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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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See also: last week's Security page.


A klogd vulnerability has been reported for Red Hat 5.x (including 5.2) and Slackware 3.x. This is a potentially exploitable buffer overflow. No updates for this problem have been released as of yet.

A genuine hole in ssh, in the kerberos authentication code, has been found by Peter Benie and confirmed by ssh author Tatu Ylonen. A patch has been provided. Note, this hole only applies to ssh binaries compiled with both "--with-kerberos5" and "--enable-kerberos-tgt-passing".

On a separate, unrelated note, Crispin Cowan has made pre-compiled StackGuard-protected ssh binaries available. Note, only people within the United States can legally download these.

If you are running secure-linux and plan on upgrading to Red Hat 5.2, you may be interested in Ernst Jan Plugge's patch to the secure-linux patch. It will work on the 2.0.35 version of the secure-linux patch. You can check out Ernst's post, for the patch, more details and for the location of Solar Designer's secure-linux patch.

Cisco has officially reported vulnerabilities in their Cisco 7xxx router family, which may allow packets from outside the firewall to get through to unauthorized areas inside the firewall. Cisco states in their announcement that they are not aware of any incident where these vulnerabilities have been exploited. Workarounds are provided, and schedules for fixes are included.

If you are using any of the perl-CGI scripts from www.cgi-resources.com, you may wish to check out this posting. It lists several scripts that have vulnerabilities, including HAMcards Postcard, Hot Postal Services and a couple of others.

Job de Haas posted a note about Vulnerabilities with Swish, a search engine. The vulnerabilities could allow remote access to the web server with the user id of user underneath which the web server is run.

A /tmp race problem with Xinetd has been reported. Adrian Voinea reported a /tmp race problem with xf86config, the XFree86 3.3.2's setup tool, as well.

Bugtraq maintainer Aleph One commented this week that Bugtraq has passed the 26000 subscriber mark. Congratulations! It is good to hear that so many people are interested in security.

An article last week that received little publicity, this CNet article mentions that a new set of federal regulations have gone into effect as a result of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. These regulations require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to register with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to receive the act's protection against copyright infringement lawsuits. [From the ISN mailing list.]

Red Hat has issued a security update for the "zgv" and "svgalib" packages. This update covers all versions from 4.2 through 5.2.

November 12, 1998


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.1.127. This kernel has drawn some complaints, mostly about compilation errors. There is an -ac1 patch available Alan Cox in his FTP area; it contains numerous minor tweaks seemingly aimed at the "jiffies wraparound" problem, MCA stuff, and an apparent return of the AVL tree for mapping virtual memory areas. The NFSv3 patches are not yet included.

The 2.0.36 saga continues. It is now up to pre-patch 20 with a pre21 likely to come soon. (Pre 20 has a compile problem; if it bites you, simply remove the offending source line). 2.0.36 is getting close, anyway; a final patch should be shipped to Linus shortly.

Ftape 4.03 pre-2 is available. Here's the announcement for those who would like to try it out.

A new version of the 2.1 RAID implementation (MD) is out. This version includes a bunch of bug fixes, a couple of new features, and a RAID 5 HOWTO. Perhaps most significant, however, is the addition of a logical volume manager (LVM) into the md package. Logical volume support is a feature of many commercial Unix implementations; simply stated, it allows (1) the grouping of multiple physical volumes into logical volumes, and (2) the creation of partitions whose size can be adjusted at run time. The result is more flexible control over disk usage, since partition sizes are not cast in stone. Needless to say, proper use of logical volumes requires support from the file systems which live on those volumes. Many of the pieces are currently not there; this LVM implementation is intended primarly to get comments on the design of the whole thing. See the announcement for more information on how it works.

The addition of LVM to the MD implementation seems to be an outgrowth of a discussion on logical volume managers that has been going for a couple of weeks now. One opinion states that a separate LVM is a good thing for Linux to have. Thus the MD implementation, or the older implementation by Heinz Mauelshagen (which seemingly has not been updated for a few months now). On the other side are those who believe that multiple volume support belongs entirely within the filesystem. Prominent among those is Ted T'so. Arguments on this side include (1) performance, and (2) the fact that the file system has to be involved anyway. Disaster recovery might also work better; see Ted's example to see how that might be.

What new features does the new release of that other operating system have? No, not NT...Dax Kelson posted this list of new features in Solaris 7. Included therein are several things that Linux can not yet do (9TB files, logging file system, etc.), and others that we already have (TCP SACK, good threads, etc.) Overall it's an interesting thing to look at.

November 12, 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.



After months (years?) of seeing Red Hat take the heat for moving to glibc too quickly, it was interesting this week to see the pendulum swing the other way. Now there are fun applications out there that require glibc support, applications like StarOffice 5 and Oracle 8. So now we see Caldera users asking for better support for the glibc library under Caldera 1.3, for example. The timing is interesting, because both Caldera and S.u.S.E. have glibc versions "just around the corner." The question is, will they be out soon enough to prevent migration to existing glibc distributions such as Red Hat and Debian. Slackware, too, may be facing this issue in the near future.


APT version 0.1.9 has been released. The announcement explains why "0.1.9" is following "0.1.8". This version links against the upcoming Debian 2.1 ("slink") release. With this release of APT, Alpha systems are also supported, which is very good news.

Ian Jackson, the Debian Project Leader, will be speaking at the upcoming Internation SANE (Systems Administration and Networking) conference. Here is the official Debian announcement. (See the announcements page for more SANE '98 conference information).

Sun Microsystems has loaned three UltraSPARC systems to the Debian project to help them with their Sparc64 distribution.


Mandrake 5.2 is scheduled to be released in early december. It will be based on Red Hat 5.2 and hopefully KDE 1.1, presuming it is out and stable.

Red Hat

Red Hat has sent us a response to last week's review of their 5.2 release; it clarifies a couple of points we had raised. Look for it in the letters to the editor section. (The review can be found here for those who have not read it).

One other thing worth knowing for those upgrading to Red Hat 5.2: they have switched to bind 8 in this release, which means that your named.boot file will no longer work. This version of bind reads named.conf instead, which has a completely different syntax. For those who do not want to rush right out and learn the new configuration scheme, there is a perl script in the /usr/doc directory (bind-8.1.7 with the initial 5.2 CD) which will convert your old configuration file into the new format.

Another Red Hat 5.2 review appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times. This review was quite positive, despite complaints about there not being not enough applications.


Last week, we mentioned the BURKS (the Brighton University Resource Kit for Students) non-profit CD in our announcements section. The CD contains a Linux distribution, along with other resources, but we didn't say which. Jonathan Marsden wrote back to point out that he was able to quickly follow the links we provided and determine that the Linux distribution included is Slackware. This CD includes a complete Linux distribution (a binary-only version of the June 1998 Slackware 3.5 distribution) that you can install on your machine.


HD Moore posted a note mentioning that S.u.S.E. 5.2 newly installed systems have backup shadow files that are world readable. The files include the original root password. If the files are removed, new backups are created with the correct permissions.


A new FAQ for Trinux has been uploaded. Matthew Franz is looking for more questions to answer and add to the collection. See his post for more details.

Matthew has also uploaded New TrinuxHD Image, PCMCIA & v 0.45 packages .

November 12, 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

To give a bit of press to a compiler not mentioned here on a regular basis, the Polytechnique Montreal Distribution of Modula-3, called pm3, released their latest version recently, version 1.1.0.


Steve Byrne responded to questions about Sun's commitment to port JDK 1.2 to Linux.
There are actual engineers @ Sun who are writing code. We'd be nowhere near as far along as we are without their help.

It is my belief that the Linux port will be advertized along with the other licensees ports on Sun's Java ports page.



Bek Oberin is starting a perl-ai mailing list for people interested in Artificial Intelligence projects with perl. If you want to sign up, check her post for more information.


The Python conference is now well underway. We mentioned one report that has already come back from the conference on our front page. We've got other people out there who have promised reports and or tidbits, so keep an eye on our daily page for last minute updates.


Tkdiff 3.0 is now available. The new version has a new GUI and all reliance on perl has been eliminated.

This week's Tcl-URL! by Mark Roseman is now available. Highlights include pointers to Will Duquette's guide to success with Tcl 8.0 namespace and packages and Clif Flynt's long-awaited update to his TclTutor program.

Andreas Kupries announced pool 2.1, a collection of "generally usable" tcl commands.

November 12, 1998



Development projects

Mark de Does has released his Rich Text Processor for Linux/Unix (Ted) under the GNU Public License. Ted produces .rtf files that are legal for import into Word, though support for importing rtf files from Word is not perfect. This is a WYSYWYG editor which may fill an excellent niche for those familiar with Microsoft products, needing to support people who are, or otherwise needing documents that are compatible with Word.


Richard Stallman posted a note to comp.os.linux.announce, addressed to people who would like to contribute programs to the GNU project. The purpose of the letter is to clarify the difference between writing a program and placing it under the GPL, and writing a program that becomes a part of the official GNU project. The first, anyone can do anytime they wish. For the second, you need to contact the GNU organization, preferably as early in your development history as possible. They can coordinate between projects that way, to make sure there is not a duplication of effort. Meanwhile, don't style your program as "part of the GNU project" unless it has been officially "blessed" by them.

A flurry of announcements for Gnome have been published, including Gnome Xunzip 0.75, gxTar 0.0.3 and gnome-ppp 0.1. In addition, new mailing lists for gnome documentation and GWP have made their debut.

Meanwhile, Ole Aamot is started a GNU Photo project based on the photopc library. GNU Photo aims to be the first GNOME front-end for digital cameras. It should let you download and save digital images as JPEG, set and query camera parameters, from your Epson, Olympus, Agfa, Sanyo, or Nikon (CoolPix) digital camera. Check out his announcement for more information.

High Availability

A piece of good news for the High Availability community, Alan Robertson finally received official permission to release his Linux-HA heartbeat software. It will be made available on his High Availability Page.

You may also want to check out the Eddie web software which as just been released under the GPL. More information is available in our Commerce Section.


Wine-981108 has been released. Here is the official announcement. Specific new items include more common controls, more DOS support, Winsock IPX support and, of course, a lot of bug fixes. Check Wine headquarters for information on getting the latest snapshot.

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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Ericsson has released its "Eddie" web site software as open source. Eddie consists of a number of packages, including a DNS server with load balancing capability, a "front end" which controls access to HTTP servers, and an "IP migration" facility which gives cluster-like fault tolerant behavior. The software is currently available in a beta testing mode; they are looking for feedback on how it works. More information is available at the Eddieware web site.

Joel Moses sent us a tip last week that Schlumberger intended on releasing their Linux Smartcard Developer's Kit, called "Cyberflex Open 16K for Linux". We didn't manage to trace down a useable link in time, so, belatedly, we'll tell you that you can find it at Schlumberger's SmartCard Marketplace, or just read about it here.

Several people wrote to point out that the personal edition of StarOffice 5.0 for Linux is out. As before, this office package is free for personal use. The web site also lists information on ordering StarOffice on CD, if you prefer not to download the (very large) package.

Applix is heading into serious corporate territory with their announcement of the "TM1" OLAP system for Linux. "With Applix TM1 OLAP for Linux, over seven million customers using the popular Linux operating system now have immediate access to multidimensional views of their business with a full-featured, easy-to-use solution."

This press releasedescribing Red Hat's new CDROM products. Included therein is a new Powertools release, the return of the old Variety Pack (Intel, Sparc, and Alpha distributions all together), the "Offline" CD (copies of a number of FTP sites), and the "Linux Library", full of all kinds of documentation, including the Linux Weekly News archives.

David Bar dropped us a note to say that GoldED is going open source. GoldED is a mail reader for FidoNet systems, evidently one of the best ones.

Back in our October 10 issue we reported on the WebCMO survey of Linux users. They have now released their first results to the world, mostly focusing on the demographics of Linux users.

Siliware has announced the "Clusterspace" system - a commercial product designed to aid parallel processing on Beowulf clusters. They will start a beta testing program soon, see their announcement to sign up. It is most encouraging to see commercial activity around Beowulf. World domination in the supercomputing realm may be sooner than people thing.

Pacific HiTech and Adaptec have announced an alliance to better support the operation of Adaptec's controllers under TurboLinux. Presumably, unless they are going to start from scratch, the improved drivers that result from this agreement will be made globally available. See their press release for more.

Press Releases:

  • Ardent software, their O2 object database for Linux.
  • HP, their Firehunter ISP package ported to Linux.
  • GoodNoise, their new open-source MP3 player.
  • Data Translation, their "Broadway" video application software now available as open source.
  • Intel, demoed Torrent's "Orchestrate" data warehouse application over Oracle on a 4-processor Xeon system.
  • Borders, Red Hat Linux as a Christmas gift idea (right next to "The First Time" by Cher).
  • Visual Numerics and MicroEdge, "Visual SlickEdit" editor works with PV-Wave (on Linux too).
  • Axis, "ThinWizard" thin server management software.
  • Data Harmony, document management software.
  • Printronix, the last holdout in the line printer business, P5000 line printer with Linux-compatible management software.
  • Corel, announcing donations to Algonquin College, including 32 NetWinders.
  • Oracle, "invites software developers to build for the Internet."
  • SimpleNet, their "SimpleRaQ" service, built on Cobalt RaQ servers.
  • Cirrus Logic, low-power embedded ethernet controllers with source-available Linux driver.

November 12, 1998


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

Linux in the news

Lots of Linux press this week. Of course, now there's lots of Linux press every week. Sometime when you have some time, consider wandering into the archives and seeing what the press section looked like last winter. What a year.

Oracle OpenWorld coverage

Linus led a panel at Oracle's OpenWorld conference, and a certain amount of coverage came out of that. Oracle made no exciting announcements, but did express strong support for Linux there.

C|Net covers the Linux panel. "'What Oracle wants to do with Linux is help it dominate the world,' said Oracle's Miner." (Found in Slashdot).

InfoWorld ran a lengthy article about the panel.

But critics -- not least among them large software vendors such as Microsoft -- portray the freeware community as a semi-organized rabble of hobbyists, and question whether such a group can be trusted to act as caretakers for software used to run mission-critical applications.

"I would turn the question around, and ask, 'If it's a hobby for us and a job for you, then why are you doing such a shoddy job?' " retorted Torvalds...

(Found in LinuxToday).

ZDNet UK devotes some space to the call that went out for Sun to open-source Java. Quoting Oracle's Kevin Walsh: "Linux is in many ways a reaction to Java. Open source is a different development model then what Sun has been pursuing, but it still merits consideration." (Found in Linux Reviews).

LinuxWorld ran an article of their own. "Linux's days as upstart younger brother to the old guard commercial Unixes are over."

General and introductory articles

An interesting mix this week.

Jesse Berst thinks that Intel is scheming to overthrow Microsoft through its support of systems like Linux.

Dave Winer talks about the way forward for Linux. "Windows pretty much defines the market for customers who want things to work out of the box. If Linux wants this market, then it must do a better job of working out of the box."

Brief mention: Pundits wrestle with the future in PC World asks some folks where they think things will go. "Moritz and Dyson assert that the Linux operating system could prove to be one of the most important innovations of all as 'hordes of programmers' work to develop applications for the so-called open source operating system, which is more accessible than Microsoft Windows since its source code is freely available. 'Open source turns your customers into your developers,' says Dyson. 'It's a fundamental change.'" That's Esther Dyson, of course, along with Michael Moritz. (Found in OS News).

FUD of the week? Here's a good one in Network World Fusion. Rather than interpret this article as true FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), one should probably see it as an attempt to look at the detractor's point of view. NW Fusion has been pretty supportive of Linux in the past. Nonetheless... "...the skeptics believe that only fools rush in to a bet-your-business relationship with an operating system that is still primarily controlled and supported by its user community - no matter how skilled and committed that community is - instead of going with a brand-name vendor with a proven track record." Exactly whose track record are we concerned with here? (Thanks to Marty Leisner). There is also a forum area associated with this article. Note that NW Fusion requires registration.

Robert Graziani sent us a pointer to this CNN article. It's of the basic introductory variety. "...expect to hear more about Linux, an OS that's gaining in popularity for several reasons that have at least one competitor on guard. It rarely crashes, it's not owned by anyone -- and it's free."

Sm@rt Reseller takes an ever more serious look at Linux as a business opportunity. In The Linux Preachers they look at resellers going with Linux and emphasizing services. "'I don't worry about margins,' says Paul A. Franz, owner of PAF Consulting Engineers, which targets the Linux market. In consulting, 'every dollar I bill is 100-percent margin.'" Then, in Money for Nothing? they look at the costs and benefits of maintaining Linux expertise. "...an informal salary survey conducted by Sm@rt Reseller found that Linux techies are paid similarly to other Unix professionals."

Will Linux be center stage in Las Vegas? asks PC World, referring to next week's Comdex. The bulk of the article is actually about BeOS. (Found in OS News).

Red Hat's Bob Young continues to become more of a media figure. Here's his appearances for this week:

  • CNNfn carried an interview Bob Young. "...I'm not going to argue that your mom should use Linux to run her recipes with." (Thanks to Paolo Sedrez).

  • Here is a profile of Bob Young in Internet World. "My concept originally around Linux was to build a customer base so that I could then sell them a real operating system..."

This article appeared in the (NT-centric) ENT Magazine. It's a surprisingly positive piece about open source, but they just had to end it this way: "The religious fanaticism of Linux proponents may not be as effective as the billions of dollars Microsoft is investing in developing NT." (Thanks to Marty Leisner).

Forbes has a lengthy article entitled Bill doesn't live here any more. It motivates the use of Linux, then goes through the install in a fair amount of detail. "Running WINE on a Linux box is a contradiction. Linux makes the most of your hardware and runs extremely well on hardware with little horsepower. Trying to get Windows to run on the hardware that Linux typically runs on is like pushing an elephant through keyhole." Paul Griffith was the first of many folks to clue us into this one.

As a side bar to the above Forbes article: Linux + recycled 486PC = NC talks about what you can do with an old machine under Linux. "Nothing special has to be done to an application for it to serve multiple users--it's just the Linux way."

Also in Forbes: this article on thin servers. "These machines run thin web server software that needs less processing power, smaller hard drives and less memory. The software is based either on freeware programs like Linux..."

Internet Week covers the Jay Jacobs Linux deployment. "Analysts who have watched the nascent Linux market agree that the price of the open-source OS, which is available for free on the Internet or for $50 from packagers such as Caldera Inc. and Red Hat Software Inc., is probably less important to Linux's success than it would seem at first blush."

Also in Internet Week: an interview with Michael Dell. "We get some interest from customers and we do custom integration for Linux, as well as Solaris and OS/2 and SCO and Banyan. It seems to be a highly vocal group of users but not necessarily very large."

Computer Technology Review ran this article about NT 5.0, Unix, UDI, and, yes, Linux. "The popularity of Linus Torvalds' version of Unix seems to have exploded over the past year and next year promises to be the breakout year for the OS." (Thanks to Marty Leisner).

ABC News discusses how to set up Linux on a dual-boot system.

A good operating system is hard to find in High Technology Careers is a fairly standard introductory article. "As more people learn about and fall in love with Linux, the number of users will grow exponentially. Far from appealing only to hacker elitists, Linux truly offers a uniquely egalitarian platform." (Thanks to Eric Rahn Nolen).

This ComputerWorld articletalks about the coming availability of Netscape's servers on Linux.

Here's another article in C|Net, this one about the return of linux.org. "Michael McLagan, who operates the site, said today that he and his Internet service provider, US Net, have resolved their contractual differences, and that the site went back up Thursday evening."

Sm@rt Reseller discovers John Kirch's Unix vs. NT site. (Thanks to Paolo Sedrez).

Here's a Wired News article about the Mexican Scholar Net program.

Unix: full speed ahead in PC Magazine discusses the fact that Unix appears to be on the rebound. "So why isn't the increased deployment of Unix on the part of large corporations a given? ... it doesn't help that the most popular version of Unix of late, Linux, is free and doesn't come with technical support--a necessity for any corporation concerned about getting quick access to technical problems." Most of us have no trouble "getting quick access" to problems...it's the solution that can be hard...

Clipping the Penguin's Wings in Web Review continues the discussion of what Microsoft could do about Linux. "Clipping a bird's wings is a way to keep it from flying. But while you can clip a penguin's wings, to do so would be an exercise in futility."

Craig Goodrich and "Benji" both pointed us to this column in Intraware SubscribNews. "If Linux is to ever threaten Microsoft in a larger mainstream commercial sense, then it will have to become, well, mainstream and commercial. Corporations will look for higher levels of support, which cost money, and will drive up the selling price."

PC Plus Magazine has published a review of Word Perfect 8. They seem to like it.

Here is an interesting MSNBC article by an author who went out and bought one of those cheap Alpha-based systems that we mentioned in this week's newsletter. "Speedwise, Linux runs much faster than NT on this machine with the same 64MB of memory."

Linux operating system drawing rave reviews is an introductory article in the Edmonton Journal. "After all, unless your next-door neighbour is a information technology guru, he or she isn't likely to be running Linux on a home computer. And Tux, the penguin, isn't dancing on television to catch your attention. As well, the kids aren't lobbying for a Linux machine under the tree next Christmas because of all the neat games."

Non-English press

Here is an introductory piece (in Portuguese) that is, evidently, tied into a TV segment about Linux that was run in Brazil. There are some serious accuracy problems in this one, but it's a positive thing anyway. (Babelfish translation available here). (Thanks to Augusto Campos).

The folks at MultiMédium have launched another one of those "try to work for a while using only Linux" experiments. Here is the page (in French) describing the experiment, and leading to articles on their experience so far and to a forum area. Non French-capable folks can make use of the Babelfish translation. (Found in NNL).

Here's an article (in French) in Le Monde Informatique about how the French National Science Research Center (CNRS) has gotten Dell to sell them computers without an operating system preinstalled. (Babelfish translation available here). (Found in NNL).

Jean-Louis Gassée discusses ancient Microsoft and Apple history in this Liberation column (in French). He talks about a (hypothetical) open-source Windows as "the Linux of the year 2000". Rick Moen was nice enough to send us a translation of this column.

Halloween articles

There were, of course, an awful lot of articles having to do with the Halloween leaks. Anybody who reads them all is nuts. This is the voice of experience speaking...
  • This lengthy article in Feed is worth reading. It's about Halloween, sort of, but wanders into Linux in general. "What Microsoft justly fears is that open-source will expose the illusion on which its revenues depend. Along with Apache and Perl and sendmail and the innumerable other achievements of the open-source community, Linux demonstrates that no one need pay for excellent software." (Thanks to Rachel Chalmers).

  • Also worth reading is Robert Cringely's take on the Halloween document. Worth reading, as is most of his stuff. "What a week ago was a discussion about the inroads Linux and Apache have made against commercial software has suddenly and instantly been redefined into a discussion of the threat Microsoft poses to Linux and Apache, and what those two development efforts have to do to survive. The very fact that we are talking this way means Microsoft is successful in redefining our way of looking at the whole subject. This is both dangerous and wrong. While Linux and Apache may be threats to Microsoft, the truth is that Microsoft in no way represents a threat to either Linux or Apache. No threat, none, zilch, nada." (Found in Slashdot).

  • Robert Brown's comments in LinuxToday are original, interesting, and amusing; worth a read.

  • The Guardian weighed in with a strongly worded piece. "The coming battle will be between closed shop versus Open Source, commercial paranoia versus altruism. The outcome is already predictable. Microsoft's difficulties with Windows NT show that some software is now too complex for even the richest, smartest company. Instead of trying to subvert Linux, what Gates should do is release the NT code and let the collective IQ of the Net fix it for him. He won't do it, of course, which is why his company has just peaked. If you have Microsoft shares, prepare to sell them now."

  • FUD and loathing in Redmond: Time covers the Halloween memos. "Even as Bill Gates pleaded ignorance in court last week of his smoking-gun e-mails, two fresh Microsoft memos mysteriously surfaced that give an inside glimpse into how the software giant responds to new ideas it finds threatening. It isn't a pretty sight." The coverage is pretty standard, but it is a high profile publication.

  • This TechWeb article explores Halloween II from the "copyright and patent" viewpoint. "'For Microsoft to accuse someone of stealing ideas is a little like the pot calling the kettle black,' said Bob Young, CEO of Red Hat Software, a Linux vendor." It is also possible to read this same article via the New York Times, but you have to register first (thanks to "Erik").

  • Mark Jeacocke pointed out this article in The Australian, mostly about Halloween but with some wandering into open source in general. "If using the OSS approach produces better software faster, it could become the main way to approach software development. We need to understand the implications for the commercialisation and support of software. We need to understand how to support programmers who invest their efforts in this way. We need to understand whether the OSS model can only produce free software or if it can be harnessed to produce commercial software. We have some of the answers to these questions, but there are still big gaps."

  • ZDNet UK ran an editorial entitle Analysis: MS Halloween a threat to 'every other standard'. "So why does Microsoft want to place itself outside this new mainstream? For a company which typically paints the Linux community as zealots, it's rich in irony. In effect, Microsoft is proposing committing commercial suicide to quash a free Unix."

  • The Raleigh News & Observer ran this article. It is Red Hat-centric, of course. "Microsoft wants to avoid losing customers to Red Hat and other companies making Linux-based systems that are cheaper and considered more stable than Windows systems..."

  • This one in ComputerWorld. "Michael Goulde, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group in Boston, said Microsoft's best defense against open or free software is obvious: Produce good products with better support than free software's scant support and charge a reasonable price for the added value."

  • Salon (briefly) on Halloween II. "'Halloween II' tells how, last August, Microsoft engineers Vinod Valloppillil and Josh Cohen took an old Pentium 100 box, installed Linux on it and were blown away by its performance..."

  • Are the Halloween memos fake? asks ZDNet. "...some pundits and industry officials are wondering aloud whether Microsoft possibly might have leaked the memos in order to prove to the U. S. Department of Justice and the world at large that Microsoft isn't a monopolist."

  • C|Net reports on Microsoft's official response to the Halloween document leaks. "Microsoft today posted an official response to the now-notorious Halloween memos about Linux, spinning the leaked documents as proof of 'the vigorous competition that exists in the operating system industry.'"

  • Jerry Pournelle talks about the Halloween document in typical style. (Thanks to Didier Legein).

  • SunWorld discusses the memos, and goes into Microsoft France's "open letter" as well. "Industry analysts say the fear that Microsoft may be readying an all-out war on Linux may be premature."

  • This CNN article is about Halloween II, focusing on the one "patent and copyright" sentence in that document.

  • The Detroit News. "Microsoft wants to avoid losing customers to closely held Red Hat Software Inc. and other companies making Linux-based systems that are cheaper and considered more stable than Windows systems."

  • C|Net. "The author of the memo also writes that he believes consumers 'love' Linux."

  • Wired News. "'It's fairly mild, and I got the feeling that the person that wrote it actually liked Linux,' said Linux creator Linus Torvalds. 'But maybe I'm on drugs.'"

  • PC Week.

  • Inter@ctive Week. "In order to adopt these recommendations, Microsoft would need to enact a major change in strategy. While the company claims to be licensing more liberally its operating-system source code to educational institutions, it is curtailing sharply its corporate source licenses..."

  • ZDNet UK. "Predictably Microsoft attempted to downplay the memo, calling it a routine technology analysis. But the damage had been done. Microsoft's strategy to corrupt standards via its infamous 'embrace and extend' paradigm is out there, in black and white, for the whole world to read."

  • InfoWorld. "James Love, director of the consumer advocacy group Computer Project on Technology (CPT), in Washington, said the memos were proof that Microsoft, seeing a real threat to its Windows marketplace dominance, plans to crush Linux's development." (Thanks to Didier Legein).

  • The first Halloween II coverage appears to have come from news.com. "In what the memo's author considers the 'worst case' scenario for Microsoft, Linux will 'provide a mechanism for server OEMs to provide integrated, task-specific products and completely bypass Microsoft revenues in this space.'" (Thanks to Rahul Dave).

  • Another news.com article about the Halloween document, this one concentrating on the response from the free software community. (Thanks to Rahul Dave).

November 12, 1998

``That's one of my pet peeves; there's a lot of companies that use Linux and they won't come out of the closet yet''
Linus Torvalds, in InfoWorld

``Raymond was self-consciously working within the programming traditions he describes in his book, The New Hacker's Dictionary. Having gained access to the document source, he hacked it.''

``I can't prove it. But if you examine the evidence, it's easy to conclude that 1) Intel is up to something and 2) if it isn't scheming against Microsoft... maybe it should be.''
Jesse Berst, ZDNet

``The open source advocates are misled if they think that they 'get' something that other software developers don't.''
Dave Winer, DaveNet

``The motto of the Nemesis Racing Team is, 'Chase the dream, not the competition.' This is precisely what Linux and Apache should continue to do. And the completely inadvertent outcome of following this strategy will be the decommoditization of Microsoft.''
Robert Cringely


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Roger Irwin has made available his Management guide to SS tactics, where "SS" stands for "shifting standards." He sees the next big battles in the software world being fought around standards, and gives some suggestions on how to make things come out well. Check it out.

See also Glyph Lefkowitz's capitalist analysis of Linux. "The revolution is come - but it is a capitalist revolution, not a communist one." This document can be read here.

Khalid M. Baheyeldin wrote in to tell us that the first Arabic book on Linux has been published. With help from Jabra Ghneim, we were able to track down specific information on the book, including the title, "Teach yourself Linux in 24 Hours". It is based on Red Hat Linux.

A new electronic journal, titled Trends in Software Engineering Process Management, has been announced. Their November issue is currently available.

Another daily news site has been announced. Simon Damberge is the author of Mouse Over News, which he mentioned is a bit different in style.


The SANE conferenceis being held next week in Maastricht, the Netherlands. There will be numerous Linux-related talks at this conference, including: Looks like fun...we wish we could be there.

Eric Barocca and AFUL will be doing day-long presentations on "Linux and free software" at the "festival des passions technologiques" in Bourges, France, November 19-21. See the web announcement(in French) for more information, including the presentation agenda. It looks like a lot of stuff, to say the least.

It's the Linux boot camp USA tour, coming, maybe, to a town near you. This tour consists of three separate training programs, described in Uniforum's press release, all having to do with Linux system administration. They also sent us the tour schedule.

The Florida Informix User Group will be hosting a talk on Informix on Linux with speaker Janet Smith, Informix Corp's Manager of Informix Products. Here's a pointer to more details. This looks to be a good opportunity for anyone interested in running Informix on Linux. The talk will be this evening, November 12th, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The London, Ontario Linux User's Group now has a web page and a mailing list. Check out their announcement for more details.

The Cleveland Linux Users' Group proudly announced the opening of their Mipsel Linux FTP archives. It contains significant portions of the RedHat 5.2 SRPMS for the Cobalt Qube. Here is the actual archive.

Web sites

The Wide Open Website is a "totally free" site produced by Professional Event Management, a company that manages conventions and expositions. The site appears to be a pre-cursor to their hopes for eventually sponsoring a Wide Open World conference, in support of "open systems software." In the mean-time, they are offering free advertising to any hardware or software open systems vendor.

Bob Zimbinski announced the new, improved Linux Game Tome, an open database of Linux games and game-related stuff. It is fully searchable and allows the viewer to submit information, review and rate games. Here are the locations for new Linux Game Tome and Tessa Lau's original Linux Game Tome site.

The Linux Midi + Sound Pages have been relaunched, after a downtime of a few months last spring and an ISP switch that required a new URL.

User Group News

Matt Kuznicki wrote to let us know that a Local User Group (LUG) is forming in Toledo, Ohio. If you are interested, contact him.

The formation of a Linux User's Group in the Tacoma, Washington area has been officially announced. The first "formal" meetings will be held in December or January.

A new LUG is being formed in Goshen, Indiana. Here is the announcement that they sent us. Meetings happen the second Tuesday of every month.

Help wanted

CNet is looking for a software engineer with Linux experience, the position is based in San Francisco. See the announcement if you might be interested.

November 12, 1998



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
4DOM 0.6.0 A CORBA-aware implementation of the W3C's Document Object Model in Python
ALSA driver 0.2.0-pre10 An alternative implementation of Kernel sound support
AOLserver 2.3.2 America Online's own web application development platform
Artistic Style 0.9.0 indentation and reformatting filters for C, C++, Java
Aspell .24 Intelligent Spell Checker
Blackbox 0.40.13 WindowManager for X11 written in C++
BurnIT 1.0.6 Java front-end to cdrecord and mkisofs
C Masqdialer Server 0.0.12 Protocol compatible replacement for Masqdialer server written in C
Compact Networking Utilities 0.1 CNU is a Java graphical application that allows you to have direct access to a b
conf 1.0 Reads from and writes to configuration files, for use in shell scripts
Connect 1.1.4 Client-server to easily share (open/close) one ppp link among a small network
cook 2.6 Enhanced make-like program
Cryptonite 0.52 Pure Java Strong Encryption Package
dhcpcd 1.3.16 DHCP client daemon for Linux Kernels 2.1.x
Drall 0.10.0 Allows users to access their directories and files remotely via a web browser
DTM Easy font installation and configuration for X11/GS/TeX/...
dvorak7min 1.0 ncurses-based typing tutor for the Dvorak layout
eCos 1.1 Real Time Operating System
egcs snapshot 19981101 Experimental set of enhancements for the GNU tools
Eggdrop 1.3.22 IRC bot, written in C
Empire 4.2.1 Complex internet multi-player real-time wargame.
eMusic DR0.7 CD, mp3, mod and wav player for Linux
EPIC 4pre2.001-NR7 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
Exim 2.05 Message Transfer Agent for Unix systems
Exult 0.04 Ultima 7 world viewer
Fake 1.0.1 Utility to switch in backup servers on a LAN
FCT 1.1.0 HTML based tool for the configuration of a firewall
Fetchmail 4.6.6 Free, full-featured, robust, well-documented remote-mailretrieval utility
fix-rhcd 0.3 Tool for creating your own Red Hat Linux CDR from the ftp site.
FMan 0.1.0 FLTK Man page browser
FOX 0.9.0 C++-Based Library for Graphical User Interface Development
Free Trek 0.0.8 Star Trek type space battle simulator
FreeAmp 1.0.0 Open Source MP3 player
g2s 0.3.7 An alternative to inetd/tcpwrapper/chrootuid/relay/tcp-env/antispam/etc.
Gaby 0.1.9 An address book written in GTK
gEDA 19981110 gEDA is an collection of tools which are used to make electrical circuit design,
gentoo 0.9.13 Two-pane filemanager using GTK+, 100% GUI configurable
Get Right 1.0 HTTP resume for failed transfers.
GLload 0.1.2 OpenGL(r) load meter
gmysql 0.3.1 A GTK+ front-end to MySQL databases
Gnome Masqdialer 0.2.1 Gnome Client for the Masqdialer System
GNU C library 2.0 The GNU C library is used as the C library in the GNU system
GNU m4 1.4 Standard Unix macro processor with extensions
GNU Privacy Guard 0.4.3 GPLed PGP replacement tool
gnu.regexp 1.0.5 GNU regular expression package for Java
Gpulse 0.7 CPU monitor like Pulse from BeOS
GQmpeg 0.4.0 A front end to the mpg123 mpeg audio player
grep 2.2c GNU grep, egrep and fgrep.
grunch 1.0 Merge partial scans into a larger image
GTK MikMod .01b GTK interface to MikMod for Unix
GtkAda 0.2.1 Ada95 binding of Gtk+ version 1.0.4 and 1.0.5.
gtkapm 0.1 Advanced X11 batterymonitor using prediction algorithm
GTKFIG 0.5.2 Figure drawing tool for GTK, similar to xfig, TeXCAD and SmartDraw
GtkSamba 0.1.1 Gtk front end to configuring Samba
GTKstep 1.0.6-2 Improves the default look and feel of the GTK+ widget set
GtkWhois 0.7b GTK frontend to the 'whois' command
guiTAR 0.0.3 guiTAR is a tar frontend for Gtk+
GXedit 1.16 Simple GPL'ed graphical editor using GTK
gxTar 0.0.3 Gnome/GTK+ front-end to tar/gzip/zip
HCP 0.1.6 A protocol for every form of human communication over networks
HyperHelp 5.2.0 Context-sensitive, on-line help system for UNIX
icewm 0.9.15 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
ImageMagick 4.1.4 Package for display and interactivemanipulation of images for X11
jEdit 1.0.1 Powerful text editor
JitterBug 1.6.1 Web based bug tracking tool
JTetris 1.0.0 Java version of Tetris
KNewMail 2.4 KDE application designed to check multiple pop3 servers for email.
KSirc snapshot 981107 Full features X11 IRC Client based on sirc
ktalk 0.2.7 intuitive talk client, including addressbook, word wrap etc.
KuickShow 0.6.1 A fast, comfortable and easy-to-use image viewer/browser
KVIrc 0.8.0 Enhanced visual IRC client for X11/KDE
KXicq 0.2.12 The KDE ICQ clone
Latte 1.1 Better web authoring language
LEAP RDBMS 1.2.4 A free Relational Database Management System
LilyPond 1.1.4 The GNU Project music typesetter
LinPopup 0.9.4 Linux port of Winpopup, running over Samba.
Linux Java Developement Kit (JDK) 1.1.7v1a Provides a full port of Sun's JDK (Solaris version) to Linux
Linux Kernel Manager PR-0.1 The network-centric Linux kernel configuration and management tool
Linux Logo 2.12 Displays an ANSI or ASCII Linux penguin, along with some sytem information
Listar 0.112a Mailing list managementsoftware
lxandria 0.2 Small database for managing books
Lynx 2.8.2dev2 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
mcl 0.42.05 MUD client for Linux
mHockey 0.46 OpenGL based hockey game
Micq 0.3.1 Publically available ICQ clone for the console
MindsEye 0.5.31 3D modelling program for Linux
mod_dav 0.9.1-1.3.3 DAV protocol extensions for Apache
Mount.App 1.2 Window Maker dock app for managing mount points
MUMail 1.2.7 A Java applet designed to let you read your mail from a website
Mup 3.3 Music Publisher
MySQL 3.22.10 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
Mystic Arena III Play-By-e-Mail (PBeM) game
NcFTP 3.0 beta 15 UNIX application program implementing the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
net-tools 1.47 Programs that form the base set of the NET-3 networking distribution
Netscape Communicator 4.08 All-in-one browser and communications suite
NewsBot 1.0 IRC bot coded in perl that retrieves slashdot/freshmeat news and more
npadmin 0.7 Command line SNMP based network adminstration tool for printers
ocs-base 1.0-12 Base system for Linux intranet applications
ocscal 1.0-13 An intranet calendar system featuring shared appointments
ocsemail 1.0-12 Electronic web email system for you intranet
PostgreSQL 6.4 Robust, next-generation, Object-Relational DBMS(ORDBMS)
qml 3.0 Quick Markup to HTML language translator
Quick Image Viewer 1.0 A very small and pretty fast GDK/Imlibimage viewer
Replay 0.58 GTK-based MP3 player for X11
Samba 2.0.0 alpha 16 Allows clients toaccess to a server's filespace and printers via SMB
Sketch 0.5.1 Vector drawing program, implemented in python
SLRN An NNTP based newsreader for Unix, VMS, and OS/2 systems
Soupermail 1 Generic form to email handler
StackGuard 1.1 Helps to prevent buffer overflows in subsequently compiled binaries
StarOffice 5.0 Personal Edition Office Package from Star Division
start 0.55 General purpose home page for an intranet
suck 3.10.2 Grabs news from a remote NNTP news server
gsula 0.03f Programmable multiple-server IRC Client for X with Guile extension
Summary (Pro) 1.1.3 Web server log analyzer tool
SyncBuilder 19981106 Build synchronization applications with a Palm device in Java
Teaser and Firecat alpha-i Copyleft replacement for the proprietary ICQ system
Ted 2.0 Ted, an easy rich text processor for Linux.
Test Environment Toolkit 3.2 A toolkit for test development and management
The fOX Project Announcement Desktop project centered around Hector Peraza's Xclass95
Theatre Commander 0.1 Networked, multiplayer, military strategy game for GTK.
tkcd 0.7 A tcl/tk interface for command line cd player, cdcd.
TkMAME 0.34b6.1 Tcl/Tk Front End for XMAME
tkMOO-light 0.3.16-dev-06 Powerful cross-platform chat client.
tomsrtbt 1.6.351 Single floppy diskette linux distribution
TrueReality 0.1.1 N64 Emulator
util-linux 2.9d Miscellaneous system utilities
VelociGen for Perl (VEP) 1.0c High performance server programminglanguage
VelociGen for Tcl 1.0c High performance web server programming using Tcl
VigMeUp 0.1.1 An alarm program for KDE that plays mp3s to wake you up.
Vim 5.4a Popular vi clone that features syntax highlighting and an X11 interface
w3cam 0.2 Web camera CGI for video4linux
WebMail 0.2.4 Web frontend for Unix system mailboxes
Webmin 0.63 Web-based interface for system administration for Unix
webnpadmin 0.1 Web front-end to npadmin
WebTTS 2.1 WWW-based Trouble Ticketing System for ISP's
Willows 3.1.8 Enables your Windows applications to run on UNIX, Macintosh and other systems
Windows 95/NT Masqdialer Client 1.0.5 Win95/NT Client for Jeff Meininger's MasqDialer Server
Wine 981108 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
WMCpu 1.0 CPU/System stats monitor
wmsound 0.9.0 Sound server package for WindowMaker
wscr 1.2 A program to solve word jumbles and permute strings.
WSoundPrefs 0.9.0a WMSound Server Configuration Utility
WvDial 1.20 Intelligent Internet Dialer
X-Chat 0.3.0 GTK+ Based IRC Client. Alot like AmIRC (Amiga).
X-Mame 0.34b6.1 The Un*x version of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator
xfedor 5.0.1 Editor for BDF fonts, xbm and xpm images
Xmahjongg 3.0b8 Colorful X solitaire Mah Jongg game
xmp 1.1.7pre01 An OpenSource module for UNIX
Xrmftp 1.2 xforms based FTP client for the X Window System
Xterminal 0.6.1 Object Oriented User Interface with a client-serverarchitecture
Xwhois 0.2.4 Small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the internet whois network services.
Xxl 2.1.0 Simple, easy to use and user friendly graphical spreadsheet
yagIRC 0.66.1 Yet Another GTK+ IRC Client

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

The Linux in schools project is working to place Linux machines in K-12 school situations. They include a fair amount of introductory and howto information, and host a mailing list for the project. This is a worthwhile project; many U.S. schools now are Macintosh based, but it's not clear if Apple will hold in that environment. If the Macs have to go, let's have a good alternative ready to replace them.

One of the very best mailing lists on the net is Phil Agre's Red Rock Eater News Service. Subscribers get 5-10 messages per week, most of which are highly interesting. See the archive site for a sample of the sorts of things that go out. One recent posting was this message about Halloween II.

November 12, 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.
To: editor@lwn.net
Cc: "Michael K. Johnson" <johnsonm@redhat.com>
From: "Michael K. Johnson" <johnsonm@redhat.com>
Subject: Your review of Red Hat Linux 5.2
Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998 09:22:17 -0500

Thank you for your generally good review of Red Hat Linux 5.2.  I
would like to clarify a few points, however.

The first is that it is possible to keep Xconfigurator from probing
and thus hanging low-quality video hardware.  It is not necessary to
switch to the second virtual console and kill Xconfigurator.  The
installation manual covers expert mode, and says, "Expert mode
disables most hardware probing..."  In expert mode, Xconfigurator asks
whether you wish to probe.  Furthermore, Xconfigurator does not probe
hardware that we know causes the computer to hang, even when you are
not running in expert mode.  We have not experienced this problem with
the Virge cards we have in our testing lab.  Obviously, you have a
different Virge card than any of the many that we have, even different
from our Virge VX card.

The second is, in regards to gnome-libs, "One wonders why they left
the older stuff in the main distribution."  Actually, there's no
mystery here.  We use the stable Gtk+ 1.0 libraries in the
distribution, and whereas GNOME 0.20 is built against the Gtk+ 1.0
libraries, GNOME 0.30 is built against the unstable, development Gtk+
1.1 libraries.  This precludes us using GNOME 0.30 libraries in the
distribution proper.

Using the older gnome-libs is not a problem, because the only use of
gnome-libs within the distribution is for the gnome-linuxconf
interface to linuxconf.  It does not need any of the new features of
the GNOME 0.30 libraries.

Thanks again, and thank you for the opportunity to clarify these


"Magazines all too frequently lead to books and should be regarded by the
 prudent as the heavy petting of literature."            -- Fran Lebowitz
 Linux Application Development       http://www.redhat.com/~johnsonm/lad/

Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 13:25:49 -0800
From: Michael McAleese <mcaleese@home.com>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Whither Linux?

The point has been raised that Linux kernel development has been
"following taillights", that is, Linux has had a vision to follow
rather than having to innovate.  This may be true to a great extent,
but it doesn't imply that it has to remain that way.

Perhaps a coordinated effort can be made to look to the future, some
sort of Linux kernel research project.  Something along the lines of a
web site where research topics are proposed and papers submitted for
review and discussion, with promising areas being targetted for actual
code development with the current stable kernel.

Once proof of concept has been demonstrated and Linus et. al.
convinced of the utility of the idea, work could be passed on to the
linux community to produce working code for integration with the
development kernel.  The research site would not be the place to
actually work on such projects, it would concentrate on visionary

Sort of the Linux version of the Xerox PARC...
From: "Gabrielson, Anthony" <AnthonyG@comversens.com>
To: "'editor@lwn.net'" <editor@lwn.net>
Subject: Microsoft
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 14:26:28 -0500 

Dear LWN,

	Many people in the Linux community are bantering on how
Microsoft will be setting aim against Linux.  Myself personally do not
see where or how this is a big deal.  Linux users are different from
Microsoft Users.  Linux users use Linux because it works.  When and if
Linux does not work they can get to the heart of the problem one of
three ways they can hack around in the code themselves, they can pay
someone else to hack around in the code for them, or they can now
(with Linux begining to be adopted by comercial companies) find a
commercial product that does what we need it to do.  Microsoft is not
planning to release the source to their entire OS product line, I
doubt they ever will.  Microsoft is not planning on charging a
reasonable price, something is going to have to drastically change
before they do.  As long as Linux developers don't take an anti
Microsoft stance, but a well that's cool Linux can do that better
stance.  Linux won't be going anywhere soon, as long the developers
keep their pride about doing a good job.  The minute its not personal
for them to do a good job, Linux is in trouble.

Thats just how I see it, maybe I'm wrong - maybe I'm right.  Time will

Thanks for your time,
To: editor@lwn.net
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 16:54:00 -0800
From: Jim Dennis <jimd@starshine.org>
Subject: To: Michael Dell   From: "vocal hundreds"

  It's  amusing that,  a few  months after  my  open  letter to Dell
  Computing we hear that Mr. Dell will at least acknowlege Linux.

   I've copied this message to every e-mail address listed on the
  "Contact Dell" web page at:


   ... simply because their site doesn't provide a single
  "feedback@" or "General Feedback and Requests" page.

  It's quite   likely that my    earlier   open letter  (copied   to
  "webmaster@dell.com"  for lack of  a better address) never reached
  Mr.  Dell, or anyone of   any importance.  That would explain  the
  utter lack of response that I get from Dell Inc.

  I did have a couple of Dell shareholders drop me a line to tell me
  that they  were Linux users, and that  they also wished  to convey
  their support of  my message.  O.K.  so  their just  "little guys"
  and not members  of your board  of directors.  Perhaps  you should
  have a  channel  for investore  relations, so  you can  get  their
  feedback --- or you should let your shareholders in on the secret.

  So  you   get  "hundreds" of    requests  for Linux,   rather than
  "thousands."  You conclude  from this that  we are a "highly vocal
  group of users but not necessarily very large" group.

  Has it occurred to you that a couple of percent of the Linux using
  populace  bothers to  speak up?    Perhaps  many  of your   former
  customers are going to one  of the fifty or  so "little guys" that
  do offer Linux  support.  (One list  of the  these upstarts  is at
  http://www.linux.org/vendors/systems.html).  Perhaps most  of your
  Linux using customers simply sigh and buy.

  Could it be that you're only hearing from the vocal *minority*?

  You've already seen that some  of your corporate customers will go
  through the additional hassles to get it *their way*.  Presumably,
  if you offered the option, you'd find that  many more would select
  alternatives if they were offered without the hassles.

  You may have  heard  that Mexico  is planning  to deploy Linux  to
  140,000  school sites  (with  one   server  and  about  five Linux
  workstations at each).  That's about  1 million machines.  Too bad
  Dell wasn't ready with a low-cost,  low powered Linux solution for

  Of course  Linux  might  have a   downside  for Dell.   It doesn't
  require much hardware to  run (a Pentium 120  with 32Mb is  plenty
  for a  Linux  workstation  or  server).  Also your Linux customers
  have  broken  out  of  the   "forced  upgrade"  cycle  imposed  by
  Microsoft.  My  decade-old 386DX33 can  run all of  the same Linux
  software as my Pentium II.  

  However, ultimately the market will decide. The market for systems 
  with standard and compatible parts put you in your current  place.
  The market for systems  that run  standards-based "open" operating 
  could very well keep you there, or put some other company in  your

Jim Dennis  (800) 938-4078		consulting@starshine.org
Proprietor, Starshine Technical Services:  http://www.starshine.org
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 21:33:40 +0100
From: David Kastrup <dak@neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Future of Linux

Now that Linux is making visible inroads into commercial market areas,
a lot of excitement is around.  We seem to be finally making some
steps towards the goal "world domination, soon".

I will point out some milestones on the way to there.

a) Linux is considered of having reached critical mass for being no
   longer irrelevant to business decisions.  We are getting there at
   the moment with regard to media coverage and market attention.

b) various parties will want to have Linux work for their own goals,
   and will support Linux developers to this end, mostly with lent or
   donated hardware and specs.  we have been seeing a lot more of this
   lately, as the involved costs are negligible, and the impact on the
   growing Linux market (and probably outside of the Linux market as
   well) pretty large.  Examples involve Adaptec now trying to help
   out with driver development and specs, Sun (which has given out
   some Ultrasparcs to Linux developers), the I2O consortium (that has
   made the specs available in the hope that Linux development will
   provide them with reference implementations), and so on.

   Few parties have from the early beginnings of Linux done their part
   to get their hardware recognized as a good Linux player, such as
   Digital (which have had a history of supporting Alpha Linux from
   the start).  Pretty few vendors have even made this sort of action
   official by signing up with Debian's Open Hardware Certification
   Program (http://www.openhardware.org), but the interest has been
   pretty low-profile up to now.

   This support will in the main make life for Linux developers
   easier, as well as offer them more choice of what to develop for.
   It will also cause more work to pile up than anticipated, and one
   does not want to disappoint the goodwill of the involved parties.
   Little harm with regard to influencing Linux policy directions can
   come from it, as the developers making the decisions about what to
   do and when remain the same.

c) Some business players find the current flavors of Linux do not fit
   their bill appropriately, and will start their own development and
   distribution efforts.  Well, this has actually been more or less
   the driving force of every distribution up to now.  Still, some are
   more notable than others in that respect, such as Caldera, which
   pushes its own variants of commercial Netware-aware Linux versions.

   Interoperability of products of different vendors will increasingly
   become difficult.  For damage control, rigid standards will have to
   be agreed on.  In particular, the entire desktop environment will
   have to be standardized, as well.  By this I do not mean that a
   decision on GNOME/KDE/whatever will necessarily have to be made,
   but that the user is free to make his choice without sacrificing a
   pool of software.  That is, the appropriate protocols need to be
   defined and standardized in a way to make all applications run and
   interact appropriately on all desktop environments.

   If this sort of standardiziation does not set in, the dynamics have
   the potential of pretty seriously harming Linux.  If Linux is
   considered a popular market factor, we will get a bunch of
   properietarily enhanced Linux versions.  We will get Sun Linux
   (including options for proprietary compilers and proprietary
   high-performance NFS servers), SGI Linux (including
   high-performance proprietary OpenGL software and servers), yes,
   even Microsoft Linux (which is able to run Microsoft Office for
   Linux, given that you have installed the proprietary desktop
   servers).  Microsoft Linux will cost about half of what Win98 costs
   now, will run much more stably, will cost Microsoft about the
   twentieth part of development costs that Win2000 does, but will
   remain a parallel product line at first because having a serious
   number of compatibility issues.  It will probably come with
   Microsoft's equivalent of Wine.  The resulting bloat from always
   having to run this emulator in between will be less than what
   people have come to expect of NT, though.

   In order to not have to diversify too much, developers will use the
   development tools of the widely accepted Microsoft Linux
   distribution, which will result in applications running smoothly
   under Microsoft Linux.  Support for other vendors will eventually
   dwindle, except by some geeks not wanting to run Microsoft
   applications on a reasonably stable system.

World domination, finally.

You think this absurd?  Even now, under players mostly with the same
goal, (as seen with http://www.linuxbase.org), standardization efforts
form tiresome and arduous work, meaning that even now some Linux
vendors do not have the resources to participate (Slackware).  When we
have parties involved that do not like to talk with one another (like
GNOME/KDE), or openly destructive parties (as to be expected with the
equivalent with Microsoft Linux), things are not going to improve.

If corporations see Linux as a market factor, resources will be thrown
at it.  If we do not have a firm commitment to open standards in place
before this happens on large scales, we will get closed and/or de
facto standards.  Even if we get open standards, they might be as
complicated as to have only the big players have enough flexibility to
implement them.  As an example, see how C++ has hobbled free compiler
development: the incredibly complicated language definition has caused
gcc development to freeze.  The FSF's non-commercial development
infrastructure of the gcc compiler for the comparatively simple C
language could not keep up with the complications of the C++ language.
This has resulted in the splitoff of egcs, mostly managed by Cygnus, a
commercial entity and large-time contributor.

And these are things that occur in situations where the involved
parties are doing their best to cooperate and further free software

I am glad to see that the current major players in the Linux market
seem to have mostly good intentions.  They will not remain the only
players, though.  And I certainly hope that the rules of the game will
have been firmly established before the real brutes enter the

While my above scenario has centered on one potential player for
illustration purposes, actually the entry of any large players with
definite interests into the Linux market could cause similar problems.
If Linux is to keep its diversity and prosper with it, it will have to
have standards.  Not "standards" established by killing off
competition, but by seriously working on interoperatibility between
different players.  These standards will have to be minimal in order
not to stifle potential developers, but sufficient in order to meet
their purpose.

David Kastrup                                     Phone: +49-234-700-5570
Email: dak@neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de       Fax: +49-234-709-4209
Institut für Neuroinformatik, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany
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