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Linux Expo starts on Tuesday, May 18, with the real festivities beginning the following day. Linux Expo remains the original large Linux gathering, it is celebrating its fifth birthday this year. LWN's Jonathan Corbet will be there, trying to squeeze out some reports between the various events. See you there!

Red Hat 6.0 breaks StarOffice. It is not surprising that a major operating system upgrade will create some turbulence in its wake, but there are a couple of factors here which are worthy of note.

The cause of the problem, evidently, is that StarOffice made use of some undocumented calls in glibc-2.0 which went away in the 2.1 release. So if one wants to find a place to assign blame - not a very productive exercise, really - one would probably hand it to StarDivision for not following the rules. It is unfortunate that StarOffice fails to work against the "compatibility" 2.0 libraries provided by Red Hat.

(For the more adventurous among us, some rather scary instructions were posted on how to make StarOffice work with these libraries. They involve, however, a fair amount of binary editing of the StarOffice executables. Not for the faint of heart. Thanks to Frank Lepore for pointing this one out).

The really disappointing thing, though, is that, even though both Red Hat and StarDivision have known about this problem for a while, neither has made any effort to (1) make a fix available, or (2) even inform their users of the problem. Thus the StarOffice breakage remains a trap that will continue to bite users for a while.

How long have these companies known about the problem? Long enough, in any case, to put a working version on the Red Hat 6.0 application CD. Red Hat claims that they are not licensed to distribute this working version via the net. That may well be true, but there is nothing preventing StarDivision from making this version available. It already exists, it works, it was good enough for the Application CD. Why is StarDivision leaving its users in this bad situation? (A request for information from StarDivision went unanswered).

What we are really seeing here, of course, is another example of the type of risk that one runs with proprietary software. Any software can break in an upgrade, and one can only get so upset about that. But if StarOffice were free software, a version which fixes a show-stopper bug would not be withheld from users that need it. And, of course, if source were available, a fix would have been widely distributed in a very short time.

But StarOffice is proprietary, so its users will simply have to wait until StarDivision gets around to making the fixed version available. There is a place in the world for proprietary software, but businesses and individuals that depend on proprietary systems are placing themselves at a certain amount of risk.

Ken Thompson's criticisms revisited. Eric Raymond and Ken Thompson have had a talk about Ken's negative comments on Linux recently published in IEEE Computer. Here is Eric's summary of the conversation. As might be expected, Ken is not as anti-Linux as the interview made him out to be, though he is still not really convinced of Linux's capabilities.

Learn Linux in the mountains. Eklektix, Inc., producer of the Linux Weekly News, still has a few slots in its Linux System Administration course being taught in Boulder, CO the week of June 7-11, 1999. This hands-on course, which emphasises the integration of Linux systems into larger, heterogeneous networks, is suitable for most students seeking an in-depth understanding of how Linux systems work. And June is a wonderful time to be in the Rocky Mountains... See the Eklektix training pages for more information.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:


May 13, 1999

   

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See also: last week's Security page.

Security


News

By now most readers will have seen some coverage of the decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the U.S. Government's crypto export regulations violate the first amendment. Source code is speech, and the government can not regulate it. This decision is currently only binding in a few western states, and will probably be put on hold until the Supreme Court has had its say. But it is an important step in the right direction. We may soon be able to get Linux distributions with proper cryptographic support "out of the box," rather than having to piece things together by hand.

Interested folks may want to look at the text of the decision in full. There is some good stuff in there:

"Government efforts to control encryption thus may well implicate not only the First Amendment rights of cryptographers intent on pushing the boundaries of their science, but also the constitutional rights of each of us as potential recipients of encryption's bounty. Viewed from this perspective, the government's efforts to retard progress in cryptography may implicate the Fourth Amendment..."

"...it is important to point out that Bernstein's is a suit not merely concerning a small group of scientists laboring in an esoteric field, but also touches on the public interest broadly defined."

It is interesting that they see potential fourth amendment (search and seizure) problems with the crypto regulations as well. This is a crucially important decision, taken by what appears to be a relatively high-clue court.

See also: this News.com story on the decision.

Security Reports

Caldera OpenLinux 2.2's installation leaves a privileged account behind with no password. This account, obviously, could be used to no end of obnoxious purposes. See this posting with the gory details. If you have systems running OL 2.2 that were installed with LISA (Lizard does not have the problem), you should run, not walk, to the system, look for this account, and disable it forthwith.

A couple of problems with INN have been turned up. Known exploits do not yet exist, but may not be too far away. Users of INN may want to read the advisory and keep an eye out until a fix is available.

Updates

The Oracle vulnerabilities mentioned in last week's newsletter have been confirmed; here is an advisory that was issued on the subject. Anybody who is running Oracle on a Unix server should have a look and react accordingly. A patch is included.

About Shamir's TWINKLE engine, a fast factoring system which was reported on last week: many of you wrote in to contest the statement (since removed) that RSA's days were numbered. A bit of confusion let that slip in and remain there; clearly RSA will be good for quite some time yet. It's just a matter of using sufficiently long keys.

Meanwhile, interested folks may want to check out Bruce Schneier's analysis of TWINKLE and what it really means. It's a good, clear summary of the situation, worth a look.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


May 13, 1999

   

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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development


The current stable kernel release is 2.2.8. This patch came out on Tuesday; it contains the usual large set of small fixes (over 500 files modified) plus some larger tweaks for USB and a few other things.

2.3.0 has been released, starting a new development kernel. Of course, there was not much to talk about - 2.3.0 is identical to 2.2.8 with the exception of the version number change. Here is the combined announcement that Linus sent out for both 2.2.8 and 2.3.0. A 2.3.1 pre-patch currently exists in the testing directory; 2.3.1 could be out by the time you read this.

The problem of thundering herds. A number of different studies and articles recently have turned up performance problems with the Apache web server in very high traffic situations. Now it seems that one of the speculations which have been circulating could really be true: the Apache problem is really a "thundering herd" problem.

Thundering herds happen when you have a number of processes that are waiting for an event. When that event (a connection to the web server, say) happens, every process which could possibly handle the event is awakened. In the end, only one of those processes will actually be able to do the work, but, in the mean time, all the others wake up and contend for CPU time before being put back to sleep. Thus the system thrashes briefly while a herd of processes thunders through. If this starts to happen many times per second, the performance impact can be significant.

As an example of what can happen, Phillip Ezolt published some profiling he did of his system when it was under heavy web server load. 18% of the system's time was spent in the scheduler, presumably trying to sort through the herds.

So how does one tame the herds? The basic idea is quite straightforward: find a way to wake up only one process when an event of interest comes through. The approach favored by Linus is this: processes in certain situations can mark themselves as being "wake one capable." When the system goes to wake processes waiting on a particular event, only one "wake one capable" process is revived. The herd is no more.

The other advantage of this approach is that the system makes no assumptions about whether waking one process is sufficient. Thus, current system call semantics do not change, and situations where standards require waking multiple processes (i.e. select) still work properly.

No patches have been posted yet, but it seems likely that a "wake one" tweak will go into the system before too long. (See also the Linux Scalability Project for more development in this area).

A mailing list for the development of memory technology devices has been established, see the announcement for details.

A new site for USB development has been set up, check it out at www.linux-usb.org. (Thanks to George David Morrison).

Other patches and interesting releases this week:

  • knfsd 1.3a by H.J. Lu. People using kernel NFS service with the 2.2 kernels should probably apply this one. This patch is evidently not quite yet considered ready for incorporation into the stable kernel tree itself, even though it is, by all accounts, rather more "ready" than the code that is currently part of the 2.2 kernel.

  • Version 1.01 of the AMI MegaRAID driver. Also included is a version of their "MegaManager" online management software.

  • Devfs v99 by Richard Gooch. Richard also put out version 30 of his MTRR patch.

  • The Multi-head Mini-HOWTO by Rick Niles is out in beta form. All about how to put multiple monitors on your Linux system.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet


May 13, 1999

For other kernel news, see:

   

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See also: last week's Distributions page.

Distributions


Caldera

A bit of grumbling about OpenLinux 2.2 surfaced this week. A couple of the more prominent gripes were:
  • Some users lament the absence of Spanish language support. Given that a large part of the world speaks Spanish, they feel that maybe the language is worthy of a bit of attention.

  • The "libcrypt" library, needed for things like shadow password support, is missing. It is not clear whether libcrypt was left out due to crypto export law worries or for some other reason. Certainly other distributions (i.e. Red Hat 6.0) have managed to find a way to include libcrypt.
There has been no response from Caldera to either complaint.

Debian

The Japanese version of Debian 2.1 is out, read the announcement for details. It consists of over 200 packages providing support for Japanese-speaking users.

The Corel Debian installation scheme was aired in preliminary form this week by Dave Neil of Corel. See his posting for details. Essentially, they plan to put together a process that brings the system into a full X-window mode from the outset, before beginning the installation. Dave also followed up with a later posting pondering how Corel and Debian could work together on the upcoming "Potato" release. Corel seems determined both to make installation an easier process and to give their work back to the Debian distribution.

How better to coordinate Debian releases? Adam Di Carlo sent out this proposal on how to make the next Debian release go a little more smoothly than slink did. A lot of it has to do with better communications, especially between people working on the different architectures. To that end, there will probably be (yet another) mailing list created - called debian-release - which will hopefully get the various teams talking to each other more.

The Debian Weekly News from May 10 is also available.

Mandrake

Mandrake 6.0beta has been announced. It includes a number of new goodies, including a Windows installation option, both KDE and GNOME, a new sound configuration scheme (from the Lothar project), and lots of other goodies.

Red Hat

One other 6.0 gotcha that is worth keeping in mind: the upgrade to PostgreSQL 6.4 breaks any databases created with earlier versions. If you are upgrading a system with postgres databases on it, you'll want to dump out the old databases before the upgrade, so that the data can be reloaded in the new format...

SuSE

SuSE is getting into the games business. They have just announced that they will be reselling in Europe the games released by Loki Entertainment Software. They will be starting, of course, with Civilization: Call to Power, whose release is coming up shortly. Civilization can be ordered now at a cost of 49 Euros.

SSH for SuSE Linux is, of course, not available in the international edition due to obnoxious crypto laws in a number of countries. The good news is that SSH rpms can be found at a number of non-US SuSE mirrors. Lenz Grimmer suggested looking at ftp.gwdg.de first.

TurboLinux

Pacific HiTech has announced its high-availability clustering product for Linux. This system is claimed to be able to pull together up to tens of thousands of nodes into a high-availability system aimed at web serving and other corporate tasks. PHT seems to intend to release most of their high-availability code back in GPL form. Their kernel enhancements will be immediately GPL'd, of course. Some of their other tools may see a bit of a delay, as in the ghostscript model, before being released. (Thanks to Alan Robertson).

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


May 13, 1999

Please note that not every distribution will show up every week. Only distributions with recent news to report will be listed.

Known Distributions:
Caldera OpenLinux
Debian GNU/Linux
Definite Linux
easyLinux
Easylinux-kr
Independence
LinuxGT
LinuxPPC
Linux Router Project
Mandrake
MkLinux
muLinux
PROSA Debian GNU/Linux
Red Hat
Slackware
Stampede
SuSE
Tomsrtbt
Trinux
TurboLinux
uClinux
UltraPenguin
XTeamLinux
Yellow Dog Linux

   

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See also: last week's Development page.

Development tools


Perl

A new maintenance release to Perl 5.004 has been announced. Even though the current Perl release is 5.005, version 5.004 continues to be actively maintained. This is good, since not all users are yet happy with 5.005, and are holding off on upgrades. See the announcement for details of what's in this release.

A new monthly magazine dedicated to Perl has been announced. PerlMonth put out its inaugural issue this month; it includes several articles, seemingly mostly of a tutorial nature.

Ten web design principles by Tom Christiansen went out this week, here's the list. The principles are aimed at "diversity compliance," but have more general concerns as well. As might be expected from a posting by Tom, no punches are pulled. "There is a special pit of hell reserved for those who use <BLINK> tags" This posting was followed up by something a bit more Perl-related - a personal web proxy program written in Perl which filters out most of the things Tom rails against in his ten principles.

Python

Why Python? asks OpenSourceIT. "For many people doing OO development, the constraints of C++ or Java are such that a throwaway prototype is inevitable. With Python, OO design is freeform enough that a great deal of code from a prototype is reusable even if the model changes radically."

Tcl/tk

We'll defer to this week's Tcl-URL for coverage of interesting events in the Tcl/Tk realm.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


May 13, 1999

   

 

Development projects


Eddie

The folks in the Eddie project have announced the source release for their Commercial Grade Web Server product. It includes their IP migration, HTTP gateway, and load balancing applications. See their press release for more.

GNOME

A mailing list for the "genius" calculator program has been created, see the announcement for signup information. This comes along with the release of Genius 0.4.2.

Other GNOME goodies released this week:

  • gbuild, assist with package maintenance.
  • gtm, file transfer utility
  • gBib, BibTex database manager.

High availability

Alan Robertson has released version 0.3.0 of his "heartbeat" system. Heartbeat allows for monitoring of high-availability clusters, and for "IP address takeover" to keep things working transparently in the event of an internal node failure.

KDE

Session management in KDE Matthias Ettrich dropped this note to the list on the future of KDE's session management. As has been previously stated, session management support is being separated from KWM; this update also makes session management between KDE and GNOME more compatible. There are currently some objections noting that the planned update will not work under older versions of Unix still runing X11R5 (such as Solaris 2.5.x).

Some other KDE quickies. This week, Christian Esken sent out a call for KDE multimedia developersalong with a description of the current multimedia projects. Richard Moore gave us this summary of the SIMPLINUX conference including KDE issues raised by the audience. Preston Brown made version 0.9 of the Desktop Entry Standardavailable with at least one more version forthcoming.

Lots of KDE goodies released this week:

(Many thanks to Navindra Umanee for gathering much of the KDE information reported here).

Linux Standard Base

Version 1.0 of the LSB-FHS test suite (which verifies that systems conform to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard portion of the Linux Standard Base) has been announced.

Midgard

Midgard is a newly-released web application platform based on Apache and PHP3. It has been put out under free software licenses; evidently the core parts of the system are under the GPL, while some of the rest is, instead, under an X-Consortium type license. See the Midgard web pages for more information and downloads. (Thanks to Henri Bergius).

Wine

Wine release 990508 has been announced. This is a developer's release.

Zope

As usual, Amos Latteier has made our lives easy by sending in his weekly Zope report. As had been anticipated, the first Zope 2.0 release will happen at Linux Expo. Those of you who will be at Linux Expo will certainly want to drop by and check out their business portal unveiling as well.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

 
   

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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business


VMWare hits the shelves. VMWare has announced that its VMWare emulation product will be shipping for real this Saturday, May 15. This product promises to make life a lot easier for people who are unable to wean themselves entirely from the Dark Side by allowing them to run Windows software within a virtual machine on their Linux box.

Active server pages for Linux. If you absolutely have to run Active Server Page stuff on your site, you may want to check out this announcement from Chili!Soft, which will be offering an ASP product for Linux "by the end of 1999."

Linux binaries on Solaris. Here is the announcement from Sun that lxrun - the utility allowing Linux binaries to run on Solaris - is available for download. It is still interesting to contemplate how quickly vendors of other systems have gone from saying "Linux has no applications" to "we run Linux applications."

Warehouses on Linux. LIS Warehouse Systems has announced that its "Dispatcher-CS" warehouse and inventory management system will be made available on Linux. Here we are seeing another important step in the adoption of Linux - the increasing availability of industry-specific tools.

SuSE and CAI sign a deal Computer Associates and SuSE have announced a deal wherein SuSE will bundle CA's "Unicenter TNG Framework" with their distribution.

Clustered thin servers. Here's a twist on the Linux-based thin server product: Network Engines has announced a rack-mounted product that looks much like the Cobalt RaQ, but which is intended to be operated in clusters of up to 256 hosts. Software (presumably proprietary) is included for cluster management and load balancing.

OMNIS Software has announced Linux support for their Studio rapid application development tool. They promise 100% Linux, Windows & Macintosh application portability will be available soon.

Software AG jumps on board. Software AG has announced that it will be supporting Linux with a number of its products. "...Linux is a scalable, stable and secure system that is no longer behind other flavors of Unix and Windows NT. It is particularly appropriate as an economical platform for mission-critical applications for electronic business." (Thanks to Cezary Cichocki).

Linux-certified Toshiba servers. Toshiba has announced that it is certifying its servers for use with Red Hat's distribution. "The move came in response to growing customer demand for powerful and reliable Internet and enterprise server solutions based on the Linux operating system." Now if they would only see the light with their laptop line..

Linux training in Australia. Cybersource Pty Ltd in Melbourne, Australia has announced a set of Linux training courses.

Demo version of Linux accounting package The folks at Proven Software have announced that evaluation copies of their Linux-based small business accounting packages are now available for free download.

Another enterprise backup tool. Legato has announced support for its Networker backup software on Linux - at least, if you're running Red Hat.

Press Releases:

  • American Biometric Companyannounced CardDrive, an advanced high performance smart card reader for Windows NT/95/98, Linux and Solaris.
  • Aonix, TeleUSE GUI builder.
  • BERGDATAreleased a range of biometric products at CardTech/SecurTech '99 Chicago, including BERGDATA Secure Linux.
  • Bluestone Software announced their Sapphire/Web cross-platform application server. It is available for many platforms, including Linux.
  • Client/Server Technologies, Inc. announced its Foundation/2000 Year 2000 testing software is now available for the Linux operating environment, free of charge in an introductory offer.
  • Compaq Computer Corporationintroduced the AlphaServer DS10, a RISC System; 64-Bit AlphaServer. You get your choice of operating system, including Linux.
  • Coyote Point Systemshas an adaptive load balancer, called Equalizer. It will run on Linux systems.
  • Effnet Inc.announced EdgeServerPlus, a router/firewall combo. Drivers will be available for Linux/Unix servers soon.
  • Geodesic Systemsannounced Great Circle Enterprise, a new suite of products and services for C/C++ enterprise development. It will be available for Linux systems.
  • Intraware, Inc.will deliver INFORMIX-4GL, and INFORMIX-SQL, application development tools through Intraware's online purchase and electronic software delivery services. Linux version software will be available, free of charge, through June 30.
  • Jason Clifford Consulting, selling Linux-installed laptops in the UK.
  • JNI (Jaycor Networks Inc.)announced two new FibreStar PCI-to-Fibre Channel host bus adapter cards. The 32-bit FCE-3210 and the 64-bit FCE-6410 support a variety of operating systems, including Linux.
  • Ludus Design, Quadra game.
  • Marketwave Corporationand Vignette Corporation team up to provide a Vignette StoryServer Plug-In for its Hit List Live and Hit List Enterprise e-business intelligence tools.
  • MathSoft, Inc.announced S-PLUS 5, technical calculation and analytical software, now available for Linux.
  • MERANTintroduced DataDirect SequeLink for Red Hat Linux 6.0.
  • NBase-Xyplex Layer 3 gigabit switch router wins NetWorld+Interop best of show award.
  • Netcentric Solutions Ltd. announced Lychee, a web development tool, using the Objectivity, Inc. database. Lychee will run on Windows, Linux and Unix.
  • Network Associates, Inc. announced a new PGP Command Line Edition now available for Windows NT, Solaris and Linux servers.
  • OpenConnect Systems Inc.announced the availability of its Web-enabling software solution, OC://WebConnect Pro, for the Linux operating system.
  • Phobos Corporationintroduces a load balancing embedding server switch. Linux is among the supported operating systems.
  • PointBase, Inc.announced the release of a 100% Pure Java object-relational embedded database with data "hotsync" capability.
  • Rainbow Technologies, Inc. announced the NetSwift development environment for security protocol acceleration integration with initial host support for HP/UX and Linux.
  • REBOLannounced REBOL/core 2.0, an internet messaging language, available for 15 platforms, including Linux.
  • Siemens Computer Systemsannounced the PRIMERGY 170, a new Intel-based workgroup server. Linux is among the supported platforms.
  • Software Metrics, Inc.now has a UNIX Print Server Add-on (which will run on Linux systems) that works with their Windows NT Printer Accounting Server (PAS) 2.0.
  • Solidum Systemsannounced the August availability of Linux and Windows NT drivers for its PAX.ware 100 fast ethernet network interface card.
  • SuperAnt, Linux programming tools CD.
  • Synkronix, Inc.announced BlueJ, a multi-platform application painter for COBOL and Java, available in a Linux version.
  • Tower Technology Corporationannounced the general availability of TowerJ 3.0, a Java application server deployment solution, for a broad range of platforms, including Linux.
  • Unify Corporation announced a developer partnership with Red Hat to provide e-commerce solutions for Linux.
  • Web-4M, groupware environment.
  • WRQ Inc.delivers Reflection X 7.2, for simplified integration of windows desktops with Unix, Digital, and Linux systems.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.


May 13, 1999

   

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

Linux in the news


Without ado, here's this week's recommended reading:
  • Open Season is an article in the May Wired about free software. "Never mind that some of these open-source-come-latelies may be trying to cover up for some misbegotten product that would never have had a prayer in the marketplace, or that they may well be aiming to exploit open-source resources without giving anything back in return. Those two little words - open source - have become a magical incantation, like portal in 1998 or push in 1997. Just whisper them and all will be yours: media attention, consumer interest, and, of course, venture capital."

    Also as part of this article: Tour de source, a table listing a number of companies working in the free software realm and showing their activities.

  • Salon reviews Caldera OpenLinux 2.2, and wanders off into worrying about Linux splintering into incompatible variants. "Despite its evident power, the KDE desktop interface is still really just a veneer disguising a host of challenges lurking for the unwary user. It is all too easy to plunge into the innards of any Linux system and severely mangle the 'user friendly' shell; believe me, I know. And there's also the question of where the continuing evolution of no-brainer Linux installations is leading. The various Linux distributions continue to morph into distinctly different identities."

  • Jeremy Allison pointed out this PC Week benchmark which looks at web and SMB performance. Linux still does not come off all that well, though far better then in the Mindcraft test. "Linux's performance, however, showed it needs improvement in several key areas. It was about four times slower than either NT or Solaris on file reads, which accounts for its mediocre performance. Almost all other areas of Linux's file system showed similar lackluster performance, ranging from 10 percent to four times slower than the competition. Linux did show an edge in file write operations, with performance on a par with or better than most of the competition."

  • Jeremy also pointed out this other test in PC Week which used Windows NT clients. The results were different there: "When running NetBench 6.0 with Windows NT 4.0 clients, NT Server 4.0 running on an Compaq Computer Corp. ProLiant 6400R spat out a disappointing 150M bps of data throughput.... Samba running on the Penguin Computing Linux server with an NT Workstation client load dusted NT Server with 197M-bps throughput. More importantly, Samba had minimal performance degradation at higher client loads. In tests with 60 clients, Windows NT managed only 110M-bps throughput compared with 183M bps for Samba."

  • ComputerWorld discusses the "Lintel reformation". "But the most compelling attribute of the little-OS-that-could isn't how it got written. It's how well it works on x86-based chips. Simply put, Linux on Intel -- which we might as well start calling 'Lintel' -- delivers about three times the price/performance ratio of any other computing platform. Lintel will run most processes three times faster than Windows NT on the same hardware, and you won't have to reboot twice a day."

  • Salon Magazine has an article about Mindcraft III. "'I just don't see why this is seen as a Microsoft test,' says [Mindcraft president] Weiner."

Reviews of one type or another were popular this week:

  • Network Computing has given an award to Caldera OpenLinux as the best network operating system. "Caldera, with its strong ties to Novell, has produced a product that serves as an excellent, full-featured NOS. NDS integration, Samba and the native Linux networking support make Caldara the new top dog in the NOS field."

  • PC Magazine has run a review of Sun, Microsoft, and Linux web platforms. Microsoft won. "Although Apache lets you tune some parameters (such as the number of processes available to clients), to do so you must edit configuration files. In terms of ease of use, this is a far cry from the Web-based administration that Netscape offers. And that's just one example of how building a Web platform on Linux is more difficult than it is on Windows NT or Solaris." (Thanks to CÚsar A. K. Grossmann).

  • MSNBC reviews the latest releases from Caldera, Red Hat, and SuSE. They like all three. "I can happily report that Open Linux 2.2's Lizard provides one of the easiest operating system install jobs I've ever had the pleasure of playing with. It requires nary a thought."

  • ZDNet has run a brief review of KDE 1.1.1. "...the GUI proved similar enough to Windows for novice users, while at the same time preserving Linux's superior multi-tasking power with such Unix standards as multiple virtual desktops."

There were only a couple of introductory pieces this week:

  • One is ZDNet's A to Z of Linux. Billed as "the essential Linux reference," this appears to be a general collection of brief blurbs written in a children's book style. "A is for Apache..."

  • Here's a lengthy introductory piece in Group Computing Magazine. It's a positive article, but with more than the usual number of silly mistakes. "So if you're planning to upgrade your operating system, or if you're tired of your Web server crashing, this little operating system from Sweden might be just what you want for your servers." (Thanks to Michael J. Miller).

Sun's approach to Linux drew a couple of articles:

  • Here's a brief MSNBC article about Sun's support of Linux applications running under Solaris. "Sun marketing manager Patrick Dorsey claims Linux applications perform well on Solaris, and says Sun can benefit from the innovation taking place on the Linux platform. Sun officials say the company is pushing Linux desktop solutions especially hard because it gives Sun a way to wreak havoc on archrival Microsoft Corp."

  • And here is a lengthy article in CNN about Sun and Linux. "Sun's enthusiasm for Linux is driven by more than different ecological niches for Solaris and Linux. Sun also sees the opportunity to profit from the vitality of the Linux market. Linux developers are churning out software ranging from Web servers to package managers at a tremendous rate. If Sun makes good on its efforts to make Solaris and Linux compatible, porting this software to Solaris will be easy."

There were many business-oriented pieces, as is usual these days:

  • Here's an English translation of an article in the Polish ComputerWorld about the deployment of Linux in the Sobieski Hotel in Warsaw. "Because Sobieski converted to Linux it is not running Microsoft Office as its main office suite any more. The hotel now uses a much less expensive package (StarOffice) offered by German Star Division" (Reprinted with permission, thanks to Pawel Moszumanski).

  • The frenzy that has surrounded Internet stocks may soon find its way toward Linux-related companies as well, according to this Fairfax IT column. "It seems the same factors that led to an Internet gold rush among investors may be in their embryonic stages as applied to open source or Linux ventures. All the hype surrounding GNU/Linux has led to a swag of venture capitalists and market watchers promoting open source opportunities to their investing clients, and prospective start-ups."

  • This ZDNet UK article speculates on what happens if Linux starts showing up in mobile devices with the ability to speak the "Bluetooth" radio connectivity protocol. "The thought of a mobile version of Linux with embedded Bluetooth is a little daunting particularly for the Microsoft camp."

  • Here's a Computer Reseller News article about competition between the various Linux distributions. "Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT is the real competition, said executives at both companies. Caldera and Red Hat exhibit alongside each other at Linux expos. And next month, Ransom Love, Caldera's chief executive, is speaking at the 5th Annual Linux Expo, sponsored by Red Hat." (Found in Linux Net News).

  • Intel's "Technology @Work" newsletter features Linux in this article. "Linux will get another boost in the second half of 1999, when Intel ships 8-way SMP server motherboards using the Profusion architecture. VA Research will be among the first to ship 8-way Linux servers based on the Profusion technology." (Thanks to Alexander Stohr).

  • Caldera Thin Clients (the DOS side of Caldera) will be using Linux to build set-top boxes, according to this News.com article. "The use of Linux gets around licensing fees a company would have to pay to use somebody else's operating system, such as Microsoft's Windows CE..."

  • Security Portal has an article about commercial security products for Linux. "The more tantalizing question is, who will be the Red Hat of Linux Security? Will established security vendors risk cannibalizing their own products lines, or will they instead spread FUD about the idea of putting corporate jewels in the hands of open source security? Will we see some new security companies challenge the old guard, riding the wave of open source security wares? Stay tuned."

  • Pacific HiTech expects to do great in China, according to this Newsbytes article. "[PHT CEO} Miller estimates there are around 10 million computers in China, most running pirated copies of Microsoft's Windows operating system at present. 'I don't think its unreasonable to think within a year we could have 10 percent of the market,' he predicted."

  • News.com once again reports that AOL is considering making a Linux box. "...bypassing Windows gives AOL an advantage, ensuring more control over their product, lowering the cost of the device, and improving AOL's bargaining position in dealings with Microsoft."

  • In PC Week: this article about the Canadian National Railway Company's use of Linux. "...encouraged by its stability, the railroad has expanded Linux's role to include e-mail, Web and proxy servers for 3,800 users."

  • Companies are not rushing out to set up Linux-based database servers, according to this PC Week article. "Linux databases are intriguing for many sites, but often not enough to take them off the back burner. Many organizations remain focused on year 2000 remediation and the continued pilgrimage to the Web."

  • Nicholas Petreley has decided that commerce in the open-source world will revolve around services. "So, if the new economy is driven almost entirely by service and support, it would follow that companies will have to focus more on reliability and suitability of their software rather than features and glitz. Gosh, if that's the down side, the future is looking pretty darned good."

  • Here's an article in the Triangle Business Journal which looks at the backlash to Red Hat's success. "Some Red Hat competitors and computer purists have sounded the alarm that the Durham-based company might be trying to hijack Linux."

  • Here's a short piece in the Journal of Commerce (scroll to the end) which worries about commercial applications for Linux. "Don't get me wrong. I've always been a big advocate of Linux. But that was when it was the computer geek's alternative to Windows and everything was free. Even the Linux source code. Now, I fear, those days are coming to an end."

  • VAR Business reports on the KDE 1.1.1 release. "Most of the top Linux vendors also are going with KDE. Caldera Systems Inc., Pacific HiTech Inc. and SuSE Inc. all ship their distributions with a KDE default. One vendor conspicuously absent from the lineup is Red Hat Software Inc., North America's Linux market leader. Its default interface is Gnome, largely because it has invested heavily in its development."

  • Former Netscape CTO Eric Hahn is now on the board of directors for Red Hat, according to this brief News.com article. "Hahn was instrumental in driving Netscape's Linux support, Red Hat said, as well as the decision to release its software as open source..."

  • The Red Herring covers LinuxCare's new venture capital investment. "Linuxcare now offers a Linux university for becoming educated about Linux, a fully staffed call center for assistance, professional services for operating systems and integration, and professional certification (testing and validation) of Linux software."

  • Can you survive the Linux frenzy? asks Sm@rt Reseller. "Everyone from industry analysts to Linux vendors always has stressed that the real money in open-source software lies in service and support. And now, with Linux making serious inroads into the corporate marketplace, the market-share struggle between the various distributions is ceding center stage to the behemoth services organizations vying to support these meaty contracts."
And here's the rest of what we were able to find:
  • Here's a ZDNet Australia article about FreeBSD. "There are other problems that can't be ignored: FreeBSD doesn't yet run on as many hardware platforms as Linux or commercial Unix; it's limited to Intel-based servers. And, more importantly, although FreeBSD will run a number of Linux applications through emulation, it lacks support from commercial database and application software vendors."

  • Linux: Think hard before getting in deep says PC Week. "The most vexing Linux problem we ran into was with the Linux kernel itself. There are countless revisions of the kernel available, and in tests we found that some Linux patches worked only with certain kernels or with specific versions of applications. This inconsistency could wreak havoc on departments trying to optimize a Linux server to run multiple applications."

  • Java Zone comments on the "dark side of open source." Strange article. "When someone argues that Sun should forget its restrictions and release Java 2 as Open Source, perhaps you'll remember the lessons of Netscape and Mozilla." (Found in NNL).

  • ABC News looks at the GNOME development process. "The open-source movement is a bit like the construction of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe: thousands of anonymous artisans working over time on a grand project whose entirety they may never know. That's a fair description of GNOME, the first graphical user interface for the Linux operating system." Of course, some may disagree with the use of the word "first" here... (Thanks to Damon Poole).

  • Here's an article in the Times of India about localized versions of Linux which are being put together in India. "...since Linux was available free of cost and its source code was known, it became easy to make the necessary changes in the codes to create a Linux OS in Hindi and other languages." (Thanks to Ashish Shah).

  • Last week's NTKnow has a couple of Linux-related articles, covering the upcoming Linux: The Way Forward gathering in London ("...Alan Cox lecturing on e-commerce (what the!?! d'y'think he'll wear a suit?)...") and Sir Clive Sinclair's possible new Linux product. "...we'll wait because the man who told [Sinclair] about Linux was reputedly Chris Bidmead, veteran tech journo and - more importantly, author of Logopolis, the Dr Who episode that killed off Tom Baker. And if he can do that for one geek hero..."

  • MattsHouse asks: what if Mindcraft is right? The editorial sees such a result as an opportunity to find where the problems are and correct them.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet


May 13, 1999

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
 Announcements
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.

Announcements


Resources

Deja.com (the site formerly known as Deja News) has a page rating various network operating systems. Linux is currently coming out on top. (Thanks to Mike Gerdts).

Events

Here's the official announcement for LinuxWorld II, to be held in San Jose this August. Linus Torvalds will be keynoting again, and the exhibit floor will be doubled in size.

The Free Software Foundation is looking forvolunteers to staff its booth at Linux Expo.

Linus Torvalds will also be giving a keynote talk at Lotus DevCon99, according to this announcement. The conference is happening June 20-23 in San Francisco.

Rich Roth is finishing out his Linux Expo talk on how to get Linux accepted in businesses. He's looking for suggestions and war stories to help illustrate the talk. If you have any to contribute, please drop him a note (mail address can be found on the page above).

The program and registration materials for the six O'Reilly Open Source Conferences have been posted: Apache, Linux, Perl, Python, Sendmail, and Tcl/Tk. Also don't forget the Open Source Business track. All this is happening in Monterey, California on August 21 through 24. There's lots of big-name speakers, it looks like a good time.

Web sites

The pan-European Linux page at www.linux.eu.org has found a new home on Rik van Riel's network in the Netherlands. See the announcement of the move for details. They are looking for volunteers from all over Europe to help in the creation and maintenance of a new set of linux.eu.org pages.

The one-page Linux manual is now up and available for downloading.

User Group News

The Malaysian Open Source Group will have an active presence at the InfoSoc99 Expo in Shah Alam, Malaysia. The event runs from May 20 through the 23rd.

May 13, 1999

   

 

Software Announcements


Package Version Description
Adora 0.0.2 Cross-Platform Email Client for Linux and Windows
Alien 6.36 Converts between the rpm, dpkg, stampede slp, andslackware tgz file formats
analog 3.2 WWW logfile analysis program
ANTI Leech script 1.0 Download files without seeing the original URL
Apache SPFC 0.2.0 The Server Pages Foundation Classes
APE 0.2.1 APE Portable Environment for C++ Threads, Sockets, etc.
ascpu 1.6 A CPU load monitor.
astime 2.0 Analogue clock for X windows
aterm 0.3.6 xterm replacement with fast transparency, tinting and NeXT scrollbar
Audio File Library 0.1.7 Implementation of SGI's Audio File Library
August 0.30 A free html editor for Linux/Unix.
autodep 0.2.0 Automatically generate C, C++ and Java dependancies for make
Awka 0,3b An AWK to C translator and library.
BFRIS Zero Gravity Fighter Combat 1.1.1 3-D Accelerated zero-gravity space fighter combat w/ net support
bnc4all 0.2 full featured FTP protocol bouncer/bouncenetwork
Bnetd 0.4.8 Emulates a StarCraft Battle.net server
Broadcast2000 beta1 Non linear audio and video editor
Builder Xcessory PRO for Linux 5.0.5-3 The industry's most advanced graphical user interface builder for Motif
Burt 2.4.7 Burt - Backup and Recovery Tool
CGI++ 0.3 C++ macro-preprocessor for writing CGI/Database applications
Check.pl 1.0 Filesystem permission auditing tool
clig 1.1.2 command line interpreter generator
CMatrix 1.0 Ncurses eye-candy demo like
code2html 0.5.1 Converts a program's source code to syntax highlighted HTML
CodeWarrior 4 Professional, industrial-strength IDE that integrates with EGCS/GNU coding tools
Collaborative Virtual Workspace (CVW) 3.1.x prototype server and clients to support collaboration
colorgcc 1.3.2 Cutomizable Perl wrapper to colorize gcc/g++ messages.
cstream 1.3 dd(1)-like tool, precise bandwidth limiting/reporting, fifo support
dagrab 0.3 Extracts digital audio from CD and stores it in WAV files (incl CDDB)
DailyUpdate 7.02 Grabs dynamic information from the internet and integrates itinto your webpage
Data::Locations 5.2 A virtual file manager which allows to read/write data to and from virtual files
Dead Link Check 0.2.1 Finds information on validity of HTTP references.
DECnet for Linux 1.92 DECnet socket layer and applications
demcd 1.1.5 CDPlayer for Linux
dfm 0.99.2 Filemanager like OS/2 WPS
dhcpxd 0.9.1 An endlessly customizable DHCP client daemon
Downloader for X 0.94-GAMMA Downloads files from the Internet via both FTP and HTTP
Dr Geo 0.7.8 Interactive Geometry
Drall 0.11.0 Allows users to access their directories and files remotely via a web browser
efingerd 1.0 Another finger daemon for linux
Egg 1.0 Interpreter for the language in Dijkstra's Discipline of Computer Programming
eggdrop 1.3.27 IRC bot, written in C
EPIC 4pre2.004-19990507 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
esh 0.8 New Unix shell
Ethereal 0.6.1 GUI network protocol analyzer
failoverd 1.3 Provide rudimentary failover capability for Linux
fastjar 0.85 Fast jar file creator written in C
fbtv direct channel hack 0.2 Simple to to add functionality to fbtv
ffingerd 1.21 Secure finger daemon for Unix
fileutils 4.0h The GNU file management utilities
FLTK 1.0.3 C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
Flying Windows 0.2 A spoof of Microsoft(tm)'s Flying Windows screensaver
FreeBSD 3.2-BETA A stable secure open source operating system.
FreeMarker 1.4.6 HTML templating system for Java servlets
fsh 1.0 Fast and secure remote command execution.
Gaby 1.9.1 An address book written in GTK
gbuild 0.5 build tool to automate cvs update, compilation, and packaging
gcombust 0.1.12 gtk+ frontend for mkisofs and cdrecord
gEdit 0.5.2 GTK+ based text editor
Generic Information Server Toolkit (GIST) 1.0.0 GIST is a free tool kit for the development of interactive web sites
Generic Multithreaded Server Class 0.02 C++ c;lass implementing a generic multithreaded server
GeneWeb 2.02 A combo web interface and genealogy program combined on steroids
Genius 0.4.2 An arbitrary precision integer and multiple precision floatingpoint calculator
Genpage 1.0.0 Provides framework for separating content management from layout design
gensig 2.1 Random signature/tagline generator
gfontview 0.2.2 Font Viewer
Giram 0.0.16 Giram is a modeller, written in GTK+
GLib 1.2.3 The GLib library of C routines
gMOO 0.4.0 GTK+ based MOO (and MUD) client
Gnofin 0.5.1 A simple GNOME checkbook application
GnomeICU 0.64pre Formerly GtkICQ, now Gnome Internet Communication Utility
GnomePGP 0.3 Gnome frontend for PGP
GnomeTREK 0.3.0 Search tool for the 1998 Star Trek Encyclopedia.
gnotepad+ 1.1.4 An easy-to-use, yet fairly feature-rich, simple text editor
GNU Privacy Guard 0.9.6 GPLed PGP replacement tool
Gnusniff 0.0.6 A packet sniffer for Linux using GNOME.
Gpasman 1.1.3 Keeps track of all your passwords in a secure way
GPM 1.17.8 A mouse server for the console and xterm.
gpm-dict 1.0 The universal dictionary for Linux
GREED 0.8+ BETA A utility that can get and resume files from a web site.
Gsh 0.1.1 Shell with an integrated terminal window.
GTK+ 1.2.3 Library for creating graphicaluser interfaces
GtkAda 1.2.1 Ada95 binding of Gtk+
GTKeyboard 0.11 Graphical Keyboard for the physically disabled
gtkgo 0.0.9 Go game for Linux and Windows
gtkmail 0.1.1 gtk-- mail client
GTKYahoo 0.13 GTK based Yahoo! Pager client
GtkZip 0.5.1 A program for maintaining your Iomega Zip drive disks underLinux
GTransferManager 0.3.1 GNOME frontend and more for wget
HTML PLAIN 1.0.5 A revolutionary HTML precompiler
HtmlLayout 0.9 A Java LayoutManager, uses an HTML-like syntax
htnews 0.6.3 Email robot for adding news items to a webpage.
httptunnel 2.4 Creates a two-way data tunnel through an HTTP proxy
IDS POP 0.9.4 A small, fast, and efficient POP3 server.
ImageMagick 4.2.4 Package for display and interactivemanipulation of images for X11
IMP 2.0.3 IMAP and PHP3 based webmail system
Install-Sendmail 3.0a install-sendmail will configure sendmail and fetchmail for you.
ipac 1.03 Linux IP accounting package
ipfwadm2ipchains 0.5.0 Converts ipfwadm rules into equivalent ipchains rules
ippacket 2.1 IP/TCP/UDP/ICMP packet generator
IPSC 0.2 IP subnet calculator (GNOME/CLI)
ircu 2.10.06.0 Undernet's IRC daemon
irssi 0.7.10 GTK+ based IRC client with GNOME panel support
ISDNLog 0.1 Throughput logging for the Traverse Technologies NetJet ISDN router
Jabber 0.6 Instant Messaging Platform
KBlade 0.0.7 KBlade is a frontend to BladeEnc (mp3 encoder) for KDE
KGryzzles 0.1.5 Little puzzle game for KDE
Krio 0.19990511 A graphical interface to your Diamond Rio
LinPopup 1.0.0 Linux port of Winpopup, running over Samba.
Linux-HA 0.3.1 Heartbeat subsystem for High-Availability Linux project
Linuxconf 1.15r3 Sophisticated administrative tool
lsb-fhs 1.0 test suite for filesystem hierarchy aspects of the Linux Standard Base
lsof 4.43 List open files
Lynx 2.8.2pre2 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
LyX 1.0.3pre2 Advanced LaTeX-based typesetting and text-editing program for X11
mailblink 0.1 Blinks LEDs when new mail arrives.
MARS 1.4pre4 Java-based network services status monitor
MathMap 0.9 A very generic GIMP plug-in
mcrypt 2.1.19 A replacement for the old unix crypt(1). Uses several block algorithms.
Messenger 0.0.3 A tool to read the memory of an USR Message Modem
Midgard 1.0.1 Application Server Suite - Web building with web-based tools
Mixer.app 1.4.0 Mixer.app is a mixer utility for Linux/FreeBSD systems. It is designed to be doc
moodss 7.0 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
Mozilla M5 Webbrowser for X11 derived from Netscape Communicator
Muac 1.0 A fast (n log(n)) algorithm for the 2D KS test
muni 1.0 Muni maps Chinese characters to Unicode
Name service browser 0.1 A browser for CORBA naming service
Nano-X 0.3 Tiny X replacement for Linux based palmtops and POS units
ncp 0.2 Copy files quickly inside your LAN
NeoBoard 2.0 A whole new multi-threaded message board with great look and feel
NetBSD 1.4 The world's most portable Operating System.
NetLED 1.1 Monitor connections using your keyboard LEDs.
News Peruser 4.0 Beta 23 An offline newsreader for Linux and X11
Nicq 0.0.7 A different and new kind of icq clone
Ninja IRC 1.0.9 Yet another ircII based client.
nmap 2.2-BETA4 Full featured, robust port scanner
NotifyMe 1.1 Program which displays message if a specific user just logged in
NumExp 0.0.4 Numeric methods implementation for Linux
Nyce 0.36a1 Highly configurable Autonicer/Killer
OLAP for Linux 6.0F OLAP for Linux is a TM1 based OLAP solution for Linux
Oracletool 0.87 A web based tool for Oracle DBA's written in Perl.
PentiumGCC 1.1.3 Pentium/PPro/P-II/K6/Cyrix/MMX optimising egcs clone
PEQ Quote Library 050899 The quotation library for Portable Easy Quote (PEQ).
PingScan 1.2.1 Scans Networks via Ping for reachable Hosts
PoPToP 0.8.3 PPTP Server for Linux
ppmtofb 0.21 Display graphics on universal framebuffer devices.
ProtectImage 1.5 PERL CGI that protects images from being hotlinked from remote sites
Quake3: Arena test 1.05 The test version of Quake3: Arena
Quick Image Viewer 1.1 A very small and pretty fast GDK/Imlibimage viewer
QuickList 0.5.0 MS Works like database application
QuIRC 0.9.74 X IRC client written in C++ with full Tcl/Tk scripting.
Quotable Homer quotes 19990508 Homer Simpson quotes for `fortune`
R 0.64.1 A language and environment for statistical computing.
Rasca 1.2.1 Extended MP3 Player.
Request Tracker .99.7 Web, command-line and email based trouble ticketing and bugtracking package
Rlab 2.1.01 Mathmatical probram similiar to Matlab
rxvt 2.6.PRE4 A VT102 emulator for the X window system
s-news 0.1.3 Small news server using suck for news transport.
Scintilla 0.93 Source code editing component and tiny IDE for Win32 and GTK+.
SDF 2.001beta The Author-Friendly Markup Language
Secure Locate 1.5 Secure version of the GNU locate program
SETI@Home Client 0.47 Distributed SETI data-analysis client
seyon 2.20c full-featured telecommunications package for X
sh-utils 1.16i GNU shell programming utilities
shtool 1.2.4 Shell Script Collection
Slackware 4.0 beta3 The Slackware distribution
slush 0.1.1 SSL remote shell
SMPEG 0.1.0 SDL MPEG player with sound
Snack 1.5 Cross-platform sound extension for Tcl
SNES9x 1.19a Portable, freeware Super Nintendo Entertainment System(SNES) emulator
snmpscan 0.05 Scan hosts or routers running SNMPD for common communities (passwords).
Spamfilter 2.0 Spamblocker for qmail mailing system
Sticker Book 19990511 Place stickers on a background scene
suck 4.2.0 Grabs news from a remote NNTP news server
syslog-ng 1.1.14 A portable syslogd replacement with enhanced, flexible configuration scheme.
Tac 0.13 An AOL Instant Messenger client in pure TCL
tavrasm 1.05 Assembler for the Atmel AVR series of micro-controllers
tclreadline 0.8 GNU readline for the tcl scripting language
TDS 0.02 Toplevel Domain Scanner - Scan through DNS records
terminatorX 3.01 Realtime Audio Synthesizer (DJ Scratching)
Terraform 0.3.0 Interactive digital terrain (height field) editor/viewer
textutils 1.22k GNU text file processing utilities
The Cycon Online Gaming Engine 0.80 Online Gaming Authoring System
The Global File System 19990508 A Shared Disk File System for Linux
The N.U.E. Order 0.0.3 Highly integrated Order Processing system for Online commerce.
treeview.cgi 1.30 treeview 'widget' for html
tux_aqfh 1.0.1 Tux the Penguin - A Quest for Herring. An OpenSource 3D game.
TWIG 0.3.1 A web-based IMAP client written with PHP3
Ultra Power Effects Max II 1.0.0 Reads from the soundcard, transforms the sound, and writes it back
Unix Desktop Environment 0.2.2-BETA A new GUI for Unix with a completely new look'n'feel
UPX 0.72 powerful executable packer
VMWare Build 152 Allows you to run multiple OSs at the same time
vTcLava 0.5 Visual Java development module for Visual Tcl
WebCal 1.11 A simple browser based calendar program.
webgrep 1.7 HTML check and search utilities
WebRFM 0.1a CGI file manager supporting WebDAV and other HTTP extensions
Window Manager Icons 0.2.0 Efficient standardized icon distribution
Wine 990508 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
wings mp3.app 0.3b MP3 player
wmakerconf 2.0 GTK based configuration tool for WindowMaker window manager
WMFinder 0.5 Easy to use file manager for WindowMaker
wmsvencd 0.5.0 A dockable CD player with local CDDB support, for Window Maker or Afterstep
wxPython 2.0b9 Python extension module for wxWindows
X11Spy 0.03 X11Spy is a GTK based Quake3 server browser
xcallerid 2.2.2 callerID program that pops up incomingphone numbers in an X-window
xhangglider 0.92a X-based program that makes hanggliders fly in the background of your screen.
XNotesPlus 3.1.3 Sticky notes with PalmPilot interface, envelope printer, projects, etc.
XQF 0.8.99.2 QuakeWorld/Quake2 server browser and launcher for Linux/X11
xtell 0.9 Simple messaging client and server, kind of networked write
xterm Patch #101 A terminal emulator for the X Window System
Xterminal 0.6.7 Object Oriented User Interface with a client-serverarchitecture
Xvidmode 0.3.19990505 Get/set X video modes
Xwhois 0.3.5 Small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the internet whois network services.
ytalk 3.1.1 Multi-user replacement for the Unix talk(1) program.
ZMailer 2.99.50s17
ZNibbles 0.0.7 Networked multiplayer nibbles/snake game for X11/Motif
Zope 1.11.0pr1 Web application platform used for building high-performance, dynamic web sites.
 

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
 Announcements
 Back page

See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week


The DaveCentral Linux Software Archiveis mostly dedicated to a hierarchical database of available Linux programs. One cute touch is that it includes screenshots from many of them. Their database is incomplete, but there is still good information to be found there.

The Free Software Jobs Page is maintained by the Free Software Foundation, so only jobs which involve working on free software will be listed.

LinuxToday also has a jobs page with slightly looser criteria (and correspondingly more listings).

Section Editor: Jon Corbet


May 13, 1999

   

 

Letters to the editor


Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@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.

Choosing letters to publish was unusually hard this week, due to the large number of them that we received. A number of quality letters were left out. We can only apologize to the senders, and encourage you to write to us again when the inspiration strikes you.

 
   
Date: 6 May 1999 21:25:46 -0000
From: bruce@perens.com
To: lwn@lwn.net, malda@slashdot.org, nicholas@petreley.com,
Subject: Bake-off proposal

Instead of griping over this mindcraft benchmark, let's hold a bake-off at
LinuxWorld in August.

We will challenge NT and Linux developers to each field teams to compete
at LinuxWorld. The two teams get identical hardware provided by a
non-competing third-party: Dell, IBM, whoever. The NT team and the Linux
team have a day or two to bootstrap their systems and tune them. Then they
compete on a number of issues. Besides how fast they can serve, etc., let's
make rapid application development one of the issues too. Each team could
be handed a list of tasks to develop using their respective environments,
and could be judged on time to completion, bugginess, features and elegance,
speed, etc. Cover it with live webcasts, etc.

It's sort of like Deep Blue vs. Kasparov. You win on the publicity front
even if you lose.

Pass this on to anyone you like if you think it's interesting.

	Thanks

	Bruce Perens
   
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 15:02:32 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ray Jones <rjones@pobox.com>
To: bruce@perens.com, lwn@lwn.net, malda@slashdot.org, nicholas@petreley.com
Subject: Re: Bake-off proposal

> [Bake-off suggestion by Bruce elided...]

There are two things I like about Linux compared to other OSes (and
the accompanying software):

1- high quality
2- low hype

A bake-off doesn't do much for either of these.  Yeah, Mindcraft's
benchmark was pretty useless and made us all angry, but it doesn't
really matter to Linux's continued success.  The results have been
shot down sufficiently well (by people outside the Linux community!)
that we should just be ignoring them and working on making Linux
better, so the next time someone like Mindcraft wants to put out a
benchmark that makes NT or whatever else look better/faster than
Linux, they won't be able to.[1]

IMO, a bake-off as described by Bruce would produce less good than an
actual bake-off with the food being sold and the money being donated
to the FSF.

Ray Jones


[1] I realize that's impossible.  But it can be made more difficult,
and tuning information can be collected and made easily available so
that the "no documentation" argument falls apart.
   
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 01:09:44 +0200 (METDST)
From: Morten Welinder <terra@diku.dk>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Attribution


In the May 6 issue, I think you are misrepresenting the quote

   "While the NT Testanlage an intensive Tuning experienced by
    Microsoft specialists, at the Linux version one did not screw."

I am quite sure that this quote should be attributed to Yoda the Jedi,
not Babelfish.

Morten
   
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 08:20:03 +0200 (CEST)
From: Jens Ritter <jens@hilbert.weh.rwth-aachen.de>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: RSA not obsoleted


Dear Editors,

I guess you confused DES (Data Encryption Standard) and RSA in the current
security section (6th may issue). It is true that DES features only 56 bit
key length and that it is obsoleted by the the eff's descracker machine.
See:  http://www.eff.org/pub/Privacy/Crypto_misc/DESCracker/ 
So the current announcement of Shamir only puts another nail in the
already sealed and buried coffing of DES. 

RSA in contrast is the public key encryption scheme used in pgp as default
method up to version 2.6.3. It uses the product of two large prime numbers
and the security is based upon the fact that factorising such a product is
a difficult (or hard) problem. While it is clear that to factor the
product of two prime numbers with say 3 digits is a matter of seconds on
current hardware, the problem becomes difficult if one uses products in
the range of 1024 and more binary digits.

The result of Shamir only pushes the number of digits up, if one wants to
get a key which can be considered secure for some years.  As Bruce
Schneier in his book "Applied cryptography" notes, if you want to have a
long lasting RSA key, you have to use as many bits as possible. 

Yours sincerely,

Jens Ritter  

P.S.: Please vote against Spam! At
             http://www.politik-digital.de/spam/
(Sorry Europeans only)
---
Jens.Ritter@weh.rwth-aachen.de   grimaldi@debian.org
Key ID: 2048/E451C639 Jens Ritter
Key fingerprint: 5F 3D 43 1E 24 1E CC 48  1E 05 93 3A A7 10 73 37 

   
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 03:47:52 -0400
From: Piotr Mitros <pmitros@MIT.EDU>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: xv

Quick comment on Red Hat 6.0 and xv. I would guess that the reason that
Red Hat left it out is because xv is not free software. It comes with
source, but it is distinctly shareware. Red Hat is phasing itself over
to be a pure free software company. I think the good of having a
completely free OS outweigh the disadvantages of loosing a little
utility like xv. Xv is convenient, but it's not that big a deal.

   
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 15:40:09 -0400
From: ajc@uncnsrd.mt-kisco.ny.us (Art Cancro)
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: wxWindows, Qt, and other cross-platform toolkits

Dear Editor,
 
   I came home from a vacation this week to discover that the latest "war"
in the open source universe appears to be wxWindows vs. Qt.  It's ironic
that nearly every time another debate surfaces in our community, Troll Tech
AS seems to be involved, although that's not what I intend to discuss today.
 
   I recently began a non-trivial development project that requires a
cross-platform toolkit, and I went through the same search that Matt Heck
and many others did.  I have to say that Mr. Heck's conclusion is a good
one: wxWindows and Qt are both very good toolkits, and you can't make a bad
choice.
 
   Yes, I do have a preference.  I chose wxWindows.  Right out of the box,
it can target Linux (using GTK), Microsoft Windows (using Win32), and
commercial Unix (using Motif).  It's a wonderfully complete, portable
toolkit that is very sensibly classed.  It's free of commercial
licensing restrictions, and a Macintosh version is also in development.
Given a selection of several high-quality toolkits, why not go with the
one that will please the most people?
 
   I'm rather excited about the potential for products like wxWindows to
blur the lines which can divide developers.  I've heard that there is a
version of wxWindows in development which can link to Qt.  This would be a
perfect bridge between the GNOME and KDE worlds, as well as giving the
hordes of Linux programmers an opportunity to get backports to Windows and
Macintosh with very little additional effort.
 
   When two or more great products go head to head without one having an
unfair advantage, there can be only one winner: the consumer.  (Yes, I'm
talking to you, Bill.)  The truly important message which I gleaned from
this week's debates is this: cross-platform toolkits are becoming an
increasingly important part of the development world.  Developers are
realizing that simply targeting one platform is no longer a safe option. 
Like many Linux users, I had high hopes for Java, but in its current
incarnation it seems to have failed in the "standalone app" universe
(although it has done quite well in the "small front-end embedded in a web
page" universe).  I'm confident that Sun will eventually figure out how to
make Java's success more widespread -- GPL'ing the entire JDK and JVM comes
to mind -- but in the meantime, we must look elsewhere.
 
   That "elsewhere" is currently the several cross-platform toolkits that
are available.  I would encourage all developers to give wxWindows, Qt, and
the others a good close look, and keep portability in mind when starting a
new project that doesn't necessarily have to be Linux-only.  Unlike some
people, we don't need to create platform lock-in.
 
  Art Cancro                              UNCENSORED! BBS
  ajc@uncnsrd.mt-kisco.ny.us              http://uncnsrd.mt-kisco.ny.us
   
Date: Fri, 07 May 1999 19:26:20 -0700
From: David Smead <dsmead@cyberhighway.net>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: OS Battle is won, war lost

Greetings,

Sure I'm a Linux user and hope to stay one, but while us peons are
scratching in the OS barnyard, M$ is developing a new twist on an old
strategy - delivery of information using proprietary formats/protocols.

For the few of us who use computers to enhance engineering productivity,
Linux will eventually be the OS of choice.  In the meantime, look for
the masses to remain addicted to some variant of M$ CE, with content
delivered not only encrypted, but also in formats that are not public.
Their investment in AT&T doesn't look so innocent to me.  Just send
payment of your information utility bill the Bill.

So we win the OS war - so what? Perhaps the Justice Department should
start developing foresight and make sure that delivery of information
isn't monopolized by anyone in the future.  That means if I want to use
an information and entertainment appliance that happens to run Linux,
then I should be able to connect to any delivery service in like manner
to the Internet today.

-- 
Sincerely,

David Smead
Please visit our web site  --  amplepower.com.
   
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 21:27:51 +0300
From: "Khalid M. Baheyeldin" <kbahey@ab2.com>
To: editor@lwn.net, letters@lwn.net
Subject: Voice over IP for Linux

This is a call for help and/or pointers.

If you can publish this letter, and maybe some reader will
be able to point me in the right direction.

The issue is that I am looking for an application that works
under Linux (preferrably KDE, but will consider all options)
that would allow me to talk (in voice) to someone else with
Linux and KDE.

The world of Windows95/98 abound with such application from
all spectrums (open source, free, shareware, commercial),
such as Speakfreely, Netmeeting, CU-SeeMe, MediaRing, ..etc.

However, when it comes to Linux, there is a dearth in such
applications.

I have tried most of those I know of, but some do not work
at all, and others provide low quality voice.

Those I tried include:

- SpeakFreely (http://www.speakfreely.org) doesn't work under 
  Linux since the sfmike program bombs out. half Duplex only.

- fphone (http://rodeo.inria.fr). Has a nice interface, but
  the voice is very jittery. Half Duplex only.

- KVirc (http://www.kvirc.org). A super program, but there
  seems to be severe lag of voice (in minutes!!). Half Duplex
  only.

- ephone. Seems to require a fast connection (Ethernet?)

What else is out there?

Thanks, and feel free to edit the message above.
--
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
   
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 17:44:26 -0500
From: "Spencer T. Kittelson" <spencertk@abasys.com>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Mindcraft suggestions

Here's my email to Mindcraft:

-------------------------------------------------------------
Spencer T. Kittelson
VP Systems Engineering
Advanced Business Automation
-------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Mr. Weiner,

There two essentials that are required to perform a reasonable and
useful test of Linux vs. NT:

1) Test using NT Workstation for clients since many business users
   deploy NT on the desktop (they don't like the instability and
   lack of security in Win95/98).  If you want a real test, use
   real configurations.

2) Use absolutely current, state of the art releases, patches, etc.
   The choice of 20-Apr-1999 based upon your unreleased second test
   is an arbitrary date.  It serves no purpose to restrict the 
   software source dates in such a manner.  As a matter of opinion, 
   since the original testing was handled so badly, it looks like 
   you are trying to use a cutoff date to prevent the most recent 
   Linux based performance enhancements from being used.

It is unlikely that Mindcraft (and any of the personnel involved in
the first test) will be able to completely recover their credibility.
Trust and confidence, once shattered, is difficult to restore.  It
remains to be seen if Mindcraft et al. have integrity.  Until then,
all my clients are advised to dismiss any and all Mindcraft "tests"
as cooked, bought and paid for propaganda.
   
Date: Fri, 07 May 1999 17:23:34 -0700
From: Ariel Faigon <ariel@cthulhu.engr.sgi.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: An idea for Mindcraft second chance

While Mike Abbott is working on speeding up Apache (stay tuned)...

Since we are comparing Linux and NT here, why not open the game
and try a truly fast web server like thttpd or even better Zeus on Linux?
Having a lot of prior experience with Apache and Zeus, I suspect this will
put NT and IIS in the right perspective even on a very favorable (to NT)
basic hardware config.  Since according to Jef's graphs at:

  http://www.acme.com/software/thttpd/benchmarks.html

Zeus outperforms Apache by a factor of 3 to 20 depending on load
on static small files, The 3x Mindcraft claim might be solved right there.

--
Peace, Ariel



   
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 01:22:15 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dave Finton <surazal@nerp.net>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Vague feelings of uneasiness with Mindcraft


It didn't surprise me at all that Microsoft, with its vast arsenel of
marketting assault techniques, would do something like fund an
"independent" benchmark study with NT against Linux.  It surprised me even
less that NT "won" in these benchmarks.

At first I wasn't too bothered by all the hubbub, since anyone with half a
brain takes everything Microsoft says these days with a grain of salt (the
much-lauded security rating Microsoft got with NT disconnected from a
network comes to mind :).  What started bothering me, however was the
negative publicity.  Keep in mind I was glad someone out there would care
enough to refute the results rationally and logically.  What bothers me
now is the *amount* of publicity this is getting.

Think about it:  Microsoft's position is pretty sweet right now.  Linux
developers and enthusiasts are arguing with some backwater benchmarking
company, and all of this is very public.  Mindcraft looks bad because
their benchmarking results weren't very credible.  Linux looks bad both by
proxy and by looking like a bunch of guys screaming "No fair!"  Not only
that, but now this study is getting tremendous amounts of publicity that
it probably would not have generated on its own.  And all Microsoft has to
say is "Hey don't look at us, we just hired them."

We've got to be a little bit more careful in choosing the targets that
Linux wants to hit.  Was the Mindcraft test all that dangerous really?
It's hard to say, but now all of the sudden it's clear that the test
now has a lot more potential to do damage to the credibility of Linux and
Open Source in general that it would have had without front-page
feature-length articles on e-zines like Salon.

Linux enthusiasts have always been ready and able to respond to perceived
threats.  But it can be too easy to allow ourselves to jump at every
opportunity for a cause to defend.  The image I have in my mind right now
is a little hamster running in a wheel chasing after a carrot tied to a
string.  The hamster is very determined to continue its existence by
chasing and eating the carrot, but it's completely blind to the cat
stalking up behind it.  Populist movements can be very powerful, but they
can be easily swayed into making rash decisions.  We have to keep that in
mind in the future (and in the present for that matter).

                          - Dave Finton

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

   
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