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Leading items and editorials

IBM's Linux-powered wristwatch drew a great deal of attention this week after being announced on August 7. [The Linux watch] The world loves a cool gadget, and this one certainly qualifies. Click on the image to the right for a picture.

The device itself has an ARM processor, 8MB of memory and another 8MB of flash. IBM has not only crammed the Linux kernel into that space, but they claim to have the X window system working as well. It can talk to other devices via either infrared or RF; the user talks to it with a "roller wheel" interface and a touch screen. As a wrist watch it's a little awkward, however: it measures 56x48x12mm (2.2x1.9x.5 inches), and the battery only lasts for a couple days or so.

Of course, nobody is in danger of having to wear this watch around for a while anyway - it has been built as a research prototype, not as an actual product. It is interesting because it shows just how small a Linux system can be made to be. The embedded Linux folks are onto something - before long we may find ourselves surrounded by Linux systems, perhaps without even being aware of it.

Another interesting role for Linux is highlighted by this device. People who are working on research projects of this nature are going to gravitate to a system like Linux. The freedom of the Linux system not only allows researchers to dig into the code as needed; it also, crucially, lets them distribute the results of their work. Expect to see Linux running in more prototype devices in the near future - and in the commercial products that eventually are derived from those prototypes.

(See also: this News.com article which talks about IBM also putting Linux on its new "Blue Gene" supercomputer, and this LinuxDevices.com interview with Alex Morrow, the leader of the Linux watch project).

Miguel de Icaza: Let's Make Unix Not Suck. Miguel de Icaza has put together a document entitled Let's Make Unix Not Suck, which clarifies and expands upon his Unix Sucks! talk at the Ottawa Linux Symposium. It tries to bring out the points that Miguel thinks were skipped over in the coverage of his talk, and it nicely lays out his vision for making Unix-like systems better for their users. Recommended reading.

The LinuxWorld Conference and Expo is being held next week in San Jose, California. Expect lots of hype, press releases, loud music, and all the usual trappings of this event, which has apparently outgrown the San Jose convention center. The next west coast LinuxWorld will apparently be held in San Francisco, where more room is available.

LinuxWorld is certainly the premier U.S. event for those involved in the business of Linux. All of those journalists who have written off Linux as last year's stock craze should wander by the show floor to see how much activity there really is here. The Linux stock craze has gone away since the last LinuxWorld conference, but Linux business is stronger than ever.

LWN will have two people present at the conference. Editor Liz Coolbaugh will be giving her "Tour of Linux Distributions" talk on Tuesday at 4:00, and Dennis Tenney will (along with Michael Turner of VA Linux Systems) be teaching a full-day tutorial on Linux system administration in a large network environment. They will also be reporting from the conference, for all of us who are not able to be there.

For those wanting to participate in the next LinuxWorld conference (New York, January 30 to February 2, 2001) should note that the deadline for the call for papers is August 25.

Last week's editorial countering Steve Ballmer's claims that Linux is a communist phenomenon drew rather more than the usual amount of responses. In retrospect, we perhaps should have known better than to wander into that sort of territory... A subset of the responses can be found on this week's back page, though we have been fairly heavy-handed in trimming them down to a small number.

A reminder: letters intended for publication should be sent to letters@lwn.net.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Reports from DefCon; Brown Orifice
  • Kernel: Crypto code in the kernel; the Linux Test Project; how did JFFS get in?
  • Distributions: Another look at Red Escolar; Debian wins a prize.
  • Development:KDE 2.0 & Nautilus screenshots, real-time networking
  • Commerce: MaxSQL launches; Oracle's application server for Linux
  • Back page: Linux links, this week in Linux history, and letters to the editor
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

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August 10, 2000


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