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Leading items

The Open Source trademark is no more. As communicated in this press release from the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the U.S. Government was unwilling to register "Open Source" as a trademark. Seems that the term was "too descriptive." So no more trademark; anybody who wants to use the term - even Al Gore - may now do so.

Not everybody will lament the passing of this trademark. See, for example, this ZDNet article by Evan Liebovitch: "The term open source is now as free as the software it describes. Actually, it's always been free, but at least the attempt to kidnap it has failed." Indeed, the term is truly free.

But what does "Open Source" mean if anybody can apply it to anything? Not everybody was happy with all of the licenses that got the "Open Source" stamp (see, for example, Bruce Perens's editorial on the topic), but the fact remains that the OSI's control over the term was used numerous times to gain improvements in corporate source licenses. It has been a force for good, but its power is now gone.

The OSI is attempting to come back with a new "OSI Certified" certification mark. This mark, which should be defensible, will be awarded to vendors when their licenses meet the OSI's criteria. Let's hope this program works, and proves popular. There is a good chance that we will soon find ourselves buried in "open source" software that is nothing of the kind. Having a well-respected body setting some standards will help to sort out the real from the pretend, and will put pressure on vendors to come up with good (or at least better) licenses.

Control of the linuxhq.com domain has been transferred to Michael McLagan, the sometimes controversial person behind linux.org and the ill-fated Linux Standards Association. Those who have been following the issue will remember that, until recently, LinuxHQ has been maintained by Jim Pick. Jim's site was abruptly detached from the domain last month; it has found a new home at Kernelnotes.org. Since these events took place, the status of LinuxHQ has been unclear.

Meanwhile, Mr. McLagan had been looking for a way to beef up the kernel content at Linux.org. LinuxHQ thus becomes, for him, a way of adding on to his kernel coverage that brings not only content, but a massive set of links (AltaVista turns up more than 6000) and an established reader base. Picking up the site probably required little thought on his part.

The terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed; Mr. McLagan will only say "I agreed to maintain the site and not to sell it."

What will be done with LinuxHQ now? It will remain as a separate site, though closely tied to Linux.org. There will be a sharing of content that will, according to Mr. McLagan, benefit both sites. An "expansion of coverage of kernel development" is planned for LinuxHQ, with an emphasis on appealing to kernel and application developers.

Thus ends, presumably, a period of significant ugliness. It will be interesting to see where LinuxHQ goes from here, and whether it will be able to hold on to its longstanding crowd of dedicated readers.

VA Linux Systems has hired Jon "Maddog" Hall to work in its marketing group; see their press releasefor a few details. Like Red Hat, VA has, at this point, managed to hire quite a few important Linux players. This accumulation of important talent into a relatively small number of commercial hands may well be a cause for concern for many. The truth of the matter still seems to be, though, that it is a tremendously good thing that the people who have done a lot to insure the success of Linux are able to get jobs working on Linux. We wish Mr. Hall the greatest of success in his new position.

We do hope, however, that the loss of such a strong internal Linux advocate at Compaq will not adversely affect their support for the system.

The Linux Documentation Project has a new leader; it is Guylhem Aznar. Mr. Aznar is a medical student at Purpan University at Toulouse, maintainer of the UUCP, Mail, and French HOWTOs, and a former maintainer of the AfterStep window manager and the xiterm terminal emulator.

Mr. Aznar has set out on an ambitious project to greatly improve the (already great) LDP through a number of initiatives:

  • Setting up maintenance of the documentation to be as automatic as possible.

  • Improving awareness of the LDP. Many people do not even know about the HOWTOs (though how one can get by without the HOWTOs is an interesting question), much less the various books put together by the LDP.

  • Improved cooperation with the LDP translation projects.

  • More authors, and higher-quality documentation. Perhaps even a quality control group.

  • The creation of a short list of LDP-compatible licenses.
It is an ambitious set of goals which, if achieved, will make the LDP's resources available to an ever greater community of Linux users. (One assumes that LWN readers are familiar with the LDP; for those who are not, a trip to the Linux Documentation Project web site would be time well spent).

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

June 17, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.



The theme of the week seems to be small problems, involving information leakage or general sloppiness. Nothing too big or earthshaking - at least for those of us not running Window systems.

Bencsath Boldizsar reported a problem with sudo wherein it will inform a clever user about the existence and permissions of files in a protected directory. Files in the directory remain inaccessible, but it really would be better to not leak the information about them.

Similarly, a problem exists with ssh 2 - its behavior is different depending on whether an account that an intruder attempts to log in to exists or not. Thus it is possible to find out whether a given account exists on a system or not. See the report from Alfonso Lazaro Tellez for details.

Then, there is a logging problem with su on Red Hat systems, and probably any other system which uses PAM. If an su fails due to a bad password, the sequence of operations seems to be:

  1. Tell the user "sorry."
  2. Wait for one second
  3. Log the failure
Thus, there is a one-second window where the failure is known to the user, but not logged. Killing su inside that window will prevent logging from happening. It's not too hard to write a program to brute-force passwords using this problem.

Security Reports

CERT recently issued a security advisory for rpc.statd. Please note that Linux systems generally do not run rpc.statd (and those that do run a newer version), so they should not be impacted by this advisory.

A KMail security problem is addressed by this Caldera advisory, which contains pointers to updated rpms. [Recommended upgrade if you use KMail]

The Debian man-db package is vulnerable to a symlink attack and therefore an updated package has been made available. [Recommended upgrade]


Red Hat has put out updated versions of wu-ftpd and imap. Upgrades are recommended, though the imap patch only fixes a POP-2 problem on Red Hat 4.x and 5.x systems, and thus will not apply unless you are running the older POP-2 server.

Red Hat has also issued updates for the dev, rxvt, and screen packages, fixing a vulnerability there.


Matthew Franz asked us to remind people about his OpenSEC web page. OpenSEC contains a well-organized set of links to open-source-based security tools and a moderated announcement list. A moderated discussion list is also in the works.


SANS Linux security workshop. SANS has issued a call for papers for their "Workshop On Securing Linux," which will be held in San Francisco on December 15 and 16, 1999.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

June 17, 1999

Secure Linux Projects
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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.3.6. This version includes a lot of hardware stuff - I2O support, a new Adaptec driver, SCSI generic changes, USB stuff, IRDA, etc. 2.3.6 seems to be reasonably stable, there have not been too many complaints.

If code that actually works is too boring, you can always get the 2.3.7 patch from the testing directory. But do take note of the "dangerous" in the file name. This patch includes some serious reworking of the page cache writing scheme, with the result that a lot of file systems are broken. 2.3.7 pre1 is known to cause filesystem corruption in some cases; pre2 is out but should be approached with caution. While the real 2.3.7 will not be released until the developers are reasonably convinced that it will not trash filesystems, even hard core bleeding-edge kernel folks may want to approach that release with caution and a good backup in hand.

On the stable side, 2.2.10 has been released, finally. It contains lots of small tweaks, including the patch for the denial of service hole; it also has the new Adaptec driver and a few other larger changes. Alan Cox has immediately started adding on to this release with 2.2.10ac2.

For really stable people, 2.0.37 has been released as well. This should be the last ever 2.0 release, unless some sort of horrific security problem turns up.

Version 0.3 of the USB HOWTO has been released. Anybody who wants to play with the new USB support should have a look at this document. It is also a good overview of the state of USB support at this point.

ACPI support for Linux. ACPI (the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) is a new power management scheme being put together by Intel, Microsoft, and Toshiba; it is supposed to be the successor to the older APM interface. More about ACPI can be found on the ACPI web page. Linux does not yet support ACPI out of the box; there is, however, an active Linux ACPI development projectout there. Their current release can handle powering down the system, and not a whole lot more, but they have a lot of the framework in place. They have a list of projects in need of developers; this could be a good place for aspiring kernel hackers to jump in and help out.

Knfsd 1.4 has been released by H.J. Lu. H.J. (and others) continue the steady process of ironing out problems and creating a stable NFS implementation for Linux 2.2.

The eternal devfs battle. Richard Gooch has announced version 111 of his devfs patch, along with an accompanying devfsd release. Meanwhile, the fight in linux-kernel over whether devfs should be incorporated into the kernel has surfaced yet again. The arguments are mostly the same (is it needed, does it belong in kernel space, ...) and have been reported here before. Certainly anybody less persistent than Mr. Gooch would have given up some time ago.

The real issue is how Linux will deal with a world where devices are far more dynamic, and there are many more of them. Devfs is one approach to this problem. But, given the strength and sources of the objections, it seems unlikely to make it into the kernel in its current form. The ideas worked out there, however, may well eventually become part of a bigger scheme for managing large, changing device pools.

QLinux. Something we missed last week: the QLinux project has released a version of the Linux kernel with a number of quality of service (QOS) enhancements. QLinux can not only provide QOS guarantees for network traffic (a capability the Linux kernel already has), it can apply them to CPU usage and disk scheduling as well. Their current release is based on 2.2.0; they will have one based on 2.2.9 later this summer.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

June 17, 1999

For other kernel news, see:


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See also: last week's Distributions page.


A couple of additional Linux-based router mini-Linux projects (other than the Linux Router Project) were brought to our attention over the past two weeks, including ShareTheNet, Project Ballantain and the planned replacement for Project Ballantain, currently only in screen-shots, Project Freesco.

ShareTheNet, from author John Lombardo, is designed to run on a single floppy and is targeted for the home office market. It is, in fact, a for-sale product intended to be downloaded and used without requiring any knowledge of Linux (just a computer to run it on). It provides basic gateway functionality in a reasonably secure manner. A free version of the product is also downloadable and can be set up easily by anyone already running Linux.

Project Ballantain is concisely described on its web site as a "Single floppy router modem-ethernet, IPmasquerad + diald + dhcpd". Although bug-fix support is still available, it is a closed project, with no on-going development work. Instead, Project Freesco, from the same author, appears to be in the planning stages.

Many thanks to all the people who've been sending me pointers to Linux distributions I was missing on our comprehensive list! Mea culpa that I got behind and didn't get appropriate credit out for entries for the last few weeks. Meanwhile, many thanks to Neal Richter who wins the prize this week for the largest number of reported "new" distributions.


Quake issues with Debian can now be discussed on a new mailing list created just for that purpose.

Green Frog

Described by the developer as a "a small compact Linux Distribution that is made by a Japanese/American High School student with way too much time on his hands", Green Frog Linux is a small, compact distribution intended to be a starting point for people who want to "home-brew" most or all of their Linux distribution. It weighs in at 36MB and comes with Linux 2.2.8+devfs v99, egcs 1.1.2, glibc 2.1, ncurses 4.2 and Perl 5.005.


The first release of LinuxGT server edition has been announced. This is a beta release of this new distribution - nobody should be putting it into production environments at this point. The developers are looking for bug reports and comments, of course.

Note that the download site listed in the announcement has been shutdown in favor of mirror sites. Check nj.greysite.com or metalab instead.


LinuxPPC 5.0 has been released. The new version, now known as LinuxPPC 1999, features a new installer designed for maximum ease of installation (Red Hat's installer is also available), special theme support to let you choose to make your machine look like a MacIntosh, etc., plus glibc2 and more.

Reports cropped up about an AutoStart virus on the R5 CDs. Although confirmed, it seems that the virus is inert, not actually transmissible. For more information, check out the original report and followups at MacInTouch. It was also mention in this article in MacWeek.com about the new release.


The Mandrake 6.0 PowerPack has been announced. It should be in the hands of distributors as we speak. It comes with 5 CDs, the 2.2.9 kernel and more .


News from the MkLinux community was provided to us for the first time in this report from Larry Kollar. Top of the list was a mention of the new mklinux.org website, a community-based alternative to Apple's MkLinux page, which is no longer updated regularly.


The Quad Xeon server now has its own, customized Linux distribution, QuadLinux, based on Red Hat, but with all RPMs compiled for the Xeon processor and SMP utilities and applications included. At $299, it may also be the most expensive Linux distribution out there currently. Of course, compared to the actual price of a Quad Xeon server ...

Red Hat

A collection of bug reports on Red Hat's bugzilla have been wrapped up as a result of their release of a new utempter package. It seems that a bug in utempter caused a number of programs to fail to exit properly when a user logged out, including xterm, rxvt and screen. If you're interested in the details, check out the full Bugzilla report.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

June 17, 1999

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

Known Distributions:
Bastille Linux
Caldera OpenLinux
Conectiva Linux (Brazilian)
Debian GNU/Linux
Definite Linux
e-smith server and gateway
Green Frog Linux
Kha0s Linux
Linux MLD (Japanese)
Linux Router Project
Project Ballantain
PROSA Debian GNU/Linux
Red Hat
Yellow Dog Linux


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See also: last week's Development page.

Development tools


The Linux Java 2 prerelease version 2 was made available on June 4th. Information on this latest prerelease can be found on the JDK 1.2 Status Page. Diffs from the Solaris sources are also available. Rpms for Red Hat users have been created by Sorin Lingureanu. Check his note for more details.

IBM has released a port of Sun's Java Development Kit (JDK 1.1.6) for Linux. It includes IBM's just-in-time compiler technology. From comments on the mailing lists, this port performs better than the blackdown port for some applications.

They have also recently begun releasing a trickle of "AlphaBeans" - Java beans which perform various useful tasks.

Java for Industrial and Embedded Automation is the fullname for the JISA '99 conference, scheduled next week, June 20-23, 1999, in Santa Clara, CA. The press release promises that it will present the "cutting edge of Industrial Java Technology".


Eight new articles are available in the latest edition of Perlmonth, along with two new columns, "When Perl Met Apache" by Stas Bekman and "Perl/TKed Out" by Slaven Rezic.

A quiz for Perl Professionals turned into mirth once Uri Guttman got a hold of it. Here are his answers ... followed by Tom Christianson's correct solution to the problem.


Stackless Python 0.2, a plug-in replacement for the Python core that does not use the C stack, has been announced by Christian Tismer as the best way to prove that it was possible without a major rewrite to the core. Neel Krishnaswami commented to Christian, "This is very neat, and you are completely deranged".

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

June 17, 1999



Development projects


This month's issue of TheGimp.com is now available. The feature article for this month is entitled "Uncasting The Shadows" and talks about how to dodge shadows from underexposed images. Three new quickie tutorials are included as well, along with the regular features. Jason Murray has been chosen Artist of the Month and more information about Jason, plus a shot of his Fractal Dream, are provided in this month's issue.

For more in-depth Gimp development information, you may want to check out the inaugural issue of the Gimp-devel Kernel Cousin. It contains a report from the gimp-devel mailing list for the past week with links to specific messages in the archive.


Havoc Pennington got to us this week's Gnome Summary. It covers a large amount of information, so we'll just mention that they are even looking for a Visual Basic hacker to help and let you dig through the summary to find out why ...


To make administration of large numbers of nodes as easy as that of a single node is the goal of the GNU Administration Project (GAP). It is planned as a CORBA-based, event-trigger system. The web site contains the planned architecture for the system and some basic details, but it is still in the early stage, so no code appears to be available for download and the latest status of the project is not available.


Here is this week's KDE summary sent to us, as usual, by Navindra Umanee.

The KDevelop Team has announced version 0.4 of their KDevelop IDE for Unix Systems. The next time one of your friends moving from that other operating system to Linux asks for a GUI development environment, you can point them this way, at least as long as they want to develop in C++.


The fourth edition of the Midgard Weekly Summary has been released. Key points include the first release of the Midgard FAQ and the latest stable release of Midgard, version 1.0.3. Although called stable, note that it is only available in CVS form because "it contains many troublesome modifications to Midgard's database tables (and so could break many older sites without proper installation)".


PostgreSQL v6.5 has been released. There's lots of new features, including top-quality concurrency control and hot backups.


Development release 990613 has been announced.


Coming up in August, the O'Reilly Open Source Conference will be featuring a couple of Zope-based talks, including "Introduction to the Zope Web Application" on Saturday, August 21st, and "Community: Funding the Perfect Beast ... Venture Capitalism, IP and Open Source", on Monday, August 23rd.

And, with thanks again to Amos Latteier, here is this week's Zope Weekly News.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

A new Kaffe - sponsored by Microsoft. Transvirtual has finally announced a new version of the Kaffe Java virtual machine. The work on Kaffe was partially funded by Microsoft, with the interesting result that Kaffe can run Java code that uses Microsoft's extensions - even on other platforms. (It is not the case, as reported in this confused News.com article, that Kaffe now only runs on Windows). Their licensing claims to be GPL for desktop systems, while use in embedded applications will cost money.

It will be interesting to see how the licensing shakes out. Since there is a GPL version out there, there is little to stop a company from using it - without payment - in their embedded applications. One assumes that the embedded version has some extra goodies that make it work in that environment. That raises the obvious question: how long until somebody releases an embeddable port of the GPL version? The future of Transvirtual's cash flow - and their continued support of Kaffe - could depend on the answer.

Corel claimsthat the first Linux Advisory Council meeting was a great success. "Members discussed a variety of issues, including: the possibility of developing a centralized depository for Linux, giving users one online site for bug fixes, patches, etc.; making Linux training available on the Web; creating a centralized training model for recognized Linux certification; the importance of making Linux available in universities and in elementary and high schools; and the importance of supporting local user groups."

A mobile database for Linux. Sybase has announced the availability of its "SQL Anywhere Studio" mobile database product on Linux.

Dual processors for cheap. The Computer Underground has announced a sub-$1000 dual-CPU Linux system. It is built using overclocked Celeron processors, so it is probably not for everybody. But folks seeking inexpensive SMP may want to check it out.

Applix creates Linux division. Applix has announced the creation of a new Linux division within the company. The division will concentrate on selling products to Linux users; it will also operate a web site that "...will provide an on-line knowledge base for users to search for information associated with Linux and Open Source Software vendors"

Free testing and certification for open source ORB vendors. The Open Group has announced that they will donate up to $1 million in testing and certification services to selected vendors of open source CORBA object request brokers (ORBs). The idea is to get open source products out there in the mainstream with some sort of guaranteed interoperability. The offer does little for most open source ORB projects, though - the Open Group is only interested in vendor-supported products with "legitimate technical support" and other such trappings.

Cheapest distribution CDs? The Linux Mall has sent out an announcement claiming that their distribution CDs, at $1.89 each, are the cheapest available.

Press Releases:

  • Caldera Systems teamed with Unitek to create a Caldera Systems Authorized Education Center in the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. announced Check Point Meta IP(TM) Services for Linux.
  • Enlighten Software Solutions, Inc. announced that it will port the key system administration and event monitoring capabilities of its flagship product EnlightenDSM to Linux.
  • Hewlett-Packard announced that it is stepping up its commitment to provide the growing community of European Internet service providers with Linux-based server solutions.
  • IBM announced a new version of SecureWay On-Demand Server, software that delivers personalized Web applications to users and groups based on individual preferences, access rights and device capabilities, and Linux support.
  • Intuitive Systems, Inc. unveiled Optimizeit for Linux, a complete Java performance tool.
  • PointBase, Inc. announced that two new 100% Pure Java(TM) database products, PointBase Mobile Edition and PointBase Server Edition are compatible with Java(TM) on Red Hat Linux.
  • Sales Vision, Inc. announced the availability of Jsales(TM) on Red Hat(R) Linux 6.0.
  • VA Linux Systems announced the opening of two international offices in Toronto, Canada.
  • VA Linux Systems has been selected by Fortune magazine as one of the top "cool" companies of the year.
  • XML For All, Inc. announced the release of its first product, the XFA Scripting System, a rapid application development system for XML. Microsoft Windows and Linux versions of the XFA Scripting System are free and can be downloaded from http://www.xmlforall.com.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

June 17, 1999


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Linux in the news

Out of this week's recommended reading, two of the articles are about the Mindcraft benchmark rerun. Both brought out interesting things about the Linux community and how it is perceived.
  • Salon Magazine reports on the Mindcraft benchmark rematch. "If there's one thing that the open-source programmers can definitely match Microsoft at, it's in their absolute certainty, at least in public, of their own unassailable rightness. No doubts, no hesitation -- the Linux programmers didn't appear to really care that the numbers that will result from the PCWeek Lab tests will probably show Windows NT in a positive light. That's the present, soon to be the past. The future is theirs."

  • The San Jose Mercury looks at the rerun of the Mindcraft benchmarks. "In fact, the Linux community's response to the original Mindcraft tests had already demonstrated, once again, one of the open-source movement's most valuable assets. When the tests pointed up a genuine flaw in Linux under certain operating circumstances, Linux programmers quickly came up with a fix that is now being tested -- and showed the remarkable speed with which improvements make it into the code."

  • The Red Herring says that Microsoft is in trouble. "In order to turn the Internet into one great Microsoft LAN, the company requires a share of the Internet server market similar to its share of LAN servers. Then Internet developers would write server applications that ran only on Windows, and Web developers would design sites that took advantage of specific features in Windows. But the success of Linux means that this will probably never happen. In Linux, the Internet has found an OS commensurate with its needs."

Linus Torvalds gave a talk in San Francisco that drew a few articles:

  • ZDNet caught Linus's talk to the Bay Area LUG. "Torvalds also predicted that the next version of the Linux kernel would be out by the fall, though he said the date could slip." (Thanks to Cesar A. K. Grossmann).

  • InfoWorld has coverage of Linus Torvalds's BALUG talk. "Torvalds also said he plans shorter intervals between releases of the OS. The release date for Version 2.2, a predecessor to Version 2.4, slipped by a year as the growing popularity of Linux prompted developers to take more time to write code, Torvalds said. 'What happened was people became more careful, he said."

  • Inter@ctive Week also covered the talk. "[Torvalds] declined to predict when changes needed to get Linux more acceptable for the desktop and portable devices could be implemented. 'I'm a really poor planner,' he noted, saying some previous releases have come out as much as a year behind his own expectations."
There is still a trickle of IPO stories coming through:
  • Here's a VAR Business article on Red Hat's IPO. "VARs say Red Hat's IPO increases visibility of Linux and legitimizes the OS in the corporate world, but it won't result in more business. They hope Red Hat uses its new resources to lead the market by improving its software."

  • Here's an article about Red Hat's IPO filing in the (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer. "This passage speaks volumes about Red Hat's unusual burden as it prepares for its Wall Street debut in a couple of months: convincing investors that it has a strong business model based on impressive market share while assuring techies that it's not like 'some companies,' particularly one based in the Pacific Northwest."

  • US News and World Report covers Red Hat's IPO filing. "For most of the 1990s, competing head-on against Microsoft was a singularly stupid thing to do. Entrepreneurs who dared to try were treated like modern-day Don Quixotes begging funds for a windmill-demolition start-up. It wasn't just hard for them to find venture capital financing. It was practically impossible. Now comes Red Hat, a tiny company out of North Carolina with the temerity to put Microsoft and its Windows operating system smack in its cross hairs."

  • Inter@ctive Week looks at Linux-related IPO's. "...the former Pacific HiTech, renamed TurboLinux after its distribution of Linux, said it was keeping its options open as well. TurboLinux already is dominant in Japan, and its operations in Beijing now are up and running and distributed 110,000 copies of Linux in their first two months of operations..."

  • This ZD Net story speculates on the future of Linux IPOs. "Whatever the reasons, one thing is clear. Linux isn't just getting into big business. Linux is becoming big business."
We had just a little bit of negative press this week:
  • Here is an amusing editorial on osOpinion. "The bottom line is that Linux does not have the interface consistency to make it appealing to end users and it uses a software philosophy that makes it a very poor choice for developers. If Linux truly were a good choice for everyone, it would have been popular a long time ago." As always, please try to be polite and professional in any responses to the author.

  • Here's an anti-Linux article in Internet Week. "Linux is a college student's project gone astray. The version that will be supported by Sun Microsystems and IBM on its hardware will fall far short of each of these company's own Unix operating systems in features and capabilities. If you're responsible for operating system selection in your company, be wary of the Linux play." (As always, if you respond to this author, please do so in a polite and well-reasoned way).

Lots of business-related articles, as usual:

  • The Ottawa Citizen reports on Corel's Linux plans. "Although he admits the reality of Linux as a commonly found desktop is as far as four years away, [Corel CEO] Cowpland is confident the growth of the system will continue to accelerate."

  • Sun will be making its Java 2 server platform available to the Apache project under an open source license, according to this Wired News article. "Sun will be releasing the source code to Apache shortly, after the licensing issues are hashed out..."

  • ZDNet's Interactive Investor has an article about VA Linux Systems and the linux.com web site. "VA also announced that Linux.com...received more than 25 million hits and 5 million page views in its first month....The number one Linux.com visitor in the month of May was Microsoft Corporation, with over 15,800 hits in the first two weeks." They also note that VA has hired Jon "Maddog" Hall into its marketing group.

  • Computer Reseller News has an article about the SourceXchange. "Just as every consumer is a potential merchant at [online auction site] eBay, SourceXchange can turn every open-source-code developer into an enterprise software contractor."

  • IT Managers Shouldn't Be Afraid Of Linux says Internet Week. What the article really seems to be about, however, is Linux's firewalling capabilities. "Linux makes a great firewall, especially those boxes built around the new SuSE 6.0 Linux package. This version includes all the firewall tools available in any other Linux distribution, plus they added really useful firewall scripts. So even Linux-challenged network administrators can quickly learn to set up a robust firewall."

  • Inter@ctive Week covers the release of IBM's Java Development Kit for Linux. "The early release Virtual Machine for Linux is based on an outdated version of the Java Development Kit, release 1.1.6. After collecting feedback from developers, IBM plans to release an updated version of the VM for Linux based on JDK 1.2, now popularly known as Java 2."

  • Fortune Magazine has decided that VA Linux Systems is cool. "Last December the company had 17 employees; now it has 132 and has outgrown its office space in Sunnyvale. VA won't disclose its revenues, but Augustin says that sales are doubling every quarter and that he wants to be selling more than $1 billion annually in less than five years." (Found in Slashdot).

  • News.com discovers Compaq's Itsy. "...Linux's presence in the teeny Itsy computer can be seen as a proof point for the Unix-like software. Linux may not be as good as operating systems designed from the ground up to run handheld devices, but does provide a workable alternative--royalty free." (Thanks to Damon Poole).

  • Linux's existential moment in ZDNet looks at when and how corporate CIO types will look at adopting Linux for desktop use. Not quite yet, apparently. "But most IT managers aren't ready to act just yet. The time is not yet right to convert most corporate desktop environments from Windows to Linux. But in due course, the time will come--if the correct events occur."

  • News.com reports on Wyse and its new Linux-based thin client computer. "The product uses a version of Linux based on the Slackware version of the Unix-like operating system..." (Thanks to Neal Richter).

  • For our Swedish-capabile readers: an article in Elektronik i Norden about how the company Axis is using Linux in their server systems. (Thanks to Erik Johansson).

There were just a couple of introductory pieces this week:

  • Here's an introductory article in Computer Telephony. It is not one of the more accurate ones we have seen recently. "Support aside, Linux has other problems that it must surmount if it is to come anywhere near playing a truly leading role as an alternative OS. For starters, it needs to get itself a GUI. Current versions of Linux rely solely on line code, making it somewhat inelegant as a front end - except it seems in Asia, where Linux as a front end has been adopted with gusto." (Thanks to Edmund Grimley Evans).

  • There is a series of articles (in French) in Le Monde Informatique, including an introductory piece and a several-part interview with Linus Torvalds. English text available via Babelfish. (Found in NNL).

And here's the rest of what we came up with:

  • Read about Jon "Maddog" Hall's travels in his July column in Performance Computing. "CeBIT cannot be imagined, only experienced. Huge buildings placed on a fairground, along with the support services (infirmary, laundry, flower shops, post office, banks) needed to support thousands of vendors and hundreds of thousands of attendees.... The booths at CeBIT range from the small pod to the super-large, two-story power booths of companies such as Kodak, Samsung, and others. There is a three-year waiting list for vendors to get space at CeBIT."

  • Eric Raymond is giving a talk at Microsoft on June 21, according to this TechWeb article. "Raymond said he had no idea what Microsoft is hoping to get out of the talk. 'I wish I knew,' Raymond said. He added that he does not think Microsoft has any big open source plans in the near future, despite hints the company has made in the past few months."

  • Justin Maurer interviews Miguel de Icaza, Nat Friedman, and Matt Loper of the GNOME project on Linux.com. "So Microsoft has a number of good ideas that we can build on.... The Internet Explorer web browser, for example, is a paragon of the component model. When you use IE, what you're actually using is about 70 tiny little COM components working together. No matter how ecumenical you are about free software, you can't deny this is a good idea; it makes debugging easier and makes the code more reusable. So there's no reason we shouldn't use this technique in GNOME. And that is our plan with Bonobo."

  • The San Jose Mercury's Dan Gillmor writes about the proposed new software licensing law. "About the only good result I can imagine from this proposal, should it become law, is that it could boost open-source software, a genre in which the programming instructions are available publicly and can be modified by the user. Thumb-screw restrictions on commercial products inevitably would make open source a much more attractive option for businesses and, ultimately, consumers."

  • Apparently the Brazilian magazine Veja has published a brief note claiming that the Brazilian Science and Technology Ministry will be funding a "technology center" to work on Linux development. Many details, including where the center will be, how big it will be, or just what it will work on, are missing. The note (in Portuguese) may be found on the Linux in Brazil site; unfortunately Babelfish chokes on this one. (Thanks to Augusto C. Campos).

  • Wired News goes to Usenix and reports on the state of open source software. "At an annual advanced-computing summit this week in Monterey, California, academics, hackers, geeks, and network administrators shared their growing ardor for collaborative coding, Apple, and basically anything not Microsoft."

  • C|Net has put up a the decade in computing article. It's a typical top-ten list; Linux comes in at number 5. "Although proprietary software may never go away, we're willing to bet that in five years companies will no longer charge for operating systems. And for that we can thank Linux." (Thanks to Benji Selano).

  • Concerns about "profane" comments in the Linux kernel source are not new - see, for example, the October 15, 1998 LWN (scroll to the bottom). This time, though, the discussion warranted an article in Wired News. "Torvalds warned against sanitizing Linux code. He said profane lines only become a problem when they begin to hog too much memory."

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

June 17, 1999


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.



Extreme Linux papers online Last week's Usenix conference included an Extreme Linux (Beowulf clusters and such) workshop. Now, most of the papers and presentations from the workshop are available on the Extreme Linux web site. Check it out for a good view of what is going on in this, well, extreme branch of the Linux community.


Looking for another Linux event this summer? The Ottawa Linux Symposium will be held July 22-24th. Alan Cox will be the primary speaker and Corel and Rebel.com have announced their sponsorship of the event.

Winter Linux World Expo moved. Here is the press release from IDG announcing the change of venue and date for next winter's Linux World Expo. The new event will be held in New York, on February 1-4, 2000. The reason, evidently, is that the event grew too large for the previous venue.

SANS Linux security workshop SANS has issued a call for papers for their "Workshop On Securing Linux," which will be held in San Francisco on December 15 and 16, 1999.

UKUUG Linux conference registration deadline The advance registration deadline for the UKUUG Linux Conference (June 25-26, Birmingham) is this Friday, June 18. Alan Cox has been recently confirmed as a speaker at this event.

Web sites

User Group News

"Serving the community" takes on a new meaning on Bainbridge, Island, a community outside Seattle, Washington where computer equipment donated for auction in order to raise money for charity will now be pre-installed with Linux. For an excellent idea to help charities in your area, check out description of the work being done to support the 38th annual Bainbridge Island Rotary Club Auction/Garage Sale by the Kitsap Peninsula Linux User Group (KPLUG).

A mailing list for discussion of UK LUG organizational issues has been created. According to this note from Kevin Taylor, the list is open to anyone involved in the organization of a UK based user group. For more information, check the Lugmasters Homepage.

June 17, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
AbiWord 0.7.1 Fully featured word processor
Acrobat Reader 4.0 Acrobat reader for linux and other unices
AddLibs.py 0.1 Allows you to create amusing stories using words you enter.
AfterStep 1.7.111 Window manager for the X/Windows environment with NeXT look and feel
AGuide 0.1.19990612 An AmigaGuide clone written in Perl/Tk
AGX-UserProfile 1.4.0 A 'controlpanel' to configure and administer a Linux box.
Apache JServ 1.0 Java servlet engine
apsfilter 5.1.2 Intelligent line printer input filter
asNews 0.2.5 Simple news retrieving software which shows the news on your desktop
aspbm 1.0 AfterStep Phone bill monitor
aumix 1.22 Color text mode sound mixer with GPM support
autorun 2.0 CDROM mounter for beginners and lazy users
BattleChat 0.9 Chat interface for Blizzard's Battle.Net
bawt 0.3.1 A module-based multi-net/chan C bot expandable via perl.
Bind 8.2.1 T6B Berkeley Internet Name Domain
binutils Provides programs to assemble and manipulate binary andobject files.
blink 0.3 a perl script that downloads random jpegs and draws them on your X11 display
boclient 1.3.0-pre BackOrifice and NetBus remote administration client
bookmarker 1.4 WWW based bookmark manager
Cacheability Engine 1.02 CGI/command line script to check Web page cacheability
CCF 990613 Virtual environment for distributed computation
CCFlauncher 990613 Enables remote uses to initiate and join ongoing collaborative sessions
CClinux 1.5 Single floppy linux based on 2.2.x kernels with GNU tools
cd-console 2.1 curses-based cd-player program
CDDBP Proxy 1.3 CDDBP to HTTP proxy.
cdplayer.app 0.4 CD player with CDDB support.
CDR-Toaster 0.99 Tk frontend for cd-burning. Uses mkisofs and cdrecord
cdrecord 1.8a22 Allows the creation of both audio and data CDs
cdrom_speed 2 alpha Small program to select cdrom drive speed
CGI++ 0.7 C++ macro-preprocessor for writing CGI/Database applications
ClanBomber 0.91 Bomberman clone for ClanLib (X11 for now).
ClanLib 0.1.15 The platform independent game SDK.
Coconut Webmail Pro 1.1 Fully featured web based email system
coda 5.2.4 Full featured network filesystem
Code Crusader 2.1.0 complete code development environment, inspired by MetroWerks CodeWarrior
Common UNIX Printing System 1.0b3 Internet Printing System for UNIX
Cooledit 3.11.3 Full featured text editor for the X Window System
ctm 1.2 SNMP interface statistics gatherer
Cuttlefish pushcache 1.0 Push server based on Squid
DAC960 drivers 2.0.1 and 2.2.1 Mylex DAC960 drivers updated!
DECnet for Linux 1.94 DECnet socket layer and applications
DejaSearch 1.4 DejaSearch is a frontend to DejaNews, the leading Usenet archive
dennis 0.09 Automated DNS builder
Diary.py 0.5 Diary is a simple journal program to record daily events, etc.
DND 0.5.1(snap shot) GUI of Molecular Dynamics
Downloader for X 0.97 Downloads files from the Internet via both FTP and HTTP
DreamIrcd 3.2.1 Advanced irc server daemon with lots of enhancements
durep 0.71 Disk Usage Reporter
Dynamic DNS Perl Scripts 0.0.1 A Set of Perl scripts to update a domain using bind8 Dynamic Update Feature
eat 0.1 removes the first X lines from stdin
Edcom Pre v1.0.1 An easy to administer, multiuser, story posting system, written in perl5.
eGTK 0.3.2 Bindings to GTK+ widget toolkit for Eiffel.
Empg123 1.1 Allows you to place playlists and mp3's into your Enlightenment root menu
ext2resize 990615 Resizes ext2 filesystems
Fetchmail 5.0.4 Free, full-featured, robust, well-documented remote-mailretrieval utility
flmake 0.1 Graphical user interface for make , compiler output and nedit
FLTK 1.0.4 C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
FPSE Clone 0.01 Microsoft Frontpage Server Extensions CLONE (non MS)
FreeWRL 0.20.a1 Free VRML browser for Linux
fryit 0.2.1 Graphical frontend for cdrecord.
fsresize 0.08 Resizes FAT16 and FAT32 filesystems
FTP with Source 1.0 The FTP JavaBean Suite implements the FTP protocol.
Gaby 1.9.7 An address book written in GTK
Galway 0.0.17 Guile-gtk HTML Editor
GameStalker Linux 1.02 Quake II/Quake3A Server Browser
Gamora 0.70.0 Java based server construction, hosting, and adminstration architecture.
gatelogin 1.0.0 Allows a user to login to a gateway and select a server behind the firewall
GCD 2.3 A cd-player with a gtk+ interface
Geheimnis 0.56 A KDE shell for GPG/PGP2/PGP5
getset addressbook 1 Easy to use and extendable addressbook (PIM).
gicqd 0.0.93 GNU ICQ-compatible Server
Giram 0.0.18 Giram is a modeller, written in GTK+
Glilo 0.4 GTK+ based lilo frontend
GMasqdialer 0.99.3 Gnome Client for the Masqdialer System
gMetronome 0.1.0 A metronome written with the GTK+ toolkit.
GMyNews 1.0 MyNews Admin utility for GNOME.
GNOME Media Framework 0.1 Framework for multimedia filter networks
gPhoto 0.3.1 GNU Digital Camera download software
GPI 0.2 A user friendly networked database management system generator
Grec 0.1.0 A file manager to X similar to Midnight Commander
Green Box V0.03 Next-generation drum machine
grepmail 3.9 Searches a normal or gzipped mailbox for a given regularexpression
Grip 2.3 A gtk-based frontend for CD-rippers
Gstring 1.0.0 Guitar tuner
Gtk::Dialog Alpha 3 Simple Perl interface to create dialog boxes with Gtk
GTKWave 1.1.28 Wave viewer for Verilog simulation
Guppi 0.9.0 GNOME application for plotting and analyzing data
HTML::Template 0.03 A simple and fast HTML Template module for Perl
htnews 0.6.4 Email robot for adding news items to a webpage.
Hyperplay 1.3.0x.19990613 Multimedia authoring engine
I-Gear 3.0.2 Internet Content Management Software
icewm 0.9.42 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
icmpmonitor 1.0 Multiple host monitoring tool
id3ed 1.8 ID3 tag editor for mp3 files. Interactive and command line modes.
IDS POP 0.9.6 A small, fast, and efficient POP3 server.
Image::Grab 0.9.5 Perl Module to grab images with dynamic URLs from the Internet
IPmeter 0.9b A network usage metering and billing application for IP traffic.
ircII 4.4I
ISC DHCP 3.0 Alpha 19990608 Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Client and Server implementation
jack 1.3.1 A console cd-ripper written in python
JCCSP 0.0.0 A JSP (JavaServerPages) source translator (and soon engine)
jEdit 1.7pre3 Powerful text editor
jmk-x11-fonts 2.1 Jim's character-cell fonts for the X Window System
JX 1.1.23 C++ application framework and GUI widget library for X
k12admin-client 0.3.3 A web-based server administration tool for K-12 school systems (client package).
k12admin-server 0.3.2 A web-based server administration tool for K-12 school systems (server package).
KBiff 2.3.8 New mail notification utility for KDE
KDevelop 0.4 KDevelop is a new C++ development environment for Unix/X11.
kfirewall 0.4.0 GUI for ipchains or ipfwadm
Kiosk 0.3b A WWW Based MySQL database manager
Kover 0.4 An easy to use WYSIWYG cd cover printer for KDE
KPackViewer 0.70 Package viewer to ease package administration
Kppp 1.6.14 KDE dialer and front end for pppd
kvideogen 1.2-1 Modeline generator for XFree86
Kvirus 0.5 A board/puzzle game for the KDE Environment.
K_TAG 0.2 An easy to use KDE based TAG editor for MP3 files.
LCDproc 0.4-pre6 Displays system statistics on an external LCD display
lftp 2.0.0 Sophisticated command line based FTP client
libfax 0.3.7 Library for C programs to easily send faxes using external programs.
libmmoss 2.0 Provides Java sound in Linux version of Netscape Communicator
libradio 0.3.2 A simple, easy to use C library to control FM Tuner cards
Libsigc++ 0.8.1 Callback framework for C++
Licq 0.70e Advanced graphical ICQ clone and more for Unix
Limo 0.2.1 Configurable replacement for ls
LinPopup 1.0.2 Linux port of Winpopup, running over Samba.
Linux JVM 1.1.6 IBM incredibly fast JDK for the Linux platform.
Linuxconf 1.16r1 Sophisticated administrative tool
LinuxGT Server Edition BETA 1.02S Full blown server distribution of Linux
LinuxTaRT 2.50 Feature-rich email signature generator
local_reboot 0.1 A small utility to allow unprivileged users to reboot Solaris workstations
LOMAC 0.1 Low Water-Mark Mandatory Access Control for Linux
LoST 0.9 The LOst Space Tracker
Lynx 2.8.3dev.1 fully-featured, text-based World Wide Web browser
maildrop 0.65 maildrop mail filter/mail delivery agent
MailMan 1.0rc2 Mailing list manager with built in web access
man-pages 1.24 The Linux manpages collection
mars_nwe 0.99.pl17 Martin Stovers Netware Emulator
Masqdialer Server 0.5.2 Protocol compatible replacement for Masqdialer server written in C
memwatch 2.60 Memory leak/corruption detection, ANSI-C source code with test program.
Mesa/Vista Enterprise 3.0 Mesa/Vista is an integrated project data management tool.
MiniMate Administration tool for MiniVend
mmusic 0.9.2 Database Frontend to handle large music collections
Mobitex Radio Modem Driver 2.3 Network driver for Ericsson Mobidems and other MASC-speaking modems
mod_perl 1.20 Brings together the fullpower of Perl and the Apache HTTP server
Moonshine 0.1 An application development environment for Linux.
mpersistd 0.0.2 Client for Masqdialer that will keep link up when other clients are connected.
mpstat 0.0.6 Helps monitoring SMP machines
mrtg 2.7.5 Multi Router Traffic Grapher
mtr 0.39 Network diagnostic tool
Muac 1.1 A fast (n log(n)) algorithm for the 2D KS test
Muddleftpd 1.1 A small, fast configurable ftp server that can run without root.
Multipack 0.7 Python extension modules for data analysis
m_load 0.3 Tool to load and eject multiple CD-ROMs at once
NcFTP 3.0 beta 19 UNIX application program implementing the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
NetFerret 0.1b1 Net Ferret is a web search tool with a self-updating search engine list.
netfilter 0.1.1 New NAT/packet-filtering infrastructure for Linux 2.3.5
Netscape Communicator 4.61 All-in-one browser and communications suite
News Peruser 4.0 beta 30 An offline newsreader for Linux and X11
nget 0.4 auto-resuming command line nntp file grabber
nmsms 0.02 Newmail to sms announcer
ORBit 0.4.90 Thin/fast CORBA ORB
OSE 6.0pl9 C++ class library, build environment and documentation tools.
OSS 3.9.2o Provides sound card drivers for most popular sound cards under Linux
Pam-Mysql 0.2 Pam module for MySQL
Perl PDC 1.0 Perl Project Detour Client
PerlSETI 0.3 GUI front end for the SETI@home client, programmed in Perl. Many Statistics.
pgpenvelope 2.6.1 GPG/PGP5 filter for Pine
PHP3 News Script 1.0 Simple website news script written in PHP3 with MySQL backend.
PHP3 Text Counter 1.0 Website hit counter written in PHP3
POP3 with Source 1.0 POP3 provides diverse applications with the ability to receive e-mails
pop3check 0.30 simple program checks a pop3 server to see if you have new mail
PoPToP v0.9.0 PPTP Server for Linux
PostgreSQL 6.5 Robust, next-generation, Object-Relational DBMS(ORDBMS)
PostgreSQL JDBC Driver 6.5 JDBC driver for the PostgreSQL DBS
ppower 0.1.1 Software for listening to and controlling x10 home automation devices.
Printer Port Programming Tool PPPT 0.3 Printer Port Programming Tool
Printerspy 0.9 Perl/Tk tool to monitor printers via SNMP
privtool 0.90 Beta GT005 Sun mailtool replacement with PGP support
pwcheck 0.7 MySQL password authentication for the Cyrus IMAP server.
PyKstat 0.01 Python interface to Solaris kernel statistics
PySol 2.90 A Python-based Solitaire card game
Python/Tk Empire Interface 990603 Cross Platform Empire GUI Client
QDMerge 0.1 A utility to generate documents from a template and data files.
QpThread Library for C++ 0.7 Thread library for C++ with support for signals, exceptions, timer etc.
Qt 2.00beta2 GUI software toolkit
Quotable Homer quotes 19990615 Homer Simpson quotes for `fortune`
Quotesaq 2.01 A quote script with a web interface for Eggdrop IRC bots
RadioActive 0.5 Radio tuner for X11 and Video4Linux
rc 1.6 The shell from Plan 9 and 10th Edition Unix
RearSite 0.5 Tool for updating personal www pages
Remembrance Agent 2.03 Remembrance Agents are an augmented, associative memory.
retepPDF 1.1 A PDF generator library for Java
ripit 1.4 Front-end for Ripping/Encoding/Tagging MP3s
robomod 0.4.0 Perl sripts(s) to moderate newsgruops; multiple moderators support
RSF-1 1.3.1 High Availability software solution for server pairs
Scene 0.1.3 Inventor and VRML toolkit.
sci 0.3.7 A data entry screen builder which works from ASCII templates
SClient 0.6.0 Mud Client for X windows
ScryMUD 1.9.6 Original MUD Server and Java Client
Setedit 0.4.26 An editor for C/C++ programmers with a nice text interface.
SetiStats 0.1.1 Connects to Seti@Home´s stats page and displays current user count, etc.
SKIRCD 0.4.30 IRC deamon
SNMP with Source 1.0 SNMP provides network management framework for enabling and monitoring a network
SoolooScroopt ALPHA-1-0 A flexible, intelligent MP3 playlist manager
SoundTracker 0.1.6 A music tracker for X / GTK+
Sula Primerix II 0.7.13pre2 Extensible multi-server IRC Client for X
swim 0.3.0 Package administration and research tool for Debian
sXid 4.0.0 All in one suid/sgid monitoring script written in C
Syncal 0.7.3 Syncs an ical calendar with a Palm Pilot DateBookDB
tableau 1.38 Perl CGI program to generate and edit HTML tables based on CSV files.
Tcl-GDBI 990611 Tcl extention for accessing mysql database.
tgif 4.1.16 Vector-based draw tool
The Comic Book Database for Linux 0.7.1 Comics helps you keep track of almost every facet of you comic book collection.
The Linux Driver Development Kit (LDDK ) 0.6 LDDK is a Development Kit for Linux Kernel Driver Modules.
The WESP 1.0pre3 The Wesp is a sniffer which displays the packet data as an HTML page.
tixlpq 0.3.8 Nice GUI for printmanagement
tkMOO-light 0.3.19 Powerful cross-platform chat client.
tksmtp 0.2 A simple SMTP client ONLY, no POP3 or IMAP, written in TCL and TK
tkWorld 1.3.b2 Wes's Own Really Lazy Desktop
tkxanim 0.41 Tcl/Tk front end to xanim
TkZip 1.0.12 X front end to standard archiving/compression programs
tk_Brief 2.8 GUI for writing letters with LaTeX
ToyBoxFDTDbezhig 1.0 A 3D FDTD code that adds a variety of features to ToyFDTD.
Trinux 0.51 2-disk distribution that includes network security tools and runs in RAM
TT-News 0.2 A headline-news ticker for the TT news agency (Swedish)
Turbo Vision (Robert Hoehne port) 1.0.6 Nice and complete console TUI (Text User Interface) for C++
Twisted Reality 1.0.0 PR 2 A fully buzzword-compliant roleplaying system.
txt2pdf 2.1 A very flexible and powerful PERL5 converter from text files to PDF
UCD-SNMP 3.6.2 Various tools relating to the Simple Network Managemnet Protocol
UdmSearch 2.1.pre2 Fast WWW search engine for your site
UESQLC 0.3.0 Universal Embedded SQL Compiler for C++
URBAN 1.5.0 A nice shoot-'em-up game for Linux and DOS, lots of blood and gore.
UW Imap Server 4.6beta Univerity of Washington Imap server
VigMeUp 1.0.0 An alarm program for KDE that plays mp3s to wake you up.
w3m 990609 pager/text-based WWW browser
which 2.6 Show full path of commands
Wine 990613 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
Worm Zone 1.32 Worm Zone is a multi-player worm game with Linux, win32 and DOS ports available.
wxHTML 0.2.3 HTML (and richtext viewer) widget for wxWindows 2
wxWindows/GTK 2.1 beta 6 GTK port of the cross-platform wxWindows C++application framework class library
X-SETI 0.8.1 Tk/Expect frontend for the SETI@home UNIX client
XChangeTitle 1.0 1.0 Change X Titlebar names
Xmms 0.9 X MultiMedia System
Xplanet 0.20 An Xearth wannabe
XScreenSaver 3.14 Modular screen saver and locker for the X WindowSystem
xterm Patch #107 A terminal emulator for the X Window System
ya-wipe 0.58.6 Secure file wiper
yafc 0.4.3 Yet Another FTP Client
ZMech 0.4.01 State machine development tool
Zut 1.4 Easy and fast graphical back-end

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

Yet another portal site may be found at IndexOS. They look at alternative operating systems in general, and Linux in particular. Here, is their Linux page.

Other aspiring portal builders may want to check out the Linux portal mini-HOWTO on Humorix.

The Linux hardware database maintains a list of available hardware, along with ratings of how well each item works with Linux. It seems a bit thin at the moment, but if more people head on over and contribute their experience, it should easily develop into a highly useful resource.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

June 17, 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.
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 1999 22:57:01 -0400
From: William Hoffman <whoffman@nospam.erols.com>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Sadly, you are wrong

about RedHat's $80 price tag. For new users such as myself--sick of MS's
buggy bloatware, actively seeking a _productive_ alternative, ambivalent
in the face of a bewildering variety of near-commodity type Linux
distributions lining MicroCenter store shelves--the issue breaks down
like this:

Slackware: $20; too bad there's no manual
Debian: $30; yeah, right
SuSE: $40; intriguing... but I don't read German
Caldera: $40; boasts an easy install (and with MicroCenter's 30-day
money back guarantee, I can experiment)
Red Hat: $80; compared to the others... pricey

It's immaterial that these impressions are flawed (SuSE's fully
English-language manual is one of the best, though the hard-to-pronounce
name gives newbies a fit). Only propellerheads will appreciate the
support Red Hat has given the Linux community, or care about the
controversies the company's strategies have provoked. To paraphrase an
early 20th-century president of these United States, "What this country
needs is a good $50 operating system." In other words, the future
belongs to Corel, if they know how to take it.

William Hoffman

From: "Greg Mader" <gmader@geoanalytics.com>
To: <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: smbmount woes.
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 09:24:30 -0500


For way too long, smbmount has performed poorly. The Samba team has
washed its hands of it, saying "We are working on smbsh," and
"SMBmount is part of smbfs, not samba."  Well, the corruption problem
in today's Linux Weekly News is the last straw.  The Samba team has
done a marvelous job creating a one way server system. Linux does not
have high quality SMB clients now, and Linux probably will not have
any for some time. I strongly urge the Samba team to "put up or shut
up" on smbsh, or start working on smbfs to become stable, safe, and
full featured. In the mean time, I will suggest Sharity to people who
ask for connectivity from Linux to NT servers, and warn them that in
my experience, SMBmount is a dud.

Greg Mader

Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 18:28:26 +0200
From: Alessandro Muzzetta <muzzetta@geocities.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Danger of software patents in Europe


I'd like to bring to your attention an article by Richard Stallman
warning on the danger of software patents in Europe:


The article may be copied and redistributed verbatim.

Stallman has been notifying European users of the imminent introduction
of software patents in Europe by the European Parliament, before
Summer 1999.
As you probably know already, software patents are considered a 
Bad Thing, especially for the Free/Open Source software community.
The European Union intends to emulate the flawed US patent system.
Thus, software patents that are making life hard for US programmers
today (consider the GIF patent, the RSA patent restricting PGP, etc..)
may find their way into Europe.

There is already a group in France (www.freepatents.org) that is
involved in the fight against software patents.  Similar initiatives
have been instituted in Germany (swpat.ffii.org) and Italy

It seems people are uninformed.  We are desparately trying to raise
awareness on the issue and would appreciate your help in doing so.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Alessandro Muzzetta
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 18:26:47 +0100
From: Richard Kay <Rich_Kay@ect.uce.ac.uk>
To: jp@ncfocus.com, letters@lwn.net
Subject: Look before you leap

Dear Mr Morgenthal,

Concerning your article in Internet Week online this gives the
impression that the silly season has started in earnest this year. 
Have you actually used a recent version of Linux ? Much of the 
positive press this development has been getting has until recently
been due to the very rapid pace of development of this system, based
as it is on open collaboration and peer review - something
the scientific community has found more effective
than the alternatives for many years in other areas. However
more recently this system has been able to stand up to more
serious comparison. This is not to say that Linux is best in
all areas yet. But Sun and IBM know well enough how to read
the writing on the wall and which side their bread is buttered 
as they receive somewhat more revenue from services than sale of 
their own proprietary operating software.

You state:
>Linux is an open-source project; therefore, all changes to the kernel
>are subject to review and approval by a small team that controls
>this portion of the operating system. Companies that add features
>they need, but that are not accepted into the core distribution, may
>find themselves in a redevelopment and retesting cycle every time
>a new version of Linux is released.

Firstly only a few users need changes to the kernel and
those who do are less dependent on the core kernel team if they use
Linux than if they use a system to which they have no direct
access to read and modify the source code. Secondly those who want 
to add features are free to decide their own upgrade cycle and
branch the kernel development if they so wish. I don't imagine for
example that those using Linux for embedded systems will ever want
to incorporate all of the mainstream kernel into their subset/branch 
of it. Forthly the reason there has been so little branching 
(attested by Microsoft's Halloween documents) is testimony to
the success of the core development team in incorporating features
needed by the development/user community. The few who create
and use dependencies through binary-only patches without 
providing access to source code have only themselves to blame
if kernel changes make life slightly more difficult for them. 

The fact that desktop Windows users still outnumber desktop Linux 
users is somewhat irrelevant to those considering 
applications for which Linux is better suited, e.g. web servers
where Linux servers have more web client users now than NT does.

For large SMP systems Solaris and AIX will not dissapear 
overnight - but as has been said before IBM and SUN are not 
supporting Linux for reasons contrary to their own commercial 

On the complexity front, yes there is still a problem with
Linux as it is a fast growing one with NT. But it is better to 
build a complex system upon a sound design than a shaky one.
Also an increasing range of Linux system administration facilities
are being implemented using simple web front ends and 
Windows-style GUIs and Wizards etc. The fact of Linux's
low cost is partly instrumental in its fast growth of use
within my own field of higher education. The inevitable effect of 
this will be to ensure a very rapidly growing stream of people coming 
out of education with the skills needed to administrate, manage
and configure this system.

In light of its success as an Internet/Intranet server platform and
development in other areas and the recognition of their need to support 
this system by IBM, HP, SUN, Oracle, Informix, Dell and Compaq etc, your
calling it a "a college student's project gone astray" is just plain

Hence my question about whether you are writing about something
which you have ever used ? 

Yours Sincerely,
Richard Kay
School of Electronic and Software Engineering,
Faculty of Engineering,
University of Central England
Perry Barr,
Birmingham B42 2SU
Email: Richard.Kay@uce.ac.uk
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Justin King on osOpinion...
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 16:50:15 +0100
From: kevin lyda <kevin@suberic.net>

Just read Justin King's piece on osOpinion.  I hope no one mailed him
to enlighten him; it would be like sending an interior designer into a
black hole to "brighten up the place."

I'd love it if the "Linux is just a craze" crowd would also let us know
what they thought about the net five years ago.  These people wouldn't
get a clue if they were caught in some freak clue blizzard, never mind
a few emails.

Unrelated to Mr. King's article, I'd also like the "Linux thing is just
a new version of ABM" to explain just when they first heard of unix,
and if they're aware that 1969 came just a few years before 1980.  Opinion
pieces are nice, but without any meaningful facts they should be more
accurately labeled as ravings.



Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 16:32:11 -0700 (PDT)
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: *code wars* [Qt reserved words]
From: Leo Razoumov  <lrazoumov@qualcomm.com>

Nathan Myers brought a very valid point of a library design
emphasizing the fact that Qt claims several general-purpose tokens for
Qt library.  I do digital signal processing and telecommunications
software development where 'signal' and 'slot' have their natural
roots and meanings. This is why I do *NOT* use Qt.  By now C++ has
been around for a decade or so and people already worked out simple
rules how to avoid global namespace pollution by prefixing the

String  => RWCString  (Rogue Wave Class String)
Display => XtDisplay  (Xt Intrinsics library function)
signal  => QTsignal   (proposed for Qt library) !!!!

I think it is just a good taste in library design to either use
namespaces as defined in C++ ISO standard or to stick with library
prefixes for a while.  I personally would not complain to type extra
QT in front of everything which comes from their library.

On the other hand the Nathan's appeal to deliberately break Qt based
applications sounds strange (to put it mildly). So far Troll Tech has
been receptive enough to address the needs of Open Source
Community. Also they do not want a negative publicity for their
flagship commercial product when people start questioning the quality
of their library design.  I sincerely beleive that the issue could be
solved in timely manner and without drastic measures like *code-wars*.

-- Leo Razoumov, Ph.D.

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