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Leading items and editorials

This week's feature article for LWN.net: SEUL/edu: An International Focus on Linux in Education takes a look at a multi-faceted project supporting students, developers and educators interested in using Linux.

Cosource.com and the sourceXchange both officially launched this week. Both sites seek to encourage the development of free software by bringing together developers and sponsors who are willing to pay to get a job done. While their goals are quite similar, their approaches are different. If the model as a whole is successful, there is probably room for both of these players.

Cosource.com looks somewhat like the "entry level" contestant. Development projects are requested by any [Cosource.com logo] interested party - the person making the request need not commit any funds toward the implementation. Developers make proposals, and anybody who feels like contributing toward the development can commit money in pieces as small as $10. The result is a great many requests, a small number of actual developments, and generally small amounts of money on offer - the largest sum accumulated thus far is around $1300.

Cosource currently has five projects in development, including adding htDig support to kdevelop ($1290, sponsored by Lineo) and a software answering machine ($225). Five others have been completed, for a total of $1575. There are a total of 156 requests outstanding on the site.

The sourceXchange takes a more traditional and upscale approach. Projects enter the sourceXchange via an [Sourcexchange logo] RFP from the project sponsor - the company that wishes to see the project implemented. Developers submit proposals, which go through a review process; in the end, the sponsor chooses which proposal wins, if any. The RFP's include the amount the sponsor is willing to pay; they vary from $5,000 through $20,000.

The sourceXchange claims one completed project (an Apache test suite framework), one in development (an E-Suite test suite), and eight current RFPs, sponsored by companies like Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Ricoh, and Walnut Creek.

Thus Cosource.com currently looks like a way for developers to pick up a few extra bucks from pools of interested parties on small projects, while the sourceXchange aims toward being a way for corporations to outsource development on significant, if not huge, projects. Of course, Cosource can be expected to try to raise the average price tag on the projects it manages, while the sourceXchange will certainly try to increase its number of projects. Nonetheless, the two currently appear to serve different markets, there is likely room for both.

(See also: press releases from Cosource.com and sourceXchange. Coverage of both programs can also be found via this week's LWN press page).

Linux IPOs are, of course, the big theme this week. A look at this week's press page will drive home just how much attention is being drawn towards the latest public offerings. The investment world has certainly taken note of Linux.

Andover.net began public trading on December 8. The "clearing price" from its dutch auction IPO was $24, meaning that, with the bids they got, they could have sold all of the available shares at that price or higher. They chose to go with the listed maximum of $18, however; to raise the price higher would have involved delaying the IPO and putting in a new SEC filing. As of closing time on the 8th, ANDN shares were worth more than $63. Volume was over 8 million shares, meaning that each publicly-available share traded at least twice. It would appear that there was interest in this offering.

The one everybody is waiting for, however, is VA Linux Systems. The VA IPO has been repriced to $21-23, and moved forward to December 9. The general expectation seems to be that it will be one of the most spectacular IPOs of the year. Chances are, it will have happened by the time most of you read this; check the LWN daily updates page for the latest.

(See also: Andover's post-IPO press release. Current prices are available from Yahoo for Andover (ANDN) and VA Linux (LNUX)). Both of these stocks will join the LWN Linux Stock Index next week.

The Bazaar is happening in New York on December 14-16. This event is intended to be a free software developers' gathering; this emphasis is driven home by the fact that Richard Stallman is giving a keynote talk. In a world that is filling up with highly commercial, business-oriented Linux events, it is important that free software events like this continue to exist and prosper. Of course, the presence of keynote speakers like Bob Young and Michael Cowpland make it clear that the commercial world will not go unrepresented here either.

Keep your eyes out for LWN editor Liz Coolbaugh, who will be attending this event and giving her talk on Linux distributions: well-known through unknown at 9:00 AM on December 15.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: New ssh problems, Bastille Linux beta, and a few updates.
  • Kernel: NUMA support in 2.3.30, Debate over a binary module compatibility layer
  • Distributions: Coyote Linux, DemoLinux and LoopLinux, plus reports from many others.
  • Development: Sun/Inprise and the Blackdown team both announce preview releases for the JDK 1.2.2 on Linux, the resulting press causes some hard feelings.
  • Commerce: Dell and Gateway move further into Linux, Cascade open sourced, O'Reilly Network launches
  • 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 9, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.


News and editorials

More ssh problems! This time, ssh 1.2.27 with RSAREF2 defined was found to contain another buffer overflow which can make the machine running sshd allow an unauthorized login according to this CORE SDI security advisory and this followup by Niels Provos. Note that the vulnerability is not specific to ssh; any code that uses RSAREF2 may be impacted.

Although OpenSSH is not vulnerable to an exploit as a result, it is impacted, as explained in this OpenBSD advisory, along with other several other OpenBSD packages. US citizens will need to review this issue since they mention "(This crypto problem only burns Americans!)"

Bastille Linux 0.93beta. Good news from the headwaters of efforts to create secure Linux implementation: Basille Linux 0.93beta has been announced. This is the beginning of a code freeze, so they are moving towards the release of their first stable version. It also seems to indicate that the homepage for the Bastille project has moved to http://bastille-linux.sourceforge.net/.

Bastille Linux is aimed primarily at non-security-experts, who are less knowledgeable about security, but want to run a more secure distribution of Linux. Our goal is to build a more secure distribution based on an well-supported existing distribution. Our solution currently takes the form of a Universal Hardening Program which must be run immediately after installation of Redhat 6.0. Our Hardening Program is most unique in that virtually every task it performs is optional, giving immense flexibility, and that it educates the installing admin before asking any question. The interactive nature allows the program to be more thorough when securing, while the educational component produces an admin who is less likely to compromise the greater security.

Open source SRP provides an alternative for secure authentication. SecurityFocus' Kurt Seifried takes a look at SRP, the Stanford SRP Authentication Project. "SRP provides several benefits over traditional methods, the biggest being that no actually encryption of the data takes place, meaning SRP can be exported legally from the US. SRP also makes no use of the patented RSA algorithm (typically used in key exchanges), so you can legally use it in the US (without having to pay RSA). "

Security Reports

A problem with the shadow in Slackware 7.0 was reported on BugTraq and reputes to allow a brute force attack on the password file. This report has not be confirmed and no word from the Slackware team has come out as of yet.

The official PostgreSQL RPMs up through 6.5.3-1 had a permission problem, reported by the RPM Maintainer, Lamar Owen. Updated RPMs are now available and a simple fix is mentioned for people who have already installed older RPMs.


dump: fixes for a security problem when symbolic links are restored (see original announcement).

ORBit, esound, and gnome-core: A easily guessable source for random data was used in ORBit and esound which might allow an attacker to guess the authentication keys used to control access to these services. In addition, TCP Wrappers support has been added to gnome-session.

sendmail: Any user can run sendmail with the -bi option to rebuild the aliases database, which opens a window during which the aliases database can be left in an unusable state, causing a Denial-of-Service. Versions of sendmail through 8.9.3 are impacted. [SecurityFocus entry] (Old)

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

December 9, 1999

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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.3.31. This kernel was released without announcement, as is usual these days. This patch (1.2 MB) includes a lot of joystick driver work, an AGPGART driver (experimental), 3dfx support in the direct rendering manager, an Aironet 4500 network adaptor driver, and a major thrashup of the USB SCSI driver.

The current stable kernel release remains 2.2.13. The series of 2.2.14 prepatches continues, with 2.2.14pre12being the current release candidate, if all goes well.

Initial support for NUMA systems was quietly slipped into 2.3.30. NUMA stands for "non-uniform memory access"; a NUMA system is a multiprocessor system where, for each processor, the speed of memory access varies depending on the "distance" between the memory and the processor. Using NUMA, the usual performance bottleneck between the memory and the processors can be eased somewhat by providing a special path for each processor to a portion of the installed memory. As a result, NUMA systems more easily scale to larger numbers of processors.

NUMA systems look much like regular SMP systems, in that all memory is accessible by all processors. However, a system which does not take the NUMA speed differential into account will perform poorly. A NUMA-aware operating system will seek to maximize the locality of its memory references, so that it is running out of the fastest memory as much of the time as possible.

Linux has had part of this problem solved for some time: it already tries to avoid moving processes between processors. Even on uniform memory systems, each processor has its own memory cache that gets wasted when a process moves somewhere else.

On NUMA systems, however, each processor really needs to make a point of using its fast memory. And that is what the new code in 2.3.30 does. This code was written by Kanoj Sarcar, who has been doing quite a bit of kernel hacking at SGI. Kanoj's new NUMA code splits memory into regions associated with each processor. When a processor allocates new memory, it tries to do so from its fast pool if possible; otherwise it has to look farther afield. Currently non-local memory is allocated from other processors in a round-robin fashion; eventually that will be changed to a distance-sensitive search.

Much more can be done to improve performance on NUMA systems. For example, kernel code (and shared libraries too) can be replicated across processors so that each runs out of its fast memory. Trying to keep related processes (i.e. those which are sharing memory regions) together on the same processor can also be helpful. But one has to start by getting the underlying system in order; Kanoj Sarcar's work is a good step in that direction.

Should the kernel provide transparent, portable support for binary modules? That was the topic of this week's big battle in linux-kernel. The battle, for all its ferocity, remained somewhat one-sided, however...

In one corner, there is Kendall Bennett of SciTech Software, who started things off with a posting entitled Linux headed for disaster?. Therein he claims that Linux should make it possible to build binary modules which can be loaded into any version of the kernel. His claim is that the variety of hardware supported by Linux would be much wider if binary modules were supported in this manner. Without the need to continually port drivers to new versions, hardware vendors would be much more likely to provide drivers for Linux.

It is true that the problems with driver compatibility can be somewhat annoying. Even for a given kernel release and underlying system architecture, there are a number of variable which affect module compatibility, including:

  • Whether the kernel is built for SMP systems or not,

  • Whether large memory support is being used,

  • Which version of the compiler was used,

  • Whether module versioning is enabled,
and other factors as well. To support all configurations, a separate binary module must be compiled for each combination of the above factors - as well as for each supported kernel version. The current state of affairs does not make life easy for those who would provide binary-only modules.

The battle is one-sided because there is very little sympathy among kernel developers for those who wish to distribute binary-only modules. Indeed, they seem to relish the idea of making that task harder. And there are, in fact, good reasons for not trying to support binary modules across versions and configuration options:

  • Providing a "compatibility" layer would bloat the kernel with legacy cruft, make things buggier, and generally slow down the system for everybody.

  • Kernel developers work hard to maintain compatibility at the application level. Within the kernel, however, they strongly defend their right to break things in the name of improving things. Take away that right, and kernel development would slow down considerably - and legacy cruft would start to build up.

  • When a system that has binary-only modules loaded crashes, it can be very hard to track down (much less fix) the problem. The crash could be caused by the binary driver itself, or it could be a legitimate kernel bug - but there is often no way to tell.

  • The best way to provide forward compatibility - to know that a driver will work for future versions of the kernel - is to have the source available. If there is source, and people care about the driver, somebody will make it work with new kernel versions. Users of binary-only modules are dependent on the distributor.

Thus, people may complain - especially those who would like to make a living off distributing proprietary modules. But the situation is highly unlikely to change.

As an example of the sorts of problems that can arise with binary modules, look no farther than Lucent's release of a PCI modem driver, which was covered last week. This driver was built for Red Hat 6.1 systems, but even Red Hat users have been complaining about troubles making it work. Since no source is available, the problems can not be fixed, and the driver can not be built for any other distribution. According to this note, this situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. Those wanting to give this driver a try may want to grab the RPM versionput up by Definite Software.

Meanwhile, for those looking for a free Lucent PCI modem driver, LTModem 0.9.3 has been announced.

The ALSA Professional Team has announced its existence. ALSA, of course, is the "Advanced Linux Sound Architecture," the next generation of sound drivers for Linux. This new team consists of two developers (Jaroslav Kysela and Abramo Bagnara) who are being funded by SuSE to work full time on ALSA and bring it to some sort of initial completion within a couple of months.

The rumors of the QNX filesystem's death were premature. After having seen the discussion of the maintenance (or lack thereof) of the QNX filesystem last week, an eager kernel hacker (who wishes to remain unnamed for the moment) has stepped up and taken over the maintenance responsibility. QNX lives on...

Other patches and updates released this week include:

  • Gabriel Paubert has announced initial support for VME busses on Intel and PPC systems.

  • kdb v0.6 (a kernel debugger) was released by Scott Lurndal.

  • Jeff Garzik put out a new version of his VIA 82Cxxx audio driver.

  • H.J. Lu released nfs-utils 0.1.4.

  • Devfs v145 was released by Richard Gooch.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

December 9, 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.

Distribution site updates. Franz Niedermeyer was kind enough to point out that the site we had listed for the muLinux home page, http://mulinux.nevalabs.org/, is actually just a mirror of the site maintained by the authors, http://sunsite.auc.dk/mulinux/.

At the same time, Michael "Soruk" McConnell pointed out that the URL for Eridani Linux has changed and is now http://www.eridani.co.uk/.

Coyote Linux 1.03. A new version of this single floppy distribution has been announced. Based on the Linux Router Project, it is "geared for people that have an ethernet-based Internet connection such as a cable modem or DSL that they wish to share with other computers on a LAN. "

DemoLinux approaches first official release. Version 1.0pre4 has been announced, indicating that the team is working its way towards the initial launch.

DOSLinux becomes LoopLinux. This announcement for LoopLinux 1 indicates that the DOSLinux project has been renamed, presumably to avoid problems with the use of the DOS name. It is a small Linux distribution that can be installed under any form of the DOS operating system.

Corel Linux

Review: Corel Linux (LinuxTicker). LinuxTicker ran this review (in German) of Corel Linux 1.0. The non German-capable can go to the Babelfish link, but it appears to not like this page, so the "feed it one paragraph at a time" approach may be necessary.

Debian GNU/Linux

A followup from Corel on the issue of allowing minors to download Corel Linux was posted on December 2nd. This time Corel is not backing down and they even have Richard Stallman on their side. They indicate that they are just trying to make the license conditions legally enforceable, not stop a minor from using Corel Linux. "In order to be effective, however, the contract must be binding upon the persons who enter into it. In some jurisdictions, contracts entered into by minors are deemed by law to be not binding upon them or to be voidable at the option of the minor." So, as long as the parent or guardian of a minor is willing to agree to the terms on their behalf, minors can use Corel Linux.

Stallman sums it up this way, "They (like you) are free to distribute copies or decline to distribute copies, when and as they wish. If they want to distribute copies only to adults, or only people with red hair, that is ok. Asking people to agree that they will use the software only in accord with the license is ok, provided the license is a free software license. " On the other hand, he points out that, if the situation bothers you, the GPL allows you to download the software to your own site and serve it up as you wish. Or, as most people will do, you can choose to ignore the license and download it no matter what ... but if you abuse the license, they'll use the clause in the contract to show that you should be held accountable for misrepresentation, a legal "cover-your-ass" move.

316 Bugs Away. "Only" 316 release-critical bugs remain in between us and the next release, according to the latest BugScan Report.

Software in the Public Interest, Inc. has a new address, just in case you had some donations you wanted to send their way ...

Debian PAM mini-policy. Ben Collins has written up information on Debian's PAM policy in response to the many questions he has been receiving.


LinuxPPC unveils new web site. LinuxPPC has announced its new web site. "Running on the Apache web server and the PHP3 system, the new site is 100% buzzword compliant, and visually stunning."

Red Hat Linux

LinuxWars: Distribution War II. Bill Henning has updates his Distribution Wars II article to include Red Hat 6.1.

Slackware Linux

A new Slackware-current tree has been created, so development on the next release has begun. At the same time, though, some additions to the new tree will apparently also be broken off as patches or released as patches to the older trees, to make the dissemination of security patches for older releases easier. Check the homepage for more details.

Spiro Linux

Spiro Linux sold. Inventive Communications has announcedits acquisition of Spiro Linux. "Rick Collette, chief developer of this enhanced version of Linux, will continue to be the primary maintainer of the Spiro-Linux distribution."

SuSE Linux

SuSE announces training in Germany. SuSE has announced (in German) the availability of its training programs in several German cities, including Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Cologne. English text available via Babelfish.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

December 9, 1999

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

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See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects

Sun-Blackdown go on a bumpy ride. On December 7th, Sun issued a press release proudly announcing the upcoming release of the Java 2 platform on Linux. Within it, the following paragraph had a strong impact within the java-linux community, which has been working with the Blackdown team on a JDK for Linux for many, many years.
"Sun worked with Inprise to produce this Linux port of J2SE. The first release candidate, or final preview, of the Java 2 platform on Linux is now available at http://developer.java.sun.com/developer/earlyAccess/j2sdk122/ and will also be included in shipments of Jbuilder, Inprise's award winning integrated development environment. In early 2000, Sun and Inprise will ship their final Linux port. Sun will internally produce future Linux ports, for the next version of J2SE, which will be available in Q1 Y2000."
Two issues arose: the lack of credit to the Blackdown team and, perhaps more critically, the indication that Sun tends to "internally produce" future Linux ports. This led many, including people on the Blackdown team, to presume that Sun no longer intended to work with the Blackdown team. After all, Inprise's product is presumably for sale. They have a reason to want to make their product clearly better than the freely available efforts of the Blackdown team.

At a minimum, this press release represents a colossal marketing blunder on Sun's part. It highlights a communications gap that exists on three sides, for Sun, Inprise and for the Blackdown team.

To lay some background for people unfamiliar with some of the issues, Sun's JDK has only recently been released under the Sun Community Source License. Even now, development versions of the JDK are not openly available. Signed agreements must be filled out and accepted before someone is allowed access to Sun's source code. Even then, under the agreements in question or the SCSL, the modifications made to Sun's code belong to Sun, unquestionably, and legally there is no requirement that they give credit to anybody. The software that the Blackdown Team creates is thus not truly free software, since it is encumbered by these licensing issues.

However, within the free/open source community, the efforts of the Blackdown Team have still been appreciated and have resonated with the ideals of the community because they are volunteer efforts; no money is earned by the Blackdown Team in exchange for the years of effort they have put into making Sun's source code run on Linux. Enhanced reputation is essentially the only coin by which the Blackdown Team can be paid.

As it turns out, it appears that Sun and Inprise both understood this. We spoke with Susan Struble at Sun whose name appears on the press release. She stated that the Blackdown team was mentioned in all meetings with Inprise, that they were mentioned in all public forums in which the announcement was discussed and that a series of historical articles on the development of Java also talks clearly about the level of their contributions. When we asked what happened with this particular press release, she blamed it on the short time frame in which the deal developed, the difficulty in issuing press releases jointly with another company (to which we can personally testify) and difficulties reaching the Blackdown team in advance, due to the fact that their current primary contact, Juergen Kreileder, is in Germany. At this point, there is no reason to doubt Sun and Inprise's intent to credit the Blackdown team.

However, the more important issue involved may be the communication gap between Sun, Inprise and the Blackdown team. This has led to a situation, currently, where the JDK 1.2.2 for Linux has been developed in parallel by Inprise and the Blackdown team with little to no cross-pollination. That means that the Inprise release contains bugs that the Blackdown team has fixed and vice versa. It has been commented that perhaps competition between the two groups is actually good for the community. How can a true competition exists if your competitor has free access to what you do, but you have no access to what they do? That has not exactly been the case in the past few months, since the Blackdown team only releases its code back to Sun generally after it has passed regression testing, but overall the Blackdown team is required to share what it does with Sun, while Sun can choose whether or not to share its work or Inprise's work with the Blackdown team.

Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to talk directly with the Blackdown team about this situation. Susan indicated again that Sun had spoken today with Kevin Hendricks and that there was no issue here, that Sun has worked and will continue to work with the Blackdown team, that Inprise plans to do so as well. We would like to hear a confirmation of that from the Blackdown team members. It is likely that they would like to see a demonstration of that intent, to bolster their own trust.

Nonetheless, it is to the benefit of all of us for these communication problems to be addressed as quickly and as well as possible. The Blackdown Team currently supports x86, PowerPC, ARM, and Sparc ports. The Sun/Inprise product only supports x86. If the Blackdown team pulled out of the development effort, it would have an extremely bad impact on support for Java on the other platforms.

Sun and Inprise probably both realize the potential seriousness of this blunder. A break with the Blackdown team would give a the shot in the arm to IBM's efforts in this area (see http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com for more details), which are being released under an open source license. They expect to have an initial 1.3 version available for Linux by first quarter 2000.

Resources for additional information/opinions on this issue:

High Availability

Alinka cluster management tool released. A company called Alinka has released a management tool for Linux clusters - it has been placed under the GPL. It looks like a useful tool for the creation and administration of Beowulf clusters; some more information can be found from the Alinka LCM documentation.

Linux in Education

Linux for Kids has added BombObomb to its list of arcade-style software for kids. This is a Bomberman-style game and gets good marks for sound, special effects and add-ons, which come out every month.


KDevelop 1.0 released. Version 1.0 of the KDevelop C++ development environment has been released. Congratulations to the KDevelop team for having reached this major milestone.


The MagicPoint Gallery. Version 2.0 of the MagicPoint Gallery has been announced, including over 41 MagicPoint templates.


Mozillazine in Chinese is a new site which provides a Chinese translation of Mozillazine, the best source of information for keeping up to date with Mozilla.

Updates to Mozilla.org. According to this week's Mozilla Status Report, several new pages have been added to the Mozilla.org site, including:


GraphOn patent and Wine. We mentioned in last week's Development Summary that GraphOn had filed a patent that might impact Wine. This topic was discussed again in the November 29th edition of the Wine Weekly News. Those interested can check the text of the patent.

Concensus seems to be that Wine is not impacted by the patent, "Anyway, it turns out that Wine should be safe regarding this, because:

  • the techniques used by Wine are rather different than the one Doug pointed out in the claim ("device driver interception").
  • patent has been applied in 1995 (as an extension of a 1994 patent), so Wine (which started in 1993) has anteriority
  • we have no clue of GraphOn wills on this matter. So, no need to spread more FUD."

Meanwhile, moving on, the Wine Weekly News for December 6th provides links to the slides from the Wine talk at Comdex and from Peter Ganten's Wine demonstration at LinuxTag.

The big non-technical issue discussed this week was the possible evolution of Wine's license. Richard Stallman reviewed the license and pointed out some problems with it that could make it incompatible with GPL code (surprise, surprise). Anyway, the discussion seems to be progressing in a positive manner, with a preference being expressed to adopt an existing license that suits their purpose rather than monkey with the current one. The license that drew the most interest is the X11 license.


Release delays. The XFree86 team did not quite make its goal to release 4.0 before the end of the year. Here is the latest news:
The XFree86 Project has been working very hard to get the 4.0 release out the door. It is taking a little longer than expected so we will be releasing the next pre-4.0 snapshot (3.9.17) before the end of the year. We expect to release 4.0 about two months later in mid-Q1/2000.

XFree86 3.3.6 will be released in parallel with 3.9.17 as well.


Zope 2.1.0 released. Zope 2.1.0 has been released. This release includes both bug fixes and a number of new features.

LinuxPlanet reviews Zope. LinuxPlanet has run this review of Zope. "... the application-server market has largely settled on Java and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) as tools that can be deployed on any application server, allowing for different servers from different vendors to interoperate on a useful level. There's no hint at all within Zope or the Zope documentation that Java/EJB support was ever considered, much less implemented. This is a major drawback within Zope; you can argue all day and night that Python is superior to Java, but one simply can't ignore the realities of the marketplace."

Zope Weekly News. The December 8th edition of the Zope Weekly News covers new products, general announcements (including a new Spanish Zope Portal) and some organizational updates. It also comments on the above review. "Kevin Reichard (the reviewer) brings with him a fresh perspective as someone coming from outside the "Zope community". He gives Zope an overall 4/5 rating and raises a number of concerns, some valid, some perhaps less so. Kevin represents a demographic destined to become the majority of Zope users (namely, those who view Zope as a tool rather than as a way of life. ;-) ) and so his review deserves careful consideration."

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

December 9, 1999

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Development tools


Simultaneous to the Sun/Inprise announcement which is covered in detail above, the Blackdown Team announced their JDK 1.2.2 RC3, a release candidate for an official 1.2.2 release if it passes all the required tests. Reports are that this latest version is the speediest yet. " With the SUN/Inprise 1.2.2-port, the speed increased alot from what I've experienced with 1.2.2-pre2, but the Blackdown 1.2.2 RC3 with nativethreads runs past these guys without any doubt. Menus poping up like a menu and not like a curtain being pulled down on my PII-400/128MB :)", mentioned Jo Uthus on the java-linux mailing list.

The list of Known Bugs (and Workarounds) for the Blackdown Team's JDK1.2.X project has been updated as of December 8th.

Meanwhile, Inprise also stayed in the news with their announcement of JBuilder for Linux, a commercial Java development tool that is currently available for free download.

Tower Technology Corporation unveiled the latest release of its Java deployment environment, TowerJ 3.5. Including support for the Java 2 specification, TowerJ 3.5 will enter beta testing this month and will be generally available during 1Q2000.

Tritonux, a "freeware implementation of the JavaSound 0.9 API for Linux" has published a developer's page, "where people interested in helping can find which features are not implemented and where programming information or hints can be found". However, a quick check on the site shows that the source code has been made available and is distributed under the GPL, so this is actually a "free" software package.


A 1999 look at the Seven Deadly Sins of Perl. In 1996, Tom Christiansen discussed The Seven Deadly Sins of Perl, "suboptimal" design choices, as he found them. Mark-Jason Dominus has in revisited the topic, giving a prognosis for the problems originally reported by Tom (only one is proclaimed "fixed" and that has lingering issues ...) and adding two of his own, that the documentation has grown too big and the API too complicated. Sounds like topics to start some new flame wars ... [From Perl News.]

PerlMonth issue 7 released. PerlMonth #7 is out. It includes seven development-related articles, and also inaugurates a new Perl job board.


Python-URL!. Dr. Dobbs' Python-URL! for Tuesday, December 7th, mentions downtime for python.org this week, a summary of 3D python projects, new features on the Job board and more development discussions and ideas. "Interest in type safety has made a comeback after nearly a year's hiatus".

Essential Python Reference bug database. David Beazley has announced that a "bug database" for his "Essential Python Reference" has been put up on the net. The list of problems is satisfyingly short, but it's still nice to know what they are. There is also a contest for those who would like to find other problems... (LWN reviewed this book in November).


Dr. Dobbs' Tcl-URL!. This week's Tcl-URL! contains a lot of Tcl tips, such as how to handle the odd EOL character or a detailed case analysis of proper quoting. In addition, August 0.50 has been announced. It is a Tcl/tk-based text editor.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

The big PC vendors take another step toward Linux. Perhaps the biggest commercial Linux news this week, once one escapes the morass of IPO stuff, is this announcement of a deepening strategic alliance between Red Hat and Dell. There are two aspects to this announcement:
  • Dell is now offering Red Hat Linux on its entire PowerEdge server line. Previously, only a small subset of Dell's systems came with a Linux option. The decision to expand the Linux offering suggests that Dell is seeing real interest from its customers - enough to be sure it has Linux-compatible components available across its entire server line.

  • Dell servers also come with 90 days of Red Hat phone support. Dell has offered support for its Linux systems for a while - but that support was provided by Linuxcare. The Linuxcare option is still available, but the first 90 days come from Red Hat.

Nobody is talking, of course, on how this deal came to be. It has the look, however, of Red Hat using its new strength to push a competitor out of the way. Red Hat has a pile of money and no immediate need to show a profit; one assumes that it has made use of both to give Dell an attractive offer. Thus Red Hat establishes itself as the provider of both distributions and support to U.S. businesses.

On another front, Gateway has announced its new Linux-based server appliance. This box is aimed at the small office market, and features a low price tag. The attentive reader, on looking at the Gateway Micro Server page, will notice a certain resemblance to the "Qube" produced by Cobalt Networks. And that is exactly what it is: Gateway and Cobalt announced back in October that they would be working together to market server appliances.

Gateway has still to jump into Linux in any big way. If the server appliances sell well, however, it makes sense to expect that they will become more interested in the future.

O'Reilly network launches - sort of. O'Reilly has announced the existence of the O'Reilly network, which is intended to be "a reference site for the community of independent developers who rely on O'Reilly books to provide in-depth reference content on the technologies important to them." O'Reilly is busy signing up affiliate sites; the current list includes xml.com, ApacheWeek, and MySql.com.

The official "real" launch of the O'Reilly Network is scheduled for January 10.

cascade image] Matra Datavision open-sources Cascade Matra Datavision has announced that its Cascade libraries will be released as open source. Cascade is a set of C++ libraries aimed at graphic modeling applications; it appears to be a powerful framework for the creation of complicated CAD (and other) systems. They claim that $75 million was spent developing this code. Of course, few companies can release code without coming up with a new license to go with it; in this case Cascade is covered under the Open Cascade Matra Datavision Public Licence (MDPL), which is essentially like the GPL. More information, including demonstrations, at the OpenCascade.org web site.

Press Releases:

    Products For Linux:

  • Bittco Solutions announced that its "NetReality" search agent is available for the Linux-Mandrake distribution.

  • CSP Inc. announced that its ViewMax e-commerce package is available for Linux.

  • CSV Technologies Inc. announced that EZTerm Software will be packaged with Red Hat Linux 6.1.

  • Easysoft announced the Easysoft ODBC-ODBC Bridge which allows access to any ODBC enabled database using standard Linux development tools and desktop applications.

  • ILOG announced it has just completed porting its entire product line, embeddable optimization, visualization and rules engines in Java and C++, to the Red Hat and SuSE Linux operating systems.

  • InfoExpress announced (what it claims is) the first virtual private networking package for Red Hat 6.1.

  • Metro Link announced that the Metro-X Enhanced Server Set on CD-ROM is now available in retail stores worldwide. The new CD release from Metro Link supports both Linux/x86 and FreeBSD/x86.

  • Omnis Technology Corporation announced that Omnis Studio was a finalist in the Best Enterprise Software awards at Comdex in Sydney, Australia.

  • Perle Specialix announced that Linux drivers - with source - will be available for its entire line of serial I/O boards.

  • PlugSys International announced a more generous licensing model for its software, starting with Max for Linux version 1.1

  • Simply.com announced its under critical path in their port of Simply VideoIP to the Linux platform.

  • Take Five Software announced the "SNiFF++ Penguin IDE," a development environment aimed at C and C++ developers on Linux. It is a "limited version," available for free (binary) download.

  • xgforce announced a Linux port of eCluster Server, which provides Network Traffic Distribution, Network Failsafe, and Large Network Management. Available for free download.

  • YARC Systems Corp. revealed details of the LINUX Color Server technology it has developed for the Digital Imaging industry.

    Products Using Linux:

  • Cobalt Networks announced the new "RaQ3" line of servers. One of the features claimed is a little disconcerting, though: "Bandwidth management (patent-pending)." Getting into software patents is not likely to help Cobalt's relations with Linux developers.

  • IndyBox Systems, Inc. announced two new series of Linux computers. The IndyBox R1100 class and the IndyBox R2200 class

  • Light Plaza and XML For All, Inc. announced the release of the Light Plaza BookServer, an Internet document server built around a Pentium-based Linux workstation.

  • Progressive Systems, Inc. will announce the giveaway of a personal use version of its Phoenix Adaptive Firewall on December 13.

  • Signiform announced the release of ThoughtTreasure 0.00022, a new version of its comprehensive natural language/commonsense platform for building question answering services, information extraction systems, and world-aware applications.

  • Technauts announced what it claims is the first commercially available failover technology for Linux systems.

  • Technauts announced a Linux-based Internet appliance.

  • The Internet Advisory Corporation announced it will offer Web hosting solutions utilizing Cobalt Networks, Inc. Linux-based server appliances.

    Java Products:

  • DataMirror Corporation announced transformation Server for PointBase.

  • Informix Corp. announced its strategic commitment to support the Java2 Platform, Enterprise Edition.

  • Intuitive Systems, Inc. unveiled Optimizeit 3.1 Professional, a Java performance tool.

  • Metro Link will demonstrate their home automation software at the CEMA Forum in Orlando, FL on Feb 7, 2000.

  • Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced Forte for Java, Community Edition, v. 1.0 beta.

  • The Sun-Netscape Alliance announced the iPlanet Application Server 6.0 software, providing a rich application development platform based on the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition standard.

  • Tendril Software introduced StructureBuilder 3.3 with ejbCreate, a complete EJB design, development and deployment tool.

    Products With Linux Versions:

  • @Manage announced the launch of its flagship service, @Monitor, a new Internet service.

  • Asante Technologies, Inc. is now offering two fast ethernet adapters, both of which will work with Linux systems.

  • AvantGo, Inc. announced AvantGo Enterprise Publisher.

  • Gadzoox Networks, Inc. announced that it has satisfied the rigorous interoperability test requirements of the "Tachyon Tested" Program from Agilent Technologies, Inc. for its SAN product.

  • GamePC, supplier of custom-built high-end computer systems, now offers the option of Red Hat Linux 6.1 Deluxe, pre-installed.

  • GMV Network unveiled EdgeServer, a streaming media distribution solution.

  • Interactive Software Engineering announced ISE Eiffel 4.5, a software development tool.

  • MediaQ Inc. announced that NEC Corporation will offer the first devices powered by the company's flagship MQ-200 LCD graphics controller. Linux device drivers are available.

  • MODCOMP, Inc. announced that its ViewMax Web-to-host solution now supports the Linux operating system.

  • Mortgage Builder Software, Inc. announced a new interface from its loan origination system, Mortgage Builder to Fannie Mae's MORNET Cash Delivery System, Freddie Mac's Midanet Delivery System and Ginnie Mae's Ginnie Net Loan Delivery System.

  • NARUS Inc. announced the availability of the NARUS Billing Mediation System 1.5.

  • RealNetworks, Inc. introduced RealServer 7.0 and RealProducer 7.0, the latest advancements to RealSystem G2, a cross-platform media delivery system.

  • Scriptics Corporation announced a beta release of Scriptics Connect v1.1, which provides support for the Red Hat Linux operating system and Netscape Enterprise Web servers.

  • Silicon Valley Research, Inc. announced that it has successfully ported all of its currently supported products to the Linux operating system.

  • Sybergen Networks announced that its Sybergen Access Server now features an integrated Virtual Private Network (VPN) router that supports individual client computers communicating with a wide variety of external VPN servers via individual VPN paths.

  • Track Data Corporation announced that it released several new versions of its myTrack software developers kit.

  • VSI (V-Systems Inc.) announced the latest version of its flagship product, VSI-FAX 4.0.

    Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions:

  • Computone Corporation announced that its full line of remote access communications servers and high-speed multiport I/O boards has been added to the GSA (General Systems Administration) schedule offered through Gates/Arrow Distributing, Inc. This includes the IntelliPort II, a multi-port serial controller with software device drivers incorporated into the Linux kernel source code.

  • Digital Creations, creator of Zope, announced that it is partnering with Fast Engines, supplier of web server acceleration software.

  • Digital Creations is also partnering with Sybase.

  • eSoft announced a deal with Hewlett-Packard where HP will be distributing eSoft's (Linux-based) "TEAM Internet" software in Germany.

  • LinuxOne, Inc. announced it has signed an agreement with DATA BECKER Corp., a German book and software publisher, for distribution of LinuxOne Lite throughout Germany and other European countries.

  • Loki Entertainment Software announced an exclusive agreement with id Software to publish, package and distribute worldwide Quake III Arena for Linux.

  • MandrakeSoft announced that support for its upcoming distribution (called "Goldpack-2000," and due on December 10) in the UK will be provided by Enterprise Management Consulting.

  • MandrakeSoft announced that Prisma Opentech will be the first South American distributor of its latest Linux-Mandrake release, Linux-Mandrake GoldPack 2000.

  • ON Channel, Inc., an embedded Linux developer, announced that it has been acquired by Coollogic, Inc.

  • SAP AG and IBM announced an agreement to expand their global sales, marketing and development relationship.

  • TurboLinux announced bundling agreements with three Chinese hardware manufacturers.

  • YARC Systems Corporation announced that it has closed a financing which will provide a ten million dollar credit facility to expand YARC's merger and acquisition activities. YARC has been developing LINUX solutions for Internet based printing.


  • 3dfx Interactive Inc. announced the open sourcing of its Glide 3D programming API.

  • Amdahl Corporation announced that its "Enterprise Help Desk" service now includes Linux support.

  • Applix announced ApplixWorld 2000. "More than 500 customers from across the globe are anticipated to attend the conference scheduled for May 23 - 26, 2000 at the Boston Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Boston, MA."

  • GraphOn Corporation announced that Ericsson (www.ericsson.se) has certified GraphOn's GO-Global software (soon to become part of GraphOn's Bridges product) for integration into its Standard Office Environment. GraphOn's Bridges is thin, server-based software that connects any UNIX, Linux or Windows applications to any display device over any connection.

  • IBM put up this page claiming interoperability between Linux and its S/390 system. "The added degree of openness enhances the value of the S/390 by extending file serving, data, print, and other services to Linux based systems throughout the enterprise." (Thanks to Boas Betzler and Dan York).

  • Linux Magazine announced the publication of its first annual "Linux Magazine 50" list of movers and shakers in the Linux community.

  • Magic Software Enterprises announced that Comput-Ability Inc. won its Magic for Linux Really Cool Contest with BuyInsulation.com.

  • No Starch Press released THE BOOK OF IRC, a comprehensive guide on using Internet Relay Chat.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

December 9, 1999


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

Linux in the news

IPO News:

The Internet Stock Report ran this look at the Andover.net IPO, due to happen any day now. "As has been the case with the recent spikes in RedHat and other Linux companies, it would not be surprising if the Andover.net IPO also undergoes similar volatility -- especially as the press heats up regarding the IPO. So, Andover.net could be a great way to get a quick profit from the Linux craze."

Here's a brief Reuters article stating that Andover.net is raising its IPO price to $15-18 per share (from $12-15). That, of course, suggests that they are seeing some demand.

This New York Times article looks at this week's IPOs. "The renegade Linux operating system will be in the spotlight again this week when two related companies, the much-anticipated VA Linux Systems Inc. and Andover.Net., go public." Note that the New York Times is a registration-required site; this article may also be read without registration via Newsalert. (Thanks to Paul Hewitt).

Here's a News.com article about the VA Linux and Andover.net IPOs, both of which are expected to happen this week. "VA Linux, which markets servers, and Andover, an operator of Web sites, are Linux-related offerings, but investors will likely treat them differently, according to IPO analysts. Andover.net may face mixed reviews because of the unconventional approach it took with its offering."

Also in News.com: this article about VA's community offering. "The firm sent a letter to Linux developers inviting them to participate in the company's imminent initial public offering. Although there are altruistic motives for the offer, there are pragmatic reasons as well, some say. A Linux company would be ill-advised to alienate the programming community it depends upon. In addition, the participation offer stands to increase the word-of-mouth buzz that often precedes a successful IPO."

Yet another News.com article reports on the VA Linux IPO price increase. "Such increases in the price range generally indicates high demand for the stock. It's not a surprise, given the successes of Linux-related IPOs such as Red Hat and Cobalt Networks, both of which increased their offering prices."

The LA Times reports on the upcoming VA Linux IPO. "Other analysts, however, say VA Linux is no Red Hat. They are skeptical of the rush of fledgling 'me-too' companies joining the Linux IPO bandwagon, pointing to deals expected from TurboLinux Inc. and several others next year."

CBS Marketwatch looks at the VA Linux Systems IPO. "Revenues have been growing briskly: $2.7 million in 1997, $5.6 million in 1998 and $17.7 million in 1999. The growth has been due in large part to a surge in the customer base, which was 300 in 1997, 550 in 1998 and 1,100 in 1999. There was also an increase in the average level of business for each customer: $9,000 in 1997, $10,000 in 1998 and $15,000 in 1999. In fact, the company has very strong backers, such as Sequoia Capital and Intel. What's more, with the surge in RedHat and other Linux companies, VA Linux should do extremely well this week with its IPO debut."

Here's Business Week's take on the VA Linux IPO. "Sometime later this week, another Linux-related company, called VA Linux Systems, will go public under the ticker symbol LNUX. It will probably double or triple in price while market pundits criticize it for being another overhyped IPO. This time, they'll be wrong. That's because VA Linux could be poised to cash in on the best source of business that Linux will present: VA sells computers, not software."

The Red Herring looks at this week's IPOs. "Possibly the hottest of all is VA Linux Systems (proposed Nasdaq symbol: LNUX). Located in Sunnyvale, California, the company is a provider of Linux-based systems, software, and services. The magic word here is 'Linux,' bringing to mind several other Linux IPOs, such as Cobalt Networks (Nasdaq: COBT) and Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT)."

The Register chimes in on Linux IPOs. "So far as developers are concerned, it is now possible to see the open software movement moving towards the mainstream, just as the PC market was in the late 1980s. It would make little sense to resist the new ethos: after all, wasn't success part of the original objective?"

ZDNet reprints this MSNBC article about Linux IPOs. "There's nothing like a 1,500-percent-plus stock-value jump to catch the attention of investors."

ZDNet's Inter@ctive Investor has yet another IPO article. "The Andover.net deal will be huge for W.R. Hambrecht, but also illustrates that Andover.net may not have been able to land a big traditional underwriter such as Goldman Sachs. The good news is that demand is strong as W.R. Hambrecht raised the price range."

Open Source Resources:

Upside looks at Cosource.com. "'Our mission, our evangelism to the open source community, is that money is good,' [Cosource CEO] Thompson says. 'The fact that open source can move forward without money being involved is great, but money can make it better.'"

Here's a News.com article about Cosource.com. "The payments to the programmers have ranged from $10 to $1,100, but within two years Cosource wants to increase the usual price tag to about $10,000."

IT-Director.com seems to think that Application Server Provider (ASP) systems are the way to get open source software into the application level. "The industry is now conditioned to accept the ASP hosting model, is ready to trust open source software, and recognises the need to build new applications very rapidly and more cost-effectively in order to exploit the Web." (Thanks to Paulo Francisco Sedrez).


Bill Henning, distribution reviewer extraordinaire, takes a look at Corel Linux in this AboutLinux article. "You should realize that this is the first 'release' of a Linux distribution from Corel; and as such it is not surprising that it has some rough edges, and some of the new tools introduced by Corel Linux (that are Open Source) go far in making up for the problems that I (and others) have found."

This AboutLinux.com review is about TurboLinux 4.0 Workstation Lite. "None of the problems I encountered were unsolvable; indeed I did not have any difficulty resolving the problems I ran into; however someone new to Linux would have thrown up their hands and gone right back to Windows."

CNET has put up an article evaluating seven different Linux distributions. "To help you choose the best Linux version for you, CNET examined the seven most popular distributions available. We installed them, picked through their documentation, and evaluated their strengths as desktop OSs and as enterprise-level servers." In fact, they appear to have rated the distributions primarily on installation and documentation. Corel and Red Hat came out high; Debian and Mandrake low.

Red Hat:

ComputerWorld ran this article about the new agreement between Dell and Red Hat. "Previously, 90-day support for Dell's Linux workstations and servers was delivered by Linuxcare Inc. in San Francisco. Linuxcare Chief Technology Officer David Sifry said Linuxcare will continue to deliver the support for Dell's desktops running Linux and Dell server buyers can still elect to have their 90-day support delivered by Linuxcare."

News.com reports briefly on the new Red Hat/Dell agreement. "Dell had been relying on LinuxCare for service and support. It is still uncertain how today's deal with Red Hat will affect that agreement, if at all."

ZDNet's Inter@ctive Investor reports on the Red Hat/Dell agreement, and gives it credit for the latest jump in Red Hat's stock price. "Red Hat has been the primary Linux stock for Wall Street and the Dell deal will gives it a nice head start on the competition. Two of Red Hat's competitors go public this week. Andover.net (Proposed ticker: ANDN) and VA Linux (Proposed ticker: LNUX) will launch IPOs."

Red Hat's Wide Open News interviews Michael Tiemann. "He spoke with us at length and in depth about the Red Hat-Cygnus merger, forking Linux, post-PC computing, why Red Hat!=Microsoft, and where he was when the deal was announced - and revealed that a delegation of open-source gurus (Tiemann included) is meeting with a group from Sun Microsystems to discuss Sun's position on open source and open standards." (Thanks to Paul Hewitt).

osOpinion has another shopping suggestion for Red Hat. "Redhat should buy Troll Tech and place QT under the LGPL or BSD licenses."

Also in Inter@ctive Investor: this article raising concerns after Red Hat's quarterly analyst conference call. "This morning's Red Hat discussion made it easy to understand why the Linux grassroots folks are becoming leery of Red Hat. Not once did the Red Hat get tipped in the direction of the larger developer community, although Young did mention them in passing at the very end of the conference call; if you had never heard of Linux until listening to Red Hat executives today, you would have come away with the impression that Red Hat owns Linux."


Here's an HP World article about the forthcoming Merced port. "The Linux/IA-64 project at HP Labs represents a significant contribution to the Open Source movement. But there was more to the decision than meets the eye. According to David Mosberger, member of the technical staff at HP Research Labs, it came about for 'lots of reasons.'" (Thanks to Robert K. Nelson).

News.com has gotten around to covering Intel's investment in SuSE. "While Intel's investments help the companies fund expansion efforts, they also can be a financial boon. Intel's purchase of 3,005,058 shares of Red Hat at a price of $3.141 cost Intel $9.44 million. With Red Hat's stock at 221.5 in morning trading, that investment now is worth more than $646 million."

Multimedium reports (in French) on Linux-Mandrake. "Thanks to a partnership with American book publisher Macmillan, the French company MandrakeSoft is one of only two profitable Linux distributors." English text available via Babelfish. (Found in NNL).

Nicholas Petreley looks at disaster predictions in this InfoWorld column; he expects trouble for Microsoft stock. "Microsoft is betting the company on Windows 2000. Windows 2000 Advanced Server is $3,999 for 25 users. Add $5,397 for 75 additional user licenses and 100 client copies of Windows 2000 Professional at $319 each, and that brings your total to $41,296 for one server and 100 users. Contrast that to Linux or FreeBSD, both of which cost about $50 for unlimited users. Let's see: $41,296 for 100 users or $50 for unlimited users -- which shall I choose?"

ENT Magazine ran this article on Bristol Technologies' Wind/U product. "Wind/U for Linux enables developers to compile Microsoft Win32 API and Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) source code directly on Linux and create native desktop and server-based Linux applications." (Thanks to Charles Bermingham).

Here's an opinion piece in The Nation about the Microsoft "findings of fact." The suggested solution is to require full documentation of the Windows API. "Microsoft would then be competing on a level playing field with an organization of volunteers and commercial distributors who would have a higher-quality, completely compatible product everyone could get free. That's the kind of competition that would really benefit consumers. The end of the Microsoft Era can be the beginning of the Age of Open Software, in which programs will work better, cost less and develop in innovative new ways faster than ever before." (Thanks to Jean-Christophe Helary).

This osOpinion piece suggests that Linux may be in trouble because there is no way to insure that Linux users will remain captive to the ads presented with "free" Internet services. "Can we still hope to establish Linux as a desktop alternative when Windows 2000 machines may include *free* unlimited 56k Internet?"

ZDNet's Inter@ctive Investor raises some concern about current Linux stock prices. "Maybe you're a believer. Maybe you think Linux will revolutionize the information technology universe. But when it comes to your investments, make sure you're not paying an Internet-stock premium for what amounts to an unproven services company."

Reuters takes this look at Corel's stock price. "Despite investor enthusiasm, analysts are taking a more cautious approach to Corel's Linux opportunity."

The Ottawa Citizen reports on Corel, its high stock price, and plans for the future. "As small plastic penguins rained down from balconies inside the Carling Avenue headquarters, Mr. Cowpland called Ottawa 'the new Linux capital of the world.'"


The LA Times interviews Linus Torvalds. "It's very clear that when I look at how it was before the commercial people got involved, Linux was much more unbalanced. It was great technology, but at the same time it was too much of being just technology. With the vendors coming in, suddenly it becomes much more of a whole product."

Evan Leibovitch has put together a Christmas shopping list for your favorite Linux geek. "For the older geek, or one who just wants to play with the rich, buy a copy of Oracle 8i for Linux for $89, a pittance compared to the several thousand dollar price tags on traditional Oracle."

SiliconValley.com reports on the GOP presidential debate, which included Steve Forbes talking about the Microsoft trial. "``The fact is that technology is going to send that lawsuit to the equivalent of Jurassic Park,'' Forbes said.... Forbes cited the rise of competitors such as Sun Microsystems as proof, but made a noticeable gaffe when he referred to the rival Linux open-source operating system as ``Loonix.''" (Thanks to John Franks).

The Sydney Morning Herald ran this introductory article. It is not one of the more accurate ones we have seen... "Caldera's version of Linux is also extremely popular, since it is based on Red Hat Linux but adds a range of other features. "

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

December 9, 1999


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



[Christmas penguin] Julekalender. The Skåne Sjælland Linux User Group has put up a Linux Christmas calendar which makes available a new "Christmas present" each day. It's all in Danish, but worth a look anyway.

A mailing list for Linux StarOffice users has been set up on eGroups. Head over to the mailing list web page to see the discussion or to sign up.


Photos from the Bangalore IT.COM 99 Linux Pavillion. The Linux Pavillion at IT.COM 99 in Bangalore, India was a great success. Now, there are over 400 photos from the event up on the web documenting the event. Worth a look.

Pictures from LinuxTag. Alan Cox has put up a set of pictures from LinuxTag in Bremen.

December 9, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
123 Session Module 0.1 A session module for the Roxen Web server.
ACPLTea 0.16 Java-based com system ACPLT/KS for process control engineering
Adonthell 0.1.a CGI role-playing game
Airmid 1.1 A GNU/Linux rescue disk.
Akkord 0.1 Advanced KDE Commander
ALSA driver 0.4.1h An alternative implementation of Kernel sound support
APSEND v1.2 APSEND 1.2 A TCP IP/UDP/ICMP packet sender.
Ari's Yahoo Client 1.0 A text-based Yahoo! Messenger client.
asNews 0.5.3 Simple news retrieving software which shows the news on your desktop
asp2php 0.73.3 Converts Active Server Pages (ASP) to PHP3 scripts
Asterisk 0.1.0 An Open Source PBX for Linux.
AtDot 2.91.0 Web based e-mail system
atexit.py 0.1.3 A Python module that implements the atexit() function.
AUDPBACKDOOR 1.00 A UDP-based remote shell.
aumix 1.30 Color text mode sound mixer with GPM support
autoresponder 0.2 An autoresponder creator and configurator.
Bastille Linux 0.93 beta A comprehensive hardening program for Redhat Linux 6.0.
BLADE 0.8.0 Broad Language Aided Document Environment
BladeEnc 0.89 Freeware MP3 Encoder
Bochs 991114a Portable x86 PC emulation software package
botnet 0.22 Communication package for making IRC bots (or even clients)
BusyBox 0.38 A suite of tiny Unix utilities, for building rescue disks and embedded systems.
BW whois 1.4 A whois in perl that works with the newly mangled whois system as of 1 Dec 1999.
Bynari TradeMail 0.1.3 Enteprise email, information management for Linux
Calculator 0.10.0B Simple Command Line Calculator
CapsiChat 0.21 Multi-user Internet chatbox/haven
cdrecord 1.8a34 Allows the creation of both audio and data CDs
centerICQ 2.0.0 a textmode-based ICQ clone for Linux
ClanBomber 0.98c Bomberman clone for ClanLib (X11 for now).
cle 0.4 Command Line Editor
CodeGuide 2 A Java IDE
comics.pl 1.1 A Perl script to download all of today's online comics.
Conglomerate Prerelease XML document system.
Connect 1.2.1 Client-server to easily share (open/close) one ppp link among a small network
CoreLinux++ 0.2.0 A set of C++ class libraries to support common patterns in software development.
Courier-IMAP 0.19 IMAP server for maildirs
Coyote Linux 1.03 A single-floppy distribution for sharing an Internet connection.
cpp1 1.008 Experimental chess program, successor to `bullucks'
csnes9x 0.9.10 A command line snes9x launcher.
CSpotRun 0.8.1 A reader for documents in the Pilot DOC format.
csvdump 1.3 Dump, process, and mail a MySQL table.
Cyrus IMAP server 1.6.20 Full featured IMAP server
Cyrus SASL 1.5.13 generic client/server library for SASL authentication
DayDream 2.09 Daydream BBS version 2.07
dc20 1.1-1 A user friendly package for the Kodak DC20 camera.
Dead Link Check 0.4.0 Finds information on validity of HTTP references.
Defendguin 0.0.1 A Linux-themed Defender clone.
Dejafilter 0.06 Content-filtering CGI-based proxy script for Deja.com queries
DeleGate 6.0.5 alpha Multi-purpose application level gateway (proxy)
DemoLinux 1.0pre4 A Linux OS demonstration CD.
dep.pl 1.15 Check dependencies of multiple files.
Diablo 1.25 Fast and efficient NNTP newsfeeder software
diald applet 0.0.2 A GNOME panel applet to control diald
Disc-Cover 0.9.5 Generate covers for audio cds non-interactively using cddb
DNRD 2.6 Proxy DNS server for home networks with multiple ISPs
dnscvsutil 0.3 Maintain DNS zone files under CVS control.
Doc Toolkit 1.1.3 E-text tools for Palm Computing platform users
Download Area 2.0 Pack of CGI scripts that makes specific
Dump/Restore 0.4b11 Utilities to dump and restore an ext2 partition
ecasound 1.6.8r8 Sound processing, multitrack recording and mixing
Ecology-HOWTO 0.4 Linux as a mean to protect our environment.
Ecomready Eshop 1.1 A complete e-shop solution with front-end and administration.
Eddie 1.3.4 Robust, clustering, load balancing, high availability, web server tool.
egrep-finger 1.29 Extended finger program using extended regular expressions
EJBoss 0.9 Enterprise Java Beans application server for Linux
eMixer 0.05.3 MP3 Mixing Software
Endeavour 1.08 Linux/X File and Image Browser
Energymech 2.7.1 Bot for irc with eggdrop like features to manage a channel
EnlightenDSM Free Cross platform systems administration and monitoring tool.
Entity 0.5.0 Build graphical applications using XML and Perl or Python.
Event Calendar 1.1 PHP/PostgreSQL-based online event calendar
exec.c 1.0.4 sys_execve backdoor which logs user commands.
Exegetical Fish Monkey 2.8 A Python-based dictionary server.
EZ/X 1.0 Robust, Fast, Conformant XML and XSL Processor for Java
FastGL 1.71 A very wonderfull C/C++ graphics library
fastjar 0.90 Fast jar file creator written in C
fileutils 4.0k The GNU file management utilities
Flock 0.1.0 A small terminal locker with fortune support.
fmscore 0.91 freshmeat daily newsletter parser (Mail::Freshmeat) and scorer
freecolor 0.7.1 Colorized free command with graphs
freemed 19991203 Free medical management software in a web browser
FreeMWare 19990829a Provides virtual computing for Linux.
FreeSCI 0.2.5 Re-implementation of the Sierra Creative Interpreter
FreeVet 1.1.0 A Y2K ready Animal Clinic System
FTP4ALL 3.008 FTP server program for UNIX systems
FtpLocate 1.50 FTP sites search engine
fwlogstat 1.0 A Checkpoint Firewall account log analyzer.
Fworld IRC Operator Services 2.1.1 IRC Operator Service with features to rival that of Undernet's.
gamp 0.1.10 An ncurses-based MP3 player for Linux.
geektalkd 1.20 Simple, yet extendable chat server
Geektools Whois 2.24 Intelligent Whois client
Generic NQS 3.50.7 The Leading OpenSource Batch Processing System For UNIX
GeneWeb 3.01 A combo web interface and genealogy program combined on steroids
gIDE 0.1.6 GTK-based Integrated Development Environment for C
Gifsicle 1.16.1 Command-line tool for creating, editing, and optimizing GIFs and animations
Gift 1.7 Meta-Graphical Editor
GlobeCom Jukebox 3.2pre5 Music jukebox with integrated CDDB aware ripping and groupware functionality
Gnapster 1.1 GNOME Napster client
gnome-napster 0.3.2 A GNOME napster client for MP3-sharing.
gnome-o-phone 0.4 Internet telephone with a gtk interface
gnome-pilot 0.1.46 Palm Pilot integration for GNOME
GNU Backgammon 0.02 A backgammon playing and analysis program.
GNU Keyring 0.5.1 Securely store digital secret keys on your Palm handheld computer.
GnuPG.pm 0.04 Perl interface to the Gnu Privacy Guard
GNUware SourceIT! 1.5 A low cost CD containing over 1000 free Linux and UNIX programs.
gPhoto 0.4.2 GNU Digital Camera download software
gProjectGenerator 0.1.0 A GNOME source-tree generator.
Groovy Java Database 0.1 A Java object-oriented database
gTans 1.0 Tangram puzzle game
Gtkfxp 0.2 An FXP client for GTK.
GtkGraph 0.5.2 Graphing calculator for X
GtkTiLink 0.37_1.94 A TI calculators <-> PC communication program using a GTK interface
Hitchhiker 2000 0.1 An astronomy program which shows the planets and their orbits
HTMLDOC 1.8.2 Converts HTML to indexed HTML, PostScript, and PDF
htsserver 0.5.3 Server application of the multiplayer trading game Holsham Traders
icewm 0.9.53 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
icqlib 19991208 ICQ interface library
Imoria 4.85.11 dungeon game like rogue, nethack, moria, etc.
IRIS Performer for Linux 2.3 A high-performance 3D scene graph-rendering toolkit.
irmctl 0.2.2 Control daemon for non IRDA ir receivers
iroffer 1.0 Standalone, compiled fileserver for IRC
isapnptools 1.20 ISA plug and play configuration utility
isdn_scripts 1.31-1 ISDN configuration tool
isp-watcher 2.0.1 A perl script which monitors lines at an ISP for disconnects.
jac 0.10 Command line CD Player
Java Assistant 1.6 Java Class/Package Browser + front end to mocha and any decompiler
JavaORB 2.2 A free Java implementation of CORBA 2.2
jbpe 991201 Java back-propagation neural network editor
JX Development Suite 1.0 Integrated Development Environment
KBML 2.2 JavaBeans serialization using XML
kdc2tiff 0.20 Convert from Kodak .kdc file to .tiff or .jpg
KDevelop 1.0 KDevelop is a new C++ development environment for Unix/X11.
kgconfig 0.02 Gtk configuration utility for the Linux kernel.
Kgutenbook 0.4.4 KDE port of the perl app gutenbook, to download, and read etexts from Gutenburg
kicq 19991208 ICQ clone for KDE that looks like Mirabilis' ICQ client
kmuser 0.9.4 User-Administration-Tool for the KDE-Desktop
KMySQL 1.2.1 A MySql client for KDE.
knetstart 0.8 Simple Ethernet card setup with network map
KRunning 0.3.0 A database manager for your private running events
KSnes9x 1.1 KDE frontend for Snes9x
KStella 0.1 A KDE frontend to the Atari 2600 emulator, Stella.
LANdb 0.75 Provides network managers with a means of cataloging network connections.
LaTeX2HTML 99.2beta6 Converts LaTeX documents to HTML.
liblcd 1.0.0 Library to control the functions of serial LCD displays
Lift Off Java Installer 0.1 An installer for Java applications.
LinCVS 0.2.2 A graphical frontend for the CVS-client.
LingoTeach 0.15 A very simple language-teaching program.
Linux Napster Client 0.8 beta Application that locates and downloads MP3s.
Linux Vacation 1.2.0 An automatic mail-answering program for Linux.
Linux-HA 0.4.6b Heartbeat subsystem for High-Availability Linux project
Linuxconf 1.16r10 Sophisticated administrative tool
lm_sensors 2.4.4 LM78 and LM75 drivers
log4j 0.6.2 Fast and flexible logging tool written in Java.
Logcheck 1.1.1 helps spot problems and security violations in your logfiles
logsurfer 1.41 Log check/auditing tool with multiline capability
LoopLinux 1 Small linux distribution that can be installed on a existing Dos/Win95/98 system
LxA 0.0.3 Linux appliance construction set.
Maelstrom 3.0.1 Excellent 'Asteroids' type game with sound, 3D objects, and more
MagicPoint Gallery 2.0 A gallery of MagicPoint presentation templates
mailshift 0.05 Utility to transfer UNIX mailboxes to a Windows POP3 server
makeconf.makefile 0.2 A Makefile-making script.
makeself 1.5.2 Script to create self-extractable gzipped tar archives
man-pages 1.28 The Linux manpages collection
marks 1.2 A set of ksh/bash utilities for bookmarking directories.
Melange Chat Server 2.02 Beta2 Chat server written in C including a Java-client
memtester 2.81 Userspace memory-testing application for Linux/Unix.
MicroC InstallBrowser 1.0 An easy Linux application installer. Builds easy-to-install application CDROMs.
Milo 2.2-14 The Alpha-Linux bootloader.
MiniMate 4.0alpha4.0.1 Administration tool for MiniVend
MiniVend 4.0 alpha3 Powerful freely redistributable shopping cart package
MP3info 0.5 A simple utility to read and write MP3-TAG info.
mpg123-mysql 0.2 MySQL support for mpg123
mreport 0.7 Maillog Report Generation Utility
Muddleftpd 1.2.2 A small, fast configurable ftp server that can run without root.
N64 Controller Driver Module 0.14V N64 controller driver module for the Linux joystick driver.
NAMG 0.2.1 Downloads mail from a NetAddress account and forwards it locally
netpeek 0.0.4 GNOME/GTK-based network packet sniffer
nettest 1.3 Notifies you if your network connection goes down audibly or through email
nscache 0.2pl1 Simple manager and browser for Netscape(tm) cache directories.
oc (onecopy) 0.0 A directory synchronizer using links.
ODBC-ODBC Bridge Provides ODBC access from Unix to remote ODBC data sources
OpenBSD-ftp 1.0 Linux port of the OpenBSD ftp client
OpenVerse Visual Chat 0.7-4 Free Multiplatform Visual Chat software written in Tcl/TK
Oracletool 0.97 A web based tool for Oracle DBA's written in Perl.
ORBit 0.5.0 Thin/fast CORBA ORB
ozone 0.3.3 A Java-based object database system.
passwdd 0.10 Password synchronization server/client
PCI Utilities 2.1.1 Utilities for diagnostics and cofiguration of PCI devices
pcmcia-cs 3.1.5 A complete PCMCIA or 'PC Card' support package for Linux.
pdftohtml 0.1 A PDF to HTML converter
Perl Mailer v1.2 E-mails the contents of any form, while doing basic data validation and auth.
pgp4pine by Marcin Marszalek 3.0 Bash script that allows using PGP under PINE
PHP Color Scheme Demonstration 0.0.0 A simple color scheme system for PHP.
PHP filemanager 0.02 A simple Web-based filemanager/text editor written in PHP.
PHPGem 1.2 A generator of PHP-scripts for working with tables on SQL-servers.
phpMyAdmin 2.0.5 Handles the basic adminstration of MySQL over the WWW
phpSysInfo 0.6 phpSysInfo will display things like Uptime, CPU, Memory, etc.
phpTopsites 1.0 A Topsites script written in PHP for MySQL.
playmp3list 0.71 color mp3 playlist player
pmidi 1.2.4 Command line midi player for ALSA
pngcrush 1.2.1 Optimizer for PNG files that can also delete specified chunks
portfwd 0.7 Forwards incoming TCP connections and UDP packets.
PortSentry 1.0 Detects and responds to port scans against a target host inreal-time.
PostScript::MailLabels 1.0 A Perl module for generating mailing labels.
PowerPak 991203 An attempt at a high-level game SDK
PPPOEd 0.4 PPP over Ethernet
Project Lightbulb 1.0 beta Project Lightbulb uses distributed computing and a genetic algorithm to find pat
psiconv 0.6.1 Psion 5 file conversion utilities and file format documentation
PTlink Services 1.6.0 IRC Registration Services
Public Bookmark Generator 0.5 Generate a public bookmark (selected items) out of your bookmarks
pxtools 0.0.5 Collection of tools to convert a Paradox-database
PyGCS 1.3.8 A very stripped down MUD-like chat-server written entirely in Python.
Pyrite 0.9.0 Palm Computing platform communication kit for Python
Q10 1.02 A basic Qt GUI for manipulating X10's Firecracker devices
QIR 0.2 An IRC Quake 3 server-status reporter.
Qpopper 3.0b23 POP3 server
QtEZ 0.85 Qt based rapid application development environment
qtmixer 1.2 Soundcard mixer program
QtVu 0.3.21beta2 An image viewer heavily inspired by ACDSee
quietrun 0.1 A shell scriptlet to run commands with silence on success.
Rasca 1.3.1 Extended MP3 Player.
remoted 1.0 Interprets X10 MouseRemote commands through the serial port.
Report Magic for Analog 1.2 Create tabular reports and graphs from Analog web statistics.
Resin 1.1.b4 JSP (Javaserver Pages) engine
reXgrep 1.0 Graphical interface to grep.
ROBODoc 3.1c Documentation tool for many programming languages
RpmLevel 1.2-1 Adds extra maintenance and reporting capabilities into RPM databases.
rshproxy 1.0.0 Application level gateway for rsh, rlogin and rexec.
Ruby 1.4.3 An object-oriented language for quick and easy programming
sawmill 0.18 Extensible window manager
sawmill.el 1.7 Emacs mode for editing sawmill code and interacting with sawmill
scdbackup 0.5 Simplified CD backup for Linux.
Scene 0.1.5 Inventor and VRML toolkit.
Scinom 0.10 News/Forum Web Site (Slashdot Clone)
ScryMUD 2.0.8 Original MUD Server and Java Client
SDL 1.0.0 SDL is a library that allows you portable low level access for graphics/sound
selectwm 0.2.1 A window manager selector
sendmail-tls 0.21 SSL/TLS Wrapper for sendmail (and other MTAs)
setup 1.1 Graphical installer for Unix applications based on GTK and XML
sfront 0.49 Translates MPEG 4 Structured Audio to C
Simple Web Server 0.4.0-devel Simple web-server
simscomputing.Test Bed 0.16 Tool for writing unit tests for your Java code
Sirobot 0.7.2 A Web fetch tool similar to wget.
slackjaw 3.1sql Bot for FirstClass server chat rooms
SmallEiffel -0.77Beta#5 The GNU Eiffel Compiler
SML/NJ 110.25 Compiler, development environment, and libraries for Standard ML
smtm 0.6.0 A Perl/Tk ticker for global stock markets.
Smurf Sound Font Editor 0.46 Sound Font editor
Solfege 0.4 GPL'ed eartraining for Gnome
Space Racer 0.2.0 An OpenGL Car Game
spam.pl 0.12 Perl script for sending automatic complaints on spam
SPIRO Linux A Linux distribution that is easy to install and use
Sportal 1.9.5 A file watcher with a GTK frontend.
Stubby 1.0 Creates stubs for dynamic link libraries.
Superficie 0.7.0 A program for basic 3D surfaces viewing and manipulation.
Syncal 0.8.3 Syncs an ical calendar with a Palm Pilot DateBookDB
syslog-ng 1.2.3 A portable syslogd replacement with enhanced, flexible configuration scheme.
T.U.T. 1.1 A simple UDP and TCP tunneler with RC4 encryption.
tableau 1.49-BETA Perl CGI program to generate and edit HTML tables based on CSV files.
tclPov 0.2.1 POVRay frontend for rendering POVRay scenes.
Tcl_Gtk 0.03 Gtk extension for Tcl
TermBaum 1.1.5 Java Library for function parsing, calculation, and derivation.
termix 0.5 A DOS terminal-like console telnet client for BBSes.
Terraform 0.4.8 Interactive digital terrain (height field) editor/viewer
THCNET Message System .04b A PHP Web message system.
The Crime Project 0.1 A Perl IRC bot that pastes text from IRC to the Web.
The GOTE converter 0.4 Automatic GTK Objects To Eiffel converter.
The PHP Text Graph Script 0.1.1 A text bar-graphing script.
The Witty CD Player 0.0.4 CD Player with oversampling
Thix 0.3.7 A POSIX-compliant operating system.
tiny cobol 991103 Cobol'74 compiler
tinyproxy 1.3.0 A small, lightweight, easy-to-configure HTTP proxy.
tkspong 0.2 Perl/Tk frontend for spong
tnef 0.8 Decodes application/ms-tnef attachments.
ToutDoux 1.1.3 A project manager.
ToyFDTD1 1.03 Open source 3d FDTD code
ToyFDTD2 1.0 An alternate memory allocation scheme for ToyFDTD.
trafshow+rvnamed 30a3+x Asynchronous DNS patches for trafshow
TreeMultimap 1.0.1 A Java class derived from java.util.TreeMap which allows nonunique keys
txt2pdf 2.5 A very flexible and powerful PERL5 converter from text files to PDF
UltimateIRCd 2.7.7-DarkSide Advanced IRC daemon based off the DAL DreamForge daemon with many new features.
Ultra Power Rubix Cube Max II 1.0.1 A Rubick's cube system for Linux.
upgrade 0.2.1 Uploader for HP49 ROMs.
Uptimed 0.1.0 Uptime record daemon keeping track of the highest uptimes the system ever had
UPX 0.94 powerful executable packer
USBView 0.5.0 USB device and topology viewer
V2_OS 0.51b A fast 32-bit operating system for the 386 and up.
vcs.py 0.1.5 Save/restore console contents using vcsa(4).
ViewCVS 0.1 Tool for viewing CVS repositories using a Web browser
VLAN 0.0.7 802.1Q VLAN implementation for Linux
vsa 0.9.4 Visual Sound Analyzer
VxTools 0.2 A set of command-line tools for accessing the Veritas Filesystem.
waterfall spectrum analyzer 0.6 XMMS visualization plugin
Web Secretary 1.3.2 Web page monitoring software
Web Testing Framework M8 A framework for automated web testing
WebEvent 3.21 B2 WebEvent is web calendar software for your web site.
WebKNotes 0.5123 Web based knowledge notes database written in Perl.
WebRAT 0.8 Remote Administration Tool
WebRFM 0.3b CGI file manager supporting WebDAV and other HTTP extensions
WebRun 2.3 Simple Java application distribution tool
Wind/U 4.3 for Linux 4.3.1 Libraries for porting Win32/MFC applications to native UNIX.
wmakerconf 2.4 GTK based configuration tool for WindowMaker window manager
WN 2.2.3 A simple, robust Webserver whose design emphasizes security
X ARCHON 0.50 A clone of the classic ARCHON game
X-Chat 1.3.8 GTK+ based IRC client, similar to AmIRC (Amiga).
X-TrueType Server 1.3 An X server and/or an X font server that can handle TrueType fonts directly
x2vnc-wheel-patch 0.2 An implementation of wheel mouse functionality in x2vnc.
XAOL 0.1 A library providing an API to code America Online clients.
xastir 0.1.3 X Amateur Station Tracking and Information Reporting Project
XCmail 1.0.1 MIME and POP3 capable mailtool for X11
XDBM 0.9.5 Database Manager designed specifically to hold XML data
Xdialog 1.0 An X11 version of cdialog.
XFMail 1.4.4 Email client for X11 based on XForms
xhangglider 0.94.0 X-based program that makes hanggliders fly in the background of your screen.
xlHtml 0.2.4 XLS to HTML converter
xlnotice 0.2.1 Login time public notice board for X
XMagick 0.0.1 Integrate ImageMagick with any X application.
xping 2.1 A graphical display of system liveness using ping.
Xplanet 0.43 An Xearth wannabe
XShipWars 1.25 Space oriented highly graphical network game system.
XTL - Externalization Template Library XTL Externalization Template Library R1.1 A C++ template library for object externalization.
Xwhois 0.4.0 Small and fast GTK+ X11 client for the internet whois network services.
xzgv 0.2 A GTK+/Imlib-based picture viewer for X.
Yacas 1.0.20 Yet Another Computer Algebra System
YaMMS 0.25.2 Yet another Mpg123 Music Selector
yank 0.1.0 Yet another notekeeper.
ydSLitProg 0.0.2 Prototype for an SGML-based literate-programming tool
Zebra 0.82 Route Server and Route Reflector daemon
Zope 2.1.0 Web application platform used for building high-performance, dynamic web sites.

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

Linux Today has launched its counter-FUD site, intended to be a repository of responses to typical attacks on Linux. It thus joins The Linux FUD factor FAQ and fud-counter.nl.linux.org in the anti-FUD business.

DocBook.org is the home site of the O'Reilly book DocBook: The Definitive Guide. The entire book is available from the site, as are errata, a DocBook FAQ, and more. Just about everything you need to get started with this growing standard for technical documentation is there.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

December 9, 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.
From: "Allan Pointon" <allan.pointon@virgin.net>
To: <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: raccoon roti
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 23:28:08 -0000

Q : what was the last thing that went through a certain recently deceased
raccoon's mind ?
A : Hummmm.........

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1999 23:20:02 -0800
From: Pascal Martin <pascal.martin@iname.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Linux demo at Microsoft's Comdex booth ?


I wanted to share with you some funny news I just discovered.

Axis (http://www.axis.com/) is a company provided innovative
Internet Appliances, including an exciting Internet camera.

.. so exciting indead that they claim Microsoft made a demo
at their Comdex booth:


The funny thing is that Axis also claims that this Camera
is based on Linux:


So, here we are, with some possibility that Microsoft might
_really_ have done a Linux demo at Comdex !!!. And we get
the ultimate pleasure of seing together on the same web
pages these two related news (enjoy !):


What do ya think ?  :-D

Pascal F. Martin.
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 06:29:42 -0900
From: "Tony Taylor (ISD)" <tony@searhc.org>
Subject: LinuxToday Zope Review
To: kreichard@internet.com, letters@lwn.net

Mr. Reichard,

In your review of the Zope application server, you raised many valid and
important points.  However, one criticism was completely unfair and
irrelevent.  The strawman you erect is in this paragraph:

"In addition, the application-server market has largely settled on Java
and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) as tools that can be deployed on any
application server, allowing for different servers from different
vendors to interoperate on a useful level. There's no hint at all within
Zope or the Zope documentation that Java/EJB support was ever
considered, much less implemented. This is a major drawback within Zope;
you can argue all day and night that Python is superior to Java, but one
simply can't ignore the realities of the marketplace."

Only two years ago, the marketplace insisted MS-Windows NT was the
dominant applications platform.  In spite of this market reality, Linux
has grown in popularity not by embracing NT, but by its simple technical
superiority.  I will not argue the superiority of one language over
another; I personally dislike much of the Python syntax.  But to declare
a product unfit simply because it does not follow popular market trends
is myopic and unimaginative.  Java is not a standard, and is apparently
never going to be a standard.

Some of the other criticisms are spot-on; I only disagree with arguments
like, "A is popular; B doesn't support A; therefore, B is bad."  If
popularity were any measure, Budwieser would be a good beer, and NT
would be a decent operating system.

					- Tony
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 01:06:17 -0500
From: Derek Glidden <dglidden@illusionary.com>
To: j2se-linux-comments@sun.com, letters@lwn.net
Subject: Sun, Java and Linux

Today on the Java-linux mailing list there started a flame-fest because
today Sun announced that they, jointly with Inprise (nee Borland), have
released the Java2 JDK v1.2.2 Release Candidate 1 for Linux,
coincedentally on the same day the Blackdown team announced their Java2
JDK v1.2.2rc3.  The flame-fest comes from the fact that Sun's press
release conveniently doesn't mention the Blackdown group who have been
hacking away at the Java2 source code since pre-release versions to get
it running successfully on Linux.  

I follow java-linux development more than I follow linux-kernel
development, but from the way I understand things, a good deal of
native/kernel thread development and stability on Linux is due to the
Blackdown team working with the kernel and glibc teams to find and track
down threading bugs in the kernel and glibc.  Without the work Blackdown
has done, a full Java2 JDK on Linux that could take advantage of native
kernel threads just might not have been possible at all.  Without
Blackdown pushing, it's also possible that Linux kernel hackers might
not have had impetus to implement native kernel threads at all by now. 
Linux has more to thank the Blackdown team for than just the JDK port.

Adding insult to injury, when you download the "Sun/Inprise" JDK from
Sun, you find READMEs and CVS messages left in several of the files left
over from the Blackdown port. In other words, Sun took the work the
Blackdown team has been doing on Java2 for *at least* the past year,
handed it to Inprise, said "Here, get this running" and turned around
and claimed it as their own.  In their defense, Inprise says they've
done a lot of independent work on the JDK to get it to "release quality"
but it's still founded on man-years of work done by Blackdown.  (And the
Inprise port doesn't support native threads and actively discourages
running it on SMP boxen, while the Blackdown port does both just fine,

Unfortunately, Sun's "Community Source License" gives them every right
to do exactly that and screw Blackdown and screw their porting efforts
in the process.  The Blackdown team has been working on the JDK in good
faith, and against nearly overwhelming apathy from Sun, knowing full and
well that Sun's source license gives Sun the exclusive right to any and
all patches to the JDK source that Blackdown might generate, under the
assumption that the Blackdown port would be Sun's "semi-official Linux
JDK" port. For their effort, Sun turned around and said, "Screw good
faith and screw you too, we're gonna get some good press out of this and
pretend again like we're an 'Open Source' company and 'Pro-Linux' just
like when we bought StarOffice.  We're Sun, you're a bunch of nameless,
faceless programmers.  Who's spin do you think the public will

Not only that, but the press release goes so far as to say (paraphrased)
"Java and Linux fans have asked for Sun to support Java on Linux and we
listened".  This after SEVERAL YEARS (ever since JDK 1.0) of "native
Linux support from Sun" being the most demanded feature on Sun's "JDK
REQUESTS COMBINED and Linux users getting nothing but the finger from

Sun - Your license stinks.  Your concept of "community" stinks.  The way
you treat (use) developers trying to support your products stinks. 
Forget your mouth, this time you've stuck your foot all the way up your
a** after having shot it nearly clean off and there's no one to blame
but yourselves.  Hopefully the tone of this letter will give you some
understanding of the bad feelings ("bad feelings" isn't strong enough,
but I'm trying to remain more or less polite) you've generated in the
Java-Linux community.  Good luck trying to regain our trust.  

On the very dim bright side, a member of the Java development team from
Inprise is also (unofficially) frequenting the java-linux list and is
(again, unofficially) trying to let the world (or at least the
java-linux world) know that, at the very least, Inprise developers know
full and well the effort Blackdown has already put into the work and
that Blackdown has Inprise's full and complete respect for it. 

That and a buck and a half will get the Blackdown team a cup of java
down at Starbucks and big fat moon from Sun.
With Microsoft products, failure is not           Derek Glidden
an option - it's a standard component.      http://3dlinux.org/
Choose your life.  Choose your            http://www.tbcpc.org/
future.  Choose Linux.              http://www.illusionary.com/
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 23:09:23 +0000
From: Alain Williams <addw@phcomp.co.uk>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Comment on No FUD suggestion by Linuxtoday

First let me say that I am supportive of what they are doing.

I have a suggestion that, at first, may seem strange and counter to what
you are doing but which, in the long term, may make the arguments much more

What they are setting out to do is to ``dispell the shadows of doubt with the
clear light of truth''. If this isn't exactly what they are about then maybe
this is what they should do. What is the difference ? *Honesty*. If we are
completely honest no one can trip us up.

How will honesty change what they are doing ?
Basically it means that faults/problems/... with Linux have to be openly
pointed out. If faults are pointed out it makes the good points talked
about have much more credibility. This is the antithesis of much marketing
where a veil is drawn over deficiencies in whatever they are talking about,
techies/hackers distrust marketing people for exactly this reason: techies
are (by & large) a pretty honest bunch.

So what do I think NoFUD should be doing ?
Also have anti FUD pages about other operating systems: anything from Big
Blue's VM to Microsoft's offerings.

Why will that help ?
1	It will improve the credibility of the NoFUD web site.
2	It elevates NoFUD from a ``Linux Site'' to an ``Industry Reference
3	It will be visited by many more people, people who are after
	genuine insight into advantages/disadvantages of the various
	platforms that are discussed.

How will this help Linux ?
It will show people where Linux performs well (or badly) in relation to
the other OSs that are out there. The places where Linux can do with
improvement will he high-lightened and (hopefully) attract more effort from
the Open Source community.

Alain Williams
Date: 3 Dec 1999 01:30:26 -0000
From: mogul-linux@gelatinous.com
To: letters@lwn.net, malda@slashdot.org
Cc: products@opengl.org
Subject: Fahrenheit, SGI, Microsoft, Linux, D3D, OpenGL

I'm an experienced game developer.  I read this story about Microsoft
quietly dropping OpenGL support in Windows 2000:


It also details the failed alliance intended to draw Direct3D and OpenGL
together... After reading it I was inspired (incensed?) enough to write
down the events in this sordid affair as I remember them.  The Linux
reference near the end of the article makes the timing of this move
obvious, but I've always felt that Fahrenheit was smoke and mirrors to keep
game developers away from vendor-independent OpenGL and using a standard
Microsoft could control.  See if you feel the same way after you see my
(admittedly biased) list of the facts in order:

    Despite WinNT supporting OpenGL happily from near its inception,
	 Microsoft wastes the first three versions of DirectX trying to
	 come up with a usable 3D API for Win9x, claiming the OpenGL API is
	 not suitable for game development.

    Apple announces that they will provide Game Sprockets for the Mac, a
	 suite of game development libs similar to DirectX.  Rave3D is
	 incorporated as the 3D API.

    Microsoft claims that they will be supporting DirectX across every
	 operating system they can, including their own, MacOS, HP-UX,
	 Irix, Solaris, etc.  They say they expect DirectX to become a
	 standard, and that developers shouldn't worry about compatibility
	 because wherever they want to take their games, DirectX will be
	 supported. Therefore, there's no point in programming to Rave3D.

    OpenGL vs. Direct3D debates rage across the industry for months, with
	 many of the harsher criticisms of D3D centering on the fact that
	 the API makes optimization of drivers nearly impossible.  D3D
	 provides only capability bits to test for features, and guarantees
	 none.  OpenGL is criticized for being slow, large, and unsuited to
	 consumer-level cards, as well as inflexible due to the pool of
	 vendors who develop it by committee.

    Microsoft says it will stop debate by supporting both standards.  Soon
	 thereafter it supplies its implementation of OpenGL for Windows
	 9x, a ridiculously slow and incomplete version that breaks the
	 number one promise of OpenGL: all features are available, even if
	 they are only implemented in software.  It's even slower than
	 their software-only D3D implementation.  Supporting this version
	 of OpenGL is more difficult than supporting software D3D since
	 there aren't even capability tests to provide workarounds.  Many
	 developers throw up their hands and go for D3D since their games
	 have to ship someday.

    Around this time, Quake goes hardware accelerated with an OpenGL
	 wrapper on the 3dfx chipset, utilizing 3dfx's glide library.  John
	 Carmack's considerable influence over the industry and strong
	 cross-platform stance makes waves, and with GLQuake as the poster
	 child, the debates start having conclusions: OpenGL *can* be
	 lightweight enough for game development, and provides much more
	 opportunity for optimization to card vendors.

    SGI steps into the fray by offering a free fully-compliant and even
	 well-optimized software OpenGL replacement for Windows 95, with an
	 attendant architecture that makes it possible to write installable
	 client drivers for hardware acceleration fairly easily.

    Apple, losing money fast and on the brink of death, seeing the already
	 dwindling Mac game market shrink even further, stops supporting
	 Game Sprockets and redirects the Sprockets developers to their OS.
	 They go silent for a while.  However, 3dfx ships a PCI version
	 that supports glide on the Mac.  GLQuake is ported to the Mac
	 using the 3dfx OpenGL wrapper, and runs great!

    Microsoft makes dramatic "updates" in the shaky D3D API.  It drops its
	 poorly conceived and executed retained mode (a very poor imitation
	 of SGI's Performer functionality), and focuses exclusively on
	 duplicating the functionality that OpenGL has had all along
	 (discouraging raw vertex buffers, adding DrawPrimitive, etc.)
	 This isn't enough for developers, who have all that plus the added
	 bonus of portability when they use OpenGL.  Microsoft and SGI
	 start making lots of noise and lawsuits start flying.

    Coincidentally, many companies (such as Intergraph) have been steadily
	 eating away at SGI's hi-end market share over the last few years
	 as they make OpenGL workstations running OpenGL on Windows NT that
	 rival mid-range SGIs.  In a sudden turnabout, SGI announces that
	 they'll turn their OpenGL and ICD implementation over to Microsoft
	 to incorporate and support in place of Microsoft's shoddy version.
	 The two companies announce that they'll work on a next-generation
	 hybrid API called Fahrenheit that incorporates the best features
	 of D3D and OpenGL and adds Performer functionality.  Note that
	 ONLY Microsoft and SGI are involved... The million other companies
	 in the OpenGL Architecture Review Board are left out in the cold.
	 Shortly thereafter, SGI announces that it will be making WinNT
	 workstations as well.

    Peace is declared for a while as developers sit through DX5, DX6, and
	 DX7, waiting for an announcement any day that the first version of
	 Fahrenheit is ready for testing.  Developers prefer OpenGL due to
	 the caps bit issue, but ship versions that run with both OpenGL
	 and D3D so that they're supported by as many cards as
	 possible. (Many don't even support D3D until the game is done,
	 then spend the rest of their time on compatibility issues in their
	 D3D support.)

    Meanwhile, the OpenGL ARB starts moving much faster with the addition
	 of companies such as NVidia and 3dfx whose core hardware engineers
	 used to work at SGI, and whose excellent products are dominating
	 the consumer market.  Extensions to the standard start churning
	 out at a pretty good clip, keeping pace with new features coming
	 out in consumer graphics cards such as multitexturing.  Quake
	 becomes something of a performance benchmark for these leading
	 consumer cards, and companies such as ATI suddenly have to support
	 OpenGL in order to be able to compare apples to apples.  Suddenly
	 every card vendor for the PC is supporting OpenGL.

    Apple announces that the iMac will incorporate ATI's 3D cards and
	 support OpenGL.  The new machines are zippy and suddenly the Mac
	 looks like a great game platform, especially if you're doing
	 OpenGL development on the PC anyway. For these amid other reasons,
	 Apple is back on top of its game again.

    Microsoft encourages hardware vendors not to ship OpenGL installable
	 client drivers, saying that their effort would be better spent
	 writing drivers for the Windows Driver Model architecture, the
	 unified driver standard for Windows NT and Windows 2000.
	 Companies would of course love to support one driver only, so
	 their ICDs are shipped but without much optimization.  Many say
	 "wait for Win2K, where our driver support will be great!"
	 (eg. Matrox)

    Mesa (a free software OpenGL implementation) and Linux have been
	 behaving well together for a while, with some hardware
	 acceleration based on a Linux version of the glide library from
	 3dfx.  Linux makes a couple of usability leaps that give Microsoft
	 pause. In early 1999, NVidia and 3DFX announce custom binary-only
	 X servers that support their cards.  SGI suddenly announces
	 massive support for Linux, and open sources it's GLX library for
	 the purpose of incorporating Mesa into the free X server,
	 XFree86. NVidia, now the market leader, says it will have fully
	 accelerated OpenGL support for all of its cards under Linux by the
	 end of 1999.

    Microsoft finally tries ditching OpenGL altogether in Windows 2000, as
	 detailed by the article.

We all know how roughly Microsoft plays in the industry, but watching this
progression has really upset me.  OpenGL has always been a cross-platform
standard carefully supported and developed by multiple vendors.  The
various attempts on Microsoft's part to wrest control are pretty obvious:

	Bring out a competing standard, though inferior to the existing one.
	Claim to be providing a standard for the entire industry, not just
	Bad mouth the capabilities of the competing standard.
	Claim to support both, but provide crappy support for OpenGL.
	Desperately try to incorporate the features they lack into their own
	Bully beleagured SGI into giving them control over the better version.
	Get driver writers dependent on their ICD arch, then sandbag driver
	Drop the Fahrenheit architecture carrot that got everyone moving their
	    way in the first place.
	Quietly drop support for the competing standard at the last second,
	    just when it's again obvious why OpenGL is the industry standard.

No one should be surprised at this maneuver after all of Microsoft's other
activities, but it makes me wonder why ANY company is still willing to work
with Microsoft after seeing the way they attempt to eat not just their
competitors, but their allies as well.  Is it any wonder hardware vendors
are fleeing to Linux as sanctuary from the ravening beast?


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