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The Linux Weekly News is one year old! Our first announced issue was January 29, 1998. It has been a great year, though it is probably good that we didn't know what we were getting into ahead of time. Many thanks to our readers who have made this exercise so rewarding. We intend to be here for you for many more years.

We thought about trying to interview Linus for the first anniversary issue, but he's a busy guy and that has already been done. So, instead, please have a look at this week's feature article: an interview with kernel hacker Alan Cox. We're pleased with the result, and hope you will be too.

Kernel 2.2.0, the first major stable release in two years, hit the net on Monday, January 25. No formal announcement has yet been made; the best to be found currently is this file in the distribution directory; it can not be accused of excess verbosity.

Much has been said about this kernel in LWN over the previous months; there is little to add at this point. Except, of course, that congratulations are due to everybody who had a part in getting this release out the door. It has been a long job, well done.

Congratulations are also in order for Ian Hay, winner of the Tummy.com kernel pool. He managed, back last fall, to peg the release time of 2.2.0 within 45 minutes. Not bad.

Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Graphics, Inc. will begin supporting Linux on their hardware. The news was initially broken in this Wall Street Journal article (reprinted also in MSNBC). HP has since confirmed the news with a press release describing their plans. Initially the "NetServer LPr" will be available with Red Hat Linux installed; other NetServer systems - including, eventually, Merced-based systems - will be made available in the future.

Silicon Graphics will apparently make the details of their plans available on Thursday, after LWN has gone to press. Please see our daily updates page for information from SGI as it becomes available. The word is that SGI will support their own version of Linux, rather than go with an existing distribution.

The importance of these moves can not be overestimated. There are certainly no plans to mothball HPUX or IRIX anytime soon, but the writing is appearing on the wall. Proprietary Unix systems are increasingly an anachronism, and will find it ever hard to compete. (The same can be said of other proprietary operating systems, of course, eventually). It is going to be an interesting ride. (See also: articles in ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, Reuters, and Wired News).

The news that the TCP Wrapper source code was temporarily replaced with a version containing a backdoor burst upon the Security community on January 21st, with this note from Wietse. TCP Wrappers is a widely-used security tool used to protect systems from unauthorized access to specific system processes. The incident generated this CERT advisory.

Tcp wrappers was not the only program doctored on this site. Just as serious, util-linux2.9g (not associated with Wietse) on the same site was also modified. Util-linux contains a large variety of low-level system utilities necessary for a functional Linux system, including fdisk and login. Code in login.c, for example, was modified to generate a message with information about the affected host and mail it to an account on Hotmail. Although the correct util-util2.9g has been restored, all files on ftp.win.tue.nl must be considered suspect for now.

The story gathered a lot of media attention, with the normal SlashDot coverage as well more mainstream articles in MSNBC (duplicated on Zdnet) and the San Jose Mercury News.

What was important about this incident? There are a few points we'd like to make. The first is the need for individuals to use the security mechanisms that are provided to determine whether or not a file is authentic. This point was hammered home in Bruce Peren's November article in the Linux Weekly News, The Trojan Horse. This incident is exactly what Bruce predicted. Sites will be broken into, files will be modified, but we can protect ourselves by verifying the software we download before we use it. However, the fact that people are not using the tools that have been provided is also an indication that the tools may not be sufficient. More automated, easy-to-use tools that are built into the Linux distributions would help make sure that newcomers learn how to download software safely. They would also help those of us with heavy work loads and severe time crunches (anyone not fit that category?).

The second point, and the good news, is that the modified files were caught very quickly. This incident was an excellent demonstration that open source software allows for the quick detection of security problems and their swift resolution.

This is only the beginning of the story. This problem was found quickly and resolved, but this style of attack is going to continue. Be careful, everyone!

The Windows refund movement is snowballing. The "refund day" plans have gotten a lot of press and interest; it is certain to be an interesting event. We have little to add beyond what other web sites are providing in the way of information. The closest thing to an "official" windows refund site is this one hosted by LinuxMall. Bay Area folks can check out the Bay Area refund page. And the definitive set of windows refund web links (including press coverage) can be found on The Open Directory Project windows refund page.

One interesting windows refund story comes from "Donna.", who managed to get a refund back in the good old days of 1997. See the story for the details. In all cases, persistence and time seem to be required. Of course, the amount of the refund is so small that many people choose not to spend the time, a fact on which Microsoft is likely counting. That makes the grass-roots effort to demand the refunds more important, to increase the number of refunds requested and hopefully received as well as to draw media attention to the effect Microsoft's policies have on the average person.

January 28, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.



Does building a serial number into each computer processor improve security? Intel argues that it does in this article on the upcoming Pentium III chip. However, Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography argues differently in his article. In fact, he predicts that "patches that randomize the ID number will be available on hacker Web sites within days of the new chips hitting the streets." He gives a persuasive case that the only real use for the CPU serial number will be to discourage theft and depress the market for stolen processors. [Found in ISN]

Security Reports

The incidents this week where source for TCP Wrappers and other software packages was modified on ftp.win.tue.nl is covered this week on our Front Page. One detail not mentioned there was that the original CERT advisory contained an error and a revised edition was posted as a result. Also note that no advisory was posted for the modifications to util-linux package. Again, please use these incidents, which are not going to be the last, to justify the time and effort required to check the signatures on packages before you install them.

As a following note, Trevor Johnson has released util-linux-2.9h. His posting indicates that the new version is available on both sunsite and tsx-11. And, of course, check the checksum if you choose to download it!

A long thread on Bugtraq discussed problems with ssh, specifically situations where people with expired accounts were still allowed to access a system through ssh. To fix, both ssh 1.2.26 and 2.0.11 can be recompiled with the -DHAVE_STRUCT_SPWD_EXPIRE configuration parameter, as explained in this note from Raymond T Sundland. The thread also contained a lot more discussion of the authorization process. Aleph One summed up the situation best in one of his administrative notes:

It simply comes down to the fact that SSH, like all other services, must check all available authorization policies before providing its service. But the large set of possible restrictions implemented by different unix flavors (account expiration, password expiration, time of day, source location, load, etc) almost assure that it will miss some of them.

Leif Sawyer reported a Quake 2 Server Crashed, apparently caused by a buffer overflow. The matter has been reported. Signal 11 confirmed a similar problem in Quakeworld, which was resolved some time ago. Additional information and confirmation that at least one of these overflows is now being actively exploited, was found in this note, forwarded to Bugtraq by Patrick Oonk. Fixes for the problems are in the works, but not yet available.

John Stanley reported reported a security problem with the WebRamp M3, a small SOHO router, where turning off "visible computer" is much less effective than one would hope. Technical support at WebRamp is apparently not much interested in the report, and possibly not in James Engelhof's note, containing well-known, default passwords for the WebRamp. None of this speaks well for security at this company. Hopefully they will wake up and address the problems soon.

Spikeman reported a bug in Mirc 5.5's newly introduced dcc server. Sandro Jurado followed up with a few more details.


Last week, we mentioned reports from Michal Zalewski regarding bugs in the latest version of sendmail, version 8.9.2. This week, this post from Gregory Shapiro states that, working with Michal, they have concluded that the first reported "bug" is, in fact, a configuration error. He recommends that people upgrading to 8.9.2 be sure to upgrade their sendmail.cf as well.

As for the "Headers Prescan" Denial-of-Service vulnerability that Michal mentioned, the posting above indicates that they verified Michal's patch, improved it and the fixes will be incorporated into sendmail-8.9.2. The latest patch and instructions are in the posting for those who want to fix their sendmail immediately. Note, there is a minor error in the posting, pointed out by Phil Stracchino.


HERT (Hacker Emergency Response Team) has released auditd 1.10 for Linux. Auditd is part of the linux kernel auditing toolkit.

Bryan Andregg posted a note to remind or inform people that the domains example.com and example.net have been reserved for use in documentation, examples and talks, to prevent real domains from being passed around and therefore abused.


The Call-For-Papers for the New Security Paradigms Workshop 1999, to be held September 22nd through the 24th in Caledon Hills, Ontario, Canada, has been released.

January 28, 1999


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel version is ... actually, there is no development kernel currently. The current kernel is, of course, 2.2.0. People are starting to pound on the kernel in a serious way, and development is in the "further stabilize the stable kernel" mode.

In fact, Linus announced that he had no plans to release even a 2.2.1 kernel for "several weeks." Alas, he said that just before reading this note announcing the discovery of the "ldd core" bug. Essentially, if you run "ldd core" on a stock 2.2.0 kernel, you will find yourself in "fsck the disks" mode in a hurry.

The response to this bug was a classic example of Linux parallel debugging. Reports flew back and forth as people closed in on the problem; the culmination was this patch from Ingo Molnar which closes up the hole. (Ingo also posted a minimal exploit program showing the operation that actually caused the crash). The total elapsed time was about nine hours. No proprietary system can ever match that sort of bugfix performance.

As a result of all this, a 2.2.1 release is quite likely within the next few days.

Alan Cox announced that the "-ac" patch series is done for now, then promptly put out 2.2.0ac1, which contains a number of fixes that didn't squeak into the 2.2.0 release, then 2.2.0ac2 with more fixes, including the "ldd core" crash fix.

Some resources for people upgrading to 2.2, since there have been reports of problems. You need current versions of a number of utilities, including networking and PPP. The changes file on LinuxHQ gives a list of the various software versions you need to have to run 2.2 successfully. Do give it a look before upgrading, and certainly before complaining about something that does not work. See also Alan Cox's 'Clue-point-two' document for answers to some frequently asked questions. Finally, Joseph Pranevich has put out the "absolutely final version" of his Wonderful World of Linux 2.2 document, which is a great overview of the changes in 2.2.

If you want to build 2.2.0 on a Sparc system, you should obtain and apply the Sparc patch posted by David Miller.

The memory management issue refuses to go away even though 2.2.0 is now out. There are some grumblings within the ranks of kernel developers. Some of the outstanding issues include:

  • Systems with more than 2GB of memory are not easily supportable under Linux. This discussion did not get very far before Linus simply squashed it. His position is that people who want to run that much memory should do so on a 64-bit system. "This is not negotiable."

  • Allocation of large (4MB) physically contiguous memory areas in the kernel. The sad fact is that there are increasing numbers of peripherals, such as sound cards and frame grabbers, which require this sort of allocation. Solutions to this problem seem to involve some sort of complicated shuffling of data structures in memory, not for the faint of heart. An attempt to make it work in 2.3 is likely.

  • General interactive response. There are complaints that the 2.2 kernels are far worse than the late 2.1 kernels in terms of response under load. See, for example, this note from Stephen Tweedie. There is, it would seem, a need for more tweaking in this area, if not for some more major work (such as adding the ability to swap out page tables).

Numerous people hunted a problem with the Netscape browser, wherein it would freeze at inopportune times. Many suspected a kernel bug, but the problem turns out to be in Netscape's court. If you're having these sorts of difficulties, consider using this hackposted by Stanislav Meduna. The code has its own problems (see this note from the author), so it should not be used without need. But people with browser difficulties may find some relief here.

Linux-kernel mail on vger backed up yet again, leading to another disabling of anonymous CVS access on that system. "Fear not," says David Miller; another system is coming in to host the anonymous CVS function.

More resource limitations: the bandwidth upgrade for kernel.org has been delayed again, for at least a couple more months. As a result, kernel.org will remain difficult to get into for a while; people looking for kernels should just use the mirror sites.

Version 5.0.1 of the Coda filesystem has been released, see the announcement for more. This is a bugfix release.

The "Kernel Traffic" site has moved and adopted a new format as well. Check them out at the new site.

Another four-letter word in the kernel. Some of you may remember the article in our October 15 kernel section, wherein somebody had grepped through the kernel source for their favorite vulgar word and found many matches. It's hard not to draw a parallel between that exercise and this message from Dave Jones. Dave went looking for a different offensive word, and was "shocked" to find almost 1,000 goto's in the kernel source. Certainly this code is insufficiently structured for sophisticated company! "The use of constructs such as goto are outdated crutches used by people too lazy to write a more structured solution." As may be expected, a bit of discussion resulted from this posting, mostly defending the use of goto in particular situations. In any case, the odds of Linus accepting a large un-gotoing patch are probably small...

January 28, 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.



Want to install Linux 2.2.0 on Caldera OpenLinux 1.3? Check this upgrade list from Erik Ratcliffe. It lists packages he had to upgrade in order to install 2.2 and the level of the package required, along with a great deal of other useful tips on changes in 2.2 that may affect you.

Troy Will is starting to create an OpenLinux Printer Support Page at this address. He has invited people to send problem reports to him. He'll try to help and will log his efforts on the support page.

Last, some minor hassles with the Caldera mail archives have cropped up. As a result, the mail archives will be re-done on February 1st.


This week's Debian Weekly News is the first to become an official part of the Debian web-site. Many of the following items were gleaned from the Debian Weekly News.

Volunteers are needed to help man the Debian booth at the upcoming LinuxWorld conference. The booth was donated by Linux Central. For more information, check this Debian page.

Brian White has cautiously agreed to allow a source package for the Linux 2.2.0 kernel to ship with Debian 2.1. This is good news for anyone who wants to be able to easily use the new kernel with the latest version of Debian.

A draft version of a document on the Great X Reorganization was posted by Branden Robinson this week. It explains the package naming changes in the Debian X package structure that are part of the Debian 2.1 release.

Here is a recent summary of the status of the Debian Sparc version of slink. It talks about boot floppies, X and kernel issues, among other ongoing concerns.

For those of you that like the gory details, here is the list of release-critical bugs still remaining to be fixed before Debian 2.1 is released.


The Linux Mandrake News for January 27th is available. It covers MandrakeSoft's plans for the upcoming IT COMDEX in Paris, France. Also mentioned was the City of Garden Grove, CA, choice to use the Mandrake distribution for most of their production servers and all of their systems analysts.

Production on the Linux-Mandrake PowerPack has started and it is expected to be available "very soon". They tell us to expect some good surprises next week.


Michael Santos has released a New Kensington test kernel, a new version of the modified Generic #6 kernel which should restore support for older devices.

Red Hat

The Red Hat XFree86 updates on update.redhat.com were upgraded to XFree86 on January 22nd. The latest version incorporates bug fixes and drivers for some new hardware, including full support for the Matrox G100/G200 PCI cards. For more information, see http://www.xfree86.org/#news.

The Rawhide site was "knackered" this week, meaning that many important packages are missing. This note from Bill Nottingham indicates that Red Hat is aware of the problem and it will hopefully be fixed with this week's release of Raw Hide.


A Slackware Message Board has been created, to help handle the many technical questions that started rolling in after the Slackware.com web-site came on-line. Check it out at http://www.slackware.com/forum.


The non-natives are getting restless ... , that is, the non-German SuSE users are asking when SuSE 6.0 will be out. Frequently. Again and again. The answer still seems to "end of January" and the end of the month is not quite here yet ...

And yes, SuSE 6.0 is Linux kernel 2.2 ready, so people who prefer the latest kernel should be able to drop it into 6.0 without a problem.


The Trinux Web Mail List Index has been taken down due to problems with glimpse.

January 28, 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


There is no new information on the Java 1.2 port to Linux this week. This status report from last week explains the situation. Don't expect anything to change soon. As always, the place to check for the announcement when the 1.2 port is ready is http://www.blackdown.org/java-linux/ports.html#jdk1.2. We're confident the developers will get an announcement up incredibly fast once the port is ready, if only to stop the flood of requests for information that still fill the java-linux mailing list.

This week, we ran across a reference to Enhydra, an Open Source Java application server and development environment. "Enhydra.org's goal is to evolve an Open Source Java application server in the spirit of the Apache Project. "

Dustin Lang happily reported that the jdk 1.1.6 and the linux 2.2.0 kernel are happily co-existing.


The latest information on Perl is generally available on the Perl Institute's News page. The site currently lists 9 new Perl Monger's groups that have been formed and announced this week, from Switzerland through Singapore. Over 40 new modules have been announced, so rather than duplicate the list here, we strongly suggest you check this page instead. It is updated on a daily basis.

Maintenance Trial 4 for perl5.005_03 is available in Graham Barr's CPAN directory and a final release may be out early next week.

CPAN has been ported to MacPerl. cpan-mac-0.21 is the name of the latest version of the package.


This week's Python-URL! was published Wednesday, January 27th. Several of the following items were gleaned from this issue.

Instant Python, a 6-page tutorial on Python, created by Magnus Lie Hetland, is now available and offers a crash course in Python.

A tutorial on sockets, GUIs, graphs/paths/nodes, prototyping, and analyzing C code is available and contains Python examples.

PySol 2.02, a new version of the solaritaire game, is now available.

The O'Reilly Python Conference will be held as part of their Open Source Conference, August 21-24, 1999 in Monterey, California. Here is their Call-For-Papers, which has a submission deadline of February 15th.


Peter Hatch wrote us a note to let us know that the official release for the Linux version of VisualWorks is scheduled for the first week in March, as part of the LinuxWorld Expo. They'll have a couple of booths there as well.

A Smalltalk community is being formed on Excite.com. Reports are that about 50 people have signed up so far, though several people had trouble logging on over the weekend, due to problems with the Excite servers.

Helge Horch posted a long note on Design by Interface in Squeak, which responds to Robb Shecter's article in Doctor's Dobb's entitled "Design by Interface" and the question of how well the principles in his article applied to Smalltalk.


The 7th USENIX Tcl/Tk Conference will be held February 14-18, 2000 in Austin, Texas, USA. Here is more information for those that are interested.

Andrew Friedl is looking for people wishing to continue support and development of the TclOCx/AxTcl COM wrapper for Tcl. See his posting for more details. Otherwise, support for this site will be terminated February 1st.

This week's TCL-URL! is available and contains Scriptics business news as well as links to several useful postings.

Bras, a program that implements rule-based command execution using Tcl, now has a new version available.

Scriptics has announced the first beta release of TclPro 1.2 The new release contains support for two powerful extensions, Expect 5.28 and TclX 8.0.5.


Our attention was called to the Eiffel Liberty news page, where one can catch up on all the current happenings in the Eiffel world.

January 28, 1999



Development projects


The February 1999 issue of the Linux Journal has an article on COAS. An on-line version is not yet available. Author Olaf Kirch discusses why they chose Python to develop the user interaction code.


The gnome-network package has been released. It includes both a talk program and gnome-sync.

GnobotsII has been added to the CVS gnome-games module. See Mark Rae's announcement for more details.

Alfredo Kojima has merged his official libPropList with the Gnome version and provided a tarball of the results. Miguel and the rest of the GNOME team sent their thanks.


The Harmony project, whose goal was to create an LGPL version of the Qt library, is dead. Its final whimper came in the form of this note to the freeqt mailing list stating that the project is closed, and that the CVS archive is no longer accepting updates to the modules (which were not being updated by anybody anyway).

The release of Qt under a less restrictive license (expected to soon be blessed as Open Source(tm)/DFSG-compliant) apparently made the project unnecessary in the eyes of the former Harmony developers.


KDE Beta 1.1 beta has been announced. Barring any major bug reports, this is the version that will become KDE 1.1. [Reported to us by LinuxToday].

Reviews of the new product are now available, including this one in The Mining Co. There are no earth-shattering changes between KDE 1.0 and the pre-1.1 release. What has been added are those two things so long lacking in the Linux desktop field: polish and maturity.

In addition, this Linux Journal review is now out. It reviews KDE 1.0 from the perspective of a new user and contains some good tips on getting things up and running. What about KDE's drawbacks? So far, I haven't found anything with KDE that I don't like or that is ``broken''. It seems to be solidly engineered and stable. I'm keeping it!

Martin Konold reported that people should keep automake 1.3 in order to work with KDE-1.1. He promises that KDE will be fixed to work with automake 1.4 after the official release of KDE 1.1, coming up soon.

A bug in the cvsup services has been fixed. Stephan Kulow has invited people to give it another try and mentions that they still need more mirrors.

The KDE Bug Tracking System is now on-line, thanks to the efforts of Stephan Kulow and others. It is available at http://bugs.kde.org.

Robert Williams took a moment to report that KDE is functioning well, without problems, on sites using the new Linux 2.2.0 kernel.

New KDE packages (besides KDE 1.1) released this week:


Icecast 0.8.2 is now out! Jack Moffitt tells us that it contains mostly bug fixes. However, the Icecast team is very excited that Alexander Havang, author of shout, has come on-board. Iceplay has been replaced with his code as a result. Check the Icecast home page for more details.


As always, check MozillaZine.org for the latest information on the Mozilla and Netscape projects. This week, they have some excellent references to the progress of the NGLayout ActiveX Control Operational, Apprunner, New Tree Widgets, and the release of ElectricalFire, a JIT Java Virtual Machine in-progress.

Jazille is available on the "Just Java 1.2" CDROM (comes with the book by Peter van der Linden). Here's the plug from the Jazilla group. Jazilla is also experimenting with a new look for their web-site. Barring any loud objections, it should become the official new look soon.


Bertho Stultiens has finished a working version of the preliminary win16 elf-dll interface and made it available. The correct URL for access it is http://www.akhphd.au.dk/~bertho/wine/elfdll.

Der Spiegel published an article on Wine on page 166 of their 4/1999 issue. No URL is currently available. Reports are that it is based on the New York Times article.

WineHQ is now running CVSup. Here are some brief instructions on how to use it.


The Zope license has been re-done and is now officially certified Open Source(tm), as demonstrated by this message from Bruce Perens, kindly forwarded to us by Paul Everitt.

Amos Latteier was kind enough to write and make sure we had the latest Zope news for the week. He mentioned in particular the alpha release of ZServer, an integration of the Zope application server and the Medusa information server. "It allows Zope to simultaneously use multiple protocols such as HTTP and FTP and lays the ground work for concurrent access in Zope 2."

He also mentioned some Zope 1.10 plans. The pre-release of Zope 1.10 is scheduled to occur late next week. Zope 1.10 is the first Zope release containing contributions and patches produced by the Zope community, a direct return from Digital Creation's decision to release all of the source code for Zope.

It will include:

  • DTML Documents / DTML Methods
  • Property support for DTML Docs, files, images
  • Absolute URL generation
  • Height/width etc. enhancements to Images
  • SearchIndex, BTree built in
  • Assorted bug fixes and small improvements

Last, Ken Manheimer has joined Digital Creations from CNRI, where he was previously involved in the operation of the PSA and the python.org site. Ken will work on Zope community projects. From another source, we heard that Digital Creations was planning on hiring an additional 9 staff members. Ken Manheimer and Michel Pelletier, also recently hired, are apparently the first two to come on board. We are glad to see Digital Creations doing so well in the wake of their decision to support open source.


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Loki Entertainment Software arrived on the scene recently, proclaiming their intention to port commercial games to Linux. This week they finally answered the obvious question: which ones? The first game they port will be "Civilization: Call to Power" by Activision. Your editor must confess to a certain amount of ignorance of the current gaming scene, having gotten most of that out of his system back when "Adventure" and "Empire" were the height of technology. But the word is that this is a fairly impressive game for them to start with; it could be the one that signals the rise of Linux as a serious gaming platform. The Linux release is supposed to happen at the same time as the Windows version.

See also this interview with the principals of Loki Entertainment Software that was done by the folks at LinuxPower.

Indelible Blue has announced its entry into the Linux market. Indelible Blue, currently the biggest fish in the OS/2 world, seems to have decided that Linux is a good place for them to be. They will likely prove to be some pretty strong competition for the existing Linux software vendors. "Indelible Blue's rapidly expanding product collection features commercially available Linux hardware and software products, giving the thriving Linux community a one-stop central resource that meets all their hardware, application software, and development tools needs."

Pacific HiTech made some moves this week. Perhaps most significant was the release of TurboLinux 3.0.1 in the U.S. Pacific HiTech intends to move out of its Asian stronghold and challenge the established distributions on the other side of the pond. It will be an interesting battle. The U.S., however, is not the only place they are looking. Also announced this week was the opening of an office for Australia and New Zealand, headed by John Terpstra of Samba fame.

Hardware Computer Canada believes in Linux according to a message sent out to the "NetWinder/Linux community" by Mac Brown, their CEO. HCC, of course, is the company which is buying the Netwinder division from Corel. The message describes HCC and what they do, and talks about their plans for the Netwinder. "HCC believes in Linux. Our expertise in Unix will assist us in the transition into this marketplace. HCC plans on moving forward with an IPO to further support the development of the NetWinder product line. HCC's goal is to be 'one of the first pure Linux plays on the stock market'."

Sybase will ship a Linux version of their "SQL Anywhere Studio," according to this PC Week article. The move is due to "incredible customer demand," according to a Sybase manager. Once again, the database companies are finding that there is a real market for their products on Linux.

A new Linux distributor in the U.K. The Linux Source has popped up on the web with Linux distributions, books, etc.

More developers than NT. Here's another press release from Microsoft, with, as usual, the "Linux defense." "Linux is rapidly emerging as a major competitor to Windows. Indeed, the number of developers working on improving Linux vastly exceeds the number of Microsoft developers working on Windows NT"

Press Releases:

January 28, 1999


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Linux in the news

Another busy week for Linux in the press. Actually, every week is busy anymore...

We have not included "windows refund" stories in the press page this week. There are far too many of them, and they are mostly all the same. Folks interested in collecting the whole set may want to head over to The Open Directory Project windows refund page, where you can read windows refund stories all day long...

For this week's recommended reading:

  • J. William Gurley takes into the world of Big Fat Web Sites in this News.com column. BFW's are server farms built to serve the needs of very high bandwidth web servers. Gurley points out that the design needs are very different for this sort of system, and talks about the sorts of tools that engineers use. "Another interesting development is the rise of open-source computing... While few information system managers have the desire to dive deep into the source code of SAP financials, engineers assigned to scale a big Web site typically are more than willing to 'open the hood' and see if a few personalized tweaks might allow for a few more page views per minute."

  • This editorial in Doctor Dobb's Journal puts forward an interesting question: what happens when large numbers of Windows programmers get shifted over into the Linux world and start "fixing up" things they don't like? "Once even a small portion of the Linux development community gets religious about usability and human factors issues, which might only happen through a demographic shift, the product could change radically in a single major release." (Thanks to David Magda).

  • The Guardian ran a couple of articles on the 21st about Eric Raymond's talks in London, and comparing him to Richard Stallman.

    "EVERY software company would like to own the software that runs the Internet, but an American libertarian `gun nut' and martial arts expert called Eric Raymond stands in their way. `If the Microsoft ninja attack squad comes calling, I'll be ready for them,' he says, laughing heartily."

    "However, [Stallman] sees the freedom to change, to copy, and to share software as being more important than anything else, because it is an ethical issue. Raymond thinks it's more important for software to be good than for it to be free: `if we can't win by producing the best software then we don't deserve to win any moral crusades,' he says."

  • Eric Raymond has published an article in Intellectual Capital, a relatively conservative, business-oriented electronic publication. It does speak well to that audience, worth a read. "...it probably will not be long before buying closed-source software for your key infrastructure is considered the height of irresponsibility." (Found in Slashdot).

  • The (U.S.) National Public Radio ran another segment on Linux over the weekend. You can listen to it via RealAudio from this NPR page (near the bottom). It talks about installation difficulties, great performance, and the fact that the real battle is being fought in corporate computer rooms. "Imagine paying thousands of dollars for an operating system that crashes constantly. And then consider that there's a free and stable alternative." (Thanks to Michael Rutter).

  • The IEEE Software special issue on Linux is now available on the web. Articles are available in PDF format only, and registration is required (though the "cypherpunks" account works as usual).
There were a few articles on the 2.2 kernel release, perhaps fewer than one might have expected.
  • Sm@rt Reseller covers the 2.2 kernel release. "Microsoft Corp. will shout it out to the world when Windows 2000 finally ships. Linux creator Linus Torvald [sic] announced the arrival of the next generation of Linux, version 2.2, with a simple note to the Linux-kernel mailing list."

  • The "ITinfo Newsletter" ran an article about the 2.2.0 release and Linux in general. "If you're in the IT business and you haven't tested Linux yet, get with it. It's the future of IT network services, and it's a snap to install and learn." (Thanks to Henrik Soderstrom).

  • News.com had some pre-release 2.2 coverage. Their emphasis is on how the new kernel will make things work better for businesses. "Linux developers emphasize that Linux is a constant work in progress, though. Watching the kernel version click past 2.2.0 is like watching your car's odometer click past 50,000 miles." (Thanks to David Fred).

As is generally the case any more, a great portion of the coverage of Linux had to do with Linux in and around business.

  • Loki Entertainment Software is in the news, following their announcement that they will be porting "Civilization: Call to Power" to Linux. Games Mania ran a brief article on the subject. GameSpot dug just a little deeper with this piece. And here's another in News.com's GameCenter.

  • Computer Reseller News covers TurboLinux. "Of all the Linux companies, Pacific HiTech officials said they are the world's second largest, having shipped more than 1 million units of TurboLinux since 1998."

  • News.com covers the arrival of TurboLinux in the U.S. "Primarily a big player in the Asian computing market, Pacific HiTech needs to establish itself in the U.S. market, analysts and company executives say."

  • "Linux yet to impact job market" proclaims this very short ZDNet UK article. "Of the six IT recruitment firms contacted by ZDNN, none had found an increase in demand for Linux experts."

  • PC Week says Linux boxes show promise for the enterprise. The story ranges over the Netwinder (in cluster configuration), Lotus, and the Windows refund effort. "What if you are suffering an embarrassment of riches at the same time you are suffering the legal embarrassment of being labeled a marauding monopolist by the Justice Department? ... Why not refund the $100 (my estimate) Windows PC license fee for users who prefer Linux, BeOS or OS/2 on their systems?"

  • This introductory article in Business Week can't manage to say anything good without putting in a "but..." somewhere. "To sell more computers to Linux buffs, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HWP) will create Linux-based servers in the next few months, says Nigel Ball, head of HP's Internet application server unit." (Thanks to Marty Leisner).

  • Performance Computing has run a lengthy review of Xi Graphics' "MaXimum CDE" product - a bundling of Linux with their AcceleratedX server and CDE. "All in all, I found this a workable version of the CDE. It looked, felt, and acted exactly as if I were running the CDE on other systems, which is the true goal of this product."

  • Information Week reviews the Netwinder. They like it quite a bit, though, seemingly, mostly for its small size. "Once we stop revering the server as the great IT centerpiece and think of it as a commodity, new possibilities emerge. Want a backup server? Keep one in the closet. Don't even keep it turned off: Spend the watts and keep it progressively backing up the primary server's file system. Need extra security? Lock it in a file cabinet or store it in a safety deposit box."

  • The February issue of the Red Herring has a long feature on free software. The article has not yet surfaced on their web site, but should eventually (we'll let you know). "But despite the real and considerable benefits of this development model, open-source software is not likely to upset the balance of power between big players and newer entrants in the software markets. And despite the publicity surrounding a few companies that focus exclusively no open-source software, it will not be the force thast drives the next wave of startups to success." The article has also made Linus Torvalds into the Chief Technology Officer at Transmeta....

  • Linux bandwagon grows according to InfoWorld. This article covers a number of business activities around Linux, touching on HP, Compaq, IBM, and Lotus. "'I have to admit that I was skeptical about why the world needed another Unix, but the advantages are now clear to me,' said Lotus CEO Jeff Papows"

  • Linux pecking order emerges according to PC Week. The article is about the competition between Red Hat and Caldera. "On the surface, all Linux vendors claim to have a huge stake in resellers and integrators. But Caldera's channel program runs circles around those from Red Hat, S.u.S.E. Inc. and Pacific HiTech..."

  • The Age has an article about Australian company Cybersource, and its Red Hat support business. "Cybersource's business model, and that of other Red Hat support partners, is around offering the software for free, but charging for support and service."

  • The National Post looks at Compaq and Red Hat. They also mention briefly the Canadian National Railway and its use of Linux, then wander back into the same old territory: "I don't think that means the people who are using the strategy are really planning to go away from Microsoft software. They just want as viable alternative so that when they're doing negotiations they can say, 'We don't like your pricing, we're going over here." (Thanks to Ariel Andres).

  • The Washington Post examines Microsoft's "Linux defense". "Asked whether Linux poses a competitive threat to Microsoft's dominance of the desktop operating system market, [Red Hat CEO] Young chortled. 'It just tells you how desperate Microsoft is for a competitor that they're holding up a software box produced by 100 guys in the hills of North Carolina,' he said. 'Who are they trying to kid?'" (Thanks to Tony Aparicio).

  • Jesse Berst, noted expert, tells us How to persuade your boss to take the Linux plunge. "...if it is ever to join the mainstream as a bona fide rival to Windows NT, Linux will have to provide logical business reasons, not just religious zeal."

  • Also in AnchorDesk: a brief articleabout reseller programs. "In the end, the winner may be the one that jumps on the channel bandwagon first. On the surface, all Linux vendors claim to have a huge interest in resellers and integrators. But Caldera's channel program runs circles around those from Red Hat, S.u.S.E. Inc., and Pacific HiTech."
We came across a number of articles in the non-English press:
  • Here's an article (in Swedish) in Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest daily paper. (Thanks to Martin Skjöldebrand).

  • Dutch-capable readers may want to check out this article on the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs web site. It appears to be a quite thorough introduction to Linux, with tables comparing the distributions, pointers to documentation, etc. (Thanks to Jeroen Baten).

  • C't ran a review of SuSE 6.0. The review is in German. They do not appear to have an English version online, so Babelfishmust be used. (Thanks to Matthias Hettler).

  • For our readers who can read Icelandic: here is an article about the Icelandic version of KDE. According to Ingimar Robertsson, who sent us the pointer to the article, "The newspiece tells about the translation to Icelandic and that one of the reasons the translation project started was that the Icelandic Government had started negotiations with Microsoft about an Icelandic version of Windows."

  • Finalmente un articolo in italiano...The high profile Italian new magazine L'Espresso has published a lengthy introductory article on Linux. Here is the Babelfish link, however, be warned that something seems to cause Babelfish to choke on this article.

    So here, in your editor's poor translation, is a piece of the closing paragraph: "The most interesting, thing, though, is the economic and productive model that free software demonstrates: cooperative and distributed work, intellectual synergies, reciprocal interests which bring about the growth of a sort of communal good which belongs to everybody and nobody."

  • See also Hacker di tutto il mondo, unitevi ("Hackers of the world, unite") in the same issue, which talks of some of the protagonists of free software.

  • For those who read Danish: this article in Aktuelt evidently talks about the evils of having one company dominate the software scene, and proposes Linux as an alternative. (Thanks to Eik Kristensen).

  • Multimédium ran an article about AFUL's meeting with the office of the French Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago. (Babelfish translation available here).
And here's the introductory articles and other pieces that we were unable to otherwise classify:
  • PC Week contemplates the future of Linux in this opinion piece. "Only when Linux has the requisite infrastructure can it hope to compete with Windows 2000 over the long term."

  • ZDTV invites you to take the Supergeek challenge for Linux lovers. There are some seriously hardball questions...

    Who is credited with creating Linux?
    a. Red Hat Software
    b. Mr. John Linux
    c. Linus Torvalds
    d. No one knows

  • Here's an introductory article which ran in the India Times. Quoting a local "Internet buff": "Linux is clearly the hottest software out there... But strip away the gobbledygook and geek-talk, and you find much more than a software programme. You find a world community with enormous energy and a big heart." (Found in LinuxToday).

  • The Newspaper Association of America ran an introductory article in their "TechNews" publication. "Newspaper supplier Gannett Media Technologies International has already produced a PC-based Linux version of its Digital Collections archive that costs about a quarter of the full-fledged system price." (Found in LinuxToday).

  • The Denver Post came out with an article comparing Windows and Linux. "Linux is supposed to be a hard-core hacker's operating system, while Windows 98 is a mainstream product. The Windows wizards are supposed to shield you from horrible places like IRQ conflicts and 'SCSI Hell.' But installing Linux on an old machine took about two hours... After three weeks of intermittent struggle, I still don't have Windows 98 running, even with some help from the local gurus."

January 28, 1999


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See also: last week's Announcements page.



It's the Stanford Linux Revolt! David Weekly and friends had some fun at the booth of a large proprietary software company during the Stanford job fair...

An Ode to Richard Stallman is a detailed accountof Stephen Adler's experience at the NYSIA/WWWAC Software Summit, where Stallman spoke.


Linux at the Westan Millennium Show. A number of Australian Linux supporters held a briefing for "around 500 influential Australian IT-industry movers and shakers" in Melbourne. Check out their report to read about another highly successful Linux advocacy event down under.

The Dutch UNIX User Group NLUUG is organizing a conference on UNIX and WINDOWS NT, to be held Wednesday, June 9th. They have issued a Call-For-Papers and have specifically asked for papers on "The Linux smbfs".

On the heels of their successful Linux conference last week, the folks at Netproject have announcedOpen Source 1999: Linux - The Way Forward in London on May 11, 1999. This conference will have both technical and management tracks.

A good summary of Eric Raymond's talk in London was posted to uk.comp.os.linux.

Linus is doing another keynote speech, according to this press release. This talk is a bit different than some: "The Role of Linux in Document and Information Management" at AIIM '99 on April 14.

Web sites

The world's smallest web server is happily serving up this site. It runs Linux, of course.

An area which Linux has not much served until now is that of adult games. There have not been too many complaints about that thus far. However, for those who would like to see this shortcoming remedied, there is now the AdultLinux site, complete with blushing penguin.

January 28, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
aee 2.2.1 A capable but easy to use editor for console and X11
ALE Clone 1.14 Clone of WarCraft II
AleVT 1.4.2 Videotext/Teletext decoder and viewer
Alien Converts between the rpm, dpkg, stampede slp, andslackware tgz file formats
ALSA driver 0.3.0 pre3 An alternative implementation of Kernel sound support
anton 0.1 an arithmetical game
Apollo 0.70 Svgalib Multiplayer Gravity Game
Argo/UML 0.5.2 Argo/UML -- Providing Cognitive Support for Object-Oriented Design
aRts 0.2.60 Analog realtime synthesizer
asp2php 0.59 Converts Active Server Pages (ASP) to PHP3 scripts
asVodka 0.2 Puts the latest Slashdot headlines in your AfterStep rootmenu
asWhiskey 0.2 Freshmeat headlines in your AfterStep rootmenu
AtDot 2.0.0beta4 Web based e-mail system
Audit Daemon 1.10 Captures auditing trails, filters them, and saves them in specific log files
AutoRPM 1.7.1 RPM Auto-Installer and/or FTP Mirrorer
Batalla Naval 0.73.16 Networked BattleShip game
bk2site 0.1 Transforms Netscape bookmark file into yahoo-like website.
bras 0.4.0 rule based command execution with Tcl
C-Forge IDE 1.1-11 Multi-user C/C++ integrated development environment
CDRDAO 1.010 Disk-At-Once Recording of Audio CD-Rs
cdsetspd 0.01 allows setting the reading speed of Plextor CDROM drives
class.Htpasswd.php3 0.8 A PHP class for maintaining Apache style htpasswd files.
Cmp3 1.5 Console frontend to mpg123. Easy interface, playlists, background mode.
Curses::Widgets v.05 Widgets for Curses and Perl
CX 0.015 A platform independant, interface independant, programming language independant,
DailyUpdate 6.02 Grabs dynamic information from the internet and integrates itinto your webpage
DECnet for Linux 1.02 DECnet socket layer and applications
Delay 1.0 Delay is like sleep, but with a count of time left.
Dia 0.30 gtk based diagram drawing program. Much like Visio.
Doc++ 3.3.7 Powerful Javadoc like C++ documentation creation tool.
dusk 7.0 irc script that ports BitchX commands and documentation to portuguese
Envelope printing tool 1.0 A simple Perl script to print a business size envelope using Enscript.
epsmerge 1.2.1 A Perl program for handling encapsulated postscript images
esh 0.1 New Unix shell
Eterm 0.8.8 An X11 VT102 emulator with Enlightenment features
Exim 2.11 Message Transfer Agent for Unix systems
FastTemplate.php3 0.5 A PHP class for managing ASCII (HTML) templates.
fav2html 1.2 Perl script to convert your windows favorites directory into a bookmarks file
Flight Gear 0.57 Flight simulator
FLTK 19990127 BETA C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
flwm 0.13 The Fast Light Window Manager
FreeBSD JDK 1.1.7 FreeBSD Java-Team's Sun JDK port
FreeTDS 0.41 Open Source implementation of the TDS database protocol
FVWM 2.1.10 The classic highly configurable virtual window manager
Gaby 1.0.0 An address book written in GTK
gEDA 19980124 gEDA is an collection of tools which are used to make electrical circuit design,
gfortune 1.0 Enhanced fortune cookie program
Gifsicle 1.11 Command-line tool for creating, editing, and optimizing GIFs and animations
GMasqdialer 0.99.1 Gnome Client for the Masqdialer System
gnotepad+ 1.0.8 An easy-to-use, yet fairly feature-rich, simple text editor
GNU Pipo-BBS 0.11 Multilanguage BBS server and clients
GNU Privacy Guard 0.9.2 GPLed PGP replacement tool
GNUJSP 0.9.7 A free Java Server Pages implementation
gnuplot 3.7 Plotting package, output to X11, postscript, png, gif and others
Goose 0.0.5 Statistical library.
GPL Argument Analyser 1.4 Utility to manage the arguments of your programs
GPlayCD 0.1.0 A simple Gtk+ based music CD playing program.
gpstrans 0.34a up/download track,routes,waypoints-data to/from Garmin GPS
GQmpeg 0.4.5 A front end to the mpg123 mpeg audio player
Grail 0.5
grepmail 3.4.1 Searches a normal or gzipped mailbox for a given regularexpression
grpn 1.0 An RPN calculator for the X Window system
GTK File Browser v0.15 Small, fast, lightweight, GTK File Browser
GtkSamba 0.3.2.pl1 Gtk front end to configuring Samba
GTKstep 1.2 Improves the default look and feel of the GTK+ widget set
GTKWave 1.0.12 Wave viewer for Verilog simulation
GTKYahoo 0.4 GTK based Yahoo! Pager client
GXedit 1.20 Simple GPL'ed graphical editor using GTK
gxsnmp 0.0.10 snmp managment frontend
Heretic for Linux 0.9.2 Port of Heretic to Linux
icecast 0.8.2 MP3 Audio Broadcasting System
icewm 0.9.30 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
IglooFTP 0.3.3 Graphical and User Friendly FTP CLient
ILU 2.0 alpha 14 open extensible portable generalized RPC for many OSes
ImageMagick 4.1.8 Package for display and interactivemanipulation of images for X11
IMHO 0.95 IMAP4 Mail Host for Roxen
imlib Advanced replacement library for libraries like libXpm
InfoPrism 0.0.6 A General Document Processing System
inn 2.2 Complete and full-featured Usenet System
Install-Sendmail 1.0 install-sendmail will configure sendmail and fetchmail for you.
instmon 1.4 Monitors installations and detects the files that were added or modified
iODBC Driver Manager 2.50 Cross Platform ODBC Driver Manager
IPTraf 1.4.2 An ncurses-based IP LAN monitor
irssi 0.3.5 GTK+ based IRC client with GNOME panel support
ivtools 0.7.3 Application frameworks for drawing editors and spatial data servers
Jazilla 1999-01-26 A port of Mozilla into Java
jukebox 0.6 Jukebox for mp3-files with html-interface and playerdaemon
Jultaf 0.0.9 Jumble Library for Tcl and Friends
jvSQL 0.0.1 A java application that makes database modulation easy!
kcmbind 4.1 A KDE front-end to configure bind
KDE 1.1pre2 Powerful graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations.
kmpg 0.4.1 An mp3 player for the K Desktop Environment.
KNewMail 3.0b2 KDE application designed to check multiple pop3 servers for email.
KPilot 3.1 beta 8 Hot sync software for Unix
KRunning 0.0.12a A database manager for your private running events
kuser 0.7.0 User-Administration-Tool for the KDE-Desktop
KVIrc 0.9.0 Enhanced visual IRC client for X11/KDE
KWebHeadlines 1.1 Displays Web Headlines in the KDE root menu
KXicq 0.2.28 The KDE ICQ clone
laddr 1.0.4 Lesstif Address Book
lftp 1.2.4 Sophisticated command line based FTP client
libpng 1.0.3
libprint 0.2.1 Printing and Font Management Library for Application Development
libungif 4.1.0 A library for reading and writing gif images without LZW compression
LilyPond 1.1.24 The GNU Project music typesetter
LinPopup 0.9.7 Linux port of Winpopup, running over Samba.
Linux PnP driver 990123 Plug and Play driver for Linux
Lynx 2.8.2dev.14 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
Mayko mXmap 1.0.2 Map viewer / navigator with GPS ability
MeatGrinder 1.1 Java based binary newsgroup reader.
mgetty 1.1.19 Intelligent getty and fax support
minordomo 0.5 A minimalistic mailing list manager
mod_cgisock 0.1.0 A CGI interface over a Unix Domain socket
mod_roaming 1.0.0 With mod_roaming you can use Apache as a Netscape Roaming Access server
mod_ssl 2.2.0-1.3.4 Apache Interface to SSLeay
moodss 6.2 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
MultiMail 0.23 Offline Mail Reader (QWK)
Muppet 0.06d A web-based IMAP client written with PHP3
myGDE 0.1 Yet another graphical GTK interface to a mySQL server
naim 0.9.3 Console-mode AOL Instant Messenger client for Linux and compatible unices
NcFTPd 2.3.5 High-performance File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server for UNIXsystems
net-tools 1.50 Programs that form the base set of the NET-3 networking distribution
Net::RawIP 0.04 Perl module for easy manipulation of raw IP packets directly from Perl
nsListen 1.1.1 Clicking on a shoutcast or icecast server link starts the streaming mp3 playing
olex alfa-pl6 Flexible lexical analyzer parser generator for C++
OmniORB2 2.7.0 A robust, high-performance CORBA 2 ORB
OpenClasses 0.99b Powerful C++ class library, featuring threading and dynamic loading of classes
OpenLink Virtuoso 0.9x Virtual Database Engine enabing Heterogeneous Data Access
OSS 3.9.2-Pre1 Provides sound card drivers for most popular sound cards under Linux
pcemu 1.1.dg Software-only PC emulator supporting an 8086 with text-only VGA
PCI Utilities 1.99.2 Utilities for diagnostics and cofiguration of PCI devices
pcmcia-cs Card Services for Linux is a complete PCMCIA or ``PC Card'' support package.
Petey 0.99 Fortune like application for story generation
phpMyAdmin 1.40 Handles the basic adminstration of MySQL over the WWW
pidentd 3.0.2 Daemon implementing the IDENT (RFC1413) protocol
PiGTK 1.1.2 Provides GTK+ bindings for Pike
pilot-ldif 0.21 Program that uses pilot-addresses to sync the Netscape and Pilot address books
pircd Alpha Eight An IRC daemon, written in Perl.
playlist 1.1 Generates lists in plaintext and HTML for a directory tree of music files
psntools 2.1 Administrative tools for large numbers of accounts
PySol 2.02 A Python-based Solitaire card game
PySol-Cardsets 2.02 A collection of free cardsets for use with PySol
Q2Java 0.8.0 Allows Quake2 games to be written in Java
qps 1.6 Displays processes in an X11 window
Queue 1.11 Innovative load-balancing/batch-processing system and rsh replacement
Quick Image Viewer 1.0.1 A very small and pretty fast GDK/Imlibimage viewer
RabbIT 1.6 Mutating, caching webproxy to speed up surfing over slow links
Remote Microscope 1.0a2 Client/server system for controlling an optical microscope over the Internet
Replay 0.61 GTK-based MP3 player for X11
rio 1.03 Linux/Win32 utility to transfer files between the PC and the Rio MP3 player.
Rio&Mpman4Linux v1.03 Upload tools for MpMan portable MP3 players
RockBot 6 development release 103 A powerfull, smart, IRC robot.
rscript 0.7 Remotely executes a list of commands as root or user, can email a confirmation.
rxvt 2.6.PRE1 A VT102 emulator for the X window system
ScryMUD 1.8.6 Original MUD Server and Java Client
Shout plugins 0.2 Netscape helper scripts to listen to Shoutcast in mpg123 or x11amp
SiteMap 1.6.5 Creates an HTML SiteMap of your *.*htm* files
Slashdot Reader 1.13 Slashdot Reader written in Pike/GTK.
SmartInst A smart install wrapper script
SoundTracker 0.0.13 A music tracker for X / GTK+
stalk 0.3 Secure talk client
Swift Generator 0.1 Dynamic Flash content generator.
Sympa 1.4.0 An efficient multilingual Mailing List Manager.
TCL Developer Studio 0.20 small
Terraform 0.2.3 Interactive digital terrain (height field) editor/viewer
TexturePaint 1.1 Plugin for the Gimp
tgif 4.0.9 Vector-based draw tool
The CGI Toolkit 0.2.0-1 A simple support library to create CGI program.s
The Gimp 1.1.1 The GNU Image Manipulation Program
The Guild 0.85b A fully 3d-rendered/raytraced first-person interactive adventure
think 0.1.0 Outliner and project organizer
ThorMail 0.9.7 Web front-end to IMAP and (soon)
TiK 0.56 Tcl/Tk version of AOL Instant Messenger
Timesheet.php 0.71 PHP application to keep track of hours worked on a project.
tixlpq 0.3.7p1 Nice GUI for printmanagement
tkAbout 1.4.1 Summarizes CPU, memory, and disk data in a nice GUI window
TkMasqdialer 1.1 TCL/TK/Expect client for Jeff Meininger's Masqdialer daemon.
tkRunIt 0.90 A simple, but featureful run dialog box for executing commands without an xterm
Towitoko Smartcard Drivers 0.0.0-pre1 Drivers for Towitoko's ChipDrives
Traveller's Linux 1.1.6 Minimal floppy Linux distribution
Unix Desktop Environment 0.1.6-BETA A new GUI for Unix with a completely new look'n'feel
util-linux 2.9h Miscellaneous system utilities
VFU File Manager 1.41 Extensivelyl featured console (text-mode) file manager.
Vim 5.4d Popular vi clone that features syntax highlighting and an X11 interface
Wall 0.1 Wallpaper Changer
WallP 0.63 Random desktop wallpaper changer
Watcher 0.5 A unique Biff
WebMailFolder 1.0.4 Convert emails to html and creates index and statistics
WebMaker 0.8.0 HTML editor for Unix
winMasqDialer Alternative Windows client for the Masqdialer server.
wmakerconf 1.6 GTK based configuration tool for WindowMaker window manager
WMGlobe 0.5.pre1 The whole Earth spinning on your desktop
WMHeadlines 1.2 Put web-news headlines in your Window Maker root menu.
WMixer 1.4 Neat ALSA Mixer for Window Maker with a digital on-screen display
wterm 6.2.6 Bitching X11 terminal emulator
www-sql 0.5.7 Displays information from MySQL or PostgreSQL databases in web pages
WWWThreads 3-19990123 WWW based discussion forums
X Window User HOWTO 1.3 How to configure and administer X Windows under Linux.
XAmixer 0.2.2 An ALSA based mixer program written with GTK+
XawTV 2.35 TV application and a few utilities
xbeats 0.4 A beats clock dockable in the windowmaker dock
xcallerid 2.1.0 callerID program that pops up incomingphone numbers in an X-window
XEvil 2.0 3rd person, side-view, fast-action, kill-them-before-they-kill-yougame.
Xtacy 1.14 Graphics hack for X11
Xterminal 0.6.4 Object Oriented User Interface with a client-serverarchitecture
YAX Standard Services 0.99.2 The Standard Services for the YAX API and YAX Window System.

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
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See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

Script-fu.org is a new site dedicated to the scripting language used by the GIMP. Here's all the stuff you need to get started doing magic things with our favorite image editor.

Linuxapps.com has been through a major upgrade. It has a new look and a new interface, worth a look.

January 28, 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.
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 21:47:49 -0600
To: editor@lwn.net
From: James Thompson <jet@avalon.net>
Subject: Mac OS X Web pages...

Hi Folks,

Have you sauntered over to the Apple Website and looked at Mac OS X
screenshots lately?

The Mac OS makes an impressive front end for Unix.

If it runs as good as it looks...

If Linux developers could come up with a GUI that makes Unix easy to use,
my complaints would melt.  Apple has gone a long way towards that.

Mac OS X may replace my current Linux DNS server (sniff) for those chores
because of it's ease of use.
James Thompson
NRN Consulting
Iowa City IA
From: Dick Hein <rwh@lmi.net>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Re: Discussion on FUD
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 00:43:39 -0800

As to what it is, I think this piece -


...pretty well sums it up.

Concerning use of the term to describe criticism of Linux - I don't see
anything wrong with using it when appropriate.  FUD =is= practiced,
after all, and is no stranger to the likes of the Redmond crew.

Dick Hein / rwh@lmi.net / Mountain View, California.

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 13:54:42 -0000 (GMT)
From: Dirk Koopman <djk@tobit.co.uk>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: It's not all good...

For my sins I have been running Linux as a programming platform since 0.99.x
days and whilst I have seen many things improved, there are others which have

Recently I was asked to prepare a machine for someone who wanted very cheap
internet access and home word processing, he was a newby and happy to try

Naturally I thought of Linux, so I installed RedHat 5.2 and Star Office onto
a spare 32Mb Cyrix DX2/66 clone together with X and isdn.

To cut a long and painful story short, the system was unusable. Star Office
took forever to load and then, in a VERY short time of use, proceeded to use
all 48Mb of swap space (as well as the available RAM) and ran like a 
woodlouse (i.e. somewhat slower than a dog).

Loading Netscape Communicator wasn't much better, at least it left a
(small) bit of RAM, but then started to eat swap as you surfed.

What makes this worse is that I remember running a similar configuration
(but with an Intel DX2/66) in early 1.0 days with X and Netscape and having
program loading competitions with sceptical M$ fans and beating them hands

In disgust, I loaded Win95 and IE 3.2 and although it can't be said to be a
fast machine (in any way) it is at least usable, programs (even Office)
load in a tolerable amount of time and the system is stable enough for casual
home use.

Is this warning for us all? try a loading competition now with Netscape on
Linux and IE (or even Netscape) on identical modern specification machines,
you may be surprised by the results!


Dirk Koopman
Dirk-Jan Koopman, Tobit Computer Co Ltd 
At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find
at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 12:55:17 +0000
From: David Jao <djao@MATH.HARVARD.EDU>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Misleading report on Sarah Flannery's encryption algorithm

ZDNet, BBC News, Slashdot, and now LWN have all published reports on
Sarah Flannery's new encryption algorithm which are in some way
inaccurate. The discovery of a new direction for exploration, and the
coming of age of a new researcher are very deserving of praise, but the
possible immediate practical impact of this particular algorithm has
been way overblown.

Details on the discovery are sketchy at this point. I am basing this
letter on the few details of the algorithm that I have been able to pick
up from Slashdot posts and the various news sites, so take it with a
grain of salt. That said, it seems that no news site has an accurate
conception of the proper significance of Sarah's discovery.

Sarah has discovered a matrix algorithm which is provably equivalent to
RSA in security, uses about 20 times less CPU, and 8 times more memory.
This discovery is of great interest to researchers and theorists, but
has little practical impact on user level software in the forseeable
future. No production program being distributed today uses RSA for bulk
encryption of data. Programs like PGP use RSA to encrypt a small session
key, which is in turn used with some other cipher (not RSA) for bulk
encryption. The practical value of fast RSA encryption is questionable,
because RSA is simply not used to encrypt large quantities of data in
today's world.

Furthermore, there are already enough free (i.e., unpatented)
cryptographic algorithms available today that the addition of one more
is not too exciting. Today we already have Diffie Hellman, El Gamal, DSA
(for signing), Blowfish, and CAST. GNU Privacy Guard has progressed very
well using these existing free algorithms. Even RSA itself will fall out
of US patent protection in less than two years. The value of one more
free algorithm, while positive, is not, as you say, "incalculable."

I know you guys are not cryptographers, so I forgive you (and other news
sites) for their mistakes. But now you know the truth. By itself, this
particular discovery of Sarah's will not make a difference to users in
the next 10 years. We all should be most encouraged by the prospect of
future research from Sarah and others (possibly based on Sarah's current
work) that will dwarf this recent achivement in practical benefit.

Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 11:31:18 -0800
From: Jay Jakosky <jakosky@usc.edu>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: French vs. US cryptographic restriction.

"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."

You are neither the first nor the last to refer to 56 bits as the limit
of the strength of  U.S. domestic cryptography. Strength of cryptography
EXPORTED from the U.S. is now limited to 56 bits. France in no way
trumped the U.S. since they still have a limit on domestic cryptographic
strength. I'm sure you know this but your statement (quaoted above)
portrays a different message about the comparative freedom of France and
the U.S.

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