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The big boys are coming. Intel and Netscape are now officially investors in Red Hat Software. A year ago such a thing would have been almost unthinkable. But times have changed. We can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Meanwhile, despite the incredible volumes of press generated, the actual known facts are minimal:

  • Intel and Netscape have both made equity investments in Red Hat Software. We don't know how much has been invested, and they are not talking. One can assume that the amount of money involved is pretty small for a company like Intel, and quite large for one like Red Hat.

  • Two venture capital firms (Greylock and Benchmark Partners) are also investing money in Red Hat. Again, we do not know how much. The presence of venture capital increases the chances that the (currently tightly, privately held) company will eventually go public.

  • Intel is joining Linux International.

  • Red Hat will be setting up an "enterprise support division" to better meet the needs of large corporations. Exactly what this group will do remains unclear.

  • Linus has been saying happy things about these events.
Almost everything beyond that is speculation. If you want to see what Red Hat is saying, here is their press release.

Does this news mean that the "Wintel" alliance (between Intel and Microsoft) is over? Not yet. Intel invests in a number of companies that produce software for its processors; they have invested in BeOS as well as in Linux. Nonetheless, Intel clearly sees some future in the Linux system, and they are saying so in a very public way.

Does it mean a corporate hijacking of Linux? That is unlikely. Assume, for the moment, that Intel's intentions are malign and they are able to completely corrupt Red Hat. What then? Red Hat does not own Linux, and never will. If Red Hat turns nasty, Linux people will turn to somebody else.

But Red Hat shows no signs of turning bad. Perhaps more than any other commercial distribution, they have made a point of distributing a completely free system. They held the line to the point of not distributing KDE, even though it would have quickly given them a better desktop. Red Hat has also been serious about giving back to Linux. Much work on the kernel, GNOME, and other important systems is funded by them, and all of it is released under the GPL.

Thus we think that this investment is a good thing. It should result in:

  • More and better free software for Linux.
  • Better high-end support in the kernel: huge memory, huge files, lots of devices, etc.
  • Better acceptance of Linux in corporate environments. (That matters: many of us work in such environments, and many of the rest of you will. What system do you want to work on tomorrow?)
  • Better high-end support for those who need it.
  • Better support for new hardware, at least from Intel. This may be the path by which I2O support is added as well.
In summary, the benefits appear to be numerous, and the drawbacks few. This is a positive development for Linux.

There is one area of legitimate concern, though. Red Hat seems well on the way toward becoming the dominant Linux distribution vendor. Not only are they attracting funding in a big way; they have also managed to snarf up a number of high-profile Linux developers (Cox, Tweedie, Mena Quintero, ...). All of these can be seen as good things (i.e. it's great that Linux developers can get jobs working on Linux), but all together they raise the question of just how big and influential Red Hat should get. The diversity of distributions in the Linux world is one of its great strengths; no other operating system is available from multiple sources in this way (with the arguable exception of the BSD variants). We certainly do not need a single company in a Microsoft-like role with an overwhelmingly large market share.

The above is not to say that Red Hat should be held back (as if that were possible). Instead, here is to wishing for continued success for the other distributions out there as well.

GNOME 0.30 has been released. With this release, the GNOME desktop is reaching a usable state. Your editor spent some time playing with the new release, instead of doing real work. Interested parties may read the resulting review of GNOME 0.30 to see where things stand.

The Canadian nation-wide Linux installfest was held this last weekend; Dave Stevens wrote in to say that it was a huge success, and that folks interested in reports and pictures should go to the Installfest page.

Cygnus has released a new, open-source real-time operating system, called "eCos". Here is their press release. We have not yet had time to really look this one over, but it could prove to be a big thing. As "appliances" head more toward reality, the number of embedded systems will only increase. An open source system for embedded systems will be a great thing to have.

Remember that there are two contact addresses for LWN now. They are:

  • lwn@lwn.net for general correspondence, tips, and anything else that you would like us to see quickly.

  • editor@lwn.net for messages that you would like to see published in our "letters to the editor" section (on the back page). We are very much interested in receiving high-quality letters for publication. If you have something on your mind, send it our way!

October 1, 1998



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See also: last week's Security page.


Dan Brumleve made an official announcement of a Javascript security hole which allows the theft of the contents of the web browser history, including all form data that has ever been sent via the GET method. In this followup, he re-emphasizes and clarifies the ability to get credit card numbers even when submitted via SSL to secure sites, since the card numbers are only encrypted in transit. More information on the problem can be found, with ongoing updates at the Cash Cow Strikes! web site.

From the information on that site, the best way currently to protect against this security hole is to either disable Javascript or nullify your cache and set the upper bounds to zero. We will post additional information as official fixes become available.

Red Hat sent out a notice saying that their version of CDE is full of nasty security bugs. One can reasonably assume that most other CDE implementations out there have the same problems. Their notice says it all: "Because CDE is not Open Source software, we have no ability to fix either the minor bugs that have been reported over the last year, or these more important security bugs." There is no fix available. Red Hat has announced that they will cease to sell CDE.

Reports of new exploits of rpc.mountd are trickling in. So far, the confirmations of the problems have been made against nfs-server-2.2beta29-5. The latest version of nfs-server included in Red Hat 5.1, for example, is nfs-server-2.2beta29-7. It is likely that the sites that are being affected have not upgraded to this version. It is highly recommended that sites either firewall NFS packets from the Internet, disable their NFS services if they are not being used or upgrade to the latest version. This much forwarded note from the Moria Security Team goes into more details on the exploits and how to protect against them.

Reports are that knfsd 0.4.21 or 0.4.22 are also vulnerable, but no confirmations have been received as of yet.

inetd is also coming under attack again. The attacks appear to be reproductions of the old octopus exploits from a long time ago (many, many connections within a short amount of time). xinetd has been recommended as a superior replacement for inetd, for sites hit with these problems. Again, no official fixes have been reported so far, nor do we have a confirmation that the sites being affected are running the latest version of inetd, so these exploits may be affecting known holes that haven't been closed.

A workshop on security in large-scale distributed computing systems will be held on October 20th in conjunction with the IEEE Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems.

October 1, 1998


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.1.123. This kernel has compilation problems if you try to configure in the frame buffer console. There is a 2.1.124 pre-patch available, but it has problems of its own.

Pre-patch 12 for the 2.0.36 stable kernel release is out, see the announcement for details. This one has also been sent off to Linus for consideration as the real 2.0.36 release; no answer so far.

Why did 2.1.123 come out with compilation errors in the frame buffer console code? The discussion on this topic has been heated, acrimonious, and without resolution so far. The basic cause of the problem was that Linus applied some patches to the include directories while leaving out a substantial number of changes to the video drivers. As a result the C source and header files do not match and things do not build.

There are disagreements as to how the patches got dropped, whose fault it is, etc. Strong disagreements. The discussion reached a point where Linus has thrown up his hands and stated his intention to take a vacation for a few days. He appears fried, many of the important kernel developers are frustrated, people are mad at each other, and real work seems to have stopped for the time being. It is not a good situation.

The core of the problem seems to be that Linus is just getting overwhelmed by the volume of patches that he is receiving. The kernel is getting larger and more complex, and, as they say, "Linus does not scale." As a result he drops a lot of incoming patches, leaving it up to the developers to monitor the kernel releases to see if anything has happened yet. Since Linus is unwilling to delegate the task of reviewing and applying patches, the problem looks difficult to solve.

Some thought is going into a solution; with luck, something will be found that is acceptable to Linus. Hopefully that, and the eventual release of the 2.2 kernel (and subsequent return to fun development work) will help to ease tensions before something serious gives way.

Discussion continues on the Linux scheduler and whether a separate queue should be created for real-time tasks. Richard Gooch has run a series of scheduler benchmarks; the results and his interpretation of them can be found in his web site. Richard also posted a patch to 2.1.123 which contains a number of scheduler tweaks, and implements the real time run queue.

Work still continues on the NFS server in 2.1. H. J. Lu, Bill Hawes, and G. Allen Morris are all contributing fixes. Nonetheless, the kernel NFS implementation still lacks the stability it needs, has interoperability problems, and NFS over TCP does not work well at all. H. J. Lu has a patch out with the latest fixes. People interested in NFS should really consider trying it out.

It is important that 2.2 have a good NFS implementation. It's bad enough that NFS v3 will not be supported; at least the v2 support should work well. Unfortunately, there is currently nobody who is really taking responsibility for Linux NFS.

Just one thing for those who have not seen enough UDI talk yet: Kevin Quick, leader of the UDI project, posted a simple explanation of UDI for those who don't want to dig through the UDI web site. He does this by comparing UDI to the VHS video standard. The analogy kind of works for a while, but then he heads into I2O stuff: "...let's say that I2O is a new audio encoding format designed to provide surround sound separate channels and superlative quality and signal-to-noise ratios." Whatever...

October 1, 1998

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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See also: last week's Distributions page.



Caldera OpenLinux 1.3 has been officially announced. The software has been available on the Caldera ftp site for the past week, prompting many questions on the user groups. Apparently, this was because portions of OpenLinux 1.3 are required in order to run Sybase on OpenLinux 1.2 or older systems. Note that, as we've mentioned before, 1.3 has run-time support for glibc binaries, so glibc RPMs can now be installed. However, the 1.3 development environment is still libc5 by default.

Reports from Caldera Partners who have been using the new software for several weeks now are good so far.

The upgrade script that comes with COL 1.3 is only good for upgrading from 1.2 to 1.3. If you need to upgrade from an older version, you'll need to get the latest update.col script from the caldera ftp site. Check the 1.3 errata for more details.

There is no more Base, Standard, or Lite differentiation with OpenLinux 1.3. With Netscape's new involvement with Red Hat, the integration of Netscape's Fasttrack with Caldera has dissolved, so Fasttrack is no longer shipped as part of OpenLinux, for example. OpenLinux 1.3 has a more open licensing as a result; one copy can be purchased and then installed on multiple machines without any legal challenge, much as Red Hat has always been (excluding BRU and DR-DOS). The rumour is that Caldera will ship a new, higher end product in the coming months.


The proposed Debian voting procedure outlined in the (not-yet-voted-on) Debian constitution is getting a shake-down through a series of test votes. For your amusement, the results from a test vote on methods of eating steak is available. Although complex, the procedure and results did not seem to raise much comment on debian-devel, so presumably they will go into use soon for voting on the Debian constitution.

The Release-Critical Bugs Report for slink is now on-line. Eighty-six release-critical bugs were listed on September 30th, five were closed in the previous twenty-four hours and one new was was opened. Hopefully, this indicates that progress towards the release of slink (Debian 2.1) is going well.

Jens Ritter announced a crude hack for installing Debian thru the loopback device. For anyone wondering why you'd want to do this, it can be used to install Debian in a FAT partition.


The Generic #02 kernel has been announced. It includes support for the ATI 16 bit video, multi-button mouses, switchable PB1400 expansion bay, switchable video caching and a variety of other fixes.

A progress report on the PB1400/5300 SCSI driver for MkLinux has been made available. Help for tracking down some information has been requested.

Key portions of the mach kernel are now available via CVS. A password is required.

It was asked whether or not anyone was working on a 2.1.1XX kernel for mklinux. The response appears to be no, at least for the current time. Here's a project for the ambitious ...

Red Hat

Of course, the primary news for Red Hat this week is the investment in Red Hat Software, Inc., by Netscape, Intel and others. That is covered in-depth on our main page, so we won't cover it again here.

New releases of Red Hat's Rawhide distribution (pre-release, for testing and bug reports) are made every Friday. A question was asked on the redhat-devel-list why the latest gnome releases were not currently integrated with Raw Hide. The problem lies in the version of GTK+ required by GNOME. Apparently once everything has moved to GTK+ 1.2, the situation is expected to change.


As mentioned on our daily page and also described in our commerce section, S.u.S.E. has announced a product they call Office Suite 99, which contains Applixware 4.4.1, integrated with ADABAS D 10.0 and also holding KDE, GNOME, fax software, GIMP and many other products. Here is the announcement as distributed to the S.u.S.E. newsgroups.

We hear from the lists that S.u.S.E.'s Office Suite 99 contains a base 5.3 system. This allows people buying the office suite to use it without having to purchase all of 5.3, if they wish, for example, to run on an older version of S.u.S.E. Additionally, it contains packages from other distributions, such as a glibc-based version of Applix for Red Hat 5.x. The version of Applix that ships with Office Suite 99 is newer than the version shipped with 5.3, as well. Indications are that Slackware, Debian and possibly other distributions are supported.

As a result of all of this support, the package is very large, from 350MB to 550MB depending on the language support you request. Fortunately, it can also be run directly off the CD, though it is not yet clear how fast it runs that way.

Due to popular demand, a beta version of a dhcp client for S.u.S.E. is now available.


The Trinux micro-distribution now has its own webpage. Version 0.4 Beta has also been released.

October 1, 1998

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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See also: last week's Development page.

Development tools


Sun has released 1.1.7 of the JDK. Since the Blackdown group and other Linux supporters of the JDK do not get access to the source code until after the release (and then after additional paperwork processing, etc), work will probably not even begin on moving the Linux patches over to 1.1.7 for another week or two.


InfoWorld columnist (and upcoming LinuxWorld editor) Nicholas Petrelay thinks that Python has a bright future. You can read about it in his column from this week.

The posting about "whiz" (a python system for developing interactive web sites) that we included in last week's newsletter did not have the location of the software. The author has sent us the URL; click here to download the package.


Version 2.2 of Squeak has been announced. Squeak is a public-domain derivative of Smalltalk-80 with which it is still reasonably compatible. It promises a complete Smalltalk development environment running in an amazingly small footprint (1MB on many PDAs).


tkWorld-1.0 Beta has been announced. By author Wes Bailey, tkWorld is also know as Wes's Own Realy Lazy Desktop. For the truly lazy, who tend to forget command line options, etc., tkWorld currently has dialogs for the find, grep and make commands.

The Tcl Plugin web pages have been relocated.

October 1, 1998



Development projects

The Linux Counter is looking for Country Managers, volunteers to help by providing support for a specific country, city or region. See their posting for more information

32 Bits Online Magazine is looking for volunteer Linux editors. If you are interested in reviewing Linux applications software and contributing to this magazine, check out their posting to c.o.l.a.


Several announcements came out of the GNOME project this week. In addition to the release of GNOME 0.30, version 0.2 of Gnumeric, the GNOME spreadsheet, was also announced and LibGTop 0.26.2 and GTop 0.28.1 have also been released.


Dan Pilone has created a mailing list for Kpilot in preparation for the release of KPilot 3.1. The mailing list will allow people to make last minute requests and volunteer to beta test 3.1 before it is announced. The posting contains a full list of new features in 3.1.


People interested in developing their own linuxconf modules should note that, as of linuxconf 1.12r4, there is a separate linuxconf-devel package available. Jacque Gelinas indicated that, as of linuxconf 1.12r5, this package should be really useable, though more documentation is always needed.


From Mozillazine, we find this interview with Mozilla developer Terry Weissman, the first in a planned series of interviews. The interview is short, which is not a bad idea, and provides a nice insight into the work of one developer.

The Jazilla jarball has been cleaned up and fixed up so that it should actually work.


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

S.u.S.E. announced its Office Suite 99 product this week. Articles on the subject were written up by news.com and Wired News. The amount of interest that this product announcement has received is very interesting, considering that the packages within Office Suite 99 have been available individually long before the release of the integrated product. However, many people were pleased to see the latest version of Applix, along with its support for Microsoft Office '97 formats.

S.u.S.E.'s work to make sure Office Suite 99 will install on most Linux distributions, not just S.u.S.E. 5.3, is also of note. Instead of marketing a product to distinguish S.u.S.E. from other distributions, they have marketed one that can be used on any. As a result, there is less of a need for each of the other distributions to market a competitor and any copy of the product purchased presumably puts money back into the hands of S.u.S.E. If other distributions choose to follow this model, it may provide fruitful results both for Linux users and for the revenues of the various Linux distributions.

S.u.S.E. now has its Sybase download page up and running. As with Red Hat and Caldera, registration is required first. For completeness, the download pages are:

As far as we know, the product is the same from all three vendors.

The LinuxWorld press release is out, you can read it here.Note that the LinuxWorld web siteis already on line, with some preliminary information. (Amusingly, they apologize for having hosted it on a Sun, claim that a Linux server is on its way).

They also plan to run yet another Linux conference, this one to be held next March.

Corel has released its third quarter results. CMP's Tech Investor comments on them in this article. Corel has returned to profitability. About the future: "The company plans a major push to sell versions of its software for Linux. 'We see a huge bandwagon heading towards Linux and a big growth market for us,' Cowpland said. 'There are other Linux competitors out there, but they don't have the recognition we've got with our 30 million users.'"

dynamis EDV-Consulting is a new Linux VAR in Germany. They sell ready-to-run Linux systems running either S.u.S.E. or Red Hat.

Press Releases:

  • Applied Information Systems (AIS) announces the xsBasic Add-In to the XESS Spreadsheet
  • Metrowerks has licensed its Java Acceleration Technology for PowerPC(TM) to the Linux community
  • Netbeans and KL Group announce inclusion of KL Group's Chart Lite with Netbeans IDE for Java
  • TUCOWS announced that ISPCon Fall '98 attendees can get special pre-orders of Corel's Wordperfect for Linux
  • Cyclades teams with S.u.S.E.
  • Caldera announces OpenLinux 1.3
  • Caldera announces Caldera OpenLinux Systems Administration courses
  • Computer Associates International, Inc. announced shipment of Enterprise and Workgroup editions of Ingres II
  • Hewlett-Packard introduced HP Firehunter 1.5
  • CRYPTOCard begins shipment of CRYPTOAdmin 3.1 and easyRADIUS

October 1, 1998


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See also: last week's Linux in the news page.

Linux in the news

Never has the press had so much to say about Linux. Even without Red Hat's new financing, there would have been a lot of articles to report here. As it is, there's more than anybody can hope to read. To make life a little easier, we have tried to classify the articles into a few basic groups and mark the most interesting ones.

General and miscellaneous

Folks equipped with RealVideo can check out this interview with Linus on ZDNet.

Thanks to Dan Ginsberg for pointing out this long article in the New York Times about Red Hat (which appeared on the front page of the business section in the print edition). "In an experiment that is half business model and half populist movement, a small company called Red Hat Software is charging $50 for an operating system called Linux that anyone can get free on the Internet, and it is paying programmers decent wages to write code that it will give away." (Note that NYT is a registration-required site. Using "cypherpunks" for both account and password will get you in if you do not wish to register).

According to this C|Net articleInformix will be increasing its support for Linux. "...Informix executives now believe that demand for its software on Linux is coming from deep-pocketed corporate customers."

The Register ran a brief article about Informix's move.

Chris Kagy tipped off to this article in the American Bar Association Journal. It is a debate-style piece, with a group of lawyers discussing whether Linux is interesting or not. "Large software projects do not respond well to unlimited money and unlimited personnel. NT is vulnerable. Linux is in the right place at the right time."

Linux, an NT Killer in the Making in "ent Magazine" takes a look at Linux from an NT-centric point of view. "My take is that these vendors are anxious to help Linux along just in case it should prove to have the potential to compete with Windows NT." Thanks to Dan Lark for the pointer to this one.

The Irish Times series on Linux finishes up with two more articles (though they promise "occasional" coverage in the future). this article is mostly about dealing with the unfamiliarity of a new system. "None of these things is a fault, it's just that six years of using Windows has conditioned every expectation of action and response to one way of working." The author decides it's fun in the end: "This openness and availability recreates the wonder of first meeting a computer."

The last article is a survey of Irish businesses using Linux.

Here is a Transmeta article in The Register. It says that their product will be aimed at running NT 5.0, that DOS and 16-bit Windows compatibility will not be there, and that Linus played a vital role in developing this approach. "According to the source, the arrival of Torvalds heralded a sea-change at the secretive firm, which is run by the ex-head of SunSPARC labs, David Dinzel."

The Vancouver Sun ran an outstandingly positive introductory article in time to publicise last weekend's Canadian Installfest. "The generally held opinion in the IT industry is that Linux is incredibly stable, tried and true, a real workhorse, even on PCs." (Found on the Linux Reviews and Articles site).

For our French-capable readers, here is a column by Jean-Louis Gassée in Libération. He, too, talks of the crumbling of the "Wintel" alliance and the rise of Linux. For what it's worth, here is a Babelfish link to translate the article to English, but the results are unsatisfying. Thanks to "Tran" for the tip.

InfoWorld has a brief article on the recent commercial database announcements. "Mentioning Big Blue and Red Hat Software in the same breath was perhaps inconceivable six months ago, but, with Linux gaining acceptance, more established vendors are hopping on the bandwagon, namely IBM and Sybase."

The Ottawa Citizen has an article about Corel, its results, and its stock price. Linux is not the focus of the article, but they do conclude with: "Among [Corel's] recent promising developments is a move into a fast-growing computer operating system known as Linux, which Corel is aggressively pursuing for both network computer and server applications and some of its software, including WordPerfect."

Here is the Reuters story on Microsoft's SEC filing where they mention Linux as a growing competitive threat. "Over the past year the Linux operating system has gained increasing acceptance, and leading software developers such as Oracle and Corel have announced that they will develop applications that run on Linux" (For those who are really interested, Mark Brady sent the URL for the full text of Microsoft's filing.

Robert Cringely has another interesting article on pbs.org. He wanders a bit, talking about how Microsoft is trying to wipe out Samba, then concluding that the way to make money in the computer business is to give your hardware away for free... (Thanks to Matthew Asplund).

Larry Davison wrote in about this brief article in the Christian Science Monitor. They don't entirely get it, though: "What's most attractive about the new system, say computer geeks who use it, is that anyone can download it from the Internet at no charge."

When does 'free' become too expensive? asks this LAN Times article. It starts off looking like one of those "free software is not so cheap after all" articles, but read on. "For example, when the prospect of running Linux in an MIS shop is discussed, managers typically imagine that they will need to get a kernel-level hacker on staff.... In general, this is ridiculous reasoning....an OS is not likely to break down. Many of these free products are mature platforms and have been tested more thoroughly than many commercial products." Overall a quite positive article. Thanks yet again to Didier Legein for passing this one on.

Didier Legein (hereby named "honorary LWN editor") noticed that Performance Computing is starting a Linux column in January. Even better, it will be written by Jon "maddog" Hall. They are having a contest to see who can come up with the best name for the column.

Didier Legein also pointed out this article in 32bitsonline about 3D rendering with Linux.

CMP chose this time to rerun an old FUD piece from a few weeks back (it was mentioned in our September 3 issue). "Still, Linux is not completely like OS/2; it has some fatal flaws of its own. For example, like UNIX, Linux comes in multiple and incompatible flavors, isn't backed by a blue-chip company and has very low awareness within corporations." This seems like an inopportune time for them to have recycled that one - "awareness within corporations" has probably increased somewhat.

Wired News has a brief articleon LinuxWorld. They really have only rehashed the press release, though.

Don't Believe the Hype? in Intelligent Enterprise Magazine (scroll down to the bottom). "Is it all a marketing ploy, or is Linux about to be catapulted into the operating system mainstream? Vendors are playing their part in hyping Linux, and we're wondering why it's suddenly garnering such avid attention."

Getting help on Linux is a series of articles that popped up on ZDNet, written by Linux Journal author Michael Stutz. "Here's an attempt to outline the most efficient means of getting help with Linux."

Network World Fusion has an article on clustering. Unfortunately, their interpretation of "cluster" seems to mean removing all paragraph breaks from the story, it is very hard to read. "The combination of Red Hat's Linux and Beowulf clustering, while promising, is more hype than reality. That is mainly because there are few business applications that can take advantage of the system." (Note this is a registration-required site. Use "cypherpunks" for both username and password if you do not wish to register).

Linux Can't Beat NT--Except on the Internet is a sort-of pro-Linux article in Internet World. "While I still believe that Linux is not a real threat to Microsoft overall--it may take a killer asteroid colliding with the Pacific Northwest to slow Microsoft down at this point--I do see a major shift happening in a core market that Microsoft is not serving well."

Here is a C|Net series on "cheap speed." Suggestion number one for speeding up your computer: install Linux. "Linux, a Unix clone that runs on PCs, Macs, and a number of other machines, is our favorite alternative OS; it's also the most popular one."

Martin Skjöldebrand wrote in to tell us about this article, which happens to be in Swedish. He says it is quite positive; we're going to have to take his word on this one.

Caldera 1.3

This TechWeb article covers Caldera 1.3, the Vertical Business Server, Caldera Training, and the Microsoft lawsuit.

PC Week also had a relatively straightforward article about Caldera 1.3.

This (other) TechWeb article concentrates briefly on KDE then finishes out with this bit of weirdness: "Caldera and competitor Simon & Schuster publish the top two Linux titles sold at retail outlets."

S.u.S.E. Office Suite

Wired News has an article about S.u.S.E.'s "Office 99" product. "Winterton said the release of his product helps IT managers on the fence make the jump off the Windows ship because of three factors: cost, stability, and performance." Thanks to Arne Sagnes for pointing this one out.

News.com has an article as well. Quoting S.u.S.E.'s Scott McNeil: "Truly, Linux now has an office suite competitive with Microsoft Windows products".

This article in Computer Currents is a pretty straightforward description of the Office 99 product, and talks about the 5.3 install bug as well.

Intel / Netscape / Red Hat (post-announcement)

Intel, Netscape back Red Hat (C|Net) talks about the deal in general. "...Andreessen said the Red Hat investment is not meant to slight other Linux vendors."

Connections key to Red Hat deal (C|Net) talks a bit with Bob Young and concentrates on how the deal will help Red Hat to get processor information from Intel earlier in the developer cycle. Also: "In a way, the investments could be looked at as the day Linux bought a suit and shaved."

Intel, Netscape buy stakes in Red Hat Linux (The Register). "But with Intel trying to figure out how to reduce its dependency on Microsoft, and scoping Linux as a possible escape route, Netscape may actually have run into a couple of companies that it has quite a few things in common with. And could you seriously believe that Intel and Netscape just happened to both invest in Red Hat at the same time by accident?"

Intel puts its weight behind Linux - and Linus (The Register). "'The initiatives Intel is announcing today indicate the relationship between Intel and the Linux community is growing stronger,' said Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. 'Our combined efforts will enable the expansion of Linux OS performance and services that will drive more mainstream acceptance of Linux.'"

Hats off to Linux! (BBC). "Once the preserve of self-confessed nerds, Linux is being turned into a product suddenly being supported by major companies, many of them in the anti-Microsoft camp."

Netscape, Intel put on Red Hat (Wired). "Tiny Red Hat also may pull off what giants IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard could not: unify the industry behind a single version of the Unix operating system."

Intel, Netscape back Linux vendor (TechWeb). "Although Red Hat declined to give specific information about the minority investments, control of the privately held company has not changed, said Paul McNamara, vice president of strategic relationships"

Linux grows up (The Standard). "[Intel VP] Maloney warned of the danger of spreading Linux 'too thin,' instead of focusing on what it does best now: run small to medium-sized Internet servers."

It's official (ZDNet). Not much new information. "Financial details were not disclosed"

Red Hat's Red Letter Day (ZDNet). "Torvalds... predicts Linux will continue to surge, boosted by the roll-out of Linux-based applications such as office suites and games over the next three or four years. ``That's when total world domination occurs,'' he quipped."

Muth 'the mouth' accidentally boosts Linux (The Register) is an amusing look at the comments of Microsoft exec Ed Muth.

The Linux challenge to NT in the enterprise (The Register) is a more serious and interesting look at what could happen. "But this time the execs are right, because Intel's plans for Linux will hit Microsoft right where it hurts - NT."

Intel, Netscape give boost to Microsoft rival, Linux (Boston Globe). "Microsoft marketing manager Ed Muth [predicted] that Intel's support of Linux would have relatively little impact on Microsoft's share of the operating system market." Thanks to Paul Rensing.

Microsoft, legal expert question Linux's free model (ZDNet). Some (mild, really) FUD from Microsoft, suggesting that they still don't get it. "Creating a business around Linux is a difficult task. Companies that base their business plan on only Linux have no intellectual property invested in the operating system. To Microsoft, that means no competitive advantage. 'Companies need to protect their IP territory,' said Muth. 'Otherwise, there is no reason to stay in the market.'"

Microsoft challenger gets financial backing from big high-tech names(Detroit News). This is the Associated Press wire service piece that appeared in newspapers all over the country. "During the past year, Linux has risen to the forefront among the relatively unknown products that can substitute for the Windows operating system."

Netscape leans on Linux (C|Net). "[Intel vice president] Maloney promised that Intel will take a hands-off approach to how the Linux community on the Internet functions, but he predicted that the progress of Linux would be relatively slow. Customers don't often change operating systems, he noted, and Microsoft has put enormous resources behind Windows NT."

MCI WorldCom Exec On Linux: Not So Fast (TechWeb). MCI/UUnet don't plan to switch to Linux right away. (Thanks to Bruce Ide).

The little OS that could (Wired). "'Lately, everybody has been getting this feeling that Linux is an overnight phenomenon over the last seven months,' said Torvalds. 'In fact, I've been seeing this coming for the last seven years.'"

Linux to get boost from Intel, Netscape (Network World Fusion). A brief note. "One user wondered why Intel and Netscape had waited so long." (Note this is a registration-required site. Use "cypherpunks" for both username and password if you do not wish to register).

Intel, Netscape buy into Linux vendor (Computerworld). "...it would be in Intel's best interest if operating systems other than Windows thrive..."

Hats off to Linux as Intel confirms interest (Silicon).

Intel, Netscape Invest in Linux Distributor (Internet Week).

Intel / Netscape / Red Hat (pre-announcement)

Here is the pile of articles that came out before the announcement actually happened. These articles were necessarily more speculative, but some were worthwhile.

Linux Looms Large: Intel, Netscape slap NT, will invest in Red Hat(ZDNet). This is, as far as we know, the original article which blew this event out into the open. It is still the only one which talks about the effects on the other distributions: "Making one distribution of Linux 'official' could steal market share away from the myriad Unix and Linux Platforms. What's more, it could turn Red Hat Linux into a sort-of authorized version - a scenario despised and feared by most Linux developers."

Intel & Netscape Invest In Linux (Newsbytes). "A key issue for Linux today is whether or not it can become a valid alternative for corporate users. Analysts have said that the hacker association given to Linux has kept it from taking off with businesses yet but the investments from Intel and Netscape should begin to open those doors."

Intel, Wintel: Do tell (San Jose Mercury). This one gives a better-than-most analysis of Intel's strategy, definitely worth a read. "Yes, such an event would would be a big boost for Linux and other products in the ``free software'' or ``open source'' movement... My take: It's even more interesting. And a key word is ``appliance.''"

Linux - now Intel stabs Microsoft in the front (The Register). This was one of the better pre-announcement pieces. "Can Wintel survive Linux? The news that Intel, in close cahoots with Netscape, intends to buy a share of the Linux action on Tuesday makes it doubtful, coming as it does on top of a stack of ominous signals from the chip giant." Thanks to James Cownie for the tip.

Linux Leaps Ahead: New Developments Could Put Linux in the Limelight for Good(ZDNet). Jesse Berst, once highly skeptical of Linux, continues to come around. "I've always said that Linux could become a serious challenger to Microsoft's Windows NT. This summer, I laid out the three steps necessary to make that happen.... But I was skeptical those steps would happen in time. Now it looks like Linux will get at least part of what it needs this very week." Thanks to Peter Mastren and David Morgan for telling us about this one.

Intel, Netscape Seen Investing in Linux Company (Reuters, via InternetNews.com). Not the most satisfying of articles. "Linux now has over 8 million users and is used within the Internet community, by Internet service providers and for intranet site hosting. But because the software is free and it not owned by one company, many major corporations are hesitant to use Linux, even though some claim it is more robust and less prone to crashing than Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT." They also call it "shareware".

Intel is investing in Linux - but why? (Sm@rt Reseller). "...Linux provides Intel with access to the much-coveted Internet Service Provider (ISP) Market."

Blue Chips' Backing Boosts Linux Viability (Internet Week). "According to an Intel spokesperson, the decision to aggressively back Linux was fueled by Linux's popularity among Internet service providers and the belief that Linux may find a home among enterprise customers in the near future." (Found in Linux Reviews and Articles).

How to get Windows for free (The Standard). Talks about Intel, then wanders off into the self-destruction of the "Freedows" project.

Intel, Netscape invest in Linux supplier (InfoWorld). This brief article adds little to the rest of the coverage out there.

Intel rumoured to be looking at Linux (Silicon). Another brief, unexciting piece.

Intel, Netscape stake Linux? (C|Net). More of the same.

October 1, 1998


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.



The Informix on Linux FAQ, v. 0.3 has been released. The Informix on Linux FAQ attempts to address the most commonly-encountered obstacles to installing and running the native port of Informix-SE 7.24.UC5 for Linux.

For Italian-capable readers: ROL (Reggio OnLine) magazine has started running a column on Linux. The first column is devoted to introductory issues and some installation instructions.

Another Linux news site, LinuxToday, has been announced. It promises constant updates throughout the day and the ability to share comments and opinions.

A mailing list for Oracle on Linux has been made available.


Remember that next week is the LiMe (Linux Meeting) in Rome, Italy. The meeting is the 7th through the 9th of October; more information can be found in their web pages.

Also remember the Atlanta Linux Showcase, coming up October 23 and 24. Their list of exhibitorshas grown to 48 entries. The main showcase web site has all the information about this event.

See the LWN event calendar for a complete listing of upcoming Linux-related happenings.

Web sites

The Linux Sound Apps page has been shut down recently due to insufficient bandwidth. Good news, though, a new site and a mirror are now available.

The UK Linux links page, which provides links of interest to British Linux users, has moved to http://www.skygate.co.uk/linux.html.

User Group News

The Metro Detroit Linux User's Group (MDLUG)recently gave a presentation and demonstration of Linux. They have made their slideshow available in the hopes that it may be of use to others who wish to do a presentation on Linux.

The Utrecht University Linux User Group recently formed and held its first meeting on September 22nd. They have a nice home page, two mailing lists and are planning to hold public seminars to educate people about Linux in the future.

A new user group is forming in Vicenza, Italy. See their announcement (in Italian) for more information. They claim world domination as their goal, and even set a date (2003). Meanwhile they'll settle for pizza.

October 1, 1998



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
a2ps 4.10.4 Any to PostScript filter
AbiWord 0.1.1 Fully featured word processor
Astuner-Aztech 3.5 Afterstep Wharf tuner for Aztech radio cards
AVS 5.4 Data visualization programming environment for end-users
Blackbox 0.40.7 WindowManager for X11 written in C++
Blender 1.38 Extremely fast and versatile 3D Rendering Package
Bomb 1.20 automatic interactive visual stimulation
CDRDAO 1.0 Disk-At-Once Recording of Audio CD-Rs
Cool Notes 0.4 Gtk/Gdk based 'notes-program' like xmemos
Cryptonite 0.11 Pure Java Strong Encryption Package
curl 4.8.4 Tiny command line client for getting data from a URL
DB_Browser 1.0b Web-based utility to browse and modify a postgres database
dcd 0.33 Simple command-line CD player
DECnet for Linux 0.12 DECnet socket layer and applications
DocWiz 0.56 A GUI tool for developing Javadoc documentation
DrumPatterns 0.4 Free, open source, web oriented drum patterns generator
Eggdrop 1.3.20 IRC bot, written in C
ElectricEyes 0.3 Lightweight GTK+/GNOME-based image viewer
Emacs mutt-mode 1.4 Makes Emacs play nicely as an external Mutt editor
Ethereal 0.3.17 GUI network protocol analyzer
Executor 2.0x Allows you to run your Macintosh applications on PCs
Exult 0.01 Ultima 7 world viewer
FFTW 2.0.1 The Fastest Fourier Transform in the West
FPL 14.12 Very C-like interpreted language
gentoo 0.9.7 Two-pane filemanager using GTK+, 100% GUI configurable
GMem 0.2 A tool to monitor the memory usage of your system
GNOME 0.30 GNU Network Object Model Environment
GNU Robots 0.9 Robot construction game
GnuJSP 0.9.4 A free Java Server Pages implementation
Groovy CD Player 0.02 Groovy console based (ncurses) CD player with fluffy numbers
gsmbstatus 0.0.1 GTK based smb status display
gsula 0.0.3a Programmable multiple-server IRC Client for X with Guile extension
Gtk-- 0.9.16 C++ interface for the popular GUI library gtk.
gtkfind 0.7 GTK+ version of find(1)
GtkICQ 0.54 GtkICQ is a clone of Mirabilis' ICQ program based on Gtk/GNOME
gunk 0.01 Amorphous computing simulator
Gwydion Dylan 2.1-19980916 Compiler for Dylan, an dynamic, efficient, object-oriented language
hc-cron 1.0 A modified version of Paul Vixie's widely used cron daemon
HSX 98/09/27 Hotline Server clone for Unix
IceConf 0.1.3 A graphical configuration program for IceWM
identdtestd 1.0 Nice, small, fast, identd testing facility
iLisp 3.3-4 A very small and multiplatform Lisp interpreter
ImageMagick 4.1.1 Package for display and interactivemanipulation of images for X11
imlib 1.8.1 Advanced replacement library for libraries like libXpm
Imoria 4.85.5 dungeon game like rogue, nethack, moria, etc.
Install Toolkit for Java 1.0 A Java program for writing install programs for Java or non-Java programs
installwatch 0.5 Installwatch logs created and modified files during the installation of a progra
Javachat 0.99c Small chatserver written in Java 1.1.x
kdbg 0.2.3 A KDE front end to GDB.
Kmp3te 0.7 MP3 tag editor
KMySql 1.01 A MySql client for KDE.
Krabber 0.2.4 KDE audio cd grabber and mp3 encoder front-end
Kscd 1.2.2 KDE CD Player
KVoiceControl 0.1 Speech recognition system for the KDE Desktop
Licq 0.42 ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
Linbot 0.9 Professional Site Management Tool for webmasters
ltrace 0.3.6 A library call tracer
Lynx 2.8 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
Micq snapshot 980925 Publically available ICQ clone for the console
mkl 0.1 Creates and prints labels for use with CD-Rs
mod_frontpage FrontPage server extensions patch
Moneydance 2.0b Personal finance application written in java
MpegTV Player A realtime MPEG Video+Audio player
MSWordView 0.4.4 Microsoft Word 8 document viewer
nini 0.1 Lightweight, secure imap server project
nmap 1.51 Full featured, robust port scanner
NodeWatch 1.6 Monitor and react to TCP/IP network nodes using fping.
oidentd 1.2 ident (rfc1413) daemon for linux that allows users to specify usernames
PCRE 2.00 A library that implements Perl 5-style regular expressions.
perlmoo 0.023 lambdamoo style moo written in perl
pgp4pine 1.22 Interactive program for using PGP with email programs, specifically Pine
PHPLIB release-5 Web Application Development Package for the PHP 3 language
Pine 4.05 Tool for reading,sending, and managing electronic messages
pircd Alpha Three An IRC daemon, written in Perl.
procps 1.2.9 A package of utilities which report on the state of the system
PyroTechnics 1.3 OpenGL firework simulator
PySol 1.03 A Python-based Solitaire card game
Python/Tk Empire Interface (ptkei) 0.25 Cross Platform Empire GUI Client
Qt Masqdialer 0.0.11 Qt based client for Jeff Meininger's Masqdialer server
QtDragon 0.6.4 A tool to configure the telephone-related stuff of a DataBoxSpeed Dragon
Quick Image Viewer 0.8.1 A very small and pretty fast GDK/Imlibimage viewer
Rasca 0.9.4 Extended MP3 Player.
Replay 0.51 GTK-based MP3 player for X11
rhlupdate 0.25 Connects to a FTP server with RHL on it, checks for updates, and installs them.
Scitech Display Doctor 1.0 beta3 Universal VESA driver and utilities
Sybase ASE Full featured SQL Backend
Synthesis Toolkit 2.0 C++ classes for software-based sound synthesis/processing
The Gimp 1.0.1 The GNU Image Manipulation Program
TiK 0.03 Beta Tcl/Tk version of AOL Instant Messenger
TkApache 1.092598 GUI Front-End+ for the Apache Web Server
VDK 0.3 Easy to use C++ wrapper for Gtk++
VFU File Manager 0.30 Extensivelyl featured console (text-mode) file manager.
Web Secretary 1.1 Web page monitoring software
Window Maker 0.20.1 X11 window manager with NEXTSTEP look and feel
Windows 95/NT Masqdialer Client 1.0.2 Win95/NT Client for Jeff Meininger's MasqDialer Server
Wine 980927 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
Wisio 0.6 An experimental project for a graphical windowing system
wmsound 0.7.6 Sound server package for WindowMaker
WSoundPrefs 0.8 WMSound Server Configuration Utility
X-Chat 0.2.0 GTK+ Based IRC Client. Alot like AmIRC (Amiga).
Xafe 1.1 A frontend for XAnim
XawTV 2.27 TV application and a few utilities
Xlockmore 4.12 screen saver / locker for the X Window System
xmp 1.1.6pre02 An OpenSource module for UNIX
xrpn 1.0 A RPN calcuator with a motif/X11 GUI
Xscreensaver 2.30 Modular screen saver and locker for the X WindowSystem

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

The Unix Guru Universe ("UGU") is a comprehensive collection of information relating to the administration of Unix-type systems in general. They have a largish Linux section, but much of what's there is not Linux specific (but useful anyway).

Designing a Linux PC takes you step-by-step through the process of choosing your hardware wisely. Great levels of detail are not present here, but there is some good advice on what to get. (Another good source for this sort of information is Net Express. They are a high-end Linux systems VAR, and they go to great lengths to tell the reader about why they choose the hardware they do. You can never buy a thing from them and still benefit from visiting their site).

October 1, 1998



Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to editor@lwn.net. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.

We got some complaints about the smaller font used to format the letters last week, so we've done away with it. We'll work on the details of the formatting later... Letters this week cover UDI, Acorn, and some last RMS notes.

Date: Tue, 29 Sep 98 21:27:33 EDT
From: becker@cesdis.gsfc.nasa.gov (Donald Becker)
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: UDI comment

Thank you for the coverage and commentary on the UDI effort.

I agree with your assesment that this is likely not good for the Linux
community.  A vital element of Linux's success has been its excellent device
support.  I don't see UDI enhancing that.  Rather I see UDI as a way for
other OSes to gain additional device drivers without providing anything in
return.  It will also encourage binary-only device drivers from vendors in
place of open source support.

What do we gain from UDI?  What other Unix has such extensive device
support?  Certainly not Solaris or BSD.  And they are unlikely to convert
their proprietary drivers to an open interface.

Finally, when there is a defined binary interface, the GPL can be
circumvented with the claim that a device driver is just another stand-alone
program that may be ported to another system.  

Donald Becker					  becker@cesdis.gsfc.nasa.gov
USRA-CESDIS, Center of Excellence in Space Data and Information Sciences.
Code 930.5, Goddard Space Flight Center,  Greenbelt, MD.  20771
301-286-0882	     http://cesdis.gsfc.nasa.gov/people/becker/whoiam.html
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 11:41:32 -0700
From: peter.m.eggers@boeing.com
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: UDI

I think Intel has a good idea.  To realize UDI on Linux, Intel should
volunteer to become the project coordinator and get the other commercial
UDI members to provide programmer support to create the UDI drivers.  
The Linux kernel development team I am sure would appreciate having but
one commercial entity to deal with and I believe that Intel would be the
easiest one for them to deal with.

I assume that any UDI modifications to the Linux kernel would have
merit, and not merely to support UDI.  With that and the above
stipulations, I think it is a great idea that the Linux community should
get behind and encourge Intel to make it happen!
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 11:31:19 +0100
From: Charlie Stross <charlie@antipope.org>
To: lwn@eklektix.com
Subject: Thought for the day ...

Bill Gates gave a speech recently, reported in Le Monde Informatique:
he's quoted as saying that Linux will never have goodies like voice
recognition software, and that he sees it already joining OS/2 in the
history of data processing. (See Babelfish translation at

Lo, verily and forsooth, up pops the following announcement on Freshmeat
yesterday: "KVoiceControl is a speech recognition system that allows the
user to connect spoken commands to unix commands. It automagically
detects signals coming from a microphone then performs recognition on
this speech input and in case of successful recognition executes the
unix command the user hooked up to it." (See

Coming next week: NASA, NSA, IRS, CIA announce "US government has
no plans to migrate from OS/2 before 2047."

-- Charlie Stross

Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 12:31:09 +0100 (BST)
From: Andrew Spencer <bspajs@bath.ac.uk>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Acorn

I was interested to read your comments on the demise of Acorn's
desktop/workstation efforts. I used an Acorn machine for several years as
a teenager; I still have one at home, little used anymore because I do all
my work on an x86 Linux machine (I couldn't afford a new Acorn, and also
they didn't and don't have hardware floating-point, which I needed). 

Acorn machines, or more particularly their operating system Risc-OS,
actually have very little in common with Linux other than independence
from Microsoft. Linux is very decidedly a programmer's operating system,
in the sense that reliability and security seem to be the main things
guiding its deisgn. Acorn's operating system is quite different: much of
it was apparently written in assembler; it's based on co-operative
multi-tasking; it's built around a single-user philosophy much like
Windows, with the attendant consequences; and as far as I know does little
or nothing to stop badly-behaved programs from writing on areas of memory
that they shouldn't, or similar crimes. [Mind you, the operating system
being on a ROM -- all 2Mb of it -- maybe makes that slightly less risky.
Certainly in practice, they're better behaved than Windows machines, but
it's still not unheard of for applications to take the whole machine down 
with them.] It also doesn't really have anything to match all the Unix
tools like shell scripting, grepping etc...

On the other hand, though, no-one could describe Linux as a user's
operating system. The lack of consistency in behaviour of X applications
verges on the ridiculous, for example. By contrast, Risc-OS is really very
well designed and easy to learn: not perfect, but a model of simplicity
and consistency when compared to Windows. Some of its neatest features
are (and skip this if you don't give a toss):

*	Three button mouse: the left button acts much like the left button
in Windows, the middle button brings up pop-up menus (no menu bars) and
the right button produces clever variations on the left button.
Right-clicking on a scroll-bar tab scrolls in the reverse direction, which
is incredibly useful when scanning up and down a document. Right-clicking
a menu item leaves the menu open after performing the action, instead of
closing it. Especially good is the handling of directories. Directories
are brought up in separate windows (rather than Windows Explorer style)
i.e. double-clicking a directory folder brings up its contents in a new
window. If you double-click with the right mouse button, the window you're
currently in gets closed. If you close a directory display with the right
button, the directory above it pops up again. Much nicer than in Windows

*	Drag-and-drop: You load files by dragging them onto the
application icon (which sits on a bar at the bottom of the screen); you
save them by dragging them out of the save dialog onto a Filer window,
i.e. a directory window.

*	Applications directories: Program files and associated odds and
ends (like icon bitmaps) are kept together in a single directory per
application. This directory appears as the application icon rather than a
folder icon, and double-clicking it loads the application (it runs a
script file inside the directory called !Run). This might not be to
everyone's taste, but I like it a lot.

*	Integrated OS support for anti-aliased text since about the year
dot (well, 1988ish)...

All of which is intended to say that I'm not sure whether the demise of
Acorn's workstation division is going to lead to any significant number of
talented programmers migrating to Linux. Probably most (ex-)Acorn
programmers who might have been inclined to program for Linux already do
so. Rather, I think the message in this event is to remind us of the sad
failing of the computer industry to produce thoughtful, good and
consistent design *for the user*. We already know that technical
superiority is not, on its own, enough to win (or even survive). Ease of
use is even less so. Which is a shame, because there's more need for it
now than ever. 

LWN is excellent - well written, interesting and level headed - keep it

all the best,

Andrew Spencer

Dept of Biology and Biochemistry
 and Centre for Mathematical Biology
University of Bath
Bath BA2 7AY

From: "Zenaan Harkness" <zen@getsystems.com>
To: <editor@lwn.net>
Subject: What should we do with rms.
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 09:43:42 +1000

I would briefly like to state my full support of RMS and his vision. Thank
you for printing the LWN flames that clearly expressed (I thought) the
relevance (as if that had to be stated in the first place) of RMS in _our_
Gnu/Linux world.

I would ask you not to write something so arrogantly repulsive (as the
original article) again. Do so, and I will consider not reading LWN again.

As a pennance, I suggest a change of the name of your editorial to include

On the whole I do find LWN to be an exceptional publication. I do not expect
to see such indiscrimate editorial in the future. If not so, I would expect
to see an alternative publication started. Something like "Gnu Weekly News".

Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 11:33:10 -0500
From: Mike Hammel <mjhammel@fastlane.net>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: The Linux Press:  editorial power and responsibility

I read the responses to your rms article.  A few were well worded (Danny
Yee's in particular) and argued valid points.  And perhaps they were
right in stating that your editorial should not have been out to target
Richard in the manner that it did.  But I can't help but feel that the
responders missed the opposing viewpoint as well.  The problem (yes,
problem) with RMS is not his ideas or ideals, it is in the manner in
which he expresses them.  No one likes to be degraded or verbally abused
and battered and, based only on the reports of conferences and his other
public appearances, it would appear this is this is the manner he uses
to make his point.

Of course, if this is not how he really presents his views, then those
who responded should consider taking up the journalistic trade to make
their own reports on RMS' actions.  We, people in general, make many
decisions based on the writings in the press.  The Linux press is still
young - we have limited resources and our ability to ferret out the true
story is sometimes limited by those resources.  Most of us (I speak of
writers for LWN, The Linux Gazette, Slashdot, and the various other
Linux-specific press sites on the web) are generally not professional
writers much less journalists.  We can and do make mistakes.

I've never written about RMS in my Graphics Muse column.  I tend to
avoid the issue publicly as much as possible.  But a similar editorial
about GGI generated quite a bit of unhappy mail.  Like LWN, I made a
public stance.  I wasn't quite prepared for the response.  Lesson

But its the press who have to hang themselves out on the line on issues
like these.  It gives us a power and it requires a responsibility to be
truthful and as accurate as possible.  We'll do our best.  All we ask of
our readers - all I ask - is that you not use RMS' tactics in
responding.  Be succint - we get a lot of email.  Follow up
counterarguments with verifiable proof, where possible.  And most of all
- don't be mean.  Remember, however the press may attempt to be
unbiased, it still has the power to sway the world.  You don't want to
sway them away from your point of view, do you?

Michael J Hammel
The Graphics Muse

Date: 25 Sep 1998 16:32:32 -0000
From: deivu@eccosys.com
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: comments on the rms commentary

It looks like most of these people didn't read the original article
very closely -- though I think the author's right that it's a little

I think it's true that RMS is in danger of making himself irrelevant
(except historically, obviously), because he's an extremist -- not
just in his goals, which I think are by and large good goals, but in
his methods; he doesn't seem to see value in subversion or in
short-term compromise. The danger, of course, is losing sight of your
original goals, and perhaps that's what RMS sees happening. I don't
want to see RMS become the Leon Trotsky of the free software
revolution (but who's the Stalin in that picture?), but on the other
hand, a revolution without the support of the populace, a revolution
that confines itself to the literary salons and the debating
societies, is doomed to failure. "Open source" may be gaining
mindshare, but I don't think it's gaining it at the *expense* of "free
software"; it's gaining mindshare in places where "free software" was
too blatantly revolutionary to stand a chance. I'm sorry such places
exist, but we can't make them go away by wishing, and if "open source"
gets GPLed software into places "free software" can't take it, then
it's a victory for the Movement.

I have to disagree with the writer who says "it seems /prima facie/
obvious that Oracle and Informix ports to Linux will be good for Linux
but bad for the development of industrial-strength free database
systems." I don't think Linux ports of the large commercial databases
will have any effect on the development of industrial-strength free
database systems -- they're not going to charge significantly less for
the Linux version than for the other versions, not in the long term;
anyone who can't afford a commercial database for Solaris or NT will
also not be able to afford one for Linux.

Most computers are sold to commercial concerns and most software is
used in commercial concerns. A victory for free software has to
include victory in the business world, or it's an irrelevant sideshow
-- as long as we can't get rid of the business world altogether. My
opinion of the current issues is that anything that extends the reach
of free software in commerce is progress, even if it means short-term
compromise. The writer who says "people would be only too happy to
slowly switch to a system where they will have to pay for all but the
core components" is not thinking straight -- remember, for most
computer buyers (as opposed to coders, who look a little more closely
into these issues), that's the situation they're in *now* -- you buy
the machine, the core components come free (actually they've gone into
the cost of the machine, but they seem free), and you buy software to
run on top of those "free" components. 

Now the large commercial concerns that can afford Oracle will be able
to run it on Linux, and faced with the possibility of UNIX' stability
and security without UNIX' proprietary hardware price tag, hopefully,
many of them will choose to. They'll then have the experience of using
a free software product to do serious work, and discover that it can
in fact be powerful, reliable, and well-supported.  Today it's the OS;
perhaps tomorrow they'll decide that they don't need to pay Informix
per-user-per-processor license fees either, and move to PostgreSQL
(once it's a little faster and has a few more features) or SQRL (once
it's finished). How can this not be a good thing?


(David Moles, deivu@eccosys.com, http://www2.eccosys.com/~deivu/)


Feedback and corrections

A couple of silly mistakes slipped through last week... We mistakenly said that this C|Net Builder article was a comparison between Linux and NT 4.0; instead it compared Linux with NT 5.0 beta 2. And we don't know what slip of the fingers put the city of Madison (WI) in Ohio...

Also, Michel Emde pointed out that the "Hacker Timeline" which we had reprinted from the ISN mailing list had been taken from Bruce Sterling's "The Hacker Crackdown" book. We regret the misuse of Mr. Sterling's table and the lack of attribution.

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