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Leading items and editorials

Another year ends, so it must be time for an LWN retrospective and look forward. Interested parties may want to review the 1998 year-end LWN for a similar summary of where we were a year ago. Things have changed a lot.

So what are the themes of 1999? Here's a quick look:

  • A year ago, people still wondered if it was possible to make money working with Linux. Few people ask that question anymore. Linux stormed decisively into the stock market; clearly people think there is money to be made. We have our first Linux billionaires. Anybody who makes a name for him/herself as a Linux hacker does not lack for job offers. Highly commercial Linux trade shows draw ever-larger crowds.

    Many questions remain about the long-term viability of specific Linux companies, but nobody doubts that there is money to be made with Linux.

  • A year ago, Linux was criticised as being unsupported. Nobody says that anymore either. Companies like Linuxcare and Red Hat have high-profile support operations; if those companies are still too small to make your CIO sleep at night, companies like HP and IBM should do the trick. Linux now probably has the widest variety of support options of any operating system out there - and any one of them should be able to actually fix problems.

  • Open source software development has become institutionalized and funded. Volunteer hackers remain the heart of many development projects, but more and more of them are finding that companies want to pay them for their efforts. The sourceXchange and Cosource.com have sprung up as another way to fund open source development. Resources like SourceForge provide infrastructure to help free software projects along.

    Ad hoc free software projects abound, but much of the core Linux infrastructure is now in the hands of people who are paid to work on it.

  • Last year, LWN made the obvious observation that big business had discovered Linux. This year, instead, big business has discovered open source. Companies like SGI, IBM, and HP are running large and important open source development projects. Others, like Compaq, Creative, Matra Datavision, and many, many more are doing significant software releases of their own. Others, such as Sun, haven't quite figured it out yet, but may get there.

    Even a year ago, the idea that a large corporation would find releasing its code to be in its interest was considered pretty radical. This year, it's just another business strategy. That is a tremendous change.

Many other things happened, of course...that big proprietary software company was found to be a monopoly... license wars abounded, but had little effect on the rest of what was happening... the 2.2 kernel... Samba 2.0 breaks into the domain controller business... Linux failed to fragment or fall apart... almost every Linux web site on the planet got bought... and so on. See our 1999 Linux Timeline for an attempt at a complete list (final version to be released just after the beginning of the year).

What awaits Linux in 2000? We don't know much more than anybody else, but that hasn't kept us from sounding off over the last couple years. Here's a few ideas:

  • Like it or not, the release of Windows 2000 is going to be an important event. It could well be the thing that fuels Linux's next big growth phase. If it is, as some have predicted, an all-time commercial flop, the resulting rush to Linux will make everything that came before seem insignificant.

  • The release of Office for Linux, which might happen in 2000, will be another defining event. Office would further "legitimize" Linux in millions of businesses; it would also make life much more difficult for commercial and free Linux office suites. Linux systems running Office may beat other systems running Office, but that is still not the vision many of us have of our desired computing future.

  • Linux stocks are currently valuable for a number of reasons; one of those is their scarcity. By the end of next year, that scarcity will no longer exist. Expect a true flood of Linux IPOs over the next six months; also expect companies that are already public to try to reposition themselves as Linux companies - along the lines of Corel.

  • The pressures of being public and of increasing amounts of money in play will erode the friendly nature of the competition between Linux companies. The "we are all in this together, against Microsoft" line will look increasingly timeworn. Linux companies will be competing against each other.

  • There will be an explosion of vertical applications for Linux. Already we are seeing applications for restaurants, medical offices, and e-commerce sites showing up. Many more will come, especially as industries discover that they can do better with cooperatively-developed open source software. There is probably a promising future for companies that can set up and coordinate development projects for vertical applications.

Beyond all that, look for the usual tremendous growth in Linux deployments, more endorsements from the commercial world, continued pointless licensing flamewars, and no end of things that nobody expects.

Another issue for 2000 is protection of algorithms. Software patents, clearly, are an important aspect of this problem. The software patent issue may well come to a head in the coming year, as silly patents bite more and more people. The level of discontent will certainly rise; whether it's enough to bring about any kind of worthwhile change remains to be seen.

Software patents are bad enough, but free software also is vulnerable to attacks on reverse engineering. The current attack by the "DVD Copy Control Association" against 72 defendents demonstrates clearly the extent of the problem. The DVD folks put together a poor, closed-source encryption system that was easily broken; now they want to use intellectual property laws to put the genie back into the bottle. They will fail, but the amount of grief that they can cause in the meantime is large.

Defendants are being named in this suit for the crime of linking to places where DVD information could be found. Deja.com has been named for carrying a netnews posting with links.

The attack on reverse engineering is scary. If it succeeds, expect to see a lot more like it. And once it is illegal to look inside a box to see how it works, it will be always harder to create free software equivalents, to deal with problems, or even to look for "NSA keys." So much for freedom.

The attack on linking is perhaps even worse. It is reminiscent of the "Communications Decency Act" of the mid-90's, which attempted to criminalize the provision of legal information. If linking is a crime, then the web is in trouble, and freedom along with it. It is encouraging that (just before LWN went to "press") the initial motion for a restraining order (to prevent posting or linking to the DeCSS code) was denied by the court, but this fight has just begun. Let us hope that 2000 goes down as the year when these sorts of attacks were beaten back.

(See also: Chris DiBona's DVD page, and articles in Wired News and News.com).

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Kernel-based buffer overflow protection, Quake cheats.
  • Kernel: 2.3.35, kernel HTTP service
  • Distributions: TINY Linux, updates to muLinux, LinuxPPC interview.
  • Development: Free software BBS systems, new weekly reports.
  • Commerce: LinuxOne's IPO - February at the earliest.
  • Back page: Linux links and letters to the editor
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

December 30, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.


News and editorials

Buffer overflow protection from kernel patches. Patches for the Linux kernel exist, like Solar Designer's non-executable stack patch, which disallow the execution code on the stack, making a number of buffer overflow attacks harder - and defeating completely a number of current exploits used by "script kiddies" worldwide. However, such patches have not been pulled into the main Linux kernel. Why not?

Linus has resisted these patches for a couple of reasons. One is that there are occasional uses for executable code on the stack; life gets a bit harder if you turn that off. But Linus's main point has always been that a non-executable stack is a band-aid solution which does not fix the real problem - poorly written applications. The real solution is to eliminate buffer overflows from user space code; these overflows can be exploited, after all, without an executable stack (though it is harder). See, for example, this note from Linus from back in August, 1998.

The point Linus makes is valid. Meanwhile, however, the script kiddies are giving grief to a number of sites that could be prevented by this fix. In the end, security is not absolute, and every obstacle placed in the way can only help. But don't expect a non-executable stack from the mainstream kernel anytime soon; those interested in high security will need to look at the Solar Designer patches or a distribution like Immunix instead.

Lessons from the quake cheat. Eric Raymond sent us an article about the "Quake cheat" - people modifying the (now open-source) Quake client to gain an advantage in the game. Eric's point is that, had Quake been developed as an open-source application since the beginning, these problems would not have arisen, since different design decisions would have been made. Worth a read.

As another case to look at, consider Netrek, which has dealt with this problem for a long time. Netrek, in the end, has gone with a "blessed binaries" scheme; the code is in the open, but only specially built binaries (containing a proper cryptographic key) can be used with most servers.

How SSH was freed. Daemonnews has put out a nice article describing the development of OpenSSH, titled "How SSH was freed". It gives some nice background on the developers that did the work and even includes some pictures. Of course, some people might disagree that the following constitutes "freeing" the code: "As detailed in the OpenSSH history page, much of the early work involved removing GPL'd or non-portable code."

Security Reports

Quake Smurf. An exploit has been posted that allows a hacker to kick a player off a Quake server.

glFtpdD vulnerabilities. Multiple vulnerabilities have been reported in the glFtpdD FTP Daemon. A fix for the problem has been made available and will be included in the next release.

Traffic shaper. Yuri Kuzmenko pointed out that the Linux traffic shaper allows non-root accounts to reset the speed of the shaper. Alan Cox acknowledged the problem and indicated that it has been fixed in the pre-patch series for the Linux 2.2.14 kernel (which should hopefully be released in the near future).

msql cgi script. The w3-msql cgi script distributed with msql contains exploitable buffer overflows that can allow arbitrary code to be executed under the httpd uid, according to this advisory. An exploit for Solaris has been released. If you are not using the script, removal of it from your system is probably a good idea. No vendor comment or fix has been reported.


Denial of Service Tools. The latest CERT Advisory addresses new techniques for implementing Denial-of-Services attacks that are becoming more frequently used. This is not the type of problem that an easy patch or update will fix, so they can only provide suggestions, such as:
  • develop relationships and capabilities with other sites
  • implement ingress filtering on your routers
  • prevent your site from being used by intruders
All of these suggestions are "Good Neighbor" tactics. In this case, your security is impacted by the insecurity of your neighbors, so you need to set a good example in order to receive similar treatment.


RAID 2000. The Call-For-Papers for the Third International Workshop on the Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection (RAID) has been released. Papers are due by March 30th, 2000 and the conference itself will be held October 2nd through the 4th in Toulouse, France.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

December 30, 1999

Secure Linux Projects
Bastille Linux
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Secure Linux

Security List Archives
Bugtraq Archive
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Distribution-specific links
Caldera Advisories
Conectiva Updates
Debian Alerts
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Comp Sec News Daily
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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel is 2.3.35. The patch is large - about 3.5 MB - and is dominated by the great Sparc tree merge. 64-bit Sparc might actually work with this release; 32-bit systems are going to have to wait longer. There is also the addition of "cramfs," a read-only, highly compressed filesystem which is meant for small ROM applications. Work continues on SCSI and USB drivers, the QNX filesystem is being updated again, a few organizational changes have happened, and the IRDA code has seen some work. There is, of course, no announcement.

It has been pointed out that named pipes in 2.3.x are badly broken; watch out if you have an application that uses them.

The current stable kernel is still 2.2.13. The good news is that Mark Lord has finally stomped the IDE bug, so that the way should now be clear for a 2.2.14 release. Really this time, honest... Meanwhile the prepatch series is up to 2.2.14pre17; barring problems, that should be the one that goes out.

A few readers have pointed out that we keep neglecting to mention that the IBM S/390 patches are part of the 2.2.14 prepatch set. The port to the S/390 architecture was done by IBM and contributed to the kernel tree; IBM does not apparently intend to support this port as a commercial product. More information can be found on the IBM S/390 Linux page.

A new object-based storage system. We got this note from Peter Braam about the release of an object-based storage system - the first step toward a new cluster filesystem. The ideas seem to be interesting; the object approach allows the creation of "smart drives" that can deal with objects directly. They have plans for all sorts of goodies that can be built using this approach; see the announcement for more. The code is being released under an open source license.

Help out the Netfilter team. The Netfilter core team has issued a call for help with the production of the Netfilter test suite. Folks who are interested in getting into this code may want to have a look, and consider contributing some test programs - "even trivial tests help."

High-performance web serving was a contentious topic for the week. It all started with a simple query as to why khttpd (Arjan van de Ven's kernel-based HTTP server) had ever been allowed into the mainstream kernel. Khttpd is seen by many as a classic example of kernel bloat - an unnecessary kernel implementation of a protocol that can be handled quite nicely in user space. At best, in this point of view, khttpd is an ill-advised concession to pressures to produce good benchmark results.

So why did it go in? First of all, it is a small, straightforward module that does not really affect the rest of the kernel. Most people will leave it configured out, and never be bothered with it. Another reason is that is really does produce some impressive results - see this benchmark plot for an example. Serving only static files (the only thing khttpd does), khttpd does about four times better than Apache. It also beats the speedy Zeus server, though by a much smaller margin.

Static files matter. Much web content is still static, and much dynamic content can be made static when performance needs dictate. For better or worse, HTTP is also increasingly being used as a file serving protocol, and performance matters in file serving. A good summary of what khttpd is trying to do was posted by Arjan as part of this discussion.

User-space efforts to get the best performance for static files are also continuing. The most hope seems to be placed in "phhttpd," which is being developed by Zach Brown. Zach is working on a new release currently, and is looking for beta testers who have high-volume sites to try it out on.

The jury is still out on which approach will produce the best results. There does appear to be a consensus that some more kernel support for asynchronous bulk data transfers is needed, no matter which approach is taken. That, of course, is a 2.5 issue at best. Meanwhile, those in search of extreme high performance in web serving have a few alternatives to choose from.

Other patches and updates released this week include:

  • Fairsched 0.12 (a hierarchical "fair scheduling" system) was released by Borislav Deianov.

  • Richard Gooch released devfs v151.

  • Kieth Owens has released modutils 2.3.9.

  • Ben Williamson released version 0.2.2 of his DinX small windowing system.

  • Pauline Middelink released an updated version of the "bigphysarea" patch.

  • Tigran Aivazian has posted an improved kernel debugger (kdb) patch.

  • Buildkernel 1.00 was released by William Stearns. Buildkernel is a script that makes the kernel configuration, building, and installation easier.

  • LTmodem 0.9.6 (an in-progress driver for Lucent PCI modems) was released.

  • Lcap is a script which manipulates the capability bounding set (see the December 2 Kernel page for info on the bounding set) to restrict certain actions on a 2.2.11 or later system.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

December 30, 1999

For other kernel news, see:

Other resources:


 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.

TINY Linux. TINY Linux is another mini-distribution with a specific target audience: people with older, slower computers. Although small, it is a full distribution, built to install off of multiple floppies, a necessity for many older machines. It already supports English, French, German and Spanish. "As long as your machine can bear it, you can run all available Linux applications on it."

Please note that TINY is at the 0.01 development level, so it is not at all considered production quality yet. However, if you like it, they are likely to appreciate the feedback and any assistance they might receive. A bit more information can be found via the Freshmeat Appindex.

Best Linux

Best Linux English Beta Information. Best Linux T-1, a beta version of the popular Finnish distribution with added support for English is now available as an ISO image as well as via free CDs.


Caldera case studies wanted. A journalist has posted a call for OpenLinux users who would be willing to be interviewed for an article about the system.

Debian GNU/Linux

Debian Weekly News. The Debian Weekly News is back, after a brief holiday hiatus. Choosing to model after us even more than just the name (yes, Joey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ...), they have put together their own Debian 1999 Timeline, tracking the most important stories of 1999 from the Debian perspective.

The schedule for the freeze is currently set for January 2nd, 2000, and another bug-squashing party is being planned.

On a different note, it has been confirmed that Quake will be packaged for Debian, now that its source is free, but note that Debian mirrors in some countries may face problems mirroring this package, and other similar "violent" games, that have been banned.

On the GNU/HURD front, it seems one British company is now offering machines with GNU/HURD preinstalled ...


The Linux-Mandrake demo and tutorial center. Linux-Mandrake has opened up its new Demo and Tutorial Center. It will be populated with lots of information on how to work with Linux-Mandrake; the initial entries include a tour of the KDE desktop and a look at the Mandrake update utility.


LinuxPower interviews LinuxPPC. LinuxPower did an interview with Jeff Carr and Jason Hass of LinuxPPC. "When the operation behind selling the discs became more taxing, Jeff incorporated the company and we started linuxppc.com. We're still trying to separate ourselves from .org. It's a slow and painful process of cell division, basically."


muLinux V7r6. muLinux V7r6 (codename "Montalcino") has been announced. This is a single floppy distribution, useable as a rescue disk or for demonstrating Linux, and with add-ons available, such as X, ext support, gcc, etc.

Slackware Linux

Slackware Weekly Report. From a quick peek at the Slackware Changelogs, it looks like the only activity this week was a minor patch to openvt and a Y2K fix to the sc package.

SuSE Linux

SuSE-FAQ. Lenz Grimmer's SuSE-FAQ has been updated. It has an excellent SuSE timeline which talks about when SuSE originally shipped SLS, then Slackware and eventually developed its own distribution, based on Florian LaRoche's Jurix distribution (see right-hand column for related links).

Yellow Dog Linux

A special edition of Yellow Dog Linux entitled "Tasty Morsels" has been announced. It includes Champion Server 1.1 and all errata updates.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

December 30, 1999

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

Caldera OpenLinux
Debian GNU/Linux
Red Hat

Also well-known
Best Linux
Conectiva Linux

Rock Linux

Non-technical desktop
Icepack Linux
Redmond Linux

Boston University
Red Escolar

General Purpose
Alzza Linux
aXon Linux
Bad Penguin Linux
Black Cat Linux
BluePoint Linux
BYO Linux
CAEN Linux
Cafe Linux
ChainSaw Linux
Circle MUDLinux
Complete Linux
Console Linux
Corel Linux
Darkstar Linux
Elfstone Linux
ESware Linux
Eurielec Linux
eXecutive Linux
Fried Chicken
HA Linux
Halloween Linux
ix86 Linux
Lanthan Linux
Linpus Linux
Linux Cyrillic Edition
Linux MLD
LinuxOne OS
Linux Pro Plus
LNX System
Lute Linux

NoMad Linux
Omoikane GNU/Linux
PingOO Linux
Plamo Linux
Project Ballantain
Rabid Squirrel
Root Linux
Serial Terminal
TimeSys Linux/RT
Tom Linux
VA-enhanced Red Hat
Vine Linux
Virtual Linux
WinLinux 2000

GNU/Linux Ututo
Definite Linux
Red Flag
Linux Esware
Kaiwal Linux
Thai Linux Extension

Related Projects
Chinese Linux Extension

Historical (Non-active)
MCC Interim Linux
Storm Linux


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See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects

FreeGIS now available on CD. The FreeGIS project has released their first CD (also in German), proceeds of which will go back to this free software project. Contents of the CD will include programs familiar to many people in scientific institutions, such as GRASS (Geographic Resource Analysis Support System). Most of the tools included are licensed under the GPL or LGPL; exceptions are documented on the FreeGIS home page.

Bulletin Boards

Boardzilla. The Boardzilla project has announced its existence. The purpose of this project is to create the world's greatest open source forum system. They are looking for ideas, wishlists, and, of course, developers. More information can be found on their web pages. A perl-based core for the new BBS system was initially released two weeks ago.

Citadel/UX. For a more mature option, we received a note from Art Cancro, lead developer for Citadel/UX, a BBS system that has been around for over eleven years -- and is released under the GPL. It has some nice features, like the ability to access the BBS via a web interface. If these two projects haven't talked with each other before, perhaps they should.


IBM DB2 updates for Linux. IBM released a 105MB "Fixpak 2" for DB2 on Linux on December 7th. Anyone seriously using DB2 on Linux will probably want to take a look at this. Details can be found in the README or you can download the Fixpak directly. (Thanks to Philip Nelson.)


Linux Knowledge Base Weekly News. The second edition of the Linux Knowledge Base Weekly News has little to report this week, but promises more next week as developers get a chance to turn their "vacation" into progress for the project. For more information, check out the Linux Knowledge Base website.


Compil'Edux: Linux Applications for Education. Compil'Edux is a French site sponsored by the Groupe Guilde Education, which is working to "promote the use of Linux and Open Source software in French Education". [From LinuxForKids]

Mail Services

New Postfix Snapshot. Postfix snapshot 19991227 has been released. Although the development nature of this release indicates that Wietse, at least, does not yet consider postfix to be ready for stable use, there are people who are already using it and apparently very happily. This update includes several fixes, primarily aimed at how mail from untrusted clients is handled.

On the Desktop

Icewm hits first stable release. The developers of icewm, a "fast, usable window manager", have released their version stable version, 1.0.0. This should indicate a product reliable enough for anyone to give it a try. For comments on "Why so many window managers?", check out the Slashdot commentary.


Ali Abdin has posted a followup to his Gnome Developer Interview, including responses from Owen Taylor and Tim Janik on GTK+ that didn't make it into the original interview and a clarification from Miguel on plotting with Gnumeric.

In addition to discussing GTK, this followup covers Pango, a "modular set of libraries for doing layout and rendering of international text". This loooks extremely interesting and is certainly tackling a very hard problem. "I hope that Pango can become a standard, or at least commonly used library for handling these types of issues on open-source systems. There is a lot of activity now on enhancing internationalization support on Linux, often involving moving to using Unicode for representing text, but this has mostly centered on the "easy" languages ? things like Western European languages and East Asian languages. Not much attention has been paid yet to languages written right-to-left, such as Arabic and Hebrew, or the languages of South Asia, where rendering is a complex process without a one-to-one mapping between characters and glyphs. This is an area where commercial systems are currently considerably ahead of open-source systems; Pango is meant to close this gap."

For icon-lovers, many, many new icons have been developed for Gnome, according to the latest Gnome icon report.


A KDE Application Development Tutorial has been created and made available by Antonio Larrosa (mirror site). This should help jumpstart anyone interested in developing applications for the K Desktop Environment. [From KDE News]

Web Development

The Zope Weekly News. This week's Zope Weekly News mentions that Amos Lattier is starting to revisit FastCGI support and is therefore looking for bug reports. Also noted: the latest issue of Linux Magazine has a feature article that "talks about Digital Creations and Hadar Pedhazur at length."


The Wine Weekly News was not updated this week, presumably allowing the editors to better enjoy their holidays ...

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

December 30, 1999

Project Links
High Availability

More Information



Development tools


Perl is Y2K-compliant. If you need more detail than that, check out Tom Christiansen's latest essay on the topic. "The answer is that Perl is every bit as Y2K compliant as is your pencil; no more, and no less. Does that comfort you? It shouldn't. Just as you can commit Y2K transgressions with your pencil, so too you can do so with Perl -- or with any other tool, for that matter." It is a fun look at what he calls the Three Popular Lies of Y2K.


Dr. Dobbs' Python-URL!. This week's Python-URL! announces three package updates/releases, including KOALA 0.9.0, a database / GUI forms package for postgres and Gnome. It also contains, of course, pointers to the most valuable of the discussions on the python mailing list over the past week.


TclTicker 1.2. Tom Poindexter has released TclTicker 1.2, a simple stock ticker program. The new release does automatic ticker symbol lookup and contains a few other new features.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

LinuxOne's IPO has been in the news this week, as a result of its amended S-1 filing. The filing has a number of interesting tidbits in it, including the fact that the project price has been increased (slightly) to $8.25/share. Unlike the previous filing, this one also lists an underwriter: Capital West Securities.

Other tidbits from the filing:

  • The financials are updated through October 31, and still show a revenue of all of $0 since the company began (last March).

  • The risk factors include "Our reliance on the support of Linux [sic] Torvalds and other prominent Linux developers." In fact, Linus is referred to as "Linux" in a number of places.

  • "LinuxOne OS, in compressed form, consists of approximately 570 megabytes (MB) of code and in uncompressed form, consists of approximately 1400 MB of code. A small portion of the core source and applications are written and developed by independent third parties; however, the majority are written and will be maintained by our in-house engineers." In other words, LinuxOne says it wrote most of its distribution, which it copied from Red Hat. This is an outright falsehood, to say the least.

    In the same paragraph: "We believe our engineers can compile the code, test it with a high degree of accuracy and detect the majority of compilation errors; however, we have no guarantee that we will find all errors." Some of those compilation errors are pretty elusive, it's true...

Much of the press surrounding the LinuxOne IPO has been speculating that the stock could go public by the end of the year. We called up Capital West Securities to ask, and were told that the due diligence process is continuing and that the IPO is currently targeted for February. Reports that it is happening this year are incorrect.

Capital West also seems to be somewhat surprised by the response the LinuxOne IPO is getting from the Linux community. They had as many questions for LWN as we had for them. While they wouldn't say that they were reconsidering this offering, there was enough talk of "continued due diligence" to give that impression. After all, to get caught up in a bad IPO would not do them any good either.

(See also: Paul Rusty Russell's take on LinuxOne, and articles in News.com, the Wall Street Journal, the Red Herring, Reuters, and NewsTrackers).

The sourceXchange needs peer reviewers and spec writers. The sourceXchange has issued a call for peer reviewers and spec writers to help with their process. These are paid positions, and could well be a good way to pick up a little cash while helping the free software process.

Folks interested in the Itanium processor may want to check out this paper on porting kernels to the IA-64 architecture in the Intel Technology Journal. It gives some good coverage of the difficulties that an Intel porting encountered. (Thanks to Steven Rosenblum).

The beta version of the long-awaited Opera browser is available for download; it can be found on Metalab. A quick test shows it to be quick, but buggy - not quite ready for prime time yet. (Thanks to Manfred Scheible).

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

Press Releases:

    Commercial Products for Linux:

  • Access Co. Ltd. announced the release of a demo version of "NetFront 2.5 for Linux/GTK", a browser aimed at the embedded market.

  • Best Data announced Linux-branded products, including the Smart One Linux modem.

  • Core Networks Inc. announced that Version 3.0 of it's CoreOS Broadband Provisioning and Management System supports the Linux operating system.

  • Although we've seen no official announcment to this effect, Dell has added its Inspiron laptops to its list of hardware officially supported running Linux, in this case, the version of Linux being Red Hat Linux 6.0. (Thanks to Charlie Zender.)

  • DigitalThink announced the availability of a four-part, web-based course in Linux/Unix system administration. The courses are on the web, but not free.

  • Gentia Software announced that it has completed development of the Linux-compatible version of its Enterprise Performance Management applications.

  • Maximum Linux (a new print magazine) has put out this press release saying that its big launch will be in April, 2000. It will be a bimonthy publication for the first year.

  • MSC announced the availability of its Nastran simulation software for Linux; they have also thrown in a different sort of bundling deal: "Customers who purchase a license of MSC.Nastran for Linux 2 Go directly from MSC.Software will receive a Dell Precision Workstation 410 Pentium III Class computer."

  • NEON Systems, Inc. announced that their Enterprise Access and Integration product, Shadow Direct now supports the Linux platform.

  • PCTEL announced a software modem for BeOS.

  • Pervasive Software announced its "Tango 2000" application server for Linux. They will be supporting Red Hat, Caldera, and SuSE.

  • Progress announced that its embedded database product is shipping for Linux.

    Products Using Linux:

  • PacketPort.com, Inc. announced that it will be unveiling two new Linux-based Voice-over-DSL devices: an Integrated Access Device internet appliance for the home and office and, a Applications Server located remotely.

  • PalmWorks, Inc. announced that it has selected Red Hat Linux and Penguin Computing to provide the Internet server platforms that will power PalmWorks online services and applications.

  • Vovida Networks announced its Linux-based Voice over IP (VoIP) softswitch software was awarded the "Best of Show" award at the recent CTI Expo.

    Products with Linux Versions:

  • ActiveWorlds.com announced that its 3D server product will be available for (Red Hat) Linux.

  • IFS announced it will port IFS Applications to Linux, beginning with Red Hat Linux.

  • Beijing based Forlink Software Corporation Inc. announced that it has absorbed Beijing Creative Century Milestone Software Co. Ltd., labeling BCCM's search engine For-Search.

  • FreeDiskSpace.com announced that computer users worldwide can safely and securely back-up their important files on the company's first free, secure 300 megabyte virtual hard drive.

  • Poker.com, Inc. announced the release of the Linux version of its gaming software, a complete suite of JAVA-based Internet games.

  • soberbia.com announced their web-site selling T-shirts for Geeks.

    Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions:

  • Caldera Systems Inc. announced the selection of Computer Superstore retailer, CompUSA Inc., as an Authorized Linux Education Center (ALEC).

  • GraphOn Corporation announced it has expanded its distribution into Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand through an agreement with Adroit Systems.

  • M&A West, Inc. announced plans to put together a fund to invest in Linux companies.

  • Urbana.ca, Eagle Wireless, and USA Video Interactive announced their intentions to produce a set-top box that incorporates both the Linux operating system and USA Video Interactive's Wavelet Video-on-Demand system.

  • Wave Technologies announced a deal with Linuxcare. Wave will start offering courses from Linuxcare at a number of its facilities. These courses include basic administration, as well as three-day "Extreme Samba" and "Extreme Apache" classes.


  • For those of you who aren't satisfied with regular day trading, the Chicago Board of Exchange has announced that trading in options on Red Hat stock will begin on January 18.

  • Cortelco Systems, Inc. announced it has changed its name to eOn Communications Corporation (eOn). eOn designs, develops, and markets Linux-based communications servers and software.

  • EBIZ Enterprises Inc., owner of TheLinuxStore.com, announced that the company has been relisted on the OTC Bulletin Board effective as of the opening of trading Dec. 27.

  • Enhanced Software Technologies, Inc. announced that its BRU Backup & Restore Utility was awarded the Linux Journal Reader's Choice Award for Favorite Backup Utility for the fourth consecutive year.

  • The Electric Mail Company Inc. and Steel Wave Enterprises Inc. announced plans to support the Linux operating system.

  • TheLinuxStore.com and The Linux Show have announced that they will be doing a live broadcast from the LinuxWorld Expo in February.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

December 30, 1999


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

Linux in the news

Recommended Reading:

The New York Times ran this article about the most interesting "cyberlaw" developments of 1999. It is less Microsoft-dominated than one might expect, and worth a read. "The attention Wall Street has been giving to Linux all year is ironic... but it demonstrates that the software business will never be the same again, now that everyone has admitted that the best software things in life are free. The licensing structure of the general public license, which frees everyone to create knowing that everyone can use everyone else's improvements, is the legal structure of software's future." The New York Times is a registration-required site. (Thanks to Paul Hewitt).

Here is a Salon article on the Linux stock market frenzy. The author concludes that it is actually a good thing. "If, in the long run, Red Hat and VA Linux never earn a dime, and stockholders start pulling their hair out and analysts begin announcing downgrades, the world in general still stands to benefit immensely. That's because, right now, companies like Red Hat and VA Linux are substantially increasing the amount of software that belongs to the whole world. Software that solves problems, leverages creativity and intelligence, and, bottom line, is free. The companies may go away, but the software won't. What we are currently seeing, in essence, is the largest-scale bilking of the 'free market' ever perpetrated, for the purpose of creating a common infrastructure of software tools that will be to the lasting benefit of all humanity. Merry Christmas, everyone."


LinuxTicker has run an article (in German) covering the Y2K readiness of each Linux distribution, and going over a set of problem applications. It's a good overview of where things stand, worth a last-minute look. English text can be attempted via Babelfish, but it appears to be misbehaving again.

Internet Week ran this article with predictions for next year. "...Linux is likely to be limited to its current role of Web-serving, and file- and print-sharing in the enterprise for 2000, said analyst Greg Weiss of D.H. Brown Associates."

Software Patents:

The U.S. Patent office will be revisiting the "Windowing" patent, according to this News.com story. Windowing is an obvious Y2K fix; it was covered in this LWN feature in November. "The Dickens windowing patent was issued in 1998. Analysts have discovered information on the fix from IBM, which referred to the technique in pamphlets as far back as 1991."

This osOpinion piece supports the Amazon.com boycott. "The free software movement is filled with software that probably violates a host of obvious patents... In fact my understanding of amazon is that they use free software for their business - software that could be infringing on any one of the legions of obvious software patents!"


Here's an article in CNN looking at support offerings for Linux. "One big reason that companies have moved from playing around with open source programs, such as Linux, to using them in production networks is that a greatly improved service and support network has emerged."

ZDNet looks at Microsoft and Linux. "The company still is vacillating between two opposite poles. One, that Linux is not a real competitor- as Microsoft claims on its Linux myths Web page; and two, that Linux is poised to do real damage to Microsoft-as its Department of Justice defenders claim every chance they get."

The Montreal Gazette looks at Corel's latest disappointment. "'This setback in the Windows market will encourage us even further to push hard into the enormous potential of Linux,' chief executive Michael Cowpland said in a conference call. Corel is the company with the most Linux technology, he added, noting that the stock market values his company at less than 5 per cent as much as Linux-sector leader Red Hat."


Upside looks at the Mozilla M12 release. "When finally released, Mozilla is expected to be both faster and more stable than Internet Explorer. Such is almost guaranteed, since any programmer in the world will be able to fix bugs that surface."

CBS Marketwatch has put up its list of the top ten financial stories of 1999. Linux is number six. "When it burst onto the scene a couple years ago as a rebellion against Windows and other established operating systems for computers, the Linux 'open-source' movement of code-sharing probably seemed a bit obscure to most investors"

Here's an installation nightmare story in the Washington Post. "My objective was to see whether a Windows user could switch to Linux with minimum heartache and hassle. The answer is no. If Red Hat wants converts, the Linux switch must be as easy and painless as possible." (Thanks to David Hartley).

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

December 30, 1999


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.



Slides from talks given at the December 2nd Open Source Licensing Workshop have been made available, including talks by Eric Raymond, Karsten Self and Michael Krieger (Attorney at Law, UCLA Computer Science Department).


LinuxFest 2000 has been scheduled for June 20-24, 2000 in Kansas City. A few details can be found in the announcement.

December 30, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
adaGDBM 1.0beta1 Ada95 binding against The GNU Database Manager.
Address Book 1.0 A very simple Web-based, MySQL-backed address book.
AleVT 1.5.1 Videotext/Teletext decoder and viewer
Allen Bradley Ethernet utils 0.1.0 Simple utilities for Allen Bradley Ethernet PLCs
AoNettool - Alex's own Nettool 0.9a A graphical frontend to finger, whois, traceroute, nslookup and ping.
Apprentice 0.2 An HTTP daemon written in Perl.
aps 0.10 Text-based network analysis tool which displays many protocol details.
arianne rpg 0.2.4 A Role Playing Game project.
aumix 2 Color text mode sound mixer with GPM support
Autoclose 0.5.3 This utility automatically closes one app when another is finished
AutoConvert 0.3.4 Chinese GB/HZ/BIG5 encoding auto convert
Bahwi's search.pl 28/12/1999 Launch Netscape searches from the command line.
BASHISH DR2.2 A modular Bourne-shell theme engine.
BBBS 4.00 MP Full-featured BBS software with full FidoNet and InterNet support.
BEanACTION beta 2 Recursive javabeans editor
BetaFTPD 0.0.8pre9 Single-threaded, small FTP daemon
BibleTime 0.21 A bible study program for KDE
BLT 2.4n A 2D plotting extension to TCL/Tk.
Blur Scope MAX 0.9.1 A visualization plug-in for XMMS.
BookScape 0.0.6 BookScape is a PHP script for presentation of Netscape Navigator bookmarks.
boson 0.3 A network real-time strategy game like warcraft, without AI.
BRINK 1.2.1 CGI that changes users passwords via a web page.
BTERM 4.00 MP BTERM is a small VT320 terminal emulator.
Buildkernel 1.00 Automates the task of building a Linux kernel
cadaver 0.8.0 command-line WebDAV tool
CAFire 0.0.7 A burning mouse pointer toy.
CardInfo 1.1 Replacement for the cardinfo application from the pcmcia package.
Cawfee CGI SDK 0.1 A C++ CGI library.
cdrecord 1.8a37 Allows the creation of both audio and data CDs
citygen 1.5.0 Medieval city/kingdom demographics generator.
ClanMecha 0.1.0 A 2D multi-player mecha-genre platform game using ClanLib.
Contact Book 0.2.1 Alternative Contact Book.
CoreLinux++ 0.4.0 A set of C++ class libraries to support common patterns in software development.
cpp1 1.1012 Experimental chess program, successor to `bullucks'
cpuid 2.0 x86 CPU identification tool.
Crescendo 1.1.5 Gnome front-end to the TinyFugue mud client.
csv2html 0.4.0 Converts CSV files to HTML tables
dagrab 0.3.4 Extracts digital audio from CD and stores it in WAV files (incl CDDB)
dclock 2.1 A digital LED-style desktop clock.
dep.pl 1.19.4 Check dependencies of multiple files.
DeuTex 4.3.0 Doom wad composer/decomposer
Dia 0.83 gtk based diagram drawing program. Much like Visio.
DinX 0.2.2 A windowing system using the Linux framebuffer.
DistroLib 0.2 Library for distributed processes.
Doc++ 3.3.17 Powerful Javadoc like C++ documentation creation tool.
Downloader for X 1.09 Downloads files from the Internet via both FTP and HTTP
doxygen 1.0.0 A documentation system for C and C++
DreamBot 0.0.6-pre5 IRC Bot written in Perl
DROL Pre-alpha Clone of the popular BBS door-game Legend Of the Red Dragon.
dupmerge 1.0 A tool for merging duplicate files.
DWUN 0.6c Controls PPP link by client requests for connection
EasyGTK 1.1.6 Wrapper library for GTK
efx 0.1 XMMS Effect plugin loader for Esound.
Electric Ears 0.6.3 A simple wave player.
Endeavour 1.10 Linux/X File and Image Browser
Everybuddy 0.0.7 Universal Instant Messaging Client
FATCAT2K 2000 A file inflater.
fdupes 1.0 Tool to list duplicate files.
for2html 1 A FORTRAN-to-HTML translator and cross-references generator.
Fork Bomb Defuser 0.3 Detect, disable, and log fork() bombs to prevent crashes.
Fworld IRC Operator Services 2.1.3 IRC Operator Service with features rivalling Undernet's.
g3DSE 0.1 3D Stereo Enhancement tool for Sound Blaster.
Gaby 1.9.15 A small personal databases manager using GTK+
GalaxyNG 4-2 A server for a multi-player play-by-email spacewar game.
gatO 0.6.2 Gtk AT Operation.
GATOS 0.0.5 ATI-TV software for Linux.
gbgrand 1.0 A random background selector for GNOME.
gecco 0.4.0 GNOME-based application using plugins for system/network/app configuration.
Gem Drop X 0.7 A fast-paced puzzle game
Getleft 0.7.6 Tcl/Tk site grabber powered by Curl
getpg 0.51 PostgreSQL-aware replacements for the getpwnam() and getpwuid() functions.
getpg / UW-IMAP 0.51 A patch for UW-IMAP to authenticate users against a PostgreSQL database.
GIP 0.4.8 Make installation/uninstallation easier
Giram 0.1.4 Giram is a modeller, written in GTK+
gLife 0.1.1 An artificial life simulator that tries to emulate an artificial society.
GlobeCom Jukebox 3.2pre6 Music jukebox with integrated CDDB aware ripping and groupware functionality
GMatH 0.0.10 Computer Algebra Environment
GNOME Transcript Gnome Transcript 0.1.0 SQL Database Client with plugin system to support multiple database servers.
GNU shtool 1.4.7 Shell Script Collection
GNU Standard C++ Library v3 GNU Standard C++ Library 2.90.7 Project to implement the ISO 14882 Standard C++ library.
GOB 0.91.2 Preprocessor for building GTK+ Object
GOOPS 0.1.6 The Guile Object Oriented Programming System.
GPLTrans alpha3 Web-based machine translator.
GPPP-Dialer 0.1.0 Very simple Gnome PPP Dialer.
Graphtool 0.07 Create graphs from Gnumeric files
Groovy Java Database 0.1.1 A Java object-oriented database
GTC 0.5 Game Programming Library
Gtkfxp 0.3 An FXP client for GTK.
GtkGraph 0.5.3 Graphing calculator for X
GTKstep 2.0 Improves the default look and feel of the GTK+ widget set
GTool 0.1 A GUI drawing/analysis tool for Graph Theory.
GuiSlp 0.2 An slp-package manager.
Heretic for Linux 1.0.3 Port of Heretic to Linux
HPTalx 1.0 HP48/HP49 calculator to PC comm program.
HTML2TEXT 1.2.1 An HTML-to-text converter.
IBTK 0.0.14 Basic self-contained no-frills toolkit for Xlib.
icewm 1.0.0 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
ID2 0.6d User information lookup utility.
ip_masq_q3a 0.0.2/Q3A A patch for Linux 2.2.x to get Q3A working behind NAT.
Jabber 0.8.1 Instant Messaging Platform
Java Napster 0.3 Java GUI clone of the Napster client for downloading MP3s.
jEdit 2.3pre1 Powerful text editor
JEsd 0.0.2 A re-implementation of EsounD in pure Java.
JFwadmin 0.7 Java high level GUI for ipchains.
jpilot 0.97 Palm pilot desktop software for Linux
KBiff 2.3.11 New mail notification utility for KDE
KCommander 0.60-1 Windows Commander Clone for KDE
kconfigure 0.2 A program for compiling programs using a graphical interface.
kdbg 1.0.2 A graphical KDE front end to the GDB debugger. Also used by kdevelop.
KEGS 0.57 An Apple //gs emulator for HP-UX, Linux, Solaris, and OS/2
Kgutenbook 0.4.9 KDE port of the perl app gutenbook, to download, and read etexts from Gutenburg
kissme 0.03 Free Java Virtual Machine.
KNode 0.1.11 Online-newsreader for KDE
KPHPDev 0.1.6 An integrated Web development tool.
KSnes9x 1.2pre KDE frontend for Snes9x
LCAP 0.0.3 The Linux kernel capability remover.
Leafnode 1.9.7 NNTP server for small leaf sites
libtiff-lzw-compression-kit 1.0 A kit to re-enable LZW compression in libtiff.
Linux-HA 0.4.6c Heartbeat subsystem for High-Availability Linux project
Linuxconf 1.17r1 Sophisticated administrative tool
lxpServ 0.35 An easy-to-use application server.
Mace 991223 A free Macintosh compatibility layer, implemented similar to Wine.
makeconf.makefile 0.3 A Makefile-making script.
MEC4 Streaming Server 1.4.2 A video-on-demand system.
Merchant-Store 3.0 Shopping cart script with product manager and realtime credit card processing.
Metapixel 0.1 A photomosaic generator.
miffmixr .01 A Web-based MP3 jukebox.
MIT Scheme 7.5pre1 A programming environment for Scheme.
modutils 2.3.9 Linux module utilities
mod_cgisock 0.3.0 A CGI interface over a Unix Domain socket
mod_pcgi2 0.1.0 An Apache module for Zope/PCGI.
Moe Music 0.1.2 Web Juke Box for mpg123 and mySQL
Moneydance 2.0.4 Personal finance application written in java
Mork 0.2.1 Mork is like Lex/Yacc for Java.
Motif Launcher V0.1 Application Launcher for Motif-MWM or Lesstif-MWM.
MP3 Player Upload and Download utilities MP3 Player Upload and Download Utilities 0.0.1 Upload tools for MpMan portable MP3 players
mpatrol 1.0.8 A library for controlling and tracing dynamic memory allocations.
muLinux 7.6 A tiny implementation of Linux, which can reside on a single floppy
Multimeter 0.0.2 read measurements from digital multimeters
MultUnil 0.3 A script for Multilingual documentation support.
Nessus 0.99.2 A free, open-sourced and easy-to-use security auditing tool
NetBiff 0.9.2 A more featureful version of the traditional biff.
netfilter 0.1.14 New NAT/packet-filtering infrastructure for Linux 2.3.5
NetSaint 0.0.5b1 A relatively simple active network monitor
nettimer 0.03 Calculate time and money spent using the Internet.
newq 0.1 Snarfs realtime quotes from datek to display on the console.
NiL Isn't Liero 0.1 A violent game, a lot like worms, a bit like quake, but in 2D.
nmpg 1.1.2 Command driven frontend for mpg123
ntop 1.2a10 Network usage monitor
nwsh 0.1.1 Low-RAM shell with modules support
oa 1.0.0 A tool to play sound wave forms, experiment with them, make music.
Omnipede 0.2.0 A simple worm(6)-like game.
OpenVerse Visual Chat 0.7-6 Free Multiplatform Visual Chat software written in Tcl/TK
oracledump 0.09 A command-line tool that dumps Oracle data and table setup info as SQL.
OWSKiller 3.0.3 Replacement for Oracle Web Server based on Java Servlets
Perl Shell 0.005 Simple interactive Perl shell
Perl webmail 2.1 A Perl-based Web-mail script.
Perlmclient 0.2 Masqdialler client written in Perl.
PHP*Star 1.0.2 Auto-generates HTML forms and PHP scripts.
PHP4-Beta3 + Japanese libgd patch 0.1 A Japanese patch for PHP4+libgd to enable use of Japanese characters in images.
PHPGem 1.3 A generator of PHP-scripts for working with tables on SQL-servers.
Pingus 0.3.0 Lemmings clone with penguins.
PlottGUI V1.0 Plot DIN-A4 worksheets on a HP/GL plotter.
plucker 0.5 An offline HTML viewer for PalmOS with a Linux conduit.
pngcrush 1.3.1 An optimizer for PNG files that can also insert or delete specified chunks.
Postfix snapshot 19991227 The Postfix MTA
pppd 2.3.11
PSPG 1.0.1 Pretty simple password generator
ptkRun 0.25 A command executor for X.
PuzzleSquare 0.1 A simple puzzle game
Q9 Chinese Information Platform 2.7pre Chinese input software.
QuakeForge 991221 A project created around Id software's Quake source releases.
RadioActive 0.8 Radio tuner for X11 and Video4Linux
rccvs 1.0 A CCVS network wrapper with daemon and Perl API.
rdial 0.03 ISDN connection server and clients.
RealTimeBattle 1.0.0pre1 RealTimeBattle, a robot programming game for Unix
redir 2.2.1 Redirects TCP ports to another IP address and port.
Rekop 1999-12-22/0.45 Client-server seven card stud multi-player game.
Relayer 1.8 Control SMTP relaying.
RFCutil 2.2 fast util to search the rfc-index for a topic and display it with lynx
rh-isdn 0.59 A few scripts and documentation to set up ISDN on RedHat
rlwrap 0.01 A readline wrapper.
RPGD 1.0.6 A multi-user, medieval-fantasy role-playing game
Secure FTP 0.5 FTP replacement over ssh/rsh
serproxy 0.1.2 A serial port <-> TCP socket proxy.
SffToBmp 1.1 Graphics converter
SFS 0.4 A secure, global file system with decentralized control.
SigLab 1.0beta1 A signal calculator.
signature 0.04 a dynamic signature generator for e-mail and news
Sing Along Disc Player 2.2.0 CD player with spectrum analyser, oscillator, mixer and remote DB support
Sketch 0.7.4 Vector drawing program, implemented in python
Slashdot Headline Grabber 2.11 A Perl-based Slashdot headline-grabber
slashem 0.0.5E7F1 variant of the Rogue-like console game Nethack
SMTP::Server 1.1 A complete, extensible, RFC compliant SMTP server written in Perl
SpaceWatcher 1.0.0 Keeps an eye on free disk space and alerts you if there is a problem.
SpecialFunctions (Cephes) 1.2 Special functions for Numerical Python users.
Sportslog 1.1 Gtk+ application for tracking athletic events such as running and cycling
Spruce 0.5.10 Simple email client coded for X with the Gtk widget set
stripmime 0.7.5 A Perl script to filter MIME sections out of email messages.
svgalib 1.4.1 Low-level graphics library that provides VGA and SVGA modes in a console
TclTicker 1.2 A simple stock ticker written in TCL/Tk.
Text::Template 1.23 Embed Perl code into text and HTML files.
The Bookexchange 0.1 A book exchange for the Web.
The GNU Privacy Guard 1.0.1 GPLed PGP replacement tool
The Graph Template Library 0.3.2 A graph library for C++, inspired by STL.
themeleme.sh 0.3.8 Easy theme-packing for Window Maker themes.
TickMail Preview M1 Fast, efficient, attractive and friendly X11 e-mail program.
tinyproxy 1.3.1 A small, lightweight, easy-to-configure HTTP proxy.
TIP 0.6.9 Pico editor clone with enhancements
TkHeadlines 0.80 Headline grabber for about 20 sites
ToutDoux 1.1.4 A project manager.
TRONtium v0.5 A clone of the classic TRON light-cycles game.
TWIG 2.1.0 A web-based IMAP client written with PHP3
Ultimate Mail Tool 1.0b4 Email reader for UNIX/X11.
UltimateIRCd 2.7.9-DarkSide Advanced IRC daemon based off the DAL DreamForge daemon with many new features.
unixODBC 1.8.3 Provides ODBC 3 connectivity for Unix
V2_OS 0.54b A fast 32-bit operating system for the 386 and up.
VeteScan 12-26-99 Bulk Vulnerability Scanner
vetestcl 12-26-99 Vulnerability scanners for eggdrop
VK Tools 0.4a MPEG Stream Analyzer
VLAN 0.0.8 802.1Q VLAN implementation for Linux
vsa 0.9.6 Visual Sound Analyzer
VTun 2.0b8 Virtual Tunnels over TCP/IP networks.
Wacom Driver for XFree86 alpha 16 Wacom driver for XFree86
waterfall spectrum analyzer 0.8 XMMS visualization plugin
WebAwk 0.1 Web scripting language.
webfs 0.8 Lightweight HTTP server for static content
WinMGM 2.0b Molecular graphism, construction/optimisation and analysis program/library.
WMFmixer 0.1 A mixer dock-app for WindowMaker/AfterStep/etc. managers.
WMFstatus 0.2 General purpose LCD monitor dockapp for WindowMaker.
wmseti 0.3.0 Windowmaker dockapp for your SETI@home statistics
wmtimer 2.1 Alarm/Countdown timer applet for Windowmaker
wsmake 0.5.9 Website make tool written in C++
WTEST 2.0 Web application testing tool
X Interface Monitor 1.3 Monitor any network interface, and view traffic, load, and statistics.
X-RAR 0.2beta Front-end to 'RAR for Linux'.
XawTV 3.03 TV application and a few utilities
XCircuit 2.0b1 program for drawing electrical circuit schematic diagrams and related figure
XCounter 1.0.2 A simple IP traffic monitoring program.
XIPM 0.4.1 A package management and system maintenance utility.
xlHtml 0.2.6 XLS to HTML converter
xnetload 1.6.1 Displays packet traffic and uptime in an X window
XShipWars 1.28 Space oriented highly graphical network game system.
XTL R1.2 A C++ template library for object externalization.
xwpe-alpha 1.5.22a A programming environment for UNIX systems
Yacas 1.0.25 Yet Another Computer Algebra System
YIFF Sound Server 2.04 Sound server with multi-client and network-transparent io library.
Yoke Linux Kernel Driver 0.3.5 A kernel device driver for transparant mirroring.

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

DotComma is a slashdot-like site aimed at providing programming information to programmers. It is relatively new, and seems to mostly interested in PHP at this time.

Linux Commentary is a site put together by Neil Brown; it contains a set of documentation on how parts of the kernel work. Covered thus far are the virtual file system (VFS) and the NFS server; pointers exist to some related documentation elsewhere.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet

December 30, 1999



Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@lwn.net. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
Date: 23 Dec 1999
From: toon@moene.indiv.nluug.nl
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Elements of Programming Style

On the front page of todays Linux Weakly News, you wrote:

> Those of you lucky enough to have Kernighan and Plauger's The Elements of
> Programming Style can imagine that Eric's book will be something similar,
> but presumably (hopefully) without the Fortran code.

Awww - nuts

I fail to see what's wrong with K&P using Fortran for their
*examples*.  It only shows that people who can really think -
as opposed to those who can only code - can write clean
programs in any language.

I wouldn't be surprised if even COBOL programs from their
hands would be easily understandable.

Toon Moene (mailto:toon@moene.indiv.nluug.nl)
Saturnushof 14, 3738 XG  Maartensdijk, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 346 214290; Fax: +31 346 214286
GNU Fortran: http://egcs.cygnus.com/onlinedocs/g77_news.html
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 12:58:20 -0500 (EST)
From: William Stearns <wstearns@pobox.com>
To: Gracian Mack <gracian@redherring.com>, edit@redherring.com
Subject: LinuxOne IPO - concerns

Good afternoon, Gracian,
	I found your article about LinuxOne (*1) on Red Herring today.
While it covered the financial aspect of the IPO quite well, it didn't
seem to cover the concerns that the Linux community has raised about the
company itself.
	I honestly can understand why you might decide to stick to
numerical facts.  However, would you at least consider looking at some of
the concerns that have been raised?
	In a nutshell, LinuxOne has released a very small number of
products.  They appear to be almost entirely straight copies of the code
released by RedHat Linux and Mandrake Linux.  I did a comparison one
afternoon of the LinuxOne Linux distribution and RedHat and Mandrake
Linux; all but one of the packages making up that distribution were exact
copies from RedHat or Mandrake; the sole changed package was the initial
web page presented in the web browser which had become a mini-prospectus
for LinuxOne.  This tends not to support the claim that they provide
additional value.
	Others have covered the additional concerns of the Linux community
better than I can; please take a look at the following links to read more:


	I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the debate.
	- Bill

*1 http://www.herring.com/insider/1999/1228/inv-ipoweek.html

	Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at
least one instruction--from which, by induction, it is evident that every
program can be reduced to one instruction that does not work. 
(Courtesy of Weather-Man(a/k/a wormied dude, <worm@Thirdwave.NET>)
William Stearns (wstearns@pobox.com).  Mason, Buildkernel, named2hosts, 
and ipfwadm2ipchains are at: http://www.pobox.com/~wstearns/

Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 15:26:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Seth Vidal <skvidal@nospam-phy.duke.edu>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: free code? free art?

Below is the text of the message I sent to elliot rusty regarding his
journal entry posted to lwn on dec 28th.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 15:16:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Seth Vidal <skvidal@nospam-phy.duke.edu>
To: elharo@metalab.unc.edu
Subject: free code? free art?

 I read your journal entry regarding free documentation. I would like to
note that it was well written but I would disagree with certain points of
what you are saying.

While much free software can be forked and separated from the original
branch - and then distributed under another name or the same name
(excluding trademark infringements) - a great deal of free software is
people re-integrating ideas into an original tree - or making suggestions
to sections etc.

ie: if I we're to pick up one of your books and I had suggestions for
improvments or grammatical problems or more verbose examples etc etc - I
would submit them to you. You could choose to include them or ignore them
- your option. I would make my changes available on the web for people who
wanted them but not for all.

Its like kernel development - if Linus thinks it sucks - then it sucks -
and it won't get far. If he likes it he puts it in. 
The author's "voice" could most closely resemble tabbing and code
organization in source code. Linus and others HATE bad formatting in the
source - they either fix it when they come upon it or they send it back
for fixing to the original author. either way formatting is maintained
throughout the kernel.

I agree with your points regarding Kai's power GOO - but would it not be
better for him to open the source and allow user interface options to
develop? - If he is really for non-standard - imaginative and innovative
designs then he'll want to open it to all.

The crux of this rambling email is that while you're correct that the
voice is important, it is not true that the author loses ALL control over
the format once the document is open sourced. It just means that others
can help - and will need coaxing and convincing to alternative ideas.

The reason so many open source projects work is b/c they have a very few
people in charge who have a vision of what it should look like. They are
willing to change their minds and visions - but they are also willing to
be sticklers about certain features:
You could be a stickler about the number or kind of jokes to make about
microsoft or sun - but be willing to be bend on the type of and scope of
the examples.

It really can be great to have a collaborative effort.


Seth Vidal

Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 14:12:25 +0530
From: Anand Srivastava <anand@aplion.stpn.soft.net>
To: info@lawnewsnetwork.com, letters@lwn.net
Subject: Has anybody patented Law yet.


I guess its about time somebody should patent laws. Many laws are being
used by governments over the world. I think US Govt would be willing to
pay substantially for a law that they want to frame (rather they have to
frame, because of various reasons). Here is another gold mine.

Seriously, you would think that this is stupid. Likewise to us software
people, single click order, is stupid. And a whole lot of similar
patents, like the windowing patent.


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