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Leading items

A Christmas present from IDC. The latest IDC report, as covered in this News.com article, claims that Linux market share rose 212% in 1998. The number of shipped units (i.e. copies that people actually bought) more than tripled. That comes down to a 17% market share for Linux, and a growth rate that exceeds that of any other operating system on the market. To say that this has been an outstanding year for Linux is to understate things badly. To say that we have just begun is simply the truth.

At the risk of taking too cheap a shot, a quote from the News.com article begs for attention: "Perversely, some of NT's growth is attributable to its weakness in handling multiple tasks. Because it doesn't 'multitask' well, customers are buying multiple copies of NT and spreading functions over separate, discrete servers." There's more good stuff in the article; highly recommended reading. (Thanks to Felix Finch for the pointer to this article).

Bittersweet victories. Consider the following quote from this Network World Fusion article (registration required):

To make his case, Andreessen points to the fact that Linux is the fastest-growing non-Microsoft platform in the industry today. He added that over the next five years other Unix vendors will eventually realize that given their volume shipments they will not have enough money in their cost structures to continue to pay for the development of their own proprietary versions of Unix. According to Andreessen, many like that the Unix vendors will eventually converge on the Intel-chip architecture and will ultimately converge on Linux. "Linux will be the last version of Unix standing," he said.
Mr. Andreessen is just restating a view that a number of us have had for some time: Linux will eventually drive most, if not all, of the proprietary Unix systems out of business. The evidence suggests that this process may be further advanced than some of us may have thought. Signs in that direction include:
  • Most of the hardware vendors with proprietary Unix systems have long since made their deals with Microsoft to run NT on their hardware. Sun is just about the only holdout from this group.

  • The hardware vendors are looking ever harder at Linux. IBM continues to cautiously feel its way into the free software world. SGI has joined Linux International. There are persistent rumors that HP is doing a PA-Risc port. If you believe this TechWeb article, Apple is about to start selling Linux-installed Macs. And, of course, Sun is now actively supporting the development of UltraLinux.

    For an insight into Sun's move, it's worth a look at this ZDNet UK article which claims that Sun's move was a result of their losing an increasing number of sales to Linux/Alpha systems.

  • Other proprietary Unix vendors are getting nervous. Consider this press release from BSDI. Their new product is interesting enough: it's the "Linux Application Platform," an add-on module which allows BSDI to run Linux applications. Their way of selling it: "LAP addresses the biggest barrier to widespread industry adoption of Linux applications -- the lack of a reliable, commercially supported operating system to run them on." One has to wonder just what they think Linux applications run on now.
Thus we see two possible responses to the increasing acceptance of Linux. Hardware vendors may well just embrace another operating system - such as Linux or (alas) NT - if theirs is no longer profitable. Software vendors, instead, may well go into an attack mode. The result may well be a new source of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) from a camp that had previously been thought of as being friendly.

This situation is a bit sad, in a way. Most of us who have been around for a while came to Linux by way of one or more proprietary Unix systems. We watched Sun and the others push aside the VMS's and VM/370's of the world and bring about widespread adoption of Unix. These Unix systems were a good thing.

The fate of proprietary Unix would likely be little different if there were no Linux on the scene. But, as it is, Linux looks to be the agent that pushes them off the stage. At least they are being displaced by something better: a completely free operating system.

According to this TechWeb article, Apple will start shipping Power Macintoshes with Linux installed. If true, this would be a major step for a company which has generally seen its operating system as its major stock in trade. (Thanks to Con Zymaris for the pointer).

Who is the rightful owner of linuxbiz.com? A number of eyebrows were raised when Ziff-Davis registered this domain recently. But non, perhaps, went up higher than those of Leif Erlingsson, maintainer of the linux-biz mailing list. Leif has sent a note to Ziff-Davis asking them to recognize his claim to the domain, and to not use it without his permission. So far no response from Ziff-Davis has been made public.

Word Perfect 8 should be available for download by the time you read this article; the scheduled release date is Thursday, December 17. See Corel's announcement for download instructions.

Correction: Last week we reported on an Alpha-based cluster being sold in Japan. The news article we had found indicated that the cluster would be running Linux; in fact, it will be running Digital Unix (proprietary Unix isn't dead yet). Nikkei Net ran a correction of their own on this subject.

December 17, 1998


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See also: last week's Security page.


Users of Caldera's OpenLinux distribution may want to check out Caldera's index of security advisories. Copies of the latest two advisories, dated November 25, 1998, were recently sent out to the Caldera Announcement List. They include reports on a problem with the screen 3.7.4 package and availability of new KDE packages which fix the suid bit problems discussed several weeks ago.

A new version of TriTeal Enterprise Desktop (TED), an implementation of the Common Desktop Environment (CDE), has been released for Linux. The new version fixes the security problem Red Hat mentioned as part of their justification for discontinuing the sale and shipment of the TED product.

Guy Cohen posted a note warning that the evaluation copy of RealSystem G2 server takes a password in clear text and then stores it in clear text as well, in a file that anyone can read. Check his note for more details.

Version 3.0 of Titan, a collection of programs for tightening security, has been released. Available under license derived from the Artistic license, Titan has a modular design that makes it easy to extend or add to the collection.

Although the release of the 2.0.36 version of the Linux kernel is not new, many people are unaware of the security improvements made available in 2.0.36. Alan Cox posted a note with a short list of security improvements. Notably, it is less vulnerable to Denial-of-Service attacks and a potentially exploitable crash related to IP Masquerading has been repaired.

ISS issued a security advisory regarding problems with HP JetDirect printers. The information in the advisory is not new, being directed primarily toward older HP JetDirect printers, but it is a useful summary of the problems to which these printers are susceptible and a good outline of options for improving security.

December 17, 1998


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release remains 2.1.131, as predicted. In Linus's absence, Alan Cox furiously released a set of "ac" patches, currently at 2.1.131ac12. Linus has now returned, and has put out 2.1.132 prepatch 1. This patch contains some NFS fixes, and some (but not all) of the patches from the "ac" series. A true 2.1.132 can probably be expected within a few days.

The 2.0.37 stable kernel pre-patch is up to release 3; see the announcement for information on what it contains.

International kernel patch is out. This patch contains lots of good cryptographic code which can not be part of the standard kernel due to obnoxious national export laws. See the announcement for more.

The kernel compilation project has released a status update. This project seeks to put together an automatic compilation test suite which will quickly flag obscure compilation errors in new kernels. According to the update, about 75% of the compilations are now successful, which is a step in the right direction.

H. Peter Anvin has issued a call for kernel.org mirrors; he wants to have a well-defined mirror structure in place quickly, so that it can take the load of the 2.2 kernel release. See his note and join the mailing list if you think you can help.

The Distributed Inter-Process Communication project sent out an announcement this week describing the capabilities they have implemented. DIPC is essentially a kernel patch that extends the System V IPC capabilities (semaphores, message queues, and shared memory) to work across a network. Yes, you can have transparent shared memory across multiple machines. This looks like a useful system for a lot of applications; see the announcement for more.

An old question resurfaced this week: should Linux support direct I/O from user space?. Stephen Tweedie got things going by posting this patch which implements raw access to block devices. The real intent of the patch was to create an initial implementation of the O_DIRECT semantics; raw access to devices was just the easiest way to test it out.

Some of the other developers came out in favor of this approach. Alan Cox is interested in large video capture applications. Larry McVoy, instead, posted about an interesting "network disk" application that could use direct access. There were also the usual references to large databases wanting raw device access, though this appears to be an area of secondary importance.

Linus didn't like it. His position is that raw I/O almost never produces enough of a performance gain to be worthwhile, and that the complexities involved in locking down user pages for I/O operations are nasty and best avoided. He claims that most high bandwidth user I/O needs can be met with a combination of mmap (to map files into memory), mlock (allowing the (root) user to lock pages into physical memory), and the new sendfile system call. His real point here is that device drivers and the I/O system should not be messing with memory mappings.

Things are generally done as Linus says, so that's the likely outcome of the whole thing. Of course, any work in this area is a 2.3 issue; it's far too big to go into 2.2 at this point.

December 17, 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.



UltraPenguin 1.1.9 (Linux for Sparc with Ultra support) has been announced. See the announcementfor more information and download instructions. This is a final beta test release prior to the 1.2 release, which will be a stable release. (Folks who grabbed this release before the 16th may want to check out Jakub's update and upgrade some packages - an "in place" upgrade has been done on the 1.1.9 release).


In last week's LWN, we stated that the English version of S.u.S.E. Linux 6.0 was available for ftp download. This was misleading. *Both* the German and the International (English) versions of S.u.S.E. are available for download. The German version will be officially released on December 21st. The beta test period for the International release will be longer, to hopefully find and fix any language-dependent bugs.

For those of you that missed it, you can get more information on the S.u.S.E. 6.0 release in the LinuxToday interview with Bodo Bauer.

The question was asked on the list whether or not S.u.S.E. 6.0 rpms can be used with earlier versions of S.u.S.E. Linux. The answer is yes for S.u.S.E. 5.3, if you have the glibc support installed. However, the 6.0 rpms have not been tested with earlier versions, so be careful.


Tim Bird posted some KDE tips to the caldera-users list, as part of what may become a tip of the week series.


A couple of official announcements came out from Debian this week, including this note regarding the use of Debian to power a 512 Node Cluster and the official announcement of the new Debian Constitution.

Now that the Constitution has been formally accepted, the annual election of the Debian Project Leader is now underway. There are three people who have currently nominated themselves (the Constitution requires that a candidate nominate themselves rather than be nominated by someone else). They are Joseph Carter, Ben Collins and Wichert Akkerman. All current nominations, plus deadlines for nominations, campaigning, etc., are available here. Ian Jackson has reviewed the nominations and is not currently planning on running, though he may retain his role as President of SPI.

The nominations have resulted in a lively, but so far civilized, discussion of the available candidates and their backgrounds. If you plan on voting, you will want to catch up on the postings on debian-devel.

Rainer Dorsch started a discussion of whether or not it would be possible to create an in-depth summary of the debian lists, to allow people without the time to follow all the groups closely to keep more up-to-date. It appears that Joseph Rodin has volunteered for the job.

Jim Pick has announced a web page for the Debian Snapshots Project, a project to create a snapshot system for automatically compiling packages from CVS repositories and snapshot releases. The project was first envisioned to deal with the approaching Gnome beta release. However, the Snapshots Project plans to take a generic approach that can be used with other popular packages to create .deb files for development releases.

A new mailing list has been created for Debian Ham Radio fans. For more information, check out the list announcement.

You can read about using Debian GNU/Linux to build a Scientific Workstation in this 32bitsonline article.

Steve Dunham posted a report on his experience loading Debian sparc32 onto an Ultra. Most importantly, out of his work he expects to see an unofficial add-on to "make everything work" when running Debian on an Ultra by the time that Debian's slink, with alpha support, is released.


A draft version of the LinuxPPC on the iMac HOWTOhas been posted. If you get one in your Christmas stocking, you'll know what to do (even if your editors do think it looks too much like those old ADM-3 terminals they banged on for too many years) ...

Binaries of the 68K and PPC versions of XFree86 3.3.3 are available. (Thanks to Mark Wielaard for pointing these out).


Gael Duval dropped us a note with some short news items. There have been user-reported problems with ftp downloads of Mandrake 5.2. These should now be resolved, but they have also made available an iso9660 image, to make it easy for people to burn their own CDs. Inexpensive Linux-Mandrake CDs are now available in Europe and the U.S., but they are still looking for additional distributors. Last, the PowerPack Edition of Linux-Mandrake has been delayed for 15 days, but when it comes out, it will contain Corel WordPerfect 8.0 Personal Edition.

Red Hat

The long-awaited Red Hat Training and Certification Program appears to finally be available. Training courses start in February.

December 17, 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


InfoWorld ran a brief article about Java 2; it's mostly pretty positive. However: "Cons: Distributors of Java applications need to incorporate Sun's new licensing model into the budget; lacks support for Linux."

Those interested in the topic may wish to see Stig Hackvan's LinuxWorld article about the new Java license. This articletakes the position that, while the new license is a step in the right direction, there remains some ground to be covered.

TYA 1.2 for Linux is now available and, for the first time, FreeBSD support is included as well. TYA is a freely available, open source JIT . To find the new release, check out the announcement.


InfoWorld published an article on the success of the Python scripting language ("Python slithers forward"), but with particular mention of the Zope Web application platform. "Like its namesake's tendency to squeeze its prey, the success of the Python scripting language is applying pressure to vendors through open-source projects, adding Extensible Markup Language (XML) support and serving as the scripting language for a new Web application platform."

Dieter Maurer has posted a description of his WeakDict's, similar to Python's normal dictionaries but with exceptions to address CPython's problem with cyclic references.

Greg McFarlane has announced version 0.8 of his Pmw megawidgets, with a long list of changes.

Python Professional Services, Inc., is a commercial company providing support, software development and training for Python. They have started a project that they have dubbed the PPSI Community Center, a web site that they plan on using to provide information and technical facilities for Python's users. As a first step, the PPSI Community Center is now hosting Python-related mailing lists, in particular for Python2C and the Python/COM package.


Folks who believe that there is still an insufficient number of scripting languages out there may want to check out Ruby. It's an object oriented language out of Japan which appears to have taken a fair amount of inspiration from Python.


The Smalltalk web pages have been updated. They now have a salary survey, an update on who uses Smalltalk, links to other smalltalk pages and more. They are also looking for a corporate sponsor for the site.


Patrick Queutey has announced version 1.3 of TkfPW, a GUI "Fortran Programmer's Workshop", to assist in managing Fortran projects, both shared and unshared.

Mark Roseman has published this week's Tcl-URL!, the "weekly guide to Tcl resources". This week's edition covers several new software releases, including the beta release of the 8.1 core. Also included is a pointer to the Smaller Tcl Project, some thoughts on speeding up scripts and an article containing a kudo for Tcl.

December 17, 1998



Development projects

64-bit Freedom CPU

The project to build a 64-bit Freedom CPU has been announced. This project focuses on the design of a high speed, high performance 64-bit CPU for the Linux OS. The design would then be released under the GNU GPL and they are looking for contributors with hardware/VLSI/VHDL experience.


Geoff Hutchison writes in again to tell us that ht://Dig development is moving right along, with version 3.1.0b3 coming out this weekend. This version fixes a number of outstanding bugs and improves disk space and memory requirements slightly. In addition, there's a new feedback and bug reporting page and a contest to design a new ht://Dig logo. Interested designers should e-mail Geoff.


Dan Sawyer reports that Wine 981212 is a "keeper", with MS Word and Excel fixed and many other applications now working as well. Additional positive reports are coming in, too.


The Zope 1.9b3 release should happen on Thursday, December 17. This release will contain the much-awaited "Aqueduct" database access subsystem. A final 1.9 stable release is expected for early the following week. Meanwhile the Zope site has been reworked and enhanced, with more documentation than before. There is also an updated Questions and Answerssection.


There is a possibility that Gimp development could fork. This editorial, by Daniel Egger, outlines the problems he feels exists and proposes to start a new development fork to address them. In response, Zach Beane, editor of the Gimp News, has written a reply that explains some of the potential root causes of some problems and suggests that efforts to try and repair existing methods have not been tried. Forking off a development project is one of the privileges of the free software movement; the right to do so is part of what protects us when a developer loses interest. However, it is a right that should be exercised with extreme care. In this case, all encouragement should go to the parties involved to try other methods to resolve any disagreements.

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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Red Hat has put out a press release on their participation in the United Nations Sustainable Development Networking Program (SDNP). They are donating copies of their operating system to the program, of course; certainly a good deed even if not entirely without a bit of self interest. Evidently SDNP is supplying the system to the Mexican ScholarNet program, among others. Interestingly, the SDNP claims to have been a user and supporter of Linux since 1992.

Spectralogic has announced support for their "Alexandria" backup and archival librarian software on Linux. See their press release for more. This is "enterprise class" stuff, with the ability to back up large networks, Oracle databases (while Oracle is running), etc. It's another important component in the corporate Linux toolbox.

Alexandria is downloadable from the net, and can be run for free in a demo mode (or if you buy one of Spectralogic's tape libraries). Other uses involve money. See the Alexandria page, or go directly to the Linux download page.

The Linux Mall has had a true Tux, the Penguin stuff toy penguins custom-made to really resemble the true Tux penguin. Check out the announcement to find out how you can get one of your own.

Linux happenings in Japan. AsiaBizTech put out a series of articles with some interesting developments with Japanese Linux:

  • A Japanese version of the Red Hat distribution will be released in February, according to this article. It will include Japanese language support, and seems intended to compete with Pacific HiTech's offering there. The actual work on this distribution is being done by Itsutsubashi Research Co., under a license from Red Hat.

  • Here is a report on the proposed creation of the "Japan Linux Users Group" to deal with "intellectual property" problems associated with Linux. This evidently stems out of an attempt by Pacific HiTech to register "Linux" as a trademark in Japan.

  • A company called "10art-ni" has put out a sales management package for Linux, according to this short column.

  • Finally, they also have an article about Hitachi's possible plans to support Linux as part of its business systems integration offerings.

IBM has released "Secure Mailer" under an open source license. Secure Mailer, a.k.a. "Postfix," a.k.a. VMailer was written by Wietse Venema as a secure replacement for sendmail. It can be thought of as a direct competitor with qmail. More information can be found in IBM's Secure Mailer page, the Postfix page, or in this Star-Telegram article about the release.

At least one person is raising red flags about IBM's recent open source announcements. Greg Aharonian of the "Internet Patent News Service" points out that, while IBM has made Secure Mailer available, it has made no promises that people actually using Secure Mailer will not be subject to legal action for patent infringement. Software patents in the U.S. are a big problem, and the issue is worth some thought. See Greg's message to see why he thinks we should be concerned. (Interested readers may also want to check out this introduction to the Internet Patent News Service).

Compaq has released a Linux driver for their PCI RAID controllers. Even better, they released it under the GPL. See their press release for more. (Thanks to Neal Richter).

Press Releases:

December 17, 1998


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

Linux in the news

Here's this week's recommended reading:
    ZDNet has put up an open letter to Netscape's Marc Andreessen. The advice is pretty radical, given the source: "Now is not the time to become second-string technologist at AOL... Instead, grab the bull by the horns and re-establish yourself at the center of the Internet revolution. Only, this time, become the chief champion of the Open Source movement."

  • The author of this PC Week column takes an egalitarian approach: he complains about all operating systems equally. "That's why I see businesses forcing vendors to work together. The consumers will push Microsoft to accept Linux; they'll push for development of stronger NT development (for example, Winsock) APIs on the Linux kernel. They'll push Microsoft to accept NDS because consumers don't plan to dump it." An interesting read, actually.

  • First Monday has put up a long, academic article about free software and its "anarcho-communist" roots. It suffers from some annoying flaws (everything is "shareware"), but is worth a look anyway. "The commercial survival of Netscape depends upon successfully collaborating with hackers from the hi-tech gift economy. Anarcho-communism is now sponsored by corporate capital." (Thanks to Dunstan Vavasour).

  • Jimmy Aitken pointed out this article in New Scientist. It is an unusually extensive and accurate introductory article, a good one to pass to people who don't yet "get" free software. "The 'open source' movement is Microsoft's worst nightmare: a group of programmers that it cannot outcompete because its members are not motivated by profit, and which it cannot buy because they do not exist as a formal company. And because the results of their work are so good, more and more of Microsoft's potential customers are turning to them."

  • The Independent has a far-ranging article that is all about the benefits of open source development. It's well written and very positive. "The momentum behind open-source software is moving it to the mission-critical environment where Sun currently operates. It is not just the humble spreadsheets, but large-scale e-commerce, banking and high-traffic websites that will soon be using open-source software." (Thanks to Jimmy Aitken).
A new category, valid for the next couple of weeks, is that of "retrospectives and predictions." Here's what we've encountered thus far.
  • Here's a brief mention in TechWeek's predictions for 1999. "1999 is also shaping up to be the year of open source software, evidenced by the enthusiasm for the Linux operating system..." (Scroll toward the bottom of the page).

  • CNN has a Top 10 IT news stories for 1998 column up, evidently reprinted from Network World Fusion. One of them is "Linux becomes a household name."

  • Dan Gillmor at the San Jose Mercury also has a "looking back" column. "I'm skeptical of predictions that Linux represents a threat to Windows on desktop computers, but I'm increasingly convinced that Linux has a real chance to challenge the next version of Windows NT, a.k.a. Windows 2000, on more powerful ``server'' machines in coming years."

  • Here's one ComputerWorld columnist's negative predictions for 1999. "Linux takes its rightful place. Among other niche operating systems, that is... Microsoft is what it is because there are tens of thousands of independent developers worldwide working on the Microsoft platform. That isn't Linux, not today, not in 12 months, and probably not ever."

Linux in and around corporations remains a topic of interest, of course.

  • This article in Network World Fusion talks about Linux in corporations via a number of examples. "Linux proponents have something to prove to chief information officers: Anything commercial operating systems can do, Linux can do better." (Note that NW Fusion is a registration-required site; the usual "cypherpunks" account works there for those who do not wish to register). (Thanks to Marty Leisner).

  • Service News, "the newspaper for computer service and support," discovers Linux. The article is mostly positive; one senses that they see an opportunity there. "For [Cisco engineer] Dart, support isn't an issue because he 'never has any problems.'"

  • GameWeek has a brief article about Loki Software and their plan to port commercial games to Linux.

  • News.com also ran an article about Loki Software. "...there are an estimated 7.5 million Linux users out there today, a growing and largely game-deprived population."

  • Computer Currents coversthe latest moves by Pacific HiTech. "...an unnamed Japanese organization ... is switching an installation of 20,000 machines based on Hewlett-Packard's Unix to Turbo Linux. In some other examples of recent big wins for the company, Kyoto University will install the operating system on 600 machines and a large telecommunications company will begin installing the OS on desktops." (Thanks to Nancy Pomeroy).

  • CBS MarketWatch talks about Netscape, open source, and the new rendering engine. "With so many developers and companies all concurrently adding features and fixing bugs, what results via the open-source-code system is often measurably superior to proprietary software alternatives. "

  • News.com has an articleabout the Word Perfect release. "Although Corel will offer a free version of WordPerfect for personal users, Corel also plans to sell the software to business users and to personal users who want manuals, a CD-ROM, clip art, and technical support. Email-based technical support will be available for a fee for users of the downloaded version."

The rest we'll group into "miscellaneous and introductory articles."

  • MIT's Technology Review has an article about GNOME. It's quite long, covering the GNOME project by starting with Richard Stallman 20 years ago; thus it turns into an extensive introductory article. It's reasonably well done and accurate, worth a look. "GNOME users, de Icaza promises flatly, will not turn off their computers by clicking a button labeled 'Start.'"
  • There is an introductory article in AsiaWeek. It's somewhat positive, despite a certain amount of "no support" and "no applications" FUD. "With Linux out in the open, there is no clear road map for its future evolution, nor any help line for users. Troubleshooting is done by sending a question to a Linux newsgroup on the Net. Can CEOs sleep soundly knowing that their firm's health might depend on a sleepless seventeen-year-old in Idaho?"

  • The Malaysian "The Star" ran a whole set of Linux articles in a separate pullout section; the InTech pullout page points to the whole set. That link will certainly go stale shortly, so here are pointers to the individual articles, which should hopefully stay put: Taking the world by storm is a fairly standard introductory piece; What's new in Red Hat 5.1? is a slightly behind-the-times review; Linux myths debunked! is an advocacy page addressing myths some of us never knew existed (i.e. "Linux is hard to network"); Where do you want to be dragged today? covers the Halloween memos; Caught in the Linux web is a list of links; and Getting the FAQ's right is their own attempt at an installation FAQ. (Thanks to Kenny Lim).

  • ComputerWorld has a brief article on the Linux Beer Hike. "But not all Linux users are enthused about combining beer and business. One user, responding to a Web site that posted news of the tour, sent the following reminder: 'Friends don't let friends hack drunk.'"

  • Also in ComputerWorld: an article about the search for OS alternatives. "However, because Linux predates Windows NT and has problems taking advantage of capabilities packed in current-generation hardware, Enderle said he doubts the operating system will ever become a mainstream desktop alternative."

  • The folks at OS/2 Headquarters have put out part 3 of their 'Learning from Linux' series, which is an analysis of the Halloween memos from an OS/2 point of view.

  • Windows Magazine discusses Linux. The article leans toward the negative, but concludes: "I hope Linux can mature into an OS that will give Microsoft some real competition. It's worth watching, and I'm keeping my copy alive for further testing." (Found in OS News).

  • This article in the Boston Globe is about Tim O'Reilly and open source. "...open-sourcing possesses an economic logic so powerful that O'Reilly thinks it could transform the software industry so completely that, in the end, it would bear a stronger resemblance to the social organization of the scientific community than to, say, the industrial organization of the oil business." (Found in Linux Today).

  • There is an introductory article in the New Zealand Listener. "...as geek girls pursue Torvalds like a pop star, and major software vendors begin to develop versions of their applications for Linux, Microsoft may be facing its sternest challenge yet." (Found in Linux Reviews).

  • David Strom's Web Informant learns to love Linux. "It doesn't take long to install, and indeed is easier to get onto a new machine than NT or even Windows 98. Once you get it set up to your liking, the system will run like a top, and keep running forever." (Thanks to Nancy Pomeroy).

  • ZDNet has a brief blurb showing that they have discovered Samba. "Web development workgroup managers should be aware that setting up a Linux file and Web server is easier than ever. This is an important piece of the puzzle for those rooting for the Linux penguin as it waddles pluckily into Microsoft territory."

  • Last, and perhaps least, EDN magazine ran this anti-Unix hatchet job "Are you telling me that the supposedly brightest OS minds in the business can't adopt a more uniform directory structure? Just choose a shell-any shell. You don't need a half-dozen shells in which 75% of the commands are the same and 25% couldn't be more different." (Found in OS News).

December 17, 1998


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See also: last week's Announcements page.




Crossroads, the student magazine of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has issued a call for papers for a special issue on Linux. This one is not for those who are in a hurry to see their name in print, though: the special issue will be published in the Fall of 1999. Papers are due at the beginning of March.

The French Ministry of Education has put up a forum site (in French)with three questions about the possible uses of free software within the educational system. They're looking for feedback; here's a chance for those who have used Linux in educational situations - especially in France - to let them know how it worked. (Non French-capable readers can read the forum page via Babelfish, but posting in languages other than French is probably not a great idea). (Found in NNL).

Intel Celeron results have been added to the CPU Review kernel compilation benchmarks. See the benchmark page for details and results.


Registration for the Linux World Expo is now open. See the registration page to get signed up.

We at LWN would like to thank the folks with the Boulder, CO Linux Users Group for having organized a spectacularly successful "Linux Mini-expo" last week. The place was packed despite cold temperatures and ice on the roads. Well done!

Web sites

A new German web site dedicated to promoting Linux is now available. The Linux BBS provides daily news to the German speaking Linux community.

For the benefit of the Spanish Linux community, the Linux Site in Mexico is up and running with moderated lists, links, a database for Linux User Groups, and a list of companies and individuals providing commercial support for Linux in Mexico.

User Group News

Bellingham, WA has a new Linux User Group. Meetings will be held the first Thursday of each month. Check out their announcement for more details.

News from the Skane Sjelland Linux User Group (SSLUG): 1500 Red Hat CDs sold in four days! Check out their note for more details. Ah, yes, Dansk Data Elektronik (DDE) and Dansk UNIX-system Bruger Gruppe (DKUUG) were sponsors. Meanwhile, SSLUG continues to expand at a phenomenal rate, with over 1500 members by December 10th ...

A new LUG has formed in Auvergne, France. Here is their home page and their announcement. Best wishes!

December 17, 1998



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
AFBackup 3.1 Client-server backup system
AfterStep 1.6.0 Window manager for the X/Windows environment with NeXT look and feel
AleVT 1.3.3 Videotext/Teletext decoder and viewer
AMD K6-II CTX-Kern Patch revision 3 Linux Kernel 2.0.36 AMD K6-II CTX-Kern Patch
arla 0.19 Free AFS client for Linux/*BSD
Artistic Style 1.0.5 Indentation and reformatting filters for C, C++, Java
astime 1.2 Analogue clock for X windows
binutils Provides programs to assemble and manipulate binary andobject files.
Bmud 0.3.5 GNOME mud client
bookmarker 0.7 WWW based bookmark manager
BurnIT 1.4 Java front-end to cdrecord and mkisofs
CapsiChat 0.16 Multi-user Internet chatbox/haven
CDDA Paranoia III Alpha 9.3 CD ripping application
cdrecord 1.8a15 Allows the creation of both audio and data CDs
Celebrat 0.9.5 Very simple non-interactive command-line calendar
Cheops 0.57 Network User Interface
cicq 0.01 A command-line based icq client
Connect 1.1.8 Client-server to easily share (open/close) one ppp link among a small network
Cool Beats 0.5 Small clock supporting the beat-time
Cooledit 3.8.2 Full featured text editor for the X Window System
Coral Tree Library Set Set of abstraction libraries covering both UNIX and Win32
Crystal Space 0.11 A free and portable 3D engine based on portals
cst-calendar 1.0 Web based, php3/mysql powered organisational calendar
curl 5.2 Tiny command line client for getting data from a URL
dante 0.91.0 Free socks v4/5 implementation
Dents 0.0.2 Well-designed nameserver which aims to be completely standards comformant
DJGPP 2.02 32-bit GNU tools for MS-DOS
DOSEmu 0.98.4 Application that enables the Linux OS to run many DOS programs
egcs snapshot 19981213 Experimental set of enhancements for the GNU tools
Elvis 2.1 A clone of vi/ex, the standard UNIX editor.
EPIC 4pre2.001-NR9 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
Eraserhead RPG 0.0.1 RPG/II, RPG/III Compiler
FastLink 1.0 FastLink is a free Java Applet that displays mirror sites sorted by their respon
Fetchmail 4.7.0 Free, full-featured, robust, well-documented remote-mailretrieval utility
FlexButtonZ 0.50 Make desktop buttons in X from shellscripts.
FreeAmp 1.1.0 Open Source MP3 player
freshmeat newsletter to HTML converter 0.1 procmail filter to convert freshmeat email newsletter to HTML
FSViewer 19981214 File Viewer lookalike for Window Maker.
FVWM 2.1.5 The classic highly configurable virtual window manager
fw 0.1.1 Portable multiplayer tetronimo dropping game.
FXmame 0.5 Glide (3Dfx) driver for the xmame classic arcade game emulator
Gamora 0.63.2 Java based server construction, hosting, and adminstration architecture.
gEDA 19981213 gEDA is an collection of tools which are used to make electrical circuit design,
GeneWeb 1.09 A combo web interface and genealogy program combined on steroids
GGUI 0.1.1 An easy multi-purpose, multi-program GUI.
Gifsicle 1.9 Command-line tool for creating, editing, and optimizing GIFs and animations
GLib 1.1.7 The GLib library of C routines
GLmame 0.6 An OpenGL driver for xmame
gnometool 0.4.1 Tiny perl program to manage Gnome CVS modules
GNU Privacy Guard 0.4.5 GPLed PGP replacement tool
gPhoto 0.1-DR GNU Digital Camera download software
greg 0.6 Framework for testing other programs and libraries
grip 0.4 A gtk-based frontend for CD-rippers
gRun 0.7.3 GTK based Run dialog
GTK+ 1.1.7 Library for creating graphicaluser interfaces
gtkgo 0.0.2 Go game for GTK
gtkSlash 0.5.3 Gtk+ based Slashdot headlines news ticker
GyrosCoPe 0.9pre3 GTK colour picker for HTML documents
ht://Dig 3.1.0b3 Complete world wide web indexing and searching system
IMHO 0.92 IMAP4 Mail Host for Roxen
ipac 1.00 Linux IP accounting package
ISPd pre-alpha Billing/user management software for ISPs
jEdit 1.2final Powerful text editor
Jetris 1.1 Jetris is a networked battle tetris game (like netris, but has a GUI).
KBiff 2.0 New mail notification utility for KDE
Korfe 0.2.0 Fast GUI Builder for Java that supports Swing as well as custom components
KOrganizer 0.9.18 Personal Information Manager for the KDE Desktop Environment
kPGPShell 0.03 A KDE shell for GPG/PGP2/PGP5
KXicq 0.2.26 The KDE ICQ clone
Leafnode 1.7.1 NNTP server for small leaf sites
legdoc 1.0 C source code documentor
libsql++ 0.3.1 A C++ wrapper for ODBC
Licq 0.50 alpha 2 ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
Linux Kernel Manager PR-1 The network-centric Linux kernel configuration and management tool
Linux Quake Howto Install, run and troubleshoot Quake,QuakeWorld &Quake 2 under Linux
Linux sym53c416 Driver 0.1.0 Linux driver for boards with a sym53c416 SCSI chip.
Linuxconf 1.13r10 Sophisticated administrative tool
LOAF 1.2 A tiny one floppy linux distribution.
lpe 0.2.5 Featureless, small editor
LPRng 3.5.3 The Next Generation of LPR
mailback 1.0.0 An e-mail autoresponder with support for multiple aliases and exceptions.
Melange Chat Server 0.99a Chat server written in C including a Java-client
mHockey 0.49 OpenGL based hockey game
Micq 0.3.2 Publically available ICQ clone for the console
mod_dav 0.9.5-1.3.3 DAV protocol extensions for Apache
Moneydance 2.0b5 Personal finance application written in java
moodss 5.5 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
Mount.App 1.4 Window Maker dock app for managing mount points
Mozilla 1998-12-11 Webbrowser for X11 derived from Netscape Communicator
Mutt 0.95 Small but very powerful text-based mail client for Unix operatingsystems
MySQL 3.22.12 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
naim 1998-12-12-1023 Console-mode AOL Instant Messenger client for Linux and compatible unices
Naken Chat 0.84 Chat Server ported from Javachat
Nannie 0.9 System file watcher and notification program
net-tools 1.49 Programs that form the base set of the NET-3 networking distribution
News Peruser 4.0 alpha 29 An offline newsreader for Linux and X11
nist 1.1.9 Update system time from NIST time server
nmap 2.00 Full featured, robust port scanner
NoName 0.0.6 Fantasy RPG using A-Life techniques.
NumExp 0.0.2 Numeric methods implementation for Linux
OpenLDAP 1.1 LDAP suite of applications and development tools
OpenMap 3.0.1 JavaBeans tool kit for building applications/applets with maps
pkgview 0.1 X based RPM package viewer
Postfix beta-19981211 The Postfix MTA
Proof General 2.0 Emacs interface for Proof Assistants
Public Bookmark Generator 0.1 Generates Webpages carrying your personal Netscape bookmarks
PyGTK 0.5.8 A set of bindings for the GTK widget set
QtDragon 0.7.3 A tool to configure the telephone-related stuff of a DataBoxSpeed Dragon
Quotes 1.1-1 Financial Quotations and Linux headlines
RabbIT 1.5 Mutating, caching webproxy to speed up surfing over slow links
rand 1.0 random pipe
RAPID 5.07 Commodity and stock graphing for technical analysis trading decisions
rdbm 0.8 Reliable database library
rlpr 2.00 Print from remote sites to your local printer w/o configuring remote site
ROADS 2.1 A free Yahoo-like system written in Perl
RODUN 0.9.9 An extended Rogue clone (Dungeon Game)
rtnppd 1.4b TNPP-packets router with TNPP-in-IP encapsulation
Saint 1.3.4 Security Administrator's Integrated Network Tool
Samba 2.0.0 beta 4 Allows clients toaccess to a server's filespace and printers via SMB
SBScan 0.01 System Security Scanner
Secure Remote Password Protocol 1.4.4 Zero-knowledge password-based authentication and key exchange protocol
Siag Office 3.1.1 Free office package for Unix
SIDPLAY 1.36.31 C64 music player and SID sound chip emulator
Simple Distributed DataBase 0.4 A fast, truly distributed Network Directory Service
sitecopy 0.3.0 Maintain remote copies of locally stored web sites
slashes.pl 1.3 A Perl/GTK Slashdot news ticker
SMS Client 2.0.7p Command line based utility which allows you to send SMS messages
SNES9x 1.15 Portable, freeware Super Nintendo Entertainment System(SNES) emulator
SoundTracker 0.0.12 A music tracker for X / GTK+
Squid 2.1.PATCH2 High performance Web proxy cache
start 0.6 General purpose home page for an intranet
statnet 3.3 Summary of protocols currently being used on LAN.
sudo 1.5.7p3 Provides limited super user priviledges to specific users
sula 0.05.4 Programmable multiple-server IRC Client for X with Guile extension
sXid 3.1.0 All in one suid/sgid monitoring script written in C
SyncBuilder 19981209 Build synchronization applications with a Palm device in Java
Tcl/Tk 8.1b1 A portable scripting environment for Unix, Windows, andMacintosh
TDGraphics 0.2 A cross platform low level graphics api for writing video games.
Teaser and Firecat Beta-i PL-3 Copyleft replacement for the proprietary ICQ system
Test Environment Toolkit 3.2 A toolkit for test development and management
TiMidity 0.2k Experimental MIDI to WAVE converter
tkAbout 1.0 Summarizes CPU, memory, and disk data in a nice GUI window
TkNotepad 0.4.4 A simple notepad editor written in Tcl/tk
Unix Desktop Environment 0.1.4-BETA A new GUI for Unix with a completely new look'n'feel
unzip 5.40 Unpacks .zip files such as those made by pkzip under DOS
Uptimed 0.01 Uptime record daemon keeping track of the highest uptimes the system ever had
util-linux 2.9f Miscellaneous system utilities
Virtual Network Computing 3.3.2 R3 Cross-platform Virtual Network Computing
VM 6.63 Emacs-based mail reader
vppp 1.2 Virtual PPP channel over a TCP connection with traffic shaping.
WDDX SDK 1.0b1 SDK for building distributed web applications
Web User Interface 1.0 Builds a list of all available personal homepages.
Web Pages 1.0 CGI script to merge several distributed webpages into one
WebTheme 1.2.1 Web Theme Library
Wine 981211 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
WMiNET 2.0.2 A dockable applet for monitoring all your inet daemon activity
WMitime 0.2 A clock for the Windowmaker/Afterstep dock
WMTime-beats 1.0b2i1 WMTime with internet time (beats) hack
WWWOFFLE 2.4 Simple proxy server with special features for use with dial-up internet links
X Window User HOWTO 1.0 Information on configuring the X Window environment for the Linux user.
X-TrueType Server 1.1 An X server and/or an X font server that can handle TrueType fonts directly
xflame 1.1.1 Graphic hack to draw a cool flickering flame
xinetd Powerful inetd replacement
XPhone 2.0.1 Use your modem's speaker jack as a speaker phone
XSIDPLAY 1.3.4 C64 music player and SID sound chip emulator
Xwrits 2.7.1 Reminds you to take wrist breaks
YAX Window System 0.2.0 A small window system for Unix.

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

We usually avoid this sort of site as not entirely relevant, but Matt Welsh's Boycott Microsoft site is a relatively well done collection of information. Included therein is information on Microsoft alternatives, with an emphasis on open source. (Thanks to Subhas Roy).

For a site with similar goals, and with the meanest-looking penguin around, have a look at KMFMS. You can get a cool T-shirt while you're at it.

A much more positive take on things can be found at the Why Linux? site. Here you'll find a nicely-arranged "collection of Linux propaganda."

December 17, 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.
Subject: Development, Ethical Trading, and Free Software
To: editor@lwn.net
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 14:04:17 +1100 (EST)
From: "Danny Yee" <danny@staff.cs.usyd.edu.au>


I've written a piece on "Development, Ethical Trading, and Free 

This is aimed at getting the development organisation I work for as a
volunteer (Community Aid Abroad, a member of Oxfam International) to
move towards free software, but should be of more general interest.
Any publicity for it would be appreciated.  I'm especially keen to get
feedback from free software users and advocates in the "Third World"
(where I'm hoping LWN has a decent reach).


Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 14:08:29 -0500
From: "Steven A. DuChene" <sad@ale.org>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: IDG/LinuxWorld Expo alienates OSS speakers?

The following quote comes from Alan Cox's diary page at
http://www.linux.org.uk/diary/  (it's in the entry for Dec. 11th.
  I also had some non fun mail from the LinuxWorld people (ie IDG) when
I asked them to clarify arrangements for speakers expenses. Answer "we
wont be paying any". Thats one less speaker. I know three other speakers
who will also probably be dropping out and no doubt more will follow
when they discover this.<P>

  Now in my case sure I can probably extract the money from someone but
there is a principle at stake. Many Linux hackers are in it for fun and
don't get paid for it. A conference whose financial greed extends to
excluding all the non commercial Linux hackers is wrong.  It may be how
those dreadful non technical all gloss networking/windows shows run but
its not how a technical conference should be run. It's not how other
Linux events are run and its not how Usenix is run.

  I may be a member of the small club of Linux people who can get
funding to attend and speak at such an event but I want no part in it.

I am one of the organizers of the Atlanta Linux Showcase since it's
begining over three years ago. I think things like this are an important
distinction between a Linux trade show whose sole purpose seems to be to
take advantage of the Linux community in order to generate trade show
revenue and ALS, which is as close as we can get to an Open Source type
of Linux trade show. ALS is put on by a not-for-profit corperation made
up of voluteers from the Altanta Linux Enthusiasts user group and we
have always covered travel expenses for people who were willing to take
time out of their busy schedules to come and speak at ALS.

I feel it is important for the Linux community to be made aware of
possible undesirable effects when a commercial for-profit group intends
to take part in the activities of the Linux community soley as a means
of generating revenue rather than contributing back to the Open Source
community. ALS is put on by voluteers because we feel it is important to
offer something back to Linux and the people associated with it.
Steven A. DuChene   Linux Fan!  http://www.mindspring.com/~sduchene

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog it's
too dark to read.
                -- Groucho Marx
Editor's note: this issue would since appear to have been resolved; interested parties can check out this Slashdot topicfor more information.
From: Craig Goodrich <craig@ljl.com>
To: bill@laberis.com
Subject: Tens of thousands ....
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 10:12:40 -0600

Bill Laberis indulges in punditry:
> Microsoft is what it is because there are tens of thousands of
> independent developers worldwide working on the Microsoft
> platform. That isn't Linux, not today, not in 12 months, and
> probably not ever. 

Well, Bill, I won't argue the "independent developers" number --
but I have to point out that the number of independent developers
working on Linux has grown more than exponentially over the 
last few years and shows no sign of slowing down. 

Could it possibly be that you have this exactly backwards?  That
the tens of thousands of independent developers are working
on MS platforms (and, by the way, talking about "the Microsoft
platform" as though there were only one is -- right now, at least --
a mistake; differences between NT and Win9x will still bite the
unwary programmer at every turn) simply because of the size
of the installed base?  And if that's true -- which seems much
more likely -- then your punditry reduces to the near-tautological
"Microsoft is what it is because of its installed base."

In this industry, though, we have a near-complete turnover of
the installed base -- on the desktop, at least -- two or three
times a decade.  If we didn't, Intel and Microsoft would suddenly
stop raking in the upgrade loot.  But this implies in turn that 
"market penetration" at any given moment is a mile wide but
an inch deep, and in this dynamic market a couple of years 
can produce remarkable shifts in direction and corporations'
relative positions -- look at what happened to IBM as a PC
supplier in 1986--88:  One bad mistake and they went from
dominance to also-ran status almost overnight.

The last-year's predictions you quote were obvious softballs
(for example, I confidently predict that the link between IT and
the business will remain unforged in 2025 -- as will the link
between engineering and finance).  I'll go out on a limb, though:
Linux' share of the LAN server market will triple between 
December 1998 and December 1999, and its share of the enterprise
desktop will quadruple.

You may well say that even if this happens, Linux will still have
only a small fraction of the Microsoft market share.  True; and
if your definition of "niche" is based purely on a static picture
of the situation at any given moment, then your "niche" prediction
is very nearly contentless, being equivalent to "I unhesitatingly
predict that Linux will have less than 50% of the operating
system market in 1999."  I can't argue with that.  After all, 
what can a bunch of small ratlike furry warm-blooded creatures
do to take over the planet from these impressively huge

Best wishes for the holidays,

Craig Goodrich
Rural Village Systems
somewhere in the woods near Huntsville, Alabama

Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 12:07:39 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jason Y. Sproul" <jsproul@picasso.cslab.wesleyan.edu>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Pyrrhic victories

Here's my response to Bill Laberis' column. His response was "Points well
made and well taken. Thanks."

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 00:44:39 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jason Y. Sproul" <jsproul@picasso.cslab.wesleyan.edu>
To: Bill Laberis <bill@laberis.com>
Subject: Pyrrhic victories

In your December 14 column for ComputerWorld, you write:

"Worst case scenario: The government will prove that Gates and Co. are
guilty as charged of competing with ferocity, using the exact same
tactics employed by their detractors, only with better
results. ... Realizing it can't seek antitrust liens against an entire
computer industry, which in fairness it would have to do, the
government will lose its case."

If the government establishes these claims, Microsoft will be found in
violation of antitrust law and subject to judicial remedy. The Sherman
Act (and FTC Section 7, etc.) prohibits holders of any monopoly,
whether illegally attained or arising naturally, from engaging in
behaviours which are legal for non-monopolists. The "protect and
extend" rule prohibits these on the grounds that they pervert what
might well be a natural monopoly arising from economic efficiencies
into an unnatural monopoly grounded in force and coercion.

What Microsoft have failed to realise is that the same "scrappy"
behaviours which served them well in their ascendancy from the shadow
of IBM become much less tolerable when backed with the might of
monopoly power. It's rather like the village weakling who, upon
winning a few fights with the village bully, becomes the next village
bully himself.

I firmly believe that operating systems, as a fundamental component of
a commoditised mass-market computing industry, have a natural monopoly
tendency. These are the grounds on which systems such as Linux and the
various flavours of BSD UNIX gain credibility - not only are they
technically excellent solutions to real problems, but they leverage
the monopoly tendency of the market to drive further
improvements. Many of the developers working on Linux, whether
professionally or as hobbyists, that I have spoken to recognise this
fact. Whether Linux or another open source competitor to be, large
companies will inevitably realise the dangers of single-sourcing and
closed software to their bottom line.

I hope you find these comments useful and informative,


Jason Y. Sproul
Software Designer - ICE, Inc.

Jason Y. Sproul        \\ //       http://www.con.wesleyan.edu/~jsproul/
jsproul@wesleyan.edu    \\/     jsproul@iced.com    http://www.iced.com/
Anarchy works-or doesn't-whether you call it anarchy or the rule of law.

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