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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


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