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Are you certified? Do you want to be? Two competing groups came forward with Linux certification programs this week. The certification landscape now looks like this (new ones listed first):
  • The Linux Institute is working on putting together a three-tier scheme based on open participation and an international focus. They explicitly want to certify engineers all over the world. Certification would be awarded via supervised exams given at a nominal cost. Most of their scheme is distribution-independent, with specific add-ons for most of the major distributions.

  • Digital Metrics is a private corporation offering a three-tier certification scheme with exams developed entirely in house. Exams are given over the web, with applicants required to sign an "honor policy and nondisclosure agreement." Certification is good for two years, after which the exam must be taken again. Digital Metrics aims for absolute distribution independence.

  • Linuxcertification.org describes a comprehensive, three-tier certification program; it has been put together by P. Tobin Maginnis. The goal seems to be to create an independent, non-profit certification "authority;" there is a board of directors which claims Jon Hall, Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, and Phil Hughes as members.

  • Caldera has announced training and certification initiatives, though only the training appears to be real at this time.

  • Red Hat has a "Red Hat Certified Engineer" training program. This is a single-tier certification scheme (currently, they envision higher levels), and is clearly not intended to be distribution-independent. There currently does not appear to be a way to obtain certification without taking the five-day training course.
From this list, one might just conclude that the certification arena is getting crowded. Not all of these initiatives are likely to succeed.

Before pondering which of these programs, if any, to support, it's worth thinking for a moment on whether certification is useful at all. There is some controversy around this issue, to put it mildly. Opponents of certification fear a money-grabbing obstacle course that must be passed in order to work in this field. Or they suspect an attempt to set up a guild system intended to limit the number of certified engineers, and thus keep salaries up.

Those concerns are valid, but there do remain some useful aspects of certification. It provides a minimal level of comfort for employers who lack the skills needed to evaluate the abilities of job applicants (i.e. many small businesses). Certification can also provide both a goal for and a means of evaluating training programs. Insofar as the certification exam is a meaningful test of Linux ability, a training program that enables people to pass the exam is achieving something useful.

So which of the above initiatives is best for the Linux community? There are some obvious attributes to look for: the certification program should function in a similar manner to the community itself. That means independence from any one vendor, an open, transparent, and accountable development and management structure, and as much information available as possible. The "source code" of the certification scheme should be open, in other words.

Applying those criteria leave the Linux Institute and Linuxcertification.org as the clear top candidates. The two groups currently appear to be very much in competition with each other. It may be that the community can be well served by competing certification groups, but it is not clear that this is the case. Some thought about creating a joint, cooperative effort may be in order.

Richard Stallman has stirred the pot again with his articleentitled "Why you shouldn't use the Library GPL for your next library". If you go to LinuxToday, you'll get the benefit of user comments on his article, which range, as usual, from whole hearted agreement to epithets. Richard's article indicates that when commercial alternatives to a library already exist, then using the GPL produces no true benefit. However, if your library provides a functionality not easily available elsewhere, then use of the GPL can "encourage" people to release their code under the GPL as well, in order to benefit from your library.

On the other side of the argument, Bill Henning wrote us to provide a pointer to his article, which claims that the use of the GPL instead of the LGPL results in wasted effort, since commercial or LGPL alternatives end up being written instead. Commercial alternatives are particularly abhorrent, since the time spent on developing them could have been used to improve the original GPL library instead.

Comments found on the LinuxToday site include other arguments, both in concert with Richard and in opposition. One well-written comment from Pascal Martin argues, "Free software is contagious, but you see the benefit of it only if you use it: let's have as many people as possible, including corporations, try free software with some peace of mind. Once they are hooked, and dependent on it, they will move forward. The LGPL does help a lot." While RMS points to at least one example where the use of the GPL for a library pushed a company towards free software, many other examples exist, such as Netscape and Digital Creations, where the software was released without any such incentive, because companies are truly starting to learn that free software benefits them.

Who is right? To walk a fine line (but expecting to fall off anyway): everyone. If you look closer at the article, you will find that Richard himself states more conservatively, "Which license is best for a given library is a matter of strategy, and it depends on the details of the situation." This is an absolutely accurate statement. It also might truthfully be amended, "it depends on the details of the situation and your personal goals and beliefs." Read Richard's article and hear him talk. His ideals are part of what created this community and they are extremely important. Then listen to the counter arguments. Think about what your goals are and what you believe is important. Choose the license that gives you the best strategy to achieve your goal.

For now, we believe the LGPL meets the original goals of free software: no wasted effort re-inventing the wheel, the ability to fix problems in the software yourself and the ability to freely share what you've done with your neighbor. In addition, it encourages the use of free software in many arenas where it would not have used it otherwise, and, as another commentator mentioned, it has resulted in time and effort from commercial companies going into developing and improving LGPL libraries instead of commercial libraries.

Watch your domains. The unwary may not have noticed that while linuxexpo.org points to the Linux Expo conference as one would expect, linuxexpo.com instead points to the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. The potential for confusion is clear.

A Korean Translation of our Interview with Alan Cox is now available. Many thanks to Sang-Hyun Shim for this translation.

February 4, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.



Is there any chance that the U.S. Government will relax its stance on the export of encryption technologies? In 1998, heavy lobbying by many industries resulted in the relaxation of controls on some weaker forms of encryption, but most of the relaxation affected only commercial entities and had little benefit for the end user. An article entitled Data Scrambling Fight Continues, by Aaron Pressman, examines the political climate in the U.S. and sums up our chances for change. The bad news is that lobbying from commercial entities is likely to decrease, releasing some of the pressure on lawmakers. However, there is good news, based on an increase in support in political circles and the absence of at least one key opponent. Legislation to remove bars to the use and export of encryption will be reintroduced, so there is hope, but because of the absence of lobbying from industry, the result is definitely in doubt. We strongly urge you to contact your own representatives and voice your opinion. Voter opinion can sway this vote.

Security Reports

An rpcbind Security Advisory has been issued. The advisory reports a vulnerability found by Martin Rosa where a remote attacker can insert and delete entries by spoofing a source address. It can be prevented via proper firewall hygiene.

Marc Schaefer has pulled together information on potential modem denial-of-services attacks. His note explains the potential problems and offers work-arounds. In response, Steve Bellovin provided a pointer to an article on problems with tty access and a possible strong solution that he wrote over 10 years ago.

Chris Evans, of the security audit project, has put out some updated RPMs with security fixes. Hopefully as a result, we'll soon see some updated RPMs from the Linux distributions for lpr, bootpd, nmh and inn.


On the topic of uses for a serial number built into the CPU, (covered in last week's Security Column ), Bill Henning wrote to us to mention his article on the subject. While concurring that using the ID numbers for tracking stolen CPU's is one likelihood, he suggests that the more prevalent use will be for copy protection. His argument is highly plausible, especially given Microsoft's obsession with software piracy over the past year.

It is interesting to note, therefore, that Intel will offer software to disable the processor serial number in their upcoming Pentium III chips, in response to concerns about customer privacy. The next question is, of course, whether or not you'll still be able to install new software if you've chosen to disable the process serial number.

Eric Smith posted us a note with comments on last week's SSH thread. His comments are in reference to the quote we pulled out of an administrative note from Aleph One and focus on how PAM can be used to to implement security policies for ssh in an external and extensible manner. In fairness to Aleph One, if you examine his actual posting, he also discusses how PAM can be used to address these issue, slightly below the paragraph we pulled out for a quote.

Crispin Cowan provided some comments on the w00w00 article on Heap Overflows mentioned in last week's LWN Security page.

Last week's HERT Advisory included a pointer to auditd. This note from HERT mentions that auditd is still in beta and contains an overflow that could cause a kernel panic. Downloads of auditd on hert.org have been disabled and a new version will be made available shortly.


Nessus 990201 has been released. Nessus is a client/server security scanner, available under the GPL. The new version includes GTK 1.1 compatibility, a new ciphered layer between the client and server and over 180 security checks.


Networking '99 is a conference jointly sponsored by USENIX and SAGE which plans to bring together network administrators to share expertise and strategies for managing complex network. Check their announcement for more details.

The Call-for-Papers for the Fourth ACM Workshop on Role-Based Access Control has been released. "The driving motivation for RBAC is to simplify security policy administration while facilitating the definition of flexible, customized policies."

February 4, 1999


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current kernel release is 2.2.1. This is the "brown paper bag" release, so named by Linus since it did have a problem or two sufficiently embarrassing to make him want to wear a bag over his head in public for a while. Foremost among those was, of course, the "ldd core" bug reported last week, which allowed any user to crash the system.

Fixes continue to pour in. Alan Cox's "ac" patches are up to 2.2.1ac4. This patch contains a number of fixes presumably destined for 2.2.2 or so, and the "large file array" patch which apparently is not. There is also a 2.2.2 prepatch put into the "testing" directory by Linus. A 2.2.2 release is this likely sometime in the near future.

Why do I see double network routes with 2.2.x? One change that occurred in the 2.1 series is that the kernel now automatically adds a network route to an interface when it is configured. Thus a separate "route" command is not necessary. Most systems have startup scripts which, not being 2.2-ready, do the "route" command anyway, thus adding a redundant route to the tables. It is harmless, but aesthetically displeasing.

This behavior does annoy a certain number of people who believe that configuring an interface and setting up a network route are two separate tasks. The reply to that objection is that a network interface and its routes are meaningless in isolation from each other, and that a request to configure an interface is also thus by necessity a request to configure the routes that go with it. As with a number of linux-kernel debates, the end result is moot; the current behavior is unlikely to change.

Tar is tremendously slow with 2.2.x is another common complaint. The "slow tar" problem is the result of an interaction between some networking changes and suboptimal system configuration. What's happening is that tar is trying to look up a user ID for each file; the system, which is likely configured by default to attempt NIS queries, is trying to get the answer via NIS. Likely as not the victim is not really running NIS, so no answer is forthcoming. But not getting that answer takes a while.

The solution, for networks where NIS is not used, is to remove all references to NIS and NIS+ in /etc/nsswitch.conf. This problem should also go away once glibc 2.1 comes out, since it implements a caching mechanism for lookups.

What color are your pages? Page coloring has been an occasional topic of conversation for some time, but the amount of interest grew substantially this week.

A superficial understanding of memory architectures helps in the page coloring discussion. Modern memory is slow, much slower than the processor; the result is that your fancy new 1GHz processor gets to spend a lot of time waiting every time it goes to main memory. It's sort of like having a Ferrari in the city. In an attempt to mitigate this problem, one or more layers of fast cache memory are typically placed between the processor and main memory. When a memory page exists in the cache, it can be accessed much more quickly.

A modern PC has some amount of "level 2" cache - typically 128K to 512K worth. There is usually a very straightforward mapping between the L2 cache and main memory, such that for any given "line" (typically rather smaller than a page) in main memory, there is exactly one spot where it can be in the L2 cache. Obviously, this L2 cache line is shared among quite a few main memory lines.

An obvious result of this architecture is that the speed at which any given process can execute is highly dependent on how its pages are laid out in memory. In the worst case, the entire address space of the process can map into a very small number of cache lines. In this case, cache hits are rare and the process executes slowly. If, instead, the process's memory maps across the entire cache, the process will execute much more quickly. Since physical memory layout is a runtime function, compute-bound processes can show a highly variable runtime from one run to the next, depending on its luck in getting well-laid out pages.

Page coloring, in the end, is really just an attempt to control how physical memory pages are allocated to processes in order to produce deterministic cache behavior. The resulting cache behavior is not necessarily optimal, and will likely result in slowing down some processes some of the time. But performance will at least be constant, allowing the programmer to tune the memory behavior of an individual program when the effort is justified. Performance tuning with nondeterministic cache behavior is nearly impossible.

In this context, a few efforts are underway to add page coloring to the Linux kernel, or at least to design it (presumably as a 2.3 project). Richard Gooch has put out a patch (available from his kernel patches page) which provides access to the "model specific registers" (MSRs) in the processor. This access allows the number of cache hits and misses to be measured, which in turn allows developers to measure the effectiveness of any given coloring scheme. Richard's patch also includes a simple page coloring capability, useful for experimenting. Larry McVoy, instead, posted an algorithm for doing effective coloring based on his experience with other OS's. David Miller responded with an approach of his own which also attempts to color pages used for mapped files - an approach which can lead to a globally-colored shared C library, for example.

Those interested in further information on page coloring may want to look at this PhD thesis (postscript format, 1.3MB) on the subject. (Thesis URL posted by Sebastien Gignoux).

Two new kernel mailing lists have been created by Rik van Riel. "Linux-future" was created to discuss and debate possible future developments in the Linux kernel; it has been home to a lively discussion since its creation. "Kernel-doc" is for discussion of kernel documentation, and, hopefully, the production of more of it. Subscription information and archives for both lists (and some others) can be found on the nl.linux.org lists page. There is also a summary of the items discussed in linux-future on this site.

The real-time Linux system has been updated to the 2.2 kernel. This is a development version of RTLinux; it is available from the RTLinux web site.

A new RAID patch is available which brings the new RAID stuff up to the 2.2.0 kernel level. See the announcement for details.

February 4, 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.


EasyLinux is a new distribution from Germany due to be released first quarter of 1999. As the title implies, EasyLinux is specifically aimed at non-technical users, attempting to provide a GUI-based installation from the beginning, a tiered installation process scaling from novices to gurus with many decisions and programs pre-chosen for the user. Obviously, this is not an installation for the experienced Linux user that prefers total control over their installation and already knows exactly what programs they want installed.


Troy Will released an RPM for Caldera which contains a trouble-shooting script to help diagnose printing problems under COL 1.3. It is now available from his Printing Support web-page.


Debian has a new leader! Wichert Akkerman replaces Ian Jackson as the Debian Project Leader. He begins his two year term today. Specific election results and candidate platforms are available, though the page had not been updated to reflect the vote as of 20:00 MT Februrary 3rd.

Here is a status report on XFree86 in slink. Five steps remain before it will be declared ready for release.

On a lighter note, Debian has opened a logo contest, to choose a new Debian logo. The Debian logo-team has been created to select the best logos in preparation for a developer vote.

Debian packages for gnome-apt are now available.

In response to a question about what distinguishes Debian security from other distributions, Stephane Bortzmeyer replied with a nice, succint list.

Alpha users will want to know more about the egcs issues that are holding up the Debian Alpha effort. They will require the recompilation of a large number of Alpha packages now that repaired egcs debian packages are in place. In addition, anyone developing on a Debian alpha system will want to upgrade to the new egcs packages as soon as possible to prevent compatibility problems with other Linux-Alpha systems.

Red Hat

As many of you are probably aware, Red Hat moved its offices in Durham, North Carolina, on Friday, January 29th. Estimated downtime for the two mile move was two hours, but unfortunately equipment problems kept all the Red Hat sites off the Internet for over 26 hours initially. Back up on Saturday morning, they went back off Saturday evening and remained down until around 10:30am ET. Fixing these problems required new equipment in both cases, the first time equipment borrowed from UUNET, requiring one technician to drive to Richmond, VA, and the second time equipment was air shipped in. Unfortunately, the sites went back down on Wednesday, February 3rd. This time, the problem was traced to a bad port on a UUNET router, potentially the cause of the other incidents. Red Hat is back (along with Freshmeat and other sites) and hopefully will get a chance to remain up this time.

It seems likely that Red Hat will be investing in a backup link to the Internet in the near future ...

We were able to get to the Red Hat Errata pages earlier this week, so we can tell you that updated versions of dump, perl and Xconfigurator were posted there on Februrary 2nd. The dump update is only needed for the Sparc platform. The perl update addresses some problems with Majordomo and various cgi-bin scripts. The new version of Xconfigurator was released to work with the new XFree86 None of these updates appear to be security related.


A package browser for Slackware is now available. The information is updated daily and allows you to browse, download, see what a package does, check version information, etc.

The Slackware Propaganda page has been updated. Now you, too, can create your own Slackware logo, which they will display and distribute.


No word yet on when the U.S. version of SuSE will be shipping, but it has been added to the on-line order form at the U.S. SuSE site, so you can put your order in now and presumably already be in line for the upcoming CD shipments.

February 4, 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


David A. Wheeler wrote in to mention that GNAT version 3.11p has just been released. GNAT is a widely-used, open source Ada95 compiler. Preliminary RPMs and Debian packages are available, along with additional information, on the Ada for Linux Team home page.


JDK 1.2 for Alpha/Linux. "Uncle George" has announced the availability of version 1.2 of the Java JDK for the Alpha architecture. This is a port of the non-commercial sources from Sun. A mirror of the port is also available and recommended.

There is still no new news (and therefore no good news yet) on the Blackdown Team's JDK 1.2 port. It is still held up due to threading problems that prevent it from passing the required tests.

For those of you under considerable pressure to move to Java 2 (JDK 1.2), Jerry Treweek mentioned that he is willing to make available an alpha of jrex v1.1, a remote executor that allows you to keep your Linux development environment, but submit compilation of code to an NT workstation (presuming you have one available).


The next Perl release grows closer and closer. Maintenance trial 5 for perl5.005_03 is available under Graham Barr's CPAN directory.

From the Perl Institute's News page, we note that 20 new perl monger groups have been announced, in sixteen different countries. 22 new or updated modules have been announced so far since last week.


Hubert Tonneau has presented his new language, Pliant. He sent us this note describing the language a bit. By exploring the Pliant web-site, we found some more information on what Pliant is and why he decided to create it. Pliant is "more a new generation of language than an improvement in a given programming language family". Instead of building a new language with a few new interesting features, he chose to build a "very tiny language with a trivial syntax" to allow advanced features to be added to the language via modules. Take a look and see whether you like what he's put together or not! It is in a very early stage still and he is now looking for help to further improve it.


The Call-for-Papers for this year's O'Reilly Python Conference is out. The conference will be held August 21st through the 24th in Monterey, CA and will contain two days of tutorials followed by two days of conference.

Version 1.0alpha2 of the Remote Microscope software from CRNI is now available. The Remote Microscope system provides a Java applet that allows users to access and control an optical microscope over the Internet. The release announcement indicates that the new release contains minor interface and configuration improvements as well as bug fixes.

pyslang-0.1.5 is now available. It includes bug fixes and improved portability for the python extension which provides cross-platform low-level text-mode user interaction facilities.

Version 0.5.4 of wxPython, a Python extension module that encapsulates the wxWindows GUI classes, is now available.

This week's Python-URL! is edited by Mike Orr. It is the first edition to try the experiment of using the USENET Message ID for the URLs instead of the Dejanews-specific ID. This is done to make Python-URL! more portable to non-Dejanews archives. If you have a problem with this change, be sure and send feedback to Cameron Laird. A technical explanation of Message-IDs is attached to the end of this week's edition.

In addition, this week's Python-URL! contains pointers to postings on ILU 2.0alpha14, DCOracle 1.1.0, standard APIs for drawing and printing, Pythondoc and "getting PyTix 1.12 to work on Python 1.5".


The Call-for-Papers for the 9th ECOOP Workshop for PhD Students in Object Oriented Systems (PhDOOS '99) has been released. The workshop will be part of the 13th European Conference on Object Oriented Programming (ECOOP '99), to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, June 14th through the 18th, 1999. A website for the workshop is available.

ObjectShare will premier VisualWorks 3.0 for Linux at the upcoming LinuxWorld conference.


This week sees the introduction of a new Tcl resource, Stoian Jekov's free, on-line Tcl/Tk Journal. The first issue was released on Friday, January 15th, 1999. It contains an article on "Concepts of Architectural Design for Tcl Applications" by Alexandre Ferrieux.

This week's Tcl-URL! is now available. It contains several new software and resource announcements, as well as the usual pointers to some of the more interesting threads of the week.

Version 6.3 of moodss, a modular spreadsheet, is now available.

mod_dtcl version 0.4.2 is being made more widely available than other early releases of the free/open source implementation of server parsed Tcl, under Apache. David Welton included the README for it in his announcement.

A Russian Tcl mailing list is now available.

February 4, 1999



Development projects


Users of the (really nice) DDD debugger may want to have a look at this call for help and see if you can chip in a bit. The maintainer of DDD is getting overwhelmed by the task of keeping DDD going and dealing with users, and needs a hand. (Thanks to Vitaly Fedrushkov for passing the note on to us).


Ganymede is a network directory management system, developed over the past three years and just released under the GPL. It is similar in concept to Microsoft's ActiveDirectory and Novell's NDS. Jonathan Abbey dropped us a note which describes ganymede in more detail. Written in Java, it uses a multi-threaded server and provides a graphical client and console applets.

The Ganymede server will run on any operating system with a Java 1.1.6 or better JDK, but the install scripts are heavily Unix-oriented, so it is likely to be difficult to install and configure under Windows NT or other non-Unix operating systems. It is known to work on Solaris 2.5, Solaris 2.6, Solaris 2.7, Linux 2.0.x with the Blackdown JDK port, FreeBSD with the FreeBSD JDK port, and on AIX.

For more information, documentation and screenshots, check out the Ganymede page. Alternately, you can download Ganymede from here.


icecast 0.9 is out. Several big changes are incorporated, including a Remote Administration interface, stream relay and JavaCast, a pure Java implementation of the server.


kde 1.1pre2 rpms are available for Red Hat 5.1 and 5.2 and for Caldera OpenLinux 1.3. New KDE packages from the past week include:


GNOME 0.99.5 is out. The release includes gnome-libs, gnome-network, gnome-pim gnome-utils, mc and gnome-games. Note that Miguel is having problems with insufficient disk space which caused a lot of wasted time in producing this release. If you have any large disks to donate, or extra memory, please let him know.

Gnumeric 0.8 is out. The announcement indicates that the more important change is integration of Adrian Likins' documentation into the build system. Many buxfixes, of course, are also included.

Debian users will be happy to note that gnome-apt is now available. Version 0.3 is considered to be very usable, although there are a couple of known annoying bugs.

New GNOME releases from the past week include:


The jazilla.org site has had a face lift!. Check out the New Site, which has definitely improved a great deal. Here is Sunny Hundal's note with several comments on the new site.

Several of the following items were pulled from the Mozillazine, always a good source of information on the Mozilla project.

If you are curious about XUL, (pronounced Zool) the eXtensible User-interface Language, check out this essay by Dave Hyatt.

The NPL and MPL are scheduled for overhauls. Draft versions of the new licenses will be posted to Mozillazine over the next two weeks. The drafts will include minor changes to the patent infringement portion of the licenses. The changes are intended to "encourage greater adoption of the Mozilla code base".


Version 1.0.0 of Lyx has been released! Lyx is an advanced open source document processor. Lyx "encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents, not their appearance". It promises fast and easy creation of short notes and letters, but its functionality is primarily aimed at complex documents like technical documentation, doctoral theses and conference proceedings. Check out the announcement for more details, or go straight to the Lyx home page.


The beta version of Qt 2.0 has been announced. An anonymous source provided us with this screenshot of a partial port of KDE to Qt 2.0. It demonstrates one of Qt's new styles, the "platinum" look, meant to appeal to MacIntosh aficionados. In addition, a screenshot of the Qt "metal" demo (Qt widgets) is also available.

Siag Office

Siag Office contains the Siag spreadsheet, the PW word processor and the Egon enimation program. The latest release, 3.1.4 has support for Spanish, German, French and Swedish. More information can be found on the Siag home page.


Wine 990131 is now available. The announcement indicates that the new version contains a lot of new OLE "stuff", improvements to DirectDraw support, and better messages queues, along with bug fixes, new functions and new stubs.

Douglas Ridgway will be giving a talk on Wine at the upcoming LinuxWorld Expo. He hopes to meet with any other Wine hackers that show up, so keep an eye out for him!


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Compaq has announced its new line of Alpha-based servers; as expected, Linux is supported on these systems. See their press release for more.

IBM Software Solutions has joined Linux International as a sponsoring corporate member.

A couple of different Wall Street analysts have upgraded their rating of Silicon Graphics' stock after a corporate meeting; both cite the support of Linux as one of the reasons for the new rating. See the releases from Merrill Lynch and BancBoston Robertson Stephens.

For some more information on SGI's Linux support, see their press release on the subject. They seem to be aiming at Linux support for the Intel-based systems, as opposed to their higher-end MIPS systems.

HP has released (free of charge) a Linux version of its "JetAdmin" software. This is a fact that will be appreciated by no end of system admins who have tried to make HP's network printers work in Linux environments. This long-awaited release was, in retrospect, almost inevitable once HP announced that they would sell Linux-based servers. It wouldn't do, after all, if their servers were not able to talk to their printers. See HP's press release for more. (Thanks to XosÉ Vázquez).

SuSE is getting into the cluster business. Here is a page (in German) on their site describing their setup; there is also a brief Heise News article about the new offering. They will present the system at the upcoming Cebit conference. (Babelfish pages: SuSE cluster page and Heise article). (Thanks to Boris Povazay).

This article in AsiaBizTech is a month old, but it's the first we have seen it, and it's interesting. When Kyoto Sangyo University needed to upgrade their computing network, they put in an order to IBM for over 600 "Netfinity" systems running Linux. The main reason for the choice of Linux seems to be that it's a cheaper way of getting a Unix workstation. "...a UNIX environment is required for students majoring in engineering and sciences for programming and for writing papers, as well as for students learning the Hebrew language."

Press Releases:

February 4, 1999


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

Linux in the news

Even by latter-day standards, the press coverage of Linux was heavy this last week. We'll start off, as usual, with this week's recommended reading:
  • There is a brief piece in InfoBeads which claims that corporate adoption of Linux is miniscule thus far. They have a couple of bar graphs (comparing Linux to all other Unix systems combined) which are said to demonstrate this point. "...despite the giddy enthusiasm for Linux among the developer community, the reaction in the business camp has been considerably cooler." (Found in LinuxToday).

  • The Red Herring article on free software that we mentioned last week is now available online. "...we've come to see open-source development as only the next in a series of incremental steps toward true open-standards computing. It's a trend being propelled by the success of the Internet, which itself grew out of a vibrant open-source tradition. And it's contributing to a business environment in which services and other extras are increasingly more valuable than software code."

    See also the side articles on hardware makers, Microsoft (halloween memos), software companies, MIS buyers, and startup companies.

  • Nicholas Petreley has put out a lengthy editorial on LinuxWorld; it deals with the question of whether Red Hat will ever become the Microsoft of Linux. He thinks not, and argues the point well. "The fact that Red Hat is the dominant supplier of Linux today is a tribute to its added value and its ability to market its brand. But that by no means gives Red Hat the insurance it will remain in a dominant position. Slackware used to be synonymous with Linux. Red Hat moved in and took Slackware's place. If Red Hat makes enough mistakes, someone else will fill the gap left by Red Hat."

  • Sm@rt Reseller compares three Linux distributions and NT. They liked Linux better, and came to some interesting conclusions: "According to ZDLabs' results... each of the commercial Linux releases ate NT's lunch. Our tests also revealed that Apache for OpenLinux is superior to Apache for Red Hat and SuSE. Moreover, Samba for Red Hat scales better than its counterparts." (Found in Slashdot).

    See also the chart comparing Windows file serving performance; Linux with Samba is the clear winner over the alternatives.

  • PC Week has an interview with Linus Torvalds. "I'm comfortable with the 'Microsoft killer' idea. It's kind of fun to see how people position it, because that wasn't the reason and still isn't the reason I developed Linux. I think Microsoft has been doing a really bad job on their OS, and obviously it's an interesting dynamic to people."

As might be expected, there was much coverage of the various announcements by Compaq, Dell, HP, and SGI. Here's a selection:

  • HP Linux server plan fails to excite users in ComputerWorld claims exactly that - Linux is just another boring operating system choice now.

  • Computer Reseller News coversCompaq's new Alpha/Linux-based servers. "Compaq said it will open up distribution of Linux-based systems to all current Compaq resellers, marking the first time the Alpha line has been moved into broad distribution. The new Alpha/Unix systems, however, will remain under tight certification and will be reserved for those resellers that qualify for Compaq's Enterprise Solution Provider (ESP) program..."

  • Inter@ctive Week covers HP, SGI, and Compaq. "[Compaq VP] Yeaton said Compaq has been qualifying Red Hat Software's version of Linux for both the Alpha and ProLiant servers, and it will make other Linux versions available as well. The version of Linux remains 'the customer's choice'; no single version will bundled on a system, contrary to some reports, he said."

  • The San Jose Mercury covers HP's Linux support. "Even with support from HP and Dell, however, hardware companies as a group still seem to be struggling with how best to offer the OS. IBM and Compaq Computer Corp., for example, have publicly expressed an interest in supporting Linux in some way, but have yet to detail what their plans are."

  • An article in Computer Reseller News talks about Compaq's plans to sell Alpha/Linux servers.

  • InfoWorld has a summary article about HP, Dell, and Compaq. "Compaq is announcing next week support for Linux on its Alpha Server DS20 line. Compaq resellers will have the option of providing any version of Linux on the servers, and will also provide the needed support." (Thanks to Jean-Paul Alderac)

  • News.com has a reasonably detailed article about SGI's Linux move. "[SGI VP] Johnson said SGI plans to sell servers with Linux installed, but the details of how that will happen have yet to be determined. SGI also said it will provide 'full support for Linux,' including support from SGI's technical support staff in the field and at the company. That support will be at the same level as for its current high-end server line."

  • News.com has some more information about Red Hat and Dell's upcoming announcement. "Under the alliance, Red Hat will announce that specific configurations of two Dell servers--the PowerEdge 1300 and PowerEdge 2300--have been certified to work with Red Hat's Linux, said a Dell spokesman."

  • The (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer has an article about HP's Linux announcement. "'H-P has seen a market, and they wanted to jump on it,' said Dan Kusnetsky, program director for International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass. 'I would project that once this hits the street, other hardware vendors will be following in rapid-fire succession. Compaq, Silicon Graphics, Dell and IBM will probably bring up the rear.'"

  • Network Computing coversSGI's upcoming Linux announcement and HP's Red Hat deal without adding a whole lot new. "Even with all this momentum, Red Hat doesn't have a lock on the Linux market. Pacific HiTech announced the availability for the first time in the U.S. of TurboLinux 3.0 -- the most popular version of Linux in Asia, with more than one million units sold."

  • News.com also has an article about HP and SGI. "The rapid ascendance of Linux clearly was a surprise to computer heavyweights, and the companies have been scrambling to figure out how to fit the operating system into their product lines."

VA Research was the subject of a fair amount of press attention this week as well.

  • This (short) support-oriented article in ComputerWorld claims that VA Research is about to launch a support program of their own.

  • This San Francisco Chronicle article is a lengthy piece about VA Research. "As Linux continues to pick up steam, VA Research no doubt will face increasing competition from other computer-makers eager to cash in by putting Linux on their systems. But Augustin feels that his company can more than hold its own." (Thanks to Mike Wittman).

  • InfoWorld also ran a brief article about VA Research and their new management team.
Other corporate Linux coverage included:
  • The Industry Standard ran an articleon the server market, with lots of charts showing market share and such from the latest IDC reports.

  • AsiaBizTech has a lengthy article on the increasing adoption of Linux by Japanese companies. "A Shimizu staffer responsible for installation said the reason why Linux was chosen is the stability of the operating system, its robustness without needing a high level of hardware performance and inexpensive cost of coupled hardware and software."

  • Network World Fusion talks about Linux with Sun's John McFarlane. "The movement back toward open systems is superb for Sun. It's a revitalization of open systems, a revitalization of Unix. People have come to the conclusion that NT just may not make it." (NW Fusion is a registration-required site).

  • This ComputerWorld article talks about support options. "[Canadian National Railroad] uses Linux on about 75% of its Web servers and has needed little support."

  • VAR Business has an article about Red Hat's new VAR programs. "There are also high-end, yearly service packages that cost up to $60,000 a year."

  • This article in EE Times talks about the use of Linux in the EDA world. "Until the major PC-based workstation suppliers are willing to support a single, standard version of Linux, it does not make sense for an EDA vendor to embrace the OS. It is prohibitively expensive to take the risk of support, particularly when we factor in the limited budget that most Linux proponents seem to have." The idea that being able to get Linux from more than one vendor is a strength, not a weakness, has yet to get through to a lot of people. (The article as a whole is more positive than this quote suggests).

  • TechWeb the release of Sun's Jini, comparing it to Linux and talking about Sun's licensing. "'Reaction to it in the open source community has been a loud pthfthfthtfht! and rightly so,' [Eric] Raymond said. 'It betrays an utter failure to understand either the community or the dynamics of open source development.'"

  • ZDNet UK ran an article about the Empeg MP3 player for cars (which runs Linux). "Empeg hopes to avoid the wrath of the music industry which is still moaning about Diamond's Rio: the empeg-car's software has been designed to prevent copying onto other media and the company states clearly on its home page that the unit is 'a player and not a mechanism to support music piracy'."

  • Salon Magazine has a brief article about Loki Entertainment Software (scroll down a page). "The inability to play state-of-the-art games under Linux has long plagued Linux-lovers desperate to completely turn their backs on Microsoft."

  • Linux hits Microsoft where it hurts claims News.com in a purely price-oriented article. "Compare the costs of a file and print server for a 25-person group using Linux or NT: NT Server has a street price of $809, including a license for 5 clients. Two more 10-client packs, at $1,129 apiece, brings the total to $3,067. A copy of Linux from Red Hat--one of several companies that offer Linux support--costs $49.95, and the cost doesn't go up if clients have to use the server. Or, for that matter, if you want to install the same copy of Linux on another server, or five other servers, or 50 other servers."
A couple of articles about the "Open Source '99" conference held in London last month:
  • The BBC has some coverage of the conference, with the usual emphasis on Eric Raymond. It also features a number of RealAudio clips from the talks. (Thanks to Ian Danby).

  • The (London) Sunday Times coversthe OpenSource '99 conference and Eric Raymond's talk. "'Our development community sees itself as having been persecuted for a long time,' says Raymond. 'We have continually written better software and lost out to idiots with better marketing. It's made us very angry.' Raymond himself flew into a rage and stormed out of the room when it was suggested that the Open Source culture embodied the communist ideal." There is also a seriously ugly picture of Eric. (Registration required, "cypherpunks" works).

    Le Monde Informatique briefly examines (in French) some European corporate Linux users, including Mercedes-Benz. For non French-capable readers, here's the Babelfish page. (Found in NNL).

There were a few articles on the 2.2 kernel release:

  • PC Week ran this article on how companies are reacting to the 2.2 kernel release. "The new multiprocessor support and advanced caching features in Linux 2.2.0, coupled with the timing of the new kernel, released last week, seem to have given apprehensive mainstream system vendors and many enterprise users the excuse they need to support Linux."

  • PC Week also ran a mostly positive, not entirely clueful review of the 2.2 kernel. "Look out, Microsoft: The new Linux 2.2.0 kernel adds enterprise-critical SMP capabilities to the operating system's proven reliability, flexibility and irresistible price, giving users weary of Windows 2000 delays and shortcomings strong reasons to seriously investigate the platform."

  • "The community developing for Linux moves at a snail's pace" adds this short, critical piece.

  • More hardware support fuels Linux momentum is a general article in TechWeb about the 2.2 kernel, HP, Dell, Compaq, etc. "Like the Energizer bunny, the little penguin that symbolizes Linux keeps on going."

  • Here's an article in the UK-based ComputingNet about the 2.2 kernel release. "This is the release that many industry analysts believe will launch Linux as a viable commercial server operating system." (Thanks to Dave Killick).

  • Multimédium has run an article (in French) that ranges over the 2.2 release, HP, SGI, and more. They also ran AFUL's French press release about the 2.2 kernel. (Babelfish links: for the article and the press release). (Found in NNL).
Folks looking for introductory pieces may want to check out some of the following:
  • Small town press: The Boulder Weekly covers the Linux mini-expo held by the Boulder, CO, LUG last December. The bulk of the article is standard introductory fare.

  • More small town press: The Newtown Bee (Connecticut, U.S.) ran this introductory article a little while back. "The ground ground shakes. A soft rumble is heard two valleys over. The noise, although faint, steadily increases. An army is on the move. Linus Torvalds, a 20s something Finn, leads a rag-tag determined band of mad-as-hell unpaid volunteers. They are on the march" (Thanks to Robert Brand).

  • The Age inaugurates its new "Openline" column, a weekly segment on free software. The initial column is predictably introductory, and well done. "In the near future, auditors may require companies to disclose their degree of open source exposure before a friendly merger. This may greatly reduce the cost to integrate systems."
  • The Age also ran this introductory column on free software in general. "It has even been suggested that open source could have evaded the Y2K issue by encouraging deeper scrutiny and may yet be able to mitigate it in installations where it is a problem. The Millennium Bug may even further drive open source efforts as desperate enterprises turn to it in panic."

  • There is an introductory article in the Saint Petersberg Times. It's quite positive, though the author pushes the "hard to install" theme a bit hard. "...if you work in an office and see your system administrator walk down the hall with a smug, my-servers-never-crash look on his face, there could be a reason for it. It could be called Linux." (Thanks to Douglas Ridgway).

And here's a set of miscellaneous, hard to classify articles.

  • Golgotha Forever! Salon Magazine has written about the effort to resurrect Crack Dot Com's "Golgotha" game, which was released in source form to the net after the company went broke. "Crack dot Com's deal with Red Hat called for the development of a Linux version of Golgotha; producing portable code contributed to the delays that plagued Golgotha and thus to the demise of Crack dot Com. But now the Golgotha programmers are benefiting from the project's cross-platform approach."

  • The Windows Refund story has gotten as far as Malaysia, with this article in The Star. "WHAT if every restaurant served you a Pepsi with every single meal, even if you didn't order it? And what if you have to pay for that Pepsi even if you don't drink it?" (Thanks to Kenny Lim).

  • Ars Technica ("The PC enthusiast's resource") has put together an article about the "arcane" Linux command line interface, and why it exists. "...what often makes Windows and the MacOS seem so easy is something that users often take for granted: they come pre-installed."

  • LinuxWorld ran this editorial by Bob Young on why Linux will not split apart like Unix did. Somehow he manages to say that Linux will stay unsplit because all of the distributions will grab the good stuff, while saying that the distributions will remain different because people like choice. (Found in Slashdot).

  • FrankenLinuxis the title of a ZDTV segment on how to put a system together from old parts. "Turn that crusty old machine into a killer Linux box-- you don't even need a blowtorch."

  • Robin Miller has put up this Andover News Network column about his troubles with cable modem access from @Home, which include incompatiblities with his Linux system. The article is mostly an ISP rant, but his frustrations are certainly shared by a number of Linux users.

  • Salon Magazine has an article about the rewards of getting code into the Linux kernel. "The roster of contributors to the Linux kernel has become a kind of pantheon of respect -- not unlike the academies in various intellectual fields. Linux software is well-built, in part, because a team of dedicated programmers tests new code and guards the kernel with a fair degree of pride." (Found in Slashdot).

February 4, 1999


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



The March 1999 issue of PC Plus magazine, a UK-based production, will include a cover CD with over 400MB of Linux software, including Corel's WordPerfect 8 for Linux Personal Edition. Check this announcement from Dave Taylor for a lot more details.

Since we haven't run this for a while: here's the list of Italian Linux mailing lists.

A German-speaking Linux announcements list has been set up, see the announcement for more information and signup instructions.

The Slashdot effect documented. Stephen Adler has put up an article about said effect, complete with graphs of web server traffic.

LinuxCare, a Linux support provider, has announced the contest winner and runner-ups for their first "Cool Linux Story" Contest. "Herbert the Secret Linux Server" is highly enjoyable and the runners-up shouldn't be missed either.


Open Source 99 will be held in London on May 11, 1999. From this note sent to us by Eddie Bleasdale, it seems that the conference will also be repeated on September 23rd, 1999 and January 26th, 2000.

Web sites

Control-Escape is a new "alternative software journal" aimed at novice Linux users.

User Group News

Jim Gleason reports that the New York Linux Users Group is alive and well, meeting every third Wednesday of the month. This contradicts reports previously posted to comp.os.linux.announce that the NYLUG had merged with another group.

The UCLA LUG is holding an installfest on February 7, folks in Los Angeles are invited to participate. See The UCLA LUG page for more information.

An unfortunate altercation developed over the past week between the Silicon Valley Linux User Group and the Skane Sjaelland Linux User Groupover the issue of which group was the "Largest Linux User Group". Fortunately, both sides have worked to try and resolve the issue and have changed their claims to be "One of the Largest Linux User Groups", an excellent wording, since either could be considered larger depending on what metric is used. With the advent of additional large groups in Japan and Texas, the title was bound to be in further debate, if it was not set to rest. Hopefully now that the parties involved have had a chance to air their opinions, apologies, etc., the rest of the community will also allow the issue to stay settled.

If you insist on more information, this link goes to a summary on the SVLUG page, which has links to some of the editorials that started the altercation.

February 4, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
acmemail 1.9 acmemail is a single-user POP3 to Web gateway with full MIME support
argtable 1.1 C/C++ programmer's library for processing command line arguments.
arla 0.21 Free AFS client for Linux/*BSD
Arrow 1.0 An elegant, powerful, graphical interface to electronic mail
Artistic Style 1.7.2 Indentation and reformatting filters for C, C++, Java
asp2php 0.61 Converts Active Server Pages (ASP) to PHP3 scripts
astime 1.7 Analogue clock for X windows
AtDot 2.0pre1 Web based e-mail system
aumix 1.15 Color text mode sound mixer with GPM support
AutoLink 2.11.1 Provides functions to the user for transfering dynamic MPI
AutoMap 2.11.1 Create Message Passing Interface (MPI) data-types out of user data-types
BBBS 3.42 1s Full-featured BBS software with full FidoNet and InterNet support.
Big Brother 1.09a Highly efficient network monitor
BigBrother Stats 0.16 Counter for websites that produces some statistics based on the info gathered
BSB-Monitor 1.0 Simple, but powerfull network monitor
BTERM 3.42 1s BTERM is a small VT320 terminal emulator.
BurnIT 1.5pre3 Java front-end to cdrecord and mkisofs
calltree 2.0 calltree - static call tree generator for C programs
Catalog 0.1 Build, maintain and display Yahoo! like resources catalogs.
cdda2wav 1.0 A CD ripping application
cdrecord 1.8a16 Allows the creation of both audio and data CDs
Citadel/UX BBS Software 5.52 Advanced client/server BBS program
class.Htgroup.php3 0.4 A PHP class to manage Apache style group files.
class.Htpasswd.php3 0.9 A PHP class for maintaining Apache style htpasswd files.
Code Crusader 1.2.0 complete code development environment, inspired by MetroWerks CodeWarrior
ConferenceRoom 1.6.4 IRC server with web integration tools
Cook 2.8 A tool for constructing files, and maintainingreferential integrity between fil
Countdown 1.6 Perl script that counts down to specified events.
cqcam 0.90 pre-release 7 A free Color QuickCam (PC/Parallel) control program for various PC Unixes
Curses::Widgets v.06 Widgets for Curses and Perl
Cyclone 0.03p3 Internet Relay Chat Daemon used by SlashNET
Dave Gnukem 0.42 GGI-based 2D scrolling platform game, similar to Duke Nukem 1
Delay 1.1 Delay is like sleep, but with a count of time left.
DLDialog 0.13 Displays dialog boxes in terminal and X11 mode to interact with scripts
Doc++ 3.3.8 Powerful Javadoc like C++ documentation creation tool.
DrumPatterns 0.5 Free, open source, web oriented drum patterns generator
dvorak7min 1.1 ncurses-based typing tutor for the Dvorak layout
eMusic 0.8 CD, mp3, mod and wav player for Linux
EPIC 4pre2.001-NR13 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
epsmerge 1.2.2 A Perl program for handling encapsulated postscript images
esh 0.3.5 New Unix shell
Etherboot 4.1pre7 Source code for making TCP/IP boot ROMs to boot Linux and other OSes
FakeBO 0.3.1 Fakes trojan server responses and logs incoming requests
Festival 1.3.1 General multi-lingual speech synthesis system
Fetchmail 4.7.7 Free, full-featured, robust, well-documented remote-mailretrieval utility
flwm 0.14 The Fast Light Window Manager
FreeWorld BBS 0.2.0 BBS Software for Linux
FSViewer 0.1.0 File Viewer lookalike for Window Maker.
ftpted 4.0 Easy to use Text Editor (small but powefull)
g2 0.40 Easy to use, portable and powerful 2D graphics library
Galway Html Editor Guile-gtk HTML Editor
Ganymede 0.96 GPL'ed Network Directory Management System
gentoo 0.9.23 Two-pane filemanager using GTK+, 100% GUI configurable
gFTP 1.1 A multithreaded ftp client for X Windows
GGUI 0.3.0 An easy multi-purpose, multi-program GUI.
GHX 2.30 (99/01/28) GTK clone of the Hotline software
gIDE 0.0.15 Gtk-based Integrated Development Environment for C
GIMP Imagemap plug-in 0.3 GIMP plug-in for creation of clickable imagemaps.
Giram 0.0.4 Giram is a modeller, written in GTK+
GLib 1.1.14 The GLib library of C routines
gMOO 0.2.6 GTK+ based MOO (and MUD) client
GNAT 3.11p
GNOME 0.99.5 GNU Network Object Model Environment
Gnome Apt Frontend 0.3 Gnome frontend to the amazing Debian package tool
Gnome Display Manager 0.7.1 Gnome version of the X Display Manager (xdm)
GnuDIP 2.0.1 Dynamic DNS package. Includes everything to run your own ml.org equivalent.
Gnumeric 0.8 Spreadsheet, a new foundation for spreadsheet development, part of GNOME
GPL Argument Analyser 1.4.5 Utility to manage the arguments of your programs
GQ 0.1.7 LDAP client
GQmpeg 0.4.6 A front end to the mpg123 mpeg audio player
Grip 1.0 A gtk-based frontend for CD-rippers
GTK+ 1.1.14 Library for creating graphicaluser interfaces
GtKali 0.1.8 Gtk+ interface to Kali.
gtkgo 0.0.5 Go game for Linux and Windows
gtKuickres 1.0 A wharf dockable, quick, point and click way to change video modes.
GTKWave 1.0.14 Wave viewer for Verilog simulation
GTKYahoo 0.5 GTK based Yahoo! Pager client
Gwget 0.3 gwget is a Gtk+ front-end for the wget program.
gxTar 0.0.6 Gnome/GTK+ front-end to tar/gzip/zip
Heretic for Linux 0.9.3 Port of Heretic to Linux
HSX 99/01/30 Hotline Server clone for Unix
hunt 1.1 Tool for exploiting well-known weaknesses in the TCP/IP protocol suite
icecast 0.9.0 MP3 Audio Broadcasting System
icewm 0.9.32 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
Install-Sendmail 2.0b install-sendmail will configure sendmail and fetchmail for you.
ircII 4.4B
Japhar 0.07 The Hungry Programmer's version of the Java Virtual Machine
JDHCP 1.0.1 API for writing Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) applications in Java
jEdit 1.4pre1 Powerful text editor
Jigsaw 2.0.1 W3C's leading-edge Web server platform
JX 1.1.19 C++ application framework and GUI widget library for X
Kalendar 0.5b simple, easy to use calendar and to-do list manager
Kkb 0.2 Xkb layout and group changer and indicator
Korfe 0.2.8 Fast GUI Builder for Java that supports Swing as well as custom components
KRunning 0.0.15a A database manager for your private running events
KSI Linux 2.0 New major release of KSI Linux distribution from Ukraine
KSniffer 0.1.3 KDE Network Sniffer/Monitor and Stats Collector
ku 1.1p2-2 Autmp based shell admin utility for maintaining shell logins
LAPACK-D 0.8 Dynamically loadable version of LAPACK libraries
Linux PnP driver 990130 Plug and Play driver for Linux
Linux Virtual Server 0.6 Linux Load Balancing and NAT
Listar 0.116a Mailing list managementsoftware
lizcam 1.2 Easy-to-use webcam program with automatic archiving of pictures.
lsb-fhs 0.55 test suite for filesystem hierarchy aspects of the Linux Standard Base
lsof 4.39 List open files
Lynx 2.8.2dev15 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
LyX 1.0.0 Advanced LaTeX-based typesetting and text-editing program for X11
MAGE Adventure Game Engine 0.1.1 Framework for playing and (in the future) authoring text-based adventure games.
MAM/VRS 2.1.3 MAM/VRS is an extensible graphics and visualization library
mars_nwe 0.99.pl14 Martin Stovers Netware Emulator
mcrypt 2.1.5 A replacement for the old unix crypt(1). Uses several block algorithms.
mdate 0.5.1 A freely-available mayan date program
metachk 2.1 analyse the safety of your Solaris RAID
Midnight Commander 4.5.10 Unix file manager and shell
MindTerm 0.98 SSH-client in pure Java, includes stand-alone ssh- and terminal(vt100)-packages
minicom 1.82.1 Serial communication program
Minimalist 1.1 Minimalist Mailing List Manager
minordomo 0.6 A minimalistic mailing list manager
mod_dav 0.9.6-1.3.4 DAV protocol extensions for Apache
mod_dtcl 0.4.1 Apache server-parsed Tcl module, inspired by PHP
moodss 6.3 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
Mozart (Oz) 1.0.0 Development platform for constraint and distributed applications
Mozart (Oz3) 1.0.0 A distributed, functional, object-oriented concurrent constraint language.
mpg123 0.59q Real time MPEG Audio Player for Layer 1,2 and Layer3
mtv A realtime MPEG Video+Audio player
mtvp-sdk Powerful Software Development Kit for real-time MPEG-1 Video
MySQL 3.22.15 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
Naken Chat 0.89 Chat Server ported from Javachat
Ncurses Hexedit 0.9.1 Ncurses file hex editor - edit/insert/delete/search
NDir 0.7.1 Console tool to display directory's contents
Nessus 990201 A free, open-sourced and easy-to-use security auditing tool
oidentd 1.6.0 ident (rfc1413) daemon for linux that allows users to specify usernames
OpenLDAP 1.1.4 LDAP suite of applications and development tools
PalmPilotPlug 0.9c Download/Install PalmPilot programs from a website
pavuk 0.9pl5 Webgrabber with an optional Xt or GTK GUI
PCI Utilities 1.99.4 Utilities for diagnostics and cofiguration of PCI devices
Poor Man's Cam 1.0 PMCam allows you to set up a web cam on a remote site.
Postilion 0.9.0 A mail user agent based upon the popular TkRat program
psntools 2.3 Administrative tools for large numbers of accounts
Pyrite 0.6.0 PalmPilot interface library for Python
QtBuddies 0.01 Official Client for the NetBuddies Instant Messaging Protocol
QtVu 0.3.18 An image viewer heavily inspired by ACDSee
rc.virt 2.40 perl script to automate adding ips for ip aliasing
remindo 1.2 Useful utility to warn of important dates and events.
Rio&Mpman4Linux 1.05 (Rio) Upload tools for MpMan portable MP3 players
Ripenc 0.5 Bourne shell script frontend to Cdparanoia, and Bladeenc.
RPGBoard 1.52 RPGBoard is a highly-modified form of WWWBoard.
rscript 1.0 Remotely executes a list of commands as root or user, can email a confirmation.
rt-utils 1.1.3 a collection of tools related to realtime scheduling
rxvt 2.6.PRE2 A VT102 emulator for the X window system
Saint SAINT Released (ver 1.3.6) Security Administrator's Integrated Network Tool
Sced 1.02 modelling program that makes use of geometric constraints
SCWM 0.9 Scheme Configurable Window Manager
Simple File Manager 1.6 Fast small shortcut-driven Gtk-based file manager
sitecopy 0.4.0 Maintain remote copies of locally stored web sites
slap 2.2.3 SmartLabel printing for UNIX
Slurpie 2.0b Distributed passwd cracker
SMS Client 2.0.7s-3 Command line based utility which allows you to send SMS messages
Squid 2.2PRE1 High performance Web proxy cache
stamp 1.0 Adds a graphical timestamp to a jpeg image
suck 3.10.4 Grabs news from a remote NNTP news server
SyncBuilder 19990202 Build synchronization applications with a Palm device in Java
sysklogd 1.3-31 System log daemons
TeamWave Workplace 4.1 Shared Internet places for any-time collaboration
tgif 4.0.11 Vector-based draw tool
The Ace of Penguins 1.1 X11 solitaire card games
The Global File System 19990125 A Shared Disk File System for Linux
Thumb 0.5 Configurable image directory thumbnail viewer
TiMidity++ 1.3.0 Experimental MIDI to WAVE converter
TkWho 0.7 Visual frontend to the Unix who command
tk_Brief 2.0 GUI for writing letters with LaTeX
TOAD 0.42.12 A Simple and Powerful C++ GUI Toolkit for X-Windows.
Traveller's Linux 1.1.7 Minimal floppy Linux distribution
unalog 0.1 A lightweight, universal logging model for human-machine events.
Universe 0.10 Space Strategy game
Unix Desktop Environment 0.1.7-BETA A new GUI for Unix with a completely new look'n'feel
VFU File Manager 1.42 Extensivelyl featured console (text-mode) file manager.
ViPEC 1.03 Network analyzer for high frequency electrical networks
VM 6.65 Emacs-based mail reader
WeT Perls 0.5 A set of Perl scripts to allow Web Themeing.
whichman 1.5 whichman, ftff and ftwhich are fault tolerant search utilities.
Window Maker 0.51.0 X11 window manager with NEXTSTEP look and feel
WMCpu 1.2 CPU/System stats monitor
WMixer 1.5 Neat ALSA Mixer for Window Maker with a digital on-screen display
WWWThreads 3.19990201 WWW based discussion forums
wxPython 0.5.4 Python extension module for wxWindows
X-Chat 0.5.2 GTK+ Based IRC Client. Alot like AmIRC (Amiga).
X-Mame 0.35b2.1 The Unix version of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator
XAmixer 0.2.3 An ALSA based mixer program written with GTK+
xcallerid 2.1.2 callerID program that pops up incomingphone numbers in an X-window
Xclasses 0.40.2 pre 2 C++ layout library for the X Window System
xhippo 0.4 Gtk-based playlist manager for various UNIX sound players
Xosview 1.7.0
xtet42 2.20 Two-player tetris with a twist
Xtraceroute 0.8.13 OpenGL traceroute
Xwhois 0.3.0 Small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the internet whois network services.
Zircon 1.18.210 An IRC client written in tcl/tk

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

Golgotha Forever! is the coordinating site for the effort to complete Crack Dot Com's "Golgotha" game, now that the company is gone and the source has been released. It has downloads, news, screenshots, and more.

The next Linus need not start from scratch to make a new operating system; the OSKit now exists to provide a set of 31 component libraries which can be used to piece together a new kernel. This is a serious project, with a lot of (open source) code and documentation; worth a look.

February 4, 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, 28 Jan 1999 23:34:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Conrad Sanderson <conrad@hive.me.gu.edu.au>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: correction to LWN 28 Jan edition, kernel section

You mention in the kernel section of LWN:

> 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. 

Actually, there's already a fairly elegant and simple solution.
It may not be the best possible solution, but it works very well.
It's called bigphysarea patch, available from:


As far as I know work is being done to port this patch to 2.2 kernels.

The patch reserves, at boot time, a user defined contiguous block of
memory, out of the reach of the rest of the kernel and normal user apps.
Specifically enabled apps can then allocate contigious blocks of ram with
minimum fuss.  There's even a proc interface.

I have been using a Matrox Meteor frame grabber with this patch,
without problems.  

In my opinion this patch should become part of the kernel proper.

Conrad Sanderson - Microelectronic Signal Processing Laboratory
Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 03:39:42 +0100
From: Ulf Carlsson <ulfc@bun.falkenberg.se>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Structure vs purism


I think it was stupid to post 'Structure vs purism' message in lwn
without including some of the replies, telling *why* gotos and strange
syntaxes are used in the kernel. It gives an incorrect view of the
kernel as an unprofessional piece of work, produced by programmmers
who don't know "the first thing that is being taught on pretty much
every programming course", which certainly isn't true.

- Ulf
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: sigh...
From: Gordon Matzigkeit <gord@trick.fig.org>
Date: 28 Jan 1999 07:11:00 -0600

Please don't mince words.

If you had said ``sex games'' instead of ``adult games'', the
AdultLinux news item is a lot clearer.  As it stands, your description
of this site makes it sound more interesting than it actually is.

OTOH, maybe I'm just naive to have thought that ``adult games'' meant
something different than ``sex games''.

 Gordon Matzigkeit <gord@fig.org> //\ I'm a FIG (http://www.fig.org/)
    Lovers of freedom, unite!     \// I use GNU (http://www.gnu.org/)
[Unfortunately, www.fig.org is broken.  Please stay tuned for details.]

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 01:46:57 -0600 (EST)
From: Dave Finton <surazal@nerp.net>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Is there life for Linux after business?

A number of comments have been thrown around about the future of Linux,
now that Linux is becomeing Big Business(TM).  One reporter said that
linux would "lose its soul" as corporate interests dominated the scene.
I've also made a comment in an earlier letter to the editor (I can't
remember when and I'm too lazy to go look for it :^) about how business
are going to increase their role in not only using Linux, but in also
controlling its future development, much in the same way it's been done
with the World Wide Web.

Well, it's happening.  Businesses like Sun, Dell, Oracle, Netscape, and so
on are all jumping on the open source and Linux bandwagons, although each
are doing it their own ways.  Linux is no longer perceived as the
"hacker's toy", but rather as a professional tool.  Open Source and Free
Software are no longer regarded as flukes, but as a direction software
development is heading towards.

So now what?

I think one of the dangers of all this is that the mainstream press and a
few of the open source leaders have over-emphasized the fact that "Linux
must be accepted by the business world to be important".  I absolutely
disagree.  While I'm glad to see Linux being used more and more (as it
means I'll be that much more likely to use it for my job when I get out of
college), I think some people have gotten this mentality of
all-or-nothing.  Either business accepts Linux, or it will die and fade
away into history.

The real power that feeds Linux doesn't come from Oracle or Dell or Compaq
or Sun.  That's like saying the true power of the web comes from MSN or
Netcenter or Yahoo.  Yahoo or Netcenter wouldn't even exist if it weren't
for the thousands of web pages they index that are created by individuals
or small organizations.  The same is true for Linux.  The real "action"
comes from individual programmers, Linux User Groups, small business, and
so on.  True, they don't make the big headlines like the big boys do, but
that doesn't make them less important.

Linux has always been important.  Big business is now just along for the
ride.  I just hope they don't crowd everyone else out of the bus.  :^)

      - Dave "suffering from long-winded Jon Katz-ism" Finton

| If an infinite number of monkeys typed randomly at    |
|   an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite   |
|   amount of time, they would eventually type out      |
|   this sentencdfjg sd84wUUlksaWQE~kd ::.              |
| ----------------------------------------------------- |
|      Name:      Dave Finton                           |
|      E-mail:    surazal@nerp.net                      |
|      Web Page:  http://surazal.nerp.net/              |

Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999 11:11:02 -0500
From: Dan Ginsberg <dan@hibernal.com>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Reactions to poll data

I just read Nicholas  Petreley's bit 
( http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworld/lw-1999-01/lw-01-penguin.html )
about RedHat and it struck a nerve, not because of what NP had to say
(as usual he made a lot of sense) but because of what motivated the

	"LinuxWorld ran an interesting poll recently...."  

Two things struck me upon reading this.  The first is that I've seen a
lot more Linux related news based on poll data of late.  This is fine.
If your self-image hangs on Linux's stature, then all the more reason
to strut; you, qua Linux user, have become a target-able demographic
group.  (Woohoo, and stuff.)  If you care about the future of Linux,
then here is the promise of useful data (e.g., as the demographics of
the Linux community change, what new concerns about or demands on the
OS and its community arise?  What does that mean for developers and

Unfortunately, the second thought that struck me upon reading NP's
piece was that most of the polls said nothing and that it was
unfortunate that anyone took them seriously enough to react to them.
Let me unpack that a bit.  Consider the poll that inspired NP's
article, or the bit of demographic polling that LWN pointed us to a
few weeks back (lost that URL, sad to say).  In both cases they polled
a lot of people.  LinuxWorld talked to 895 people and 73.75%
identified Linux with RedHat.  That sure *seems* to say something; but
as anyone who's done a bit of sampling can tell you, the numbers mean
nothing.  Given the number of Linux users out there, you can sample
385 folks and be 95% confident that data gathered from the sample
projects to the universe of Linux users with 5% error.  And that aint

However, that only holds true if your sample was randomly selected.
If your sample wasn't randomly selected then you could sample a few
thousand people and you would have no idea if data collected from that
sample projects to the universe.  Worse yet, you can be pretty sure
that your selection method has skewed your data to exclude or
underrepresent some groups.

For example, neither NP's piece nor the demographic survey captured
users who could not participate because they couldn't get network
services up.  In fact there are two problems with this poll data.  The
first is that part of the universe is excluded from the poll (they
aren't aware of it, can't get to it, don't read that language and so
on).  The second problem is that those who are not excluded from the
poll determine on their own whether or not they will be a part of the
sample.  It turns out that folks who choose to participate in polls
differ significantly from folks who choose not to.  Oops.

It is important that we explore the demographics, beliefs, values, and
quirkinesses of Linux users.  (Humor value aside, the whole
multi-colored iMacs thing bespeaks something powerful.)  It is also
wonderful that folks covering Linux are sensitive to poll data when.
However, it is important that we get it right, especially at the
outset.  Are there virtually no women running Linux?  Do 75% of people
think "RedHat" when they think "Linux?"  I don't think that we know;
and I suspect that it is a particularly bad idea to act as if we do.

dan ginsberg
Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999 09:33:44 -0700
From: Alan Robertson <alanr@henge.com>
To: pankaj_chowdhry@zd.com
Subject: Re: Labs'-eye view

I have some trouble understanding what was meant by a comment in your
article on Linux found at:

> The community developing for Linux moves at a snail's pace

I assume this refers to something like this...

> With the exception of Novell--and we know how its market share is
> doing--operating system vendors have been providing symmetric
> multiprocessing support for I/O-intensive applications a while now.

Linux has had SMP capabilities which outperformed NT for about 2 years,
since the beginning of the 2.0 series of kernels. The new kernels
provide better performance in 4-way and larger SMP clusters (causing it
to outperform NT by a wider margin).

Release 1.0 of Linux came out in 1994.  Release 2.0 (with SMP) came out
in about 1996.  To make a fair comparison of Linux to NT in terms of
development speed would be to compare Linux 2.0 features and performance
(with it's superior SMP) to NT after 2 years (in 1993).  Although NT has
been slow since it's inception, it is better than it was in 1993.  In
release 2, Linux supported more hardware than NT did in 1993.  NT 4.0 is
now about on a
par with Linux in terms of hardware supported.

Surely everyone wants for the new kid on the block to be as far along in
every respect as the best of every other operating system.  It will be
within a year or so.  After that, it will be the leader in most
respects.  If you have read the Halloween documents, the Open Source
development model's incredible speed was one Microsoft's big concerns.

The size of the development community increases each time the user
community grows.  This may not sound like much, after all probably only
1% of the users develop and test code for it.  With 10 million users,
that's only 100,000 developers or so.  If Linux growth continues at the
current pace, expect to see a quarter of a million developers and
testers soon.

This is not to discount the efforts of the "big guys".  The dozens of
people they may eventually contribute to the effort are very important
-- they have access to detailed and often undocumented information on
how their proprietary hardware works.  Many of them are dedicated and
experienced specialists whose key contributions will be out of
proportion to their numbers - like the core linux developers are now.

To contribute to proprietary OSes, you pretty much have to
live in Redmond, WA, or Silicon Valley, and those two locales are
getting close to maximum capacity.  Although opportunities like these
are disproportionately available in a few places, smart people are
more-or-less uniformly distributed across the globe.  The opportunities
to contribute to Linux are restricted only by having internet access.
Linux development is moving faster than NT today, and will pick up the
pace more and more over the next several years as its development
community continues to grow at > 40%/year.

If you want to say "When compared to XYZ, Linux has the following holes
in it today", I have no problem with that.  If you want to point to a
particular perceived deficiency and say "It shouldn't have this specific
deficiency!", I also perfectly understand.  However, I believe vague
statements like "Linux development moves at a snail's pace" (or "Linux
is slow to fill it's [unnamed] holes") are badly mistaken.  When you
start from ground zero, by definition, you start behind.   When you
compare its recent rate of filling holes to any other OS, it is filling
them very rapidly, with greater performance, reliability, and on many
more hardware platforms than NT and most other OSes.

	-- Alan Robertson
Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! Copyright © 1999 Eklektix, Inc., all rights reserved
Linux ® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds