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Linux Meets the Legal Community is the title of our Feature Article for this week. The article covers the introduction of Linux into the law offices of Holland and Hart, a Denver-based law firm founded in 1947, with offices in five states in the Rocky Mountain Region. Their success story surprised and pleased us; we hope you enjoy it as well.

Fresh from the Python conference: Digital Creations will release the source for their Principia product. Principia is one of the premier dynamic web content platforms, combining powerful scripting with an integrated object database. This will be a nice bit of code to have available. We do not know at this time what the license will be.

The plan, evidently, is to integrate Principia with the (long free) Bobo system and to put it out as a competitor to Allaire's Cold Fusion product. Cold Fusion has recently announced a move to Linux as well, of course. It would appear that Linux is becoming the platform on which many of these competitive battles are carried out.

Digital Creations will still hold on to their database access and report generation tools, but releasing Principia is a great step for them to take. DigiCool indeed. (Thanks to Sean Summers for calling us up and passing on the news).

Trick or treat, the Halloween saga continued this week as another Microsoft memo was leaked to Eric Raymond. He has both memos, nicely annotated, on his Halloween site. The second memo, which is about Linux specifically, is perhaps less surprising than the first, but it is still worth a read. The Microsoft engineers were impressed by Linux, and concluded that it is a threat not only in the server market, but on the desktop as well.

And, of course, we shouldn't leave out Microsoft's official response to the Halloween memo leaks. It's a good dose of Microsoft-speak. "The existence of these documents demonstrates the vigorous competition that exists in the operating system industry." The response served only to add fuel to the rumors that Microsoft deliberately released the memos to help their position in the current antitrust trial.

Perhaps the most chilling statement in Halloween II was the following single sentence: "The effect of patents and copyright in combatting Linux remains to be investigated." Folks outside the U.S. (or inside, for that matter) may not be aware of just how far off-base U.S. patent law is regarding software. Regardless of what one thinks of Microsoft's software, it is prudent to fear their lawyers. They could probably make use of software patents, "look and feel" copyrights, and so on to make life miserable for anybody trying to do business with Linux in the U.S. Bruce Perens has written an article in LinuxWorld about this topic; it is worth a read.

Several readers wrote us and mentioned that they felt we'd "missed the boat", when we provided a pointer to an Infoworld article on Lotus and Linux without mentioning that the article stated Lotus would be releasing the source code for their products on the Linux platform. SmartSuite would follow the same pricing model as Linux -- that is, free open source code -- according to Michael Zisman, executive vice president of strategy at Lotus.

We followed up with a call to Michael Zisman who stated categorically that the article was incorrect, that the information was drawn from "out of the air" and he tried several times to get Infoworld to correct the error before they published, unsuccessfully. His official statement on Linux is, "We are seriously looking at Linux as a platform for all of our products as are many of our counterparts at IBM. Beyond that, we are making no further statements at this time."

Thanks to NTKnow, we have found another reason to hope that free software takes over. From this PC World article:

Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel international, says he has seen a still more ominous element in the software piracy food chain. "I'm not prepared to talk about specifics," he says, "but we have seen organized criminal groups using the proceeds from software counterfeiting to pay for terrorist operations overseas. We have seen a couple of terrorist organizations get involved in software counterfeiting."
Stop terrorism. Use free software.

Bandwidth is at hand. With any luck, this will be the last issue of LWN served over our slow line. Access next week should be noticably faster. We are still looking for advertisers to help us pay for all this; please drop us a note if you might be interested.

November 12, 1998



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