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Rumors of acquisitions were everywhere this last week. A look at this week's LWN press page will give a good summary of how much attention these rumors received. People are watching.

Among other things, it has been suggested that Red Hat wants to acquire Corel, that Red Hat is after Applix, and perhaps just about everything else that moves as well. SCO and Sun are said to be shopping for Caldera Systems and/or TurboLinux. Almost all of these rumors would appear to be false - Corel, Caldera, and TurboLinux all say they aren't selling. Even so, they give a good preview of some of the forces that will be moving through the Linux business world.

Red Hat may not be after any of the companies listed above, but there is no doubt that it is going shopping with a powerful credit card (its strong stock price). Red Hat will not be for long the only Linux company that is so equipped - as more companies go public, the number of power shoppers can only increase. Each will be out to justify its high stock prices, and will seek to do so partly through acquisition.

In the other corner, we have a list of established companies, including Sun, SCO, and many others. As Linux continues to grow, they are certain to want a larger piece of it. How better to get such a piece than to buy an established Linux company - preferably a distributor? Said distributors seem to feel, with some reason, that they are doing just fine on their own for now. But it would not be a great surprise to see one of them get an offer it can't refuse sooner or later.

The end result looks reasonably clear: in the future the Linux market will be quite a bit larger, and will be characterized by a smaller number of larger companies. It will likely be quite a bit more competitive. The current cooperative nature of the Linux community will be tested by these changes, to say the least. It should prove strong enough, however, to survive the upcoming consolidation in better form than ever.

The XFree86 project has joined X.org as an "honorary member." XFree86, of course, has spent years building a top-quality X Window System implementation for Linux, while X.org is the standards body which oversees X in general.

For many years, the X Consortium (now X.org) was one of the most successful free software projects in existence. Under corporate sponsorship, the X window system grew to be the standard Unix window system - and it was all released as free software. As Unix started to take off, however, the corporate sponsors (mostly proprietary Unix vendors) moved toward developing proprietary window system implementations, and support for the X "sample implementation" was greatly reduced. As a result, Unix window systems fragmented, and development slowed.

XFree86 brought the free software dynamic (and much energy) back to X. It is now, to a great extent, the true center of X development. Not only has XFree86 implemented a great many new features and support for an unbelievable variety of video boards, but it was instrumental in convincing X.org to back off of an attempt to take close the X source last year.

So the move on X.org's part to recognize XFree86 is surprising only in that it took so long. XFree86 is a shining example of what free software projects can do; it deserves all the recognition it gets ane more.

(See also: home pages for XFree86 and X.org, and the press release on XFree86 joining X.org.)

Book review: Linux Core Kernel Commentary. LWN has added a review of the Linux Core Kernel Commentary by Scott Maxwell to the LWN Book Reviews page. The Linux Core Kernel Commentary will likely become a useful reference for those interested in the Linux kernel, but organizational problems cause it to be not as useful as it could be. See the review for more.

The Linux Documentation Project has a new logo, a new web page, more [New LDP logo] documents, and the ability to accept documents in DocBook format. There is also CVS access in the works. In other words, there is a lot of energy and activity in this project. Certainly nobody doubts the need for more and better Linux documentation - especially free documentation. Here's wishing the LDP luck as they continue their good work. Head over to the LDP home page to see what they have been up to.

A (French) legal analysis of the GPL. An analysis (in French) of the GNU General Public License according to French law has been posted on the web; it is the work of Melanie Clement-Fountain at the University of Montpellier. It is a lengthy and detailed document, not suitable for a quick read. It constitutes what is probably the most thorough legal look at the GPL so far, however, and is worth a look. Unfortunately, Babelfish does strange things with this document - about the only way to get English text is to feed the document in one paragraph at a time.

The conclusion, for those who don't want to plow through the whole thing, appears to be that the GPL is legal and enforceable under French contract law. (Thanks to GaŽl Duval).

So much for that... The LWN server was all set to turn over a year of straight uptime on December 2. We had the party all planned, beer purchased, etc. It seemed like a sure bet - nothing had been been able to bring down that server.

We hadn't counted on the raccoon.

Some of you may have noticed that we went off the net on the evening of November 29. Evidence found at the scene includes: a block-wide power failure, signs of extensive chewing in a power distribution panel, and several pieces of fried critter distributed over a wide area. The conclusion: while raccoons are not known for listening to reason (or anything else), this particular one gnawed its way into a message it couldn't ignore.

The moral: Linux systems can handle almost anything, but we still shouldn't laugh at Mother Nature....

Thanks for bearing with us as we took the Thanksgiving holiday off last week.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Buffer overflows, Cryptogram and lots and lots of updates.
  • Kernel: Capabilities in 2.2, Linux Trace Toolkit, death of the QNX filesystem.
  • Distributions: Kondara MNU/Linux, Spiro Linux and EtLinux.
  • Development: Lucent "linmodem" drivers, database comparisons, many project reports.
  • Commerce: VA's IPO looms, Lynx jumps into the embedded market
  • 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:

December 2, 1999


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