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Review: AMD Duron 750 (SignalGround). The AMD Duron is to AMD's Athlon what Celeron is to Pentium III - fast but cheap. SignalGround took a look this past week at the new value line of processors from AMD and explained - briefly - how to get Linux to make the most of these new processors. "If compiling a 2.2 kernel for the Duron, your safest bet is to choose "Pentium/K6/TSC" for your processor type. When compiling 2.4, you'll find a selection titled "Athlon/Duron/K7". This will enable a flag that tells the compiler to use all of the K7-core optimizations (including 3DNow) that are supported by the compiler."

A Roundtable on BSD, Security, and Quality (Dr. Dobbs). Dr. Dobb's reported on a roundtable discussion on BSD held at at the recent USENIX Security Symposium 2000. The participants included BSD luminaries Theo deRaadt (OpenBSD), Todd Miller (OpenBSD), Angelos Keromytis (OpenBSD), and Warner Losh (FreeBSD). Theo deRaadt noted, "As we keep on looking at source code, we find that most people can't write more than twenty lines of code in C. They make mistakes that matter twenty years later, that become security holes, buffer overruns, races, misuses of the API. Misuses of the API is the killer. Calling them and thinking they work one way but they don't. strncpy(), strncat() ... no one knows how they work."

Linux 2.4 Coverage

Linux 2.4: It's here! Now what? (ZDNet). ZDNet's AnchorDesk UK likened the switch from 2.2.x to the new 2.4 kernel to going from Windows 98 to W98 Second Edition. "Even after Linux 2.4 ages well, most users won't get that much more from it anyway... Besides, if you're serious about business Linux, you need the support of serious Linux vendors. Except for SuSE, they -- Caldera Systems, Red Hat and TurboLinux -- aren't going to be releasing 2.4 kernels for their commercial products for a while yet."

Linux 2.4 unmasked (LinuxDevices.com). LinuxDevices.com provided some perspective on the new features contained in the Linux 2.4 kernel, and pondered where Linux is most likely to be five years from now.

Linux 2.4 Businesses' Enterprising Plans (ZDNet). ZDNet examined the plans SuSE, Turbolinux, Caldera and Red Hat have for the 2.4 kernel. "2.4 will be at the core of all future commercial Linux operating systems. As a Red Hat representative comments, with 2.4's improved Symmetric Multiprocessors, which enables it to be optimized for machines with up to eight processors, Linux is much "closer to Solaris and HP/UX with a much lower price tag." Linux 2.4 is also the basis of the vendor's efforts to port Linux to Intel's 64-bit Itanium chip."

Why We Should All Test the New Linux Kernel (Advogato). This Advogato article encouraged people to test the 2.4 kernel. "A lot of people will have their very first experience with Linux by purchasing a $29 CD distribution 'just to check it out'. For many of them, the brand-new 2.4.0 kernel will be what they get, and it's very important that they have a positive experience with it. Every bug found by an Advogato reader is a bug that's not found by a couple of thousand novice Linux users who might not come back for more." (Thanks to Jay R. Ashworth)

Vaporware? Ha! Linux 2.4 Arrives (Wired). Yet another take on the 2.4 release came from Wired Magazine. "[LinuxMall's Mark] Bolzern thinks people need not to fret so much about release cycles. 'What's happening is everyone is being driven by the misperception that's been pushed on them by Microsoft and their ilk of needing to have the latest and greatest,' he said. 'Hardware and software upgrades are driven by the latest whiz-bang features that who uses?'"

PC makers prepare to load Linux 2.4 (ZDNet). While anyone can download the newly released 2.4 kernel, consumers wanting pre-installed hardware will have to wait at least 60 days according to this ZDNet article. "Red Hat is our partner for Linux, so as soon as (2.4) is available in Red Hat's Linux distribution, it will be made available to our customers," said David Graves, Dell's spokesman for Linux. Other vendors are expected to follow suit, waiting for their distribution partners to integrate 2.4 with their distributions. In a separate article also on ZDnet, Red Hat's director of corporate public relations Melissa London said it will be a matter of months, not weeks, for a 2.4 distribution. And Turbolinux spokesman Craig Oda says "We don't expect the 2.4 kernel to be really stable for the enterprise until at least version 2.4.4."

Kernel 2.4 coverage. And as you might have expected, there was plenty of other news on the 2.4 release this past week. Not surprisingly, not everyone has something original to say. Here is a summary of the other articles we saw.

  • CNN and Yahoo carried the same Reuters story:
    Major Linux upgrade issued with little hoopla. "The low-key approach was in keeping with the grass-roots, voluntary development effort with which the Linux kernel is being built. Scores of programmers have pitched in from around the globe to offer improvements, using the Internet both as a coordination tool and also as a kind of virtual "office water cooler" to exchange ideas and keep up morale."

  • ZDNet carried Linus' original posting to the kernel mailing list:
    Torvalds announces Linux 2.4 "Anxiously awaited for the last too many months, 2.4.0 brings to the table many improvements, none of which come to mind to the exhausted release manager right now."

  • C|Net wrote their own story:
    At long last: Linux 2.4 "The 2.4 kernel contains several improvements. For desktop use, the most notable improvement is support for the multitude of printers, digital cameras, scanners, keyboards, mice, network cards, modems, Zip drives and other devices that plug into the universal serial bus port."


SEC probes IPO of VA Linux (ZDNet). The probe into possible improper transactions related to the VA Linux IPO intensified. Two small investment funds, GLG Partners and Chelsey Capital, are being investigated for possibly having received unusually large shares of the IPO in exchange for higher than normal commissions on other transactions.

Why an AMD-Transmeta marriage could work (ZDNet). ZDNet speculates on how an AMD/Transmeta unification could upend the 800-pound gorilla (Intel). "Diversification. The two companies combined would fill some key gaps. AMD is reliant on flash memory (a very volatile market) and PC processors (a cyclical sector). Transmeta is banking on laptop processors initially, but doesn't have a lot of agreements with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Transmeta's real meal ticket -- information appliances -- may be years away. A merger would give the combined company diversification, but the type that would still keep AMD out of Intel's way."


Delphi Automotive takes Red Hat's "un-Linux" for a ride (LinuxDevices.com). LinuxDevices.com took a closer look at Delphi Automotive's speech-based PDA/cellphone system known as the Mobile Productivity Center (MPC). The system uses Red Hat's other OS - eCos.

Sun makes headway toward StarOffice 6 (ZDNet). StarOffice 6 still lacks a defined schedule, according to this ZDNet piece, but Sun management for the project are hoping for a 3rd or 4th quarter release. StarOffice 6 will include the final XML file format. It will also include Asian language support (completing Sun's "localization" road map) as well as a number of feature enhancements to each of the components. "But exactly what enhancements will be added for this version is still under discussion with engineering," [Iyer Venkatesan, senior product manager for StarOffice] said.

Online music distributor turns to Linux for 10TB storage system (ComputerWorld). eMusic.com is storing its vast collection of music on a 10Terabyte Linux-based storage system from BigStorage, Inc. "The technology isn't designed for mission-critical storage needs because it lacks some redundancy features and the high speeds of other storage systems, Bogach said. Instead, it's aimed at large-capacity storage applications in which low cost and ease of use are the priorities."


Getting to know Slackware packaging tools (UserLocal.com). UserLocal.com took a look at Slackware's packaging tools, from explodepkg to installpkg, from makepkg to upgradepkg. "Both installpkg, removepkg and upgradepkg support an environment variable called ROOT that points to the root directory to use when installing or removing packages. This is not something you'll generally use, but it can be useful if you need to install packages to another hard drive/partition or stuff like that."

Review: Terminus (Funky Penguin). Funky Penguin carried a detailed and image intensive review of the multi-platform space simulation game Terminus. "The game world and available technologies are well thought-out, and well documented in the extensive manual. A good deal of the manual explains the history of the game world, the political background of its organizations, the companies that designed the game's fighter ships, and how the market received them."

Interviews and People

He created Microsoft's biggest rival - and then gave it away (Readers Digest). Readers Digest made Linus Torvalds its European of the Year. "Linux-the only successful computer operating system yet created outside the US-has become an international phenomenon. Top officials at Bill Gates's Microsoft Corporation worry that it is becoming a direct threat to their company's dominant position in the software market. Torvalds himself is lionized by computer aficionados around the world. To them, he is instantly identifiable, like Madonna or Elvis, by just a single name: Linus. " (Thanks to Luc)

Father of Linux is ready to party (ZDNet). Mary Jo Foley talked to Linus Torvalds about the 2.4 release. "The big things that Linux brings, regardless of version, is the fact that you can tailor it to your needs, you're not bound by any particular vendor, and you can rest safe in the knowledge that there are no backdoors, etc. For those big kinds of things, the new release doesn't matter one whit."

Mandrakesoft CEO defends Linux (Upside). MandrakeSoft CEO Henri Poole defended his company's product from the suggestion that Linux distributions are bloated in this Upside interview. "We're trying to make it easy for people," Poole says. "Whether it be desktop or servers, there are a lot of people in a situation where they want it to be easy. They're sysadmins. They want a server. They want a set of desktops for their users, and they want to get it up and running quickly. Just because they know how to interface with the computer by command-line, doesn't mean they wouldn't prefer something easier."

GNOME in "AntiTrust", the movie

GNOME goes Hollywood. In a story that got more airplay than it probably deserved, the trailer to the upcoming movie Antitrust includes screen shots of GNOME in use in the movie.

Linux to star on silver screen (News.com). News.com expanded on the story reporting that in the movie film Antitrust, Miguel de Icaza does indeed get a cameo spot in the flick. Originally offered to Jon "maddog" Hall (who had to decline due to prior commitments), the cameo will have Miguel presenting the films hero with an open source award. "Already, members of the open-source community are salivating over the film's release. They've flocked to the official MGM Web site to bash Microsoft and extol the virtues of open-source software. The forums there read more like postings on the open-source news Web site Slashdot than the starstruck opinions that often appear on such sites. Some postings urge people to switch to Linux. Others offer tech support."


Screen Wars (Newsweek). MSNBC carried a Newsweek article comparing Eazel's Nautilus with both MacOS X and Microsoft's .Net interface. Screen shots of all three with short feature descriptions were provided. "What's interesting about Eazel's software, called Nautilus (now in "preview release"), is not how it tries to tame Linux, but the improvements it attempts on the good old GUI. It offers Web-style navigation. It allows varying levels of complexity, from novice to expert. Most striking is the presentation of files, which are displayed in a way that quickly indicates their contents. A folder of music might look like an album cover; view the files inside and they are listed like songs on the back of a CD. And then a pop-up mini-player appears so you can play the songs."

Developer Kings (ZDNet). In this opinion piece from ZDNet, developers are said to be the new kings in the IT world, and IT bosses are only reactionary. "It used to be that the corporate Chief Information Officer, the information technology (IT) manager and other blended business/technology managers held the keys to economic power. But they are being cast into a reactive mode as developments on the Internet start to out pace local ideas."

Is There An open-source solution? (TechWeb). TechWeb carried an InformationWeek article on the movement of open source into IT departments, often without upper managements knowledge. Mico (an open source Corba implementation) and Squid (a proxy-caching server along with FreeBSD, MySQL and PHP are used as examples. "US West started using Netscape Proxy Server several years ago to allow employees remote access to the company LAN but switched to Squid because it was faster and more reliable. In October, at the third annual Web Polygraph "Cache-Off," a performance-testing event where proxy-caching products are given performance evaluations, Squid compared favorably with a field of mostly far more expensive commercial alternatives."

Linux in 2000: Novelty no more (ZDNet). The Anchordesk, featured on ZDNet, took a look at Linux in 2000 and how the upstart OS has matured. "Most of this year's news has been good for those who maintain that Linux (and open source in general) is an acceptable choice for corporate computing. The desktop breakthrough remains distant, even unattainable, despite significant strides. Still, Linux has established itself as more than just a plaything of academics, hobbyists, and dot-coms -- and it's done so without squandering some of its core values such as not releasing a product before it's of acceptable quality. The year 2000 didn't see a major release of a new kernel because, well, it simply wasn't ready yet."

Apple Widens Mac OS X Code (Wired). Wired examined the new Apple Public Source License (APSL). "A spokesperson for the Apple Open Source Development team said that the license was rewritten to respond to comments received from developers working on the project, and also to streamline and clarify the wording of the APSL license. "

Mojolin employment database adds international support. The Open Source-centric job database, Mojolin, added support for localizing listings of job positions and resumes. Searches can also be done by country, state, and province in the US and Canada.

Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel

January 11, 2001


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