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 9, 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

We hear a rumour that the Samba team could use coders, documenters and packagers as a result of a temporary dip in the volunteer resources available to them (caused by an unfortunate set of co-incidences, though we haven't heard the details yet). This has slowed the Samba effort a bit, which is something of which the Linux community should take note.

Samba is used by Linux to appear on a network identical to Windows clients (with smbfs and smbclient) and Windows servers (smbd and other daemons.) Linux (and 30+ other Unixes) is capable of being functionally equivalent to Windows NT Server. In fact many network users who think they have NT servers really do not; they are served by Samba. If Linux is to continue to participate in a Windows network world as a first class citizen (or more likely the Prime Minister as well, since Samba does Primary Domain Control just like NT does!) then the effort needs to be kept up.

See the technical list if you are inclined and available to help, or the documentation list on the same server. The documentation also needs work, including moving to yodl. The web pages are here, but please do use the nearest of the mirror sites listed there.

Sean Reifschneider has been experimenting with xDSL in the Boulder,Colorado (US) area:

Recently a variant of xDSL, RADSL (Rate Adaptive DSL) has been being pushed by the local telco here in Colorado. There's been a lot of speculation about wether they would be able to provide it, and if they did wether it would work. Hard data was basically non-existant. When I received some mail advertising it, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Copious details are available at The short form is that it works, was easy to install, and is indeed fast.
The instructions include some words on getting DHCP working under Linux.

Registration has begun for the 2nd Annual Atlanta Linux Showcase. Yet another fun Linux event to attend! It's happening October 23 and 24; see the Showcase web site for registration information.

The Linux Hardware Certification program re-emerged with the announcement of the Linux Hardware Certification Laboratory. The website should be on-line by August 1st. The program will define three levels of possible certification:

  • 1. Designed FOR Linux
  • 2. Works with Linux
  • 3. Compatible with Linux

This program is supported by Aegis Data Systems and Best4u Internet Services. Hopefully no conflict of interest will be found in their management of this program.

Anyone want to create an Icelandic version of Linux? From this story in the Toronto Star, we hear that Iceland is taking on Microsoft to force them to create an Icelandic version of Windows or allow Iceland access to the code so that they can produce one themselves. Hmm, this might also be another argument for forcing Microsoft to release their source code, especially since this may be pushed to the level of an international incident. Thanks to Peter Leif Rasmussen for pointing out this article.

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Linux in the news

PCWorld ran an article entitled "Linux: Free but Unfriendly". They say it's not ready for the desktop, surprisingly. "Linux is worth considering if your company needs a really inexpensive platform for network applications. But as a mainstream desktop operating system, it doesn't present a viable alternative to Windows. "

Dave Winer, the sometimes contentious guy behind Userland Frontier, says we want to bet on Linux and Perl. He seems to see Linux as the best platform for high-bandwidth web sites. It's nice to see Dave being friendly; hope it lasts... Thanks to James Stansell for the pointer to this one.

"Linux support is remarkable" remarks the author of a short Infoworld article.

Also in InfoWorld: Linux not yet critical mass, database vendors say. Evidently Oracle has people working on a Linux port, but they don't yet see the demand that will inspire them to go through the (large) effort to actually make a product out of it. (Thanks to Christof Damian).

Also also in InfoWorld: a positive article on Red Hat's Secure Web Server. "Once again I find myself writing about a feature-rich product from the Linux community that offers a solid solution to a complex problem for a bargain basement price. " [pointed out by Pete Link]

A positive article in the Village Voice describes Linux as a possible threat to Microsoft. "Bill Gates might be able to fight off government attacks and beat down the competition, but his most dangerous opponent may well turn out to be a band of Internet insurgents." Thanks to Peter Link for the pointer to this one.

The Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray finished his experiment with Linux. His summary doesn't have a whole lot to say, other than that he wasn't entirely impressed.

Sm@rt Reseller interviews an Intel vice president regarding their plans for the ISP (Internet Service Provider) market. They recognize Linux as an important part of that market: "We'll give the Linux and BSD communities whatever support they ask for."

Doctor Dobb's Journal talks about the Kernel Graphics Interface (KGI), which is a piece of the GGI project.

The Avalon Beowulf cluster got a fair amount of press this week; including articles in Wired News, PC World, and TechWeb.

In French: a brief summary on free software in France-Info.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Commercial / Announce / Links / Feedback  
[Security] Security problems have been reported in dosemu and libtermcap that can allow a root compromise by an unprivileged user. Red Hat RPM locations are included in the alert notice.

Saint, the successor to SATAN, is available for download.

The Australian LANLive electronic magazine features some indepth information on the state of cryptography and crypto-policies "Down Under". It mentions a threat to pursue legal action, including potential prison time, against the developers of Cryptozilla. The potential commercial benefit to expanding into the cryptographic research while the US is preventing expansion in the domestic arena has not been lost, but there is still an evident desire to control cryptographic, rewarding those who play by the rules and punishing those who do not.

The decision of Federal Judge James Gwin that encryption source code is not entitled to first amendment protection is likely to move this issue to the Supreme Court for consideration. Is that good news or bad? We'll have to wait to find out.

The release of qpopper2.52 that we mentioned last week also included a new license for qpopper that seem to restore it to its previous free state. QUALCOMM grants to Distributors a nonexclusive, nontransferable license to use, distribute and sublicense the QPOPPER Software to its end user customers, subject to the provisions of this Agreement. No restrictions on modifications to qpopper or distribution of modifications are mentioned in this version.

SmurfLog 1.0 is a program designed to log smurf attacks and the broadcasts used and has been released by Bug Lord.

A new patch for the detection of the recently reported SSH insertion attack is now available.

For those who want more information specifically on encryption issues, a monthly encryption newsletter is now available.

A book specific to security on Red Hat 5.X systems has been started. If you would like to help out with this project, check out the draft at This is not an official Red Hat project; it is a volunteer effort.

A movie has been made from the story of the pursuit and capture of Kevin Mitnick. Having first heard this story from the book, Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier," it was interesting to this editor to hear this account of the possible distortions in the story."

If you are using Thawte certificates with a secure Web server, check out this notice of the impending rollover of Thawte certificates. [from the ISN mailing list]

The GNUPG website has been recently updated and reports are that the software is ready to be used. Indications are that Debian will be moving from PGP to GNUPG fairly soon.

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[Kernel] The current development kernel release is still 2.1.108, unchanged from last week. This release still has console problems, but fixes a number of other things. Alan Cox has put out an extensive post-patch which fixes the console problems (though perhaps not on all systems) and many other things; the announcement has the complete list. The current patch release is "ac2"; it can be found on Alan's FTP site.

Also in Alan's FTP site is the current 2.0.35 prepatch, currently at pre5. Unless major problems turn up, this patch should become official sometime within the next week. 2.0.35 is being accellerated slightly in order to get some important security-related fixes out; other issues will be handled in the forthcoming 2.0.36 release.

And, as if he didn't already have enough to do, Alan has backported the 2.1 modular sound drivers to the 2.0 kernel. This patch, too, can be found in his FTP site; see his announcement for more. (Red Hat has also released a new kernel RPM with the new sound drivers; they say that this kernel should be considered a "beta-level" release).

Rik van Riel has produced a design for a new memory allocator which uses "zones" to attempt to avoid memory fragmentation. Something based on a descendant of this design is likely to become the new Linux memory allocator, somewhere in the 2.3 time frame. Rik is looking for comments on this design; as he puts it, "Let's do something important like this right the first time!" If you're interested and able to evaluate this sort of design, please have a look on his web page and let him know what you think.

Juan-Mariano de Goyeneche has put together a list of interesting documents for folks who want to work with the Linux kernel. He says it will go into a web page eventually; until then, you can read our copy.

Richard Gooch's devfs patch is up to release 44.

Version 1.1 of the DIPC (Distributed Inter-Process Communication) package has been released. DIPC makes the SYSV IPC primitives (semaphores, message queues, and shared memory) work across network links, and can thus be used to great advantage in cluster systems. The distributed shared memory, in particular, distinguishes this package from some of the others; it requires a kernel patch, of course, to work. See the announcement for more info.

Some attention has recently been drawn to a long-standing quota bug wherein use of quotas can cause processes to start locking up in uninterruptible wait states. The problem is a deadlock resulting from quota's use of file system locks. If the "quotas.user" file is empty, it attempts to lock the filesystem twice, and everything stops. The solution is to run quotacheck, just like the HOWTO says, but be sure that (1) the filesystem is mounted, and (2) quotas are turned off. Some distributions run quotacheck at boot, but do not get (1) right.

Mark Spencer ran some performance tests on Linux networking. Linux evidently performed "quite well" in most cases, with one big exception. See his posting for more.

A translation into English was recently made for this article on Symmetrical Multiprocessing with Linux, by Jurgen Schmidt. The information and test results in the article are quite interesting. [contributed by Jon Bendtsen]

Is the Linux kernel getting too big for anybody to keep track of? According to some of the developers, the answer seems to be yes. Frustration has been expressed over some recent kernels which, for some people at least, do not even compile. Some of these difficulties come from conflicts between developers who are not aware of each other's work. Since there is currently no consistent way of keeping track of changes merged into Linus's kernel tree, it is easy to miss important changes until a problem turns up.

David Miller explained some of his frustrations in this posting. The core of the problem is that there is no record of which patches Linus puts into any given kernel version; no way of knowing what was touched, and why. As David puts it, "it's bound to fall apart as the project gets bigger." Linus has not commented on the issue (he has been almost completely silent this week).

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 / Commercial / Announce / Links / Feedback  


The rumor of a possible merge between Red Hat and Caldera was certainly news to those Caldera employees that frequent caldera-users. Response to the idea was pretty positive, though.


Debian 2.0 has gone into the second beta phase! Release is getting closer...

Debian has released a new version of the file-runner package which fixes a /tmp related security problem.

Red Hat

After a couple of notes from people and a conversation with Red Hat, we have confirmed that Red Hat 5.1 does not contain support for the UltraSPARCs. Red Hat has not yet made a decision on whether or not to add support for the UltraSparc in a future release. This editor apologizes for the confusion. For UltraSparcs, check out the UltraSparc distribution. Also note, Sun display a port of Linux on an Ultra at the Linux Expo.


A number of Italian Linux users have expressed displeasure in having received this spam promoting the Italian version of the S.u.S.E. distribution. (To add to the insult, it was sent using MS Outlook...). Before people get too upset with S.u.S.E., it is worth noting that the spam was sent by an Italian reseller, who seemingly harvested the addresses from the it.comp.linux newsgroup. For the time being, we should assume that S.u.S.E., which seems to be a high-class operation, does not condone this sort of marketing of its products. And, if you are looking for the Italian version of S.u.S.E. Linux, you may wish to consider going to a different reseller.
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 / Commercial / Announce / Links / Feedback  


If you are interested in advocating support of Linux to Compaq, Jon 'maddog' Hall recommends sending letters to him listing your name, occupation, whether you use your alpha for business or work, and how many/how often you are planning to buy. Check his instructions. He'll compile the messages and pass them on where they will do the most good.

Oh yeah ... and feel free to plug the great support you get from Jim Paradise, Jay Estabrook, Maddog and the rest of the semiconductor team ...

In response to postings about color problems on specific alphas, Tim Rowley posted a 24-plane TGA patch.

Kazushige Goto and Joachim Wesner have released version 0.10 of a new, faster math library for Alphas. They claim substantial improvements over the current math library. Here's their announcement if you want to try it out.

Douglas Henke has published a Red Hat 5.1 Alpha HOWTO which covers, in detail, the installation process for Alpha machines.


The boot.img file for Red Hat Sparc 5.1 is missing. Here are some tips on how to get around this.

In addition, a major mistake was made with the 5.1 CD image, where the only kernel image on the disk is an SMP kernel. This will work on sun4m systems, but not sun4c machines. As a result, Red Hat is remastering all the Sparc CDs.

Seems a lot of people will be booting Sparc systems off of tape ...

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Commercial / Announce / Links / Feedback  
[Software Development] Anybody who develops multi-threaded programs under Linux should be pleased by the announcment of patches to GDB to allow debugging of multi-threaded programs. Maybe those days of putting in lots of printf's are over?

Responsibility for these patches lies with none other than the Open Group. Thanks, TOG! (Even better, this work is part of their effort to get a version of Java with native threads running under Linux; they promise release "in a few weeks"). For people on RPM-based systems, Christopher Blizzard has announced gdb and glibc RPM's containing the TOG patches.

Brion Vibber has put together a mini-FAQ on SVGAlib development.


If you are trying to run 3.0 Tuner on Linux, you might want to check out this post, which contains some hints on how to get it to work.


The voting for comp.lang.perl.moderated ended with an overwhelming yes vote. Presumably the group itself will show up in short order.

Randal Schwarz posted a note that recommended a new charter for comp.lang.perl.announce as well as a request for a new moderator. Pat Gunn responded with an offer to pick up the moderation duties. Check comp.lang.perl.misc for discussions on the new charter. The topic hasn't raised as much fuss as the question whether "-w" should be left in production code, but the issue of commercial announcements on the group is still being discussed.


Mark Nottingham has released WebLog 0.96. WebLog is a set of Python classes for the parsing and manipulation of WWW logfile data.


  • ClassyTcl 0.1.5, an object system, widget set and GUI builder for Tcl
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free
/ Commercial / Announce / Links / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News


The Jazilla group got a kick out of finding themselves in the news as Netscape explained why they had dropped their own project to build a Java-based version of Netscape (Javagator). One reason Netscape is abandoning the project, Byunn said, is that a group of independent developers are working on their own version of a Java-based Netscape browser.

TechWeb also covered the same story, mentioning Andreessen did not rule out the option that Netscape could make the Javagator code available to the public, much like the company's recent public release of its Navigator browser source code.

Get your Mozilla FAQ here!

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

Linux and the Commercial World

Rainer Dorsch forwarded a note to debian-developer which covered recent conversation Dan Kegel had with one EDA vendor, where they outlined their concerns about supporting Linux. Overall, Dan felt the dialog was useful and encourages other Linux-loving engineers to follow his example with their favorite EDA vendor.

If you are interested in a Linux-based Process control SCADA system check out this message, which requests that interested people contact them to help them gauge the level of interest in their product, ABACUS 4 for Linux.

Press Releases:

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Package Version Description
Aegis 3.6 Transaction-based software configuration management system
AFBackup 3.0 Client-server backup system
AfterStep 1.5pre4 Window manager for the X/Windows environment with NeXT look and feel
Apache-SSL 1.18 Patch for Apache 1.3.0 to enable secure SSL connections
apsfilter 4.9.9 Intelligent line printer input filter
Backup Copy 1.04b Copy program designed to quickly and efficiently store data.
BANAL 0.06 Book-keeping (and other stuff) for small businesses
BeroFTPD 1.0.7 FTP server program based on WU-FTPD
BitchX 75p1 ANSI capable, textmode IRC Client
Bochs 980707a Portable x86 PC emulation software package
ClassyTcl 0.1.5 Object system, widget set and GUI builder for Tcl
coda 4.6.1 Full featured network filesystem
Diablo 1.16-test6 Fast and efficient NNTP newsfeeder software
DIPC 1.1 DIPC can be used to build and program clusters (multi-computers)
Eggdrop 1.3.17 IRC bot, written in C
EPIC 4pre1.400 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
Fetchmail 4.5.1 Free, full-featured, robust, well-documented remote-mailretrieval utility
freeamp dr1 Free MP3 player released under the GPL
FreeTDS 0.2 Open Source implementation of the TDS database protocol
FreeWRL 0.11 Free VRML browser for Linux
Glade 0.3 GTK+ interface builder
enscript 1.6.1 Converts ASCII files to PostScript
GNU Privacy Guard 0.3.1 GPLed PGP replacement tool
Gtk-- 0.9.9 C++ interface for the popular GUI library gtk.
GXedit 1.06 Simple GPL'ed graphical editor using GTK
ircd-hybrid 5.3 Internet Relay Chat daemon
jCVS 4.7.1 Java implementation of client-server CVS (version control for team projects)
jslaunch 1.0 Joystick shell command execution utility
KDat beta-980703 tar based tape archiver
KDE 1.0pre2 Powerful graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations.
KOrganizer 0.9.8 Personal organizer for the KDE Desktop Environment
krepton 0.2 Clone of the old BBC Micro Repton game
ksmiletris 0.3 Another Tetris-like game
kzacman 0.3 Zacman maze game
Lesstif 0.85.3 LGPL'd re-implementation of Motif
Licq 0.32a ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
Loadmeter 1.15 System monitoring app for X11 that displays stats and info
LyX 0.12.1pre6 Advanced LaTeX-based typesetting and text-editing program for X11
Maxwell 0.5.3 Word processor application for Linux Computers
mgetty 1.1.15-Jul02 Intelligent getty and fax support
Mmucl 1.1.0 Mud client written in Tcl
MoCalc 1.0 Tcl/Tk-based calculator
MySQL 3.22.4 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
NcFTPd 2.2.2 High-performance File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server for UNIX systems
NGS JavaScript Interpreter 0.2.0 Independent implementation of the JavaScript language
nmh 0.27 Enhanced version of the MH electronic mail system.
perfs 2.4.4 perfs is a tool that helps dispatching processes over a network
PHP 3.0.1 HTML-embedded scripting language
Qpopper 2.52 POP3 server
rsync 2.0.18 File transfer program to keep remote files into sync
rungetty 0.9.0 Minimal virtual console getty capable of running arbitrary programs
Sendmail 8.9.1 Powerful and flexible Mail Transport Agent
SIDPLAY 1.36.25 C64 music player and SID sound chip emulator
Simple DirectMedia Layer 0.7 Allows portable low level access to native high-performance media interfaces
Simple File Manager 1.5 Fast small shortcut-driven Gtk-based file manager
SSLeay 0.9.0b free implementation of Netscape's Secure Socket Layer
swebget 1 Prints a webpage to stdout
tcp_server 0.4 Simple tcp based multi-server
ticker 0.4 Configurable text scroller, with slashdot and freshmeat modules
TkGnats 3.0.4 Tcl/Tk-based front end for the GNATS bug management system
TkMasqdialer 1.01 TCL/TK/Expect client for Jeff Meininger's Masqdialer daemon.
tmake 1.1 Easy-to-use tool for creating and maintaining makefiles across many platforms
transfig 3.2.1 Graphics Conversion Tool
trn 4.0-test66 Text-based newsreader with threading
vcron 1.0 Graphical interface to cron and at
Webmin 0.54 Web-based interface for system administration for Unix
WindowMaker 0.16.1 X11 window manager with NEXTSTEP look and feel
Xconq 7.22 Empire-building strategy game for X
XCopilot 0.6.3 Emulator for the 3Com/USRobotics Pilot/PalmPilot
xfig 3.2.2 Drawing Program
XfreeCD 0.7.7 GTK+ based cd player.
Xlogmaster 1.2.2 Tool to monitor logfiles & hardware status
XQF 0.8.1 QuakeWorld/Quake2 server browser and launcher for Linux/X11
Xwhois 0.1.5 small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the whois network services.
yagIRC 0.64 GTK+ based IRC client
ypbind-mt 1.3 ypbind-mt is a complete new implementation of a NIS binding daemon
ypserv 1.3.4 Simple network lookup service consisting of databases and processes


The Simple End User Linux (SEUL) project has published a new TO-DO list, for those of you interested in their goals and wondering how to help out.

The development stage of Chives, an innovative free Java virtual machine project, has been announced. Collaborators, particularly those interested in support on non-Intel hardware, are solicited.


The July issue of Linux Focus has been released.


This updated information for the Open Source Developer's Day scheduled for August 21st contains an outline of some of the topics that will be covered.

The call for papers (CFP) for the 1999 USENIX technical conference has been issued. Papers are due in December, so you have some time, if you are thinking about contributing. See the CFP if you're interested.

Web sites has received a face-lift and some other improvements (including a nice pointer to us!).

New mailing lists

A new QT/QTArch Beginner's Website & Mailing List has been announced.
Our software announcements are provided courtesy of Freshmeat.
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Linux links of the week

Linux was written by the aliens? Inquiring minds will certainly want to check out this X-Files episode to learn more...

O'Reilly has opened their Open Source Center, a clearinghouse for news, resources and information on the upcoming Open Source Developer Day.

Are you running into resistance to Linux? Do you think maybe some of the stuff you're hearing is untrue? Check out the Linux FUD FAQ and you may find the information you need to rebut some common claims about our favorite OS. (Unfortunately this page is on Geocities, so you get to deal with those obnoxious advertising popups when you go there).

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Feedback and Corrections

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