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Busy times at TurboLinux. Several announcements came out of TurboLinux this week, headed up by the investments made in the company by [TurboLinux logo] Intel, Broadview Associates, and August Capital. Thus far, only one of the investors has gone public with their investment: August announced that its stake is $5.5 million.

What will TurboLinux do with the money? We asked TurboLinux North America Vice President Lonn Johnston that question, and he answered "drink better beer!" Once they have had their fill, however, they expect to have enough left over to deepen their development team, improve their sales and marketing in North America, engage in an aggressive promotion and branding effort, and in general put the infrastructure in place so that they can grow into a bigger company. TurboLinux employs 85 people currently; they expect to double that within four months.

Mr. Johnston hinted that part of that growth will include some high-profile Linux names, but was not able to elaborate.

TurboLinux also expects to grow through acquisitions, but is not talking about that either. They are also, of course, heading toward their first stock offering, but do not expect that to happen this year. When it does, they "definitely" intend to do some sort of community stock offering, though it may look a little different from Red Hat's offering.

LWN asked about TurboLinux's stated plans to overtake other distributors like Caldera Systems and SuSE, and eventually even Red Hat. Mr. Johnston pointed out that there is a lot of interesting Linux activity outside of North America and Europe. Much of that is in Asia, and TurboLinux has a very strong presence there. According to Mr. Johnston, TurboLinux's revenues for the last quarter are "not far behind" Red Hat's. Red Hat may be unmatched in branding, but that does not necessarily translate into overall market share.

Mr. Johnston pointed out in particular the success TurboLinux has had with various bundling deals. One was announced this week: Sanyo Electronics will be deploying 20,000 TurboLinux workstations in medical clinics throughout Japan. There is also evidently a deal that involves 40,000 systems in China. TurboLinux has agreements with two of the largest PC manufacturers in China, and expects to have a very strong presence there.

The Sanyo deal is interesting because it shows Linux displacing a proprietary Unix system (HP-UX) in a mission-critical application. Linux is working its way into areas requiring more trust, and doing well. Mr. Johnston expects to see "many more deals" like that one.

TurboLinux also does not much fear losing its home market in Japan, despite Red Hat's much-publicised entry there. They expect Red Hat to be a serious competitor, but also think that Red Hat will find Japan to be a bigger challenge than expected. TurboLinux has a very strong brand there, as well as a whole set of channel and distribution agreements. They think they can hold on to the market.

On the other hand, TurboLinux has no immediate plans to get into Europe in a serious way. Taking over North America is enough for them to work on for now.

They also do not see any point in trying to get into the Linux portal business, unlike their competitor Red Hat. Mr. Johnston says that model "baffles" him. There are plenty of good sites out there already, and a vendor-supported Linux site will never be seen as truly objective. TurboLinux is sticking with the software business.

Along those lines, expect some big announcements toward the end of the month, when the TurboLinux cluster product launches for real. This product has drawn some criticism over the last few months; parts of it will be proprietary at launch time, and TurboLinux's treatment of the Linux Virtual Server project has raised some eyebrows.

While Red Hat and the Linux Virtual Server project are building high-availability solutions on Wensong Zhang's virtual server patch, TurboLinux abruptly decided to drop Wensong's patch and roll their own. This decision was, according to Mr. Johnston, due to performance problems with the existing code; the new code is claimed to be much faster.

Mr. Johnston claims that the portions of their clustering solution which are currently proprietary will be released under an open source license - after 6-9 months.

Meanwhile, we should expect to see some major corporate customers step forward around the end of October when the cluster product goes out of its beta testing stage. TurboLinux expects clustering to be a highly successful product for them.

It is clear that TurboLinux intends to be a major presence in the Linux landscape, and not just in Japan. It is going to be interesting to watch as this market gets ever more competitive. As Mr. Johnston told us in parting, it's still "the early days of Linux."

(See also: TurboLinux announces Dell is shipping TurboLinux-installed systems in Japan and SMC is bundling TurboLinux Workstation with its network adaptor products).

SCO has taken an equity stake in the Linux Mall. Some details can be found in SCO's announcement. The size [SCO logo] of the investment is not being disclosed, of course, but SCO is treating it like a large deal.

We talked with Mike Foster, SCO's Director of Corporate Communications. Mike tells us that this investment is "just another step in SCO's Linux strategy," which has been ongoing for some time. Mike stresses SCO's membership in Linux international and its release of products like lxrun and OpenSAR as open source as examples of SCO's commitment to Linux and open source.

SCO stresses that it is not "buying" the Linux Mall. No immediate changes are seen in the Linux Mall's web site - it is not a "co-branding" agreement. SCO is making this investment (1) to try to increase its involvement and visibility in the Linux community, and (2) because they expect a direct financial return from it. They say that this is "not the end" of their Linux announcements - in fact, the pace of such announcements is expected to increase.

Mr. Foster claims that SCO feels no threat from Linux - they see UnixWare as a sort of "big brother" to Linux. They see initiatives like the Monterey project as a solid base for the future. He also pointed out SCO's other activities, such as their professional services groups and middleware (like Tarentella) products - SCO is more than just UnixWare.

When asked about the anti-Linux SCO bulletin released recently in Europe, Mr. Foster responded that it had been a mistake, that it did not reflect SCO's thinking toward Linux, and that it had been taken down almost immediately. SCO is extremely bullish about and supportive of Linux and Open Source, he says.

SCO is clearly bullish enough to toss money in the direction of Linux. Their funds (and the participation of Hambrecht & Quist) look almost certain to propel the Linux Mall in the direction of yet another Linux IPO in the near future. Linux is quickly turning into big business.

The Atlanta Linux Showcase is underway as of this writing. LWN editor Liz Coolbaugh is there staffing our booth and reporting on what's going on. Her reports will be available at kiosks on the show floor; we are also running a mirror on the LWN server. That will be the place to go to get the latest from the conference. [Cool penguin example]

Awash in penguins. The LWN Linux Penguin Gallery was announced last week. Since then, numerous people have written in with additional penguin sightings. The gallery now contains over 160 unique Linux penguins. While there are quite a few "Tux with a hat" varieties, there are also many of them that are truly imaginative. Thanks to all of you who have helped us to build this collection.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Stackguarded Red Hat, OpenSSH 1.0, ...
  • Kernel: devfs and the larger problems with Linux devices
  • Distributions: Looking at Corel Linux Beta, Commercial Debian
  • Development: The Dents DNS server, Bruce 2.0, GNQS: a fifteen-year free software success story.
  • Commerce: a detailed look at VA Linux Systems' IPO filing
  • Back page: Linux links of the week, letters to the editor.
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

October 14, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.


News and editorials

StackGuarded Red Hat Linux 5.2. Immunix, a distribution built with the StackGuard compiler, has been in the works for some time now. For sites that wish to protect themselves not only against buffer overflows that have been found so far, but also ones that have not yet been found or reported, Immunix may be one of the options you'll want to consider. It also makes a proving ground for the concept for secured Linux distributions, though comments from those projects have not yet been seen.

The existence of OpenSSH-1.0 has been confirmed. We mentioned last week that we had heard OpenBSD had picked up the source for ssh 1.1.12, which was released under a DFSG-approved license. (Debian Free Software Guidelines).Louis Bertrand dropped us this note to confirm this information. "Yes, the rumour is true. OpenBSD will ship with a free implementation of SSH based on 1.2.12. We'll bring it up to present standards, of course (security fixes and functionality)". Many thanks go to them for this effort, which will benefit the entire free and open source community. This is a great case study of how a free license continues to benefit people. Once a product is free, even if the original author adds to and tries to restrict future versions, the choice can be made to support the free option instead, as OpenBSD has now done. This version will interact with existing ssh 1.X servers, without any potential licensing problems. Of course, work will have to continue on free software to support the ssh 2.0 protocols.

PC Week summarizes 'HackPCWeek' episode. PC Week has posted a summary of what happened when they put up their hacking challenge. It includes at least one ridiculous claim: "While any operating system needs patches and updates, there is no central repository for testing or approving patches to the Linux system. Kernel patches can be obtained from a verified source such as kernel.org, but most other components have no central infrastructure." Red Hat (the distribution they were running) has a very nice central infrastructure for all of the security fixes that need to be applied. They simply blew it by not applying the available fixes.

As before, the announcement of lifted restrictions on cryptography by the U.S administration addressed only commercial issues, leaving out the issue of the export of the actual source code. Here is a repost of a New York Time article on the issue. "The exclusion of source code from the relaxed rules, recently announced by the Clinton administration, threatens to constrain software developed under the so-called open-source model, most notably the Linux operating system." This continuing "oversight" leaves legislation or court action as the only way to address the current cryptographic problems. On a side note, the change in cryptography rules has been linked to Al Gore's presidential campaign. Maybe some letters to the gentleman could suggest that including open source in such restrictions would be an excellent way to raise the estimation of his technical understanding among a large and extremely vocal community ...

Security Reports

A problem has been reported with PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) which could, in some situations, allows users into a locked account. Apparently it only happens when NIS is being used. Thus far we have seen updates come in from Red Hat, Yellow Dog Linux, and LinuxPPC.

A correction to our comments on KDE and kvt last week. Duncan Haldane, who manages the packaging of KDE at ftp.kde.org for the "rh5x" series of KDE rpm packages (for Red Hat 5.x systems) sent us a note which kindly corrected our comment that kvt had been removed from KDE 1.1.2. "kvt is in fact included in the KDE-1.1.2 release, but the reported buffer overflow was fixed in the kvt v. included in that release. If you are using kvt-0.18.7, or earlier, from a previous release, you should either:

  • (a) remove that kvt,
  • (b) apply a security update appropriate for your distribution, or
  • (c) upgrade to KDE-1.1.2. "

Red Hat 6.1 contains two security issues, with the way it handles the startup of Xsessions and with properly implementing the PAM policy for /etc/nologin. The latter can be fixed quite easily by an administrator. The former could allow local implementations of account security to be bypassed. No package updates have been seen as of yet.

Auto_FTP security considerations. An advisory was posted to Bugtraq this week for the Auto_FTP.pl v0.2 perl script. Auto_FTP is used in a push system to automatically ftp files from a local directory to a remote site. Unfortunately, security issues did not seem to be highly prioritized in the design. If you are using Auto_RPM, you will want to read this advisory and think about the ramifications for your site.

Rpmmail 1.4 has been released, with bugfixes to resolve recently reported vulnerabilities that could lead to root exploits. If you are using rpmmail, you will want to upgrade.

On the commercial side: Hybrid Network's Cable Modems apparently contain long-standing security problems. Check out this thread on Bugtraq for more details. Meanwhile, you may want to leave Hybrid off your shopping list until they become more responsive to security issues.

And the Webtrends Server, for both Solaris and Linux, has some serious security issues, including one that could allow root access. A response from WebTrends has not yet been seen.


Another new Netscape package from Red Hat. Red Hat has announced another updated Netscape package. The previous one had a bit of a problem.


Doobee. R. Tzeck has written a document describing several ways to encrypt disks under Linux.


The 6th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security will be held November 1st through the 4th in Singapore. For more information, check out the Conference Home Page. In addition, a recent update mentions that a "Rump" session has been added, with informal presentations with "recent results, work in progress, and other topics of interest to the research community".

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

October 14, 1999

Secure Linux Projects
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Distribution-specific links
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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel is 2.3.21. Recent patchs include a tremendous number of fixes, and a reorganization of the network driver source tree. No announcements have come with these releases.

Stable kernel 2.2.13 still has not been released, but we are getting closer. Alan Cox has released 2.2.13pre17which contains some last-minute fixes. If all is well after a week of testing, it will go off to Linus.

Full scale devfs flame war continues to rage in linux-kernel. Most of the discussion is not particularly rewarding to read, but at the base of it all there are, in fact, some real problems with Linux device management that need to be addressed. These include:

  • Devices are increasingly dynamic. They can come and go at the user's whim, and they can reappear in different places each time. The old Unix device model assumes that things do not move around; thus the static set of device nodes in /dev that (normally) do not change.

  • The major/minor device number space is being exhausted. Major numbers, remember, correspond to device drivers; minor numbers are interpreted by the drivers themselves and usually correspond in some way to physical devices. Linux currently only allows eight bits each for the major and minor numbers.

    The device number space has already been strained by systems running large numbers of SCSI disks. USB systems can conceivably (and realistically) have hundreds of identical devices. The device numbers simply do not exist to support that sort of configuration.

  • /dev is a cluttered mess. Most distributions ship /dev with every device node that the system might have to use. The result is often 2000 entries or more, almost all of which correspond to no devices actually present on the system. In the future, as the number of possible devices explodes, the size of /dev can be expected to increase tremendously.

    A device directory that large presents a number of management problems. There is also a large set of users who find it simply annoying; they want to see in /dev only devices which actually exist on their computers.

Devfs is being put forward by its supporters as a solution to all of the above problems. It does indeed address all of them. It implements a dynamic device directory that can change along with the physical configuration of the system. It does away with major and minor device numbers, eliminating that problem for the most part (it still crops up in places). And the devices directory created by devfs contains only devices which truly exist on the system, and thus lacks clutter.

Devfs opponents claim that it is the wrong solution to the problem. It tries to solve several problems at once, instead of attacking each one separately. The way devfs handles persistence of device permissions (by running tar at shutdown time) bothers some people. Many see the kernel space filesystem as being unnecessary. Some have criticised how it interfaces with the Linux VFS layer, suggesting that it will create problems in the future.

Regardless of one's individual opinion on devfs, it seems unlikely to get into 2.4 at this point. The feature freeze is in effect, and there is simply too much opposition to it.

So how will the problems get solved? This discussion began, a while back, as an attempt to figure out how to handle numbering for USB devices. That problem has to be solved for 2.4 if that kernel is to ship with a working USB implementation. The following is speculation, based on a reading of the debate and a general sense of how the wind is blowing:

  • Device numbers will go from 16 to 32 bits, with perhaps ten bits for the major number, and 22 for the minor number. Making the device type any larger than 32 bits invites problems with NFS. On the user space side, this change should be relatively easy - glibc has been using a 64-bit device type for a while. But it is still a big change, and probably will not happen for 2.4.

  • There appears to be consensus that some sort of user-space daemon process is required to perform dynamic device management. Devfs provides one such daemon, but many people think it can happen without the devfs kernel code. All that is really needed is a mechanism by which a user-space process can be informed when the system's hardware configuration changes. The process can then play with device nodes, and implement whatever local policy (device permissions, names, processes to start, modules to load, etc.) that the administrators have set up. This sort of "devd" (H. Peter Anvin's term) process would be a relatively lightweight and flexible solution to the problem.

  • One or more major device numbers will be assigned to USB devices in general. Minor numbers will be handed out dynamically in response to USB events, with the user space daemon process expected to create and remove actual device files in response.
Such a solution appears workable, and requires little in the way of major kernel changes. A resolution (for 2.4) along these lines would not be surprising.

(See also: the devfs FAQ). Also, in the middle of all this, Richard Gooch released devfs v123.

knfsd patches. H.J. Lu has been making a lot of changes with his more recent patches to the kernel NFS server. The result has been a temporary loss of stability. Thus, H.J. cautions that version 1.4.7 of his NFS patch should be regarded as the production version; the 1.5.x versions are developmental.

Clarification on recent TCP vulnerabilities. There was a fair amount of confusion last week over just where the vulnerabilities in the TCP stack lay, whether predictable IP ident numbers were a vulnerability, and so on. LWN got more confused than many, unfortunately. Paul Rusty Russell sent in this note clarifying the problems with the TCP stack, for which we thank him. Meanwhile Andrey Savochkin has come to the conclusion that predictable IP idents are not as big a problem as he had thought...

Other patches and updates released this week include:

  • PPSkit 0.8.0 by Ulrich Windl.

  • Keith Owens released several versions of the modutils package, culminating in modutils-2.3.5. Among other things, these releases change the default configuration file to /etc/modules.conf, but will read the old conf.modules files (with a complaint) for some time.

  • Trond Myklebust announced a port of the NFSv3 client implementation to 2.3.21.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

October 14, 1999

For other kernel news, see:


 Main page
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See also: last week's Distributions page.


Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.

Corel Linux

Exploring Corel Linux's beta distribution. LWN got a chance to play around with the Corel Linux beta distribution. Please have a look at our writeup for a look at what Corel is doing. There's some interesting stuff in there.

Debian GNU/Linux

Commercial Debian product to launch. The Debian project has announced that a packaged version of the Debian distribution, bundled with O'Reilly's "Learning Debian GNU/Linux" book, will be made available for $19.95 in retail stores. This activity is being sponsored by VA Linux Systems, O'Reilly, and SGI.

The New York Times covered the new commercial Debian distribution. "Corporate customers, in particular, often prefer commercial versions of free software, so they get written documentation explaining the software and are assured of technical support if they have problems." Note that the New York Times is a registration-required site; the article may also be read without registration via the San Jose Mercury. (Thanks to Richard Storey).

And News.com's take on the new commercial Debian distribution came out as well. "The companies won't be taking over the Debian version, Biles added. 'We're not going to change the way it works or change the organization,' he said. 'All we're trying to do is expand their demographic'--in other words, make Debian appealing to more people."

Debian Activity at the Pluto Meeting 1999, held September 24th and 25th in Padova, Italy, was strong, as evidenced by this report on activity in the Debian group, sponsored by Prosa.

Definite Linux

ZDnet UK responded to the recent Linux Expo UK with a short article on Definite Linux, the 100% Red Hat-compatible Linux distribution built in the UK and fully-supported within the UK. Official Definite Linux PCs, with Definite Linux pre-installed, are apparently in the works, but not yet announced.


October KRUD available. The October release of KRUD (Kevin's RedHat Uber Distribution) is available. KRUD is a value-added version of the Red Hat distribution with fixes applied and a number of goodies added, particularly cryptographic goodies. It is only legal for download within the United States.


MandrakeSoft announces the availability of Linux-Mandrake 6.1 PowerPack.

Corporate Mandrake. MandrakeSoft is maintaining a web page showcasing businesses using their distribution. They are looking for more cases to add to this list; if your business uses Linux-Mandrake, please consider submitting it for this page.


LinuxPPC now offering Loki games. LinuxPPC announces that it is now carrying a set of Linux games ported by Loki Entertainment Software. "LinuxPPC president Jeff Carr was unavailable for comment, as he was last seen in 520 A.D. saying something about barbarian and gates."

Red Hat Linux

The output from tcpdump was changed with the release of Red Hat 6.1. This could cause some difficulties for programs that use tcpdump and process its output. No option for backwards compatibility seems to exist and the output from "tcpdump --version" still produces "3.4", the same version number as before. You may want to save around a copy of your tcpdump binary from Red Hat 6.0 before upgrading.

GPG support in Red Hat 6.1 is strong (GPG being GnuPG - GNU's replacement for PGP), according to this note posted by Matt Wilson. "So now, for the good news. Beginning with Red Hat Linux 6.1, all our packages are GPG signed. Red Hat Linux purchased in the US includes GPG, mutt with GPG hooks, a GUI frontend to GPG (called gpgp), and the 128 bit crypto version of Netscape Communicator." That is, indeed, very good news... except for the corollary, that Red Hat 6.1 outside the US will not have GPG and will be stuck with 40bit Netscape. That's got to hurt, especially with competition from distributions outside US that aren't hampered by such restrictions.

At least one bug in the Red Hat 6.1 installer has been reported, confirmed and updated boot disks are likely to come out soon.

Some impressions of Red Hat 6.1 can be found on linux.netnerve.com.

Slackware Linux

Slackware 6.0.1 beta was released on Sunday, October 10th. Activity just prior to the release included some work on DHCP support and updates to all the documentation. After the release of the beta, work has focused more on bug fixes and installation support. Time to hammer on the new product if you'd like to help them get a good, stable release out there in the near future.

SuSE Linux

A patch for 4GB support under SuSE 6.2 is available, though reportedly a bit hard to find on the site.

A preliminary version of the hardware probing library that SuSE is developing for their "new installation program" has been made available and everyone is encouraged to test it on as many different types of hardware as possible.


WinLinux most popular on Download.com proclaims this press release. "The final beta version of WinLinux 2000 reached the 20,000 downloads mark on October 10 through CNET Download.com." This is an impressive rate of downloads for a beta product, though the marketing hype that this is twice the number of downloads of any other Linux distribution on the site should be taken with this grain of salt: Download.com isn't exactly the best known site for downloading Linux. We wish them luck, though. Addressing the needs of people currently on Windows platforms that wish to come over, but aren't technically proficient, is a task that deserves to be done well.

Yellow Dog Linux

Chien jaune? Linux-France has put up a document (in French) describing how to install and set up Yellow Dog Linux on a PowerPC Macintosh system.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

October 14, 1999

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

Lists of Distributions
Woven Goods
Known Distributions:
Armed Linux
Bad Penguin Linux
Bastille Linux
Best Linux (Finnish/Swedish)
Black Cat Linux (Ukrainian/Russian)
Caldera OpenLinux
Chinese Linux Extension
Complete Linux
Conectiva Linux (Brazilian)
Debian GNU/Linux
Definite Linux
Eridani Star System
Eonova Linux
e-smith server and gateway
Eurielec Linux (Spanish)
eXecutive Linux
Green Frog Linux
Hard Hat Linux
Kha0s Linux
Linux Cyrillic Edition
Linux-Kheops (French)
Linux MLD (Japanese)
LinuxOne OS
LinuxPPP (Mexican)
Linux Pro Plus
Linux Router Project
nanoLinux II
NoMad Linux
Peanut Linux
Plamo Linux
Project Ballantain
Red Hat
Rock Linux
Small Linux
Storm Linux
Vine Linux
WinLinux 2000
Yellow Dog Linux


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See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects

Dents DNS development described. Todd Lewis has submitted to us an article describing the Dents project. Dents is developing a new DNS server, an alternative to bind. There is some interesting potential here. "Remember when CGI was born and the web went from a gopher-knock-off to a wonderful expanse of dynamic content? We hope to unleash a similar storm of creativity in the DNS space." Worth a read.

Bruce 2.0 announced. Bruce Perens announces Bruce 2.0. The 2.0 version remains vaporware at the moment, however; the expected release date is April 21. "It is a mixed marriage: Valerie is a Windows user, and of course Bruce uses Linux, but Valerie supports raising the child as a Linux user."

A look at GNQS. Stuart Herbert writes to us about the GNQS project, which maintains the NQS batch processing system (which is GPL'd). Stuart has now been maintaining this code now for five years, but its roots go back to 1985. Stuart's note is worth a read - it is an interesting look at a successful development project, and heads off into some thoughts on how more such projects could be supported in the future.


Ganymede 0.99.7 is out. See the announcement for the latest on this network directory service project.


The Hunt for Gnome October! Actually, we don't know if there really was a hunt. However, Gnome October, also known as Gnome 1.0.53., is now out there and promises a higher level of stability (for "worry-free" computing), new features and a new, streamlined reporting system. This is the first full release of all the Gnome packages since 1.0 and apparently an upgrade is "highly recommended", at least according to this week's Gnome Summary.

Generally, the news from this week's summary is very positive, with some glowing reports on Gnumeric (time to check it out!), upcoming plans for tightly integrated groupware and news of Gnome's libglade and libxml Loki's installer.

High Availability

Heartbeat 0.4.5 has been released, see the announcement for details. It includes strong authentication; also: "Fixed the only known bug of any significance, and a couple of others never reported for good measure."


KDE Developer Conference reports. Here's a brief report in the KDE Forum from the KDE Developer Conference. (Thanks to "Avus").

See also this report by Kurt Granroth from the KDE Developers' Conference, published in LinuxToday.

KDE Magellan mail client. From the KDE Forum: this description of the fancy new mail client for KDE: Magellan. It looks like an advanced application. (Thanks to "Avus").


Mozilla release M10 has been announced. The Mozilla team continues to make progress toward having a fully functional open source browser. A look at the release notes shows quite a few issues yet, but it appears to be getting closer to the point where ordinary people would want to use it.


Version 2.6 of the Ted rich text processor has been released


According to this week's Wine Weekly News things have been pretty quiet in the Wine camp - no CVS commits were made. The newsletter itself mostly looks at Microsoft's problems...that and printers.


A new issue of the Chopping Block, a Worldforge magazine with feature articles and columns, is now on-line. Worldforge is a project that is developing "a complete system for massively multiplayer online roleplaying games."

In this issue, Oliver White takes a look at the application of Artificial Intelligence to Worldforge, a prize tournament concept is discussed as a potential business model and James Turner takes a look at 2D and 3D interoperability, to name a few of the features.


Here is this week's Zope report from Amos Latteier.

Zope and Site Server compared Chris McDonough posted a paper comparing his experiences with Zope and Microsoft Site Server. Zope "wins" on installation and application development, while Site Server wins on out of the box functionality and documentation.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

October 14, 1999

Project Links
High Availability

More Information



Development tools


More Fortran tools for Linux on the PowerPC platform? Absoft wants to know if people are interested in seeing their toolsets, currently available for Linux on the x86 architecture, made available for LinuxPPC, a distribution which runs on the PowerPC platform. If you would consider buying such a product, please let them know


Linux JVM benchmarks. Raja Vallee-Rai from Sable Research Group posted the results and then some followup clarifications.

TYA news. Albrecht Kleine posted some news about TYA. Apparently efforts are going well to make TYA more available in Europe, a new site in the Czech Republic is on the way and class resolving in TYA1.5 has been modified to be more like pure JVM.

A new TYA mirror in Germany is being provided by Willi Richert. Check his posting for more information.


Taking the open road (Vancouver Sun). The Vancouver Sun writes about Activestate Tool Corp., the company that ported Perl to Windows. "If Linux can go from being an operating system only a techie could love to a computing phenomenon, then Perl -- a scripting language with awesome descriptive abilities -- might become the next open-source breakthrough into public consciousness." (Thanks to Phil Austin).


Perl and Python folks both may want to have a look at What's wrong with Perl by Lars Marius Garshol. It indeed looks at the author's disagreements with Perl, but it also contains a lengthy section about Python as well.

Guido van Rossum interviewed. O'Reilly has an interview with Python creator Guido van Rossum. "Well, Python takes programming seriously. Python takes programming as seriously as C or Java or C++. My own use of Python is as a real programming language and not as a tool to write quick, throwaway scripts. For the most part, anyway."

Dr. Dobbs' Python-URL! for October 11th is available.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

VA Linux Systems filed for its Initial Public Offering, finally. They seek to get some $70 million from the offering, which is being underwritten by Credit Suisse First Boston and others. People interested [VA Logo] in details and who are gluttons for punishment in general are invited to slog through VA's S-1 filing but be warned that it is not light reading. For the rest of you, here's a few highlights...

For the last fiscal year, VA Linux managed to lose $14.5 million on $17.7 million in revenues. The loss is mostly attributed to their aggressive expansion efforts over the last year. And it has indeed been quite an expansion: despite having been formed in 1995, VA only had 15 employees in July, 1998. In July 1999, they were up to 153 employees.

What are those employees doing? They have 29 people in research and development, 66 in sales and marketing, 10 in customer and professional service, and 48 in administration, finance, and operations. For its development staff, VA has been aggressively hiring high-profile Linux names for a while. The S-1 filing gives a current list of who they are: Ted T'so, San Mehat, Leonard Zubkoff, Walt Drummond, H.J. Lu, Mark Vojkovich, Brad Grantham, Geoff "Mandrake" Harrison, Carsten Haitzler (aka "Rasterman"), Michael Jennings, Chip Salzenberg, Sean Perry, Joey Hess, and Jon "maddog" Hall. Their associated projects include kernel development, XFree86, Enlightenment, cluster management, Perl, and Debian.

VA's business is currently 85% servers. Their strategy reflects this in general - it is very much oriented toward business, rather than home, customers. They have an impressive list of business customers, including Akamai Technologies, Argonne National Lab, Cisco Systems, CNET, EMC, eToys, France Telecom, GTE, Linuxcare, Lucent, MIT, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Sandia National Laboratories, Tucows.com, and 24/7 Media. They have more than 50 customers who spent more than $50K in fiscal year 1999.

VA's business plan remains very firmly tied to hardware sales and services associated with the use of that hardware. They stress the importance of their web sites in a couple of ways: (1) over 80% of their sales go through their web site, and (2) sites like Linux.com and themes.org are an important part of their branding strategy. But they seem to have no ambitions to make their living through a portal site strategy - the web sites are there to support the primary business.

Branding is important to them. They see their competitors as being companies like Dell, Gateway, HP, Sun, Compaq, etc. One senses a certain feeling of "brand inadequacy" compared to those names. Thus they plan to continue to promote themselves hard to build up a well-known brand.

They give the usual set of risk factors. One of them is the current set of inadequacies in the Linux system:

Because the Linux operating system currently lacks some functionalities, we cannot sell our systems in markets which require those software capabilities. For example, Linux cannot support some database applications which precludes our selling our products to entities which require those types of database applications. If these efforts to expand the functionality of the Linux operating system are not successful on a timely basis, our ability to continue to grow our business will be impeded.

Other risk factors include that they expect to run losses for "the foreseeable future," that Linux could suffer fragmentation, possible problems enforcing the GPL, that they have no control over the Linux trademark, and that the barriers to entry in their business are low.

What will they do with the money? The filing is pretty vague:

We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering primarily for working capital and general corporate purposes, including the expansion of our sales and marketing efforts and our professional services organization, as well as for capital expenditures.
The possibility of acquiring other companies is also mentioned, though they state that there are currently no such plans or negotiations in progress.

So who owns VA? The big owners, according to the filing, are:

Larry Augustin19.4%
Douglas Leone (Sequoia)25.1%
John T. Hall8.6%
Leonard Zubkoff7.0%

A number of people hold substantial (but smaller) shares.

In the end, VA's approach to the field can be summarized by a couple more quotes from the filing:

We believe that open source solutions will continue to gain market acceptance as the limitations of more expensive and less customizable proprietary applications become more pronounced.
We believe successful Linux vendors must combine in-depth knowledge of Linux and other open source software with system design expertise and close ties with the open source developer community in order to maximize the benefits of Linux for customers.
VA Linux Systems has come a long way in a short time; clearly they intend to continue on that path.

TAO CORBA ORB released Object Computing Inc. has announced the availability of its TAO product. TAO is an open source object request broker (ORB) compliant with CORBA 2.2. It is specialized toward real-time and high-performance applications. Commercial support services are available.

Press Releases:

    Products for Linux:

  • Amdahl announced support for its storage products attached to TeamServer systems running Linux.

  • Belkin Components announced it has received certification and technical recognition of its line of keyboard/video/mouse switches, which have met and exceeded stringent Linux-compatibility testing.

  • BuyPogo.com announced the availability of Linux-installed systems using the AMD Athlon processor.

  • Coriolis announced that the book, "Under The Radar: How Red Hat Changed the Software Business -- and Took Microsoft by Surprise" by Robert Young, is now available.

  • EMJ released their version of embedded Linux.

  • Mission Critical Linux announced the first of its "three foundation tools" for mission-critical systems - a kernel crash analyzer.

  • OMNIS announced the availability of OMNIS Studio for Linux.

  • Penguin Computing announced a new Athlon-based cluster system designed for high-availability web serving applications.

  • Penguin Computing has also announced an Athlon-based system intended for gaming applications.

  • SSH Communications Security announced version 3.0 of its "IPSEC Express" product. This version adds Linux support - Red Hat 6.0 and SuSE 6.2 are listed.

  • VMWare 1.1 for Linux is now available.

  • WinLinux claims to be the most popular Linux system on Download.com, with 20,000 downloads in the first five days.

    Products with Linux support or Linux versions:

  • Activision and Loki Entertainment Software announced that the games "Heretic II" and "Heavy Gear II" will be ported to Linux.

  • Addonics Technologies Inc. announced the NetCD 2000, a compact plug-and-play, multi-protocol CD/DVD server.

  • Andover.Net announced GIFWorks 3.0, a free online application that allows Web builders to select, process and create animations online with a standard Web browser.

  • BEA Systems, Inc. released BEA WebLogic Server 4.5.

  • Breakaway Solutions, Inc. announced that it has been selected by Sun Microsystems to host and distribute Sun's new StarOffice suite of office productivity tools.

  • dotNow! announced the addition of free Web site hosting and free Web-based email services plus the debut of My dotNow!

  • Easy Software Products announced the first production release of ESP Print Pro.

  • IntraACTIVE, Inc. announced the beta release of their Banter MultiNetwork Instant Messenger.

  • Lucent Technologies announced the OptiStar product line of network and storage adapter cards and software that can handle and accelerate the flow of information from a server's hard drive to the end user.

  • Mortgage Builder Software, Inc. announced the laptop version of its loan origination system, Mortgage Builder.

  • OpenNetwork Technologies announced the release of an extended suite of companion products of DirectorySmart.

  • Oracle Corp. announced that with the immediate availability of Oracle Application Server 4.0.8., it is also launching a sales promotion aimed at former NetDynamics, Netscape and Forte application server customers. They say that in recent months the Oracle Application Server has been one of their most popular products, and nearly 2/3 of the downloads have been for the Linux version.

  • PK Electronics announced UPS Management Software (UPS-MS), a new UPS software package that is both multi-operating system and cross-platform.

  • Quicknet Technologies, Inc. announced the Internet PhoneCARD.

  • RSA Security Inc. enhanced its RSA BSAFE product line with RSA BSAFE Crypto-Ci, a cryptographic software development kit (SDK) available for use by developers worldwide.

  • SFUS Inc. announced the North American release of Germany-based, SFS SOFTWARE'S SITEFORUM WebServer.

  • Tatung Science & Technology Inc. announced the COMPstation U10-440R2U, which comes pre-installed with Solaris 7, but it also provides support for Linux.

  • UniTrends Software Corp. announced Backup Professional 1.2y, a complete enterprise-wide network backup and recovery solution. It backs up all the PCs on a network and is perfect for installations with a Linux server and Windows PCs.


  • Ariel Corp. announced it has joined Motorola Computer Group's Embedded Connections Partner Program.

  • BusinessNet Holdings Corp. announced the acquisition of an equity stake in LinuxLab Inc., the producer of a Linux-based web server.

  • Cobalt Networks Inc., maker of Linux servers, made a deal with Gateway Inc. to supply them with server appliance technologies.

  • Cygnus Solutions and ICS announced a joint effort to provide a commercial graphical integrated development environment for Linux.

  • Hummingbird and SuSE announced a marketing and development partnership. "The new relationship will give SuSE's Linux users easy access to all of Hummingbird's traditional client connectivity products including: Exceed, HostExplorer, NFS Maestro Server, NFS Maestro Client, NFS Maestro Gateway and NFS Maestro Solo while enabling Hummingbird to enhance its presence in the Linux operating system market"

  • Intel and Nokia put out a press release describing their new digital TV solutions.


  • Cygnus Solutions announced the commercial availability of Cygwin, a UNIX/Linux shell environment and portability layer enabling delivery of open source projects to Windows.

  • Ebiz (operators of TheLinuxStore) announced its latest financial results. Linux seems to be working well for them.

  • HireTechs.com helps out individuals with the following background: Linux, Oracle, AS400 and more.

  • HireTechs.com launched its new auction website, which uses Zope and runs on Intel hardware and Red Hat 6.0 Linux.

  • HotDispatch, Inc. announced the closing of a $6-million first round of venture capital financing. The funds will be used to expand HotDispatch's marketplace for Java and Linux technical services.

  • Manchester Metropolitan University announced that it has selected IBM DB2 Universal Database on the Linux operating system as a new platform for its Internet service.

  • ScreamDesign announced the release of YAMS (an e-commerce system) and MAMS (a web site access control system). Both are being released as free software.

  • Verio Inc. announced it has expanded its Web-hosting services using Cobalt Networks' Linux based server appliances.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

October 14, 1999


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

Linux in the news

Recommended Reading:

Nicholas Petreley has taken a different and interesting approach to the Microsoft attack in this LinuxWorld column. "What I'm celebrating -- and what you should be, too -- is that we didn't read this story about Linux Myths in ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, PC Week, Information Week, or any of the other major trade journals. As little as three years ago, that's where you would have read this story. And most readers wouldn't have known that Microsoft virtually wrote it from beginning to end."

India Today ran a lengthy article about the adoption of Linux in that country. "More incredible is the fact that Linux has arrived in India, all the way from the University of Helsinki, Finland, with its culture intact-the culture of openness, freedom and flexibility." (Thanks to Atul Chitnis).

O'Reilly has an interview with Python creator Guido van Rossum. "Well, Python takes programming seriously. Python takes programming as seriously as C or Java or C++. My own use of Python is as a real programming language and not as a tool to write quick, throwaway scripts. For the most part, anyway."

XML.com has run a transcript of Tim O'Reilly's keynote speech given at LinuxWorld in Tokyo on September 29. "Almost everyone who talks about Open Source software wants to know whether or not Linux stands a chance of dethroning Windows. I'm here to talk about something completely different -- the role of open source software and Linux in building the future of the Internet, and more specifically, the future of the World Wide Web."

Here is a critical article in Feed Magazine about the Solaris source release. "In making such a bold move (Solaris is their core product) Sun is embracing everything that has made the Open Source movement such a success. Everything, that is, except that bit about opening up their source code." (Thanks to Phil Austin).

VA Linux:

The Red Herring takes a cautious view of the VA Linux Systems IPO. "VA's relationship with Intel may offer short-term advantages, but ahead, a major computer company may quickly move in and eat VA's lunch, especially after Intel's 64-bit chips become widely available. But even a company with mediocre revenues can ride high on the stock market by piggybacking on a word-of-mouth fervor surrounding a 'hot' technology like Linux."

PC Week covers the VA Linux Systems IPO filing. "Like Red Hat Software Inc., VA Linux will be sharing some of its IPO pie with Linux community developers. This will come in the form of shares being held at the IPO for 'employees, directors, other persons associated with us and a number of open source developers who have expressed an interest in purchasing common stock in this offering.' Details as to how this will be handled are still forthcoming."

E-Commerce Times takes a look at VA Linux Systems' IPO filing. "Although VA's IPO, according to some analysts, stands the best chance of being the next successful Linux offering, it is not the only game in town."

News.com covers the VA Linux Systems IPO filing. "Linux must be available for free under the terms of its license, which means Red Hat faces the challenge of convincing people to pay for it. As a result, it plans to bolster its revenue by offering technical support. VA Linux faces a different challenge: Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Gateway, and many other large computer manufacturers have begun selling Linux systems."

Reuters looks briefly at the VA Linux IPO filing. "VA LiNUX said it plans to use the proceeds from the IPO for working capital and general corporate purposes, including expanding sales and marketing activities and capital spending, among other uses."


TurboLinux received an investment from Intel Corp., Broadview Associates and venture capital firm August Capital. "Intel is also an investor in Red Hat Inc., the largest distributor of Linux that went public in August on the NASDAQ, in a well-received public offering. Both Red Hat and TurboLinux, as well as other Linux distributors, plan on offering additional services and support, to Linux users."

TechWeb looks at TurboLinux and the pile of deals it has announced. "[TurboLinux President] Miller said he hopes the cash will accelerate the company enough to pass Linux distributors Suse and Caldera and eventually to surpass market-leading Red Hat Software. To that end, the company unveiled a triple-play of bundling deals."

The Red Herring looks at the investments in TurboLinux. "Mr. Miller says that about 40 investors have approached Turbolinux, offering a total of nearly $200 million in potential funding. A lot has changed since Mr. Miller and his wife founded Turbolinux seven years ago."

News.com is reporting that Intel, Broadview, and August Capital have made an investment in TurboLinux. "What will be done with the money? 'We're going to grow like a weed,' said TurboLinux vice president Lonn Johnston." (Thanks to Cesar A. K. Grossmann).

Debian Box Set:

ComputerWorld weighs in on the Debian box set announcement. "But analyst Stacey Quandt at Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group Inc., said VA and SGI could also be looking for a distribution of Linux that they can charge to support. The best-selling versions of Linux are supported principally by the distributors themselves, such as Red Hat Software Inc. Debian.org, meanwhile, doesn't provide commercial support, leaving a potential revenue stream for VA and SGI, she said."

The San Jose Mercury has run the New York Times article about the new Debian box set. This version, however, can be read without registering...

Here's News.com's take on the new commercial Debian distribution. "The companies won't be taking over the Debian version, Biles added. 'We're not going to change the way it works or change the organization,' he said. 'All we're trying to do is expand their demographic'--in other words, make Debian appealing to more people."

Embedded Systems:

Here's a News.com article about Linux and embedded systems. "Use of the Linux operating system in TV set-top boxes, cars, and other non-PC devices is becoming a more serious possibility with the backing of some established companies."

Nicholas Petreley covers the Embedded Systems Conference in this InfoWorld column. "Unless a unified body of people direct the development of embedded Linux, it seems like it will evolve in dozens of directions. Lineo is talking about launching an independent organization for this purpose. But because everyone developing embedded systems has such specific needs, maybe fragmentation wouldn't be such a bad thing after all."

Other Business:

Gateway will be reselling Cobalt Networks' Linux-based servers, according to this News.com article. "Through the agreement, Gateway adds server appliances to a server line that thus far has included only general-purpose machines..."

News.com looks at Linux and gaming. "These moves indicate Linux's gradual move from having a stronghold as a server operating system to being utilized by desktop users, generally a less technically sophisticated person than system administrators."

Jon Hall's October "Penguin's Brew" column in Performance Computing is about Beowulf systems. "Another rather unique use of Beowulf technology along this line is the use of a system called Loki by Los Alamos labs, which is used to simulate asteroids colliding with the earth to see what types of damage they would do. I think this has potential as an exciting video game."

Upside Magazine asked several people what stocks they would use to create the "Linus Torvalds Third Millennium High Growth Advantage mutual fund." Linuxcare seems to be the general winner. "[Nathan] Myers also sees Red Hat (RHAT) struggling to retain its own front-runner status, as the current crop of IPOs inevitably dilute the Linux mystique 'I see Red Hat as the shakiest property,' he writes, referencing a former Red Hat developer's departure. 'They own nothing but the Red Hat brand, and we have already seen Mandrake 'lift' their product and take a substantial fraction of their business away.'" (Thanks to Mike Gerdts).

Here's a ComputerWorld article on the talk IBM chairmain Louis Gerstner gave at Telecom '99 warning about proprietary standards. "The good news is that movements like Java and Linux are powerful reminders that those who bet on proprietary standards are not going to win in a heterogeneous, open, networked society."

CNN looks at IBM's approach to Linux. "IBM has been training its sales force to offer Linux to customers and even has 300 Linux specialists in its Global Services Division. IBM also works with Linux vendor Caldera Systems to train resellers to deliver Linux offerings."

HP World writes about the new HP Linux workstations and electronic design automation (EDA) tasks. "EDA is an obvious market for Linux systems, in part because the graphics requirements are 2D, which keeps the overall cost of the systems down." (Thanks to Robert K. Nelson).

The New Zealand Herald looks at in-store Linux systems. "Auckland firm Excellent Systems, which makes software for home-appliance and big-ticket retailers, believes its shift to the Linux operating system will be the springboard for growth." (Thanks to Ian McDonald).

Are you ready for the $200 PC? asks ZDNet. "One of the first PC makers to step up to the plate will be Tatung. The company is developing multi-hued, low-cost consumer PCs that will start at about $299... But a stripped-down version of the same PC will be available for as low as $200. This box won't have a CD-ROM, will use Linux in place of Windows 98, and is based on a Cyrix chip." (Thanks to Cesar A. K. Grossmann).

Computer Reseller News ran this look at Rebel.com, which sells the Linux-based Netwinder. "For some companies, a change in name is also a change in attitude. That is how the folks at Rebel.com see their new name, as the VAR stretches its borders to reach out to resellers and ISPs with its new network appliance aimed at the small- and midsize-business market."

Internet Week looks at Linux's progress. "Linux, long overlooked by IT organizations and trivialized by competitors, is wielding new clout as an enterprise operating system."

The Jerusalem Post covers Magic Software's deal with Red Hat (scroll to the bottom). "Magic will benefit from being able to leverage access to the rapidly expanding Red Hat Linux installed base, who need technology that can help them quickly develop business solutions for the platform."

ZDNet UK was at Alan Cox's talk at Linux Expo in London. "Appropriately decked out in a red hat exactly like the one used as a trademark by Red Hat as he browsed the stands, Cox was swamped by adoring follows of the Linux hoping perhaps that a little of his coding expertise might rub of on them. Cox is obviously enjoying the first ever official Linux-fest in his own country."

ZDNet UK also has a whole set of brief stories, evidently inspired by Linux Expo in London. Included are articles on Red Hat's European push, Hummingbird's deal with Red Hat and Caldera, Red Hat targeting enterprise users above home users, OpenMail 6.0, and The Linux Fund.

Upside Magazine writes that Sun and AOL are trying to imitate Microsofts tactics, and will lose that way. "Haven't either of these companies heard of the open source movement? Red Hat is one of the few software companies developing an innovative business model, exploiting both the open source movement and the Internet."

Here's a PC World article (via CNN) about Cybernet's Linux-based "server appliance" software offerings. "The NetMAX packages come in three flavors: file/print, Web, or firewall service. Each is fully 'precooked' for its specific role. Cybernet emphasizes ease of installation and maintenance, with a graphical interface to get started and then a simple browser interface for all other tasks."

ZDNet looks at funding for open source companies. "Fernand Sarrat, CEO of Linuxcare, said he's having no trouble getting second round funding for his firm, which provides support for Linux. In fact, the money on the table has been triple the amount his company is seeking."

CNN ran a brief article about the release of Red Hat 6.1. "Version 6.1 of Red Hat Linux features a slicker graphical installation interface, online access to updates and improved system management capabilities, the company says."

Computer Weekly once again reports on the Linux deployment at Reliance Mutual, an insurance and pension company. "Kent-based insurance and pensions firm Reliance Mutual has begun rolling out Linux to its 400 users, breaking new ground in the adoption of open source technology in the commercial world..." (Thanks to Alan Wylie).

More Linux Myths:

VNUNet.fr covers (in French) the 'Linux Myths' document. "What it proves, in any case, is that Microsoft takes the Linux threat seriously" English text available via Babelfish.

Here's ZDNet's take on Microsoft's "Linux Myths". "Some of Microsoft's claims are more than a little puzzling, such as its decision to compare the cost of the two operating systems. Free (Linux) versus hundreds of dollars per copy (NT)? Microsoft says total cost of ownership should be the real measuring stick when it comes to dollars. But it seems doubtful that NT would win even on that front."

Here's a Seattle Times article about the Microsoft "Linux Myths" document. "There's a penguin that seems to have Microsoft just a little paranoid."

Here's a Wired News article about Microsoft's attack. "In its zeal to debunk Linux, Microsoft occasionally stretches things. For example, it points out that Linux lacks universal serial bus, plug and play, and power management. But it neglects to mention that the features are not native to Windows NT, either. Microsoft criticizes Linux for a lack of security. It fails to disclose that the US Army recently switched from an NT server to a Mac server because NT wasn't secure enough."


Here's News.com's coverage of Linus Torvalds' Internet World talk; it looks much like the other articles. "One point Torvalds stressed was that open-source projects are more likely to succeed if their developers are users of the software."

InfoWorld covers Linus Torvalds' talk at Internet World. "Torvalds cautioned, however, that developers are not guaranteed success just because they adopt an open-source strategy against competitors who have not. 'People think just because it is open-source, the result is going to be automatically better. Not true. You have to lead it in the right directions to succeed. Open source is not the answer to world hunger,' Torvalds said."

AboutLinux ran an article describing the building of an inexpensive dual-processor system.

PC Week has posted a summary of what happened when they put up their hacking challenge. It includes at least one ridiculous claim: "While any operating system needs patches and updates, there is no central repository for testing or approving patches to the Linux system. Kernel patches can be obtained from a verified source such as kernel.org, but most other components have no central infrastructure." Red Hat (the distribution they were running) has a very nice central infrastructure for all of the security fixes that need to be applied. They simply blew it by not applying the available fixes.

Evan Leibovitch covers Comdex Quebec in this ZDNet article. "As at most Comdex shows this year, the Linux presence is clear and popular. Two large Linux booths, with very different flavors, made certain that conference-goers were aware of the main alternative to the booth that asked Jusqu'ou irez-vous? ('Where do you want to go?')."

Jesse Berst summarizes recent Linux developments in this brief piece. "In many ways, Linux, the open source alternative OS, has a lot in common with The X-Files. Instead of a government conspiracy, the Linux community opposes all-powerful Microsoft. And just as the TV show was a cult favorite that crossed into the mainstream, so too Linux is poised to crossover."

Here's an introductory article on ZDNet. "...if you're curious to learn more about Linux, I've assembled a starter kit for you. Even if you've been using Linux for years, you'll find good refresher information."

Performance Computing looks at Linux use in India. "A free and powerful OS is needed by users in India, and Linux is a dream come true. Although Windows NT is the fastest growing commercial platform in the country, Linux is the fastest growing OS overall."

News.com reports on a scheme by the organizers of LinuxFund.org to gather up unwanted Windows licenses (and media) and turn them into art projects. "The art projects will be unveiled in February at the LinuxWorld Expo."

Linux.com interviews Deb Richardson, the founder of LinuxChix. "I think that we all know that the Linux community is unbalanced at the moment, but this has less to do with Linux than it has to do with the fact that society still tends to teach that computers are 'for boys.' Which isn't at all true, by the way."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

October 14, 1999


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



A draft version of the Community Education Howto has been made available. This HOWTO aims to help out people trying to put together education and advocacy programs through their LUG or other organizations.

Linux Administration Made Easy (LAME), has been updated for Red Hat 6.1, and now weighs in at a full 130 pages.

FUD-counter mailing list. Rik van Riel has announced a new mailing list (called "fud-counter") which is meant to provide a forum for coordinating responses to anti-Linux articles. "This not only gives us some sort of 'marketing department' of our own, it also makes sure that the regular FUD attacks don't take time away from the developers. Of course, we cannot work like a 'normal' marketing department. We do all of our work out in the open and, as such, are exposed to much more scrutiny than any commercial company could ever be. This means that we will have to limit our responses facts that are 100% true and easily verifiable"

Small memory mini-HOWTO. osOpinion ran an article called the "Small memory mini-HOWTO." As one would expect, it is a collection of hints on how to use Linux successfully on systems with very small amounts of RAM.

David Mentré has updated his annotated version of Microsoft's 'Linux Myths' page.


Is the Penguin already mature? The Dutch Unix User Group is meeting on November 4 to look at the topic. There is a long list of speakers, headed up by Jordan Hubbard.

Alternative: Linux is happening in Montréal on November 1-3. Speakers include Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond. A good time should be had by all...

ApacheCon 2000 will be held March 8-10 in Orlando, Florida. There is currently a call for papers out; the deadline is October 22.

The 17th ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles will be held in Charleston, SC on December 12-15, 1999. See the announcement for program and registration information.

Eric Raymond will be speaking at the Mizzou Open Source Expo, to be held in Columbia, MO on October 24.

Linux Business Expo announcements. The Linux Business Expo has announced a set of resources and events associated with the gathering, including the "Linux Learning Center" (sponsored by Caldera), the Email Garden (by VA Linux Systems) and a discussion forum sponsored by the Linux Mall.

Web sites

LinuxLots.com is offering "almost free" web and FTP space to Linux contributors. "Almost free" because they do want to place an ad banner on your web pages.

User Group News

The Midland (MI) Area LUG announces its initial meeting, to be held on October 19.

October 14, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
624 1.0.0 Elf-executable (produced by tinlink) compressor
AccuRev 1.1 Cross Platform Configuration Management for Distributed Development
acmemail 2.1.6 A multiuser POP3/IMAP to Web gateway with MIME and mod_perl support
adzapper 0.1.30 HTTP proxy that filters ads
AleVT 1.5.0 Videotext/Teletext decoder and viewer
AnyJ Java IDE 1.3.2 Java IDE and browsing tool
apache-userdirldap 1.0 LDAP UserDir lookups for the Apache web server
APIsingularity 0.0.6 Portable OpenGL C++ API based on GLUT
Basilisk II 0.7-2 An attempt at creating a free, portable 68k Mac emulator.
bdist 0.9.1 Build distribution file containing all relevant files in a programming project
BestCrypt 0.3b Creates and supports encrypted virtual volumes for Linux/Windows/MSDOS.
Bluefish 0.3.3 Gtk based HTML editor
Buddyedit 1.0 Perl script to edit the buddy list of naim's .faimrc file.
C-Forge IDE 1.3-3 Multi-user C/C++ integrated development environment
c2070 0.99 Lexmark 2070 CMYK Color Driver
cadaver 0.3.2 command-line WebDAV tool
calc 2.11.0t6.1 C-style arbitrary precision calculator
cardwords 0.0.7 Form crosswords on the cardtable with cards showing characters.
CDXA 0.3 Play Audio from Playstation CDROM XA files
chrony 1.11 Network time protocol client/server tailored for dial-up client use
Configure-it 1.0 Perl script to configure bash aliases
Connector 0.57 PPP configuration
curl 6.1beta Command line tool for getting data from a URL
cvsweb 1.73
Cyrus SASL 1.5.10 generic client/server library for SASL authentication
DDUP Applet 0.2.0 DynDns.org UPdate Applet for the Gnome panel
DDUpdate 1.0 A cross-platform update client for dyndns.org's DynamicDNS Service
Dead Link Check 0.3.2 Finds information on validity of HTTP references.
DNSTools 1.0.1 A web-based and command-line tool to administer DNS
Downloader for X 1.06 Downloads files from the Internet via both FTP and HTTP
DreamBot 0.0.4 IRC Bot written in Perl
Dump/Restore 0.4b7 Utilities to dump and restore an ext2 partition
DWUN 0.3e Controls PPP link by client requests for connection
dyn-html 0.1 Scripts which generate redirection Web pages for dynamic IP users
DynamicJava 1.0beta3 Java source interpreter
E10-KL10 130 PDP-10 (KL10) emulator
Egoistic Wordlist Generator 2.2 A wordlist generator with a variety of options.
eGTK 0.3.3 Bindings to GTK+ widget toolkit for Eiffel.
ElectricEyes 0.3.11 Lightweight GTK+/GNOME-based image viewer
eMixer 0.05.1 MP3 Mixing Software
Endeavour 1.05 Linux/X File and Image Browser
Enlightenment 0.16.0 Fast, flexible and very extensible Window Manager
Epeios 19991010 Collection of general purposes C++ libraries working under UNIX and Windows.
eqlplus 0.7 Modem Aggregator for Linux
ESM 1.0 A system monitoring tool.
Eucalyptus 0.1.1a3 Advanced MIME email program
Everybuddy 0.0.2 Universal Instant Messaging Client
FAQ PLAIN 1.0 FAQ generator/preprocessor
fastjar 0.86 Fast jar file creator written in C
FireMail 1.2 Tool sorting the incoming mail and removing spam
FLTK-brain 1.0.6 A library for writing parallel portable GUI-applications.
FOP 0.11.0 An XSL formatter written in Java that outputs PDF
Fortify 1.4.5 Provides full strength, 128-bit encryption facilities to Netscape browsers
FOX 0.99.75 C++-Based Library for Graphical User Interface Development
freemed 19991012 Free medical management software in a web browser
FreeVet 1.0.7 A Y2K ready Animal Clinic System
ftpd-BSD 0.2.2 Linux port of OpenBSD's ftp server
G-BOOK DeLUXE 1.5 PERL Based guestbook CGI
GClipper 1.1 A multiple buffer clipboard that automatically fetches new selections.
geektalkd 1.17 Simple, yet extendable chat server
Gentry 0.1 GTK application for data entry into a MySQL database
Get Pop 0.2 Pop mail downloader
Getleft 0.7.2 Tcl/Tk site grabber powered by Curl
gif2png 1.1.0 converts GIF image files to PNG format
GIP 0.4.5 Make installation/uninstallation easier
glFtpD 1.71.1 FTP Daemon for Linux. Great program for an ISP or anyone!
GLib 1.2.6 The GLib library of C routines
gman 0.0.7 A user-friendly graphical front end for the man page system
GMMF .90 Godot's Modular Firewall
gnomba 0.5.0 Gnome Samba Browser
Gnome Display Manager 2.0beta4 Gnome version of the X Display Manager (xdm)
gnome-core 1.0.53 GNU Network Object Model Environment
gnome-python 1.0.50 Python interfaces to gnome-libs
GnomeTREK 0.5.0 Search tool for the 1998 Star Trek Encyclopedia.
GNU parted 0.0.6 A partition editor, for creating, destroying, resizing and copying partitions.
GNU Plotutils 2.3 Utilities for plotting scientific data
GNU pop3d with NIS 0.9.8N GNU pop3d with NIS alias authentication.
gnuclear clock 0.6 Internet time server client for GNOME
gPhoto 0.4.0 GNU Digital Camera download software
gPS 0.3.6 GTK-based process status reporting like ps, top and task manager
GReceipt 1.0 Receipt management program
Gseq 0.3.0 Gnome based, plugin extensible music sequencer
gServices 0.05 Gtk::Perl-based system administration tool to easily manage daemons in init.d
GTK xset 0.3 GTK xset is a graphical frontend to xset(1), based on GTK+
GTK+ 1.2.6 Library for creating graphicaluser interfaces
Gtk-- 1.1.0 C++ interface for the popular GUI library gtk.
Hoard 1.1 A fast, scalable, and memory-efficient SMP memory allocator
Homer Applet 0.0.4 Animated Homer for the GNOME panel
HTML::Embperl 1.2b10 Embed Perl into HTML Pages with a lot of features especialy for dynamic webpage
HTML::Mason 0.71 A component-based perl web development environment
HTML::Template 0.95 A simple and fast HTML Template module for Perl
Hypermail 2 beta 25 Mail(box) to HTML converter with threads and MIME support.
Iaijutsu 0.1 Perl-based content management and object-oriented web application framework
imlib 1.9.7 Advanced replacement library for libraries like libXpm
interpcom 2.0.4 Command interpreter Library
irmctl 0.2.0 Control daemon for non IRDA ir receivers
ISCA BBS Client 2.2.0 Client program for ISCA BBS and DOC-style BBS systems
isdnpack 1.0 An ISDN under Linux all-in-one package.
Java Assistant 1.5 Java Class/Package Viewer + front end to mocha
JCCSP 0.1.2 JavaServer Pages 1.0 Engine w/ some JSP 1.1 support.
jed B0.99-9 Powerful editor, terminal and X11 interface
jEdit 2.1pre4 Powerful text editor
JERED 1.6.8 Very easy-to-use but greatly configurable console text editor.
Jetty 3.0.A1 HTTP/1.1 Servlet server written in Java
jiffy 0.4 Fast Java RMI-compiler written in C++
Jooky 0.91 MP3 controller with a foreground curses client, or background client/server.
K4DE 0.3.19 3d-Editor for KDE with poor animation and sound posibilities.
Kazlib 1.11 Robust ANSI C data structure library.
KBind 0.7 KDE front-end to configure the Bind nameserver.
kchess 0.2 KDE frontend for chess programs
Kim 1.2.1-1 The Kim is interactive process manager for OS Linux.
KLandscape 0.1 3D rendered landscape generator
Knetdump 1.0 Network sniffing/analyzing tool
KNode 0.1.5 Online-newsreader for KDE
Komba 0.2.0 Samba share browser
KOra 0.3.2 Powerfull frontend to Oracle databases
kruiser 0.4pre1 Win95-like file manager for KDE with many features
KSendMail 0.6 KDE front-end to configure Sendmail.
LANdb 0.70 Provides network managers with a means of cataloging network connections.
Lazy Solitaire 0.2 Solitaire card game for lazy people
le editor 1.5.4 Text editor with powerful block operations, similar to NE.
LeoCAD 0.71 CAD application that uses plastic bricks
lftp 2.1.2 Sophisticated command line based FTP client
libcdaudio 0.99.2 A versatile multiplatform CD player library supporing CDDB and CD Index
Libsigc++ 0.8.3 Callback framework for C++
libsmbpw 1.0 getpwent/putpwent interface to the Samba smbpasswd file
libunicode 0.2 Library of unicode string functions and charset converters
Liner 1.01 Simple strategy game, as a java applet
LinNeighborhood 0.4.0 Linux Port of Windows Network Neighborhood
Linux-HA 0.4.5 Heartbeat subsystem for High-Availability Linux project
mail2sms 0.34 Convert a mail to a short message
Mailcrypt 3.5.5 Provides a simple interface topublic key cryptography with PGP
maildrop 0.73 maildrop mail filter/mail delivery agent
maketool 0.4 GTK front end for GNU make
Mangle 2.3 C/C++ Source de-formatter/de-commentor
MasqMail 0.0.3 Offline Mail Transfer Agent
mchat 0.1.0 Chat client that uses IP multicasting
mcrypt 2.2.4 A replacement for the old unix crypt(1). Uses several block algorithms.
memwatch 2.63 Memory leak/corruption detection, ANSI-C source code with test program.
mhash 0.6.0 Provides an easy to use C interface for several hashalgorithms
mifluz 0.6 Full text indexing C++ library
mkdnstab 0.6b DNS Table generator in Perl
modutils 2.3.4 Linux module utilities
Momoko 0.1.7 Multi-user development environment
Mozilla M10 Webbrowser for X11 derived from Netscape Communicator
Mp3Maker.app 1.0-pre4 Window Maker enhanced cdda grabber and mp3 encoder frontend
Muddleftpd 1.1.1 beta0 A small, fast configurable ftp server that can run without root.
MySQL 3.22.27 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
NAMG 0.1.8 Downloads mail from a NetAddress account and forwards it locally
NcFTP 3.0 beta 21 UNIX application program implementing the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
ncps 0.43 ncurses based process killer
Newsrunner v1.3d Fetches pictures from newsgroups, with a neat X-interface.
nstreams 0.99.2 Network streams analyzer
number 2.3 Print the English name of a number of any size
NumExp 0.1 Numeric methods implementation for Linux
nurbies 1.0 OpenGL visualization plugin for xmms, based on nurb hills
OfflineMailer 0.4 Offline mail handler
ojslib 0.1 Object-JavaScript library for developing Web-based applications
ojstools 0.6 Tools to simplify JavaScript programming
OpenH323 0.9alpha1 H.323 protocol stack
OpenMail 6.0-2 Business Messaging for Linux, including MS Outlook support
OpenNaken 0.50 Tcl/Tk client for Naken Chat
OpenScheme 1.3.1 OpenScheme programming environment
OpenVerse Visual Chat 0.6-1 Free Multiplatform Visual Chat software written in Tcl/TK
Oracletool 0.94 A web based tool for Oracle DBA's written in Perl.
Orgasm 0.11 Machine code assembler for 6502 microprocessors
PAP-wizard 1.2 Internet configurator and dialer
PCRE 2.08 A library that implements Perl 5-style regular expressions.
perdition 0.1.0 POP3 Proxy
PerfGraph 2.1d Web based Unix Performance Grapher
phpMyAdmin 2.0.4 Handles the basic adminstration of MySQL over the WWW
Pine 4.20 Tool for reading,sending, and managing electronic messages
pk 0.9.1 An Open-Source POSIX Threads embedded real-time kernel
PPPOEd 0.1 PPP over Ethernet
proftpd-ldap 1.0 LDAP auth patch for ProFTPD
PsiLin 0.7 Graphical interface to connect and convert files between a Psion and Linux
pstack 1.0 Dump call stacks of active processes
ptf 0.3 A TCP forwarder written in Python
pyDict 0.2.0 English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary
PyORBit 0.0.2 Python/ORBit (CORBA) Bindings
PySol 2.99 A Python-based Solitaire card game
PySol-Cardsets 2.99 A collection of free cardsets for use with PySol
QCad 1.0.0 CAD Program
QextMDI 0.2 (alpha) cross-platform GUI library extending Qt with MDI functionality
QIPchains 0.1-pre alpha A shell script which helps you to quickly add/remove Linux FW rules.
qps 1.9 Displays processes in an X11 window
R 0.65.1 A language and environment for statistical computing.
rainbow 1.0 OpenGL visualization plugin for xmms, based on pulsating rainbows
rand 1.6 random pipe
RCode 1.2.3 Tool for encoding/decoding files
RearSite 0.99 Tool for updating personal www pages
Reverse Pimpage Revision 2 2.1 Gives access to boxes behind firewalls from outside the firewall
rh-isdn 0.54-1 A few scripts and documentation to set up ISDN on RedHat
Rodian 0.5.1 Layer for handling, representing and storing information objects in a tree
Root-Portal 0.1.1 Background Desktop System Logger
rpl 1.1 Multi-file recursive string replacement
sawmill 0.12 Extensible window manager
SCEZ 19991011 Smart card library
SDL 0.11.2 SDL is a library that allows you portable low level access for graphics/sound
Secure-Linux Patch 2.2.12 version 6 Linux kernel patch to block most stack overflow exploits
setup 1.0 Graphical installer for Unix applications based on GTK and XML
shash 0.1 Produces message digests for files.
shThemes GTK theme selector
Sights 0.1 A browsable database of photographs, sights and persons.
Sims Computing Test Bed 0.14 Tool for writing unit tests for your Java code
sitescooper 1.8 Downloads stories from various news sites and converts to text or Pilot format.
SkySOUND 0.56.000 Free demo or game oriented MP3 Library
slackjaw 3.0sql Bot for FirstClass server chat rooms
slang 1.3.9 A powerful interpreted language
SML/NJ 110.23 Compiler, development environment, and libraries for Standard ML
SMM++ 3.5 MUD client with mapping functionality and lots of other features
Snort 1.3.1 Libpcap packet sniffer/logger/lightweight IDS
SoundTracker 0.3.5 A music tracker for X / GTK+
Splitter 0.01 File splitter
Spruce 0.5.5 Simple email client coded for X with the Gtk widget set
StackGuard 1.2 Helps to prevent buffer overflows in subsequently compiled binaries
StatWeb 0.80 CGI program to run most UNIX commands, but meant for X10 and lirc.
Sula Primerix II 0.09.5d Extensible multi-server IRC Client for X with embedded Scheme interpreter
SybSQL 1.0 X11-based SQL Query tool for Sybase and MS SQL.
tar 1.13.13 utility used to store, backup, and transport files.
Tcl/Tk 8.2.1 A portable scripting environment for Unix, Windows, andMacintosh
TclBot 0.4.0 A 100% Tcl IRC Bot
Tcp Listen 1.5 TCP/UDP/ICMP/IP packet reporter
TDSweeper 1.0.0 Minesweeper clone for the console.
Ted 2.6 Ted, an easy rich text processor for Linux.
tgif 4.1.22 Vector-based draw tool
The Gimp 1.1.10 The GNU Image Manipulation Program
The Log Applet 0.31 GNOME panel applet to monitor a (log) file as it is updated
The Veganizer 0.01 A spam counter-attack
tkbabel/tclbabel 0.5 Babelfish frontend - command-line and GUI
TkBox 0.41alpha MPEG remote access control client/server architecture
TkSETI 1.44 A GUI for automated control of the SETI@Home client for UNIX.
TmCde WEB frontend 0.2.0 Timecode calculator (WEB frontend part)
Trf 1.8p1 Filtering channels for Tcl, MAC, Encryption, Error correction, various encodings
TroubleTickets 0.1 HelpDesk Trouble Ticket Web Application
TWIG 2.0.0 beta2 A web-based IMAP client written with PHP3
ucppkit 0.1.7 A tiny C++ toolkit for Linux
userv 0.65.2 Security boundary tool
UxFeR 1.2b External X/Y/Z BBS File Transfer Protocols [front-end]
VeteScan 10-10-1999 Bulk Vulnerability Scanner
vetestcl 10-10-1999 Vulnerability scanners for eggdrop
VMWare 1.1 Allows you to run multiple OSs at the same time
vux 0.0.3 Highly configurable logging system. (CGI)
w3m 991008 pager/text-based WWW browser
waspchat 0.0.2 Human to computer chat prog
wchat 1.0 Fully extensible TCP/IP-based Chat Server.
webfs 0.4 Lightweight HTTP server for static content
Webmin 0.74 Web-based interface for system administration for Unix
wmbp6 1.8 DockApp monitoring sensors for temperatures and fans speed.
wmmp3 0.06 mpg123 front end for Window Maker
WMProxyPer 0.9 Dockapp that displays RC5 Personal Proxy logfiles
wmSMPmon 1.4 CPU monitoring applet SMP systems running Window Maker
WSoundServer 0.2.1 Sound Server for Window Maker
WWWOFFLE 2.5a Simple proxy server with special features for use with dial-up internet links
wxPython 2.1.5 Python extension module for wxWindows
X ARCHON 0.42 A clone of the classic ARCHON game
x10ephem 0.10 Computes sunrise/sunset times and modifies crontab entries
xlHtml 0.2.0 XLS to HTML converter
xpuyopuyo 0.2.4 Tetris-like puzzle game with AI
XQF 0.9.2 QuakeWorld/Quake2 server browser and launcher for Linux/X11
XSane 0.39 A GTK-based X11 frontend for SANE, also a GIMP plugin
xtell 1.4 Simple messaging client and server, kind of networked write
xwpe-alpha 1.5.20a A programming environment for UNIX systems
Yacas 1.0.9 Yet Another Computer Algebra System
YAMP 1.0 Mp3 player written with GTK+
ZAngband 2.2.7 Rogue-like roleplaying game

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

LinuxFool.com is another topic-oriented bulletin board discussion area for Linux users. Like other sites of this nature, the conversations are a little slow in taking off. It will be interesting to see if Linux users are simply not interested in bulletin board sites, or if one eventually really gets going.

Spanish-speaking readers may want to have a look at BarraPunto.com. The look is familiar, even if the language is different...

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

October 14, 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: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 13:13:34 +0100
From: Charlie Stross <charlie@antipope.org>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Oh, the embarrassment!

Leafing through a shelf full of ancient computer magazines the other week,
I cam across an early Microsoft infomercial. I can't resist the urge to
spread it around:

"Learning from minicomputers: until a few years ago, minicomputers
offered little of relevence to microcomputer users. With the recent rise
to prominence of UNIX, one of the minicomputer world's most popular
operating systems, microcomputer manufacturers are beginning to look
hard at minis. Microsoft's own version of UNIX, called Xenix, is the
only UNIX now available, tailored specifically for micros. Microsoft
has added many basic features omitted by UNIX's manufacturers, and has
announced the product with menus and mouse interfaces for example, for the
micro user. Xenix also arranges its files differently from conventional
micro operating systems, and it looks as though the Xenix filesystem
is catching on with micro manufacturers. Apple's new ProDOS for the
Apple IIe and Apple III uses a similar system, as does a forthcoming
OS from Dragon. Apple and Tandy as well as UK microcomputer companies,
Tycom and Plessy, have gone for Xenix on their newest machines. With
the Tandy model 16 and Apple's Lisa both running Xenix, it looks like
being as successful on micros as it is on minicomputers."
This advert ran in the now-defunct British magazine Practical Computing
on page 149 of their January 1984 issue (Volume 7 issue 1). Can anyone
else contribute some flagrantly enthusiastic UNIX advocacy on the part 
of Microsoft?

You might want to run this as a competition, with a prize for the most
recently published piece of blatant Microsoft UNIX promotion -- say,
a copy of Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 for Alpha ("a better UNIX than UNIX").

-- Charlie Stross
   Linux columnist, Computer Shopper (UK)

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 17:54:15 -0400
From: walt smith <waltech@bcpl.net>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Gerstners speach

Thanks for placing the link to Gerstners speach.

I don't know whether to sell my IBM stock or hope
for a replacement for Gerstner.  Clearly the man is
living in a different world.

A significant part of IBM is it's proprietary properties
and manufacturing!  The only part that made sense was
the prediction of  the explosion of internet appliances.  But
even his estimates seem wildly exagerated. There's not much
more in the talk that is believable.

I was going to quote parts and rebut... I can't - there's too much!
(Is there an open source OS/2 ?)

Much of the talk was dedicated to convincing the audience that hi-end
servers - traditionally IBM's market (called mainframes) - connected
to 'appliances' is the wave of the future.  It certainly was the wave of
past when mainframes were connected to terminals.  Yes, internet
will make an impact, but not in the way he believes. I won't elaborate
I get a check for consulting; that information is very valuable to IBM's

And the PC is dead ? In normal english terms: Sheeeesh !! !!

To conclude, this speech was really directed at the corporate officers.
And is a duplicate of the Microsoft strategy.  It may work; after all,
at MS's success!  Us technocrats see that.... maybe some of corporate
America has learned a few things by now?  (naawwww.....)


Walt Smith, Baltimore

From: Mike Richardson <mike@quaking.demon.co.uk>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Microsoft says
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 08:40:04 +0100
Cc: sales@microsoft.com

Below is an extract from the MicroSoft website referred to in the 07-Oct edition
of LWN, http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/nts/news/msnw/LinuxMyths.asp
I have seen the f99.9% figure somewhere else, but could not remember where, but
here it is again. Here is the quote (with acknowledgement to Microsoft)

> There are no OEMs that provide uptime guarantees for Linux, unlike Windows NT
> where Compaq, Data General, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Unisys provide 99.9
> percent system-level uptime guarantees for Windows NT-based servers.

OK, now what does a 99.9% uptime guarantee mean? Well, it means that at bottom,
a guarantee that the machine will not be down for more than one one-thousandth
of the time. If we assume that we have a stable system, ie., one where the
system is not taken down for software upgrades, etc., then we are looking at
the time from a system crash (strictly, I think, from the time that the crash
is actually noticed) to the time that the system is running again. So, below is
a little table that shows the best guaranteed up-times for various values of
the above restart time, rounded up.

Restart time   Uptime
10 mins        7   days
30 mins        21 days
120 mins      84 days
etc   .....

The conclusion I draw is that either (a) NT crashes very often and is quick
to restart or (b) NT crashes less often but takes a long time to restart.. As
someone who runs a machine that provides web services and a specialised
on-line auction system, I would consider the above to be completely
unacceptable. Our system, the last time I looked, has been up for about 250
days, and requires essentially no maintenance.

Mike Richardson
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 07:45:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: kenneth topp <caught@prodigy.net>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Microsoft Hype (Re: Linux Myths)


I hope that people responding to this document chose a different strategy:  
It's not responding to their claims (directly), and it's not pointing out
NT's flaws (nothing to learn), but it is talking about linux's future.

I am anticipating many new updates (XFree86 4.0, gimp 1.2, gtk1.4, kde
2.0, apache 2.0, perl 5.6, gcc 3.0, netscape5) which will make linux more
functional and easy for more and more people.  Linux doesn't meet NT
feature for feature, and microsoft has been able to define what's
important.  On technical issues, linux users know that there isn't
anything to fear.  The worlds finest developers are on every remaining
issue out there.

Let's talk about licensing, open file formats, open protocols, unified
platform.  Lets discuss the development and user peer groups that grows
larger ever day, and what they are accomplishing.  I've been using my
desktop linux box (Pentium 233) as a file/web/database/dns/smtp/dialup
server for 10 active clients (mostly microsoft OS's), without complaint.  
All this with a USB mouse (first with UUSBD, thanks Inaky, then with
backporting 2.3 code).

Or, if we must attack them, I will testify that I just had to reboot NT to
change where my web cache ("Temporary Internet Files") directory is
located (I cannot wait till I can replace my NT PDC with samba).

Kenneth Topp

Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 14:07:17 -0700
From: philo<no>v@<spam.>com.calweb<.no>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Microsoft's FUD Storm

I have a comment to make about Microsoft's latest web page detailing how 'NT
works for corporations' whereas 'Linux does not.' I've read the document in its
entirety, and as someone that's familiar with the finer details of how Windows
NT works, I find it an amusing read at best.

I wonder how many Microsoft professionals are actually fooled by this web page.
It seems more aimed toward the uninformed management than anything.

It brings up a big social question: Is it really the case that corporations are
making technological decisions without the input of their technically
proficient employees? It seems that this is what Microsoft is banking on, and
given their huge marketing budget, I'd guess they've done their research. Is
that the sad state of affairs in the technology industry?

If so, is the increase in popularity of Linux a sort of social revolt by the
technically competent against their technically incompetent superiors? Are we
truly witnessing a revolution in the Linux movement?

Philo Vivero

To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: http://www.lwn.net/1999/features/MSResponse.phtml
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 12:55:33 +0200
From: Jan Nieuwenhuizen <jcn@cs.leidenuniv.nl>


Thanks for putting up this overall very good response.  You use a
fine mild tongue, acknowlegdge some facts, and try to judge by

However, I'd like to make a side comment.  Microsoft seems to be
a master at using certain imho distasteful/sneaky techniques, and
does so in this particular article.  You identified this occurence:

  ...as opposed to the wonderful free support services for Windows NT...

because it's a tad too obvious.  Microsoft will claim problems with
Linux (or any other package) and do it in such a way, that the reader
will accept implicitely that Windows has good solutions -- while in
fact Windows has similar problems.

Also, I don't buy it that the blatant lies they use, are out of
ignorance.  I assume that they know very well what they're doing,
(ie, apply tactic #2) and deliberately mix valid/half valid 
truths/problems with FUD, making the whole package of assertions
appear to be right to an outsider.  Remember that this page has
not been put up for us, it's for the manager/newbe that can be
fudded away.  Pure FUD is much easier to fight, but more importantly,
much more easy to identify by the newbe.

As a third tactic, they use tentative statements in both directions:

  'Linux is based on 30y old technology' -> must be bad (old == bad)
  'Windows (NT) has an object based security model' -> must be secure

Of course, both -> are rubbish, it's the actual performance in the
field that counts.

Lastly, what I really dislike (and you seem to miss, cmiiw), is sneaky
stuff like:

     Linux lacks a commercial quality Journaling File System.

*Commercial quality*.  Can anybody explain to me what that's supposed
to mean?  To me that's a hollow phrase.  Of course, windows 95 is
'commercial quality', and so is Solaris: they sell.  But we don't care
whether Linux sells or not.  We just want something Good.  So, if
anything, we could want a 'GNU Quality', or 'Free Software Quality'
JFS.  'Windows NT lacks a GNU Quality JFS'.

The problem is, once you've switched, you know how big the differences
are, quality wise.  But if you're still on the other side, it's very
hard to believe that something can be 'as good as Microsoft'.  Microsoft
knows this, and tries its best to maintain that line of thought: 'first,
let Linux prove they reach our quality level, because they haven't yet'.
We need to find a way to fight that (often hidden) message effectively.

There is one thing that most rebuttals seem to miss:

The `Linux Community' does not want to sell something.

You can get hold of GNU/Linux for free, you try it for free.  If a
manager wants to find out if this Linux-fad is really just a hype, or
a robust solution, he can find out for himself: get an old unused
computer and install Linux.

If he doesn't have the required knowledge to do this, he can find lots
and lots of reports on the pro and cons of both GNU and NT.  Since
GNU/Linux users don't have financial interests in making Linux appear
better than it is, the reports will be objective.

In summary, my answer to Microsoft FUD would be:

	``Don't believe what a company tells you about its
	competitors.  Find out for yourself: give Linux a try. You
	will be pleasantly surprised.''



Jan Nieuwenhuizen <janneke@gnu.org> | GNU LilyPond - The music typesetter
http://www.xs4all.nl/~jantien/      | http://www.lilypond.org/
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 12:59:16 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Pavel Kankovsky <peak@argo.troja.mff.cuni.cz>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: A few more comments regarding "The Five Linux Myths"

Hi! I dare to comment things that were not addressed in your article.
I hope you won't mind some of my remarks are somewhat caustic. :)

> First, it's worth noting that Linux is a UNIX-like operating system.

And NT is a VMS-like OS. I am exaggerating a bit but there are too many
similarities between NT and VMS. Try reading Inside NT. Nevertheless, it 
is silly to assume old things are bad just because they are old.

> The Linux SWAP file is limited to 128 MB RAM.

It never occurred to me to use my precious RAM as a swapspace.

> They have been promising these since the development of the 2.0 Kernel
> in 1996...

What about...ehm...Cairo?

> Linux only provides access controls for files and directories.

There must be some bug in kill(). It does not allow me to terminate
root's processes.

> Linux has not supported key security accreditation standards. Every
> member of the Windows NT family since Windows NT 3.5 has been evaluated
> at either a C2 level under the U.S. Government's evaluation process or
> at a C2-equivalent level under the British Government's ITSEC process.

Everyone should read the detailed certification reports to understand the
whole truth about NT C2 or E3/F-C2 rating, esp. to learn what components
were excluded from the certification and what assumptions were made about
the hardware platform, the environment, and the configuration.


> In contrast, no Linux products are listed on the U.S. Government's
> evaluated product list.

Even if Linux systems were able to satisfy the criteria, no Linux vendor
is rich enough to be able to afford the evaluation.

> Misconfigure any part of the operating system and the system could be
> vulnerable to attack.

This holds for virtually any piece of software.

--Pavel Kankovsky aka Peak  [ Boycott Microsoft--http://www.vcnet.com/bms ]
"Resistance is futile. Open your source code and prepare for assimilation."

Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! Copyright © 1999 Eklektix, Inc., all rights reserved
Linux ® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds