Debian Alpha 2.0-to-be is coming along nicely. Out of over 1500 packages, only 119 packages are out-of-date and 266 packages are still available. Since many of the unavailable packages are i386 specific or libc5 specific and therefore will not need to be recompiled for the alpha, work is clearly going very well.


Some progress has been reported by Michael Shuey with getting patches for Xfree86 that will build XSun and related Sun X servers.
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[Software Development]


Sun's JDC Newsletter covers a bunch of newly released APIs, including PersonalJava, JavaMail, etc.
The JDC Tech Tips from Sun contains a very basic tutorial and example of working with a string of characters separated by white space.


Kevin Dahlhausen has written a module that paginates standard output. Although it's a pretty trivial class, I've found it useful when playing around with Python, says Kevin.


Jean-Claude Wippler posted an invitation to join the Tcl/tk Consortium CD-ROM project. Deadline for submissions is July 6th, so folks in the U.S. may need to work over the fourth of July holiday to get ready!

The 1.0 beta 1 & 1.0 beta 2 releases of the TclPro Debugger contain a security hole. A security fix has been released.

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/ Commercial / Announce / Links / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News

Freestyle is a DJ sampler mix tool for Linux. Mentioned on the linart list as having real-time pitch control, it is still in "very early development". It is distributed under the GNU Public Licence.


The Beowulf site is back. The page boldly notes that The export control review process is no longer a factor. without including any of the internal details. We're glad to have them back and hopefully some education has occurred that will prevent such silly actions in the future. The experience does point out the dangers of taking a vacation ...

Beowulf bumper stickers were the topic of discussion on the extreme-linux-announce list (don't ask why ...). Our favourites were:

"Linux/Beowulf: Your computer will never work alone again!" --Alan Aspuru.
"My other PC's ARE a supercomputer" -- Matt Welsh & Alan Cox.
Or, for the geek in you:
In the true Spirit of parallel clusters, we could always parallelize the quote on the sticker:
   My computer a
   other is Beowulf.
Or even thread two...
   My Ask computer about a COTS
   other me is my Beowulf. cluster.
-- Jeremy J. Stanley


Try the Mozilla FAQ (last updated, June 26th) if you have a Mozilla question.


Release 980628 of Wine is out. In addition to many bug fixes, it includes common controls improvements, Win16 DLL snooping, a preliminary internal Postscript driver and improved DIB section handling.

Wine Headquarters has moved to a new machine. The move should be fairly transparent. If you have problems, report them to Douglas Ridgway.

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        News/Press Releases]

Linux and the Commercial World

Microunix Systems, an authorized Motorola PowerPC OEM, will soon be offering pre-configured PowerPC Linux systems based on Motorola's MTX series PowerPC motherboards. Very cool, very nice.

A beta version of the AC200 was reviewed on June 26th by ZDNet. Not too surprising with a beta product, several problems were found. However, the overall report was pretty favorable. The AC200 has a good interface, extended feature set, and excellent reporting tools.

Slashdot posted a link to a log of the Corel IRC sessions Friday night. Lots of good Netwinder information ... like a portable available in early 1999 (a diskless version can run on a 9V battery) and a move to Red Hat 5.1 in the next month or so.

The Motif Developer has posted some new articles, including one on games and graphics.

Press Releases:

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Package Version Description
a2ps 4.10.3 Any to PostScript filter
Abacus Sentry 0.61 detects and responds to port scans against a target host in real-time.
AfterStep 1.5pre3 Window manager for the X/Windows environment with NeXT look and feel
analog 3.0 WWW logfile analysis program
AVFS 0.1 C library add-on, which enables all programs to look insidecompressed files
Backup Copy 1.02b Copy program designed to quickly and efficiently store data.
backupd 0.10.1 Small client/server backup solution for mixed networks
Big Brother 1.07b Highly efficient network monitor
binutils 2.9.1 Provides programs to assemble and manipulate binary and object files.
BitchX 75 ANSI capable, textmode IRC Client
Bochs 980629a Portable x86 PC emulation software package
Caldera Netware Server for Linux Evaluation Beta Netware 4.10b (with NDS) evaluation for Linux
CDDA Paranoia alpha 7 CD ripping application
check-ps 1.2alpha5 Reports or kills processes 'hidden' from the system administrator
cid 1.0 TCP client/server Caller-ID system, including server and Tk GUI client.
coda 4.6.0 Full featured network filesystem
crw 0.9a Easy to learn, easy to use, command line oriented calculator.
CyberScheduler 2.1 Internet-based calendaring and scheduling solution for workgroups
DDD snapshot 19980629 common graphical user interfacefor GDB, DBX and XDB
DeleGate 5.5.6 Multi-purpose application level gateway (proxy)
Doc Welder 0.6 beta 2 Tool for assembling documents from Templates and Symbols.
egcs snapshot 980628 Experimental set of enhancements for the GNU tools
SVMlib first Shared Virtual Memory Library
FreeWRL 0.08 Free VRML browser for Linux
Gamora DR0.60 Java based server construction, hosting, and adminstration environment.
Glade 0.2 GTK+ interface builder
Gnome FDisk 0.1 disk partition program (like fdisk) with a nice GUI
GNU Privacy Guard 0.3 GPLed PGP replacement tool
gpppkill 0.8.15 Ends idle ppp connections
Gtk-- 0.9.8 C++ interface for the popular GUI library gtk.
GtkPGA 0.1 Gtk+ based interface to a PostgreSQL Database Management System.
GXedit 1.05 Simple GPL'ed graphical editor using GTK
Gyahtzee snapshot 980624 gnomified version of yahtzee 1.00 Converts e-mail archives into web pages
IronWing 0.6 Tiny Internet-ready distribution of Linux
ISC DHCP 2.0b1pl3 Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Client and Server implementation
IsinGlass 1.0 Firewall setup script designed to protect dial-up users.
Japhar 0.05 The Hungry Programmer's version of the Java Virtual Machine
JX 1.0.7 C++ application framework and GUI widget library for X
Kalendar 0.4f simple, easy to use calendar and to-do list manager
KDat snapshot 19980628 tar based tape archiver
KModem 1.1 Displays the status of a modem over an internet connection using ppp
KPackage 0.9 GUI interface to the RPM and the Debian package manager
Kticker 0.1.7 News ticker widget that downloads news headlines and displays them periodically
LCDproc 0.3.4 Displays system statistics on an external LCD display
Licq 0.30-980701 ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
Loadmeter 1.1 system monitoring app for X11 that displays stats and info
Logcheck 1.1 helps spot problems and security violations in your logfiles
Masqdialer 0.0.3 Makes IP Masquerade dialout access easier for people on your LAN.
Micq snapshot 980626 publically available ICQ clone for the console
Ministry of Truth 1.1 web-based job tracking system
Muffin 0.7.1 Filtering proxy server for the World Wide Web written entirely in Java
Mup 3.2 Music Publisher
mxODBC 0.8.1 Python DatabaseAPI compliant interface to ODBC 2.0
NcFTP 3.0BETA14 UNIX application program implementing the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
NetBeans Developer 2.0 Beta 1 Java based IDE - based on Swing, generates pure Swing/AWT code.
pgpmenu/pgp4pine 0.5 Interactive program for using PGP under console mode.
Pilot Applet 0.2.0 GNOME applet to sync the 3Com Palm Pilot devices
Poppy 1.4 Small Perl script to read/save/delete messages on a POP3 server
PRFM 0.5.2 PRFM, short for Piett's Remote File Manager, is a program which allows users to
qpopper 2.5 POP3 server
rplay 3.3.0 a network audio system
rpmwatch 1.1 Keeps your RPMs in sync with the official errata
Sced 1.0 modelling program that makes use of geometric constraints
SCWM 0.7a Scheme Configurable Window Manager
sFTP 0.81 Screen-oriented FTP client, based on the curses library.
Siag Office 2.80 Free office package for Unix
sn 0.1.9 Hassle-free usenet news system for small sites
sock 1.0 Shell interface for network sockets
Sprite32/X 19980611 2D sprite-based animation for X11
Squid 1.1.22 high performance Web proxy cache
SSLeay 0.9.0a free implementation of Netscape's Secure Socket Layer
sXid Secure 2.0.1 All in one suid/sgid monitoring script written in perl
thttpd - tiny/turbo/throttling HTTP server 2.00 A simple, small, portable, fast, and secure HTTP server.
tkHTML 3.21 Simple HTML editor based on the Tcl script language and the Tk toolkit.
TkMasqdialer 1.00 TCL/TK/Expect client for Jeff Meininger's Masqdialer daemon.
TrueReality 0.1.0 N64 Emulator
txt2html 1.25 Converts plain text to HTML
Vim 5.2f Popular vi clone that features syntax highlighting and an X11 interface
Wcal 1.00 Web based calendar/planner especially suitable for multi-user setups
Webalizer 1.12-09 Web server log analysis program
Website META Language 1.6.6 Webdesign HTML-generation toolkit
GNU Wget 1.5.2 network utility to retrieve files from the World Wide Web
WIDD 1.0 Front-end application to manage database trought interface
WindowMaker 0.16.0 X11 window manager with NEXTSTEP look and feel
Wine 980628 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
WMTune 1.0 Premier dockable radio tuner
WWWOFFLE 2.2b Simple proxy server with special features for use with dial-up internet links
X-ISP 2.5 X11 and XForms based visual interfaceto pppd and chat
XCallerID 1.0 callerID program that pops up incomingphone numbers in an X-window
XCmail 0.99.4 MIME and POP3 capable mailtool for X11
XEvil 2.0 beta 6 3rd person, side-view, fast-action, kill-them-before-they-kill-you game.
xnetload 1.5.1 Displays packet traffic and uptime in an X window
Xwhois 0.1.4 small and fast GTK+ frontend to the Linux whois / fwhois network tool.
yagIRC unknown
Zgv 4.0 graphic file viewer for VGA and SVGA displays
Zircon 1.18.156 An IRC client written in tcl/tk


In response to the whole flack about GnuHoo/NewHoo, a project has formed to create a totally free directory. What they have so far is a website and some discussion of the goals they want to achieve. If you are interested in supporting them, check out the site; contact information is there (as well as some comments from Richard Stallman ...)

Andrew McClure has proposed the creation of a linux-edi project. For those of you unfamiliar with EDI, a brief description was posted by Evan Leibovitch and more information can be found at

It has been commented that moving to XML would be preferable to supporting EDI. There is an EDI/XML committee and hopefully there will be support for migration that way. Meanwhile, opportunities are strongest for helping companies depending on EDI deal with their current problems.


The Linux Guide, "Text Processing with Linux" is now available in the Linux archives.

A new version of the Bzip2-HOWTO has been posted.

A New Linux help page is up at It contains config scripts and general help.

LinuxFocus recently posted an apology for an inadvertent error that pointed one of their mirrors to commercial pages on the site.

A new Linux Chat Room has been opened up.


June 26, 1998 O'Reilly is sponsoring the first Open Source Developer Day on August 21, in San Jose, CA. Looks like most the people from O'Reilly's original Open Source Summit will be there.

Web sites

User group News

The Linux User Group in Braunschweig, Germany, has Plush Penguins For Sale, or at least, that is our rough translation of the original (Thanks, Mom!).

Mark Menard would like to form a Linux User's Group in Albany, New York. Drop him a line if you are interested.

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Linux links of the week

The Linux How-To Web is a nifty reorganization of the Linux HOW-TO documentation. Much more friendly to someone new to Linux, it is also searchable. Nice job!

This nifty graphic sums up the state of the weather pretty well ... if you look at weather from the right perspective!

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Feedback and Corrections

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