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Leading items

The Internet Fiesta is happening March 19 through 21. This event is a Europe-wide "party" intended to further spread appreciation for the Internet and the joys that it can bring. The Internet Fiesta web site is full of great suggestions for how to celebrate this event, like: "children demonstrating their knowledge to their parents and grand parents," or "artists creating numerical art pieces."

Some folks, notably Stéfane Fermigier of AFUL, think that this event could be more profitably used to showcase the benefits of free software. After all, the net is built on free software, and free systems remain the best way to be a part of the net. The Fiesta as a whole appears to be in no hurry to recognize free software, so AFUL has put up its own Internet Fiesta page (in French, English may be had via Babelfish). They also have a list (English translation) of 32 free software related activities happening in France as part of the Internet Fiesta. This list represents a great deal of organizing on the part of many people. They are to be congratulated, and we wish them the best of luck.

Folks in or near the Netherlands may want to check out the Internet Fiesta Installfest being held in Utrecht.

Another Fiesta-related event - this one in Denmark - is the European Linux Yearbook. Their goal is to close out the Fiesta by writing - entirely within the 24 hours of March 21 - a book on the status of Linux in Europe. It's intended to be a highly cooperative project with many participants; they wish to show the power of the Linux/free software development model. This undertaking is ambitious indeed, but we bet they can pull it off. Happy Fiesta! (Note, at press time the ELY site appeared to be having problems; hopefully they will get it fixed shortly).

Apple will make part of their OS available under an open source license. They got Eric Raymond on stage to say that their license (the Apple Public Source License) is cool, so it must be true. Actually, the openness of the license has been a recent point of debate, as addressed in this letter from Bruce Perens, Wichert Akkerman and Ian Jackson. Eric's, and OSI's, response rebuts their arguments. Legalese easily generates confusion and dissension.

However, what Apple has opened up is mostly the lower-level parts of MacOS X. That includes the BSD-based core as well as higher-level packages like Apache. In other words, what they have released is mostly freely available already; the stuff that truly distinguishes an Apple system remains proprietary. Certainly it is their right to do so, and perhaps understandable as well.

Nonetheless, a question does come up: how committed is Apple really to open source? Are they sincere? Or are they just releasing code that does not matter much to them in order to catch some of the cachet, such as it is, that the open source movement currently enjoys? Apple has always strongly held on tightly to its proprietary systems and intellectual property - to the point of nearly destroying their business. It's not clear that this approach has really changed much.

Let's welcome Apple as they dip their toes in the open source water. With any luck, they will be pleased with their experience and dive in more fully in the near future. (See also: Apple's open source page and press coverage in MacWorld, the San Francisco Chronicle, Wired News and News.com).

Also relevant to Apple's move is Bruce Perens' article on license termination. This articlediscusses the clause found in a number of commercial open source licenses which allows for instant termination of the right to use the software in the event of patent or copyright difficulties. In fact, should a corporation decide that withdrawal of an open source license was in its interest, it would be simple to come up with some sort of threat sufficient to allow triggering of the termination clause.

Apple's license, like a number of others, contains such a clause. Opinions differ on how bad this particular case is - see the comments by Perens and Raymond cited above. Nonetheless, developers working on code governed by such a license should be aware that their right to use the code - and the (perhaps years) of effort they have put into improving it - could vanish in a day. As time goes by and corporations become more comfortable working in the open source realm, one can hope that these sorts of termination clauses will eventually start to disappear.

As a sort of followup to last week's "free" vs. "open source" editorial, interested readers may want to check out another editorial on the free/open topic which has been published on opensource.oreilly.com.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

  • Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor
  • Elizabeth O. Coolbaugh, Managing Editor

March 18, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.



Vpnd 1.0.0 has been released. vpnd is a daemon that can be used to create a Virtual Private Network between two networks, either via a leased line connected to serial ports or via TCP/IP. This is an open source product, released under the GPL. It encrypts all traffic that goes over the VPN, using the Blowfish encryption algorithm, which is both unpatented and free. Key length can vary between 0 to 576 bits. For more information, check out the vpnd announcement.

Security Reports

The Cisco 7xx series of small-office and home-office routers have two known vulnerabilities for which Cisco has released an advisory. Workarounds are available for the problems. If you have a Cisco router, it is recommended that you apply the workarounds as soon as possible to prevent potential Denial-of-Service attacks. Additional information can also be found in this ISS advisory.

Reports on Netscape Communicator 4.51, which was released last week, indicate that it has not fixed all of the security problems that have been identified (see this site for examples). As a result, many people recommend that you continue to disable Javascript when using the latest version to visit untrusted sites.

An overflow in Lynx 2.8 has been reported. No confirmation of the report has been posted so far, nor any mention of a possible exploit so far.


Patches against sendmail 8.9.3 were posted to delay response to address-harvesting attacks such as the ones mentioned in last week's security section.

Gnuplot, not GNU plot, is the correct name of the program mentioned in last week's security section. Our apologies for the error. Gnuplot is not associated with the GNU project or the Free Software Foundation.


The folks at SecurityPortal.com have put up a Linux security resources page with pointers to security advisories, HOWTO's, etc.

A Call-for-Votes has gone out regarding the creation of a new newsgroup called comp.os.linux.security. As one might expect, it is intended for the discussion of security issues under Linux. Send in a vote before April 5 if you have an opinion on the matter.

The March Issue of Cryptogram has been released and is either available, or will be shortly. Check out the crypto-gram page for subscription information.


The Call-For-Papers for RAID99 has been released. RAID99 is the second international workshop on Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection. It will be held September 7th through the 9th, 1999, in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA. It is being hosted by the Purdue University CERIAS.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

March 18, 1999


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current kernel release remains 2.2.3. It would appear that our stable kernel release is beginning to truly stabilize. It says a lot for the efforts of the kernel developers that this major release has stabilized so soon. 2.2 was a series worth waiting for.

Not that all is perfect, of course. 2.2.3ac2contains quite a few fixes, including one for an unpleasant disk quota hole in NFS. Also included in this patch is (we believe) the first public release of Alan Cox's I2O layer as an experimental addition.

While we know no more than anybody else, it is beginning to look like the sort of calm that prevails before Linus, without warning, releases 2.3.1 to the world and the fun new development cycle begins anew.

Some people may be surprised to hear that the Alpha port is limited to 1GB of RAM. After all, small RAM limitations were supposed to be a feature of those old 32-bit processor chips. But, as it turns out, supporting large amounts of RAM on the Alpha brings its own set of challenges. Shortly after discussion began on the topic, however, Richard Henderson and others put together a patch which raises the limit to 2GB. That patch went out as part of 2.2.3ac2.

Anonymous CVS access to the kernel repository on vger.rutgers.edu has finally been restored - via a new system in the openproject.net domain. See the CVS repositories page for details on how to get your bleeding-edge kernels out of the repository. You can also have a look at David Miller's brief announcement of the new setup.

Participants in the USB mailing list may have gotten dropped off as the result of a server crash which happened last week. If you're one of those, see the explanation of what happened and resubscribe.

NFS at Connectathon '99. G. Allen Morris III (the current NFS maintainer) posted this summary of the NFS testing he, H. J. Lu, and Daniel Quinlan did at Connectathon '99. Unpatched Linux NFS did not do very well, but they came up with some tweaks that helped a lot.

Also in the NFS arena: H. J. Lu has released version 1.2 of the kernel NFS daemon. See his announcement for details. As he puts it: "The NFS servers in Linux 2.2 to 2.2.3 are not compatible with other NFS client implementations. If you plan to use Linux 2.2.x as an NFS server for non-Linux NFS clients, you should apply the patches enlosed here."

Various other patches and utilities released over the last week:

  • Michael K. Johnson has released two new versions of the procps suite. One (1.2.10) is a set of minor fixes to the current procps release; the other (2.0) is much newer and more experimental. See Michael's announcement for more information.

  • Ulrich Windl has put out PPSkit-0.3.9 for the 2.0.36 kernel. These are a bunch of time-related patches; see his announcement for details. He has also released PPSkit-0.5.1 for the 2.2 kernel series. And, as if that weren't enough, he has also released a pre-release of PPSkit-0.6 which contains his nanosecond time patches.

  • /proc/.config v1.01 was released by Tigran Aivazian. This patch makes the current kernel configuration options available from the pseudo-file /proc/.config.

  • Richard Gooch has released devfs v93 for the new RAID drivers.

  • IPAcct 0.7d has been released by Zaheer Merali, the new maintainer of that package. IPAcct adds per-user IP accounting to the kernel; this release works with the 2.2 kernel series.

  • Jakub Jelinek and David Miller have announced a new, much faster version of the XSun24 server for Sun Creator and Elite video systems.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

March 18, 1999

For other kernel news, see:


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See also: last week's Distributions page.


Linux-Mandrake and BeroLinux are merging. Bucking the trend of a new distribution every week, the Linux-Mandrake and BeroLinux distributions are becoming one. Gael Duval sent us this note which describes the merger. Basically, they reviewed their goals and found them to be nearly identical. As a result, the next official Linux-Mandrake distribution will contain new ideas and features from BeroLinux. On a side note, they also plan to open up development of the Linux-Mandrake distribution to allow users to contribute as well. All good news!

Conectiva Linux 3.0is an RPM-based distribution for both x86 and Alpha platforms from Brazil.


Andrew McRory's HackPak directory has been updated again, as noted by Erik Ratcliffe, who comments, "For those who just tuned in, the "HackPak" directory contains all the RPM packages necessary to upgrade an OpenLinux 1.3 system to the point where it can run 2.2.x Linux kernels." He also calls Andrew "a man who deserves his own religion", which drew a smiling protest from Andrew ...

Some unofficial RPMS for OpenLinux 1.3 have been made available by Marc Christiansen, including RPMS for glibc-1.2.0, gtk+-1.2.0 and apache-1.3.4. He also noted some dependencies in the packages.

Caldera will be out in force at Brainshare, to be held March 21st through the 23rd in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Their press release indicates that they plan on premiering OpenLinux 2.2, demonstrated the Helius satellite router based on OpenLinux and more. Ransom Love and several of the Caldera V.P.'s will be attending as well.


Problems are few and far between for people upgrading to Debian 2.1. At least, very few problem reports were seen and those were relatively minor. This is a good indication of the stability of the latest release. On the other hand, the development version of Debian (dubbed "potato") is highly unstable as glibc 2.1, perl 5.005 and other major package updates are being dropped in.

This Week's Debian Weekly News is out.


GENERIC #07 is now available. David A. Gatwood's announcement covers the major changes in this release. Kensington device support is also available, but only through a modified kernel. Reports so far indicate that GENERIC-07 has fixed previously reported IP-Masquerading problems.


The latest, on-line version of Slackware has had a number of updates in the last week, including updates to TeX-related packages, support for APM shutdowns with the new 2.2.x kernels, samba 2.0.3, egcs-1.1.2, apache_1.3.4, Netscape 4.51, and many other miscellaneous updates. None appear to be security related, so upgrading should not need to be an urgent priority. For more information, check out the Slackware-current changelog file.


SuSE 6.1 has been announced. The German version of SuSE 6.1 will ship April 12th. It includes the Linux 2.2 kernel and KDE 1.1. The International version is scheduled to ship in May.


The Trinux IRC Channels have been changed over to Dalnet. Read this posting for more details.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

March 18, 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

PSA has opened the Python development source tree. Access to the Python CVS tree, which tracks pre-release source code and development snapshots, was previously restricted to PSA (Python Software Activity) members. However, recent polling of the membership showed overwhelming support for opening up the development source code tree. For more information, check out their CVS page.

Chad Netzer was kind enough to forward us the announcement made to comp.lang.python. He also mentioned that PSA is, as always, still looking for new members and for ideas on ways to provide incentives and benefits to their members. For more information on PSA, check out their website.


A tip for running JDK1.2pre1 on Slackware was posted by Gerrit Cap. He reports that it is running "perfectly" under Slackware 3.6.

Due to an error on this editor's part, we failed to mention last week that Sun licensed several of the Java standard extensions (Java 3D, Java Media Framework, Java Advanced Imaging, and Java Sound) to Steve Byrne on behalf of the Blackdown porting team. Steve demonstrated Java 3D at the LinuxWorld Expo and expects it to be generally available within a few weeks. Java 3D is implemented using Mesa 3.0.

Some Linux JDK1.2 font tips were posted by Kazuki Yasumatsu in response to complaints that the jdk1.2 fonts do not behave like the jdk1.1 fonts. Basically, he provides instructions on how to use your favorite TrueType and Postscript Type1 fonts instead of the TrueType fonts included in the JDK1.2.

JAnalyzeProfile is a performance analysis tool for JDK 1.2 recently published by Nathan Meyers. His note indicates that JAnalyzeProfile is a perl script that can help finger hotspots.


A mailing list to discuss Perl Genealogical software has been created. The Perl-GEDCOM list can be used for discussing any perl-based genealogical software, whether or not it is based on the GEDCOM format.

Wolf Busch has released Lisp 1.1, his version of Scheme implemented in Perl. The web-site and all related documentation are in German.


PySequence_In in 1.5.2b2 was missing. This error was caught and reported by Brad Clements. Guido von Rossum responded with patches to fix the problem.

The alpha release of PilGraph, a PIL-generation simple graphing/plotting module, was announced by Richard Jones.


Beta testing of GNU Smalltalk 1.6 has started. Paolo Bonzini, the "unofficial" maintainer, posted this note describing the features of the new version.


New versions of Jacl and Tcl Blend can be downloaded from the Scriptics Tcl/Java web site. More information is available in the announcement.

This week's Tcl-URL! is now available.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

March 18, 1999



Development projects


Version 5.2 of the Coda distributed file system has been released. Coda has a lot of interesting features, worth a look if you haven't seen it before.


Ganymede 0.98 has been released. This note from Jonathan Abbey covers the major changes in this latest release of the Ganymede network directory management system. Ganymede is licensed under the GPL and written in Java.


Updated GNOME packages

High Availability

The Linux High Availability web-site has been updated. In addition, Horms posted a brief LinuxWorld Expo report, focusing on high availability.


Now that the bug fix releases 3.1.0 and 3.1.1 are done, development for ht://Dig, , will be moving in new directions. Geoff Hutchison reports that some significant amount of new code has been added to the 3.2 source. Major improvements include changing the database backend to support phrase searching and allow for parallel indexing and searching, and adding support for retrieving documents through FTP, news, HTTP/1.1 and other protocols. Plans for a more logical organization for the documentation are also beginning. Interested contributors should go to the ht://Dig developer's page.


The request for KDE translators has been filled. Martin Konold reports that their list of volunteers is now complete and expressed his thanks.

Updated KDE packages


The Linuxconf web site has been updated and has been drawing praise on the mailing lists. The site reports that the latest release of Linuxconf is 1.14r1, which is dated March 14th, 1999. Jacque Gelinas commented that the important changes to the site are its dynamic qualities. As a result, instead of releasing a new version once a month with a changelog coming out 2 weeks later, he can release a new version once a week, with an up-to-date changelog the same day.


Magicfilter is in need of a new maintainer. This note includes a posting from the former maintainer of magicfilter who has given up on trying to get out an updated version. He's got soem substantial improvements to the engine code completed, but more work needs to be done if magicfilter 1.3 is ever to see the light of day ...


A source code beautifier for mgp has been created by Fabien Coelho and is available from his homepage.


A tutorial on extending Mozilla has been written by Heikki Toivonen and made available on Doczilla.


An Xsun24 rewrite of the Creator/Creator3D/Elite3D driver, developed by Jakub Jelinek and David Miller, is available in a test release. They are looking for feedback so they chase down any potential show stopper bugs and then offer it for public use. If you are interested in helping with the testing process, check out their announcement.


Wine release 990314 has been announced.

A contract between Corel and Cygnus was announced on March 9th, under which Cygnus will modify the GNUPro development environment to support programming conventions used in Corel's existing Windows development tools, essentially by enhancing support for the Wine environment. Some additional details on the arrangement were posted to the wine-devel mailing list. However, Bertho Stultiens posted this followup, with comments on why this arrangement may help Corel, but does not actually help the Wine project, which needs to work with current tools and not future Microsoft-specific compiler extensions.


The Weekly Zope News has arrived from author Amos Latteier . In the style of the TCL-URL! and Python-URL! reports, it provides links to discussions of interest to those following Zope. This week, it touches upon future support for WebDAV, Zope and Frontier interaction and comparisons, and a Zope/Dreamweaver integration effort.

The Zope Documentation Project can be found at http://zdp.zope.org.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

HP has optimized its "Kayak PC" series of workstations to run Linux, according to this press release. This work seems to have been done in response to the needs of a project at CERN which uses a cluster of 30 dual-processor systems to crank through its data. "This cluster has been in service since late spring 1998, and operates around-the-clock (7x24) to process the more than 30 terabytes of physics data required by the experiment. Since the beginning of the collaboration, not a single hardware or Linux-related failure has been observed, further validating the reliability of the HP Kayak PC Workstations running the Linux operating system."

The folks who publish NTools E-NewsFlash (a newsletter for Windows NT users) have published the results of a survey of their readers which included some questions on adoption of Linux. The result: Linux has already worked its way deeply into NT shops. Worth a read. See also their writeup of the survey, which gives their impressions and talks a bit about their methodology. (Thanks to Scott Turton).

VA Research announces new systems. In keeping with their general strategy, this announcement describes some new high-end systems, these based on the new Pentium III Xeon processors. Now if only we had one of those...

Intershop has announced support for their electronic commerce products under Linux. "The company expects the Linux offering to especially benefit small and mid-tier Internet and Commerce Service Providers who already use Linux for their shared and dedicated hosting services." They will be working with Red Hat in particular.

Linux Canada has announced the release of their "LinuxPOS" point of sale and "LinuxRETAIL" inventory control systems in source form. Note this is not "open source" form - see the license for the details there. Nonetheless, this should prove to be a useful package for a lot of environments.

A new vendor of Linux-installed systems has popped up. Check out HotLinux Systems the next time the urge to shop hits...

Siemens has put up a Linux solutions page describing their "PRIMERGY" servers that will be displayed at CEBIT. These servers, of course, are Linux boxes set up to run SAP's R/3 ERP system. This is an important piece of corporate software. And the page even has a dancing penguin... (Just be sure to notice the little "next" link on the right once you've seen enough). (Found in LinuxToday).

The Indian company HCL Infosystems has decided to support Linux, according to this Times of India article. "...HCL's initiative, Linuxpertise, would extend a host of support services, including e-mail support, telesupport and on-site support. The telesupport service, to be launched shortly, will be offered in the four metros and other major cities like Bangalore, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad." (Thanks to Radha Krishna Pagadala).

Indelible Blue has jumped into the Linux support business. Their current offering appears to be 9-5 (U.S. eastern time) phone support on a per-incident or hourly basis. See their press release for more.

Press Releases:

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

March 18, 1999


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

Linux in the news

The Linux press was busy, as always, but with few overriding themes this time around. So let's go right into this week's recommended reading:
  • A Fairfax IT columnist who predicted that Linux would not go anywhere has put out a new column documenting his changing his mind. "I now believe that Linux will be very big, and that it constitutes the biggest threat to the established order since the Windows NT boom began about four years ago....We are witnessing a significant change in the centre of gravity in the IT industry. Commercial interests may not end up dominating the IT industry, and that is no bad thing. Rarely have I more happily admitted I was in error."

  • Hotwired's "WebMonkey" has a lengthy article on The GIMP. "Even though GIMP has its own manual, it's almost unnecessary if you're familiar with Photoshop 3.0. But the GIMP does have some unique features that are big improvements over Photoshop."

  • Here's an article in Forbes about embedded systems, and Cygnus's hopes for their open-source embedded operating system Ecos. "While Cygnus gives Ecos away, it has kept for itself the trademark and control over new releases. That means Cygnus will always know more about it than anyone else. Knowledge being power, the way the company plans to turn a buck is by selling programming tools for Ecos."

  • Phil Agre discusses the success of Linux on his Red Rock Eater list (you'll have to scroll down several pages). "The peer-review institutions of open source software, long stereotyped as the territory of lonely geeks, should be seen in their proper historical light as another chapter in the march of human knowledge. And they should be supported publicly, just as we support the production of other kinds of public goods. Of course, public support might lead us to another big government boondoggle such as the Internet, but if the alternative is Windows 3000, perhaps it's a chance we can take."

  • Last week's LWN contained a reference to this Italian article about efforts within the Italian National Research Council (CNR) to promote free software development in Italy. Now Kevin Reardon has sent us a translation of that article for those who do not read Italian. Worth a read. "Open source could be the key: a robust offering of italian freeware could help both to reduce our software trade deficit and to help the birth (in Italy) of new competitive initiatives that could produce significant returns..."

  • Peter Link pointed out this article in CIO magazine that we somehow missed this week. It's actually a good article about how Linux appears to corporate CIO's. Worth a read. "IS personnel who have had firsthand experience with freeware at these and other companies say that while open source software is indeed passing the tests of corporate computing, it requires a change of mind-set and new procedures, particularly in the area of service and support."

Interviews were big this week. Here's a sampling:

  • LinuxPower has put up an interview with Sam Ockman of Penguin Computing. "We have no fears about IBM, Dell, Compaq; in fact we welcome them to the market, and are glad to give them help when they ask us. We're going to sell more systems running Linux then any of these guys will."

  • InfoWorld interviews Red Hat's Bob Young. "The problem with other, smaller commercial Linux vendors is they look at Linux and they see a broken economic model. Great technology, but a broken economic model. So what they do is, they take Linux and surround it with proprietary tools. The problem is, from a support and bug tracking issue, you've effectively just bought another proprietary binary-only OS."

  • Inter@ctive Week also interviews Red Hat's Bob Young. "When we started shipping in 1995-96, Unix programmers represented 50 percent of our sales. Today, 90 percent of our users are coming to us from Windows."

  • In contrast, PC World interviews Caldera's Ransom Love. "We've actually downsized Linux to where it can fit on a floppy, with a graphical browser. You'll see some announcements in that vein from us."

  • LinuxWorld has put up another interview with Linus Torvalds.
Red Hat drew a few articles once again this week.
  • VAR Business looks at Red Hat's increasingly dominant role. "As large technology corporations line up to support Linux vendor Red Hat Software Inc., some VARs are worried the company will set de facto standards just as industry titan Microsoft Corp. did for the PC platform."

  • The Deseret News covers Novell's investment in Red Hat. "From a competitive standpoint, Novell chose privately held Red Hat for its size when buying into a Linux developer, instead of putting its equity into Linux developer Caldera Systems in Orem. Caldera is a Novell spinoff backed financially by former Novell CEO Ray Noorda."

  • Here's another article about Red Hat, this one in the Charlotte Observer. "Analysts said the big-name investors also could help extend Red Hat's market lead over Caldera Systems, based in Orem, Utah, Germany's SuSE and other private firms that sell Linux packages." (Thanks to Mike McLoughlin).
Then, there were a few introductory pieces:

  • Computer Shopper put out a positive introductory article. "...it's the commercial deals like those spearheaded by Red Hat that have done so much to elevate Linux's profile and make it a viable alternative to OSs like Windows NT. That may go against the free-spirited nature of Linux, but it does make a cool technology available to more people."

  • The San Jose Mercury has put out a lengthy introductory article in two parts. The first is a not entirely accurate piece about Linux as a whole; then it delves into installation difficulties. "At this point, I wimped out. Although several people told me Red Hat and other Linux installation programs often automatically identify and configure hardware, I didn't have the fortitude to attempt the process. But I'm not going to be hard on myself, or Linux. No one buys a PC today without an operating system already installed. Putting Windows or the Mac OS onto a blank PC would probably be just about as difficult as installing Linux." (Thanks to Jay Ashworth).

  • Here's an article which appeared in the National Law Journal. It serves as an introductory Linux piece with special attention to what may happen to the careers of intellectual property lawyers. "...lawyers who have spent the past 20 years struggling with the issues of intellectual property protection for software might in the future find themselves all dressed up with no place to go." (Found in Slashdot).

  • The Village Voice has run a long, highly nontechnical article about Linux and GNOME. "Publicly released two weeks ago, Gnome is a conscientious objection to the greed, inefficiencies, and tyranny of the technology industry as we know it, packed into an executable file. From the heart of the capitalist technopoly, Gnome is a free software alternative to the Windows desktop- free to download from the Net, to copy, to alter." (Thanks to Jen Matson).

A few belated LinuxWorld reports:

  • Here's a LinuxWorld piece from PC Week. "Although I'm certain that there were corporate IT decision-makers at LinuxWorld, they were few and far between--and that's what surprised me because I think corporations are talking the talk but not walking the Linux walk. Come on, corporate IT, where were you?"

  • InfoWorld ran another article about the cluster system that IBM demonstrated at LinuxWorld. "Using a subset of the Beowulf clustering technology, 17 of IBM's Netfinity servers containing 36 Pentium II chips and running an off-the-shelf copy of Linux matched the scalability and performance of a Cray supercomputer."

  • The Irish Times covers LinuxWorld. "...while the large software corporations' stands stood half-empty, programmers flocked to a small corridor at the back of the hall known as The Ghetto. There, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, awed fans with insightful witticisms and Rob Malda, the 22-year-old founder of www.Slashdot.com 'news for nerds' website, sold T-shirts and baseball caps. It was the only money changing hands at the show." (Thanks to Mark O'Sullivan).

Here's a few pieces in the non-English press:

  • For those of you who read Norwegian, here's a couple of articles that got sent our way. This one in Aftenposten appears to be of an introductory nature. And this other in PC World Norge is "about why Linux will win on the Internet." Too bad Babelfish doesn't do Norwegian. (Thanks to Ole Kristian, Hans Peter Verne, and Pål Larsson).

  • If instead you read Danish: here's a Linux article put up by DR, the major Danish TV and Radio network. (Thanks to Morten Welinder).

  • Here's an article (in French) in Libération about Linux in the French schools and how it competes with Windows in that environment. It even includes a relatively conciliatory quote from a person at Microsoft France. English translation available via Babelfish. (Found in NNL).

There were a couple of GNOME reviews:

  • PC Week reviews GNOME 1.0. "Initial tests of the GNOME 1.0 Desktop Interface for Linux show that the operating system doesn't necessarily have to be a tool for geeks. However, you might need a geek to set GNOME up."

  • There's no place like GNOME says Information Week. It's a high-level overview of the 1.0 release. "Some Gnome developers I talked to complained of a lack of focus, and that current development was going off in every direction. That could change, however, if the vendors now supporting Linux start throwing some of their development talent (and money) at the project. And based on the reaction that the interface is already getting, they're bound to."

And the rest is kind of hard to categorize, so here it all is...

  • MSNBC is running the Associated Press article about Apple's moves. "The so-called 'open source' method also is used for Netscape's browser software and the Linux operating system for business computers. In contrast, companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. jealously guard blueprints to their software to surprise rivals with improved features."

  • Here's a story in InternetNews.com about the growing use of Linux in India. "According to sources, petrochemical giant Reliance Industries is working on implementing certain mission-critical applications on Linux-based solutions. Besides web-based applications and intranet, the company is also planning to install Linux-based networks for its internal communication and messaging needs."

  • Here's a ComputerWorld article which says that non-Intel ports of Linux are not necessarily all that interesting to corporations. "Information technology managers and consultants are concerned about the availability of drivers, the ability of commercial vendors to cooperate with the open-source community that develops Linux, the preference of many Linux users for low-cost Intel-based hardware and the potential that Linux could fragment as it expands to proprietary platforms."

  • This Wired News article is about PC Free and their plans to ship some of their systems with Linux installed. "Beginning in April, the company will roll out 500 Linux-based PCs in a New Hampshire test market."

  • Here's a long article in PC Week about the slow nature of Linux's drift into corporate networks. "How close is Linux, really, to being ready to run mission-critical applications? The answer, according to many IT managers and experts, is that Linux is close, but it's not there yet. It still needs a strong support infrastructure, the backing of enterprise application vendors and an easy-to-use GUI at the desktop before it's ready to either compete with Unix and Windows NT on the server or appeal to the typical end user."

  • An Information Week editor writes about the Linux bandwagon. "Nearly one-third of IT managers surveyed by InformationWeek Research earlier this month say they're either using or planning to use Linux."

  • Computer Reseller News ponders the question of how to make money from Linux. The answer: services. "For now, distributors ought to keep a vigilant eye on the progress of Linux applications and a finger on the pulse of their VAR customers to gauge interest in the operating system and related products. Service opportunities soon should become part of Linux's appeal, considering the service-intensive environments where the operating system fits."

  • This Wired News article is supposedly about Apple's decision to open up the low-level part of MacOS X, but the bulk of the text is spent talking about Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, and problems with various large companies. The article is also marked by a "free beer" interpretation of free software. "The effect of the disagreements is pooh-poohed by many open source software developers. As a large, opinionated community, most aren't willing to designate an omniscient spokesmen."

  • PC Week has an article about Caldera's upcoming release, which, according to the article, will be called OpenLinux 2.2. Even though they have skipped over a "dot-zero" version, this release looks surprisingly bleeding-edge for Caldera. "This flagship program will include the new 2.2x Linux kernel, the glibc2.1 libraries and the latest version of the popular KDE (K Desktop Environment) 1.1 graphical user interface."

  • Also in PC Week: this article about SAP's upcoming release of R/3 for Linux. It dedicates most of its space to corporate nay-sayers. "But ERP customers are not sure whether they are ready to take that step. One SAP user said he was committed to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT platform, adding that Linux is only making news as the trend of the moment."

  • CNN has an article about Sun's approach to Linux. "While IBM and HP have been working to place themselves in the front seat as Linux's popularity soars, Sun has yet to commit to a comprehensive service or development agreement with any of the major Linux vendors."

  • LinuxWorld has an article about the recent TCP Wrappers trojan attack and the implications thereof.

  • ZDNet reviews Samba on an SGI Origin server. They were pretty well impressed. "In fact, after putting a Wandel & Goltermann Inc. Domino protocol analyzer on the wire to decode some of the CIFS traffic, we found that Samba supports some aspects of Microsoft Corp.'s CIFS protocol better than Microsoft does" (Thanks to Jeremy Allison).

  • This Microsoft article in the Australian Financial Review wanders off into the speculations that Office may be ported to Linux. "According to stories appearing on the internet, many Microsoft software engineers are keen Linux users in their spare time, and are determined to get Windows software working on it."

  • News.com has a brief article about the Empeg MP3 player. "Empeg has started production on Empeg Car, according to the company's Web site. Empeg Car, which runs on the Linux operating system, is powered by a 200-MHz StrongARM processor." (Thanks to Conrad Sanderson).

  • This (UK) Computing article is a lengthy piece about the 2.2 kernel. "By making the kernel so scalable, it is possible to compile a version suitable for tasks as simplistic as controlling a thermostat to running a network the size of, say, the National Grid."

  • Also in Computing: the Gartner Group once again tries to lower Linux expectations. "Announcements of support from IBM and Hewlett-Packard have not changed Gartner's view that real commercial support for Linux will not appear before 2000..."

  • Also also in Computing: Is Linux worth the leap? which is mostly a set of case studies. "Companies that opt for Linux could in a few years time be building enterprise computing systems for a lot less money. And for those that don't make the switch, Linux has at least begun to change the way software vendors think about licensing and pricing." (Thanks to David Killick for all three of the above links).

  • Will they still love Linux tomorrow? worried Web Review. "With all the hype about Linux I worry that the wrong people will be led to choose the Linux option and be disappointed with its ease of use and the application software currently available."

  • MSNBC speculatesthat Microsoft may be porting its Office suite to Linux. "Last week, Unix expert and technical author Simson Garfinkel mentioned on a radio talk show broadcast in the Boston area that he had corresponded with developers with inside knowledge of Microsoft's Office Linux porting efforts." (Thanks to Bryan Wright).

  • Next Generation Online claims to have confirmed that Sony will be using Linux as the development environment for their Playstation 2 game console. "The announcement that the company will make its development tools run in a Linux environment does not necessarily mean that the machine itself will use any sort of Linux implementation... However, Harrison's comments during last week's press conference do not rule out the possibility of a modified Linux kernel being used for the PlayStation 2's OS."

  • Here's an article in OS/2 E-Zine which argues the point that OS/2 software developers should switch to an open source model. "...I do think that the only chance for OS/2 to survive is that at least the freeware developers who are writing software today must switch to using an OpenSource license, no matter how ugly the sources are." (Thanks to Rob Landley).

  • Here's a confusing article in the San Jose Mercury (seemingly republished from SiliconValley.com) which appears to claim that Linux is pushing out Windows because Linux is smaller... "...many of us were a bit surprised that tiny, free Linux made such a sudden and heady inroad into today's personal computer marketplace"

  • Wired News reports on Dell's offering of Linux-installed systems. "Despite the fact that Dell didn't even issue its own press release announcing Red Hat Linux installation and support for its servers and workstations, response was tremendous."

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

March 18, 1999


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.



"Understanding UNIX", by Stan Kelly-Bootle, was reviewed this week by Rob Slade. If you are looking for basic introductions to Unix commands, etc., for friends that are just moving over to Linux, check out this one. A couple of pointers to similar books are also included.

A new version of the Samba Step by Step Guide is available.


The Linux Expo folks have put out a press release with some of the latest conference news. Highlights: they have added an Extreme Linux track, and Bob Young will be the keynote speaker.

Well, another "Linux Expo" has been announced. This one, though, is being held next November in London. It would be nice if they had picked a different name...

LinuxWorld has put up a page which contains, among other things, writeups from "over 35" of the sessions from the LinuxWorld Conference.

More LinuxWorld reports: Marc Merlin has put together an extensive set of pages with detailed reports and pictures (350!) from the conference.

Here's a press release put out by O'Reilly about the "Open Source Summit" that was held the day after the LinuxWorld conference. Not much in the way of specifics, but at least you can see who was there. "Long the favorite software development model of the programming elite, Open Source(TM) is now a credible technology option for any business."

User Group News

L/UUG of VT's Spring '99 InstallFest is coming up. This is a very well organized, carefully planned event during which installations of Debian, Red Hat, Slackware and also FreeBSD can be performed. Pre-registration is mandatory. They gather information on the pre-registrants hardware and software in order to better plan the installations. Only a limited number of installations can be performed, so sign up early to assure your place. For lots of additional information, check out their announcement.

The Pikes Peak Linux User's Group, also known as PPLUG, has formed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their web-site provides information on getting signed up for their mailing list and a location to watch for information on upcoming events.

The Malaysian Linux Festival, held March 12th was apparently a terrific success. A write-up of the event from Hasbullah Pit was translated by Beh H L into English and made available.

March 18, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
AbiWord 0.5.1 Fully featured word processor
AdRotate 1.0 Banner Ad Rotation Program
afbackup 3.1.4 Client-server backup system
AfterStep 1.7.75 Window manager for the X/Windows environment with NeXT look and feel
AfterStep Clock themes-enabled version of the classic clock
AGI Utilities 1.0 Utilities to extract data from Sierra On-Line AGI games
Applix SHELF 1.1 An embedable fully featured programming language for Linux
asmem 1.1 Memory utilization monitor for X.
asp2php 0.66 Converts Active Server Pages (ASP) to PHP3 scripts
Bandmin 0.44 Bandmin is a package that monitors and logs ip accounting data
bgcheck 0.2 A process monitor used to limit the amount of background processes
Big Brother 1.09c Highly efficient network monitor
Bind 8.2 Berkeley Internet Name Domain
Blender 1.58 Extremely fast and versatile 3D Rendering Package
bmsync 0.1.0 Read and write bookmarks of various web browsers
BNC 2.4.8 IRC proxy server
BookStore 1.1 Remote bookmark management via web on a UNIX server.
Cajun 3.0a2 Car Audio Jukebox mp3 player for your car/home
Catalog 0.4 Build, maintain and display Yahoo! like resources catalogs.
ccd 0.01 cd player designed for use on linux systems.
ccp 1.0 copy files recoding each byte into 1 or several (incl. 0) bytes
Cheops 0.60pre1 Network User Interface
Chinese Lyx Patch for lyx-1.0.1 patch to make lyx a Chinese writing tool.
coda 5.2.0 Full featured network filesystem
Colortail 0.2 Colorized tail.
Compaq Smart-2 Driver 0.9.9 Linux Driver for Compaq Smart-2 PCI Disk Array Controllers
Cooledit 3.9.0 Full featured text editor for the X Window System
Crafty 16.6 Computer Chess engine
CSSC 0.09alpha.pl3 SCCS clone
curl 5.6beta Tiny command line client for getting data from a URL
Dante 0.92.0-pre2 Free socks v4/5 implementation
DDD 3.1.4 Common graphical user interface for GDB, DBX and XDB
dfm 0.99.0 Filemanager like OS/2 WPS
DND 0.2 GUI of Molecular Dynamics
Doc++ 3.3.10 Powerful Javadoc like C++ documentation creation tool.
ECLiPt-Mirror 2.1-pre7 Full-featured mirroring script
egcs 1.1.2 Experimental set of enhancements for the GNU tools
Enlightenment 0.15.3 Fast, flexible and very extensible Window Manager
Etherboot 4.1pre8 Source code for making TCP/IP boot ROMs to boot Linux and other OSes
ex11 0.11 Erlang-X11 binding
Exult 0.06 Ultima 7 world viewer
fbgetty 0.0.6 An extended mingetty for Linux
Flashback 0.6-alpha Flashback is an mp3 visualization program.
FLTK 1.0 C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
freezetag 0.9.0 Program for Editing of id3 Tags of mp3 files
freshmeat.pl 0.1b CGI / Perl script to fetch 10 newest Freshmeat news.
fvwm_menu_conv 1.1 Perl scripts that convert fvwm2 menus into icewm or blackbox
Gaby 1.0.5 An address book written in GTK
gaim 19990311 GTK based AOL Instant Messenger
GeoStats 1.0.0 IRC Statistical Services
Get Slashdot News .20 Grabs the Slashdot headlines. Great for putting into pages etc.
GHX 2.65 GTK clone of the Hotline software
gifc 2.6 The GIF compiler
GILT 0.0.2 Vector drawing program based on openGL and gtk
Giram 0.0.10 Giram is a modeller, written in GTK+
GKill 1.2 GTK-GUI to send signals to processes.
Glide Rasterization Library (SDK) for Linux 2.x nerijus
Glide Voodoo Graphics drivers 2.46 nerijus
Glide Voodoo Rush Drivers 2.46 nerijus
Glide Voodoo2 drivers 2.53 Linux port of the Glide rasterization library
gltt 2.4 Allows you to read and draw TrueType fonts in any OpenGL application
GNOME 1.0.3 GNU Network Object Model Environment
Gnome Apt Frontend 0.3.1 Gnome frontend to the amazing Debian package tool
gnome-python 1.0.1 Python interfaces to gnome-libs
GnomeHack 1.0.1 Nethack for Gnome
gnotepad+ 1.1.2 An easy-to-use, yet fairly feature-rich, simple text editor
GNU Oleo 1.6.16 Free spreadsheet application
gnu.regexp 1.0.7 GNU regular expression package for Java
GnuDIP 2.0.6 Dynamic DNS package. Includes everything to run your own ml.org equivalent.
Gpasman 1.1.0 Keeps track of all your passwords in a secure way
gpppkill 0.9.14 Ends idle ppp connections
GREED .11 A utility that can get and resume files from a web site.
greyboard 0.7 shared blackboare written in tcl
grpn 1.0.4 An RPN calculator for the X Window system
grunch 1.1 Merge partial scans into a larger image
GtKali 0.1.12 Gtk+ interface to Kali.
gtkgo 0.0.7 Go game for Linux and Windows
GtkSheet 7.0 A matrix/grid widget for Gtk+
gTune 0.10 a nice Instrument Tuner for GNOME
guiTAR 0.1.4 A tar frontend for Gtk+
Gwydion Dylan MySQL interface 0.1 An interface to the mySQL RDMBS for Gwydion Dylan
GXanim 0.01 GTK+ front end for Xanim movie player
gxTar 0.1.0 Gnome/GTK+ front-end to tar/gzip/zip
Hatman 0.5.0 a high-res pacman clone
Hitchhiker 1.1 beta 3 An astronomy program which shows the planets and their orbits
Hopkins FBI for Linux 1.1 Adventure game
hotmole 0.62 Bash script to download and forward a user's Hotmail email as a batch job
HSX 99/03/15 Hotline Server clone for Unix
HTML PLAIN 1.0beta1 A revolutionary HTML precompiler
httptunnel 1.100 Creates a two-way data tunnel through an HTTP proxy
Hypermail 2 alpha 16 Mail(box) to HTML converter with threads and MIME support.
icecast 1.1.3 MP3 Audio Broadcasting System
icewm 0.9.34 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
ICI 2.1.1 A dynamic, interpretive language with C-like syntax
IDEntify 0.3.44 Extensible Integrated Development Environment
interstar 0.81 browser based / javascript game
IPAD 0.8.00 Intelligent vector drawing package
iplog 1.6 tcp, udp, and icmp logging utilities for Linux.
ircbase (the labrador project) 0.7.1 Advanced scriptable detachable GUI-controllable irc client
irssi 0.7.5 GTK+ based IRC client with GNOME panel support
ISC DHCP 3.0-alpha-19990315 Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Client and Server implementation
isinglass-hzd 1.14 Firewall script designed to protect dial-up users
Jacl 1.1 Tcl shell implemented in Java, a perfect way to add scripting to a Java app.
jahtml 0.8 Module to handle HTML and CGI output
Japhar 0.08 The Hungry Programmer's version of the Java Virtual Machine
JavaJoystick 0.1.1 Java class wrapper for the Linux Joystick Driver, version 1.2.x and above.
jEdit 1.5pre1 Powerful text editor
Jetty 2.1.2 HTTP/1.1 Servlet server written in Java
KBootSelector 0.2 KDE Boot option selector
kcmbind 0.5.0 A KDE front-end to configure bind
kdiff 0.83 A KDE frontend to diff, a utility to make patches.
Keasycd 0.18 CD recording frontend for cdrecord, cdda2wav, cdparanoia and mkisofs.
Kevlar FTP 0.4.0 Gnome-based FTP client similar to Bulletproof FTP
KFTE 6.1 KDE port of the FTE text editor
Kget 0.6.1 KDE app to get files from the internet
KHotKeys 0.2 This application lets you assign commands to different hotkey combinations.
KKinit 0.3 Kerberos ticket manager for KDE
kmuser 0.9.0 User-Administration-Tool for the KDE-Desktop
KPackage 1.1.3 GUI interface to the RPM and the Debianpackage manager
ktop 1.0.0p1 KTop: The KDE Task Manager
KVoiceControl 0.16 Speech recognition system for the KDE Desktop
kwintv 0.6.14 Watch TV in a window on your PC screen
Leafnode 1.9.2 NNTP server for small leaf sites
Lesstif 0.88.0 LGPL'd re-implementation of Motif
libmmoss 1.3 Provides Java sound in Linux version of Netscape Communicator
libsndfile 0.0.9 A library for reading and writing sound files.
Libtool 1.2f GNU libtool is a generic library support script
Linbot 1.0 Professional Site Management Tool for webmasters
LinPopup 0.9.9 Linux port of Winpopup, running over Samba.
Linuxconf 1.14r1 Sophisticated administrative tool
Listar 0.121a Modular Mailing list management software
maildrop 0.63 maildrop mail filter/mail delivery agent
MajorAdmin 1.2 Majordomo mailing list administration tool.
mathplot 0.6 interactive function grapher
mcl 0.51.01 MUD client for Linux
mcrypt 2.1.14 A replacement for the old unix crypt(1). Uses several block algorithms.
MeatGrinder 1.2 Java based binary newsgroup reader.
Mercury 0.8.1 A new logic/functional programming language
mg^2 0.1.9 3D modeller for X11 using Gtk, Glib, Imlib, Gtk glarea, andMesa/OpenGL
Midnight Commander 4.5.25 Unix file manager and shell
Minimalist 1.3.2 Minimalist Mailing List Manager
MM 1.0b1 Shared Memory Library
Mobitex Radio Modem Driver 1.7 Network driver for Ericsson Mobidems and other MASC-speaking modems
Mod_Corba 0.1 Exposes the Apache API via CORBA
mp3blaster 2.0b5 Provides interactive playing of mp3 files on a text console
mrtg 2.7.0 Multi Router Traffic Grapher
MUGU 0.2.0a A graphical multi-player game system written in Java
MyAdmin 0.3 Fully administer a mysql database from the web
nettest 1.0 Notifies you if your network connection goes down audibly or through email
Nightfall 0.10 Eclipsing binary star program
OmniORB2 2.7.1 A robust, high-performance CORBA 2 ORB
opensched 0.0.3 A project scheduling system for Unix systems, with LaTeX and EPS output.
percy Percy, the talking penguin
Personal Webspace beta1 A set of scripts that allows users to maintain their web pages using a browser.
pg2xbase 0.9.1 Converter from/to DBF file to/from Postgres database table
phpMyAdmin 1.4.2 Handles the basic adminstration of MySQL over the WWW
pk 0.8.8 pk is an Open-Source POSIX Threads embedded real-time kernel
pkgview 0.3 X based RPM package viewer
pppcosts 0.06 A small utility that calculates and displays online cost and time
procps 1.2.10 A package of utilities which report on the state of the system
ProFTPD 1.2.0pre3 Advanced, incrediblyconfigurable and secure FTP daemon
PTax98 3.12.99 Computes most of the 1998 Federal 1040EZ.
Pygmy Linux 0.5 UMSDOS based, internet ready minilinux.
PyGTK 0.5.12 A set of bindings for the GTK widget set
Pyrite 0.6.1 Palm Computing platform communication kit for Python
PySol 2.10 A Python-based Solitaire card game
Q2Java 0.9.0 Allows Quake2 games to be written in Java
QDD 0.1 A C++ Quantum Computer Emulation Library
Qt 1.44 GUI software toolkit
readiso 0.0.0 Read and compare images of ISO9660 file systems.
rhlupdate 0.41 Connects to a FTP server with RHL on it, checks for updates, and installs them.
rlinetd 0.2 inetd replacement on acid
rmd160 1.2.0 RIPEMD-160 digest hashing library for C
SampLin 1.3.1 Scientific Data Acquisition, Visualization and Process Controlsoftware
Scene 0.1.1 Inventor and VRML toolkit.
Scitech Display Doctor 1.0 beta4 Universal VESA driver and utilities
SIDPLAY 1.36.34 C64 music player and SID sound chip emulator
sitecopy 0.4.8 Maintain remote copies of locally stored web sites
SkyeMail 0.01 Java based email client
SLinux 1.0.0 Security enhancement suite for RedHat
slp 0.1.0 A syslog parser and formatter script in perl
Small Linux 0.7.0 Three diskette distribution that uses less than 4 megs of RAM
Split2000 1.0.0 Lossless audio compressor
sqlbind8 0.3.0 SQL backend to Bind 8
stamp 2.0.8 Adds a graphical timestamp to a jpeg image
start 0.8 General purpose home page for an intranet
Sula Primerix 0.07.5 Extensible multi-server IRC Client for X
super 3.12.1 Program to allow general users to do superuser things
Swift Generator 0.5.1 Dynamic Flash content generator.
Tcl Blend 1.2.1 Tcl Blend is a Tcl extension that provides access to Java inside Tcl.
TCL Developer Studio 0.23 (1.0pre1) small
Ted 2.3 Ted, an easy rich text processor for Linux.
tgif 4.1.2 Vector-based draw tool
TkMAME 0.35-pre6 Tcl/Tk Front End for XMAME
UCD-SNMP 3.6.1 Various tools relating to the Simple Network Managemnet Protocol
UDF 0.8 UDF filesystem kernel module
UMENU 0.5.0 Console menu command interface
UserIPAcct 0.8.0 Per User IP Accounting for the Linux Kernel
Vim 5.4f Popular vi clone that features syntax highlighting and an X11 interface
ViPEC 1.06 Network analyzer for high frequency electrical networks
VMWare 0.10 Allows you to run multiple OS's at the same time (ie: windoze in linux)
Voodoo Tracker 0.2.0 GNOME based tracker
vpnd 1.0.0 Virtual Private Network Daemon - encrypted TCP/IP.
Web-bench 1.0 Simple web server benchark.
WindowMaker 0.51.2 Window Maker is an X11 window manager
Wine 990314 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
WiredX 0.8.52 pure Java X Window System server
wmakerconf 1.8 GTK based configuration tool for WindowMaker window manager
wmphoto 0.2 Put your favorites pictures on your desktop
wmtv 0.6.1b WindowMaker TV dock.app
WRMF 1.0 WhiteBarn Reliable Multicast Framework
www_proxy 0.0.2 HTTP proxy with the capability of modifying User-Agent value
WXftp 0.4.4 FTP client for X with nice and intuitive GTK+ and Motif GUI
wxPython 2.0b7 Python extension module for wxWindows
X-Chat 0.9.3 GTK+ Based IRC Client. Alot like AmIRC (Amiga).
X-Mame 0.35b6.1 The Unix version of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator
xanim 2.80.0 Video Animation Playback for X11
xcallerid 2.1.11 callerID program that pops up incomingphone numbers in an X-window
XFCE 2.4.0b Easy-to-use and easy-to-configure environment for X11
xfreecell 1.0.4 Another implementation of famous solitaire game
xhippo 0.7 Gtk-based playlist manager for various UNIX sound players
xroottext 0.8 Render stdin onto the root window with line wrap and scrolling
XScreenSaver 3.08 Modular screen saver and locker for the X WindowSystem
XSIDPLAY 1.3.5 C64 music player and SID sound chip emulator
xterm Patch #93 A terminal emulator for the X Window System
xtermset 0.3 Changes xterm title, font, colors and size from the command line
ya-wipe 0.58.2 Secure file wiper
YAX YUGO System 0.1.0 A basic implementation of the YAX Graphic System

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

SSC has put up a new GIMP site at thegimp.com. It contains parts of Michael Hammel's book, tutorials, etc.

And once you get good at the GIMP, you can try to put together something for themes.org...

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

March 18, 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: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 11:56:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Conrad Sanderson <conrad@hive.me.gu.edu.au>
To: lwn@lwn.net, editor@lwn.net
Subject: clearer definitions of "free software"

It's about time we should, as a community, have clearer definitions
of what free software is.  We know what it is, but there is a lot of
confusion to the outsiders and newcomers, as well as the millions 
of clue-less article writers, who for some strange reason use the term
"shareware", or only get the "free beer" aspect.

I propose we start using the clearer French (?) versions of free 
(no wonder it's the preferred diplomatic language) :

Libre = "liberated" -> free to modify source code
Gratis = "free beer"

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

Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 10:14:55 +1000
From: geishan <geishan@ozemail.com.au>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Free software.

I'm an small independent software developer. The company consists of
me.  That's all just me.  My work provides for my family. I create
proprietary software.  I am therefore the enemy in some peoples eyes.

I like Linux. I like the open source. Hell I'll proberly even
contribute to Linux.  But to have all software free?? That sucks.

The whole problem is one of levels. and degree.  At the bottom layer
is the OS, the kernel, then libraries and shells that make use of it,
then tools that in turn use the libraries. Now at this level there is
a really thick black line.  Because above this are applications.  I'll
contribute below the line, after all I, and my applications, can
benefit from this by improving stability and so on.  Above the line is
my eating and beer money. My livelihood.  Opening this up will stop
the beer, and food.

In short. The free and proprietary models are NOT exclusive, they
complement each other.  The free/open source just occupies a level
below the not free.

human nature: nothing for nothing - something for something.  I can
gain via contributions to open source at the low level and lose at the
high level.

Food for thought

Sean Hennessy

Date: Sat, 13 Mar 1999 22:58:36 -0500
From: "Jay R. Ashworth" <jra@baylink.com>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Who's hand is on the tiller?

In this weeks' LWN, you point to two Larry McVoy pieces from the kernel
mailing list on the topic of what should be done about architectural
debates concerning the Linux kernel, and whether or not such things
should merely be left to Linus, or also debated in public.

The consensus appears to be both, and this ought not to be much of a
surprise to anyone who follows that list.

However, there's a subtle point that I think is being missed here.

Probably _the_ fundamental reason that Linux has lasted as long as it
has, works as well as it does, is as popular as it is... and is in only
release 2.2 after _ten years_ is because there is _one_ hand on the
tiller: Linus'.

Yeah, he gets lots of help from hundreds of people, and I'm not remotely
trying to downplay their contributions -- especially since I'm not one
of them.  But in the end, the person who decides what does _not_ go in
the kernel (as Larry does note) is Linus. 

No one else.

Fred Brooks, author of the seminal work in programming project
management, _The_Mythical_Man_Month_ (which you really should read if
you haven't already) makes this point very clearly in his book: any
given system, if it is expected to work well and survive for a long
time, can tolerate one, or _maybe_ two, hands actively exercising
control over it's architecture.  No more.

One is best, for a job one can do -- and apparently this is such a job.

Of course, things will get interesting when Linus decides to retire.  I
can't see any way to avoid a fork at that point, but then, I don't
follow the kernel list.  Perhaps the architect apparent is already
apparent and I simply don't realize it.

In any event, while it's not necessarily a pleasant thing to think
about, The Linux Community<tm> would do well to give some consideration
to the thing that kills most family business by it's lack: succession
planning.  (Read: "Hey, Linus! You figure out who gets the reins, yet?"

Architecture isn't easy.  If it was, architects wouldn't get paid so

-- jr 'will stir up firestorms for food' a
Jay R. Ashworth
Ashworth & Associates
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 17:50:12 -0500 (EST)
From: "Ben 'The Con Man' Kahn" <xkahn@cybersites.com>
To: Craig Goodrich <craig@airnet.net>, John Kodis <kodis@jagunet.com>,
Subject: Who can you sue?

	The latest attack on Linux is the "Who do you sue?" question.
Taking the question at face value misses the point.  I don't believe that
the people asking this question actually imagine that they can sue other
software companies.  They are asking a different question.

	They want to know who is responsible -- who they can lean on when
things go wrong.  You see, large corporations like to have a process they
can reliably follow when things go wrong.  

	When they buy software from a large company, they know who they
can lean on -- that large software company.  They don't really believe
that they can effectively sue this software company, but they like to know
they can put pressure on the company to fix the problem.  (By refusing to
buy their products in the future, causing bad publicity, etc.)

	Because of this, businesses would rather deal with other
businesses.  The system, for the most part, works.  And looked at from
this perspective, free software (err...  Open Source(tm), sorry!) is
scary. It isn't always clear who can be blamed.

	Of course, Open Source(tm) software works in a different way.
Because the code is available, blame isn't an issue.  Instead of focusing
on who to blame, you get to concentrate on who can fix it.  And the answer
to that question is: anyone can fix it!

	Once companies grasp this concept, Open Source becomes far more
accepted.  I've seen it happen.


------------------------------------ |\      _,,,--,,_  ,) ----------
Benjamin Kahn                        /,`.-'`'   -,  ;-;;'
(212) 924 - 2220                    |,4-  ) )-,_ ) /\
ben@cybersites.com --------------- '---''(_/--' (_/-' ---------------
	Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

From: "F.Baube(tm)" <fred@rodan.moremagic.com>
Subject: RMS 2020
To: editor@lwn.net
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 14:42:52 +0200 (EET)

At this point in time, when licensing models are in a state
of flux, the role of RM Stallman is absolutely essential.

Right now, the Internet is transitioning from being merely 
huge to being stupefyingly all-pervasive, and this creates 
ever more pressure for the commercialisation of software.
But contemporaneous with this, licensing models are being 
devised and settled upon that will live on into the future.  

An absolutist is required to press home the point that no 
quarter can be yielded on the fundamental issue of citizen 
access to essential tools.  The programmers of ten and 
twenty years in the future must continue to have basic GPL 
tools available, lest the craft of programming be relegated 
to those who can pony up the price, whatever that future 
price might be.  Society's cashless and cash-shy must not 
be denied tools.  Let RMS remind the community of this.

I speak from experience.  I upgraded my skills during 
a bout of unemployment using GNU/Linux.  (And also the 
Java SDK, but that's a whole 'nother dispute ...  :-)

Best regards,

Fred Baube


F.Baube(tm)        * "The record labels are middlemen.
G'town U. MSFS '88 *  In the age of the Net, middlemen 
fred@moremagic.com *  are roadkill.  Let's kick out the jams ..."
+358 (40) 737 6934 *    -- music attorney Ashwood Kavanna
#include <std_disclaimer.h> 

Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 12:16:06 +0100 (MET)
From: David Kastrup <dak@neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Commercial support of Linux

In the last few years, corporateinterest in Linux is all the rage.  I
want to point out a few things in connection with that.

Linux is constituted of free software.  Only what has been released as
free software (redistributable with source) can find its way into
every distribution and become a part of Linux.  The rest can stay an
optional add-on at most.  If a corporation loses interest, this add-on
will no longer be available for newer kernel/library/processor.  It is
not a value added to Linux, as it can be taken away again.  It is
lustre, not substance.  Of course, lustre can be important too, and
sometimes needed, but it's the bones that count.

Some people think that proprietary software is good enough.  If this
stance would have been prevalent always, there would be no Linux.
There would be no GNU software, either.  This software is available
precisely because some people cared about free software, and it will
stay available beceuase of that.  Since no good free software gets
lost or buried, the free software pool can only improve.  This is what
has made Linux great mainly from the work of private contributors.

Now companies start getting involved with Linux because it is a good
platform, and on the rise.  They don't care about freedom of software
per se, they are trying to ride the waves.  What is in it for them?
Money.  What is in it for us?  Depends on what the company does.  We
have several forms of involvements.

One is the offer of proprietary software under Linux, like the Oracle
database.  This buys Linux nothing except more employment and a bit of
advertising.  It adds nothing to the value of Linux, it makes use of
the value of Linux.  It can be used for pointing out that Linux is a
viable platform for proprietary software too, but that's about it.

We have companies like Creative that start developing drivers for
their hardware without wanting to release them in the source.  They
are strictly adding value to their products, not to Linux.  You can
use such stuff only at their whim on platforms they choose to support,
on products they choose to support.  Once they think their interest
insupporting a certain board is over, you might no longer be able to
get it working with newer systems.  Limited lifetime.

Then we have contributors like Compaq/Digital/Sun, IBM, SGI and Intel
that support or do porting and development work on basic free Linux
code for hardware they are producing.  The results of that efforts are
available freely, thus they add to Linux (and potentially other free
systems) permanently.  If they chose to discontinue their support of
certain hardware, whoever wants to can take this up.  The fate of this
software is not at the absolute whim of the contributing companies
anymore.  This is a true and permanent contribution and thus is of an
entirely different quality, even though it is primarily intended for
pushing certain hardware.  This still makes excellent business sense.

And then we have contributors like SGI with the contribution of its
GLX code, IBM with contributions in Apache development, RedHat with
the contribution of GNOME development.  This is code that can be made
to benefit *every* Linux system even from competitors.  It is code
that advances the state of art of Linux for everyone.  It helps
everyone, establishing the contributor as a technology spearhead
instead of merely a small claims technology dealer.  It is
contributions like that that *really* advance Linux significantly and
permanently.  Since a widely accepted standard operating system freely
available is very desirable for companies, this again makes business
sense, but it makes long-term business sense and benefits even those
that do not play by the rules.

Involvements like that are of the highest quality and value for the
advance of Linux.  I find it pretty sad that corporate involvement
with Linux gets all-hailed currently without much differentiation.
All people, please take care to pinpoint always which class a Linux
involvement of business is in when reporting about it.  The true
contributors deserve your respect, your acknowledgments, your public
support and your praise in proportion to their contribution.

If we indiscriminately applaud everyone regardless of their true
accomplishments, we discourage real contributions, real investments,
real dedication.  So please grade the amount of enthusiasm you show
for various achievements.  We currently have enough to start getting
a bit less indiscriminate.

David Kastrup                                     Phone: +49-234-700-5570
Email: dak@neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de       Fax: +49-234-709-4209
Institut für Neuroinformatik, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 21:41:15 +0800
From: Tom Atkinson <tom@tyco.net.au>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: What Linux needs next

It seems that the world is crying out for an escape 
from Microsoft but Bill Gates knows that he will 
continue to dominate the desktop while Linux/Unix
configuration can be done only by the highly skilled.

It is generally agreed that for Linux to make inroads
"on the desktop", it needs a unified and consistent
configuration/administration system, which can be
accessed via either a graphical or text-based frontend.

If ALL the system and application configuration could 
be done through this system, then Linux would be as 
"useable" as Windows95 for 100% of the world's computer
users.  At present, only about 5% of users would 
consider Linux to be as useable as Win95.

By "useable", I am talking about the ease with which 
the user can configure, or reconfigure, the way
applications work, be they "system" apps such as CRON,
or "user" apps such as KBIFF.

With useability equal to Win95, ports (fully supported
ones at that) of commercial software such as Photoshop
become a considerably more worthwhile business

If the configuration system I am proposing is the
missing ingredient to desktop success, then why hasn't
it been done?

As you are probably aware, there have been a number of
attempts at "configuration/administration suites" for 
Unix and Linux over the years.

Most of the proprietary unixes have their own, 
graphical administration tools.  Works in progress for
Linux are COAS and Linuxconf, plus, I presume, a tool 
for each of the distributions.  (A RedHat distribution
I once used had a tool called "Glint").

None of these attempts have been terribly successful,
which is not surprising, given that they keep making
the same mistake, over and over!

In Linux Journal issue 58, Olaf Kirch, talking about
COAS, ruefully admits that "updating and maintaining
configuration software for Sendmail is almost a full 
time job for a programmer".  Clearly, the wrong
approach is being followed here.

COAS and the others are a step in the right direction
but are doomed to failure because they simply are not
"doing it right".  As each of the current crop of
suites dies through lack of adoption, sadly, others
will spring up, in their place, repeating the same
mistake.  Forgive my pessimism, but this has been the
pattern over the last several years.  Remember the 
"dotfile generator"?


You make big problems for yourself when you create an
admin system which operates on the ASCII config files.
The programming required, in order to support each 
different config file, is significant.  This is 
because the programming needs to be very "defensive", 
so as to allow sysadmins to continue to use vi on
the file.  The programming work required, considering
the number of different applications you wish to
support, is simply too large.  This is the simple 
reason why ALL attempts in this area have thus far 
been failures.

In place of the hundreds of existing config files 
needs to be one database that holds all of the 
configuration info.  (Or should the system consist of
system-wide, and per-user databases?).


This means that all the applications have to be 
modified but this is the only realistic way!  It may 
seem like hard work at first glance, but just think 
of how much work has already gone into those failed 
admin tool attempts.  Think also of how the internet 
and the open source ideal make the job much more 
possible today than 5-10 years ago.

Hopefully, it should only be necessary to get the 
major application authors onside (Sendmail, Samba, 
Apache, etc), then the ball would be rolling.  
Ironically, life would actually be a little easier for
these authors, because less code would be required in
their application to read and write config data.

I do not wish to get into the technicalities of the
database layout and interface - that is a task for 
those more expert at this subject than I.

If the major apps went to such a system, it would also
cause a force for further unification of all unixes,
because they would have to adopt the system too.

Eventually, this dream of all unixes would be realised
- the graphical, bulletproof, configuration suite that
configures ALL software, not just /etc/passwd and 

A distribution of Linux that is as useable to the "mums
and dads" as Windows 95 would suddenly be possible.

Tom Atkinson
(tom AT tyco.net.au)
Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! Copyright © 1999 Eklektix, Inc., all rights reserved
Linux ® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds