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Oracle has announced that it will ship and support a Linux distribution. This came at the Internet World conference last week. Details are still scarce; they have said, though, that they would likely "license" one of the existing distributions, rather than create their own. There is still nothing about this announcement on Oracle's web site; about the only real press coverage seems to be this Computing (UK) story.

This is the sort of surprising news that, in retrospect, is not surprising at all. The CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison, has had a strong anti-Microsoft agenda for some time. Thus, Oracle's agenda is anti-Microsoft. They have not been pleased to watch the business world slip away from the Unix servers that have traditionally hosted Oracle's databases and toward Wintel-based machines. They have seen what happens to other companies when Microsoft decides to head into their turf: think of all the add-on software companies that don't exist any more. Microsoft is moving into the database world. Oracle is not pleased.

So along comes a platform that looks like it could give Microsoft some real grief. Along come other big companies, like Intel, supporting the development of this system. Of course Oracle will get behind it, once they catch on. The only surprising thing is that it took them so long.

So is this a good thing? Though they have not said so, one would hope that Oracle's plan would include devoting some resources toward Linux development. That should help us all. An Oracle-backed distribution will, of course, have a great deal of credibility in high corporate circles where such things matter. That means more Linux users, and, along with that, more Linux developers. And it means that more of you will be working on Linux in your cubicles. These are good things.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that Oracle is pursuing its own agenda here; it is doubtful that Oracle is much attached to the idea of Linux itself. Linux is being set up as Oracle's soldier in a battle of large companies. Linux, perhaps, did kind of volunteer for the job, but it is a scary one to say the least. Microsoft is distracted by the U.S. Department of Justice at the moment, but that will not last forever. Expect to see the heavy artillery come out at some point.

And remember the old saying from somewhere, paraphrased here: regardless of who wins the battle of the elephants, the grass tends to suffer.

Here's a (purely fictional) scenario to consider: suppose a large company with interests in the Linux support business at some point decides that it wants a change made to the kernel that is not acceptable to Linus. SYSV streams, say. Big companies can be pretty imperious in their demands. Linus is unlikely to back down in such a situation, even after the big company's bigwigs have gone to the Transmeta bigwigs to get some pressure applied. What could come of this? Linus gets disgusted and bails out. Or this company splits off its own kernel - taking some developers with it - which becomes the only "supported" one. Linux would probably survive such stresses, but few people would be pleased.

Again, the above is pure fiction; there is no reason to believe that Oracle would behave in this way. But the fact is that Linux is being dragged into other peoples' battles, and the combatants may not always have the best interests of Linux and its users in mind.

(Those interested in a highly optimistic analysis of what Oracle's moves mean for Linux should see Eric Raymond's note, which appears in the Letters to the Editor section in this week's back page.)

It's official: Microsoft is using Linux as an example showing that they do not have an operating system monopoly. See this press release, down at the bottom:

"Market entry costs are very low and profit opportunities vast in software platform technology, leading to constant efforts to unseat the incumbent leader (witness the advance of Linux, a new version of UNIX developed by a single individual)."
It was quite the surprise to see that Linux has been "developed by a single individual." One wonders what all those other folks have been doing.

See also Dwight Johnson's essay in LinuxToday for a well-written, in-depth treatment of Microsoft's claims.

For anyone that might have missed the announcement, Larry Wall has won the first annual Free Software Foundation award.

The Linux Weekly's News roving editor, Liz Coolbaugh, will be at the upcoming festivities at the Atlanta Linux Showcase next week. Keep an eye out for her; she's looking forward to meeting many of you there.

October 15, 1998



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See also: last week's Security page.


Well, the security issue of the week seems to be continuing security problems with Netscape's cache. Dan Brumleve, who reported the original cache-cow bug that we've mentioned the past two weeks, announced son-of-the-cache-cow on October 6th. Netscape has acknowledged the problem, which they call the injection bug. There is no word yet on when a new version, with the problems resolved, will be available. Note that some reports indicate that not all operating systems are vulnerable to this latest hole. Confirmation of the problem on a Linux system has not been seen.

Meanwhile, continuing problems with Netscape, Jim Paris posted this note about how a remote CGI script can be used to crash Netscape 4.05 and 4.5b1. HD Moore dug around in the Mozilla code to "get an idea of why it is crashing".

CERT has sent out an advisory on the NFS security hole. CERT, as is often the case, is a bit slow in getting the word out - we reported this bug in August. Nonetheless, when CERT does get around to saying something, it means that the bad guys are actively exploiting the problem - something that we have seen as well. People with machines attached to the net should be sure that you (1) have the fix applied, or (2) are not running NFS services. Note that you may be running mountd even if you think you aren't using it; it's worth a check.

Richard Zack posted this report of a buffer overflow in dbadmin version 1.0.1 to bugtraq, looking for input on whether or not the problem was exploitable. Here is "Duke's" reply, indicating that there was a potentially exploitable hole. No word yet on any patches for the problem.

A possible denial of service vulnerability was posted to bugtraq. This particular one involves linking a user's .rhosts file to /dev/zero and then checking their mail via IMAP. This means that the problem is not a remote exploit, since the attacker must first have write access to a user directory. However, responses to the post confirmed the problem and indicated that similar DoS were possible using symlink'ed .forward, .qmail, or .plan files. Nick Andrew and Henrik Nordstrom summed it up with the comments, Any service daemons should refuse to read files which are not files (symlinks, device files, pipes and other non-disk-file types) or not owned by the right user with proper permissions. Perhaps this issue will get explored by the Linux Security Audit project ...

Speaking of which, a recent security-audit discussion about the behavior of glibc's opendir and its negative impact on the system has resulted in a modification to glibc. Here is some details on the problem. It was a nasty one with potential side effects including rewinding tape drives as a side effect or tying up all system resources. To get the fixed version of glibc, look for binutils 2.0.98 or 2.0.7, as appropriate.

Kevin Lindsay posted a note announcing version 1.1 of Secure Locate. His note also goes into some detail on how slocate works, in response to some questions he's received.

Miguel de Icaza confirmed a recently reported bug in Midnight Command 4.5.0 (mc). The problem has been fixed in the just released 4.5.1 version.

Computer Security Day (DISC 98) will be held November 2-6, 1998 in Mexico. Individual Responsibility is the slogan for this year (and a good one!). More information can be found at their web-site.

October 15, 1998


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.1.125. In the announcement for this release, Linus stated his intention to move toward the 2.2 release shortly. By most reports 2.1.125 is relatively stable; folks in the Sparc and Alpha camps are happy that it works (almost) out of the box for them. For those who want to try out bleeding-edge stuff, Alan Cox release 2.1.125ac1which added a lot of fixes and enhancements; 2.1.125ac2 then followed with some more fixes and, importantly, the set of kernel NFS server fixes put together by H. J. Lu and others.

The list of 2.2 showstopper problems was posted by Alan Cox shortly after the 2.1.125 announcement. This version is now somewhat obsolete; a number of the problems have been fixed, and some others have been added. (The version on Alan's web server may be more up to date).

On the stable side, 2.0.36 prepatch 14 is out. This patch incorporates the new Adaptec SCSI driver and a number of other fixes. See the announcement for details.

When do you think the first 2.2 kernel will be released? The folks at Tummy.com have a pool going. Head on over and give them your best guess. They haven't said what the winner gets - maybe a free copy of 2.2.0?

A new version of the international crypto patch for 2.1 has been released by Alexander Kjeldaas. The purpose of this patch is to gather together all of the various cryptographic patches that exist for Linux into one convenient place. Due to silly laws in a few countries, this stuff will probably never be part of the official kernel, but is certainly useful anyway. See the announcement for information on what's included and how to get it.

Jon "maddog" Hall chimed in on the tail end of the UDI discussion this week. His comments are calm, reasonable, and favorable toward the concept.

A new kernel NFS patch has been released by H. J. Lu. Kernel NFS service, at least in the basic NFS version 2 UDP mode, is beginning to solidify, though some users still report some difficulties. Here's H. J.' announcement.

A new version of sysklogd is out, it includes a bunch of fixes. Here's the announcement.

Richard Gooch continues to work on devfs, he is up to version 70. There still has been no word from Linus on whether devfs will go into the kernel or not.

How can the kernel patch submission mechanism be improved so that Linus doesn't burn out? We've covered this topic over the last couple of weeks as things rose to a bit of a crisis point. Life has returned to mostly normal among the kernel developers, and discussion on this issue has died down, but people haven't stopped thinking about solutions.

One of those people is Larry McVoy. Larry's project is called "BitKeeper;" it can be thought of, in the simplest sense, as a replacement for CVS or any of the other source code management systems out there. BitKeeper has a number of distinct features, some of which are intended to make life easier for Linus as he tries to manage changes to the kernel.

A key feature will be the ability for people to add comments or changes to a patch which has been publicly posted. With this capability, a typical patch could follow this series of events:

  • Some (until now) unknown person posts a patch to fix a problem that he found.
  • Another kernel hacker, one with a bit of a reputation, checks it out, and decides that it's OK after a small tweak.
  • A prominent kernel hacker, seeing the approval from the previous person (who he respects), looks the patch over, makes a few more changes, and puts his approval on it.
  • Linus, seeing this approval, has a look at the patch and decides whether it goes in or not.
The point here being that Linus, and the developers closest to him, can be protected from the full, unfiltered stream of patches flying around on the list. By the time a patch gets to him, it has already been through a review process, and it contains the history of revisions and comments that were made on it on its way up. No more untested patches, no more patches with no hint as to what they do.

Larry is well positioned to do this work, having written the source management system used at Sun. He tells LWN that the BitKeeper idea has been discussed with Linus and some other kernel hackers, and they have expressed a willingness to try it out. The project is moving forward, though, as Larry puts it, he occasionally "runs out of steam when he encounters the license police." (Larry would like to earn some money from BitKeeper, while keeping it free for free software projects, so that he can continue to pay his mortgage). With luck, BitKeeper will help to keep the kernel development process working smoothly for some time.

For more information on this system, see the bitkeeper web page.

Is the kernel source obscene? In the (seemingly) masochistic spirit that inspires people to monitor offensive material in prime-time TV shows, Tigran Aivazian went grepping for strong language in the kernel, and was surprised to find what he was looking for. At that point, what can you do besides post the results to the kernel list? There doesn't seem to be any sort of strong feeling toward sanitizing the source, thankfully.

OK, OK, we know a bunch of you want to see it. For those who are not easily offended here are Tigran's results.

October 15, 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.



Kurt Wall reported that his upgrade to Caldera 1.3 went smoothly with only a couple of minor problems.

In addition, much as we recently reported about the S.u.S.E. 5.3 released, Caldera has been overwhelmed with orders for 1.3. They are bringing on temporary staff and trying to ramp up quickly to deal with the load, but they were definitely taken by surprise by the increased demand for 1.3 over previous products. Perhaps in both cases, we are seeing the end result of the last six months of publicity for Linux, being reaped by the distributions as they put out their latest, stable releases.


Brian White reminded people that All packages destined for Slink must have been uploaded to master.debian.org's incoming directory no later than October 16th, 18:30 GMT.

The PowerPC port for Debian will not make the Debian 2.1 freeze date. Reported show-stoppers included a need for the 2.1.X (or 2.2) kernel source tree, more compiled packages, and an available debian-powerpc cd. ARM is nowhere near being release-ready, according to Jim Pick, along with gnu-hurd. UltraSparc will not make it either. The Alpha port is "near" ready, but some big egcs issues could derail the project before it can make the freeze. No official word on the Sparc port yet, but there is the possibility that none of the non-Intel ports might make the freeze.

Debian issued a press release announcing that It is now possible to boot the Corel NetWinder Computer with Debian GNU/Linux, thanks to the work of Jim Pick and the other team members of the Debian Arm port. This is good news for improving the development environment for the Corel.

And Debian also proudly mentioned the APC Highly Commended award, given to the hamm version of Debian (Debian GNU/Linux 2.0) by APC Magazine.

Be sure not to miss the upcoming Slink Freeze and IRC Party, tomorrow, Friday, October 16th. Of course, the party for the freeze will only be a fraction of the celebration when Debian 2.1 is actually released, but it is important to celebrate this moment, since it represents Debian's commitment to a more rapid release schedule.

Red Hat

Jose Romildo Malaqui wrote out an impressive list of reasons why Red Hat should include xemacs in upcoming distributions. Many other people appear to be making the same request.

We learned from the redhat-devel-list that work is happening on grpm, a gtk based RPM front end that will include the ability to connect to an RPM repository and automatically download software updates. Questions about grpm include whether it duplicates work already done by AutoRPM and whether or not the Red Hat developers are coordinating with the in-development Trove project, an open-source distributed archiving system for use at large software archive sites.

Reports are also that Redhat's Contrib-Net is back underway (long overdue). That will be good news, particularly once Contrib-Net (Red Hat's new program for certifying contributors and contributed RPMs) is actually available.


Scott Lewis wrote us to report that the Stampede distribution is making good progress towards an Alpha port. He provided us location for more details.


S.u.S.E.'s German office moved over the past weekend, so if you were wondering why their servers were off-line, now you know it was because they needed a bigger office!

Meanwhile, problems with deliveries of 5.3 continue. Keep hope up! Many people report having the product in hand and others have mentioned that the replacement CD has started showing up as well.

Other than the above, the primary topic on the suse-linux-e list this week was the Debian and Red Hat decisions to drop KDE and whether or not S.u.S.E. should follow suit ...

October 15, 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


The Linux JDK Porting Team has announced the availability of version 1.1.6v5 of the Linux JDK, promising lots of wonderful bug fixes. Check out Steve Byrne's post for all the details. Levente Farkas quickly followed the announcement with rpms for the new version.

Albrecht Kleine was convinced to release the latest snapshot of tya as TYA 1.1. Albrecht describes TYA as a JIT compiler designed as add-on for the Linux x86 Blackdown port 1.1.6.

alphaWorks put out a press releasecovering a TFTP server for Java, and new JavaBeans.


Salon Magazine ran a lengthy article about Larry Wall, winner of this year's "Free Software award"; check it out over here.


A Python Consortium is being formed to fund further development of the Python language. This group seems to be modeled on the old X Consortium, which drove the development of the X window system. They are looking for corporate members, see Guido's announcement for more.

The LLNL PyGraphics documentation has been updated. It is now in Acrobat 3 format.


Version 1.1 of the SAGE Profiler has been announced. Sage is a run-time code analyzer for Tcl and Tk applications. The latest version contains fixes, tweaks, pre-compiled libraries and support for an optional C loadable library to speed up sage processing.

October 15, 1998



Development projects

The Open Group has issued a call for papers for inclusion in a new Source Book on the State of the Unix System. One of their list of potential topics is "The impact of freeware and Open Source (TM) on the industry", which certainly deserves a paper or two on the impact of Linux, GNU and other free software. (Credit to Matthew Benjamin)

Is anybody interested in Ratfor for Linux? Is anybody interested in maintaining it? If you don't know what Ratfor is, you can assume that you're not interested. For the rest of you, Craig Burley (creator of the GNU F77 compiler) is looking for people interested in working on the Ratfor preprocessor.

High Availability Linux

One of the press releases in our commerce section covers High Availability commercial software, now available from RSi Solutions.

In addition, there is another product in beta being produced by RodaGroup. No official information is available yet, but this post and this folloupfrom Richard Sharpe provide a lead on the product.


Debian has joined Red Hat in a stance against the KDE license. Note that in both cases, the decision not to ship KDE with the distribution was taken not because of the free software versus non-free, but because, in reviewing the Qt license and the GPL under which the KDE is shipped, they felt they could not legally include KDE. Much as you might expect, the KDE team disagrees with their interpretation of the GPL and the impact of the combination of the Qt and GPL licenses.

Debian has asked the KDE team for the release of KDE under a license in which distribution of a binary version of KDE with specific permission to link KDE with Qt without the GPL appying to Qt. Of course, the difficulty is that multiple authors are involved with KDE and getting this license change from each one will be work.

Note that other software on Debian has cropped up with similar problems. Lyx is another GPL'd package that links to a non-free library, libforms. After contact with the Lyx authors, a written statement has been issued giving adequate permission for distributing lyx, so it appears that it will be able to stay.

It is strongly to be hoped (and rumored to be happening) that KDE authors will move ahead to provide the written change/assurance that Debian has requested. This will remove any impediment to shipping KDE with any Linux distribution, giving Linux users the chance to choose KDE, which is the most full-featured choice available now, or GNOME, which is rapidly developing, but not as mature. It will also provide an opportunity to prove or disprove the contentions that the decisions not to ship KDE by Debian and Red Hat were motivated by politics rather than legal issues.


Jim Cape has released an updated Netscape Wishlist, with new wishes that have come in over the past six weeks, plus a What's New item and some other reoganization. Here is the website for the page.

The latest Mozilla FAQ is now available.

From the Jazilla folks, we see a rough draftof the Jazilla Developer FAQ is up. The Jazilla Newbie FAQ has been updated as well.


Cees de Groot has run all current HOWTO's through the Linuxdoc->DocBook converter that will be bundled with the upcoming release of SGMLtools 2.0, both as a "proof-of-concept" and to encourage HOWTO authors to start preparations for the conversion.


Douglas Ridgway has proposed the creation of new mailing lists for Wine. Currently, all discussion, questions, etc., is carried on in comp.emulators.ms-windows.wine.

Doug wrote us to let us know that Wine is moving to a CVS based development model, the mailing lists will go with the CVS tree and information on the changes can be found at Wine headquarters.


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

We spoke today with Scott McNeil, president of the SuSE's North American group. He reported to us yet another delay in the shipment of Linux Office Suite 99. Here is their official announcement. A bug in Applixware is cited as the reason for the delay.

Scott commented that S.u.S.E. has based their reputation in Europe on a history of shipping products that work as advertised and they are adamant that Office Suite 99 will not be shipped until it is is "polished to a high gleam". Bugs are unacceptable, even if they affect only a small number of their customers. As a result, S.u.S.E. is offering an apology to customers that have pre-ordered Office Suite 99. All customers can choose to cancel their orders, if they wish. Meanwhile, as part of their apology, a free T-shirt will go to all customers who pre-ordered S.u.S.E. before this latest delay was announced.

According to their editor, LinuxWorld will go online sometime next week. It will be interesting to see what the large trade publishers will do in the Linux world.

Novell will be porting its Network Directory Service (NDS) to Linux in conjunction with Caldera. Details can be found in this Network World Fusion article (Note that this is a registration-required site; using "cypherpunks" as both username and password will get you in if you do not wish to register). Given that Novell seems to be on the rise again, having the NDS capability available for Linux is probably a good thing. (Other press coverage of the NDS announcement can be found in Sm@rt Reseller, and The Register.

Another Linux systems VAR has opened its doors. The folks at Electronic Forge wrote in to let us know that they are up and running. They feature a nice system configuration page and relatively low prices.

Here is a brief review of Oracle for Linuxthat was posted to the net this week.

Carl Karlsson posted the solutions he found to what he dubbed, 'the hanging client' and 'the failing blk_alloc' problems with Sybase to the caldera-users list.

Linux Resourcesis reporting that Compaq is planning to increase its support of Linux on both the Intel and Alpha platforms. The bulk of the announcement is similar to what came out a while back - Compaq will assist in the installation of Linux on their machines, but will not actually sell Linux-installed computers themselves. (Thanks to Joseph Sloan).

Allaire will soon be announcing Cold Fusion for Linux. Thanks to Moshe Vainer who first sent us this link to an email thread chock full of rumors on the topic. Of course, later J.J. Allaire confirmed their commitment to create Cold Fusion for Linux on slashdot (look down in the comment section).

Press Releases:

  • Trident Data Systems talks about their new CTO, and mentions that they have become a supporter of the San Antonio Linux Users Group.
  • Torrent, a maker of business software for multiprocessor Unix and Linux systems, announces an investment from Intel.
  • Innosoft, a new version of their IDS LDAP product.
  • Elastic Systems, "InterProxy" Internet Protocol Translator.
  • RSi Solutions, high-availability software ported to Linux.
  • Cygnus, low-cost version of their GNUPRO toolkit for Linux.
  • Troll Tech, Qt version 1.41.
  • Universal CD-ROM has put out an updated Linux product list
  • Xi Graphics announced Accelerated-X support for the SiS 5598 and NeoMagic MagicMedia 256AV
  • Linux Central announced new Serial Display Modules

October 15, 1998


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

Linux in the news

Here is an introductory article in abcnews.com. It suffers from a low clue level ("The source code-the ones and zeros that make up every single bit of the software-is available for downloading over the Internet.") and a bit of support FUD, but seems overall positive anyway. A not all that bad article in a high-profile location. Thanks to Mike Leddy.

Your editor just got around to reading his copy of the October 3-9 issue of The Economist; it turns out that there is an article, entitled "Red Hat Trick," about, sure enough, Intel and Red Hat. There does not seem to be a freely-available copy of the article on their web site, so here's a quick summary.

For the most part, it is the usual summary of Red Hat's business model, and how the free software business differs from the proprietary software business. "Perhaps it is more accurate to see Red Hat and smaller competing Linux distributors, such as Caldera and S.u.S.E., as service rather than software companies."

This is where many articles have to say "...but it's no threat to Microsoft." The Economist, certainly not known for wide-eyed predictions, has a bit of a different take. "For the moment, however, the company from Redmond, Washington, seems almost grateful for the rising profile of Linux, seeing it as an easy way of demonstrating that Windows is not a monopoly, ahead of its antitrust trial, scheduled to begin on October 15th. That may be short-sighted. In the long run, Linux and other open-source programs could cause Mr Gates much grief."

We have a report that the November UK edition of Computer Shopper magazine has run an excellent feature article on Linux. Our contributor called it very long and extensive piece, thoroughly researched and largely free of FUD and misconceptions, and *extremely* positive in tone. Unfortunately, no on-line link is available as of yet. We'll certainly provide a pointer to it when it is, since we hear they've included a reference to the Linux Weekly News ...

MacKiDo ran a somewhat strange column suggesting that Apple should release its user interface libraries on top of Linux. The article suffers from an excess of exclamation points and a skewed view of Linux, but is worth a look anyway.

Linux sort de l'ombre (in French) in France-Ouest covers the nationwide installfest held last weekend, in a positive light. (Here's a Babelfish link for non French-capable readers). (Found in NNL).

According to this ZDNet UK story Lotus has no intention of supporting Linux anytime soon. They have a pretty discouraging point of view. "I just cannot say Linux offers a viable proposition. There are so many Unix variations.."

Didier Legein points out that a few entries in the InfoWorld 100 are Linux related. Check out numbers 12, 27, 44, ... (Expect obnoxious pop-up advertisements, though, if your browser inflicts those on you).

Here is a lengthy introductory article in the New York times. Pretty comprehensive and positive. There is the obligatory interesting Bob Young quote: "Fourteen-year-olds playing multiplayer Doom are upgrading to Linux to compete better". Thanks to Stuart Luppescu and Dan Ginsberg for telling us about this one. (Note that the NY Times is a registration-required site. As is usually the case, "cypherpunks" used as both account and password will get you in).

Sm@rt Reseller asks: Will NT sink you?. The column talks about the hard road that alternative OS's, Linux included, have in front of them, but concludes: "Admittedly, it's easier to make a buck with Microsoft. But in the long run, pursuing non-Microsoft alternatives, in operating systems and elsewhere, may prove a reseller's best move."

Here's The case for Linux in Internet World. "...Linux will fail if it is forced to serve the wrong goal. If, instead of being a better tool to solve developers' needs, Linux becomes the latest proxy for Microsoft's competitors, it will fade into obscurity."

Also in Internet World: Not Just NT That Linux Threatens. This author says that the company that should really be worried is Sun. "If Sun fails to come up with a strategy that embraces Linux more forthrightly, this free and open operating system could break its back."

Sun, however, seems unworried, judging from this TechWeb interview with Sun Solaris Division President John McFarlane. "...any Linux win is one less Microsoft desktop. That's good for the world. So we are very supportive of the Linux movement."

The Independent (UK) received a fair amount of feedback for their Linux article that they ran last week. It comes in two pieces; one is a column from the author acknowledging a couple of things he might have written better. "Before I wrote last week's piece about the Linux operating system, I was told that doing so is about as safe as putting your head into a hungry lion's mouth." We can attest to that...<smile>

They also ran a couple of the letters they received in response to the article.

(Here is the original article for those who missed it).

Computer Reseller News is running a reader poll on the question "Will implementations of Linux grow to seriously threaten Microsoft's operating-system dominance?" You can not answer on line - you need to call an 800 number. Thus folks outside of the US and Canada will probably want to pass on this one.

You can read about Elliot's Linux dilemma in EE Times. "From a vendor perspective, the cruel reality is that Linux users are inherently cheapskates. That is, the culture around Linux is that it should be free, and almost all of the tools running under Linux should also be free or cheap. That's why Linux is so popular. (If you disagree with that statement, consider this: Before Linux you could buy 'Coherent,' a full Unix OS for the PC for $100. Free Linux drove them away.)" It doesn't seem to occur to the author that Linux might offer advantages other than price.

Also in EE Times: a more positive article about how open source development works, written by Stan Shebs of Cygnus.

Another pretty face, for free in Internet Week talks about GNOME and KDE in an amazingly non-inflammatory way. (Found in Linux Net News).

This Mac Opinion column proclaims "Linux: The most important software in the world today." He says he's serious. "A less obvious paradigm shift in software that Linux has created is less a shift to a new way, but a return to an old way. Back in Wave One, programmers tended to be more interested in sharing their ideas." (Found in LinuxToday).

Web Review has put out a long case study of a busy web site's upgrading of their server. Need we say what they ended up using? "Our goal is to be able to support many years of high growth. I never would have guessed that I'd end up choosing a primarily freeware-based Linux system. I have no regrets!"

Here is a TechWeb story claiming that Microsoft is porting its "Media Player" product to Linux. "Microsoft said the port was driven by customer demand that its streaming media player work on all platforms."

Silicon also has an article on the Media Player thing. "...Microsoft doesn't see Linux as a direct competitor because no company owns it."

TechWeb interviews Richard Stallman.

Q: Intel and Netscape have invested in Red Hat, which is the leading commercial distributor of the Linux operating system. What does that mean for Linux and open source?

A: Well, it's actually not true. Linux isn't an operating system. They're a distributor of a version of the GNU operating system, which uses Linux as a kernel. Red Hat's been doing a pretty good thing with that. They're not sticking entirely to the principles of free software, but they're getting closer and closer.

This San Jose Mercury column asks various luminaries what they think of the Microsoft trial; one of those polled is Linus Torvalds. "...I think the case is not all that important for the market itself." (Thanks to Conrad Sanderson). They also have a long introductory article, but it's just a reprint of the New York Times article from last week.

Here is an analysis in The Register entitled "When Linux met Wintel." It is, as they admit, a worst-case scenario. "...it's going to be impossible to ignore the process of being taken seriously, and the phenomenon of everybody loving Linux isn't necessarily going to work out for the best." Thanks to Didier Legein and "Gabriella".

The kiss of death for Linux? asks a short editorial in Web Review. "But for Linux, being labeled a threat to Microsoft is not entirely good news. Bill Gates takes threats seriously.... Now the all-seeing eye has turned its fearsome gaze on Linux. I fear for it."

The Irish Times covers Linux again with this introductory article. This one appears in their finance section, rather than with the technology stuff. It gives a good overview of what Linux is, what open source is, and talks about Intel's investment. "It's certainly not business as usual, and all the better because of that."

The Irish Times likes Linux. It's only free Unix - but I like it is a highly positive piece on the virtues of free Unix systems in general. "I'd recommend test driving free Unix to anyone in the computer business."

Amos Shapira sent us a pointer to this TechWeb story about an open source project called SHADOW. SHADOW is a security monitoring system put together by the U. S. Navy. "...the program's open source birth and evolution has made it strong and extremely sensitive..."

Here's a very brief mention in ComputerWorld. From a talk given by Michael Dell: " Will Dell sell Linux? 'If we see an economic reason to sell it, we will. We've seen some limited interest.'"

A couple more articles in The Register: This one is about Lotus's "no Linux support" message, and doesn't add a whole lot. The second one is about Oracle seeing Linux as a weapon against Microsoft and NT. "Oracle is effectively grooming Linux as an alternative to NT that can be used to destabilise Microsoft in smaller businesses and at departmental level."

Thomas Leineweber pointed out this article in NZZ Folio (Switzerland). They seem to have blocked Babelfish access, so only those who can read German will find it worthwhile to go check it out.

CNet has Dan Schafer of Project Heresy fame reporting from Fall Internet World in N.Y.

If you want optimism, check out Dave Whitinger's LinuxToday editorial. "There have been, and will always be, media sceptics who resist change. ... I challenge them to provide to me a single and valid reason why Linux is not going to be the OS of the future. Back it up with facts, not speculation. And, please, don't tell me 'Microsoft will win because of their marketing power.'"

For cynicism, instead, check out the Linux press coverage drinking game on Segfault.org. Truly amusing.

October 15, 1998

``From a vendor perspective, the cruel reality is that Linux users are inherently cheapskates.''
John Cooley, EE Times

``...Linux will fail if it is forced to serve the wrong goal. If, instead of being a better tool to solve developers' needs, Linux becomes the latest proxy for Microsoft's competitors, it will fade into obscurity''
Nate Zelnick, Internet World

``In the long run, Linux and other open-source programs could cause Mr Gates much grief.''
The Economist

``Take two drinks if the author says...Could you get fired for choosing Linux?''


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.



The Swedish magazine Amiga Info has added a strong Linux focus to their publication. You can find the upgraded publication on their web site (but in Swedish, of course). It includes daily Amiga and Linux news.

The most recent version of the Linux FAQ can be found currently at this site. Robert Kiesling commented that he is looking for a site willing to provide Web hosting for the FAQ, "free to a good home".

Ying Zhang has written a mini-HOWTO on setting up Qmail for SMTP, and configuring U. Washington's IMAP and POP services to work properly with Qmail.


Linux Expo 99 will be held in Raleigh, NC, May 18-22, 1999. Here is the first announcement we have seen on the matter; they are currently looking to get exhibitors signed up.

Members of the DC-LUG will be holding a BOFat the Atlanta Linux Showcasecovering how to set up and run an InstallFest.

The first Conference of Australian Linux Users will be held July 9-11, 1999, in Melbourne. They have sent out a call for papers for those who would like to present at the conference.

The guys at Warpstock 98 sent us a note mentioning that users of all computer systems are welcome at their celebration, starting this Saturday, October 17th, in Chicago. They promise some truly cross-platform software (Linux, Mac or BeOS, for example).

Web sites

Builder.com has put together a set of pages with configuration tips for the Apache web server. It seems like a good collection of basic information; check it out here. (Thanks to Benji Selano).

User Group News

Chris Halsall wrote to report on an important step taken by Victoria Linux Users Group (VLUG), of Victoria, B.C., Canada. They have chosen to formally registered as a society, the first LUG in Canada to do so. His note explains why the local group felt this was an important step. Other groups may want to review their analysis and decide for themselves whether a more formal status, with perhaps reduced legal exposure for members, is appropriate to them.

The Linux-CULT LUG (Club des Utilisateurs de Linux Toulousains) will be running a Linux stand at the upcoming FAUST expo'98, October 21st-25th. This will take place in "Parc des Expositions", Toulouse, France and will include speakers from the french free software community.

The next BALUG meeting in San Francisco will feature Chinese food and Linux Clustering ... a good combination of food and topics!

The speaker for the next Worcester, Massachusetts LUG meeting has changed. Pat Beirne, chief engineer and "the source" for answers to technical questions about the Netwinder will be speaking instead.

Jim Cain is looking for a LUG in Charlotte, North Carolina. Not having found one so far, he is offeringtime, web server space, etc., to help get one started if there are other interested parties out there.

A new Linux User's Group is forming in Koblenz, Germany.

Here's the report from the latest Boulder Linux User's Group meeting. The presentation for the meeting on Samba was reported to go extremely well and also generated a lot of interest in VNC in the local groups ...

Help wanted

Red Hat has advertised openings for a Software Quality Developer and a System administrator.

October 15, 1998



Software Announcements


Package Version Description
Abacus 0.9.10 Spreadsheet for Linux/XWindows written in Tcl/Tk and C/C++
AoMasq 0.0.3 Enables Windows 95 workstations to control a centralized dialup connection
Apache 1.3.3 High performance, UNIX based HTTP server
Apache-SSL1.3.2+1.27 Secure Webserver (using SSLeay)
ARCH V4 Object-oriented library of tools for MP machine and network programming
Arrow 0.6.5 An elegant, powerful, graphical interface to electronic mail
asapm 2.2 X11 application with AfterStep look for monitoring APM on laptops
ascp 0.9.2 A Control Panel for the AfterStep window manager
BeroFTPD 1.1.14 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.
bkgd 0.2 Sets a random (or specific) background image from the command line
Blackbox 0.40.9 WindowManager for X11 written in C++
Blackmail 0.29 Highly configurable SMTP mail filter
bmud 0.2 GNOME mud client
C Masqdialer Server 0.0.7 Protocol compatible replacement for Masqdialer server written in C
Calamaris 2.8 statistic tool for Squid and relatives
CAMP 1.2.1373 Console Interface for command-line MP3 players
cdr 0.2 CD ripper and encoder frontend
CDRDAO 1.0 Disk-At-Once Recording of Audio CD-Rs
coda 4.6.6 Full featured network filesystem
Code Crusader complete code development environment, inspired by MetroWerks CodeWarrior
Commerce.cgi 1.01 Shopping cart script with Store Manager
DBS Server 0.2.0 Telephony Server for integrating a Panasonic DBS telephone system
DOSEmu 0.98.2 Application that enables the Linux OS to run many DOS programs
egcs snapshot 19981012 Experimental set of enhancements for the GNU tools
Electric 5.4g3 CAD/EDA tool for multiple levels of design
elvis 2.1j A clone of vi/ex, the standard UNIX editor.
Ethereal 0.4.0 GUI network protocol analyzer
Exult 0.02 Ultima 7 world viewer
FAIM 0.09post1 An open source client for America Online's Instant Messenger service
Fiasco 0.5 L4-compatible real-time microkernel capable of running Linux in usermode
fltk 19981006 C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
Fortify 1.2.8 Provides full strength, 128-bit encryption facilities to Netscape browsers
FreeAmp 0.5 Open Source MP3 player
FSDEXT2 0.16 Mounts your Linux ext2fs partitions on Windows 95
g2s 0.3.6 An alternative to inetd/tcpwrapper/chrootuid/relay/tcp-env/antispam/etc.
Gaby 0.0.5 An address book written in GTK
gadfly 1.0 A Python RDBMS
Gamora 0.62.1 Java based server construction, hosting, and adminstration architecture.
GASM 0.51 Freeware Assembler
GChip8 0.8.0 An interpreter/emulator for the CHIP8 virtual machine.
gEDA snapshot 19981013 gEDA is an collection of tools which are used to make electrical circuit design,
gentoo 0.9.12 Two-pane filemanager using GTK+, 100% GUI configurable
getstatd 1.1 Statistics Daemon for Linux Systems
GHX 98/10/13 GTK clone of the Hotline software
gIDE 0.0.8 gtk-based Integrated Development Environment for C
GLeyes 0.2 A GLUT version of Xeyes
GLmame 0.3 An OpenGL driver for xmame
gmysql 0.3.0 A GTK+ front-end to MySQL databases
GNU Oleo 1.6 Free spreadsheet application
GNU Privacy Guard 0.4.1 GPLed PGP replacement tool
gnu.regexp 1.0.4 GNU regular expression package for Java
GnuCash 1.1.20 A program to keep track of your finances
GnuJSP 0.9.5 A free Java Server Pages implementation
Goose 0.0.4 Statistical library.
GQview 0.4.3 X11 image viewer for the Linux operating system
grepmail 3.2 Searches a normal or gzipped mailbox for a given regularexpression
GTK+ Metal Theme 0.9 Java Metal look-and-feel theme engine for GTK+ 1.1.2.
Gtk-- 0.9.17 C++ interface for the popular GUI library gtk.
gtkfind 0.8 GTK+ version of find(1)
Guppi 0.0.2 GNOME application for plotting and analyzing data
IceConf 0.1.4 A graphical configuration program for IceWM
Imoria 4.85.8 dungeon game like rogue, nethack, moria, etc.
isapnptools 1.16 ISA plug and play configuration utility
Javachat 0.99f Small chatserver written in Java 1.1.x
jEdit 1.0final Powerful text editor
Jikes 0.39 Java compiler that translates Java source into bytecoded instruction sets
jmk-x11-fonts 1.2 Jim's character-cell fonts for the X Window System
JSBeautifier 1.1.1 Free, small and fast automatic indention for Java source files
jt 0.1 Template to compose LaTeX jewel case CD inserts
JX C++ application framework and GUI widget library for X
kfstab 1.0 Easy editing of /etc/fstab via KDE
KIllustrator 0.4.1 Vector drawing program for KDE
KLilo 0.2 LILO Configuration tool for KDE
kmp3 0.2 A KDE MP3 Player
KMySql 1.1.0 A MySql client for KDE.
KPackage 1.0 GUI interface to the RPM and the Debianpackage manager
Krabber 0.2.5 KDE audio cd grabber and mp3 encoder front-end
Kscd 1.2.3 KDE CD Player
KSniff snapshot 981009 KDE packet sniffer/analyzer
KSokoban 0.9 Block pushing mind game for KDE
KVideolist 0.92 A videotape management utility
Leafnode 1.6.1 NNTP server for small leaf sites
Licq 0.43 ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
Linux Java Developerment Kit (JDK) 1.1.6v5 Provides a full port of Sun's JDK (Solaris version) to Linux
Linux joystick driver 1.2.11 Provides Linux support for joysticks
Linuxconf 1.12r7 Sophisticated administrative tool
Lynx 2.8 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
Micq 0.3.0 Publically available ICQ clone for the console
Midnight Commander 4.1.36 Unix file manager and shell
MiniVend 3.11 Powerful freely redistributable shopping cart package
MLWorks 2.0 Development environment for the SML programming language
mod_ssl 2.0.13-1.3.3 Apache Interface to SSLeay
Mount.App 0.9 Window Maker dock app for managing mount points
Mozilla 1998-10-08 Webbrowser for X11 derived from Netscape Communicator
Mpm4Linux 0.0.1 Upload tools for MpMan portable MP3 players
mrtg 2.5.4 Multi Router Traffic Grapher
MSWordView 0.4.7 Microsoft Word 8 document viewer
ntop 1.0 Network usage monitor
Panorama 0.10.0 Framework for creating, rendering, and processingthree-dimensional images
perlmoo 0.037 lambdamoo style moo written in perl
Petey 0.6 Fortune like application for story generation
PRCS 1.2.10 Provides a way to deal with setsof files and directories as an entity
ProFTPD 1.1.7pl3 Advanced, incrediblyconfigurable and secure FTP daemon
PySol 1.11 A Python-based Solitaire card game
Python/Tk Empire Interface (ptkei) 0.26alpha Cross Platform Empire GUI Client
qftp 0.85 Command line FTP client with queueing
Qial 0.19 DTMF tone generation program
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 1.0beta11a Windows 95 like window manager for the X Window System
Replay 0.54 GTK-based MP3 player for X11
Samba 2.0.0 alpha 12 Allows clients toaccess to a server's filespace and printers via SMB
Sandmail 0.0008 GTK+ based mime-compliant user mail agent
Scotty 2.1.10 Site specific network management software using high-level, string-based APIs
Secure Locate 1.2 Secure version of the GNU locate program
SGMLtools 1.0.8 Formerly Linuxdoc-SGML, a SGML processing package tailored at HowTo writers and
Simple DirectMedia Layer 0.8.8 Allows portable low level access to nativehigh-performance media interfaces
Smail 3.2 Electronic mail transport system
SoundTracker 0.0.7 A music tracker for X / GTK+
Squid 2.0.PATCH2 High performance Web proxy cache
Squij 0.60 Squid logfile analyzer
start 0.3 General purpose home page for an intranet
Stella 1.0 An Atari 2600 VCS Emulator
sysinfo 1.0.2 Gives system information about your Linux system
TableGen 1.2 Creates java classes to represent and access an SQL database
termpkg 3.0 Poor Man's Terminal Server
think 0.0.5 Outliner and project organizer
TkWho 0.3 Visual frontend to the Unix who command
TPROC 0.1 Very simple text processing language for assembling Text files.
twz1jdbcForMysql 1.0.3-GA A type 4 JDBC driver for MySQL
Undelete Utilities 1.0 Undelete Capabilities for the Extended-2 Filesystem
WallP 0.58 Random desktop wallpaper changer
Web Secretary 1.11 Web page monitoring software
wmakerconf 1.2 GTK based configuration tool for WindowMaker window manager
WMiNET 2.0 A dockable applet for monitoring all your inet daemon activity
wmnet 1.05 Provides network statistics for the Window Maker desktop
wmsound 0.7.6b Sound server package for WindowMaker
WN 2.1.2 A simple, robust Webserver whose design emphasizes security
XawTV 2.28 TV application and a few utilities
XEmacs 21.0-pre14 Internationalized text editor
XPortShot RT 0.01 A GTK based oscilloscope simulator
XQF QuakeWorld/Quake2 server browser and launcher for Linux/X11
xrun 0.1.4 A Gtk+ based program to run commands with a history.
Xscreensaver 2.34 Modular screen saver and locker for the X WindowSystem
Xwhois 0.2.0 Small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the internet whois network services.
ZeusMail 0.9.1 A web front-end to pop3 and imap email accounts.
zigzag 0.54 A unique hyperstructure kit for Linux

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

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