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The empire strikes back. Mindcraft published a Microsoft-funded study this week which likely heralds the beginning of the real counterattack. Novell and Solaris users have already felt the effects of Mindcraft's approach to testing; they would not have been surprised by the summary of this latest report:
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 is 2.5 times faster than Linux as a File Server and 3.7 times faster as a Web Server.
See Mindcraft's report for all the gory details.

There are a number of technical difficulties with Mindcraft's testing setup. We have put together a separate feature article summarizing those. The Linux server in their tests was clearly not performing at anything close to its full capability. (Eric Lee Green of Linux Hardware Solutions has put up a response of his own which is worth a read).

We would like to suggest that this test be redone. If need be, the players in the Linux market with the resources to do so should recreate the testing setup and run the tests with a properly configured Linux system. Let Mindcraft or whoever bring in as many NT experts as they want to tweak the NT server. It would be in the Linux community's interest to see this happen; we wager that the results would come out rather differently.

It is, meanwhile, interesting to see the kind of spin that Mindcraft put on their results. Consider this quote from Mindcraft's press release:

Linux definitely takes more time and resources to tune and to configure than Windows NT Server. You have to search the Net to find the latest kernel and driver versions to get the highest performance and most reliable modules. Then when you're done, Linux fails to deliver the same level of performance as Windows NT Server on enterprise-class servers.
This has nothing to do with the performance numbers they were allegedly supposed to be producing; it's a direct slam at Linux itself.

This quote seems less than straightforward when one reads the report and sees the amount of NT wizardry which was applied to tune their server. It's not the sort of thing one would find in the "for dummies" books. Plus they used a utility to bind ethernet cards to individual processors; to find that you have to go to Microsoft's FTP site to download it, and read about how it is "unsupported, use at your own risk." Using the available tools is fair. Using tuning and configuration experts is fair. But only if it's done on both sides, and one should not then say it was easy.

Consider also this quote from the report itself:

We posted notices on various Linux and Apache newsgroups and received no relevant responses. Also, we searched the various Linux and Apache knowledge bases on the Web and found nothing that we could use to improve the performance we were observing.
Numerous network sleuths went digging around for these postings; they finally turned up one posting which was sent to three groups: comp.os.linux.setup, comp.os.linux.networking, and comp.infosystems.www.servers.unix. None of these are the best places to get help in the configuration of high-end enterprise server systems. Their Apache server was misconfigured to the point that they do not have appeared to have looked much at the basic documentation, much less the "knowledge bases" they claim to have searched. This is just the "no support" thing coming back at us again.

Oh well, this episode should not really surprise too many people. There is more where this came from. All we have to do is to react calmly and maturely, and get on with what we are doing. And if it turns out that there are some real performance problems with Linux in that sort of setting - which is entirely possible - all that needs to happen is what the free software community does best: fix them.

And speaking of more, the Capital Research Center came out against free software. Check out their rather lengthy report. Their real target is Ralph Nader, and they go after free software as one of his causes. "But what happens when the OSS method of production is applied to thousands of software applications with millions of users requiring product support and attention to their particular needs? How do consumers identify the products they need when software is constantly evolving and there are no standard products that enable users to share compatible information? The 'free' nature of OSS quickly collapses into chaos." (Found in OS News).

Oh, yes, and Bill Gates says Linux will have a limited impact. See this Reuters article (via CNN) for more.

And also: the "where do you want to go tomorrow?" slogan has been removed from the German site linux.de. The following is their explanation, translated from the German by Leo Cooper:

A well-known firm with a similar slogan recently demanded that we remove our beloved "Where do you want to go tomorrow?" tag line. We are complying with this demand until this legal question can be clarified.

The legal implications of this similarity of slogans remain murky. Stay tuned for another episode.

Certification board named. The Linux Professional Institute has announced the appointment of an advisory body to oversee their certification efforts. Members include Jon Hall, Phil Hughes, Dave Sifry, Mark Bolzern, Donnie Barnes, Patrick Volkerding, and more. Their certification efforts appear to be gathering some real momentum.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

April 15, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.



The Linux FreeS/WAN project has issued a press release covering their release of a free software package to support privacy through encrypted Internet communications. Built and released outside the United States, FreeS/WAN version 1.0is available for immediate download. It is based on the proposed standard Internet Protocol Security (IPSEC) proposals. " FreeS/WAN negotiates strong keys using Diffie-Hellman key agreement with 1024-bit keys, and encrypts each packet with 168-bit Triple-DES (3DES). A modern $500 PC can set up a tunnel in less than a second, and can encrypt 6 megabits of packets per second, easily handling the whole available bandwidth at the vast majority of Internet sites. In preliminary testing, FreeS/WAN interoperated with 3DES IPSEC products from OpenBSD, PGP, SSH, Cisco, Raptor, and Xedia. Since FreeS/WAN is distributed as source code, its innards are open to review by outside experts and sophisticated users, reducing the chance of undetected bugs or hidden security compromises."

Break-ins based on ftp are on the rise, according to multiple sources, including this account of an automated attack which exploits ftp security holes. In addition, we've received additional confidential reports of break-ins which are ftp-based. If you are using anonymous ftp, please make sure you are using the latest version of the available software! Also check your configuration carefully. In particular, adding "no dirs" to the upload line of your ftpaccess file may help protect you against some attacks.

Security Reports

aDSL routers are on the market, mentions David Brumley, in this post to Bugtraq. Along with them come a new bunch of hardware vendors to educate about security issues. In particular, David reports that the Flowpoint aDSL router sets no admin password. If you have an aDSL router, be sure to disable telnet access to your router's IP address.


The Secure UNIX Programming FAQ is a work-in-progress by Thamer Al-Herbish, condensing information he has found on Bugtraq, comp.security.unix and more.

comp.os.linux.security is a new newsgroup likely to be created soon, according to the positive ballot issue on its creation.

Along with the FAQ, a mailing list for secure Unix programming has been created. The announcement describes the planned list and how to subscribe.

Looking for good University programs for computer security? In response to this question, Crispin Cowan posted a good summary of web resources to find such programs, along with a plug for his own class, which sounds excellent.


Enabling Privacy in a Virtual World is the title of an upcoming symposium by the Smart Card Forum (SCF), an industry-based organization. It will be held May 12th in Washington, D.C. See their press release for more details [ISN].

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

April 15, 1999


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current kernel release remains 2.2.5. Linus has returned from his vacation and resurfaced on the mailing lists, and a 2.2.6 prepatch has shown up on the FTP site, so 2.2.6 may well be out by the time you read this. Presumably it will contain a number of the fixes found in 2.2.5ac6, which is the last "ac" patch that had been put out as this was written.

For 2.0 folks, 2.0.37pre10 has been released, see the announcement for details. This is intended to be the final prepatch before the official 2.0.37 kernel goes out.

An NFSv3 client implementation for Linux has been released by Trond Myklebust. With this release, Linux finally begins to move into current NFS technology. The initial release (announcement here) is, of course, for the adventurous only. A number of early adopters have reported improved performance; however. Lots of bugs have been fixed, and an updated version is now available for testing.

On the server side, H. J. Lu has released a new version of knfsd. This is entirely version 2 NFS, of course, but is becoming increasingly stable. Folks doing any sort of serious NFS serving on 2.2 Linux boxes should get this version of the server. See the announcement for details.

Other releases this week include:

Capabilities continue to generate a lot of discussion. See last week's issue for an overview of the disagreement; the situation has not changed much.

It does seem to have evolved, however, into a more general difference of opinion on how security in Linux systems should work. Proponents of a "pure capabilities" system see a world in which there are no more privileged users, the root account no longer exists, and UID 0 is just another user account. In this world, all privileges ("capabilities") belong to specific programs; users differ only in the degree of access they have to these programs.

In the absence of a root user, capability schemes which depend on setuid root files will not work. So the "pure capabilities" folks support separating the storage of capabilities from the programs they apply to and storing them as metadata in the file system. A capability-based system will be a very different world, so the fact that a lot of programs will break under this model is just part of the pain that has to be endured to get there.

The other camp sees capabilities as a way of increasing security by reducing the privileges of server programs and the like. They see no need to abolish the root account, and no need to adopt schemes that break more of the system than is absolutely necessary. These folks argue for putting capabilities into the actual executable files of the programs they apply to, and using the setuid or sticky protection bits to cause the system to apply those capabilities.

This is an important discussion, it marks an important fork in the road to the future of Linux. It is unfortunate that it is not more conclusive. It seems like time for Linus to weigh in and indicate which way the wind is blowing.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

April 15, 1999

For other kernel news, see:


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See also: last week's Distributions page.


IBM Thinkpad users have another resource, in addition to the web-pages we've mentioned in the last couple of Distribution sections. Bill Mair, author of this IBM Thinkpad webpage, has also started a mailing list, linux-thinkpad. His note provides details on getting signed up.


Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 seems slated for release on Monday, April 19th, according to this news.com article, dated April 12th. "Caldera Systems will introduce a consumer-friendly desktop version of OpenLinux next Monday that lets users install and run the upstart operating system without ever seeing a confusing command line interface". No confirmation of this report has yet been seen, but it is likely correct.


Both the April 6th and April 12th versions of the Debian Weekly News are now available.

From these editions, we learned that a point release for Debian 2.1 (slink) is definitely in the cards, in order to bring in the 2.2.5 kernel and fix a list of bugs.

Red Hat

Timely security updates are on the mind of this Red Hat user, who correctly points out that Red Hat has not produced any security updates since April 1st, even though security reports on packages such as procmail have been widely posted. This is unacceptable, especially from Red Hat who previously had one of the best track records.

Of course, that track record was earned in part as a result of their willingness to accept the knocks they received for security problems after the release of their 5.X versions of Red Hat Linux and to dig in and produce the security fixes needed. The timing of the problem is also significant. Red Hat is ramping up for the Linux Expo at the end of May, along with the release of Red Hat Linux 6.0. This is a time where the small size of Red Hat (even with the recent growth spurts) shows. Regular maintenance items suffer as they push to meet the upcoming major goals. Hopefully they will notice the problem and clear the decks for at least one person to get back to the issue of security.


Important updates to the grep, fgrep and egrep packages were made. Apparently symbolic links from fgrep and egrep to the base grep package no longer work, so full binaries are provided instead. This is an important fix, since the problem was causing a variety of obscure hassles. Check the April 9th Changelogs for more details.

Updated slackware packages over the past week include xcdroast-0.96e, xemacs-20.4, jdk_1.1.7-v1a-libc5-x86, yp-tools-2.2, ypbind-3.3, and ypserv-1.3.6. Check the current Changelogs for more information.


Some updates to UltraPenguin (a version of Red Hat for UltraSparc systems) have been announced. They are looking for testers to make sure they have a good system for the 1.2 release.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

April 15, 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


From the Perl News site, we find that links have recently been provided to the minutes from the December 7, 1997 and March 1, 1999 minutes from the Perl Institute Board meetings, now generally only of "historical" interest, since the vote taken to disband the perl institute.

In addition, the Perl News also reported the O'Reilly announcement for Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C: The Apache API and mod_perl by Lincoln Stein & Doug MacEachern.


Python-URL! is back. They have moved from a weekly format to a once or twice a month format, until someone else volunteers to be a monthly editor occasionally. The latest edition covers pointers to the Python 1.5.2c1 (gamma) release, KOffice's use of Python as an extension language, Cooledit 3.9.0 and more.

Scintilla 0.81 and Tide 0.81 have been been announced. Scintilla is a "free source code editing component for Win32".

Too much color in your life? John Lehmann has made availablea monochrome proxy http server to help you out.

The Python Data Analysis Servant (PyDAS) has released version 0.1.

A Python-based 3D role playing game engine is the goal of the Pyrpg project. They have just announced their 0.0.1 release.

A new version of the Python Database API has been announced. In the new version, the dbi abstraction module has been folded into the interface module. Various other improvements have been made as well.

The first full release of Fnorb, version 1.0, is now available. Fnorb is a Python-based CORBA ORB.

A new Python book is out. The latest is Learning Python, from O'Reilly. It's written by Mark Lutz and David Ascher, and is an introductory manual.


This week's Tcl-URL!, available here for those of you not signed up to receive it directly, mentions that Scriptics has released the Tcl/tk core version 8.1beta3.

The third beta release of Sybtcl-3.0b3, has been uploaded to the tcl archive. It includes a new command, "sybevent", which provides "file-event"-like processing. Sybtcl provides an interface to the Sybase database server.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

April 15, 1999



Development projects


GDB 4.18 is out. Lots of new stuff in this release; see the announcement for more.

High Availability

A good quality thread on Slashdot concerning high-availability and Linux can be found at this address. It contains some pointers to commercial products and more currently missing from the Linux High-Availability website (soon to be updated).


Updates for this week include GMenu2KMenu-1.0, aktion-0.3.4, kexplorer-0.2, keyes and khost-0.0.1.


A Gnome Status Report for April is available. Written by Miguel de Icaza, it acknowledges, in his opinion, that the Gnome 1.0 release was slightly premature. They've been working hard to rectify the reported problems and now feel that the 1.0.8 release is "pretty solid and good", so people put off by the initial release are encouraged to give it another try. The report is quite lengthy and gives information on a large number of the projects, so it is worth a read if you are following the Gnome development at all.

Gnome-core 1.0.5 has been announced, containing "many important bug fixes and additions". New features include an option to allow the panel to read kde menus in any location, lots of new icons, new and updated translations and more. Bug fixes include a potential security hole.

GNU Midnight Commander has been updated to version 4.5.30. This update includes fixes for some important security issues, so it is a highly recommended upgrade.

The gnome bugs database is now searchable. This note from Jacob Berkman describes the search capability recently added to http://bugs.gnome.org.

Updates for this week include Gnome Libs 1.0.8, Gnome PIM 1.0.7, gnome-db 0.20.0, gnorpm and Gxanim 0.20a.

RHAD Labs has announced Gnome 1.0 RPMS for Red Hat Linux 5.2. Martin Quinson followed up with instructions for people wanting Debian Gnome packages.

Linux Accounting Project

An April '99 update for the Linux Accounting Project is now available. Steve OC reports the schedule has changed, with a new emphasis on moving the code production forward in "true hacker tradition". An update is available, along with some code archives. Although reportedly still very flaky, a complete architecture exists. This sounds like some real progress.


For a contrast to last week's furor, Chris Nelson wrote Mozilla's Open Source Success, a more positive spin on Mozilla's first year. "Mozilla *was* a first in the industry, and it is wrong to judge it by the success of previous Open Source efforts."

A review of Gecko was posted on Webmonkey on Monday, April 12th. It also contains a brief review of the Mozilla Birthday party. Overall, they are very gung-ho about Gecko: "The reason Gecko generates so much buzz while still in the lab is simple: standards". Along with the praise comes some constructive review, both compliments and criticism. They have some interesting comments on what they feel AOL is likely and not likely to do with the browser once complete.

One error in the review that was quickly pointed out on-line: It claims that Gecko does not yet support external style-sheets, which was immediately disputed. WebMonkey later confirmed that their external CSS contained an error that caused external style-sheets to fail for them.

Bugzilla now accepts attachments. This brief note gives some pointers and indicates that this is now the "preferred" way to submit a patch.

The release notes for M4 are already on-line, even though the source for M4 has not yet been released.


The Zope Weekly News for this week contains some pointers to postings about "grand Zope visions", including comparisons between Object Oriented Programming and Zopeand possibilities for web-objects, meta-data, XML, and Zope.

On a more mundane level, Thomas Riedl is working on a Adabas database adapter and Martijn Pieters has provided a couple of patches, for a safe DTML range function, and an Internet Explorer bug workaround.

A Swedish Zope mailing list has been announced as well.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Response to Microsoft. Here is an open letter to Microsoft from "the Open Source Community" regarding the murmurings that they might open up some of the Windows source. It's signed by Eric Raymond, Larry Augustin, Russell Nelson, L. Peter Deutsch, Larry Wall, and Guido Van Rossum. "We'd like to remind Microsoft that (as Jamie Zawinski put it recently in his Mozilla resignation announcement) open source is not magic pixie dust. Code that's badly designed or non-functional won't instantly improve simply by being open-sourced."

Incidentally, this letter drew some complaints from those who didn't like its claim as being "from the open source community." From what we have been able to establish, that title was added at the very end, and it's not clear just how it got there. The signatories of the letter did not intend to represent anybody but themselves.

Sub-$500 Linux computers. The folks at TheLinuxStore have intensified their push for the bottom with the announcementof a Linux system for $495. It even looks like a reasonably configured system, lacking only the monitor to be truly usable. The first 1000 people to order one get an upgrade to 64MB of RAM...

An eight-headed penguin. At the other end of the computing scale, Penguin Computing has announced a new eight-processor Linux server system. Looks like a nice box...

For yet another type of hardware, see this announcement from Splash Technology. What they are offering seems to be a Linux-based front end box for color copiers and printers that adds a whole new set of capabilities.

Memory debugging for Linux. Geodesic has announced the upcoming availability of their "Great Circle" memory leak detection software. Linux has been a little short of top-quality memory debugging tools; this product should be a helpful addition in that area.

Dharma Systems Inc. has announced what they claim is the first ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) software development kit for Linux. There is a "lite" version available for free download. Of course, the folks behind the FreeODBC project might dispute their claim to being the first.

The "International Alliance for Compatible Technology" has announced a petition to ask hardware vendors to sell systems with Linux installed. Things seem to be already headed in that direction, but sign up here if you want to give an extra push.

A different definition of "open source". Who better than Ed Muth to start Microsoft's backpedaling on the hints that they may open up the source to Windows 2000? "[Muth] says comments made by Microsoft President Steve Ballmer and other executives at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Los Angeles earlier this week were misinterpreted because attendees may not clearly understand the company's definition of 'open source.' Muth says Microsoft's definition differs from the one used to describe Unix and Linux."

Press Releases:

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

April 15, 1999


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

Linux in the news

Press activity picked up a little this week. There was little in the way of themes - it is still too soon for the articles about the Mindcraft survey to start rolling in. Expect things to be different next week.

Here's this week's recommended reading:

  • Somehow we missed this John Dvorak column from last week, wherein he suggests that Microsoft should "embrace and extend Linux." "Nobody writing in the popular press wants to predict the emergence of a gentrified Linux as the next major change on the desktop environment or in the Fortune 500. Well, I'm doing so now. The way I see it, Linux's code base is under much tighter control than Windows'. I've talked to too many ex-Microsoft folk who all tell me that nobody has a handle on Windows' code. It's completely out of control--a hodgepodge of objects and subsystems nobody fully understands. Though this may or may not be true, things are different with Linux."

  • Jon Hall writes about the economics of Linux in this Performance Computing column. "The acceptance of Linux by a large computer corporation is based only on one thing--the volume of potential equipment sales and services. End of discussion. It has nothing to do with the quality of the operating system ..."

  • VAR Business has dedicated an issueto Linux. There are many articles about our favorite system, including the obligatory Linus interview. "To find out if Linux is ready for prime time, VARBusiness conducted dozens of interviews with VARs, distributors and vendors. The conclusion: Linux is a real market force, battering both NT and traditional Unix."

  • Troubleshooting Professional Magazine has put out an issue about education which strongly features the role of Linux in educational situations. "Mexico is installing 140,000 computer labs using the best (but not the most expensive) technology available. Soon they will field a fleet of millions of superiorly trained technologists. Mexico has taken a page from America's pioneering spirit. Free thinking, they went with the right choice, not the politically expediant one. They worked to get results. They stood up for their children. Contrast this with America's response. We hesitate over lab installation because it's too 'expensive'."

  • NTKnow has some coverage of the further degradation of the exchange between Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens. Their sarcastic style is probably the only appropriate way to write about all that at this point...

We had a few articles about Caldera's OpenLinux 2.2, due to be unveiled at Comdex Spring.

  • Wired News has an article about the upcoming Caldera 2.2 release. "Next week, Linux vendor Caldera Systems will launch a user-friendly desktop version of the operating system, but experts say that it's too soon to call it a Windows killer."

  • OpenLinux 2.2 is also the subject of this News.com article. "Caldera Systems will be the first major distributor to have a shipping product using the new 2.2.x version of the Linux kernel. It's an interesting development in light of the fact that Caldera is known for its relatively conservative stance with regard to upgrading core technology."

  • InfoWorld has an article about the upcoming releases from SuSE, Red Hat, and Caldera. It's mostly about the new features of the 2.2 kernel, which, of course, will be included in those releases.

A few articles about Microsoft and its reactions to Linux in one form or another:
  • This article in Business Week is about how Microsoft might respond to Linux. The options presented seem not entirely plausible, and the left out the "buy bogus performance tests" approach. "In the end, it's hard to count out a company that has vanquished every threat, from IBM (IBM) to Apple (AAPL) to Netscape. But Linux is a different beast altogether, and, for Microsoft, a more elusive foe with which to do battle." (Found in LinuxToday).

  • Here's an article in Wired News about linux.de and their troubles with Microsoft over the "Where do you want to go tomorrow?" slogan. "Linux fans aren't the only group to make a parody of Microsoft's slogan. The Reverend Billy Graham uses 'Where do you want to go tomorrow?' to remind his followers to prepare for the great hereafter."

  • Here's a brief article in Windows Tech Edge about linux.de's disagreement with Microsoft. "Linux.de is also sponsoring a contest among its members to see who can come up with a winning replacement. The Web site's authors won't reveal the prize, but it looks like the lucky winner will get his or her own life-size Linux mascot: 'it's really large, cuddly and definitely does not fit in your CD-ROM drive,' the statement said." (Thanks to Greg Frye)

  • The Australian Financial Review has picked up the story that Microsoft may release the Windows source. "'I don't have a problem with putting the Windows code out there,' [Microsoft VP] Valentine said. 'How did Bill Gates get his start?' Gates, Microsoft's co-founder and chairman, was still a teenager when he alerted a software developer to a bug in his program, which then was fixed."

A general stream of business-related articles:

  • Here's an InfoWorld column about high-availability web servers. "But there are many ways to ensure consistent uptime. Some heavy production Web sites can do this by having 'server farms.' These interconnected matrices of servers can offer rollover protection should a fault occur. Some Web sites are well-suited for this model. Take broadcast.com, which uses its 1,100 Linux-based Intel servers to deliver its high-bandwidth demand for many I/O feeds." (Thanks to Stéfane Fermigier).

  • Computer Reseller News has an article about large ERP software companies and Linux. "The Baan Co., Barneveld, the Netherlands, J.D. Edwards & Co., Denver, and PeopleSoft Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., have declined to unveil concrete plans to become Linux-enabled. In all cases, the companies said there is not enough interest to justify the Linux products."

  • The (Christchurch, NZ) Press ran a brief article about Dell's jump into the Linux world, and the Burlington Coat Factory sale. "Dell said the PC deal was not done at the expense of Windows NT sales, but rather was an 'expansion into a new market', enabling Dell to compete for Unix-type sales."

  • There are two articles about O'Reilly and Associates in the Irish Times. The first is a lengthy piece about the history of the company and where it is going. "An O'Reilly book brands a topic as something useful, with a future, worth knowing about. Tim O'Reilly has consciously used that authority to promote standards, movements and initiatives in computing, the latest being the Open Source movement for free software."

    Then, there is a review of Open Sources - Voices from the Revolution. "...it makes for an exciting, evangelistic and often rancorous read, with contributors firing off barbs at other writers a couple of chapters ahead of or behind them."

  • ZDNet looks at Linux jobs, with extended profiles of Leonard Zubkoff and Arthur Tynde. "At Silicon Graphics, which recently jumped into the Linux ring, the number of engineers working on the OS is on par with those working on NT. Last year, the company didn't have anyone working on Linux publicly..."

  • There is an article (in French) in 01-Informatique about the D. H. Brown report. Fairly standard stuff. English translation available via Babelfish. (Found in NNL).

  • Government Computer News ran a review of the Kinetics Network Manager. "Several features set Kinnetics apart from anything else on the market. It is hardware-based in a previously all-software market. It uses Linux as its core operating system. And its management console is open to any Java-enabled browser on any platform." (Thanks to Matthew Darwin).

  • News.com covers the D. H. Brown report, rather belatedly. "Linux comes up short when compared feature-for-feature with commercial Unix products and Windows NT, but the operating system is great for some tasks, according to a new study."

  • Here's a News.com article about Penguin Computing's new eight-way server. "Penguin, founded in May 1998, will show its eight-way system at the Internet World trade show in Los Angeles next week, Ockman said. The company plans an initial public offering later this year."

  • Here's an article in News.com about the opening of TheLinuxStore.com. "Moving to Linux lets the company avoid the fee of about $85 to obtain a license for the Microsoft Windows operating system, the second most expensive component after the hard disk. Most PC vendors include a Windows OS as a standard component of their products."

And here's the end-of-page grab bag of miscellaneous articles:

  • This TechWeb story looks back at Mozilla's first year. "The best things that came out of the Mozilla project, [LinuxCare co-founder] Sifry added, were the tools developers came up with to try to get a handle on the code mass. In particular, he said, the Bugzilla project was a great model for how to deal with bugs in an open source development effort."

  • There is a lengthy, positive introductory article in the Baltimore Sun. "In the end, Linux's biggest threat to Microsoft is that it democratizes computing. It gives computer power to the masses in a way that most software companies couldn't."

  • Here's an Internet World article which talks about FreeBSD as an alternative to Linux. "The BSD code base has been rewritten multiple times by an experienced, Unix-centric developer population, [FreeBSD Inc. President Jordan] Hubbard said. He maintained that the Linux code base is less mature and the Linux developer population includes many who are less experienced with professional software development on Unix platforms."

  • Smart Reseller compares TurboLinux and Samba and Netware and concludes that the Linux solution performs far better. "If you eat, drink and breathe NetWare, you're not going to like most of this article. Linux handily beats NetWare in basic file serving in a small server environment." (Thanks to Jeremy Allison).

  • Here's a negative article in Canoe.ca's money column. "In fact, there are very few true anarchists on the Linux bandwagon. You'd have to classify most of the fervent supporters of the new operating system as hopeful opportunists. These are people who see a pyramid scam-like possibility and want to get in quickly, make some money and get out before everyone else realizes that the Linux base will never expand broadly enough to support the kind of market it needs to become something other than a niche technology." (Thanks to Frédéric Roussel).

  • El Pais has an article (in Spanish) about Miguel de Icaza ("programador libre") and GNOME. It's part introductory material, and part about the wonderful things that GNOME will provide. English translation available via Babelfish. (Gracias to Jordi Torne).

  • Wired News is covering the Raymond/Perens disagreement. "[Chris] DiBona said that it was no more extreme than the kind of bluster that comes from other public figures in the industry. 'It's no different really [from] Scott McNeally saying he'd like to body-check Bill Gates or Larry Ellison saying he'd like to take his MIG up to Redmond.'" (Thanks to Dave Finton).

  • This article (in French) in Libération is the story of "an exhausting but victorious" weekend spent installing Linux. A partial tranlation to English is available via Babelfish. (Found in NNL).

  • This short Web Review editorial starts out with Al Gore's "open source" web site, but then heads into fears of a Linux backlash. "I fear that, now that the floodgates have been opened by some recent deals (Dell's contract with a garment company for over 1,000 Linux-based computers, for example), there will be a rush to use Linux in settings where it isn't really-yet-appropriate."

  • Will commercialism help or hurt Linux? asks this article in CNN (reprinted from InfoWorld). "The tight grip that Torvalds maintains on new kernel releases has so far prevented a Unix-like splintering of Linux, while the recently formed Linux Standard Base has been working to remedy subtle differences among the distributions in nonkernel activity."

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

April 15, 1999


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.



An updated printer compatiblity listing for the Printing HOWTO has been posted by Grant Taylor. If your printer is not on the list, you are encouraged to add it. Alternately, you can check the functionality ranking and send criticism to Grant.

Linux in the Military? Here's a lengthy paper written by a Major in the U.S. Air Force on why the military should adopt open source software. "There are significant gains to be realized through the formal adoption, support and use of open licensed systems by the Department of Defense. Secondary gains may be made in the morale and retention of Airmen involved in information technology."


Another conference to go to: Linux Expo Paris will be held on June 17 and 18, and includes speakers like Bob Young, Larry Augustin, Miguel de Icaza, and Jeremy Alison. Too bad, though, that they chose linux-expo.com as their web site; it's now one more thing to keep straight between linuxexpo.com (which is really LinuxWorld), and linuxexpo.org/, which is the event we have known for years as Linux Expo...

LinuxExpo has announced the addition of John Paul, senior VP of the new AOL Products unit, as a keynote speaker for next month's conference.

April 15, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
AbiWord 0.5.4 Fully featured word processor
ACS 0.0.1 GPL licensed multi-line voice response telephony platform
AfterStep 1.7.90 Window manager for the X/Windows environment with NeXT look and feel
aKtion! 0.3.4 KDE video player based on xanim
AMMP (another molecular mechanics program) 2.0 Molecular mechanics, dynamics, and modeling package
AptFind 0.6.0 AptFind is an ncurses interface for finding and installing packages using APT.
ascp 1.0.2 A Control Panel for the AfterStep window manager
ascpu 1.4 A CPU load monitor.
Backburner 0.60 CD-Rewritable stream fixation and restoration (backup) software.
Basilisk II 0.4 An attempt at creating a free, portable 68k Mac emulator.
bidwatcher 0.9.4 tool for eBay users - track and snipe auctions
bookmarker 1.2 WWW based bookmark manager
boust 0.135 A Tcl/Tk text reader for Linux that formats text in boustrophedon.
Bricklayer World Tour 0.1 A Gnome game inspired by Breakout
BusyBox 0.26 A suite of tiny Unix utilities, for building rescue disks and embedded systems.
CAMP 1.3.2410 Console Interface for command-line MP3 players
CapsiChat 0.17 Multi-user Internet chatbox/haven
carnegie 0.6 a class scheduler
CD-Keeper 2.2.1 Organizes your CD collection
cdcd 0.4.4 A no-nonsense CLI CD player
CGIGEN 0.1 CGI program generator that produces C programs
Cmp3 2.0pre3 Console frontend to mpg123. Easy interface, playlists, background mode.
ColorLogs 1.0 Color codes your system logs on the fly
ctm 1.1 SNMP interface statistics gatherer
curl 5.6.3beta Tiny command line client for getting data from a URL
dcd 0.60 Simple command-line CD player
Dead Link Check 0.1 Finds information on validity of HTTP references.
debauch 0.2 Memory debugging library that doesn't require recompiling executables
Demi-FTPd 1.0 FTP server with Web conf/admin/monitor and plugins
dexios.template 1.3 HTML templating system for Java servlets
DHCP with Dynamic DNS 0.15 Dynamically update DNS from dhcpd.leases file
Dia 0.41 gtk based diagram drawing program. Much like Visio.
Disc-Cover 0.1 Generate covers for audio cds non-interactively using cddb
DLDialog 1.0.6 Displays dialog boxes in terminal and X11 mode to interact with scripts
doozer 0.04 Scripts to distribute parallel make jobs
Dr Geo 0.7.6 Interactive Geometry
dynipserv 0.1 Dynamic IP Server
ECLiPt-Mirror 2.1 pre 8 Full-featured mirroring script
egrep-finger 1.25 Extended finger program using extended regular expressions
EHeadlines 1.3 Root Menu news system.
Electric Fence 2.2.0 malloc() buffer-overrun debugger that uses the VM hardware.
EPIC 4pre2.004-19990408 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
Event Monitor Project 0.6 Monitoring tool for heterogeneous networks and systems based on message passing
exdump 0.2 exdump watches/dumps/logs TCP/IP network packets.
ez-ip-update.pl v1.4 Update script for ez-ip.net accounts
failoverd 1.2 Provide rudimentary failover capability for Linux
Filelooker 1.0 A small X11 program for viewing Oracle datafile information
fileutils 4.0f The GNU file management utilities
flwm 0.22 The Fast Light Window Manager
FOX 0.99.14 C++-Based Library for Graphical User Interface Development
FreeInstaller Open Source installer program written in Java
Freeside 1.2.1 Billing and administration for ISPs
freezetag 0.9.2 Program for Editing of id3 Tags of mp3 files
Gaby 1.0.6 An address book written in GTK
GATOS 0.0.1-isg2oaa1bc1 ATI-TV software for Linux.
GCD 1.8 A cd-player with a gtk+ interface
GDB 4.18 GDB, The GNU Debugger
gengetopt 1.0.0 Easy generate a C `main' function that uses `getopt_long' to parse given options
Genius 0.3.0 An arbitrary precision integer and multiple precision floatingpoint calculator
gfontview 0.2 Font Viewer
GIMP Imagemap plug-in 0.6 GIMP plug-in for creation of clickable imagemaps.
Giram 0.0.14 Giram is a modeller, written in GTK+
glFtpD 1.16.0 FTP Daemon for Linux. Great program for an ISP or anyone!
GNOME 1.0.5 GNU Network Object Model Environment
Gnome RPM Workstation 0.1 GNOME tool to create spec files
GnoRPM 0.8 A graphical front end to the Redhat package managementsystem
GNU cfengine 1.4-5 A tool for administering Networks of Diverse Machines
GnuCash 1.1.27 A program to keep track of your finances
GNUMail.app 0.03 Clone of the excellent NeXTSTEP Mail.app
gogmagog 3 Lightweight, robust, UNIX systems integrity monitor
GREED 0.652 A utility that can get and resume files from a web site.
grepmail 3.7 Searches a normal or gzipped mailbox for a given regularexpression
Gsh 0.1.0 Shell with an integrated terminal window.
GtkAda 1.2.0 Ada95 binding of Gtk+
gView 0.1.2 GTK/ImLib Image Viewer
GXanim 0.20a GTK+ front end for Xanim movie player
Heretic for Linux 1.0beta2 Port of Heretic to Linux
HTML PLAIN 1.0.2 A revolutionary HTML precompiler
htnews 0.6.0 Email robot for adding news items to a webpage.
HuggieTag 0.8.1 Tagline and signature adder for email and news
hunt 1.3 Tool for exploiting well-known weaknesses in the TCP/IP protocol suite
hutrans 1.0 Converts text to UTF-8
Hypermail 2 alpha 18 Mail(box) to HTML converter with threads and MIME support.
Icon-2 9.3.2 A very high level language
icqtech 0.01 A Unix console daemon that assists technical support via ICQ
IDS POP 0.9.2 A small, fast, and efficient POP3 server.
Ilib 1.1.1 Image manipulation library for reading and writing images
imwheel 0.9.6 Support for wheel and 4+ button mice in X11
INANE 0.93 Trivial PPP connection utility
incant 1.2 Command Line and Tk dictionary client
intel2gas 1.1 A converter between the NASM and GAS asm format (Intel/AT&T)
ipac 1.02 Linux IP accounting package
ippl 1.4.4 IP Protocols Logger
irssi 0.7.8 GTK+ based IRC client with GNOME panel support
ITK 0.0.13 Basic self-contained no-frills toolkit for Xlib.
JavaORB 1.2.2 A free Java implementation of CORBA 2.2
javelin 0.0.2 Server side javascript-HTML web scripting system
jonama 1.1.0 SSL proxy
jSig 1.0 A signature randomizer written in java
Juke 0.3 Curses based juke box program
kaffe 1.0b4 Complete, PersonalJava 1.1 compliant Java environment
kexpress 0.2.0 kexpress is a newsreader for KDE. Easy to use, with offline reading.
KJukeBox 0.1.9 KJukeBox is an MP3 Player which can handle big MP3 archives
KLACK 0.005 A small game with spheres
KnightCap 3.6 Great looking 3D chess-program
KRunning 0.1.3 A database manager for your private running events
ktb 0.9 KDE filesystem viewer with multipage printing
Launcher 0.80 One-stop filetype/application mapping solution
less 337
libgcj 1.0 Runtime library for gcc's Java front end
libgeom 0.0.6 Geometry library useful for OpenGL programming, games, simulations
Linux FreeS/WAN 1.00 Build secure VPN's with Linux FreeS/WAN's IPSEC and IKE implementation
Linuxconf 1.14r3 Sophisticated administrative tool
lpe 1.1.5 Small, fast console mode programming editor
lsof 4.42 List open files
Lua-CGI 1.0 UnCGI for Lua
Lua-Linux 0.9 Lua Language Interpreter 3.1, Linux-optimized, Distribution Version 0.9
Lynx 2.8.2dev22 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
makeissue.pl 0.02 Creates system info in a nice format to /etc/issue.*
man 1.5g The man page suite used to read most of the documentation for Linux
MARS 1.3pre1 Java-based network services status monitor
mdate 0.5.6 A freely-available mayan date program
Meteor 1.5.4 Driver and utilities for the Matrox Meteor frame grabber.
Midnight Commander 4.5.30 Unix file manager and shell
mkrdns 1.3 Program to automatically generate reverse DNS zone files (PTR records)
mod_perl 1.19 Brings together the full power of Perl and the Apache HTTP server
mod_ssl 2.2.8-1.3.6 Apache Interface to OpenSSL
mp3tools 1.0 Utilities for managing MPEG audio files
mpserv 0.10 A LAN distributed MP3 architecture
mtr 0.35 Network diagnostic tool
Muddleftpd 1.0 beta2 A small, fast configurable ftp server that can run without root.
muLinux 5.0r2 A tiny implementation of Linux, which can reside on a single floppy
NDir 0.8.0 Console tool to display directory's contents
NEStra 0.6 Dynamic-Recompiling NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) emulator
NetSaint 0.0.2 A relatively simple active network monitor
NetSpades 4.1.4 Four player networked spades game
newplayer 2.3 ncurses based mp3 player.
News Peruser 4.0 Beta 3 An offline newsreader for Linux and X11
NFTP 1.52 Powerful, full-featured FTP client
Ninja IRC 1.0.7 Yet another ircII based client.
nis-utils 1.0 Linux NIS+ Tools
ODBC-ODBC Bridge Provides ODBC access from Linux to remote data sources
OfflineMailer 0.1 Offline mail handler
onShore Timesheet 2.1 beta 3 A comprehensive, web-based, multi-user, time-billing and project management tool
OpenMap 3.2.2 JavaBeans tool kit for building applications/applets with maps
OverCR 1.49.02 A simple system monitoring tool that utilizes a simple language for queries
Panorama 0.11 Framework for creating, rendering, and processingthree-dimensional images
passwdd 0.01 Password synchronization server/client
pavuk 0.9pl8 Webgrabber with an optional Xt or GTK GUI
PentiumGCC 1.1.2 Pentium/PPro/P-II/K6/Cyrix/MMX optimising egcs clone
Perl/Tk Finger 0.1 Perl/Tk Finger Client
Perl/Tk NSLookup 0.1 DNS Lookup app written in Perl/Tk
Perl/Tk Time Client 0.1 Compares your system time with another machine
pg_model 1.0 Library to simplify building some PostgreSQL queries
PHPGen 0.2 Small PHP-script for generating PHP frontends to MySQL Databases
phpMyAdmin 2.0.0 Handles the basic adminstration of MySQL over the WWW
pinfo 0.4.8 Hypertext info file viewer
Pollera 1.2.00 A www poll system meant to be run via CGI.
PoPToP 0.7.40 PPTP Server for Linux
populate 0.5 MySQL database populator
PostgreSQL 6.5beta1 Robust, next-generation, Object-Relational DBMS(ORDBMS)
procmail 3.13.1 Versatile e-mail processor.
ptrans 1.0 Convert UTF-8 to plain text
Public Bookmark Generator 0.3 Generate a public bookmark (selected items) out of your bookmarks
PySol 2.11 A Python-based Solitaire card game
Python 1.5.2 High-level scripting language.
QpThread Library for C++ 0.6 Thread library for C++ with support for signals, exceptions, timer etc.
Quicktime for Linux 1.0.0 Low level Quicktime library for *NIX
QuIRC 0.9.71 X IRC client written in C++ with full Tcl/Tk scripting.
Quotes 1.4-0 Financial Quotations and Linux headlines
R 0.64.0 A language and environment for statistical computing.
RabbIT 1.8.1 Mutating, caching webproxy to speed up surfing over slow links
RAPID 5.13 Commodity and stock graphing for technical analysis trading decisions
Rasca 1.1.0 Extended MP3 Player.
redir 2.0 Redirects TCP ports to another IP address and port.
rpm2html/rpmfind 1.2 Utilities to create HTML pages and solve dependancy problems of RPM packages
rsync 2.3.1 File transfer program to keep remote files into sync
runmaint 1.01 wrapper for cron jobs
Scene 0.1.2 Inventor and VRML toolkit.
Scitech Display Doctor 7.0 Beta5 fixed Universal VESA driver and utilities
ScryMUD 1.8.11 Original MUD Server and Java Client
SETI@Home Client 0.46 Distributed SETI data-analysis client
SetIP 0.01 A shell script to make it easy to connect to a Dynamic IP computer.
setiview 0.1.4 ncurses frontend for setiathome
sfspatch 2.2.5 The Steganographic File System Kernel Patch
Siag Office 3.1.10 Free office package for Unix
Sing-Along Disc Player 1.1.0 A text-mode CD player with spectrum analyser, oscillator and DB.
sitemapper 1.009 Perl script for generating site maps
Slackware 4.0.0-beta The Slackware distribution
SmIRC 0.70pre1 IRC client based on the Motif widget set.
Socks5 1.0r9 SOCKS is a network firewall, and more
Squid 2.2.DEVEL4 High performance Web proxy cache
STAMOS 0.2 Gathers several information about the computer and generates an HTML file
star trek ency reader 0.6.2 Reads the star trek encyclopedia under linux
suck 4.1.1 Grabs news from a remote NNTP news server
Sula Primerix 0.07.11c Extensible multi-server IRC Client for X
Sulawesi 0.3 Multimodal wearable/ubiquitous agent development environment
Swift Generator 0.6.2 Dynamic Flash content generator.
sXid 3.2.4 All in one suid/sgid monitoring script written in C
Sybtcl 3.0b3 Sybase interface for Tcl
Syncal 0.5 Syncs an ical calendar with a Palm Pilot DateBookDB
syslog-ng 1.1.5 A portable syslogd replacement with enhanced, flexible configuration scheme.
t1utils 1.10 Tools for manipulating PostScript Type 1 fonts
Tcl/Tk 8.1b3 A portable scripting environment for Unix, Windows, andMacintosh
tcpflow 0.10 TCP flow recorder
tetserv 0.10 Tetrix server web-based monitoring program
textutils 1.22i GNU text file processing utilities
tgif 4.1.7 Vector-based draw tool
The Guild 0.1.87 A fully 3d-rendered/raytraced first-person interactive adventure
The Linux Image Montage Project pre-645 LIMP Preview Release Tagged as Version 325
TiK 0.67 Tcl/Tk version of AOL Instant Messenger
TkWineSetup 0.2f TCL script to setup, compile, install, upgrade Wine
ToyFDTD 1.0 Open source 3d FDTD code
traffic-vis 0.34 Network analysis tool
Trfcrypt 1.1 Add-On to Trf, various encryption algorithms
trn 4.0-test70 Text-based newsreader with threading
U.S. Street Map database 0.0.1 Complete digital street map of the U.S.
uhtrans 1.0 Converts UTF-8 files to HTML-style 7-bit text
Uptime client 3.04 Keep track of your uptime and compare it with other hosts.
userindex 0.3 beta An indexer of all the homepages of all users on your webserver
V-Server v1.1c V-Server calculates/manages the internetcosts/-link
vgproxy 0.9.1 Virtual-hosting generic network proxy
ViperDB 1.0 A smaller and faster option to Tripwire
Virtual GameBoy 1.5 Free Gameboy Emulator for Linux
VM 6.71 Emacs-based mail reader
vpnd 1.0.3 Virtual Private Network Daemon - encrypted TCP/IP.
vtun 1.1 Virtual Tunnels over TCP/IP networks.
WebFetch 0.04 Perl5 module infrastructure to export and retrieve news for web display
weblint 1.9.3 Syntax and minimal style checker for HTML
WebMacro Servlet Framework 0.85 Java server-side web template engine and servletdevelopment framework
Webmin 0.71 Web-based interface for system administration for Unix
WebTheme 2.0.0 Web Theme Library
Window Manager Icons 0.1.1 Efficient standardized icon distribution
wmakerconf 1.99.1 GTK based configuration tool for WindowMaker window manager
WMAmpMenu 0.23 A simple utility that inserts MP3 playlists in your WM root menu.
wmapm 3.01 Small dock-app that shows continually-updated APMstatistics
wmGrav 1.2 Simulates several objects acting under gravity.
WMLmMon 1.7 Lm78/75 monitor applet for WindowMaker
WMmpg123 1.0 Menu generator for WindowMaker and mpg123
WN 2.0.6 A simple, robust Webserver whose design emphasizes security
WTEST 1.0 Web application testing tool
X-Mame 0.35b10.1 The Unix version of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator
x11amp 0.9 beta 1.1 Mp3 player for Xwindows
XawTV 2.41 TV application and a few utilities
XDelta 1.1.1 Library and application for computing and applying file deltas
Xenon-SQL A Java based interactive SQL editor which uses Swing/JFC pluggable GUI
XML::Parser 2.22 XML Parser module for perl based on James Clark's expat lib
XScreenSaver 3.09 Modular screen saver and locker for the X WindowSystem
ZNibbles 0.0.3 Networked multiplayer nibbles/snake game for X11/Motif

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

Who's Who in Open Softwareis a new site which is putting together a complete database of contributors to free software projects. They're up to about 400 people now, and looking for more submissions. Have a look - are you listed?

Eric Raymond tells us he's been spending his vacation putting out a new version of the Jargon File. As he puts it: "A browse through the Jargon File is like a voyage of rediscovery. These are the Linux culture's roots."

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

April 15, 1999



Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to editor@lwn.net. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 18:43:23 +0000
From: "Joshua M. Yelon" <jyelon@egenesis.com>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: The so-called "failure" of Mozilla.

To those who feel that Mozilla's lateness constitutes failure, I would
like to present a different point of view, from the perspective of a
professional programmer.

Imagine taking a regular power drill, and trying to add an "electric
mixer" feature.  To do it, you'd have to build some sort of adapter that
adds a second chuck, for the second blade.  It might work, but the
adapter would probably be stick out from the side of the drill.  It
would be lopsided and hard to handle.  Worse yet, you'd have to use a
chuck key to insert the mixer blades.  In short, it might work, but it
wouldn't be as good as using a mixer that was designed to be a mixer.

Software is in some ways similar: it's like an appliance, and then
adapters are added.  Consider netscape.  It was originally designed to
display plain old HTML.  Then an adapter was added to handle forms, and
another adapter was added for tables, then one for secure http, and one
for frames, and one for reading news, and for streaming audio, and on,
and on.  It became like a power drill so covered with adapters that you
can't even see the power drill any more.

This process happens to all large software projects.  Users ask for new
features, and we have to tack on adapters to support those features. 
But eventually, there comes a time when the software is so covered with
adapters that you just have to overhaul the whole system.  Essentially,
you throw out the adapter-covered power drill and start over, inventing
a new super-appliance from scratch.  The result is a tool that does what
it was designed to do.  Tools that do what they were designed to do
always work better than adapters.

This is where managers come in.  The engineer says, "This drill with
adapters thing sucks.  Let's start over and make an appliance that does
what it's designed to do."  The manager says, "how long will it take?" 
The engineer says, "one year."  The manager says, "No way.  We can't
afford a year of engineering and no new features.  Remember, our
competitors are going to release new features this month!"

This, I think, is what happened to netscape.  Netscape 3.0 was
moderately buggy, and fairly large, which is a pretty good sign that it
contains too many adapters.  Netscape 4.0 was terribly buggy, and huge.
I suspect the problem is that the managers were unwilling to take the
time to do an overhaul.  They were under such pressure to compete with
internet explorer that they couldn't take a year off for maintenance.

Then, netscape went open source, and the inevitable happened.  People
saw that it needed an overhaul, badly, and they did the overhaul.  As I
understand it, they completely rewrote the rendering code, and many
other parts of netscape.  Yes, they knew it was going to take a long
time, but they also knew that in the long run, it was necessary.

What this shows is that the open source community has a longer-term
perspective than corporations do, and that the open-source community is
more motivated by quality than politics.  And for the consumer, it means
that instead of getting a buggy browser now, they get a reliable browser
in one year.  In my mind, that's the right tradeoff.

- Josh
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 12:45:17 +0800 (WST)
From: Greg Mildenhall <greg@networx.net.au>
To: derek@fortstar.demon.co.uk
Subject: The GNOME disaster.

Derek, I just read your letter to the LWN ed.

While I agree with most of your sentiments, I feel I should point out
to you that your suggestion: "Steps need to be taken to push Red Hat
and the other distributors towards offering KDE by default."  Is a
little futile and counter-productive when you consider that it is
curently illegal to distribute KDE.

What is needed is for the GNOME developers to get their feet back on
the ground and offer a stripped-down core version of GNOME (yes, a
small, fast and stable one) by taking advantage of GNOME's beautifully
componentised architecture.

I feel they are being sidetracked by the bells and whistles and the
bold promises when they should be concentrating on getting the basics
right first. If you build a good infrastructure, every man and his dog
will want to do exterior decorating for you - there's no need at all
to develop vast amounts of add-ons until you've got a lean, mean
foundation on which to build them.

-Greg Mildenhall

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 21:00:07 -0700
From: Tim Hanson <tjhanson@tscnet.com>
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: Mindcraft

Naturally, any study which contradicts a other speed comparisons
between Linux and Microsoft Windows NT bears some scrutiny, especially
when the "research" appears to have been commissioned by Microsoft.

Validity of any research is in question until someone else duplicates
the result given the same parameters.  Since Red Hat appears to be the
potentially most injured party, someone from that company should offer
to work with Mindcraft in an effort to duplicate the results under
pristine conditions, using neutral participants or at least parties
with opposing interests, off-the-shelf software and identical
hardware, the hardware traded halfway through the testing and the
software purchased from retail outlets by surprise.

We know Microsoft is not above falsifying tests from the DOJ fiasco
last month, and we know they are not above using proxies to do their
FUDing for them.  Let's see if Mindcraft can put up, before anyone
here asks them to shut up.

Tim Hanson
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 15:29:45 +0100
From: Phill Hugo <plh102@york.ac.uk>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: An open offer

> Subject: An open offer
> Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 04:13:33 +0100 (BST)
> From: Phill Hugo <plh102@york.ac.uk>
> To: info@mindcraft.com, sales@mindcraft.com, jobs@mindcraft.com
> CC: malda@slashdot.org
> Mindcraft,
> I would like to offer my services. I am a adept Linux engineer and have
> deployed numerous servers based on Linux in past employment. While nothing
> as large as those given in your benchmark tests, I do have an
> understanding of large systems ranging from theory to practice - we have
> many very large multiuser systems in the Academic world.
> I notice from your benchmarking report that none of your engineers seemed
> particularly apt to configure Linux - the rather sad ommision of the very
> well documented "memory=xxxxmb" kernel variable showed that quite clearly
> - something a great many New User Linux FAQ sheets mention within the
> first 100 words.
> So then, I would like to offer Mindcraft the use of my services. I offer
> to set up your server, the very same server you have reported on, using
> only the newsgroups and mailing lists you claim to have used youselves as
> aid and you can repeat the benchmarks - perhaps even publishing the
> results if Microsoft permit it.
> I, and I am sure a great many others would love to see a fair scientific
> test of the two systems pushed to their limits. I do not feel that this is
> what you have offered to date. I am sure you will view this chance to
> once again clarify your independant and honest position favourably.
> I look forward to hearing from you.
> Phill Hugo
> www.gnu.org/~phill
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 17:25:27 -0400
From: Lamar Owen <lamar.owen@wgcr.org>
Subject: Linux support -- kudos
To: editor@lwn.net

Having been a computer professional for over a decade now, I am
accustomed to customer support that tries to workaround problems instead
of actually fixing them -- especially problems that seem to be spurious
and intermittent that are only bothering my installation.

I was pleasantly surprised this week with the excellent support that the
Linux kernel developers (in particular, Alan Cox) can provide.

First, a backgrounder on my installation and my problem: I am engineer
with WGCR radio in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, USA.  On May 1, 1997,
we joined the ranks of many other radio stations and opened a web site
with streaming audio available of our live radio signal.  Bucking the
conventional wisdom of the time, I selected RedHat Linux 4.1 as the
operating system for the Pentium Pro server I was building.  The
RealAudio Server was (and is) available for Linux -- in fact, the
availability of the RealAudio server was a primary point for my OS

I selected the high-performance multithreaded AOLserver webserver in
lieu of Apach due to AOLserver's peerless database integration, and
selected PostgreSQL 6 for my RDBMS.

I immediately found Linux to be highly stable and uniquely reliable. 
Through several kernel upgrades (and even a break-in via the BIND
inverse query overrun), Linux continually proved itself worthy -- it was
even pleasant to see Linux finally getting the press it deserves.

Well, a month ago I did yet another needed kernel upgrade as part of a
major system update -- RedHat 5.0 to Mandrake 5.3.  The upgrade went
smoothly -- 30 minutes after downing the server, it was back up and
fully functional.  I was elated -- which was to be a short-lived
feeling.  A short 90 hours after bootup, the sound card driver died a
horrible screaming death -- DMA errors.  This on a machine that had
routinely stayed up 80-90 days before.  I was stumped -- I rebooted the
machine, and waited to see what would happen.

85 hours after reboot, horrible screaming death.  Hmmmm....  It was a
sound card issue, so, I contacted Mr. Sound Card -- Alan Cox --
directly.  He suggested building a plain 2.0.36 kernel, without the
RedHat modular sound drivers, and seeing what that did. 

So, I did.  In the process, I received a considerable education in
building kernels and moving them around -- anyone who has tried to get
two version 2.0.36 kernels to coexist on the same box knows the feeling
-- but I was doing the build on one machine and ftp'ing the kernel and
its modules over to the production machine, which has no compilers for
security reasons.

To make a long story short, I got a vanilla 2.0.36 kernel built with the
proper configuration and got it booted.  95 hours later, the sound
driver is still humming.  So, I e-mailed Alan and let him know.  Only
then do I find out that I am the only one on the planet that he is aware
of that has this issue on a repeatable basis -- and he's been
corresponding via e-mail with me with an average latency of less than
twenty minutes!

To say that I'm impressed would be an understatement of Biblical
proportions.  This is the best technical support I have experienced --
and, having administered a large LAN/WAN at a major US corporation, I
have experienced some shoddy tech support from tier-one vendors.

As busy as he is, he still took the time to help -- and to do so without
any "attitude" like some other vendors show. This, to me, is the true
spirit of the Free Software movement. Kudos!

Lamar Owen
WGCR Internet Radio
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 09:23:47 -0500
From: Hajo Smulders <hajo@mindspring.com>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Some comments on NT vs. linux

	First of all; I am NOT a n NT hater. I use NT on a daily basis
for development. Some of my favorite tools (Delphi; C++ builder) only
run on MS platforms. I get a Blue Screen Of Death about twice a week;
but that is usually because of my own stupid programming. Also since
this is my development box a BSOD is not that annoying; I just
reboot. NT tends to do a diskcheck and restart without hick-ups 9 out
of 10 times. I have a lot of good software on Windows (linux is
getting better; but Applixware is no MS office; Blender is No
Lightwave; Gimp is no photoshop and command line compile tools are
kind of a pain if you are used to Borland's IDEs).
	My major gripe with NT is that whenever I change something
like an IP address; a routing configuration; a binding etc... I have
to reboot.  This is ridicilous! However this is also not something to
dismiss NT.  One more thing I am very gratefull to MS for is a
standard. As a teenage programmer I remember writing a Joust like game
and having to completely rewrite it for Sinclair,VIC, Commodore, Atari
and later Atari St, Amiga etc...
	Now for my gripes with the testing. Having done tests on a
mission critical system for a financial start-up of NT vs. Linux, NT
scored lower than Linux on all aspects of performance. We do not use
an intermedialry such as apache or do any fileserving; we work purely
with passing objects through sockets and within a CORBA framework. Our
system consists of a Back-end database server running Linux (Solaris
was considered; but rejected because of financial reasons; we do hope
to acquire a Sun starfire once we get some cash flow. Porting from
Linux should be trivial). Hooked into the Back-end server we run three
groups of application servers. These are clustered; load balanced;
redundant through Application Management servers.
	The Back-end was never considered to be done on an NT
machine. We foresee up to 5 million transactions a day within 2 years
done by up to 10,000 concurrent users. We do not conisder NT to have
the scalability of Unix systems. One other Operating system that had
our consideration was OS/400 by IBM. The reason we choose against it
was that initial cash outlay was greater than for a UNiX based system
and that it was harder to scale piece by piece. Also the development
experience for advanced technology (clustering; parallel
processing...) tends to be easier to find in the Unix community. The
reason we set on Linux instead of Solaris for x86 processors was wider
hardware support; faster development from the community regarding
tools; Good availability of back-end databses (Oracle, Informix,
DB2...) and a very intelligent and talented user/developer
base. (note: the fact that it is free was not an issue; on a project
such as this the few thousand dollars you save on an OS is a pittance
compared with costs arising from support; problems up sclaing...)
	For the mid-end we did evaluations of NT4, NT5(beta) vs. Linux
and Solaris. The kernel on Linux is a stripped down 2.2.4 kernel with
TCP/IP, CORBA libraries, SMP support, terminal only. The loaded OS
takes less than 2 megs of memory. On NT we couldn't do that sort of
thing...  Our application servers have 256 Mb of Ram in them (I do not
believe that Linux currently supports more than 1G of memory; maybe
that flawed the comparison article...
	On testing of prototype applications both written in Eiffel or
C++ Linux and Solaris were faster on average of 162% (throughput as
well as actual calculation scores combined). NT did perform an order
of magnitude better running JAVA applications. We believe that the MS
JIT is responsible for that. Our main complaint against NT was that
both versions of NT when overloaded on purpose crashed! The Unix based
systems would slow to a crawl; but not crash.
	Since our Application servers run as a clustered pool Unix has
better support than NT (Clustering in Nt5 is problematic to state that
mildly).  There is more knowledge of working parallel with clusters of
workstations for Unix than there is for NT.(Beowulf anyone...?)
	Finally; and this is not a technical issue: The availability
of Source is very important to us. It allowed us to strip unneeded
parts from the kernel (What's not in there can't bug you!). It allows
us an upgrade path uncomparable to any closed source OS and finnally
it allows us to build functions directly into the kernel. (Fast,
highly optimized for our objects/packets CORBA/Network io is
considered at this moment.)
	I was highly surprised by the findings of this study. I have
heard a lot of legitimate complaints about Linux (I have some myself
as stated earlier) performance or stability has NEVER been one of
them. Is Linux still limited to the 1G memory barrier? If so you would
have your answer right there.

	Hajo Smulders, CTO Instatrade
Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! Copyright © 1999 Eklektix, Inc., all rights reserved
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