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Red Hat's Embedded Developer's Kit was announced this week. With this release, we see the fruition of Red Hat's acquisition of Cygnus - Red Hat is now a player in the (increasingly crowded) embedded Linux arena. Given their name recognition and advertising budgets, Red Hat will likely make a large splash.

The EDK product itself contains much of what is needed to do embedded systems development. Heading the list is the Source Navigator interactive development environment. There is a full set of development tools for embedded x86 and PowerPC targets, and a set of stripped-down kernels for those systems. Debugging tools have been included as well.

And, of course, this package comes with a full set of service offerings. There are two levels of basic support, the lower of which only allows a "limited number" of bugs to be reported and fixed. The $40,000 "platinum support" option, instead, includes unlimited incident support and a number of other goodies, though you still have to shell out an additional $25,000 if you want your own "technical account owner" assigned to you.

One of the more interesting parts of this announcement, however, was buried deep in the EDK General FAQ. It seems that Red Hat has decided that all tools on the EDK should be open source and that, as a result, Source Navigator will be released under the GPL. The source is supposed to show up on the Cygnus Sourceware site within a few weeks. The opening of Source Navigator is an important contribution; look for it to show up on your favorite distribution CD shortly.

[Pingoo Tux]

The LWN Penguin Gallery has been updated after much too long a time. There are now no less than 233 penguins in the Gallery, each one unique.

We're sure there's lots more out there. Please send your additions to lwn@lwn.net; please always include a URL to the place the penguin lives so that we may link to it. Many thanks to all who have contributed penguin sightings thus far.

Open software required by law in France? Here is an announcement of a proposed law that would require adherence to open standards and availability of source for all software used within the French government. It would also codify the right to publish and use "compatible software" in some situations regardless of any patent or trademark claims.

The effects of the law, if passed, could be wide-ranging. The requirement that open standards be used for data exchange would prohibit the government, for example, from sending around documents in proprietary formats. The idea of a law that bans Word attachments has a definite appeal, but it would certainly shake up the way the government does business.

The source code requirement is there for a couple of reasons. First is the simple need to be able to access data many years after the fact, when the program that created it has perhaps long since fallen into disuse. The other is the need to be able to look for back doors - the Echelon surveillance system is explicitly cited as justification here. Note that this requirement seems to say that "source code is available to the government." It does not require that the software be open source.

The third article says "any individual or moral person has the right to develop, publish and use an original software which is compatible with the communication standards of another software". This is a step in the right direction, but one can see some potential imitations here. Would DeCSS, which allows the decryption and reading of DVD disks, be protected under this clause? One could imagine lawyers arguing for years over whether DVD encryption is a "communication standard" or not.

The announcement ends with the claim that "in a market economy, States can play a significant role on the economy and preserve the public interest." That may be true, though the French government appears to be limiting itself to legislating the sort of software that it will use; closed software would still be legal in the private sector.

(See also: this statement from the Association Francophone des Utilisateurs de Linux et de logiciels libres supporting bill in French and English via Babelfish.)

Eric Raymond, Lawrence Lessig, and others on government intervention. For those looking for more debate on the proper role of government in supporting open source software, a look at this discussion on the American Prospect site should prove rewarding. Participants include Eric Raymond:

...we share a gut-level sense, born of experience, that handing governments more power is more likely in the long term to injure the Internet (and all its potentials for human freedom and property) than to help it grow.

as well as Lawrence Lessig:

I believe this movement has got to get beyond black and white. We have got to wake up from this dreamland where people believe that we neither need government nor need to pay attention to what government does. The argument that government has not played an important role in bringing about the environment within which the revolution of the Internet was possible is just wrong -- historically wrong.

There are some well-expressed and important points of view there - recommended reading. (Those who still haven't had enough can head on over to this Slashdot discussion for lots more).

Book Review: Thinking In Java. Jeff Berry has been kind enough to send us this review of Thinking in Java, by Bruce Eckel. This book, which is also downloadable over the net, turns out to be a good introduction to object-oriented programming and Java, and is recommended for Java beginners.

Feature: Exploring SGML DocBook. Our latest feature article is Exploring SGML DocBook, which was written, translated from the original Italian, and contributed by Giorgio Zoppi. This article looks at the important DocBook standard, with an emphasis on setting up the tools to be able to work with DocBook documents.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Piranha, Libsafe and a boat-load of security reports.
  • Kernel: Finally: 2.3.99-pre6; poll() and the big kernel lock
  • Distributions: In-depth reports on Vine Linux and Plamo Linux.
  • Development: The usual host of development reports.
  • Commerce: Miracle Linux; Applix spins off VistaSource
  • Back page: Linux links and letters to the editor
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

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April 27, 2000


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