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Samba 2.0 was released this week. This release has all kinds of good stuff, but a couple of things stand out. They have now bundled a web-based administration tool which should be a real boon to all those who were put off by Samba's somewhat gnarly configuration files. And, crucially, there is an implementation of the NT domain authentication protocols. Implementing these protocols was not an easy task - Microsoft has had little interest in documenting them, so a reverse engineering effort was required. Samba is now truly a better NT server than NT. The strongest of congratulations are due to the Samba team. (More info and hype: their announcement).

The business world continues to move into Linux. Here's a brief overview of some of the things that have come out this week:

  • Compaq will start selling Linux-installed servers in the U.S. shortly. These systems will run Red Hat, as a result of a partnership with that company. (More info: ZDNet).

  • Compaq will start selling Linux-installed servers in Japan. They will run Pacific HiTech's TurboLinux, the most popular distribution in that part of the world (as a result of its Japanese language support). (More info: this Sm@rt Reseller article).

  • HP will start selling Linux-installed servers in Japan. No word on which distribution they will use. Their target market is ISP's, and they will be offering training as well. (Slightly more info: Nikkei Net).

  • Gateway will start selling Linux-installed machines later this year.

  • Oracle will begin marketing its database systems and "Enterprise Resource Planning" tools in Japan starting in March. This move evidently ties in with Compaq's, leading, one would guess, to an integrated Compaq / Oracle / Pacific HiTech product. (More info: Nikkei Net).

  • Lotus will release a version of its Notes server for Linux later this year.

There is even more afoot - see the Commerce page for the rest. Once again, it adds up to an impressive sum. For those who thought 1998 was impressive, here is the message: Linux has just begun.

In this context, though, interested readers may want to have a look at this Slashdot feature written by Jeremy Lee about the dangers Linux faces as the corporations move in.

In an interesting move, Corel has sold off its Netwinder division, or, more accurately, they have traded it to Hardware Canada Computing in exchange for a 25% ownership interest in HCC. Some more information can be found in HCC's press release, which also includes an FAQ at the end.

Free software in the French government. The good folks at AFUL organized a half-day get-together with the French "Mission interministérielle pour les nouvelles technologies de l'information" to talk about the possible use of Linux in the French administration. A summary of this gathering, including the presentations, can be found (in French) on this French government site. It may also be read in something that looks like English via Babelfish. (Found in NNL).

Returning Windows for a refund? By now many of you will have seen Geoffrey Bennett's story about how he (eventually) got Toshiba to send him a refund for the (unwanted) Windows installed on his laptop. The Windows license, you see, says that if you do not accept the terms of the license the unused software should be returned for a refund. He didn't accept. His eventual success in getting a refund has raised hopes that people who run Linux-only systems can eventually get out of buying an operating system that is not useful to them.

To further these hopes, the Windows refund center has been launched on the web. Their goal is to get a large number of people to request refunds on February 15, in order to garner press attention and generally turn it into a media event. Sounds like a good idea to us.

Bay Area folks may also want to check out the Bay Area refund page set up by Rick Moen to coordinate the refund efforts there. (See also this PC Week article or this article in The Australian).

Is FUD an inappropriate term? We have been taken to task recently by a few readers for our occasional use of the term "FUD" ("fear, uncertainty, and doubt") in describing certain articles in the press. Perhaps a bit of explanation is in order. There is nothing wrong with criticism of Linux; certainly there is plenty in Linux to criticise. We certainly try not to brand criticism as FUD. However, if somebody prints statements like:

"I think it's great if you are willing to promote Linux to your boss. As long as you are aware of the risk you are taking. The risk of getting fired."
"...because few companies sell customized versions of Linux (Red Hat is an exception), there is almost no service and support for the product."
they have not engaged in criticism, they have engaged in scare tactics using inaccurate information. That is what we call FUD. Perhaps we have used the term a bit freely in the past; we'll be more restrained in the future. But the term has its place.

Blank banner ads. A few folks have informed us that the banner ads occasionally come up blank. "It's a feature." The ad network we use provides "default banners" to run when they don't have anything better. A review of their performance showed that nobody was clicking on them, and LWN was making very little money from them. So, rather than inflict useless ads on our readers, we turned them off. We didn't figure anybody would mind.

January 21, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.


The biggest news of this week in security has been the about-face of the French government policy on encryption. Part 1 and Part 2 of the government documents in French describe a "project" (essentially, a proposed new law) which promises, eventually, complete freedom of the use of cryptography within France. In the meantime, until the law is enacted, the maximum allowable keysize for cryptography has been increased from 40 bits to 128 bits, certainly trumping the U.S. Government's recent increase in allowable keysize to 56 bits. Exportation of cryptography is still controlled by virtue of existing agreements with other countries.

The Babelfish document translating this into English is available as postings underneath the original Slashdot article.

This Techweb article reports that India is warning people against the use of U.S. security products because the limits placed on exports by the U.S. government prevent really effective products from being sold internationally.

The same theme was seen in the reaction of people in Silicon Valley to the U.S. government's effort to promote their encryption policy, as reported in this New York Times article. (registration required) "the industry representatives turned a cold eye to the Administration's recent proposals and complained that increased foreign competition was in danger of surpassing American companies. " In the same article, we hear that Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, will reintroduce a plan to liberalize export controls. Best of luck, Zoe!

This Associated Press article (from the ISN mailing list) describes the decision of the Norway Supreme Court which ruled that trying to break into a computer is not a crime in and of itself. The article mentions that people can now legally scan computers for security holes and pass that information on to other people to be used for illegal purposes. Of course, it also allows that same information to be gathered and reported back to the site to allow them to fix the problem or to be widely discussed so that security holes can be fixed, something which the article neglects to mention.

No report for this week would be complete without a reference to the new encryption algorithm developed by Sarah Flannery. Both the BBC News and ZDnet have written articles on the subject [found in Slashdot]. The amount of media attention was disproportionate because Sarah is only 16. However, the merits of her achievement stand separate from her age, sex or country of origin. A new encryption algorithm is always welcome, a new, high-quality cryptographer even more so. Most interesting to us are the tiny suggestions buried in the articles that the algorithm might be made freely available. If there is any truth to that possibility, it would be the best reason to laud Sarah, for the value of a freely available cryptographic algorithm, once appropriately tested and confirmed, would be incalculable.

Security reports

The most controversial and important security report for this week was Michal Zalewski's report of two new bugs in sendmail, affecting all versions, including the latest 8.9.2 release. Some confusion resulted when it was claimed that these problems had been fixed in 8.9.2. Michal stated that they were still present if sendmail was configured to allow relaying and then demonstrated his statement with an exploit. No information on these bugs is yet available on the sendmail.com or sendmail.org sites, nor have any reports of updated packages from any of the distributors surfaced.

David Schwartz reported a vulnerability in the Linux kernel which he had been told was fixed in 2.0.36, but he has been able to reproduce. No confirmation or denial of his report has yet been seen.

Brian McCauley reports that the Perl 5.0004_4 version of suidperl ignores nosuid mount options. This means that an suid perl script on a CD or floppy can potentially be used to gain root access. Brian goes on to predict that other suid-aware script interpreters may have this same vulnerability under Linux due to the absence of an fstatvfs() system call. Followups mentioned that this is not a new problem and, in fact, is documented in the mount man page on many systems. NetBSD and FreeBSD fixes for the problem have been incorporated into their respective packages. No fixes for this problem under Linux have been reported as of yet.

A report of shoddy encryption techniques in Iomega Jaz drives was posted to Bugtraq. The report was sent to Iomega but no confirmation or denial of the problem has yet been heard. If you are assuming that using the encryption feature on the backup will protect your data if someone steals your cartridge, read this report. It shows that the information needed to decrypt your data is stored in an easily decipherable format and how that information can be used to decrypt the contents of the entire cartridge.

Red Hat has released updated RPMS for fvwm2, required if you upgrade to their recommended XFree86 3.3.3

Debian has reported a major security problem with the ftpwatch package in Debian GNU/Linux 1.3 and recommended that people remove the package entirely until a new package with fixes has been announced.

For those using Cisco hardware, this report documents how easily Cisco boxes can be scanned and identified, something that can make it easier for them to be targeted for specific attacks.


A recently reported buffer overflow in Dosemu has been fixed in Dosemu 0.99.6, according to this note from Eric Mouw.

We mentioned in last week's security section that Neoware X-terminals were vulnerable to nmap scans. This week, Adam Shostack commented that the vulnerability is not consistent and explained why they haven't pursued it further.

The Fore nmap vulnerability was apparently reported to the right place and as a result, Powerhub Software 5.0.1 (11193) fixes the problem. If your Fore hardware does not have an accelerator, though, you'll need this pointer to the proper fix.


The January 15th edition of CRYPTO-GRAM is now available. This edition focuses on an overview of the past year.

A review of "Maximum Security", from Macmillan Publishing has been written by Robert Slade. He indicates that it is improved over the original version but overall does not seem to be greatly impressed. "For the novice it isn't altogether reliable, but for the professional it is at least worth looking at." [From the ISN mailing list]

The alpha release of the tool sscan has been announced.

John Kozubik has requested feedback on his whitepaper on Intrusion Detection.


The Call-for-Papers for the Computers, Freedom + Privacy 1999 conference has been released. The conference will be held April 6th through the 8th in Washington, DC.

January 21, 1999


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.2.0pre8. Developers continue to hammer on the last remaining bugs in the hopes of getting a real 2.2.0 release out soon. That release could conceivably happen any day, though there are enough reports of problems floating around still that it may take a little longer yet. See Alan Cox's 2.2 jobs page for a (shrinking) list of things that need to be done.

Alan has also announced that his "ac" patches are done for now. We are close enough to the 2.2.0 release that any important patches should just go straight to Linus; Alan, instead, is heading back to working on 2.0.37.

A suggestion was made that the 2.2.0 kernel needs a press release. Greg Smart jumped in and threw out a first version. Many comments and versions later, Greg has backed off a bit and the current version seems to be maintained by Ed Lang. His current draft can be found on his web site. Linus has remained silent in the discussion, so there is no word as to whether he will actually be interested in putting out this release under his name or not.

A mailing list has been set up for people interested in improving the kernel configuration scheme. It's controlled by Majordomo, and subscriptions may be had at linux-kbuild-request@torque.net.

Anonymous CVS access to vger.rutgers.edu has been turned back on now that the linux-kernel backlog has stabilized and a bunch of Sparc fixes have been merged in.

A great debugging tool has been languishing, mostly because nobody knew that it existed. Check out Michael Chastain's description of his "trace and replay" system. The trace portion captures all of a process's system calls, much like strace except that it remembers all of the results of the call. When the program is run under the replayer, the system calls are intercepted and the old results stuff in again, allowing an exact replay of the traced execution.

The potential capabilities of this system are pretty amazing. A remote user can send a developer a trace of a failed execution; the developer can then replay the entire thing in a far away location and find the problem. Some great memory access debugging can be supported (much needed in the Linux world). He even claims to be able to implement backwards stepping in the debugger. "Imagine a graphical debugger with a scrollbar for time, where the top is 'beginning of execution' and the bottom is 'end of execution'."

This system apparently worked under 1.3.42, and will need a bit of work to function under a recent version of the OS. A significant amount of interest has been shown this time around; with any luck this tool will soon be fixed up and made available.

A new version of the VESA 3.0 kernel BIOS module has been released. This module provides access to the VESA 3.0 features. This is a low-level access module; integration of its capabilities into higher-level code, such as FBcon or X11, has been left as an exercise for the reader. See the announcement for more information.

Software suspend v4 has been released. This patch allows the system to save a copy of its current running state and halt. On next reboot, the system state is reloaded and (hopefully) picks up where it left off. This patch works entirely within the Linux kernel - APM is not used and is not necessary. Check out the software suspend pagefor more information or to download the patch.

International Kernal Patch 2.2.0-pre7.4 has been released, see the announcement for details. (This patch adds cryptographic capability to the kernel, and is destined to remain forever a patch due to crypto law obnoxiousness).

If you want to work with large (> 2GB) files on Linux, and don't have a nice 64-bit system on your desk, you may want to check out the latest version of Matti Aarnio's Large File Summit patch, which has now been updated to 2.2.0pre8.

A review of the Linux memory management subsystem was posted on the freebsd-hackers list and forwarded on to linux-kernel. It's an interesting look at Linux's memory system from an outside point of view; worth a read.

January 21, 1999

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.



This Caldera customer reports, regretfully, that problems running the glibc Oracle 8 on Caldera OpenLinux 1.3 have forced him to move to Red Hat. Other reports on Oracle indicated that the install process is not smooth, but they were able to fight through the process and get Oracle up and running.


Here is the announcement of the Debian 2.1 deep freeze, which took place on Wednesday, January 20th, at 15:00 EST (when the automatic install runs). This week's Debian Weekly News notes that 9 packages will be removed from the distribution due to critical bugs unless they are fixed immediately; 36 other critical bugs must be fixed before release.

The Open Group has released a test suite for the LSB. The test suite provoked some negative reaction among Debian developers, prompting Joseph Carter to start drafting a letter to the LSB about their concerns. Daniel Quinlan responded, explaining that the problems were in the LSB written material and he would like to fix them. He emphasized that The Open Group has only provided a free test suite, is following the rules for contributing to the LSB project and is not in anyway defining what the LSB should be. "...the TOG is *not* defining LSB. Linux people are defining it -- and if a company passes every hurdle we insist that they pass, why shouldn't we allow them to help?"

For more information on the past week in the Debian community, we encourage you to read this week's Debian Weekly News.


Apparently back by popular demand, the Open Group has once again made PA MkLinux available from their site. This is MkLinux for the HP Precision Architecture.

Red Hat

Join the Red Hat "Beta Team," at least if you would like to receive pre-release software from them. The Beta Team site has more information. They appear to be looking for a relatively small number of users who are willing to do some serious testing and send results back to Red Hat.

A nifty little document on how to upgrade your Red Hat XFree86 installation was made available on January 10th.

Joerg Pommnitz has made available a TrueType enhanced version of XFree86-3.3.3 for Red Hat Linux. His note also mentions having fixed a bug in the Red Hat sources that made the font server unusable.


www.slackware.com is now on-line. This official Slackware Linux Website is intended to serve as a centralized resource for Slackware users, promising both the latest xfgdevelopment news as well sections to provide assistance with installation and configuration. Hits on the new site surpassed 100,000 within the first three days. Given the amount of demand the LWN has seen for Slackware news, the new site should be extremely popular and will help Slackware maintain and increase the number of its users. There seems to be a great thirst for information about Slackware which has been difficult to satisfy.


We hear reports that The Linux Journal's Readers' Choice Awards are out and S.u.S.E. has won the title of favorite distribution. The choice likely came from the fact that over 80 percent of the respondents were from Germany, but still demonstrates how strongly S.u.S.E. users feel about their distribution.


Trinux version 0.48 has been released. nmap, ntop, iptraf, arptool, and hunt have been updated or added to the classic image.


TurboLinux 3.0.1 from Pacific HiTech has been released. This is one of the opening moves in Pacific HiTech's attempt to establish a presence in the U.S. market. See their announcement for more.


A new version of uClinux - Linux for embedded systems without an MMU - has been released. This one includes frame buffer support for the Palm Pilot LCD...

January 21, 1999

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 stem the incredible flood of requests for information about the status of the JDK 1.2 Linux port, Kevin Hendricks posted this status report, explaining that a bug in the native threading or linuxthreads that has to be fixed and describing how they are attempting to deal with the problem. No time estimate can be given because they can't state when they will find the source of the bug.

Meanwhile, 1.2v3 of the TYA JIT compiler has been announced. The new version contains bug fixes and minor speed improvements, plus a patch provided by Kazuyuki Shudo and a fix for a bug report made by Lukas Knecht. You can download the new version from this location.


  • Net::RawIP version 0.03. manipulate raw IP packets and Ethernet headers
  • Puppet::Show, a utility class to manage a Puppet::Body class through an optional GUI
  • Tk::TreeGraph, a canvas specialized to draw trees with arrows and nodes
  • DbFramework version 1.06, a collection of classes for manipulating Mysql databases
  • HTML::Clean, new module that encapsulates a number of HTML optimizations and cleanups to create HTML that loads faster and displays properly in more browsers


Python.org went down due to hardware problems on Saturday. It was brought back up fairly quickly, but that required cannibalizing parts from the Python CVS mirror, so the CVS mirror went down instead. It was back up by Monday.

This week's Python-URL! newsletter is now available.


Version 0.2 of QTalk and GTalk are now available. As described in last week's development section , GTalk and QTalk are forks in the Squeak Smalltalk implementation that is aimed at integrating GNOME/GTK and KDE/QT.

With last week's announcement of the availability of a commercial version of VisualWorks for Linux on Intel, John Rickenbrode askedthe question as to whether there might someday be a Linux/PPC version. Eliot Miranda unofficially responded with this note mentioning that an Alpha Linux port is underway and discussions are on-going regarding potential PPC and ARM (Netwinder) ports.

Along with that information, the comments on the comp.lang.smalltalk newsgroups seem to indicate that VisualWorks 4.0 should be on the scene before the end of March.


This week's edition of Tcl-URL! is now available. Hot items include good business reports from Scriptics and tcl articles in the January special issue of ;login. New software announcements include version 1.1 of Steffen Tregger's pure Tcl and a pure Tcl multicolumn listbox widget from Bryan Oakley.

January 21, 1999



Development projects


The Apache Group has released version 1.3.4 of the Apache HTTP server. It boasts over "90 significant improvements to the server", including prevention of some denial-of-service attacks, support for 3rd-party WebDAV modules, new content negotiation, and much more. The Apache Team states in their press release that they consider this to be the best version of Apache available and strongly recommend that people upgrade as soon as possible.


Co-developer Jack Moffitt dropped us a note about the release of icecast, an MP3 audio broadcasting system that is freely available (GPL). The system aims to be " shoutcast compliant by version 1.0" and is apparently well on its way toward that goal.


The Preening Bonobo release of the GNOME libraries (0.99.4) has been announced. Although Miguel calls it a "preening release" (fewer parasites/bugs), the announcement contains a long list of minor features that have been added to the individual libraries as well as bug fixes.

Midnight Commander file manager 4.5.9 is out. It requires gnome-libs-0.99.4.

Gnumeric 0.7, dubbed "Speedy Manatee", has been announced. The new feature list indicates that compatibility with Excel has improved, menu hints are now available and the menus have been standardized, plus a lot of additional features and bug fixes.

gdm 0.7, a re-implementation of the well known xdm program has been released. This version has full support for managing local displays. Support for remote displays is schedule for version 0.8.

Rodrigo Moya has released version 0.1 of GNOME-Sql, as he calls his tool for accessing databases from different RDBMS. His announcement mentions that only Postgres support is currently present, though MySQL and ODBC will be added.


Alpha release 0.4.2 of the isdnadmin module is now available. It is only recommended for those experienced with ISDN.


LinuxPower.org has done an interview with Jamie Zawinski, of Mozilla.org fame. It contains information about what will in Mozilla and some great comments about how the open source development model is helping: "I think that by being out in the open like this, we're making decisions better, and reaching the right decisions more often. Secrecy is the enemy of correctness."

The draft of Netscape's Open Directory license is available for review. Here are some comments on the intent of the license.


The New York Times featured Wine in their January 18th issue. The article (registration required) does not consider Wine to be successful, as of yet, but touches upon Corel's new involvement and Bacchus, a grass-root funding effort started by Hal Bennett.

Douglas Ridgway wrote in to report that a disk failure on WineHQ happened on January 15th. They were able to retrieve nearly all of the data on the system, but the mailing list information was lost. If you were previously subscribed to one of the wine mailing lists, you will need to subscribe again.

Jean-Louis Thirot posted a quick note outlining what needs to be done to gather information on a problem and send it into the Wine developers. This information probably also exists on WineHQ, but the posting is good, brief, step-by-step set of instructions.

Jimen Ching is now the Willows TWIN code maintainer, a position previous held by Rob Farnum. Here is a note describing the change and how to reach Jimen.


A Zope development roadmap was posted(along with an addendum about Zope Classes) by Paul Everitt this week. Their goals are ambitious.

Perhaps more important for Zope users: three new Zope guides have been published, greatly increasing the amount of Zope documentation available. See the announcement to see what's out there and to get to it.


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Informix has announced a partnership with Red Hat and SuSE wherein the distribution vendors will distribute evaluation copies of Informix's database as well. SuSE has bundled it into their 6.0 release; Red Hat makes it available for download via their web site. See Informix's press release (helpfully titled Santa Exhausted After Delivering Informix Products on Linux, Easter Bunny Worried) for more information.

Applix has announced the availability of ApplixWare for LinuxPPC, thus providing one of the first commercial applications for Linux on the PowerPC platform. Their deal with LinuxPPC includes a bundled product with both the distribution and Applixware in a single box, with a price of $129. See Applix's press release for more.

IDC has put out a couple of studies on operating system shipments, both of which remark on the progress made by Linux. This one about servers is the most enthusiastic. "The worldwide market for server operating systems, which IDC defines as server operating environments (SOEs), grew by 25.2 percent in 1998, compared to 15.3 percent growth for 1997.... Linux shipments for such server tasks as Web-serving grew rapidly, although the revenues from those shipments were just $33 million worldwide. If Linux SOE sales were not included, shipments of all other SOEs would have grown at a rate of just 11.3%."

The other one, about client OS's, also mentions Linux. "...for 1999, IDC sees continued interest and growth for the entire Linux market."

Another free software system goes commercial. Tripwire Security Systems has announced a commercial version of the venerable "tripwire" program. Tripwire, of course, monitors file systems for modifications and sounds the alarm when it sees something that could be a sign of a breakin. This would appear to be a commercial, binary-only release. The press release indicates that "exclusive rights" to Tripwire have been transferred to TSS. So the only way to get Tripwire 2.0 is to buy it.

A company called Akamai is putting together a distributed WWW server architecture, which seeks to increase download speeds and decrease network traffic. They have built a network of web servers, each of which is dynamically loaded with the pages that people nearby are asking to see. It looks like an interesting architecture. Oh yes, and their servers are running linux, of course. See this Network World Fusion article (registration required) for more. (Thanks to Rajesh Bhandari).

A commercial real-time Linux page has been set up at www.rtlinux.com. It seems to be intended to be a clearinghouse for companies and individuals working in the rtlinux arena. They are putting together the listings now; if you work in the real time area you may want to check the page out and perhaps get added to it. (The long-time rtlinux page remains dedicated to the rtlinux project, and is separate from the commercial page).

A quick followup to last week's report about Creative Labs and the saga of getting Linux support for their "SB Live" card: Creative has received about 15 resumes for their Linux device driver position, and has begun interviewing. Interesting, according to Jacob Hawley, "...the most qualified folks I have met are not looking to work here and are more interested in helping." It is indeed an interesting world when you can't hire the best people because they want to do the work for free. (See also this brief article in the Fairfax IT News (Australian) about Creative and Linux).

OpenLink Software has announced that the iODBC Driver Manager has been released under the LGPL. For those who are wondering: "iODBC enables the development and deployment of database centric applications compatible with the Microsoft ODBC 2.x & X/Open SQL CLI data access standards."

Press Releases:

  • American Management Solutions, selling Bluestone's Sapphire/Web product (which runs on Linux).
  • PE Logic Corp., fast SCSI controller cards with Linux support.
  • RuleSpace, Inc., employee web usage monitor.
  • Rubicad, LADEE electronic design tool.
  • BASCOM, "Internet Communications Server," a Caldera-based gateway system aimed at schools.
  • Cobalt Networks, Inc., Qube 2 network server.
  • Samba team, Samba 2.0 release.
  • Xplain Corp. LinuxWorld Conference "Greenhouse", just in case they didn't spam it to you directly.
  • Split Pea Software, "Solana Remote Framework" web development framework. "Linux will ship within 60 days."
  • Corel, announcing a return to profitability. Lists WordPerfect for Linux ("surpassed 400,000 download attempts") as a 1998 achievement.

January 21, 1999


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

Linux in the news

The character of the press coverage of Linux has changed considerably over the last few months. Gone are the introductory articles and the general "Linux is hot" pieces. Instead, by far the largest part of the press coverage of Linux this week had to do with business in one form or another.

Business articles as a whole are down below, but, first, here's this week's recommended reading:

  • The folks over at LinuxPower have run an interview with Mozilla's Jamie Zawinski. "...I use Linux, and have been, off and on, since 1994. It's like a love-hate relationship, but without the love... Linux sucks. But Linux sucks less."

  • This week's Petreley column in InfoWorld is about Linux and Intel. "The problem for Intel is that Microsoft keeps making Windows fatter, slower, buggier, and more expensive. That means Wintel-based computing is less competitive with higher-priced RISC architectures than it should be. Enter Linux. Linux offers the speed, stability, and scalability that is lacking in Windows NT."

  • John Markoff has a column about Wine in the New York Times. "Each incremental Wine improvement offers evidence of the growing strength of the so-called open source software movement, a quasi-spiritual commitment by engineers within the software industry whose deity is the Linux operating system." (NY Times is a registration-required site). (Thanks to Douglas Ridgway).

  • Jesse Berst comments on the latest announced delay in "Windows 2000." "What's a poor customer to do? More and more of them are answering that question with 'switch to Linux.' And choosing Linux over NT will get even easier next month when Compaq partners with Red Hat Software to preload Linux on its servers and to offer 24x7 support." (Thanks to James Thompson and Joao Carlos).

  • Amusement of the week: here's some Bold and fearless predictions for 1999 from Computer Currents. "Computer magazine reviews trash the Linux user interface. Disgruntled Linux zealots storm the offices of PC World and PC Magazine but find only empty cubicles. Hand-written invitations to Bill Gates' summer slumber party confirm the nerds' worst fears."

  • Need to Know mentionedEric Raymond's talks in London. "...ERIC S RAYMOND, editor of The New Hacker's Dictionary, author of The Cathedral And The Bazaar, Neo-Pagan, Anarchist Wacko and Saint, will be taking *your* questions - and because of our tyrannical gun laws, he'll be unarmed."

OK, here comes a pile of general Linux and business coverage...

  • Sm@rt Reseller ran a review of Netware for Linux. The review is quite positive, pointing out how a full Netware implementation will help to place Linux into many corporate environments. "Making the case for Linux to your customer will be a lot easier when you can manage Linux servers with the power of NDS, while still running Linux applications." It's distressing how much the PC mindset has taken over, though: they were pleasantly surprised that they could run Apache on the system after installing Netware.

  • Sm@rt Reseller also has this articleabout Pacific HiTech's move into the U.S. "Coming out in March will be Pacific HiTech's new TurboLinux Enterprise Server 3.0, bundled with numerous apps, including five licenses for the Oracle 8 database. Miller, eyeing the higher-end corporate marketplace, is mulling over a starting price of several thousand dollars."

  • PC World has run a highly positive review of the Cobalt Qube 2 server. "Overall, I was impressed with the Qube 2. It is a fine example of how Linux and other open-source tools can be used in a business environment."

  • Information Week also ran a brief article about the new Cobalt Qube.

  • Windows will be superceded within five years, according to this BBC article. Interestingly, this information comes from Microsoft's Nathan Myhrvold. "It's virtually certain Windows will be superseded by something else within the next five years. In fact, something may already exist, so today the seeds of the next contender to Windows - maybe its Linux...may be there now."

  • This National Post article is ostensibly about Corel's return to profitability, but it degenerates into one of the stronger "no support" attacks that has come along in a while. "If you're going to storm the castle gates with a computer that just runs on Linux, I would not be interested in investing in your company." (Thanks to "aandres").

  • Internet Week ran an interview with Jeff Papows (President and CEO of Lotus) that touches briefly on the Linux announcement.

    InternetWeek: You've changed direction on Linux, and now say you'll offer a port for it. What happened?

    Papows: People both inside and outside the company were bugging me, [but] at the time I just didn't want to be distracted. It turned out once we got the R5 work done, it was actually very minimal work necessary to get a Linux version done.

  • News.com also coversthe Lotus Notes for Linux announcement. "But this doesn't mean we're going to provide open source, or any freeware, so checks and money orders are still welcomed." (Found in Linux Reviews).

  • ComputerWorld speculates on Informix's upcoming announcement on increased Linux support. "Though Informix officials declined to give further details, they did say that after noting 19,000 downloads of the Linux version of the database, the company will bring support for the system on par with its Windows NT and Unix versions."

  • Loki Entertainment Software and their quest to port commercial games to Linux are the subject of this brief LA Times article. "The game industry is a business where development costs are very high... So far, they're willing to do anything to find new ways to bring in additional revenues for their already successful titles."

  • Network World Fusion has an article about SGI's ambivalent attitude toward Linux. "SGI's official interest in Linux was short-lived - it peaked early and seemingly waned quickly after. In summer 1996, the company hired an intern to port Linux to SGI's Indy workstation. The intern, who also ported Linux to Sun's SPARC, left soon after finishing the kernel part of the SGI/Linux port. The company has not filled this Linux position." Said intern was, of course, kernel hacker David Miller. (NW Fusion is a registration-required site). (Found in LinuxToday).

  • Computer Reseller News has not just one but twoarticles about a recent reseller poll they did. The result? "Sixty-two percent of the 200 resellers surveyed said Linux would be a viable platform in the enterprise market, an alternative to Windows and other Unix variants. Fifty-eight percent of resellers said the same for Linux in the small-company market."

  • PC World ran an article about the new Corel Netwinder server. "While the GS competes with stand-alone, plug-and-play intranet server devices such as the Cobalt Qube and Microtest WebZerver... it differs in being a full-fledged Linux computer that can be also be used for running and developing Linux applications."

  • Oracle and Sybase are considering following in IBM's steps and raising prices on their database products for Linux, according to this Computer Reseller News article. "'The community is not really saying that everything has to be free--they want the true leaders in the database industry providing good solid products,' said Janet Smith, director of product marketing and management at Informix."
  • Sm@art Reseller ran a brief note about selling open source solutions. "If your customers don't have their hearts set on NT or Solaris, why not build them a comparable solution based on open-source products? The money you save by not having to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars in operating-system and application products can go right into your pocket."

  • Another Sm@rt Reseller article, this one is about the increasing corporate presence in open source development. "Just like the separation of church and state, a careful line has to be drawn between commercial and open source. At the same time, corporations with their hordes of patents, programming dollars and talent eventually will have to become trusted stewards of the open-source development process--especially if this software model expects to thrive in new, more robust markets, like app servers and databases."

And here is a mixture of the rest of the press out there.

  • There is a lengthy article in InfoWorld about Linux and desktops. It's generally pretty accurate and positive, though with a couple of strange notions. "Linux's virtual desktops are a descendant of the days when scarce Unix workstations had to be shared, but they can help individual users organize their work as well." (Thanks to Pete Link).

  • Net.opinion has put out a "market requirements document" for Linux on the desktop. Device drivers and simplified configuration top the list. (Thanks to Paolo Amoroso).

  • Here are some survey results published in Network Computing. In a sort of "Hitchhiker's Guide" flashback, they don't tell us what the questions were. But we know that "Linux" topped out the answers at 79%...

  • Another journalist tries the "see if I can work under Linux" approach over at the UK version of PC Magazine. "There is one aspect of moving to Linux that concerns me, and it's also one of the system's greatest strengths -- the Open Source approach... Programmers need to be paid, and I just don't believe that this approach can be applied across the board."

  • This article in the Australian "The Age" is about the benefits of being an open source developer. The biggest of these is access to jobs, but also... "One of the beneficial side-effects of this style of development is reduced likelihood of losing your code. When Russell's hard drive failed a few months ago, normally potentially disastrous, he simply went on the Net and asked the Linux community to send him the latest code he had uploaded a few days earlier." (Found in LinuxWorld).

  • Here is an interview with Linus Torvalds (in Swedish) in Aftonbladet. (Thanks to Sven Wallman).

  • Intraware SubscribNews Alert askswhether Linux is a fad; their answer is "no." "Unix had to return to its roots to regain its dynamics [sic] qualities. Those who question whether Open Source is a viable method for competing against established commercial vendors can look to the history of Unix as a possible blueprint." (Thanks to Joe Doran).

  • Not too technical: here is a personality piece in the (Raleigh) News & Observer about the GNOME team. "Federico explains, he doesn't like Enlightenment's structure. 'I'm not satisfied with the way [it] works. I'm really tempted to rewrite it.'"

  • Internet Week has an article about Wine. The author does not seem to have actually done much with Wine, the article is mostly about what Wine could be. "The competition between NT and Linux was close enough when you considered Linux's financial advantages vs. Microsoft's third-party software development advantages. If Wine lives up to expectations, Linux will have a significant advantage in terms of usable applications on its platform."

  • The folks at OS/2 Headquarters have revamped their analysis of the first Halloween memo from an OS/2 point of view, and have also added a similar look at Halloween II.

  • The U.S. government is busily trying to defeat Microsoft's "Linux defense" in the antitrust trial according to this Washington Post article. "'In looking at the [Linux] box, did you notice how long the installation manual was?' [government lawyer] Boies said to the witness. 'Would it surprise you to know that it was 300 pages long?'"

  • There's a couple of brief mentions in this Internet Week 1999 look-ahead column. "Commercial operating systems face pressure from the open-source movement. Linux is gaining momentum..."

  • ComputerWorld ran a brief articleabout the upcoming 2.2 kernel release.

January 21, 1999


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



A discussion forum for the StarOffice Suite from Star Division is now available.

Crossroads, the ACM Student Magazine has issued a Call-For-Papers inviting authors to submit articles on a variety of different Linux topics.

The latest update of the BogoMips mini-Howto has been published. The current lowest BogoMips rating went to Tim Van der Linden, for his Intel 8088, running 0.02 BogoMips and the highest rating when to Ivo Plana's AMD K6-2, overclocked at 400 Mherz, beating out the Alpha chips.

The Table of Contents from the March 1999 issue of the Linux Journal is now available. The feature articles for this month have a heavy emphasis on international issues, including multi-lingual and international character set support.


The second Call-For-Papers for the inaugural Conference of Autralian Linux Users has been issued. The conference will be held July 9th through the 11th in Melbourne, Australia.

Eric Raymond will be visiting Denmark January 24th and 25th. For those of you in Denmark who haven't had a chance to hear Eric talk, we recommend the experience highly. Check out the announcement for links to more information.

It is fairly normal for a conference to issue a "call for presentations." But Linux Kongress has instead issued a call for location. If you would be interesting in hosting the Kongress, and you have a location in Germany, drop them a note.

Some coverage of Comdex West (Vancouver, BC) can be found on the CPU Review site. Included is some discussion of Vancouver Linux User's Group booth there.

Web sites

A new web site providing commercial 1-800 phone support for Linux has been announced. Their web site, LinuxSupportLine.com remains unreachable as of press time.

Dutch-speaking Linux users may want to check out www.nl.linux.org, which just came online a few weeks ago. They are having a logo contest ("with some actual prizes") for you artists out there.

Mailing Lists

The Greek linux mailing lists linux-greek-users, linux-howto and hellug have moved to a new server. For more information, see their announcement.

User Group News

A LUG is forming in Kalmar, Sweden. Here is their announcement, in Swedish.

Skane Sjelland Linux User Group (SSLUG) has announced that they have passed the 2000 member mark, an indication of the growing interest in Linux in Denmark and Sweden.

An attempt is being made to find or start a New Orlean Linux User Group. If you are interested or have information about an existing group, reply to this posting from Andy Johnson.

January 21, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
a2t 3.0 A simple ASCII-art to HTML-table convertor
Amaya 1.4a Ttest-bed browser/authoring tool of the W3C
asp2php 0.57 Converts Active Server Pages (ASP) to PHP3 scripts
aterm 0.3.2 xterm replacement with fast transparency, tinting and NeXT scrollbar
auto-upload 1.0.0 program that uploads files to an FTP account non-interactively
automake 1.4 Automake is a tool for automatically generating Makefiles.
BANAL 0.07 Book-keeping (and other stuff) for small businesses
Berlin 0.0.1 distributed windowing system
BeroFTPD 1.3.2 FTP server program based on WU-FTPD
Bnetd 0.3b Emulates a StarCraft Battle.net server
BurnIT 1.5pre2 Java front-end to cdrecord and mkisofs
Busycursor 0.3 Change mouse cursor during X-application startup
cdr 1.1 CD ripper and encoder frontend
CGM Viewer Applet 1.0 Scriptable vector graphics viewer written in Java.
clig 1.1.0 command line interpreter generator
CLN 1.0 Class Library for Numbers (C++)
cthumb 1.0 Automatic creation of a picture album in HTML w/ thumbnails
curl 5.5 Tiny command line client for getting data from a URL
CVS 1.10.4 Concurrent Versions System
Cyclone 0.03p2 Internet Relay Chat Daemon used by SlashNET
Cyphesis 0.0.7 Fantasy RPG using A-Life techniques.
DAC960 drivers for Linux 2.2.0pre4 and 2.0.0.pre4 Mylex DAC960 drivers updated!
DailyUpdate 6.01 Grabs dynamic information from the internet and integrates itinto your webpage
Darxite 0.1 Controllable daemon that downloads via FTP in the background
Dave Gnukem 0.4 GGI-based 2D scrolling platform game, similar to Duke Nukem 1
DB_Browser 1.11 Web-based utility to browse and modify a postgres database
dc20 1.0 User friendly package for the Kodak DC20 camera
DECnet for Linux 1.01 DECnet socket layer and applications
DigiTemp 1.2 Digital thermometer for Linux, DOS, win95 using DS1820 sensors
distributed.net clients 2.7105.430 Client for participation in the RC5 and DES cracking contests
DOSEmu 0.98.5 Application that enables the Linux OS to run many DOS programs
e2fsprogs 1.14 Ext2 Filesystem Utilities
Empire 4.2.3 Complex internet multi-player real-time wargame.
EPIC 4pre2.001-NR12 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
flwm 0.12 The Fast Light Window Manager
FreeWRL 0.18 Free VRML browser for Linux
fresh-split 1.0 Perl scripts for splitting freshmeat news
fsh 0.1 Fast and secure remote command execution.
FUSE (Free Universal Simulator Engine) 0 Engine for area-based simulation games (ala Sym*)
GeneWeb 1.10 A combo web interface and genealogy program combined on steroids
gFTP 1.0 A multithreaded ftp client for X Windows
GHX 2.20 (99/01/17) GTK clone of the Hotline software
glFtpD 1.14.5 FTP Daemon for Linux. Great program for an ISP or anyone!
GLib 1.1.13 The GLib library of C routines
GMasqdialer 0.99.0 Gnome Client for the Masqdialer System
gmind 0.90.2 gmind is a code-guessing game for GNOME, much like MasterMind.
GNOME 0.99.3 GNU Network Object Model Environment
Graphics Muse Tools 0.1 Set of tools, brushes, and patterns for use with the Gimp
Grip 0.9 A gtk-based frontend for CD-rippers
gRun 0.9.1 GTK based Run dialog
GTalk and QTalk 0.02 GTK+ and QT Squeak Smalltalk
GTK+ 1.1.13 Library for creating graphicaluser interfaces
GtKali 0.1.7 Gtk+ interface to Kali using Jay Cotton's kalinix.lib
GtkSamba 0.3.2 Gtk front end to configuring Samba
GtkSC 0.12 Utility for listing and playing SHOUTcast streams
GTKWave 1.0.7 Wave viewer for Verilog simulation
GtkZip 0.3g A program for maintaining your Iomega Zip drive disks underLinux
gUserNet 1.2a2 Program to activate/deactivate RedHat's network interfaces.
Hermes 1.2.3 An optimized pixel format conversion library with other tricks
icecast 0.8.1 MP3 Audio Broadcasting System
icewm 0.9.29 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
IglooFTP 0.3.2 Graphical and User Friendly FTP CLient
IMP 1999-01-15 IMAP and PHP3 based webmail system
irssi 0.3.0 GTK+ based IRC client with GNOME panel support
JavaCat 0.1.0 Java client for the Teaser and Firecat system.
jEdit 1.3final Powerful text editor
jukebox 0.5 Jukebox for mp3-files with html-interface and playerdaemon
klm 0.4.0 KDE frontend for the LM SENSORS linux kernel
KNewMail 3.0b1 KDE application designed to check multiple pop3 servers for email.
Kover 0.30 An easy to use WYSIWYG cd cover printer for KDE
kPGPShell 0.12 A KDE shell for GPG/PGP2/PGP5
KWebWatch 0.71 Utility to monitor web pages, looking for updated content
KWM Headlines 1.0 Root menu Headlines for KDE
laddr 1.0.3 Lesstif Address Book
Launcher 0.52 One-stop filetype/application mapping solution
LCDproc 0.4-pre2 Displays system statistics on an external LCD display
ldescent 0.0.20 Linux Descent
libctk-0.1.1 0.1.1 A support library to create CGI programs
Licq 0.51 ICQ clone for linux with most of the functionality of the official Java version
LinuxTaRT 2.26 Feature-rich email signature generator
LiveMix redhog.1 Mixing of live broadcasts of streaming media.
lsb-fhs 0.52 test suite for filesystem hierarchy aspects of the Linux Standard Base
Lynx 2.8.2dev.13 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
MailMan 1.0b8 Mailing list manager with built in web access
make_news_site 0.07 A simple web news site creator
MetaKit 1,8,5 Structured storage database library in C++, with Tcl and Python interfaces
Midnight Commander 4.5.7 Unix file manager and shell
minordomo 0.4 A minimalistic mailing list manager
mod_perl 1.17 Brings together the full power of Perl and the Apache HTTP server
moodss 6.1 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
MUGU 0.1.1a A graphical multi-player game system written in Java
multisort 1.0 small, fast C program that merges httpd logs and orders by date
naim 0.9.2 Console-mode AOL Instant Messenger client for Linux and compatible unices
Ncurses Hexedit 0.9.0 Ncurses file hex editor - edit/insert/delete/search
Net::RawIP 0.03 Perl module for easy manipulation of raw IP packets directly from Perl
News Peruser 4.0 Alpha 35 An offline newsreader for Linux and X11
nmap 2.03 Full featured, robust port scanner
npadmin 0.8.0 Command line SNMP based network adminstration tool for printers
nsListen 1.0 Clicking on a SHOUTcast server link starts the streaming mp3 playing.
nss 1.2 Netscape Startup Script. Script to handle Netscape launches.
One Time Pad Toolkit 1.0 Cheezy Encryption
Othello 0.3 Graphical othello game written with GTK
Pack install monitor 1.1.0 Pack install monitor
PacNet Server 0.5 Server software for PacNet
PCI Utilities 1.10 Utilities for diagnostics and cofiguration of PCI devices
PCP 1.20 Pike CP - stubborn upload/download program
Perceps 3.4.1 Automatic documentation generator for C++
PiGTK Slashdot Headline Viewer 1.9 Slashdot Headline Viewer written in Pike/GTK.
Pike 0.6.110 Interpreted, object-oriented programming language with a syntax similar to C
PIKT 1.1 An innovative new systems administration paradigm
pilot-ldif 0.20 Program that uses pilot-addresses to sync the Netscape and Pilot address books
pilot2pine 0.1 Converts Palm Pilot addressbooks to pine's addressbook and vica versa
pkgbuild 0.1 The RPM package development environment
pload 0.9.2 Display ppp statistics in an X window
Prometheus Truecolour (PTC) 2.0.11-2 A portable, lowlevel framebuffer access library with very fast on the fly conver
psntools 2.0 Administrative tools for large numbers of accounts
qpopper-mysql 0.4b A patch to add a decent set of MySQL capabilities to qpopper 2.53
Qstat 2.2b A command-line program that displays the status of Internet Quake servers
Queue 1.10 Innovative load-balancing/batch-processing system and rsh replacement
QuickPPP 1.0 Simple console C utility that sets up a PPP connection to an ISP using pppd.
Quotes 1.2-0 Financial Quotations and Linux headlines
R 0.63.2 A language and environment for statistical computing.
radiusclient 0.3.1 framework and library for writing RADIUS clients
rand 1.5 random pipe
Rasca 1.0.0 Extended MP3 Player.
Ray++ 0.3 easily extensible C++ library for ray tracing
RealTimeBattle 0.9.5 RealTimeBattle, a robot programming game for Unix
Retardotracer 1.0.0 parallel (mostly reverse, some fowards) raytracer
rio v1.01dew1 A patch to the rio utilities to allow Rio->PC uploading
Rio&Mpman4Linux v1.01 Upload tools for MpMan portable MP3 players
RioExpress v0.005 Manager for the Rio portable MP3 player.
Ripenc 0.4 Bourne shell script frontend to Cdparanoia, and Bladeenc.
rq2proxy 2.0 A tunnelling proxy for Quake 2 (and other UDP-based games)
rscript 0.4b Remotely executes a list of commands as root or user, can email a confirmation.
Samba 2.0.0 Allows clients toaccess to a server's filespace and printers via SMB
shout 0.1.2 A supplying and a receiving client for the shoutcast streaming mp3 system.
SkyeFinger 0.12 A Finger client written in Java 1.1.
slap 2.2 SmartLabel printing for UNIX
splitfmnews 0.1.3 Splits the freshmeat newsletter digest into individual messages.
TCL Developer Studio 0.19 small
Teaser 0.3.1 Server for the Teaser and Firecat System
textoolspro 1.0 Nice boxes for structuring data, good for school and software projects
tgif 4.0.6
The CGI Toolkit 0.1.1-2 A simple support library to create CGI program.s
TiK 0.55 Tcl/Tk version of AOL Instant Messenger
Timesheet.php 0.70 PHP application to keep track of hours worked on a project.
tipxd 1.0.0 IPX tunneling daemon
tircproxy 0.4.3 Transparent IRC Proxy with DCC CHAT and DCC SEND support
tixlpq 0.3.6 Nice GUI for printmanagement
TkSmb 0.8.2b TclTk X11 shell for smbclient
TPROC 0.4 Very simple text processing language for assembling Text files.
Traveller's Linux 1.1.4 Minimal floppy Linux distribution
Trinux 0.48 2-disk distribution that includes network security tools and runs in RAM
TThread 0.1.3 A Cross-platfrom Threading library.
ttmkfdir current A tool to create fonts.dir files from TrueType fonts
Uptimed 0.03 Uptime record daemon keeping track of the highest uptimes the system ever had
VICE 0.16.1 Versatile Commodore Emulator
VM 6.64 Emacs-based mail reader
WallP 0.62 Random desktop wallpaper changer
Website META Language 1.6.8 Webdesign HTML-generation toolkit
WeT Perls 0.4.1 A set of Perl scripts to allow Web Themeing.
Windows 95/NT Masqdialer Client 1.2.0 Win95/NT Client for Jeff Meininger's MasqDialer Server
winMasqDialer Alternative Windows client for the Masqdialer server.
WMFreshmeat 1.1 Put Fresheat headlines in your Window Maker root menu.
WMLinuxToday 1.1 Put LinuxToday headlines in your Window Maker root menu.
WMSegfault 1.1 Put Segfault.org headlines in your Window Maker root menu.
WMSlashdot 1.1 Put Slashdot headlines in your Window Maker root menu.
wmsound 0.9.2 Sound server package for WindowMaker
WWWThreads 3-19990119 WWW based discussion forums
xap 0.5.4 X application panel and simple file manager
XawTV 2.34 TV application and a few utilities
Xcoral 3.2 Xcoral is a multiwindow mouse-based text editor for Unix/X11
XFgradebook 1.28 A simple grade tracking program for teachers written in Xforms.
xfsft 1.0.3 X11 font server with TrueType support and Internationalization
XGlobe 0.2 A toy that displays a globe on your X desktop
xhippo 0.3 Gtk-based playlist manager for various UNIX sound players
xpulse 0.2.4 System load gauge
Xwhois 0.2.9 Small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the internet whois network services.
xwpe-alpha 1.5.14a A programming environment for UNIX systems
YAX Standard Services 0.99.1 The Standard Services for the YAX API and YAX Window System.

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 last dinosaur and the tarpits of doom is a story about "How Linux smashed Windows." This story makes an interesting read; have a look if you've not yet checked it out.

The Red Hat Contrib|Net site has come a long way in recent times. It is now a pleasant and useful interface to Red Hat's contrib area, though it does seem that one has to click through a few too many layers to actually get to the software.

January 21, 1999



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.
From: Jonathan Maddox <maddoxj@sg.adisys.com.au>
To: "'editor@lwn.net'" <editor@lwn.net>
Subject: Creative Labs, OSS and Fairfax article.
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 14:56:45 +1100

It appears that the Fairfax IT columnist has made a bit of a
mistake.  Where the Creative Labs linux-kernel post mentions
'OSS', it doesn't mean "open-source software" (AFAIK, the
abbreviation OSS first turned up in the Halloween memos) but
the Open Sound System, the sound API used by the original
Linux sound driver (written by Hannu Savolainen), and also
for several other Unixes since Hannu went commercial

There are only 17576 three-letter acronyms.  It's hardly surprising
that some of them become overloaded, even in the same context.

It seems that Creative needs to hire a Linux developer for
exactly the opposite reason that Fairfax IT suggests.  If there
were no problem releasing programming specs, then the booming
Linux business world (aka Alan Cox, financially supported by
Red Hat) would write drivers for Creative Labs' new cards as a
matter of course, at no charge to Creative.  The SoundBlaster
range has *always* been the best-supported sound hardware under
Linux.  Hiring a full-time developer gives Creative Labs three
things:  the ability to develop drivers under Linux right from
the start (probably easier than doing it for Windows if Halloween
II is anything to go by) and avoid the wait between product
release and Linux support;  the ability to include linux installation
instructions in the packaging (which hasn't ever been necessary before,
it's an image thing);  and the option in the future of releasing
drivers which aren't GPLed, saving them from releasing low-level
hardware details.

Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 22:38:10 -0600
From: "Moderate your conflict circuits, Maximals" <robotech@eyrie.org>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: FUD for thought

I would like to make just a couple of points regarding this whole FUD
debate, from a point of view I have not yet seen here.

I think that the term FUD should _never_ be used, for two reasons.

The first is, whether it is "correct" or not to call a particular
criticism of Linux FUD, the useage of the term can be sorely

FUD is a term I'd never heard before the Halloween Documents, and
since that time hardly a day has gone by when I _haven't_ seen it used
somewhere.  At first I was kind of amused, then a bit beFUDdled :),
and it soon passed into annoyance.  Let's face it; FUD has become a
buzzword of the first water, not unlike "information superhighway"
(which isn't used as much anymore as it used to be, thank God).  The
meaning is murky at best, and at worst, it's simply another piece of
mud to fling at someone who says something you don't like.

Consider...what does FUD really mean?  The acronym expands to "Fear,
Uncertainty, and Doubt."  Is FUD, then, any statement that can cause
one to feel fear, uncertainty, or doubt about something?

If I said (and we'll assume for the following examples that everything
I say is the truth as I know it), "Operating System A's disk
compression system fried my hard drive" or "Operating System B is too
hard to install--I couldn't figure it out," is that FUD?

If I gather information for a nonbiased article that happens to
mention "Some users have found that OS A's disk compression system has
caused them to lose data" or "Some users have found OS B too hard to
install," is that FUD?

If I take a neutral poll (yes, I know...consider it a theoretical
concept, like the square root of -1 :) and report "8% of users report
OS A's disk compression system caused data loss" and "12% of users
found OS B too difficult to install" (to pull a couple of numbers
completely out of my hat), is _that_ FUD?

If so, why?  If not, why not?

Whenever I've seen the term "FUD" used, the definition by context has
invariably been "specifically, that F, U, & D disseminated by
someone with an agenda, hidden or otherwise, in direct opposition to
the object of said F, U, & D."

How can you _honestly_ determine whether someone has an agenda, and if
so, what it is?  Unless you know for sure (and I'll grant, in some
cases (such as Microsoft) you _can_ be pretty sure...but not too
many), it's just name-calling--and everyone else who reads it knows

And secondly, the way everyone's flinging "FUD" around, you'd think it
was just invented by Microsoft the other day.  It wasn't.  People have
been using fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics in commerce, in
politics, and in many other venues, probably for as long as man has
been a rational being.  It's one of the major tactics of persuasion
that we have--anyone who's ever taken a college course in persuasion
or public speaking should know that.  "Antacid X starts neutralizing
acid immediately, but Acid-Preventative Y takes at least an hour to
work!"  "If John Smith is elected, this city/district/state/nation
will be driven into the ground!"  And then there's the story of the
two butcher shops in London, one of which put up a big sign in its
window that said "THE QUEEN BUYS HER MEAT HERE!" and the other a sign
that said "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!"

If you're going to imply that Microsoft, or anyone else, is evil for
using the dreaded FUD tactics, you're going to have to broaden that to
include everyone else who uses those tactics too.  Advertising,
marketing, politics...well, not that they _aren't_ evil, but you
should at least be aware of it.
Chris Meadows aka  | Co-moderator, rec.toys.transformers.moderated
Robotech_Master    | Homepage: <URL:http://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/>
robotech@eyrie.org | PGP: <URL:http://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/rm.key.txt>   
robotech@jurai.net | ICQ UIN: 5477383 
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 10:09:31 -0500
From: Peter Leif Rasmussen <plr@isgtec.com>
To: "Moderate your conflict circuits, Maximals" <robotech@eyrie.org>
Subject: Re: FUD for thought

Very well said, point taken!

I agree to that "FUD" is very broad and perhaps too broad for some to
use as an argument in a discussion.

The way I have learned to use it, though, isn't to try to find out
what exactly was a fear, an uncertainty or what was doubtful in a
statement, but to detect when someone is trying to support an opinion
with smoke-and-mirrors.

Remember, the Linux world is [mostly] technical so if someone has fear
about something breaking they can ask about it in a straightforward
way and expect to get an answer in a similar way. The same goes to
uncertainty and doubt, so those situations aren't really high-profile
problems, but usual and everyday problems.

The reason some mudslinging becomes necessary is when someone without
a constructive agenda appears on the scene and someone has to make
everyone pay attention.

So, in my opinion the statement "this is FUD" usually tells me that
the person saying so thinks that there is something murky, unprecise
or a hidden agenda in an article or whatever, ie. "FUD" has become a
buzzword (or "keyword") where everyone sort of know what is going on
and at least have an idea of the direction.

Ergo, I can't explain to you when something is or isn't FUD, because
it will depend on the pre-opinion of the holder.

However, if the appearance of the acronym has meant that people
(sales, politics, religion, etc.) realizes that there is more to what 
people tell them, then I think that is great.



From: <mhammel@telecom.sna.samsung.com>
Subject: re: FUD and Linux press
To: editor@lwn.net
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 11:01:08 -0600 (CST)

Peter Rasmussen wrote:

   Following various mailing lists, eg. on vger.rutgers.edu, you will
   see plenty of criticism, so the Linux community doesn't think Linux
   is perfect.

A valid argument, except that most of the rest of world doesn't follow
those lists.  They follow the path of least resistance (ie whats the
easiest thing to get to) and read things like Slashdot, LWN, and Linux
Today.  They get to these through more mainstream press like
LinuxWorld (which you'll note has no links to any mailing lists -
except for archives of c.o.l.a, which is editorial free anyway).
Additionally, mailing lists are not news sources per se.  People don't
go there just to hear what is going on in the Linux world.

I have to agree with Barry's original point: much criticism of Linux
is referred to as "FUD" by the Linux community's online news sources.
In a few cases the original articles were simply written by those who
had no interest in using Linux, much like I have no interest in using
Microsoft products.  This isn't "FUD" - its personal choice and a
valid point of view.  I consider it unprofessional to refer to
dissenting opinions as "FUD" and will not make such references in my
column, The Graphics Muse.  If we want to be taken seriously we - the
Linux press - have to act as if we'll take the competition, or
detractors, seriously as well.

Rebuttal by example to show where the original article is in error is
fine, but name calling is just not acceptable.  "FUD" may stand for
"fear, uncertainty and doubt" but in its acronymal form it has become
a derogatory expression.  It should no longer be used by the Linux
press.  The Linux world is one of high quality and support.  There is
no reason the Linux press should not be the same.

As to LWN not tolerating alternative viewpoints, I'd say that isn't
really true.  They do post critical opinions in their Letters to the
Editor section.  But they also occassionally refer to articles which
attack Linux as "FUD".  And I don't agree with that.  LWN is a good
and vital source of Linux information and should strive to avoid the
use of such terms.

Michael J. Hammel
The Graphics Muse
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 12:31:53 +0900 (JST)
From: David Moles <deivu@tomigaya.shibuya.tokyo.jp>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: corel netwinder

I'm not sure this is as much a letter to the editor as it is
a cry for help. :) But --

The Netwinder looks like a great box. The form factor alone
probably makes it worth the money -- since what I do doesn't
require much floating-point. And for software development, it's
always nice to have some non-x86 platforms floating around to
make sure your stuff doesn't have hidden dependencies.

Unfortunately, I've been trying to buy a Netwinder as an
evaluation box for my company for the last three months, and
haven't had any response from Corel after filling out every
form on their web site. (I'm in a time zone close to the date
line, so calling Ottawa isn't really an option.) If anyone
from Corel Computer is reading this, drop me a line! Or if
anyone has an email address for an individual human at Corel,
I'd appreciate that, too.


David Moles

P.S. Dear editor -- I don't know if this is the sort of thing
you'd put on the back page, but if not, I'd appreciate it if
you'd at least put a summary of the note somewhere where it
might be seen. Thanks.
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