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What will happen to the Linux VARs? That is an interesting question, if Bob Young's prediction (from this PCWeek article) that six out of ten of the major PC server makers will be offering Linux on their boxes in the first quarter of 1999. Up until now, Linux Value Added Resellers have had only minimal competition. The number of well-known Linux VARs is small and the demand high enough that business was available for all. Expect that, with the introduction of pre-installed Linux systems from vendors like Gateway, IBM, Dell or others, the number of people searching out a Linux VAR in order to get a pre-installed Linux system will rapidly dwindle.

This is likely to shake down the Linux VARs. Will it kill them? Many of them, perhaps, but certainly not all of them. The essence of a VAR is in the name, "Value Added Reseller". Up until now, much of the value of a Linux VAR may have come from helping users avoid the potential pain and agony of integrating hardware and getting Linux installed and running smoothly. However, that is not all they have to offer. They also offer personal service, customized installations and high levels of support. Given that the Linux VARs are likely to have more highly qualified Linux technical staff than the large PC vendors, many businesses will prefer to continue working with them.

The list of nominees for the GNU project's "Free Software Award" has been released. It is a long list. The winner will be announced on October 9, perhaps before many of you read this. We will, of course, put the news on our daily updates page as soon as we hear it.

There will soon be many more online Linux magazines to choose from. We have already mentioned LinuxWorld, which will start producing content sometime this month. It has been announced that the first issue of ext2, produced by Rob Kennedy of linux-howto.com fame, will come out at the beginning of November. Finally, the folks at 32bitsonline have announced that they are going to change focus and become a Linux-centric publication. And don't forget LinuxToday, which started up just over a week ago. (There are also rumors that the Linux Journalhas an online magazine scheme in the works, but we've heard only rumors). The Linux publishing field is starting to get crowded.

We are also seeing an increasing number of Linux conferences being scheduled. Some newly-announced ones include the Singapore Linux Conference (Singapore, March 5-6, 1999), and Linux and Open Source Software (London, January 20, 1999). The latter includes a keynote by Eric Raymond.

The other conference which had been announced recently, of course, was LinuxWorld Expo. Some folks noticed that the timing of this conference (March 1-4, 1999) and it's location (San Jose) were awfully close to those of LINC Expo. So the two groups started talking to each other, and a merger was arranged. It turns out to be a good matchup. The LINC folks know all about Linux, and rather less about running conferences, while IDG (the LinuxWorld sponsors) are in the opposite situation. So the new conference will feature the LINC group handling the conference program, while IDG does logistics and exhibits. The merged conference will be in the March 1-4 slot. It will feature a bit more tutorial space than LINC had, and a bit less general session.

Here are some more of the writings of Richard Stallman. He recently posted an essay on UDI (the Uniform Driver Interface) which is pretty negative about the whole idea. He sees it as a way for proprietary software writers to easily get something out of the free software world, without giving much back.

RMS also jumped into a discussion on the cypherpunks list about how to best license crypto code, with an idea toward preventing the imposition of government or corporate "back doors." This piece, unsurprisingly, puts forward free software and the GPL as the solution. Those who are interested in the topic may also wish to see Perry Metzger's response, which claims that rms has confused the free software and cypherpunk agendas.

Jim Pick sent us an article describing the forces driving both Intel and Microsoft, and why he thinks they could lead to a bright future for Linux and for the StrongARM architecture. Here is his well thought-out piece.

October 8, 1998



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See also: last week's Security page.


The severe security problem with Netscape 4.07 which we mentioned last week has been repaired. Netscape released Communicator 4.07 with a fix for the problem. No word yet on whether 4.5_PR2 also has the same bug. The version of 4.5_PR2 on Netscape's web site has not been modified since September 18th.

The COAST laboratory at Purdue University has announced the alpha release of their Autonomous Agents for Intrusion Detection (AAFID) system. AAFID is a distributed monitoring and intrusion detection system that employs small stand-alone programs (Agents). It is intended to provide the infrastructure on which monitoring programs or intrusion detection systems can be implemented. They are requesting feedback from those willing to download and test the software.

Here is an update from the International Cryptography Campaign. They report some good press coverage, and 23 companies and organizations who have signed on to support the GILC Member Declaration.

On a more specific note, Greg Stark posted a note to debian-devel with a pointer to a recent speech by Canada's Minister of Industry, outlining Canada's cryptography policy. The speech is long-winded and Greg's note has already pulled out the relevant portion, so you may want to start there. Canada has certainly heard the word that restrictions on encryption are bad for business and the speech reflects their intent to make sure Canadian business doesn't feel that impact. Whether that will protect freely-distributable open source cryptography for the individual is still an open question.

October 8, 1998


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.1.124 (announcement here). A couple of 2.1.125 prepatches have appeared; a release of 2.1.125 may well have happened by the time you read this. Folks chasing the absolute bleeding edge are encouraged also to try the 2.1.124ac2 patch, which provides a lot of nice fixes.

For stable kernel folks, 2.0.36 prepatch 13 is out. Yes, pre12 was supposed to be the release version, but a few things came up. This patch fixes those glitches, and updates a couple of drivers. As it turns out, there will be a pre14 as well, once the final Adaptec driver is available. That should be the end of the 2.0.36pre series.

As of last week's issue, the kernel developers had reached a point of serious anger and recrimination, and work had stopped. This week, the kernel folks are back at work and the furor seems to have mostly died down. It has faded, however, without any sort of real resolution to the underlying problems; at the moment, it seems that it could all happen again.

The basic problem has to do with Linus getting overloaded and dropping patches, and some developers getting frustrated with that. Linus then got grumpy about the form some of the incoming patches took and ignored them, and a somewhat broken kernel release resulted. The basic problem - "Linus does not scale" - remains.

Some have suggested that kernel development should be reorganized around a "core team" which has the authority to apply patches. Ignoring, for the moment, that Linus is unlikely to go for such a scheme, there are other problems. The "core team" approach is what the BSD variants have used all along, and it seems to have a lot to do with why there have been so many BSD splits in the first place. Core teams, successful examples (i.e. Apache) notwithstanding, seem to be susceptible to nasty politics and fragmentation. The drawbacks of this approach were well expressed by Ted Ts'o.

For now, things look set to move forward with people trying harder not to overwhelm Linus (he posted some guidelines for sending patches). Hopefully the Jitterbug patch queue will get going again at some point; it greatly helps communications between patch submitters and Linus. Also simply getting 2.2 out the door - still not as close as one might like - should help a lot.

Version 0.90 of the RAID subsystem has been released, see the announcement for more. This is evidently "yet another complete rewrite" of the RAID system. Included new features include, happily, support for hot adds and removes. It also detects when devices have been renamed and adjusts - something which should be handled by devfs, rather than hacked into a separate subsystem. There are lots of other changes as well, the announcement lists them all (except for a couple more that mingo forgot that were noted later.

A new version of the "gdbstub" patches have been posted. Gdbstub allows the use of GDB to debug a running kernel over a serial line. Linus does not like this approach, so these patches are unlikely to ever appear in an official kernel, but they can be useful for some developers. See the announcement for info on how to get it.

October 8, 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.



The first reports from users with Caldera 1.3 in hand are trickling in. First problem report, 1.3 ships with one floppy and two CDs. That means that no modules diskette (with support for proprietary-bus CDROMS, SCSIs, etc) is included. This has been brought to Caldera's attention and they are now working rapidly to get instructions for making modules diskettes posted to their website and added to the release errata.


The planned slink freeze date is October 16th, and so far, all reports are good for the alpha distribution to be included with the freeze.

This note from Mikolaj J. Habryn is a good overview of an upcoming issue for Linux, the chown and lchown issue. The addition of lchown(2) to Linux 2.1.X has been mentioned in our kernel columns, but this message reports back the impact of this inclusion on an actual Linux distribution and how Debian decided to handle the matter.


A Generic-03 Kernel/Server Pair has been announced. This is a combination of a mach kernel and a matching linux server.

Red Hat

For any INN fans out there, don't look for INN 2.0 in Red Hat 5.2. Apparently the transition to 2.0 is rocky enough to disquality it for addition to a release intended to improve stability, not experiment with new toys.


The S.u.S.E. FAQ has been officially released. Check it out for information on S.u.S.E. Linux, Linux in general and particularly the S.u.S.E. support database, which is provided as a free service to the Internet community. This editor has found this database of good service recently, and therefore can certainly recommend it ...

Some problem reports are drifting in from people trying to order S.u.S.E. products in the U.S. and running into difficulties. We contacted S.u.S.E. and they have just switched "fulfillment" houses and are bringing on additional staff to help with the incredible load of orders that they are now getting. They are confident that they will be able to resolve the problems fairly soon.

In addition, they confirmed that Office Suite 99, with the new version of Applixware, should start shipping next week, on schedule.

October 8, 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


A new version of the Jikes Java compiler is available for Linux. See their announcement for a bit more info and a pointer to the software.

Although it is in the README.linux, apparently many people have not read or noticed the point that segmentation errors with the JDK are caused by incompatible shared libraries 99% of the time. This note from Kevin B. Hendricks reiterates what you should do before you send a bug report.

The Linux JDK porters are having problems, again, with Sun's non-commercial source distribution. As a result, although 1.1.7 has been announced, work on porting it cannot begin until these problems are resolved. Hopefully somewhere someone's ears at Sun are burning ... [Note that the last thing we heard, at least one person has been able to successfully get the 1.1.7 source.]


The "Build'n'Play" installation tool is a tool for automatically installing Perl plus subsets or most of the Perl Modules from CPAN, which will accompany O'Reilly's upcoming German version of the book Programming with Perl Modules and afterwards be made available on CPAN. The authors are looking for feedback and are working under a tight schedule, so if you are interested and able to get back to them before October 15th, you may want to take an advance look.

Introductory and advanced PERL training will be held in New Jersey, October 26th through the thirtieth. Admission is open.


Guido had a few pithy words to say about "Siege Mentality", or "Why people insist on responding to Trolls." He does an excellent job of the topic and we wish him success in his efforts to decrease inappropriate threads in the comp.lang.python group.

Version 1.4 of the Python interface to the MySQL database has been released.

A mailing list for Python CE discussions has been started. Python CE is free software that can be used on Windows CE based devices.

A revised version of the Python implementation of the Document Object Model has reached the XML-SIG's CVS tree. Interested parties should give it a whirl.

Oliver Andrich has released the latest version of his excellent Python distribution. glibc .tar.gz and RPM files are included. The new distribution contains the 1.5.1-23 core python distribution, updates to various packages and a few new packages, including some geared to please the scientific python programmer, e.g., python-netcdf and python-scientific.

October 12th is the deadline for submitting proposals for short talks and late-breaking news for the upcoming 7th International Python Conference.


The VU widget set for Tk 8.0 has been announced. This is a one-time upgrade of the widgets to Tk 8.0. The Tk Tree widget also has a new release. Further news in Tk widget land, an alpha version of a SlideWidget has been posted.

The Tcl Plugin web pages have been relocated in anticipation of the current web server going off-line.

Scriptics has announced four public Tcl/Tk courses which will be held in San Jose, California in November and January.

October 8, 1998



Development projects

Rick Dearman sent us a note about the Dominion Java Game Project, which plans to create a new Java based game for the Internet. They are looking for Java developers and graphics artists interested in contributing.

The Free Software Foundation has posted a request for remote logins and disk space on HPUX 11, AIX 4.1.5, and AIX 4.3 systems.


Martin Baulig posted a note mentioning that many weeks of work on GTop 0.29 have been committed to CVS, so people can now grab the latest source and try out all the new features. He mentions that he plans to release GTop 0.30 and LibGTop 0.30 shortly, if all the bugs are fixed.

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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

A web marketing company (WebCMO) is doing a survey of Linux users. If you feel inclined to give them your input, head over to the survey page. They claim in their announcement that the results will be freely available. By filling out the survey, you get a promise from them to get a copy of the results ("45 days sooner than everybody else") when they are ready.

Alta Technology has started selling pre-built Beowulf clusters. Systems can allegedly be configured "to 1000 or more processors," a number which exceeds any known Beowulf currently in operation. The clusters come in specially-designed boxes with special power supplies and such. They look like nice systems, and are undoubtedly expensive (though less so than your typical supercomputer, to be sure). See Their AltaCluster page for pictures and more info.

We spoke this week with Susan Carney, Product Manager for TriTeal, producers of the CDE package dropped by Red Hat last week. This package, which they call TriTeal Enterprise Desktop (TED), was dropped ostensibly due to a security problem which could not be quickly resolved because the software was not open-source. When asked for a comment, Susan said, "I think that Red Hat's decision to stop selling CDE was a good idea from their point of view. With the recent announcement of investments by Intel and Netscape, it is clear that Red Hat is positioning itself as an Open Source Vendor. It is unfortunate that they spun the decision as a result of the security problem."

She went on to indicate that TriTeal had been in the middle of negotiations with Red Hat for a new version of the product which would have resolved the security problem when Red Hat announced its decision to drop the product instead. TriTeal is now evaluating their position, since their contract with Red Hat was their only link to the Linux community. A statement on their position should be announced soon, but was not available by press time. That statement should also include information on whether or not a patch for the afore-mentioned security problem would be released for current TED customers and whether or not a newer version of TED would be made available.

On a smaller scale, we forgot to include last week a reference to this page, which describes a project to build a single-board Beowulf, based on StrongARM processors. An initial run of these boards seems to be in the works, and it may still be possible to get in on it for those who move quick. See the page if you're interested.

Kirk Bacon wrote in to point out that Red Hat 5.1 is currently at #14 on the shopper.com top 1000 list, well ahead of that other operating system. Of course, they list it as a DOS program...


People testing ASE have run into a minor snag, where a problem in the 2.0.35 kernel causes connection problems. The problem disappears completely with kernel 2.0.36pre12. The issue is mentioned in the sybase/README.sybase-ase, but that file is missing in some of the installations.

Users are also calling for the creation of a sybase-linux mailing list, to provide them a forum to share experiences and get unofficial help with the product. It was suggested that this is Sybase's responsibility, but if they do not provide one shortly, it seems likely that someone else will step in.

Meanwhile, if you are in the Rockville, Maryland area, you probably want to check out this Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) Presentation by Tim Graham of Sybase.


Oracle has put the release version their Oracle8 database for Linux up for free download. This seems to be a change of direction for them - they had planned to sell it at a fairly high price. You can get it at the Oracle technology network page. Registration is required to obtain the software. The license allows development use only - no production use. (You also have to certify that you're not on the State Department list of "Specially Designated Terrorists," presumably not a problem for most Linux users). Note that it is a 142 MB download!

Maybe this is Oracle's way of making up for the fact that many of us who signed up for the early release CD never got it.

Oracle embraces Linux. That is the name of an article on Oracle's web site. There are those who claim that Oracle is not serious about Linux, but you wouldn't gather that from what they're saying: "Oracle understands that Linux is becoming an accepted mainstream platform for enterprise-level business applications, and is backing up this understanding by committing research and development dollars to the operating system." They even feature the penguin on their main page. (Thanks to Didier Legein).

Here is an InfoWorld review of Oracle for Linux. "Core database services in Oracle may also get some added competition from an unlikely place -- the open source database called PostgreSQL. This academia-based open source database also has many of the same core features and has already been widely adopted." (Thanks to Didier Legein for the pointer).

Press Releases:

  • Applixware 4.4.1 has been officially released
  • Metrowerks announced intention to ship CodeWarrior development tools for Linux
  • Cobalt has expanded into Japan.
  • LSL is now shipping Debian 2.0.2
  • Mentat TCP 4.0, an alternative, streams-based TCP/IP implementation. It is said to run on Linux, though it is unclear why a Linux user would want it.
  • VelociGen 1.1, a plugin for the Netscape server for dynamic web pages.
  • WebEngine, another Linux-based, rack-mount "web server appliance" box.
  • Right Now Web 2.0, the "Internet's First Self-Service Knowledgebase of Frequently Asked Questions".
  • Sql Power Tools now has 'Sql Power SniFFFer' and '7x24 Global Sql Monitor' for Sybase database servers
  • Oracle, Oracle8 for Linux available.

October 8, 1998


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

Linux in the news

Much press this week was dedicated to the question of "will Linux really take over?", or "should Microsoft be worried?" Conclusions varied, of course, but the general sense seems to be that Linux will stay on a roll for a while, even if World Domination may take a little longer than some people expect.

This article in the Guardian (UK) is a reasonably well-researched introductory sort of article. The author avoids taking a position on what the future of Linux might be, and quotes both positive and negative opinions. "World domination without a revenue stream is not a philosophy readily understood in the cut-throat Silicon Valley software world..." There's also a (brief) quote from one of your co-editors at the end.

There are two columns of interest in "ent" Magazine (a Windows NT publication). The Linux Bandwagon asks "What's all the fuss about Linux?" and comes up unimpressed. "I have to conclude that Linux, with all its apparent outstanding attributes, will remain a niche player for the foreseeable future. ... it just doesn't make sense at this early juncture to make major commitments to Linux, free or not." (Thanks to Larry Davison).

A different point of view can be found in Checking the rearview mirror. This author is under the impression that a computer with 160MB of RAM should really be able to run a word processor without choking. "When the world's best-selling word processor can't support uninterrupted text input when running on the world's premier operating system, it's time to check the rearview mirror." The view in his mirror includes Linux and Apple.

Linux Gets Real is a brief editorial that appeared in ComputerWorld. The author doesn't buy the (now old) 7 million user estimate, but sees a future for Linux anyway, maybe: "Linux also has garnered a following among Microsoft's core programmer constituency. They love the freedom Linux gives them to play with source code, something Microsoft will cede when the moon turns to Swiss cheese. All of that means Linux has the spotlight virtually to itself until NT 5 materializes. Let's hope the Linux adherents in the vendor community don't screw it up."

Didier Legein sent us a pointer to this Computer Reseller News editorial entitled "Is Linux, Linux Everywhere?" It's an interesting look at the forces that are at work. "Ask corporate IT people what programming skills their staffs need, and you will hear: ``C++, Visual Basic, maybe Java.'' But ask corporate programmers what they actually develop in, and they'll say Linux and Java."

It is not entirely clear what this Washington Business Journal article is trying to say. "Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft. I stumbled across this phrase the other day while reading an article about Linux, the Internet-fueled alternative to Microsoft's Windows NT that has garnered a lot of attention.... I smiled because I've been around long enough to remember how the phrase used to go: Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." But then the author goes on to talk about why one should buy Microsoft anyway.

Here's an Internet Week article about open source in general. " The equation for success, however, is changing in the software market. The Internet is the new enabler for open-source software and it could forever change software development and distribution." (Found in LinuxToday).

Then, there is this Information Week article. There's not much new in terms of information, but you have to like the author's attitude: "I predict that Linux will kick major butt."

The Linux story promises entertainment in PC Week focuses on the amusement value of watching Linux go up against Microsoft.

At Linux Speed in Performance Computing is a wandering editorial about the future of Linux. "...Linux is changing the IT technology infrastructure dramatically. To what end, we can only watch and wait. But at this rate, we won't be waiting long."

Here is a very positive Internet Week article about open source in general. "The new brands will be service brands, not package brands, and open-source software is already well-entrenched in service providers' systems, thanks to Linux."


While the articles above are surprisingly positive in their outlook, there were a few nay-sayers as well. Surprisingly few, actually. Some sort of backlash from all the good Linux press seems inevitable in the near future. Anyway, here's what we got so far:

Here is a rather discouraging piece in Internet World. They try to talk Linux down at about every opportunity, and just don't get it. Red Hat is "...a North Carolina company that has little name recognition outside of the fanatically loyal Linux community, and has probably not caused many sleepless nights for the powers that be at Microsoft." And who uses Linux? "Small, capital-constrained ISPs have been among the heaviest early users of Linux, because it allows them to get started with a minimal investment." And we thought they used it because it works...

In ZDNet: Who's afraid of big, bad Linux? This author says that Microsoft has no fear of Linux, and need not. An interesting piece. "If Linux really might dampen Windows and NT sales, wouldn't Microsoft be hard at work developing a Linux clone designed to splinter the market, as it did with Java, for example?" Thanks to Larry Davison for this one.

The really good FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) of the week, however, came from Upside Magazine. This guy thinks that Linux won't go anywhere; his only argument seems to be "nobody can beat Microsoft." Convincing. "It's a modern Unix! It's stable, superior, enriching! It's gonna get creamed." Please, if you correspond with the author, be polite, coherent, and convincing. Flames won't help. Thanks to Larry Mills-Gahl for telling us about this one.


More than one article concerned itself with Linux-installed computers from major hardware vendors (or the lack thereof).

Victor Brilon sent us a pointer to this TechWeb interview with James Love of Ralph Nader's Consumer Project on Technology. As you would expect, it's mostly a Microsoft-bashing thing. "No major computer manufacturers will sell a computer to a regular consumer with Linux pre-installed despite the fact that there's maybe 7 to 10 [million] people right now that are using Linux and it's growing every day. Part of the reason for that is because, as the equipment manufacturers have indicated, they do not want to alienate Microsoft..." The interview is available both as text and RealAudio.

As a bit of contradiction to the above, consider this PC Week article about the growing interest in Linux on the part of the hardware manufacturers. "Red Hat's Young expects six of the top 10 PC server makers to offer Linux on their machines by next March." The article mentions Gateway, Dell, IBM, Hitachi, and Toshiba in particular. Thanks to Rob Clark for sending this one in.

This brief Sm@rt Reseller article, instead, concerns itself with Compaq. "Compaq officials hope that adding Linux to their quiver could give them the lift they need to overtake Sun Microsystems Inc., which owns nearly 40 percent of the ISP server market via its Unix wares."


Then, there was the usual run of introductory articles and other amusements.

ZDNet ran an interview with Larry Wall. And the Dallas Morning News has an interview with Linus.

Also, Intranets on a shoestring (ComputerWorld) is one of those "build a web server out of an old 486 and a bit of duct tape" articles. "...as the operating system matured and applications appeared, a few corporate customers began to take notice, lured by the product's flexibility, minimal system requirements and low price. By some estimates, more than a million people worldwide now use Linux, including some large corporations, and for several good reasons." "More than a million"?

Is Linux ready for publishing? asks eMedia Weekly. The answer: "There are some publishing- and graphics-oriented applications available for Linux, but industry insiders said the OS still lacks key capabilities for publishers and multimedia producers, although it is gaining popularity among Webmasters."

This Charles Babcock column in Inter@ctive Week presents a (perhaps overly) optimistic view of what Intel's support, and UDI, will do for Linux.

This PC Week Gossip column publishes a hypothesis that we've encountered more than once: "Microsoft was actually the driving force behind Intel's equity investment in Red Hat. Microsoft's Wintel partner lining up behind Linux ... will send a not-so-subtle message to the Justice Department that the Redmondians indeed have some legitimate competition in the operating system market..." The author then goes on to suggest he doesn't believe it...

Beware the Penguin, Bill in the Independent (London) is a fairly typical sort of introductory article. "Increasingly, many companies that have made the change to Linux are finding that they quite like it..."

This one is just too good...ComputerWorld News Wirein New Zealand has an article claiming that Bill Gates' new home created so much paperwork for the town of Medina, Washington, that they had to invest in a new document management system. What did they go with? "...the town looked into NT document management systems that might fit in nicely with the town's Microsoft LAN. But what the town came up with was a product that runs on Caldera's version of Linux. This product rang in at less than 10% of the price of its NT counterparts..." (Found in Slashdot).

Time for the weekly Petreley fix. This is mostly a blast against Microsoft, with some passing mentions of Linux. "Linux poses a threat to Windows because companies such as Oracle, Informix, Sybase, IBM, Corel, Dell, Intel, Netscape, and others recently pledged support for Linux. Anyone with half a brain knows these companies only had the nerve to support Linux for one reason: They know Microsoft can't risk retaliation as long as the Justice Department's case is pending." (Found in LinuxToday).

Here's an amusing Performance Computing "Unix Riot" column. "From what I've gathered, running Linux in the enterprise is similar to being gay in the military--don't ask, don't tell. I've even heard a story that when asked, a CIO type claimed he ran a 100% NT shop. However, an IS manager in the same shop claimed, off the record, that 25% of their network was running on Linux/Intel servers." (Found in Linux Reviews).

Here's a ZDNet article talking about how the recent hype around Linux is bad news for other "alternative" operating systems. "...Dataquest analyst James Slaten said the spotlight on Linux may leave BeOS in the dark. `Any overall attention that the development community is giving to one operating system takes attention away from another,' Slaten said"

Linux revolution goes 9 to 5 in C|Net explores the culture clash between Linux hackers and the corporate world. "Intel's investment into Red Hat holds the same potential for romantic deflation. With the investment, Red Hat joins the Rat Pack of corporate computing. Gone are the days of scoffing at the idiocy of corporate sales drones. Now Linux advocates will have to glad-hand them, be polite, and say nice things." The article is perhaps simplistic in its representation of both Linux and corporations, but it's worth a read anyway. (Found in Linux Reviews).

Jeffery Cann pointed out that CNN Net Radiohas an interview with Red Hat's Bob Young, available in Real Audio format. (Go to "Thursday, 2:00 PM")

Another Bob Young interview can be found in Computer Reseller News. "...even without any further announcements from anyone in the Linux space, there is going to be a rapid growth in the adoption of Linux in the enterprise marketplace..."

Those still interested in the Intel/Red Hat topic may wish to see Dwight Johnson's editorial on LinuxToday. "When we wanted free software, it seemed only logical that we invest our time and energy to create it. Now the enterprise wants free software. It is just as logical for the enterprise to make whatever investment is required to create the products the enterprise wants."

According to this ZDNet article Caldera isn't sitting still and letting Red Hat snarf up all the investors - they will be announcing some investors of their own shortly. No hint as to who those might be. Thanks to Larry Davison.

Linux groundswell continues to grow is mostly a repeat of a lot of the Red Hat/Intel press from the week before, not much new.

The Dallas Morning News ran an Introductory article this week. "When a user recently asked Bob Young, chief executive officer of Red Hat Software in North Carolina, whether he should install Linux on his PC, Mr. Young responded: 'If you have to ask the question, my general response is no.'" (Thanks to David Stokes).

Another one of those "Windows user tries Linux" series is starting up, this one by Fred Langa of CMPnet. "I can easily believe that Linux will become a player in the business computing market, but I'll also admit my prejudice: I can't believe it will be a major player." (Thanks to M. Leo Cooper).

Here is a lengthy, detailed article in The Age. Entitled "The People's Revolution," it gets into details that most mainstream media articles wouldn't go near. "Of much greater importance is the Linux documentation project. This has produced a series of 'how-to' text files that make Linux one of the best documented operating systems in the world."

Many people pointed out this Computing (UK) article entitled "Linux marches into big league". It's a general overview, including a (sparse) Linux timeline and the only mention of the Linux Standards Association we've seen for a while.

Colin Walls told us about this introductory article in the Sunday Times (London). Pretty much standard fare, but in a high profile publication.

This article in the Business Standard (India) is about the dissolution of the "Wintel" duopoly, and includes some discussion of the role Linux plays in the whole thing.


We also ran across a few articles in the non-English press. Here they are, with babelfish links where that is possible...

This Le Monde Informatique article is of the introductory variety, with an emphasis on the various distributions available. (Babelfish).

Linus is Bill Gates worst nightmare is the alleged title of this article, which is in Swedish. (Thanks to Patrik Stridvall).

Also in Swedish: a pair of articles, one about Intel and one about Linus. (Thanks to MaDsen Wikholm).

Håkan Aldengran pointed out an interview with Linus in Swedish. It's in RealVideo format.

For folks who couldn't read the Swedish article that we mentioned last week, Peter Rasumssen has provided a translation into English.

October 8, 1998

Quotes of the week:

``It's a modern Unix! It's stable, superior, enriching! It's gonna get creamed.''
Richard Brandt, Upside

``I predict that Linux will kick major butt''
Sean Gallager, Information Week

``Microsoft ... is well aware of the challenge: when Red Hat classified its sales of Linux by US mailing codes, the Redmond region came out at the top.''
Karlin Lillington, Guardian


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See also: last week's Announcements page.



Doug Loss has written a first draft of a Commercial Port Advocacy HOW-TO, to address an area that he felt existing Linux Advocacy HOWTOs were currently missing, advocating the port of commercial software to the Linux platform. He is requesting feedback and discussion. The latter is probably best directed to the seul-pub or seul-dev-apps mailing lists.

A new version of the Italian-HOWTO is available for Italian-speaking Linux users. It is in a "beta" mode, pending a last round of suggestions. Check it out and let them know what you think.

The Linux Netatalk-HOWTO, covering Adrian Sun's Appletalk over TCP/IP, has just been released.

The October issue of Daemon News, the news magazine for BSD operating systems, is out and available.


This Saturday (October 10) will see Linux parties in France and Belgium. The French events will happen in many different cities; see the AFUL Linux Party page to find the one closest to you. The Belgian event will be held at Seraing, "a few kilometers from Liège."

LISA'98, the USENIX Systems Administration Conference, will be held December 6-11, 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts. Although not specifically Linux oriented, LISA tends to carry a lot of excellent tutorials that are extremely applicable to Linux (Samba, Sendmail, Perl). Eric Allman, original sendmail author, is delivering the keynote.

The program for the demo and poster session at the upcoming Python Conference has been completed. Abstracts of the presentation are available.

Red Hat will be running an Ask the Experts demonstration and question and answer session this evening, October 8th.

And remember, the 1998 Atlanta Linux Showcase is only two weeks away. Available hotel rooms are dwindling rapidly. If you plan on going, check with the Genie travel, the official travel agent for the event. They helped us to get one of the last five rooms at a nearby hotel.

Web sites

The LUGWW (Linux User Groups World Wide) has moved. The new URL is: http://lugww.nllgg.nl/. This is a good first place to check if you're looking for a user group in your area.

Australian Linux users may want to take a look at AARNET's Mirror Project. It carries a wide selection of Linux mirrors.

Gary Singleton has put up a couple of semi-commercial Linux pages aimed at the beginning to intermediate Linux user and offering books for sale.

User Group News

We hear from Evan Leibovitch that CLUE (Canadian Linux Users' Exchange), the Canadian group that recently put on the Nation-wide Linux Installfest, received help and support for groups in several other countries, who are planning their own nation-wide events as well (see the events section above). What fun! The rumor is that a Worldwide Linux Day is also in our future ...

Paul F. Stewart Jr. has put together an on-line forum for the Fort Walton Beach LUG at http://www.delphi.com/fwblug.

The LSB will be the topic of discussion at the FLUX (Florida Linux User Xchange) this evening, October 8th. And the Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts will be enjoying an Update on the GNOME Project, by Stuart Parmenter.

David van Popering is looking for a LUG on Long Island. If none exists, he wants to get one started. Bill Whiting reports that a LUG is being formed in Lynchburg, VA, and Jonathan Magid is in the process of forming one in the Triangle area of North Carolina, ((Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Apex, RTP, Chatham, etc). Amazing if his surmise is correct, and there is no LUG already there other than the NC State LUG ...

Mailing Lists

The Information Security Educators Mailing List is a new list from InfoSec directed at educators in information security. Here is the list announcement.

October 8, 1998



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
AbiWord 0.1.2 Fully featured word processor
Acidblood 1.2.8b5 Full-featured IRC Bot
Aegis 3.8 Transaction-based software configuration management system
ALSA driver 0.2.0-pre8 An alternative implementation of Kernel sound support
AoMasq 0.0.3 Enables Windows 95 workstations to control a centralized dialup connection
Arrow 0.6.5 An elegant, powerful, graphical interface to electronic mail
AtDot 2.0.0 beta 2 Web based e-mail system
aumix 1.14 Color text mode sound mixer with GPM support
BeroFTPD 1.1.13 FTP server program based on WU-FTPD
BGM 0.1.6 Background music player / music on-hold source daemon for PBX
binutils Provides programs to assemble and manipulate binary andobject files.
C Masqdialer Server 0.0.6 Protocol compatible replacement for Masqdialer server written in C.
C-Forge IDE 1.1-7 Multi-user C/C++ integrated development environment
Calamaris 2.2 statistic tool for Squid and relatives
CAMP 1.2.1373 Console Interface for command-line MP3 players
CCFaudio 981002 A multi-user Internet conferencing phone
CD-Keeper 2.01 Organizes your CD collection
CDRDAO 1.0 Disk-At-Once Recording of Audio CD-Rs
CIPE - Crypto IP Encapsulation 1.0.0 Crypto IP Encapsulation. An encrypted IP tunnel over UDP.
clock 1.5.1 Sets system time from CMOS clock and vice versa.
Code Crusader 1.1.0 complete code development environment, inspired by MetroWerks CodeWarrior
Code Medic 0.6 UNIX Debugging Environment
Command Line Masqdialer Client 1.0 Access the Masqdialer Server via the command line
DOSEmu 0.99.2 Application that enables the Linux OS to run many DOS programs
egcs snapshot 19981005 Experimental set of enhancements for the GNU tools
eMusic DR0.6.9 CD, mp3, mod and wav player for Linux
EPIC 4pre2.001-NR6 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
eznet 1.8 Very simple PPP setup
FAIM 0.08 An open source client for America Online's Instant Messenger service
fltk 19981006 C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
fvwm2gnome 0.3 Clean, efficient window manager configuration with GNOME functionality
g2s 0.3.6 An alternative to inetd/tcpwrapper/chrootuid/relay/tcp-env/antispam/etc.
Gaby 0.0.1 An address book written in GTK
gEDA snapshot 19981001 gEDA is an collection of tools which are used to make electrical circuit design,
geg 0.15.0 Simple GTK+ 2D-function plotting program
GeneWeb 1.07 Geneweb is a combo web interface and genealogy program combined on steroids.
Genius 0.1.1 An arbitrary precision integer and multiple precision floating point calculator
gentoo 0.9.10 Two-pane filemanager using GTK+, 100% GUI configurable
GLeyes 0.1 A GLUT version of Xeyes
GLmame 0.2 An OpenGL driver for xmame
GNU SQL Server 0.7b6 Free portable multiuser relatational database management system
GNUS 5.6.44 Emacs news/mail reader
Goose 0.0.4 Statistical library.
Gpulse 0.2 CPU monitor like Pulse from BeOS
GQview 0.4.2 X11 image viewer for the Linux operating system
Groovy CD Player 0.03 Groovy console based (ncurses) CD player with fluffy numbers
GTK+ Metal Theme 0.9 Java Metal look-and-feel theme engine for GTK+ 1.1.2.
GtkICQ 0.55 GtkICQ is a clone of Mirabilis' ICQ program based on Gtk/GNOME
gtkmod 981005 Gtk mod,s3m,xm player
GTKmp3make 0.41 GTK front end for cdripper and mp3 encoder
GTKstep 1.1.2 Improves the default look and feel of the GTK+ widget set
Guppi 0.0.2 GNOME application for plotting and analyzing data
gusers 0.02 Password managment program.
i8255 0.1 i8255 (digital I/O) kernel module
icewm 0.9.14 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
ImageMagick 4.1.2 Package for display and interactivemanipulation of images for X11
IMP 1.73 IMAP and PHP3 based webmail system
install-mail 0.1 install script for email support in Linux
instmon 1.1 Monitors installations and detects the files that were added or modified
ISC DHCP 2.0b1pl6 Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Client and Server implementation
Japhar 0.06 The Hungry Programmer's version of the Java Virtual Machine
jBase 3.1 Application Development and Database Independent Management System
Jigsaw 2.0beta3 W3C's leading-edge Web server platform
Jikes 0.38 Java compiler that translates Java source into bytecoded instruction sets
JSBeautifier 1.1.0 Free, small and fast automatic indention for Java source files
JSFormatter 0.4.1 Free style-formatter for Java source files
JX 1.1.18 C++ application framework and GUI widget library for X
kaffe 1.0b2 Complete, PersonalJava 1.1 compliant Java environment
kBeroFTPD 1.0.0-pre1 KDE Front-End for BeroFTPD configuration
KDat 1.99e Tar based tape archiver
kicq 0.2.2 ICQ clone for KDE that looks like Mirabilis' ICQ client
Kmp3te 0.8 MP3 tag editor
KNewMail 2.2 KDE application designed to check multiple pop3 servers for email.
KOrganizer 0.9.14 Personal Information Manager for the KDE Desktop Environment
KSniff snapshot 980929 KDE packet sniffer/analyzer
KVideolist 0.92 A videotape management utility
kvoice 0.3.1 A graphical frontend for easy handling of voice mails and faxes
libmmoss 1.2 Provides Java sound in Linux version of Netscape Communicator
Licq 0.43 ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
Linux Logo 2.11 Displays an ANSI or ASCII Linux penguin, along with some sytem information
Linux PnP driver snapshot 980929 Plug and Play driver for Linux
Linux Promotions Publisher 0.12b Online Linux-oriented promotional material generator.
Linux Quake Howto Install, run and troubleshoot Quake,QuakeWorld &Quake 2 under Linux
Linuxconf 1.12r5 Sophisticated administrative tool
Lynx 2.8 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
Me3D 0.1-981005 OpenGL 3D vector-based modeling tool
MHonarc 2.3.0 A Perl mail-to-HTML converter
Midnight Commander 4.1.36 Unix file manager and shell
MindsEye 0.5.29 3D modelling program for Linux
Mist 0.0.1 Distributed Object Services
mm.mysql 1.1a JDBC Drivers for MySQL
Mobitex Radio Modem Driver 1.6 Network driver for Ericsson Mobidems and other MASC-speaking modems
mod_ssl 2.0.12-1.3.2 Apache Interface to SSLeay
Mount.App 0.8 Window Maker dock app for managing mount points
Moxy 0.1.2 Linear video edtior, much like Adobe Premiere
mxCrypto 0.1.0 Cryptographic module for Python
MySQL 3.22.8 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
MySQLmodule 1.4 Python interface to MySQL
Netscape Communicator 4.07 All-in-one browser and communicationssuite
Netscape Flash Plugin 0.2.2 A Netscape plugin to view Macromedia-Shockwave-Flash files.
ntop 1.0 Network usage monitor
oidentd 1.3 ident (rfc1413) daemon for linux that allows users to specify usernames
OpenLDAP 1.0.2 LDAP suite of applications and development tools
OSS 3.9.1g Provides sound card drivers for most popular sound cards under Linux
perlmoo 0.029 lambdamoo style moo written in perl
Petey 0.5 Fortune like application for story generation
PHP 3.0.5 HTML-embedded scripting language
pircd Alpha Five An IRC daemon, written in Perl.
ProFTPD 1.1.7pl2 Advanced, incrediblyconfigurable and secure FTP daemon
Prometheus Truecolour (PTC) 2.0.9 A portable, lowlevel framebuffer access library with very fast on the fly conver
psh 0.1 Tooltips for the UNIX shell
PyGTK 0.5.3 A set of bindings for the GTK widget set
PySol 1.10 A Python-based Solitaire card game
qftp 0.85 Command line FTP client with queueing
Qial 0.19 DTMF tone generation program
Qstat 2.1y A command-line program that displays the status of Internet Quake servers
Qt 1.41 GUI software toolkit
QtDragon 0.7.0 A tool to configure the telephone-related stuff of a DataBoxSpeed Dragon
QuakeLaunch 0.03 Console application to grab Quake servers from master servers
Quick Image Viewer 0.9.1 A very small and pretty fast GDK/Imlibimage viewer
qvwm 1.0beta10a Windows 95 like window manager for the X Window System
Rasca 0.9.8 Extended MP3 Player.
rdbm 0.5 Reliable database library
Rebol 1.0.4 Network-based messaging language
ReCaP 0.3 Remote copy and paste for Linux and Windows
Replay 0.52 GTK-based MP3 player for X11
Saint 1.3.3 Security Administrator's Integrated Network Tool
Samba 2.0.0 alpha 9 Allows clients toaccess to a server's filespace and printers via SMB
Services 4.0.5 Provides nick/channel/memo services for IRC networks
Siag Office 3.0.6 Free office package for Unix
Simple DirectMedia Layer 0.8.5 Allows portable low level access to nativehigh-performance media interfaces
snarf 2.0 Command-line URL retrieval tool with some unique features.
SNES9x 1.10 Portable, freeware Super Nintendo Entertainment System(SNES) emulator
Socks5 1.0r7 SOCKS is a network firewall, and more
SoundTracker 0.0.5 A music tracker for X / GTK+
Squid 2.0-RELEASE High performance Web proxy cache
Stella 1.0 An Atari 2600 VCS Emulator
TCSH 6.08 Enhanced version of the Berkeley C shell (csh).
thttpd 2.04 A simple, small, portable, fast, and secure HTTP server.
TiK 0.04 Tcl/Tk version of AOL Instant Messenger
tin 1.4pre981002 Curses based threaded NNTP and spool based UseNet newsreader
tircproxy 0.3.5 Transparent IRC Proxy with DCC CHAT and DCC SEND support
TkApache 1.100698 GUI Front-End+ for the Apache Web Server
TkSmb 0.7.7 TclTk X11 shell for smbclient
TkWho 0.3 Visual frontend to the Unix who command
twz1jdbcForMysql 1.0.2-GA A type 4 JDBC driver for MySQL
urlmon 4.0 URL monitoring and report tool
VDK 0.4 Easy to use C++ wrapper for Gtk++
vile 8.1 Extensible vi-like editor w/ optional X window and win32 support
Virtual GameBoy 1.2 Free Gameboy Emulator for Linux
VPS 2.0 Beta 2 Virtual Private Network package for Linux
WebPPP 1.0.0 Provide ipmasq clients a web based PPP activate/deactivate button
Windows 95/NT Masqdialer Client 1.0.3 Win95/NT Client for Jeff Meininger's MasqDialer Server
X Northern Captain 4.0.8 Filemanager for X Windows
X-Chat 0.2.1 GTK+ Based IRC Client. Alot like AmIRC (Amiga).
XAmixer 0.1.8 An ALSA based mixer program written with GTK+
XBase DBMS 1.7.4 C/C++ library for manipulation of XBase type datafiles and indices
XDelta 1.0 Binary delta generator and prototype RCS replacement.
xmp 1.1.6pre03 An OpenSource module for UNIX
XNotesPlus 3.1.2 Sticky notes with PalmPilot interface, envelope printer, projects, etc.
xpulse 0.2.3 System load gauge
XQF 0.8.7 QuakeWorld/Quake2 server browser and launcher for Linux/X11
Xscreensaver 2.33 Modular screen saver and locker for the X WindowSystem
XwwChooser 0.5 Switches X11 Window Managers
yagIRC 0.66.0 Yet Another GTK+ IRC Client
yarec 0.53 Console based sample recorder/player

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
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See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

LinuxPower is a new site dedicated to providing useful, original Linux information. It resembles somewhat an online magazine - its content consists of editorials, "how to" articles, software reviews, etc. But, without publication dates and such, the good stuff just arrives when it does. This looks to be a useful site.

A similar sort of site is ionline. They, too, concentrate on interesting articles and tutorials, in a more subject-oriented way. The current set is mostly about PHP3 and its uses.

October 8, 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.
Date: Thu, 01 Oct 1998 10:49:26 -0500
From: Craig Goodrich <craig@airnet.net>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Red Hat's growth ...

In your 10/1 issue you comment

> All of these [developments connected with RedHat's growth and
> additional investment] can be seen as good things ..., but all
> together they raise the question of just how big and influential
> Red Hat should get... We certainly do not need a single company
> in a Microsoft-like role with an overwhelmingly large market
> share. 

While no reasonable tuxie could disagree that the diversity
and competition among distributions is one of the best things
about Linux, I think your concern here is exaggerated.

First, if one distribution is to become a favorite, a good
case can be made that none deserves that position more than
Red Hat.  They have consistently pushed the state-of-the-art
forward for the Linux community, from the development of 
RPM years ago through today's funding of such superhackers
as Alan Cox and the breaking down of chipmakers' NDAs for
programming information.

I recall several years ago telnetting anonymously into
Linus' machine in Helsinki and being greeted by a Red Hat
login banner (for RH2, I think).

Second, Red Hat has always kept closely to both the letter
and the spirit of the GPL -- and in the process allowed new
competitors to spring up based on Red Hat's own distribution.
SuSE, for example, began as a Red Hat distribution customized
for the German market.  The original Caldera was based on
Red Hat.

Any creator of a Linux distribution has innumerable decisions
to make, some major -- e.g. libc5 or glibc? -- and many minor
-- do I go with the latest release of xbunnies or use the more
heavily tested older version?  In the Linux world, if there is
widespread controversy over any of these decisions, it's likely
that someone will address that concern with yet another distribution:
For those worried about the stability of glibc, LinuxPro is 
available, a slightly tweaked Red Hat 4.2.  For those (like 
this writer) who believe the Red Hat position on KDE is just 
silly, the Mandrake version of Red Hat 5 recently appeared.

The free market is an incredibly powerful force, and when 
combined with the quirky ethos of the free software movement,
it assures us of continuing wide choice in Linux distributions.  
The only way Red Hat could gain and hold a monopoly position is
by putting out a distribution that made *everybody* happy.  And,
as the most casual perusal of Slashdot or c.o.l demonstrates,
that jes' ain't gonna happen.

So yes, indeed, best wishes to the other distributions.  Some
will die off and new ones will appear, of course, but let's not
worry the community about it.  Our Linux choices have multiplied
enormously during the very period that Red Hat was establishing
its premier position among the distributions, so as Linux is
finally beginning to receive its well-deserved attention in the 
business community, let's just relax and enjoy the ride.


Craig Goodrich
Rural Village Systems
somewhere in the woods
  in Elkmont, Alabama
There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is
to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies
and the other is to make it so complicated that there are no
obvious deficiencies.
			--  C A R Hoare
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 15:09:13 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Maurizio de Cecco <Maurizio.de.Cecco@ircam.fr>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Applications, the Next Challenge

Can Microsoft (or anybody else) takeover Linux ?

We all know the answer: no.

But this "no" refer to the kernel; what if we consider the user market ?

In this case the answer is simply yes.

For example, take this strategy illustrated in a discussion in
SlashDot: Microsoft port MS Office to Linux, together with a Window
Manager or Desktop that provide proprietary undocumented extensions,
not friendly to non-MS applications.

Or, just consider the porting of MS Office, without any other
monopolistic strategy; will this change anything for the average 
user ?

No, everybody would still be caugth in the update-tax paradigm, the
monopole on the office suite market will just be renforced; and, if
you consider that in the last two years Linux got far more new users
than MacOS, and that MS-Office exists for MacOS, you will see that is
not at all unreasonable to have a MS-Office suite on Linux (expecially
if Linux really win the war against NT).

What the Linux community can do to prevent these mechanism to
replicate themselves on Linux ?

I don't know, but for sure it is time to seriously think about all

The RMS position is one answer: develop free applications that are
competitive with the commercial one, and have the Open Source movement
to win the application war after the OS (ok, this is not the RMS position,
this is my personal interpretation of it :).

Personally i think we need on thing more: open formats; for example,
an open format, protected under some LGPL/GPL style licencing for word
processor files; a smart, generic, extensible, well designed file
format, supported by a good LGPL library, to encourge Linux word
processor authors to use this format; and similar things for other
application types.

Not an easy job, anyway, any taker :-> ?


Maurizio De Cecco                 Real Time System Team
				  IRCAM, Centre Georges Pompidou
                                  1, Place Stravinsky 75004 Paris, France

tel:   +33-(0)1-44784779  - fax:   +33-(0)1-44781540 - email: dececco@ircam.fr
Date: Mon, 05 Oct 1998 13:55:08 -0600
From: Jeffery Cann <jcann@fairway.com>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Linus Torvalds


I just read that the GNU project has been taking nominations for the
first Free Software Award (http://lwn.net/1998/1008/fsa-nominees.html).
Strangely, the name of Linus Torvalds was not on the list.  Surely this
was an oversight because without each other, the Linux kernel and the
GNU tools would not enjoy their current notoriety.  Is this a plot by
RMS because people won't call Linux 'GNU/Linux'?  I sure hope not.

Jeffery C. Cann

Editor's note: Linus, as a previous winner, was ineligible...
Date: Sat, 03 Oct 1998 04:29:45 +0100
From: teeth <teeth@fluffy.force9.net>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Save the Xaw scroll bar.

I am driven to write by two things; Andrew Spencer's thoughtful look
at the RiscOS GUI and wide agreement at the recent EdLUG meeting.
  There seems to be a tendancy in all the developing Linux GUIs to
impersonate MS Windows, Motif and CDE even where there is already a
superior approach, the most glaring example being scrollbars. The
functionality of the Xaw/GNUEmacs scrollbar is far superior to the
MS/Motif approach, requiring, as it does, much less movement to use. It
is not perfect, scroll buttons would be a useful addition, especially if
there were both up and down buttons at each end (left and right too, for
that matter). 

  For Linux to gain desktop converts eye candy is not enough (great as
it is to raise interest), the usability must be superior in an
imediately accessable way.  I have yet to meet a windows user
unimpressed by the Xaw scrollbar, though the shine goes when it's rarity
is known. 

  Let the call go out "Save the Xaw scroll bar!" - may its children

Alistair Murray

Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 17:01:08 +1000
From: Jeremy Lee <jeremyl@hrmc.spam-sucks.com.au>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Acorn & Linux Revisited

Like Andrew Spencer (bspajs@bath.ac.uk) who wrote in last week, I have
also extensively used various Acorn RISC-OS machines. Indeed, I've still
got my elderly and battered Archimedes A310 (serial number 801!) stuck
in my cupboard. And the news that Acorn is dropping the Arc/RISC PC for
set tops is harsh to me.

I have just one suggestion to the Linux community, of which I consider
myself a part. Bring the Acorn users over! Now!

Any merger will be very hard. Arc coders are often fanatics who have
been defending their machines from MS/Windoze for as many as five years
before Linus even hacked his first kernel. And any suggestion that they
just roll over and be assimilated by Linux will be fiercely resisted by
those that matter. We need to offer the two related things that the Arc
hackers must surely be wanting: Hope, and A Future.

The reason I assert the Linux community should embrace the Acorn tribes
is because they have so much to offer us.

For a start, RISC-OS has always had an innovative and beautiful user
interface, perhaps the best I've ever used. Apps were consistently
written to the common UI guidelines, because they _made sense_. The Arc
had outline fonts, taskbar, inter-application drag-and-drop, pop-up
menus, and 'plug&play' in 1989. And if there's something the Linux
community needs right now, it's good interface designers with a history
of getting it right.

More importantly, the Arc was a doddle to configure. The Arc tribes will
hopefully bring an intolerance to messy configuration scripts and banish
forever such atrocities as sendmail.cf which seem merely 'quaint' to
Unix gurus.

Lastly, the arc is build with the ARM chipset. You've all heard of the
StrongARM? More powerfull than a Pentium II, while running on an AA
battery? The Arc embodies some fearsome processing power, and a talent
pool of people who know how to work with this architecture.

It's difficult to convey the depth of technical expertise which this
machine embodies, and the skill posessed by many Arc coders. David
Braben (who wrote Elite [yes, *the* Elite] Virus/Zarch, Conquerer and
others) was one famous early coder who made this machine do amazing
things. Because of the educational focus of Acorn, Arcs (like the BBC
micro before it) turned up in many schools and univeristies in the UK,
New Zealand, and here in Australia. People learned to code on this
elegant machine, and code well.

Acorn was also cool enough to sell and support a version of Unix for the
Arc for quite some time - A BSD variant, I think - so there are
considerable Unix skills already present. And the Archimedes was one of
the early port targets for Linux. (Though work has been a little slow)

Perhaps one of the reasons there's been less progress on the Arc port of
Linux is because RISC-OS is such a good operating system to begin with!
What it lacks in some modern features (eg. pre-emptive multitasking) it
makes up for in sheer speed and ease of programming. Half of the things
I've written for the Arc were in Assembly, because - hard as this is to
believe - it was often easier than using a high-level language. There
was a 'bare metal' feel to the machine which made it a Hacker's joy.

I personally feel a little betrayed by Acorn, and I've not seriously
used my Arc in years. To current gen, this will be a serious blow. We
are the new Amiga-nites, suddenly bereft of a homeland.. er.. supplier.
We'll coast for a year, until RISC-OS starts looking too dated. Then, if
Linux is ready for us, we'll come.

And Linux will gain another group of formidable, talented developers.

See to it.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
 Jeremy Lee | Orinoco              "One Crowded Hour of Glorious Life
 jeremyl@hrmc.spam-sucks.com.au       Is worth an age without a name."


Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! Copyright © 1998 Eklektix, Inc., all rights reserved
Linux ® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds