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Linux in the news

Recommended Reading.

Here's a lengthy article on LinuxDevices.com which predicts the eventual victory of both Linux and Java. "The poor performance of Linux stocks in recent times is not an indicator of poor prospects for the Linux OS, but an index of its extremely high value to consumers as opposed to vendors."


Evan Leibovitch blames the BSD license for the difficulties with Microsoft "embracing and extending" the Kerberos protocol. "Unless I'm badly misreading something -- and in the quagmire of legalese surrounding such issues, that's always possible -- this episode indicates a specific example of real harm to the free software community that occurred because a BSD license was used. Furthermore, the problem would have been prevented had the code in question been licensed under the GPL. If this is the case, then I'd have to say this event goes a long way in tipping the balance of the two licensing models' respective merits."

Here's a column on Andover.Net suggesting that businesses should stop messing around with new licenses and simply adopt the GPL. "Go ahead, call me a radical, but I'm really looking out for your best interests here, Mister CEO. I'm trying to let you know that the best way to be recognized as a Linux-friendly, forward-thinking company is to jump into that ideological pool with both feet, and do a cannonball. Toe-dipping is just that, and we can all see you doing it." (Thanks to Cesar Augusto Kant Grossmann).

The EDA community struggles with issues of trust, in their efforts to develop standards for interoperability. Using a vendor-based standard licensed under an Open Source license is one direction being considered. "'If you take the United Nations approach, you will find it has glacial evolution,' warned Kevin Kranen, director of strategic programs at Synopsys. The best solution, he said, is a widely-adopted proprietary standard made available through open-source or community-source licensing."

Here's an article in Technocrat describing a "trivial, easily remedied GPL violation" on the part of Softway Systems, which is owned by Microsoft. Says Bruce Perens: "One of these examples comes up at least once a month, and I'm going to keep running these stories until the situation improves. Maybe that means forever."


Time interviews Neal Stephenson. "The single most useful thing about the Internet is that it facilitates using Linux. To use Linux, you need so much goddamn technical information that if you don't have a really good source of technical support, you're just screwed."

ZDNet talks with Red Hat CTO Michael Tiemann about proprietary document formats. "While Red Hat has achieved a high degree of independence from Microsoft products, Tiemann said he's aware of how hard it can be for other parties to make the transition. He served recently on a federal government panel to investigate the value and uses of open source code. When the agenda for the first meeting came out, it was distributed in Microsoft Word format."


The first word on the TurboLinux layoffs appears to have come from this Slashdot article. It includes a brief interview with TurboLinux VP Lonn Johnston. "The main thing is that there were some layoffs today, and some expenses cut. Little impact on our developer teams, and no future layoffs are planned. The basic gist of this is getting our bottom line in line with our expenses, and on target with our revenue and profit growth. We're fortunate that we're sitting on a large pile of cash, because we raised a record round for a Linux company in January."

Here's a News.com article about the layoffs at TurboLinux. "The TurboLinux layoffs affected the whole company but were deepest among administrative staff and marketing and lightest in development and services..."

And here is ZDNet's take on the layoffs at TurboLinux. "Citing TurboLinux's status as a private corporation, company officials declined to provide a count of the total number of employees let go. But Lonn Johnston, the company's vice president of marketing, confirmed that sales and marketing were hit hardest, and development lost a total of two employees, worldwide."

News.com looks at the leadership change at TurboLinux. "The CEO shuffle and the layoffs are 'completely unrelated,' [new CEO Paul] Thomas said. He and Miller had planned the CEO change for weeks, and the board approved the move this week after Miller's suggestion, Thomas said. 'We knew from the start this is what we'd like to do', he said."

Upside also looks at the events at TurboLinux. "TurboLinux, the San Francisco-based Linux distributor, offered explicit evidence this week as to how much and how quickly the rules have changed for pre-IPO companies when it announced Wednesday the layoffs of approximately 70 employees." The article also contains comments from Alan Cox on software patents and reporting from Larry Augustin's London keynote.


News.com covers IBM's donation of its SOAP implementation to the Apache project. "The software, called Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) for Java, is based on a Web standard for exchanging data called XML (Extensible Markup Language). The product is a working version of a communications technology developed by Microsoft, IBM, Lotus Development and others that could potentially become an Internet standard for linking Web-based software."

Here's an article in The Register about Linux support for Ultra ATA/100. (Thanks to Dan York).

Compaq announced a new line of servers aimed at the ISP market. "Compaq expects 75 percent of Photons to run Windows NT or 2000, 20 percent Linux and the rest Novell NetWare."

Rick Lehrbaum reports from this year's Applied Computing Conference, held in San Jose, CA. "Thing 2: the TEENY WEENY WEBSERVER -- as if to balance the image of the GIANT PENGUIN, and practically sitting in its shadow, was the most amazingly small single-board webserver."

Upside looks at a Linux Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) project. "Recently rechristened as the Puffin PLC project, an avian homage to the Linux penguin mascot, LinuxPLC also hopes to take advantage of a few other characteristics of the Linux operating system, namely seamless Internet integration via built-in TCP/IP controls."

Here is an article on Hypercosm's release of its next-generation 3-D authoring technology for Linux. It is available for free download (see the license for restrictions), though it is not an open source product. "Hypercosm 3D applets store geometric information and coded instructions that power interaction by the end user. Because Hypercosm employs a modern general purpose programming language, Hypercosm Studio users can create sophisticated animation and simulation applications."
Note that the Linux version of the Hypercosm Player does not yet support sound.


The Industry Standard looks at the round of investments in Collab.Net. "If Collab.Net succeeds, it will mark a dissonance between investors skittish about the open-source model and major software companies that don't want to be left behind by a growing movement."

Here's an Upside profile of Eazel. "Mammon has subtle ways of converting the righteous, and someone has just ponied up $11 million. 'I came out of retirement to make Linux more usable,' says Hertzfeld. 'Until now the wealth of programmers contributing to Linux has made it the most sophisticated operating system in the world. All available, all open. Now we're going to make it usable.'"

ZDNet also looks at Eazel. "Eazel also faces tension in the open source community, where there is some resentment of the mainstream press attention bestowed on the former Apple stars while far less credit is given to the longstanding and continuing volunteer efforts that have led to advancements in Linux and Gnome. Younger Linux fans may be more familiar with the accomplishments of Linus Torvalds, inventor of Linux, and Miguel de Icaza, a guiding force behind the Gnome project and chief technology officer at Helix Code. Indeed, many were toddlers when the Macintosh was unveiled."

The Los Angeles Times examines the consequences of Gateway's alliance with Transmeta. "Analysts called the announcement a breakthrough for Transmeta, a privately held Santa Clara, Calif.-based company whose chips are reasonably powerful and compatible with Intel's products, but give off less heat and require a fraction of the power--key considerations for the battery-operated hand-held devices expected to dominate the Internet appliance industry. "

LinuxDevices.com looks at a company called Adomo. "What Adomo wants, is to fill your home with a network of low-cost, easy-to-use information appliances. All over the place. And they will all have Linux inside."

Jesse Berst takes aim at Sun's stance on Java. "Promises about Java pour out of Sun CEO Scott McNealy almost as freely as his venom for Bill Gates: by the bucketful. That's because McNealy wanted Java to become the next Windows, namely, a proprietary platform that could turn into a monopoly."


Miguel de Icaza is the primary focus of this article, which, nonetheless, looks at open source software from a variety of angles. "'I wouldn't want to say that everyone is going to be using open source software in two years,' said de Icaza. 'But in five years, it's going to become obvious that using any other kind of software is like flushing your money down the toilet.'"

Internet Week takes on the operating system wars. "Enough. There are indeed very real differences among OSes in terms of price, reliability, scalability and manageability. But those differences must be discussed rationally, not religiously. The zealots forget--or never understood--that computers are a means to a business end. They're tools, not tabernacles."

PC World attended Larry Augustin's keynote at the European Linux Conference in London. "'The wrong way is to open a Linux company that acts as a wall between the developer and the user,' Augustin said. 'The right way is to help users and developers communicate, he added."

News.com reports on stocks coming out of their lockup periods. "Meanwhile, VA Linux--which posted the largest first-day gain ever for an IPO with a 697 percent jump--will have nearly 23 million shares available for sale on June 7. That represents a 5-to-1 ratio, based on the 4.4 million shares offered in the IPO." (LWN covered the lockup expiration in its May 18 issue).

ZDNet UK looks at layoffs and declining stock values. "Regardless of the rhetoric, I believe there is enough promise in the basic concept that software is best developed via a cooperative, rather than a competitive model, to continue to propel Linux and other open software forward. As one Linux enthusiast pointed out recently, as operating systems get increasingly bigger and more complex, where will companies find enough programmers to hire to develop and test them? The concept of cooperative programming would seem to be a novel way to circumvent this limitation."

This osOpinion piece calls for resistance to corporate pressure and intimidation. "...it bothers me to see so many Open Source advocates speaking bravely but then capitulating under the threat of legal action. I've read the comments of some such people (I won't mention names), and it boils down to this: they're afraid. Afraid of losing their jobs, their homes, their cars. Afraid of hardship and loss. Afraid of *pressure*. Afraid of being wrong. The corporations and individuals applying legal pressure know all this, and count on it."


Linuxcare has posted this white paper on migrating to a Linux environment. "Most IT managers already understand the 'why' of Linux and Open Source, and many are considering adopting Linux. Microsoft Windows NT network administrators are now facing a forced migration to Windows 2000. For many, however, a migration to Linux makes more sense."

LinuxPlanet looks at the GNOME office suite, as much of it as exists currently, anyway. "GNOME Office is an interesting challenge for anyone who plans on a simple stroll down a list of features and failings. Unlike just about anything else identifying itself as an office suite, GNOME Office is cheerfully formless at this point. The project Web site prefers to refer to GNOME Office as a 'meta project' oriented towards coordinating the development of the disparate elements of an office suite."

Here is the June Embedded Linux Monthly Newsletter from LinuxDevices.com. It consists of a large number of pointers to coverage of events in the embedded arena over the last month.

FirstLinux has made a number of new additions to its I've installed Linux: What Next? series of articles. New pieces cover playing MP3s, writing CDs, scientific applications, and more.

ZDNet has some helpful hints on getting the most from your Linux system. "Linux is getting easier to install, but it can be a long road from getting Linux running to making it run like deer."

Here's an introductory piece in Signal Ground which explains just what distributions are and how to choose between them. "You're probably not going to want to build your operating system from scratch. Instead, you would hope that somebody could bundle all of these things up into a neat package for you. Put another way, it'd be nice if somebody could provide Linux systems that you could drive off the lot today."


News.com chimes in on the 2.4.0-test1 kernel with what seems to be an increasingly common theme. "While the new version is a step closer to the real thing, Torvalds says the '2.4.0-test1' kernel still is a prototype. The nomenclature is reminiscent of the methods of Microsoft, famed for coming up with a variety of different definitions to describe the pre-release state of its software."

ZDNet writes about the 2.4.0-test1 kernel. "Like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), the Linux camp claims to be aspiring toward less all-encompassing, more timely upgrades to its core operating system. But, again, as is true with Microsoft, that goal seems to be more of a dream than reality, at least at this point."


ZDNet takes a look at FreeNet. "Unlike Napster, FreeNet has no central server, but moves information around from node to node without identifying source or destination. Users request information by sending keywords to a node, which then passes them along to adjacent nodes. This carries on until one reports it has a matching file, at which point a copy of the file is passed back along the chain of nodes until it reaches the requester."

Nick Petreley takes a look in this LinuxWorld column at how using Linux has changed his computing attitude -- without him even being aware of it. "Linux (and Unix in general) has not only taught me to think modularly; it has taught me to think in terms of simplicity and efficiency. ... And if a power user like me can get off the bloatware feature wagon, perhaps most other users could benefit from a trimmed-down environment."

Here's an article on CNN about Linux certification. It looks at the two principal distribution-neutral certification options: LPI and SAIR. "Will SAIR and LPI ever merge? I don't believe it would be a bad thing if they did, but I personally don't see how it can happen. A founding principle of LPI was the separation of training and testing, and SAIR is owned by a training firm. So in certification, just like so many other aspects of Linux and the open source community, we are blessed with choice."

CNN has run this report from Linux Expo 2000 from IDG. "Although the operating system has become a real alternative for the server market, with vendors offering it on a range of higher-end machines, the consensus here on the show floor was that there are still interface and application issues that keep it off the desktop."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

June 8, 2000


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