Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Distributions page.
Lists of Distributions
Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.
News and EditorialsHere comes ... Coventive. A company called Coventive Technologies announced its existence to the western world this week. Coventive appears to be based in Taiwan, but it is now making a play for the U.S. market. "Now great technology companies originate all over the world and expand into the U.S. as part of a worldwide business strategy."
Coventive has a Linux distribution it wants to sell, called XLinux. It comes in both server and embedded versions. On the server side, Coventive claims that XLinux is "one of Asia's most popular branded Linux solutions for enterprise servers;" the company apparently has partnerships with Acer, Compaq, IBM and HP. On the embedded side, they claim "the smallest known fully functional commercial embedded Linux kernel," weighing in at 143KB.
The core of Coventive's offering, however, would appear to be its internationalization effort. XLinux is supported with English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, simplified and traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese. They highlight their "Giga Character Set" (GCS) capability, which they use to support Asian language display.
In fact, there is even a white paper (published in LinuxDevices.com) on how GCS works. From that paper:
GCS is fundamentally different from other display codes because it is not based on assigning binary codes to characters or letters. GCS is actually a mathematical encryption algorithm that the computer uses to transition between natural language characters and letters and computer language bits. A different algorithm is developed for each language, which captures that specific language's peculiarities, such as basic symbols, spatial relationships, directionality and supplemental symbols
The explanation leaves a bit to be desired... Essentially, the company has come up with a way of representing eastern glyphs that better matches their structure. Many Asian characters are composites, made up of one or more simpler characters. Unicode simply makes a big catalog of characters, without recognizing their internal structure; GCS apparently handles things in a more natural manner.
Some more information may be found on the Coventive web site, but that site evidently was not designed with Linux-based browsers in mind. There is no information on the origins of the XLinux distribution. However, a look around on their FTP site (which is at ftp.xlinux.com) reveals an RPM-based distribution with a Red Hat-like directory structure. The version on the FTP site is 1.1, however; the material on the web site talks about a number of later releases.
In coming to the U.S., Coventive is jumping into a crowded marketplace - and one which may not be greatly concerned about nice display of Asian character sets. But the company seems to be doing well in its home market, and may yet have a surprise for the western hemisphere as well.
LinuxToday prints Red Hat response. LinuxToday covered the Red Hat 7 gcc/glibc controversy this week, including comments from Alan Cox (from linux-kernel) and Eric Troan, Red Hat's VP of Product Engineering (from an interview with LinuxToday).
Despite this statement, several members of the discussion list would not back away from charging that because of its inclusion of a compiler that was not binary compatible with anything else, Red Hat was beginning an attempt to create a proprietary distribution. Cox denied these charges in the discussion, reiterating his point that Red Hat's efforts were innovative, and not divergent.
(See also: last week's LWN Distributions Page which discussed this issue in detail).
Evolution, not revolution (ZDNet). ZDNet takes a look at Red Hat 7. "Providing an easy upgrade to the soon-to-be-available Linux 2.4 kernel; a wide array of improvements, including USB support for keyboards and mice; and new encryption capabilities, Red Hat Inc.'s Red Hat Linux 7 is an evolutionary upgrade of the operating system but is hardly a showstopper."
A proposed change to the Debian Social Contract.A call for votes has gone out to the Debian developer community regarding a proposed change to the Debian Social Contract. The text of the proposed change is available - it's written in classic dry legalese suitable for a local tax district initiative. Essentially, this change is the follow-through of the discussions on whether the non-free directories were needed any more.
The proposed change would:
Anyway, voting will go through October 23, we'll cover the results as they are released. Unfortunately, no public opinion polling data appears to be available...
Debian Weekly News. The Debian Weekly News for October 11 is available. It covers some interesting changes to the Debian bug reporting system, security updates for 2.1, handling of locale data, and more.
General Red Hat 7 updates. Red Hat has been cranking out the updates to fix the problems that have turned up in Red Hat 7. Beyond the security updates, which are mentioned on the security page, there are fixes available for:
Many of the problems fixed are quite small, but it is likely that quite a few users will want to apply the glibc fixes.
TurboLinux announces University Outreach Program. TurboLinux has sent out an announcement describing its University Outreach Program. "Over the past six months, TurboLinux has donated software and services to more than 300 universities across North America. The TurboLinux University Outreach Program has also provided generous discounts on high-end clustering solutions, sponsored Linux 'install fests' and attended numerous university events."
TurboLinux also announced that Sacramento State's computer science department, one of the largest CS departments in the California State University system, has standardized on a TurboLinux Server and IBM XSeries platform to teach its upper division systems programming class to 130 students.
Immunix Workgroup Server Brings Linux to the Newbies (Network Computing). Network Computing reviews the Immunix Workgroup Server. "The underlying OS is Immunix 6.2, a standard Red Hat distribution. The source code is recompiled with StackGuard (buffer overflow protection) along with other tools to form a hardened distribution. On top of the OS is Wirex's proprietary Web-based Remote Network Administrator (RNA) engine."
Blue Fox: the search for a perfect distribution continues. Rick Collette, the original founder of Spiro Linux, is now working on new projects over at deepLinux, his new company. In addition to work on embedded systems, Rick has restarted his project to build the perfect "mainstream" GNU/Linux system, to be named Blue Fox Linux. He's looking for other visionaries/programmers to help him out, as he comments in this recent announcement.
deepLINUX embedded toolkit released. deepLINUX has announced the release of its "dELT" embedded Linux toolkit. It currently supports the Intel and MediaGX chipsets, with ports to SPARC, StrongARM, and Alpha planned in the future.
Mini/Special Purpose Distributions
LinuxPPC bundles partitioning software. LinuxPPC announced their agreement with FWB Software to allow them to bundle FWB's Hard Disk Toolkit*PE partitioning tool with LinuxPPC. Anyone ordering a copy of LinuxPPC 2000 from the LinuxPPC website will receive a free copy of the disk partitioning tool, which will also be bundled with the next major release of LinuxPPC.
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
October 12, 2000