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See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

Yahoo has set up a headlines page for Linux. This is another page where you can see a subset of articles, plus some pointers to some other interesting things. (Thanks to Larry Davison for the pointer).

Linux Game Breeding is another site dedicated to the creation of quality games for our favorite system. They have a few projects in the works currently. Give them some help, and maybe this crucial application gap can begin to be filled in. Note that CNet published an interview with Rob Kaper, founder of the Linux Game Breeding site.

October 15, 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.

Need we say that letters reproduced here represent only the opinion of the writer?

Editor's note: the following letter originally appeared on the linux-kernel list; it it reproduced here with permission from the author.

Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 16:09:36 -0400
From: "Eric S. Raymond" <esr@thyrsus.com>
To: tim@lorien.demon.co.uk, richardb@upside.com
Cc: linux-kernel@vger.rutgers.edu
Subject: Re: Linux vs Microsoft

If Microsoft could crush us, it would already have done so.  It is now
several months too late for them to succeed.

Their window began to close when the first of the enterprise database
announcements hit the streets.  With Oracle's announcement of a
bundled, supported, Oracle-over-Linux combination on CD-ROM offering
the 24/7 reliability unattainable with NT, it has effectively slammed shut. 

Microsoft would have to ship a truly production-quality NT 5.0 within
the next month to prevent Oracle's power play from working.  And that
ain't gonna happen, because the 5.0 development is turning into a disaster
so hideous that Microsoft's own marketing people are telling large 
customers not to expect it to ship anytime soon or be production-ready
when it does.

The bottom line is that NT server in the enterprise is doomed; the
only question remaining is what the speed of the collapse will be.
And that fact kicks the stuffing out of half of Microsoft's business
strategy, which is as dependent on keeping large customers locked in and
on a perpetual upgrade treadmill as it is on hardware tying agreements.
(That other half, of course, is under threat by the DOJ.)

Microsoft knows all this, and I think they expect a revenue crunch
coming; that's why they recently stopped their regular (and, until
now, continuous) stock buybacks.  They're hunkering down for a siege,
hoping the analysis won't notice -- because if their stock price takes
any serious hits, the option machine they use to pay off developers
will collapse.

As you say, Microsoft's OS and app mix makes sense on the desktop.
You could have strengthened your point by adding that the desktop is
Microsoft's cash cow, so that in a strictly financial sense the loss
of their server business would hardly hurt them.

The problem with this analysis is that Microsoft increasingly finds
itself in a strategically defensive rather than offensive position.
The combination of an open-source operating system and just *one*
working Windows emulator could wreck their desktop position
irretrievably within months if Microsoft ever loses its image of
invincibility -- and Microsoft knows that, too.

Therefore, Microsoft's desktop-monopoly cash cow can only be sustained
by continual `prestige' design wins in other markets. And in *all* those
markets, Microsoft is in trouble.  MSN was a failure.  WinCE has failed
to lock in the set-top-box and appliance market.  And, as I've pointed
out above, they're about to lose the enterprise servers.

All this would make it hard for Microsoft to "crush" us even if the
DOJ lawsuit didn't make any visible FUD barrage a suicidal tactic.

Not only can't they crush us, but it will take a reversal of present
trends for them to avoid a collapse into irrelevance within eighteen
		<a href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr">Eric S. Raymond</a>

The following is a Python RSA implementation. According to the US Government
posting these four lines makes me an international arms trafficker!  Join me
in civil disobedience; add these lines of code to your .sig block to help get
this stupid and unconstitutional law changed.
from sys import*;from string import*;a=argv;[s,p,q]=filter(lambda x:x[:1]!=
'-',a);d='-d'in a;e,n=atol(p,16),atol(q,16);l=(len(q)+1)/2;o,inb=l-d,l-1+d
while s:s=stdin.read(inb);s and map(stdout.write,map(lambda i,b=pow(reduce(
lambda x,y:(x<<8L)+y,map(ord,s)),e,n):chr(b>>8*i&255),range(o-1,-1,-1)))

The politician attempts to remedy the evil by increasing the very thing
that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder.
	-- Frederick Bastiat
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 15:21:36 +0200 (MEST)
From: Lenz Grimmer <grimmer@suse.de>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: S.u.S.E. and it's roots


I just stumbled over the following in the latest LWN backpage:

Craig Goodrich <craig@airnet.net> wrote:

> SuSE, for example, began as a Red Hat distribution customized for the
> German market.

Well, this is not correct. Although we now use RPM as our Package Manager,
S.u.S.E. Linux is no Red Hat derivative. Let my quote our FAQ, which can
be found at http://www.suse.com/Support/Doku/FAQ/ :

     Is S.u.S.E. Linux based on any other distribution?
        The first release of S.u.S.E. Linux was based on Peter
        McDonald's SLS Distribution. After Florian LaRoche joined
        S.u.S.E. in 1995, we began to create a new version of S.u.S.E.
        Linux, based on his Jurix Distribution, which in turn has it's
        roots in Slackware (Florian started Jurix in 1993). The Package
        format were gzip-compressed tar-files.  Starting with S.u.S.E.
        Linux 5.0, RPM was used as the default package format.

I hope, this clears things up a bit ;-)

Best regards,


 Lenz Grimmer                                       S.u.S.E. GmbH
 mailto:grimmer@suse.de                         Gebhardtstrasse 2
 http://www.suse.de/~grimmer                90762 Fuerth, Germany

To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Correction to a letter to the editor
Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 13:40:26 EDT
From: Maciej Stachowiak <mstachow@mit.edu>

A letter to the editor in this weeks Linux Weekly news wonders why
Linus Torvalds was not on the list of nominees for the Free Software
Award, and whether this was a plot over the whole GNU/Linux thing.

I wish this letter had not been posted without comment, as the true
explanation is far less sinister, and publicly available. The fact of
the matter is simply that, when the call for nominations went out, it
said that those who had already won awards for their free software
work, such as Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds, were not
eligible. Seems fair to me...

 - Maciej
Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 10:42:53 +0100
From: Richard Jones <rich@annexia.demon.co.uk>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: LWN: Sun and Java

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

Hopefully ... but it doesn't seem that Sun have ``got it''
yet, does it? Here's a hard fact: Linux is *not* a good
platform for developing Java applications. I know - I do
it for a living. There are three parts to the puzzle:

a) The Java compiler. Thanks to IBM's release 0.38 of
   Jikes, Linux now does have an excellent, stable, fast
   Java compiler.

b) The JVM / JIT. There are four alternatives: Sun's own
   JVM, which is slow, memory hungry and interpreted. Kaffe
   which isn't yet stable enough to run applications of
   any significant size. TYA which is a JIT and stable, but
   because of flawed optimization doesn't run significantly
   faster than interpreted code. And one of the commercial
   JVMs (Tower/J and maybe others) - but why should I pay
   for such an essential and basic component?

c) The Visual development environment. IBM and Inprise both
   have excellent and portable Java development environments.
   When are they going to port them to the second most
   popular platform in the world?

Sun hold the key to the JVM, and yet either because of a misplaced
loyalty to Solaris or because they just don't ``get it'',
they won't port their latest tools such as HotSpot to Linux
and, even worse, they seem to actively stymie volunteer
efforts by closing source and not releasing important

The bottom line is that Java developers who don't find
the Linux development tools adequate don't go out and
license Solaris. They go out and buy Windows 95 and NT
and they continue development there where all the right
tools are available. Sun - are you listening? Every
day you avoid porting your tools to Linux and make it
difficult for Blackdown developers to get their hands
on 1.1.7 and 1.2 betas, hundreds of potential Java/Unix
developers are going to Windows.


-      Richard Jones. Linux contractor London and SE areas.        -
-    Very boring homepage at: http://www.annexia.demon.co.uk/      -
- You are currently the 1,991,243,100th visitor to this signature. -
-    Original message content Copyright (C) 1998 Richard Jones.    -
Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 01:02:00 -0500
From: Dave Finton <dfinton@d.umn.edu>
To: editor@lwn.net, dfinton@d.umn.edu
Subject: Thoughts on Intel/Netscape/Redhat and the Meaning of the Universe

Linux has gotten a *lot* of attention lately.  It's absolutely amazing
what has happened even in the short time I've been using it.

When I started using Linux (winter of 97), many of the most famous
software projects designed to run on Linux had only barely started or
had not even been conceived yet.  GIMP and KDE were just getting off the
gound, and GNOME wasn't even a glimmer in Redhat's collective eye yet.
And this wasn't even 2 years ago.  Also, Linux was still at the stage
where many acknowledged its existence, but few recognized its
potential.  But those that did know (or supposed) that something big
*would* happen worked hard to make it happen.

And finally it did.  Intel, Netscape, Oracle, Sun, and even Microsoft
either officially support or acknowledge Linux.  More and more
businesses are using it on across their computer infrastructures.  The
Linux geek's dream of using Linux at work came true, and a whole slew of
changes are going to come out of it.

Some, however, are worried.  The basis for much of this worry is the
"commercialization" of Linux.  Will Linux be reduced to a warm-and-fuzzy
operating system that the whole world seems hell-bent on demanding?  And
more importantly, will the Linux community be torn apart as its user
base grows and expands beyond what it is today?  The answers to these
questions I believe are yes, and yes.  But not in the way many people

To get an understanding why, take a look at the internet itself.  And
for that matter, the PC revolution.

A small group of technically skilled people got together and hammered
out an idea.  This idea was to create something extremely useful and
(relatively) easy to deploy.  Then others wanted a piece of the action
and this idea grew, and grew, and grew.  At first many in the outside
world looked at it and said the idea was strange, exciting, new,
dangerous, threatening, too complicated, novel, and dead in the water
all at the same time.  However, the community of technical people grew,
and others joined.  What started as a technology used and developed by a
small group of people grew to something that many people depend on for
their livelihood.  Suddenly everybody was talking about it, and a "buzz"
surrounded it wherever you looked.

Then, it blew up.  Businesses started using it.  Added to it.  Changed
it.  The original community was still there, but it faded to the
background as companies stepped up to the stage and started directing
the show.  After that, everything settled down as people get used to the
new status quo, and life resumed its natural course once again.

Then, one day, a small group of people got together to hammer out an

Linux isn't the end, just like the internet and the PC weren't the end
of the story.  It'll be interesting to see what happens next.  :^)

To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Linus isn't scalable
From: Chaim Frenkel <chaimf@pobox.com>
Date: 10 Oct 1998 20:59:11 -0400

I'm not involved in Linux kernel issues in anyway (other than as a user).

But the approach used by the Perl porters mailing list may be useful.
The list has a Rule #1: Larry is always right (even if he changes his mind).

Larry has final veto on any and all changes. At anyone time there is a
patch 'pumpking' who is delegated authority for various release
tracks. The next release (Development), stability (Maintainence), and
currently a backrev Maintainence.  Any submitted patches are discussed
on the list and the pumpking makes his decision.  All decisions can be
appealed to Larry.

Perhaps something similar for the kernel could be done. Individual areas
in the kernel could be assigned to sub-tyrants who are delegated authority
in their areas, with Linus with overall tyranny.

Chaim Frenkel					     Nonlinear Knowledge, Inc.
chaimf@pobox.com	<<< New Email Address	               +1-718-236-0183


Feedback and corrections

Last week's press section mistakenly said that this Hufvudstadsbladet article, was in Finnish; in fact, it is written in Swedish.


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