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Leading items and editorials

Cray goes into the Linux cluster business. Cray has long been the definitive manufacturer of "big iron" supercomputer systems. From the original Cray 1, released over twenty years ago, through to upcoming products like the SV2, Cray has been the king of huge, expensive, blindingly fast systems - though competition from Japanese supercomputer makers has tarnished that reputation somewhat in the last decade. Your author, who had the dubious honor of programming on Cray 1 serial 3 (using punched cards!) many years ago, can get very nostalgic about Cray's heyday.

The big iron market is a hard place to be, however. The technology to produce that kind of processor is extremely expensive to develop and manufacture; note, for example, that the development of the SV2 is being supported by the U.S. government, and has been underway for quite some time.

But the real problem, of course, is that clusters made from cheap, off-the-shelf components can achieve supercomputer performance for a fraction of the cost. Many one-time big iron customers are realizing that [Cluster] they can save a lot of money by installing clusters. Some problems still require big iron, but many do not; thus we see companies like IBM and HPTi winning high-profile supercomputing contracts with cluster systems, and Cray often being left out in the cold.

No longer. On January 29, Cray announced that it will soon begin selling Alpha-based Linux clusters. The company has not yet released a whole lot of details on the "SuperCluster(TM)" product, but a few things have come out. It will be built using dual-processor, 1U Alpha-based CS20 servers from API Networks. A Myricom interconnect will be used, and Cray plans to scale the systems up to "thousands of nodes." One customer (BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals) for the new cluster systems has been booked already, with others expected by the time the systems ship (toward the middle of the year). The SuperCluster is, according to Cray's Steve Conway, the successor to the company's popular T3E parallel Alpha supercomputer; the average price for one of these clusters is expected to be "in the single-digit millions."

On the software side, Cray will be adding management software for tasks like failure rollover, job checkpointing, and accounting. It will be possible to manage the cluster as a single system, and to easily schedule user jobs. And, of course, there will be service and support plans available.

Cray has, of course, done exactly what it needed to do to survive. It has been clear for some time that off-the-shelf clusters were going to take over much of the supercomputing and high-availability markets. By offering a Linux-based cluster system of its own, Cray has simultaneously helped to bring that takeover about (by putting a very high-profile name on a Linux cluster product) and to ensure its own future as big iron systems get harder to sell.

(See also: API Networks' announcement of its alliance with Cray to build the SuperCluster systems, and Cray's presentation (PDF format) on the SuperCluster product).

Cray will not have the cluster market to itself, of course. LinuxWorld has brought out a whole set of cluster-related announcements; here's a few of them:

  • Scyld Computing (the company formed by Donald Becker and other Beowulf originals) has announced the first commercial release of its "Beowulf II" code. It includes a number of cluster management tools (added since the preview release) and a wider range of hardware support. Cray is said to be looking at this release for its SuperCluster system.

  • Hewlett-Packard will be using clustering code from MSC for its own cluster offerings, which are aimed at the high-availability end of the market.

  • Compaq has announced a cluster offering at LinuxWorld, produced in cooperation with SteelEye Technology.

  • IBM has been deploying Linux clusters for some time; it's big LinuxWorld Announcement included additional cluster services.

  • Computer Associates announced the beta availability of its "Unicenter TNG Cluster Management Option."

  • SGI is evidently the first to announce the deployment of an Itanium cluster. This one is going in at the Ohio Supercomputer Center; it will be build with 73 dual-processor Itanium systems. They give no date on just when they expect to have that many Itanium processors available...

  • The National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have put out a press release describing the "Open Source Cluster Applications Resources" (OSCAR) project. OSCAR is a collection of clustering software, all configured to work together and be easy to install; they are calling it a "Supercomputer on a CD." A developer's release is available now, with the full release to follow shortly. IBM will be demonstrating the software in its booth at LinuxWorld.

A first report from LinuxWorld. LWN's staff at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo has put up a report from the first day covering some of the events that took place there.

Worth noting separately: the "Linus Torvalds award" at LinuxWorld has been awarded to the Samba team. Liz Coolbaugh reports: "Both Andrew [Tridgell] and Jeremy [Allison] kept the audience laughing. They commented that they hope someday Samba will no longer be necessary (which brought cheers) and mentioned that it is now shipping with most Microsoft-based appliances, having become a standard. Jeremy thanked everyone for the award, briefly mentioned the upcoming release of Samba 2.2 and promised, 'You haven't seen anything yet.'"

Hard business models. It has often been said that nobody has figured out how to make money from Linux. That is not true, but it is evident that quite a bit of work still needs to be done in that area. One thing that is worth doing is examining business models that appear not to work; an increasing number of those are coming to light.

Consider, for example, VistaSource. Less than a year ago, VistaSource was split out from Applix as a separate activity; at the time, the hopes appeared to be that VistaSource could go public in its own right. Since then, the reception for Linux companies wanting to go public has been something other than friendly, meaning that VistaSource needs to show that its model makes sense as a money-making business.

Applix has released its fourth quarter results which paint a bleak picture:

For fiscal year 2000 revenues were $50.5 million, compared to fiscal year 1999 revenues of $55.8 million, a decrease of nine percent. The decrease was attributed to an $8.7 million, or 46 percent reduction in revenues from VistaSource, Inc., the Company's Linux subsidiary.

Applix is now actively trying to sell off VistaSource, even though it anticipates losing up to $5 million in the process.

What are the lessons to be learned from VistaSource's problems? Here's a beginning.

Selling Linux office suites is hard. None of the Linux office products has made any real headway against Microsoft's products. In the purely Linux world there is severe competition between ApplixWare, StarOffice (a.k.a. OpenOffice) and WordPerfect. And the free alternatives are getting better every day. A few years ago if a Linux user needed a reasonable spreadsheet, they would almost certainly pay for ApplixWare; now there are multiple free alternatives that work very well.

Auctioning developer services is hard. CoSource.com is VistaSource's effort in that arena; it was launched in May of 1999. According to the statistics on CoSource.com's completed projects page, in almost two years all of 20 projects have completed, with a total transfer of $16,304. It is hard to make a business run on that kind of cash flow.

Collabnet's SourceXchange competes with CoSource.com; it has only completed ten projects, though it has 20 in progress currently. SourceXchange will be doing better due to the fact that its projects generally carry a much higher price tag. Nonetheless, Collabnet has been moving over toward other corporate services for some time now.

In the end, any software project of any significant size will require a personal relationship between those doing the work and those paying for it. It would appear that not too many companies are willing to go out and contract with random developers on the net to get important work done.

Another example: Stormix Technologies, creators of Storm Linux, has filed for bankruptcy protection. One year ago, Stormix had a large, fancy booth at LinuxWorld and gave all the appearances of making a success of its Debian-derived distribution. Now the company may not survive at all. See this article on NewsForge for more on Stormix's trouble.

Between Stormix and Corel, one could well be led to the conclusion that making money from a Debian-derived distribution is hard. Why might that be? The distribution market is crowded in general, of course, so any new entrant is going to have a tough time. But a number of distributions derived from Red Hat Linux have found success. Perhaps the commercial world really does expect to be able to use RPM. Or perhaps everybody who wants to use Debian simply uses it directly, without the need to buy from an intermediary. Whatever the reason, Debian appears to be hard to sell despite being a high-quality distribution.

The one possible exception here, of course, is Progeny, which, by all accounts, is doing well. Progeny, however, has not yet gotten past the beta release of its distribution, so claims about its success are, as yet, premature. Progeny is aiming at certain segments of the market with a high degree of focus, however, and might just pull it off.

All of the companies mentioned above may yet succeed, but at the moment the prospects look dark. Those who are trying to make a business of Linux will want to look at examples like these and be sure that they will not encounter the same troubles. Making a business work has never been easy, even in well understood markets. Free software businesses are operating in uncharted territory; we still have a lot to learn on how to make them work.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: A new set of BIND vulnerabilities; DirecTV strikes back.
  • Kernel: Should Linux force ECN compatibility? A wealth of new Linux filesystems; How to sleep well.
  • Distributions: New releases using 2.4, Debian leader elections, Telemetry Box Distribution.
  • Development: The Real Time Linux Foundation, Nautilus Preview 3, Dive into Python, The Linux Development Platform.
  • Commerce: BountyQuest Awards, Linux management products, tons of other stuff too.
  • History: The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Linux Certification, DeCSS
  • Letters: Who's afraid of IBM? Or of Linux?
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

February 1, 2001


 Main page
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See also: last week's Security page.


News and Editorials

Another set of vulnerabilities in bind came to light this week. Bind, of course, is the DNS server used over most of the Internet. So vulnerabilities in this package need to be taken seriously.

An overview of the problem can be found in this CERT advisory. As they say, "...these vulnerabilities present a serious threat to the Internet infrastructure." Those craving more detail may want to look, instead, at this advisory from COVERT Labs, which gets down into the code and explains exactly how a couple of the bugs come about.

There are two problems with bind 8.2.2. The most serious is a buffer overflow in the handling of "transaction signatures." This overflow happens regardless of the nameserver's configuration options; it appears to be difficult to exploit, but somebody will probably achieve it anyway - they usually do. There is another bug that can expose the nameserver's environment variables.

Bind 4 has a couple of additional problems of its own. Fixes are available for this ancient version of the server, but such a critical service should really be running with more modern software.

The Internet Software Consortium and Nominum (which wrote bind 9) responded with this press release entitled "Upgrade to BIND Version 9.1 Software Imperative." In fact, upgrading to 9.1 is not "imperative;" version 8.2.3 contains fixes for all of the known problems. It is true, however, that version 9 is where the current development activity is happening, and that administrators should be thinking about an eventual upgrade.

Meanwhile, the major Linux distributors all still ship bind 8, and most have been quick to come out with updates:

Bind vulnerabilities have, in the past, been widely exploited. It would be nice if it were different this time. The information and the updates are all available; the exploits do not yet exist. People who move quickly need not worry about this problem.

DirecTV strikes back. For those who have not seen it, a perusal of this SecurityFocus article is worth the time. DirecTV is a large satellite television provider in the U.S. It seems that the DirecTV receivers are set up so that DirecTV can reprogram them via the satellite. On January 21, the company made use of that capability to permanently disable a large number of receivers that had been, shall we say, "modified" to allow reception of more programming than had been paid for. One estimate we've seen says that over 100,000 receiver cards were destroyed. Those who traffic in pirated cards are apparently referring to the event as "Black Sunday."

There are a couple of interesting aspects to this story.

The first is, once again, the difficulty of protecting information in modern times. Even well-guarded information gets out; imagine the challenges in protecting something that you (1) broadcast to an entire continent via satellite, and (2) deliver via a receiver that is under the user's control. Dealing with pirates will be a never-ending hassle and expense for a company like DirecTV, and it may well be a battle that the company ultimately loses. Charging for information is a hard way to go.

Then, one can look at DirecTV's tactics. One need not have sympathy for TV pirates to wonder about the propriety of remotely programming somebody's hardware to destroy itself. In the free software world, we like to know what is running on our hardware and exactly what it can do. Consumer electronics, instead, is increasingly heading toward proprietary code that implements the vendor's agenda. That code is often quite hostile and restrictive; consider, for example, the DVD region coding scheme. Or, for that matter, a satellite television receiver that self destructs for Canadian citizens who can not legally buy the service.

If DirecTV can program a receiver to destroy itself, what other, hidden functionality can it implement? Just how closely does that box monitor your viewing habits? How easy would it be for somebody other than the vendor to invoke the "self destruct" mechanism? What sort of (InterBase-like) backdoors live in that code, unknown even to the vendor? Wouldn't it be nice to know what is really happening inside that box?

Linux is poised to be a dominant force in embedded systems; it is increasingly showing up in places like, well, TV set-top boxes. The use of Linux in such a box requires that the vendor make the GPL-covered source available. There are no such constraints on any add-on code produced by the vendor. But the first set-top box vendor who distributes all the source, and provides a way for users to update their software, may find that a whole community of people is out there just waiting to write useful add-ons. Such a device could sell well indeed, and could reward the vendor well. Assuming, of course, that said vendor does not wish to include capabilities that users do not want.

Call for testing: a new secure FTP server. Chris Evans has written a new FTP server called "vsftpd." It is designed from the beginning to have a higher level of security than other FTP servers, and is licensed under the GPL. He has now made a beta release and is looking for people who can help him test it out and audit the code.

"Security holes protect your equipment" Many companies try to gloss over their security holes. Others issue a fix and try to put the whole thing behind them as quickly as possible. But it's rare to see a web page like this Asanté product page that brags about security holes as a positive feature.

Yes, of course, the "holes" in question are physical holes in the case allowing the product (a network hub) to be tied down.

Security Reports

Debian/Sparc-specific OpenSSH update. Debian reported a PAM-based problem with the OpenSSH packages for Debian on the Sparc this week. They also issued an updated version of the original advisory with a corrected description of the problem and recompiled OpenSSH packages. Upgrading to the packages listed in the second advisory is recommended.

Trustix-specific OpenLDAP bug. Trustix issued updated OpenLDAP packages to fix a "silly bug in the rpm spec file", which set OpenLDAP to run by default. Trustix users should check the status of OpenLDAP on their system and disable it if they do not need to use it.

Resource exhaustion bug in Red Hat 6.2 inetd. Red Hat has issued an update to inetd for its 6.2 release. It seems that inetd, when implementing internal services (such as echo), forgot to close the socket for the connection. Eventually it will run out of sockets and things will stop working. Red Hat 6.2 shipped with all of the internal services disabled, so this fix only really matters for people who explicitly turned them on.

Format string trouble with man. A format string problem has been reported with man on (at least) the SuSE and Debian distributions. Thus far, neither exploits nor fixes are known to be available. The man command, of course, is not a terribly privileged operation, so the level of worry is probably pretty low.

FreeBSD turns up some problems. FreeBSD has posted a few alerts resulting from problems they found while auditing their code. They are:

cgi-bin scripts. The following cgi-bin scripts were reported to contain vulnerabilities:

  • The Guestserver web guest book application has a vulnerability which can allow the execution of arbitrary commands on the server. No patch is available, and Guestserver appears to be unmaintained; switching to a different guest book would probably be a good idea.

  • The Hyperseek 2000 search engine has an input validation error which can allow an attacker to read any file or directory on the system.

  • Not strictly CGI, but the NewsDaemon web log package has a PHP programming error which can result in an attacker obtaining administrator access.

Commercial products. The following commercial products were reported to contain vulnerabilities:


micq remotely exploitable buffer overflow. Check the January 25th LWN Security Summary for the original report or BugTraq ID 2254. This vulnerability can be exploited remotely to execute arbitrary code. micq 0.4.6p1 contains a fix for the problem.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

icecast format string vulnerability. Check the January 25th LWN Security Summary for the original report. This can be exploited remotely to execute arbitrary code. Exploits for Slackware and Red Hat have been published.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

glibc local write/ld.so.cache preload vulnerability. Check the January 25th LWN Security Summary for the initial report. This can be exploited to create/overwrite files without authorization.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

MySQL buffer overflow. Check the January 25th LWN Security Summary or BugTraq ID 2262 for the original reports. This can be exploited remotely to gain access to the system under the uid of the mysql server. MySQL 3.23.31 and earlier are affected. MySQL 3.23.32 fixes the problem.

This week's updates:

Previous reports:

webmin tmpfile vulnerability. Check the January 25th LWN Security Summary for the original report. webmin 0.84 contains a fix for this problem.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

crontab file access vulnerability. Check the January 25th LWN Security Summary for the original report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

PHP Apache Module per-directory and virtual hosts vulnerabilities. Check the January 18th LWN Security Summary for the original report of the problems. An upgrade to PHP 4.0.4pl1 will resolve the issues.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

tinyproxy heap overflow attack. Check the January 18th LWN Security Summary for the initial report. This can be exploited to cause a denial-of-service. tinyproxy 1.3.3a has been released to fix this problem.

This week's updates:

Previous Updates:

squid tmprace problem. Check the January 11th LWN Security Summary for the initial report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

Apache tmprace problem. Check last week's LWN Security Summary for the initial report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

inn tmprace problem. Check last week's LWN Security Summary for the initial report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

exmh symlink vulnerability. Check the January 18th LWN Security Summary for the initial report. The Debian and FreeBSD advisories are the first distribution updates for this problem we have seen.

This week's updates:

kdesu password sniffing vulnerability. The KDE "kdesu" utility has a vulnerability that can allow a local user to steal passwords; see the January 25 LWN Security Section for the initial report. This week's updates are:

LPRng format string vulnerability. It took them a while, but TurboLinux has finally come out with a fix for the LPRng vulnerability first reported in the September 28, 2000 LWN Security section. The full set of updates, now, is:


A Python AES implementation. Bryan Mongeau has released an implementation of the Advanced Encryption Suite in Python.

Ramen detection and cleansing (Linuxlock.org). The Institute for Security Technology Studies has posted a detection and removal script for the reported Linux Ramen virus.

Bill Stearns is working on a shell script that both detects and removes the Ramen Virus, from RedHat machines. Even though the Media has made a big deal about the Ramen Virus, I am afraid that this shell script solution may be overlooked. This shell script is not just for the security community but the RedHat community as a whole. If you are not sure if you've been infected, please check this script out.

(Thanks to Christopher Carella)

Linux Advisory Watch. The LinuxSecurity.com Linux Advisory Watch for January 26 is out, with an overview of outstanding Linux security issues. See also the Linux Security Week posting from the same source.


Upcoming security events.
Date Event Location
February 7-8, 2001. Network and Distributed System Security Symposium San Diego, CA, USA.
February 13-15, 2001. PKC 2001 Cheju Island, Korea.
February 19-22, 2001. Financial Cryptography 2001 Grand Cayman, BWI.
February 19-22, 2001. VPN Con San Jose, CA, USA.
February 24-March 1, 2001. InfoSec World 2001 Orlando, FL, USA.
March 3-6, 2001. EICAR and Anti-Malware Conference Munich, Germany.
March 27-28, 2001. eSecurity Boston, MA, USA.
March 30-April 1, 2001. @LANta.CON Doraville, GA, USA.

For additional security-related events, included training courses (which we don't list above) and events further in the future, check out Security Focus' calendar, one of the primary resources we use for building the above list. To submit an event directly to us, please send a plain-text message to lwn@lwn.net.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

February 1, 2001

LWN Resources

Secured Distributions:
Astaro Security
Engarde Secure Linux
Kaladix Linux
NSA Security Enhanced
Openwall GNU/Linux

Security Projects
Linux Security Audit Project
Linux Security Module

Security List Archives
Bugtraq Archive
Firewall Wizards Archive
ISN Archive

Distribution-specific links
Caldera Advisories
Conectiva Updates
Debian Alerts
Kondara Advisories
Esware Alerts
LinuxPPC Security Updates
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Red Hat Errata
SuSE Announcements
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BSD-specific links

Security mailing lists
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Security Software Archives
ZedZ.net (formerly replay.com)

Miscellaneous Resources
Comp Sec News Daily
Security Focus


 Main page
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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current kernel release is 2.4.1; it was released on January 29. It contains a fair number of fixes for problems that came up with 2.4.0 and, of course, ReiserFS.

Alan Cox's latest, meanwhile, is 2.4.0-ac12. It has almost everything that's in 2.4.1 along with a vast number of other fixes, many of which have been sent in by a squad of kernel "janitors" who are going through looking for things to clean up.

More fun with ECN. ECN (Explicit Congestion Notification) is an experimental IETF standard for TCP traffic. By making use of a couple of "reserved" bits in the TCP header, ECN allows routers to signal the presence of congestion on a network path; the systems sending data can then throttle back their output somewhat and avoid dropped packets. It can be a significant improvement for wide-area network communications.

The Linux networking stack in 2.4 supports ECN (thanks to the efforts of Jamal Hadi Salim), and will use it if told to do so. Unfortunately, not all systems on the net react well to ECN; in particular, a set of Cisco firewall products will refuse connections with the ECN bits set (Cisco has a patch available, but many sites have not applied it). The end result is that, if you use ECN, a significant part of the network will be unreachable. Thus, most people using 2.4 have to disable ECN, either by configuring it out of the kernel completly or by disabling it at run time:

    echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_ecn

All the above has been known for some time, but the discussion got a fresh start this week when it was pointed out that Hotmail is one of the sites that is unreachable when ECN is used. Some interesting questions came up as part of that discussion.

The first was, simply, "why bother with ECN, since it breaks so much of the net?" The answer, of course, is that ECN will, eventually, make the net work better. In the mean time, people have to start implementing and deploying it. As the net becomes more ECN-compliant, the networks that still do not work with ECN will feel an increasing pressure to fix the problem.

Next question: wouldn't it be possible to automatically retry failed connections without ECN? There are two issues with that approach. The first is that the systems in question reject the connection with a TCP reset (RST) packet. To ignore that RST and retry the connection would violate the TCP protocol and risk creating no end of problems. The other is again one of pressuring sites to fix their software; if the net silently works around their breakage, they'll never feel the need to upgrade.

Of course, not everybody agrees with the need to pressure people to upgrade. There are two camps on the question of whether the firewalls in question are really broken. One side, championed by networking hacker David Miller, says that "reserved" means that the bits in the header will be used for something cool at some point. When that use happens, older software shouldn't break. Others, however, believe that a firewall should reject packets that contains bits it doesn't recognize. Those bits could well indicate a new feature that subverts the firewall's security scheme.

The fact that the ECN standard is still considered "experimental" also gives some ammunition to those who say the non ECN-compliant systems should be accommodated.

David Miller feels strongly about the issue, however, and has stated his intent to put an ECN kernel on vger.kernel.org "in four weeks time." At that point, anybody who is behind a firewall that does not speak ECN will lose access to all of the mailing lists served by that host. Note that ECN is not required on any particular system - all that is necessary is that the firewall not reject packets trying to use ECN. For those who are concerned about the issue, David also posted a way to test your network to see if it works properly with ECN.

Linux has reached a point where its weight can be used to push things like network standards. One can only hope that this influence will be used wisely.

A wealth of filesystems. Not that long ago, ext2 was the Linux filesystem. It's unlikely to give up its dominant position anytime soon, but ext2 is increasingly having to share the stage with other filesystems that have native Linux ports. ReiserFS, of course, is now a standard part of the kernel. This week also saw news of three other filesystems for Linux; they may not be quite as production-ready as ReiserFS, but they are getting there.

  • SGI has announced the availability of the "prerelease 0.9" version of its XFS journaling filesystem for the 2.4.0 kernel. It is available as a patch, or in RPM format for easy installation. This release is "stable in a majority of normal environments" according to SGI. Features claimed by XFS include, beyond journaling, very high performance (high data transfer speeds and quick directory lookups) and scalability. The file size limit on XFS is about 9 million terabytes, which should be sufficient to handle most peoples' needs for a while yet.

  • IBM has announced "drop 24 release 0.1.4" of its Journaled File System (JFS). JFS was designed around journaling since the beginning; it uses B-trees for large directories but makes no particular performance claims.

  • Mountain View Data (the company formed by Peter Braam along with Cliff and Iris Miller) will be demonstrating SnapFS at LinuxWorld. SnapFS is actually an add-on layer for an existing journaling filesystem which allows the taking of "snapshots" of the filesystem's state.
Soon the hardest thing about installing Linux may choosing which filesystem to use.

Avoiding bad sleeps. Conectiva's Arnaldo Carvalho de Melo recently announced his Kernel Janitor's TODO list; it's meant to be a clearinghouse for people who are going through the code cleaning things up. Going through code to be sure it returns error codes properly would seem to be far less attractive than, say, writing another filesystem for Linux. There are quite a few people interested in doing janitorial tasks at the moment, however, and that work results in a more stable kernel.

As part of that effort, it was suggested that the janitors look for and fix all code that calls sleep_on() (and, more commonly, interruptible_sleep_on(), but sleep_on() is easier for kernel page editors to type) since (1) almost all such code is incorrect, and (2) Linus has agreed that those functions should be removed in the 2.5 development series. It quickly became clear that quite a few people, even those familiar with kernel code, didn't understand what the problem with sleep_on() was. So, for the curious, here's a description of an obscure bug that lives within a lot of kernel code.

The purpose of sleep_on() is to suspend the current process until something of interest happens. That something could be a read from a disk, the arrival of data from the network, the availability of a kernel data structure, the expiration of a timer, or many other things. Running "ps aux" will show a lot of processes with "S" in the "STAT" field; they are all sleeping in this manner.

The problem with sleep_on() is that there is necessarily a delay between the decision to sleep and actually sleeping. Code that sleeps usually looks something like:

    while (something_is_missing) {
	take_steps_to_make_it_available ();
	sleep_on (proper_wait_queue);

If the thing that is being slept on happens between the test in the while loop and the process actually going into a sleeping state within sleep_on(), the wakeup event will be lost and the process could sleep for a very long time. In the days of the 2.0 kernel and before, this problem did not arise often; nowadays, instead, with SMP systems and fine-grained locking, this kind of race condition is much more likely to come about. It's still a rare occurrence (the window is quite small, usually), but, within operating system kernels, one-in-a-million events are regular occurrences.

The proper way to handle this situation involves, essentially, going to sleep and getting on the wait queue prior to testing for the needed condition. Essentially, the process "sleepwalks" while testing to see if it really needs to wait. If the wakeup happens before the process gives up the processor, the process just gets put back into the running state and everything works as it should. The actual coding to sleep in this way is rather more complex than a simple sleep_in() call; see this posting from David Woodhouse for an example of how it should be done. Alternatively, programmers can use the (relatively) new wait_event macro, which hides a lot of the details. Or one can set up a timeout to happen in a short while to wake up the process if nothing else does.

A quick grep through the 2.4.1 kernel source shows well over 400 calls to sleep_on() and interruptible_sleep_on(). The kernel janitors have quite a bit of cleaning up to do.

Other patches and updates released this week include:

Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet

February 1, 2001

For other kernel news, see:

Other resources:


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Distributions page.

Lists of Distributions
Woven Goods

Embedded Distributions:

BluePoint Embedded
Compact Linux
Embedded Debian
Hard Hat Linux
OnCore Systems
RedBlue Linux
Royal Linux
White Dwarf Linux

Familiar (iPAQ)
Intimate (iPAQ)
Linux DA

Secured Distributions:
Astaro Security
Engarde Secure Linux
Kaladix Linux
NSA Security Enhanced
Openwall GNU/Linux

Special Purpose/Mini
2-Disk Xwindow System
Mindi Linux

Coyote Linux
Fd Linux
Fli4l (Floppy ISDN/DSL)
Linux in a Pillbox (LIAP)
Linux Router Project
Small Linux

BBLCD Toolkit
Crash Recovery Kit
innominate Bootable Business Card
Linuxcare Bootable Business Card
Sentry Firewall
Timo's Rescue CD
Virtual Linux

Zip disk-based

Small Disk
--> Peanut Linux
Relax Linux

Bambi Linux
Flying Linux

ARM Linux
Scyld Beowulf
Think Blue Linux
(Oracle's NIC)
NIC Linux
Black Lab Linux
Yellow Dog
(Older Intel)
Monkey Linux

DOS/Windows install
Armed Linux
Phat Linux

Diskless Terminal
GNU/Linux TerminalServer for Schools


Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.

News and Editorials

Distributions come out with the 2.4 kernel. LinuxWorld presented a good opportunity for few distributions to announce new versions utilizing the 2.4 kernel. SuSE announced the release of SuSE 7.1, the first major distribution to come out with a 2.4 kernel version. An option for loading a 2.2.18 kernel will be provided as well. Also included in this release are OpenGL drivers for the FireGL1, GL2, and GL3 cards. SuSE 7.1 will be available February 12.

SOT has announced that it will release "Best Linux T-1/2001" next week. This release of the Best Linux distribution will feature the 2.4.1 kernel and KDE 2.1.

Red Hat has announced the release of 'Fisher', a new beta version of its distribution. This beta is, presumably, what will eventually become Red Hat 7.1. New features include Itanium support, tighter security out of the box, Japanese support, the 2.4.0 kernel, KDE 2.1-beta, "gcc 2.96-RH," Mozilla, and more. Check it out, and be careful out there.

Debian Weekly News. The Debian Weekly News for January 30th is out. It covers (among other things) the project leader elections: Wichert Akkerman will not be trying for a third term, and, at this point, Ben Collins is the only candidate on the ballot. Here is Ben's position statement from when he ran in 1999. Presumably his position hasn't changed much since then.

Turbolinux Server 6 for the S/390. Turbolinux has announced the availability of Turbolinux Server 6 for the IBM S/390 and eServer z900 mainframes. The company is also offering support services for Linux on that platform via Linuxcare and other support companies.

Why is deepLINUX now a news site, when it used to be a distribution?. Rick Collette, developer of SPIRO-Linux and deepLINUX, explains what happened. "I had taken a job with a company in Wayne, NE to feed my kiddo and wife, and be able to have a bit of free time to work on my Linux distro. Within a couple of weeks the CEO of that company had expressed an interest in SPIRO. I actually had a job where I could devote 100% of my time to doing what I truly loved doing, and to be perfectly honest with you folks reading this, I had never been happier in my life." Unfortunately, the narrative becomes increasing less upbeat after this point.

Distribution Reviews

Review: Conectiva 6.0 (DukeOfUrl). The Duke of URL reviews Conectiva 6.0. "The second, and even more important feature that makes Conectiva unique, is that version 6.0 of their distribution has APT (Advanced Package Tool) enabled RPM package management. Finally, a better way to install RPMs. This distribution now has automatic dependency checking and the ability to pull the required files off the Internet if not available locally. Debian users may laugh at this as they have had this for years, however; this is a first in the RPM realm and will hopefully take the world by storm."

Review: SuSE Linux 7.0 Professional (LinuxGurus.com). According to this review of SuSE Linux 7.0 Professional, "SuSE 7.0 is a big step in the right direction for SuSE. The GUI installer and configuration tools are vastly improved and very usable. The incredible amount of documentation included (both print and online) far outstrips anything included with any other distribution. The hardware support is also unparalleled."

Review: Phat Linux 3.3. Here's a review of Phat Linux 3.3 which appears on the SignalGround site. "There is one thing that is both good and bad about Phat Linux...the applications that are installated [sic] are pretty much all choosen [sic] for you. There isn't any opportunity to customize what you're going to get."

New Distributions

Telemetry Box Distribution. Version 1.0 of the Telemetry Box Distribution has been released. The Tbox distribution is a Debian GNU/Linux 'potato' based custom Linux version for remote monitoring and maintenance of networks.

General-Purpose Distributions

LinuxPPC's non-profit announcement. Here's LinuxPPC's announcement that it is becoming a non-profit organization. See also our interview with LinuxPPC co-founder Jason Haas for more information on this transition. The folks at LinuxPPC see the move as a way to put more back into the distribution and continue to make a living.

Debian. Here is the report about packages that need work and the Bug stamp-out list both for Jan 26, 2001. Also, James Troup is working on a cruft cleaning exercise in experimental.

Embedded Distributions

TimeSys Corporation unveiled TimeSys Linux/RT Version 2.0. The platform is a Linux distribution with enhancements to meet embedded real-time quality-of-service requirements.

Mini/Special Purpose Distributions

MSC.Software Corp. released MSC.Linux, a distribution which is oriented toward clustering. The press release also mentions that HP servers running MSC.Linux were going to be displayed at LinuxWorld.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

February 1, 2001

Please note that not every distribution will show up every week. Only distributions with recent news to report will be listed.

Caldera OpenLinux
Debian GNU/Linux
Red Hat

Also well-known
Best Linux
Conectiva Linux

Rock Linux

Non-technical desktop
Icepack Linux
Redmond Linux

Boston University
Red Escolar

General Purpose
Alzza Linux
aXon Linux
Bad Penguin Linux
Black Cat Linux
BluePoint Linux
BYO Linux
CAEN Linux
Cafe Linux
ChainSaw Linux
Circle MUDLinux
Complete Linux
Console Linux
Corel Linux
Darkstar Linux
Elfstone Linux
ESware Linux
Eurielec Linux
eXecutive Linux
Fried Chicken
HA Linux
Halloween Linux
ix86 Linux
Lanthan Linux
Linpus Linux
Linux Cyrillic Edition
Linux MLD
LinuxOne OS
Linux Pro Plus
LNX System
Lute Linux

NoMad Linux
Omoikane GNU/Linux
PingOO Linux
Plamo Linux
Project Ballantain
Rabid Squirrel
Root Linux
Serial Terminal
TimeSys Linux/RT
Tom Linux
VA-enhanced Red Hat
Vine Linux
Virtual Linux
WinLinux 2000

GNU/Linux Ututo
Definite Linux
Red Flag
Linux Esware
Kaiwal Linux
Thai Linux Extension

Related Projects
Chinese Linux Extension

Historical (Non-active)
MCC Interim Linux
Storm Linux


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects


Standardizing a BROWSER environment variable. Eric Raymond is promoting the use of a new environment variable, BROWSER, to complement the existing PAGER, MAILER, and EDITOR variables. This effort is being tested as an experiment in hacking social systems.

The Browser War: Nobody's fault but yours. Scott Andrew presents some interesting ideas on web applications versus web pages and how to avoid domination of new web standards by a single corporation: "Netscape 6, Mozilla, Opera -- any browser that supports DOM/CSS -- should be regarded as application browsers. This is different than a web browser. A web browser is designed to view pages on the Web. An application browser is specialized. It's made for working with web applications."

Galeon 0.9 pre3 available. Version 0.9 pre3 of the Galeon Browser is available on Sourceforge. Enhancements in this version include open url dialog autocompletion support, customization options for tabbed browsing, session saving, and a lot of bugfixes


GGradebook 0.91 (Ofset). Version 0.91 of GGradebook, a gradebook program that runs under GNOME, is now available.


Xcircuit 2.2.0. Version 2.2.0 of the Xcircuit schematic drawing program is available as a stable release. This version has pcb compatible netlist file outputs, a whole new set of menus, circuit elements with electrical parameters, and more.

Embedded Systems

Embedded Linux Newsletter for Jan. 25, 2001 (LinuxDevices.com). Rick Lehrbaum has posted the latest edition of the Embedded Linux Newsletter to the LinuxDevices.com site. Highlights include a review of the results from last year Embedded Linux Survey and Lineo's trio of Embedix SDK advancements.


Atlas C++ 0.40 released. A new, stable release of Atlas C++, version 0.40, has been released. Atlas C++ is a library that implements the Atlas object-oriented protocol for interprocess communications, it is a key component of the WorldForge game architecture. See the Atlas Tutorial for more information on the Atlas protocol.


Wine Weekly News for January 29, 2001. Issue 80 of the Wine Weekly News is available. Check it out for the latest developments in the Wine world.

Office Applications

Eazel releases Nautilus Preview 3. As seen on the GNOME news site: Eazel has released the third and final preview version of its Nautilus desktop. Warning, the installation takes a 32MB bite out of your hard drive and may take a small eternity to download on a slow link.

GNOME Office page gets a facelift. The GNOME Office meta-project's web page has had a face lift. The new page offers a quick description of the various GNOME Office components as well as links to the project web pages. (Thanks to David Wheeler)

The Gmail email client. Robert Bernstein writes about Gmail in an Earthweb article. " An MUA (Mail User Agent) featuring an innovative approach to email message storage is now under development, and it bodes well for those email users who number their messages in the thousands. Gmail (http://gmail.linuxpower.org/), the brainchild of Wayne Schuller, a young Australian programmer, uses the MySQL database server, and retrieves, sorts and displays messages via SQL, the well known 'Structured Query Language.'"

ANNOUNCE: Mr Project (Gnotices). A new project management application known as Mr Project has been announced. "Mr Project is a project management program that can help build project plans, and track the progress of a project."

On the Desktop

The People behind KDE: Wolfram Diestel. This week's People Behind KDE features an interview of Wolfram Diestel, a rather humorous picture is included.

New KDE Tutorials. Several new and/or improved KDE tutorials have been published, Richard Moore has written one on Kpart Plugins for KDE2, and Antonio Larrosa Jimènez has updated his info on developing KDE2 applications.

A developer's perspective on the GPLing of Qt (LinuxDevices.com). LinuxDevices.com reopens the whole Qt licensing debate. "Regardless of whether you accept this 'infant industry' justification for initially releasing software under proprietary licenses, from a software developer's point of view it now seems hard to improve upon Trolltech's licensing."

Berlin: A replacement for X? (LinuxToday). LinuxToday has posted a discussion by "Hawkeyes" that discusses Berlin, an alternative to the X window system. "Many people complain about the X-windows standard. It's clearly not the perfect way to bring a graphical user interface to Linux, and it's been around for such a long time. Recently XFree86 has become hardware accelerated, in version 4.0.x, but in many ways it is still dragging user interface designers down. The lack of a single uniform toolkit, lack of support for alpha transparency and sluggish/heavy network transparency have always been problems in X." Check out the Berlin web site as well.

Talking with John Heard of Sun about GNOME. LinuxPower talks with John Heard about Sun's membership in the GNOME Foundation.

Christian: I would guess that partaking in free software development needs a different workform than in-house development. What measures are being put in place to ensure real engagement with the community on issues instead of needing to wait for slow bureaucratic wrangling before announcing contributions ?

John Heard: This is an extremely important consideration for us at Sun. We have been particularly focused upon considering our normal "workform" and seeing how it needs to be modified to achieve the right interactions with the communities we have become involved with. I personally believe that this is a very valuable path upon which we in Sun are able to evolve our software development practices, but just as importantly to also bring valuable contributions towards the onwards co-evolving of the open source community development "workform". The core principle which is starting to develop between Sun and community is that of communication. I think you can already see that numerous members of Sun's technical and marketing staff are beginning to participate more freely. We have encouraged our teams to "lurk" for a while on the lists to gain familiarity with the practices and then to participate where they can add value. I am sure you are aware that Sun has been a consistent contributer of code to open systems, and we are continuing this same strategy, aligned to the trends of current open source practices.

Gnome Installation Guide. Karsten Reincke has recently published a Gnome Installation Guide that presents lots of useful information to those who wish to install development versions of GNOME from source code.

Printing Systems

CUPS v1.16 is available. Version 1.16 of CUPS, the Common Unix Print System, is available. Lots of bugs have been fixed in this release.

Web-site Development

Getting to know Midgard (IBM developerWorks). IBM's developerWorks site has put up a detailed article on getting started with the Midgard application server.

On a very basic technical level, Midgard provides a content management API for PHP that makes managing such articles a whole lot easier and administering them a snap. It introduces some of its own content management concepts to help you organize articles more logically and deal with them easily. It can implement security, allowing only authorized users to update or view content, and recording personal information about users.

(Thanks to Henri Bergius).

Midgard Weekly Summary. The Midgard Weekly Summary for January 26 is out. Among other things, it includes an interview with Midgard founder Henri Bergius.

Zope 2.3.0 released. Zope 2.3.0 final has been released. There is quite a bit of new stuff in this release; see the announcement for details.

Perl scripting available for Zope. Digital Creations and ActiveState have announced the first release from the "Perl for Zope" project. Zope scripting is no longer limited to the Python language.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

February 1, 2001

Application Links
High Availability

Open Source Code Collections
Le Serveur Libre



Programming Languages


New Erlang User Contributions. The Erlang.org site lists several new user contributions including an improved Unicode support module and a package for working with skew-binary random-access lists.

Markup Languages

XML-RPC Howto. An XML-RPC HOWTO has been posted to Sourceforge. "XML-RPC is a simple, portable way to make remote procedure calls over HTTP. It can be used with Perl, Java, Python, C, C++, PHP and many other programming languages. Implementations are available for Unix, Windows and the Macintosh."

The author of the XML-RPC HOWTO, Eric Kidd, has also announced the release of xmlrpc-c 0.9.6 - an XML-RPC implementation for Linux.

Processing XML with Perl (ISPworld). ISPworld has run an article by Michel Rodriguez that covers the use of Perl to process XML files. "Being the most popular CGI language, it should come as no surprise that Perl offers many ways to process XML. Actually, it offers lots of ways, no less than 14 different ways, implemented by 14 different modules, are available for XML transformation."


Perl 5 Porters for January 30, 2001. The January 30 edition of Perl 5 Porters is out. Topics include Test::Harness, the Perl hashing function, examples using chop, PerlIO programming documentation, and more.

Perl 5.6.1 available (use Perl). According to use Perl, the second trial version of Perl 5.6.1 has been released and needs testing.


PHP Weekly Summary for January 29, 2001. Issue 22 of the PHP Weekly Summary is available. Topics covered this week are DOMXML docs, PDFLib support, Chora, a tiny PHP for embedded systems, and more.


What's new in Python 2.1. For those of you who are curious about the upcoming Python 2.1 release, we recommend a look at A.M. Kuchling's What's new in Python 2.1 document. It presents the significant changes in this release in a clear and useful manner.

This week's Python-URL. Here is Dr. Dobb's Python-URL for January 30 with the latest from the Python development community. One interesting item is that Python 2.1a1 has been released.

Dive Into Python. A new python book by Mark Pilgrim, Dive Into Python, is available online in numerous file formats. "This book is still being written. What's here already is a solid overview of Python programming. In future chapters, I plan to cover specific topics, like XML processing, in more depth. This is not a teaser site for some larger work for sale; all new content will be published here, for free, as soon as it's ready."

Highlight Project: VPython (Linux Programming). Linux Programming takes a look at takes a look at VPython, a 3D graphical programming module. Also, take a look at the VPython project's home page.

Python 2.0 RPMs available. Sean Reifschneider has announced the availability of Python 2.0 and Python 2.1a1 source RPM files.

Advanced Encryption Suite for Python. Bryan Mongeau has released pyaes, the Advanced Encryption Suite for Python.

Snack Sound Toolkit v2.0.6. Kare Sjolander announced the Snack Sound Toolkit v2.0.6 for Python. This version has bug fixes and updated demos.


This week's Tcl-URL. Here is Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL for January 29, 2001 with the latest goodies from the Tcl/Tk development world. There are links to articles on the Tcl/Tk user meeting in Hamburg in June of 2001, the Tcl'ers Wiki, using canvas coordinates, and using C++ to manipulate pointers.

TclTidy: convert HTML to XHTML. Scott Redman announced TclTidy, a program that helps to convert HTML to XHTML.

Software Development Tools

Linux Development Platform Specification 1.1beta. The Free Standards Group has released version 1.1-beta of the Linux Development Platform Specification. This document describes programming and software support standards intended to make Linux applications portable across distributions. It's a sort of stopgap effort on the way toward the Linux Standard Base. 1.1-beta will be in a public review period for two weeks, after which the official 1.1 release will come out. If you have suggestions for improvement, now is the time to get them in.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

Language Links
Caml Hump
g95 Fortran
Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC)
Gnu Compiler for the Java Language (GCJ)
IBM Java Zone
Free the X3J Thirteen (Lisp)
Use Perl
O'Reilly's perl.com
Dr. Dobbs' Perl
PHP Weekly Summary
Daily Python-URL
Python Eggs
Ruby Garden
MIT Scheme
Why Smalltalk
Tcl Developer Xchange
O'Reilly's XML.com
Regular Expressions

 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and Business

BountyQuest Awards $40,000 for Information Challenging Patent Validity. It's an interesting business model, but will it pay the bills? BountyQuest will reward people to show evidence of a prior art that will invalidate a patent. So far four people have won a total of $40,000. BountyQuest investor Tim O'Reilly is quoted: "Patented ideas can command an entire marketplace. As consumers, it is in our best interest to use powerful tools like the Internet to ensure that only true innovation is rewarded."

O'Reilly launches ONLamp.com. O'Reilly has announced the launch of its ONLamp.com site. "LAMP" stands for the combination of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl, PHP or Python; the new site will cover web site development using those tools.

Adaptec Embraces Open Source/Linux Community. Adaptec has put out a press release proclaiming its support for the Linux community. The company will be releasing more drivers and has set up a new linux.adaptec.com web site with information and the latest source.

Linux management products. A big theme at LinuxWorld this time around would appear to be system and network management products. Here are a few press releases:

  • Aduva has announced "Aduva Director," a system update and management system.
  • Caldera Systems has put out this press release claiming that its "Volution" system management package defeats threats like the "Ramen" worm. It does so, of course, by insuring that the security updates have been installed on all of the systems it manages.
  • Computer Associates has announced "Unicenter TNG Performance Neugents" for Linux, which includes its "patented Neugents technology" to detect trouble on Linux systems.
  • Hewlett-Packard will offer the "Process Resource Manager" and "Service Control Manager" management tools later this year. The company also now offers Linux support for "more than 40" HP printers.
  • Mission Critical Linux announced the "LifeGuard" management service.
  • Red Hat has issued a press release on how the Red Hat Network got the bind fix out so quickly. Of course, most of the other distributors got fixes out quickly as well...
  • Trustix has announced the addition of several modules to its "XPloy" management utility.

On the free software front Ganymede 1.0p1, a directory management system, has been released.

Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein announces openadaptor. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW) is the investment banking division of Dresdner Bank AG. DrKW developed 'openadaptor(TM)', which is both a toolkit and a platform that allows system administrators to integrate applications across disparate systems, and has used the software in over 40 projects since 1998. Now DrKW is releasing the source code. openadapter is written in Java and it has been used by DrKW to deploy its global equities derivative trading system. openadpator's source code license is modelled after the MIT X license and the project, openadaptor.org, will be hosted by CollabNet. Here's CollabNet's press release on the subject.

IBM's LinuxWorld announcement. Here's IBM's big press release describing what the company is announcing at LinuxWorld. It includes investing $300 million in new Linux services, which include "Linux e-business enablement and migration services," open source consulting, and high availability cluster services. Also in the announcement is the "IBM eServer x430," a Linux-powered, 64-way server box. There's a bunch of other stuff in there as well.

Covalent gets $13 million investment, launches products. Covalent Technologies, a company which is working at making money with products and services for the apache web server, has announced the receipt of $13 million in venture investments, with Sequoia Capital leading the pack.

Covalent has also announced the launch of a new set of products, including the "Covalent Secure Server" (an SSL add-on with intrusion detection and other security features); "Covalent Commerce Server" (a credit card handling package); and "Covalent Managed Server" (an installation and monitoring product).

NuSphere contributes transactional capability to MySQL. NuSphere has announced that it has contributed a chunk of code to the MySQL project that adds transactions, row-level locking, and automatic crash recovery to the popular relational database system. This contribution fills in a major gap in MySQL functionality and should be welcome to those trying to place MySQL in corporate settings. NuSphere, of course, is trying to do exactly that...

Oracle debuts MySQL-to-Oracle data migration software. For all of you looking to move from free to proprietary software: Oracle has announced the availability of a utility that facilitates the move from MySQL to Oracle's products.

IDC predicts big growth in the Linux support market. IDC has recently published a report on the Linux support services market. You can't actually see it without paying a lot of money, of course, so most of us will have to content ourselves with IDC's press release on the topic. The claim is that the market will grow from $28 million in 2000 to $285 million in 2004 - a factor of ten.

The Real Time Linux Foundation. An announcement has gone out regarding the creation of the Real Time Linux Foundation. Its purpose, of course, is to help promote and standardize Real Time Linux implementations. Some help will be useful - real time Linux is currently a highly fragmented area.

Freshmeat II launches. The Open Source Developer Network (otherwise known as VA Linux Systems) has announced the launch of Freshmeat II, a complete rework of the Freshmeat site.

Eazel and Red Hat form alliance. Eazel and Red Hat have announced a deal to integrate their software services. Red Hat will put Nautilus in future releases, and Eazel's services will be integrated with the Red Hat Network.

SGI's latest Linux announcements. SGI has issued an omnibus press release describing its many announcements for LinuxWorld. They include the new 1100 server, the "Internet Server for E-Commerce" (a 1U box with Linux installed), the "SGI Internet Server Environment" (a management and monitoring package), and "Kasenna Mediabase" (a distributed streaming media server package).

There are also seperate press releases for:

Another Cluster of Announcements. Here are some of the announcements about clustering that didn't make it onto the front page.

The view from MontaVista. MontaVista has created a PR pile of its own this morning. Perhaps most interesting is this retrospective on the company's first full year of operation. The company received $30 million in funding, "captured over 80 customer design wins," grew from 12 to 160 employees (without any acquisitions), and increased its revenue by a factor of ten - evidently 15% above what their plan had called for. One assumes that they are reasonably well pleased with life at the moment.

Other announcements from MontaVista include:

ADS cranks down the power on StrongARM (LinuxDevices.com). This article on LinuxDevices looks at Applied Data Systems' "true sleep mode" support for Embedded Linux on Intel's StrongARM SA-1110 processor. "The new support, which reduces the SA-1110's power drain from half a watt (full on) to less than ten milliwatts, is of major potential significance to battery operated systems and handheld devices." ADS will be demonstrating this at LinuxWorld. See also this press release from ADS and this one about the ADS Tandem product, a two-headed single board computer system, available with embedded Linux.

Coventive supplies Linux for handheld systems in China. Conventive Technologies has announced that it will deliver "a total embedded Linux software solution" for a StrongARM-based handheld system produced by Legend Computers in China. They'll be demonstrating the system at LinuxWorld.

Announcements from Dell. Naturally Dell had to get in on the action with its own sprinkling of press releases.

Borland's PR storm.

Awash in press releases. They just keep rolling in. Naturally there are plenty more in the press release section below. This is just a small sampling of a few of the more interesting ones that we've found (and reported on so far).

  • AMD will be showcasing its "VirtuHammer" simulator at LinuxWorld and Linux Expo Paris.
  • API Networks has announced deals with several companies to promote Linux on the Alpha processor. The partners are Scyld Computing Corporation, intraDAT international, Digital Factory USA (which makes the Kondara MNU/Linux distribution), Dolphin Interconnect and Ovrimos S.A.
  • Red Hat has announced a new set of e-commerce offerings; in particular, they will now be offering Akopia's Interchange platform.
  • Also announced by Red Hat is an alliance with Daiei in Japan to offer solutions there.
  • Secant Technologies has a new "Linux computing farm" solution that it will be demonstrating at LinuxWorld.
  • Sun Microsystems has announced the availability of Java 2 Platform Micro Edition for Linux.
  • Sun has also announced the availability of its Grid Engine 5.2 for Linux.
  • SuSE has signed a "worldwide support agreement" with IBM wherein SuSE will help IBM's support organization with the toughest problems.
  • Trolltech, IBM, and the KDE project will be demonstrating IBM's ViaVoice speech recognition system at LinuxWorld.
  • VA Linux Systems will be promoting Akamai's network services to its customers. In return, of course, Akamai will continue to buy lots of VA servers.
  • VA Linux has also announced a deal with Oracle to showcase Oracle's software on VA servers.
  • Zelerate has announced "AllCommerce 1.2," the latest version of its e-commerce platform.
  • Zelerate has also announced a bundling deal with SuSE which will get AllCommerce put in with SuSE's professional distributions.
  • Zelerate also will be deploying its software to run the ThinkGeek e-commerce site.

LPI begins Level 2 exam development process. The Linux Professional Institute has announced the availability of its "Job Analysis Survey" for its Level 2 exam. By filling out the survey, Linux administrators can help the LPI work out a set of requirements for Level 2 certification.

MandrakeSoft acquires Coursemetric, launches new sites. MandrakeSoft has announced the acquisition of Coursemetric Corp, "an ASP-software and information services company specializing in the provision of Web-based evaluation tools for education and training organizations." There is evidently a plan to deploy an open source version of Coursemetric's web-based evaluation system.

Also announced is the launch of MandrakeCampus.com, which will start with a set of (open source) Linux courseware.

Finally, the company is also launching MandrakeExpert.com, a sort of support marketplace.

Linux Stock Index for January 25 to January 31, 2001.

LSI at closing on January 25, 2001 ... 41.17
LSI at closing on January 31, 2001 ... 43.65

The high for the week was 43.91
The low for the week was 40.77

Press Releases:

Open Source Products

Unless specified, license is unverified.

Proprietary Products for Linux

  • 3G is a service on the Web that enables Linux users to access a full range of US stockmarket data and analysis tools via the Internet.

  • Advanced Management Solutions (REDLANDS, Calif.) announced that AMS REALTIME 5.2 has earned the IBM Netfinity ServerProven certification. AMS tested AMS REALTIME with Red Hat Linux Version 6 operating system and Netfinity servers under IBM's ServerProven program.

  • Argus Systems Group, Inc. (NEW YORK) announced the availability of its PitBull intrusion prevention security technology on Linux. PitBull LX for Linux is available now on Red Hat Linux 6.2. Argus also announced the availability of PitBull Secure Appliance Software for Red Hat Linux 6.2 and Solaris 7 on x86.

  • Buhl-Finance (Germany) has a German tax program for Linux, t@x 2001 Linux. This site is in German.

  • Century Software Embedded Technologies(SALT LAKE CITY, Utah) announced version 1.1 of its Operating Environment and Development toolkit for embedded Linux.

  • Chilliware, Inc. (NEW YORK) announced the debut of xFAXtor, an affordable ($49.95 SRP) new fax software package that makes faxing from the Linux-based desktop a snap.

  • Enhanced Software Technologies, Inc.(New York, NY) announced that it is sneak previewing its newest data protection product for Linux-centric networks, BRU-Pro, at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

  • Kx Systems (Miami, Florida) announced that it has built a multi-billion tick database application based on the Kdb relational database.

  • LinuxWizardry Systems, Inc. unveiled its new Easy Config Wizard at LinuxWorld.

  • M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd. (FREMONT, Calif.) participated in LinuxWorld along with Lineo and Lynuxworks. M-Systems' DiskOnChip is the data storage device in Embedded Linux Journal's development kit that will be awarded to finalists of their "Hack Embedded Linux for Fun and Prizes" contest. M-Systems also recently released a new TrueFFS driver for DiskOnChip that includes support for Linux kernel 2.4.X.

  • Magic Software Enterprises (IRVINE, CA) released Magic eContact Version 2. Magic eContact is an integrated desktop application that provides contact center agents the professional tools needed to manage customer interactions.

  • Metro Link (Ft. Lauderdale) is now shipping Metro Motif Complete! for Intel's new ItaniumT processor.

  • NeTraverse Inc. (AUSTIN, Texas) released a 25-seat multi-user Beta of Win4Lin software.

  • ViLLAGEEDOCS (TUSTIN, Calif.) announced a program for HP OpenMail users to outsource their email-to-fax requirements. HP Openmail users can now take advantage of the Internet document delivery services provided by ViLLAGEEDOCS.

Products and Services Using Linux

  • BigStorage Inc. (New York) announced the rollout of K2 NAS, a network attached storage device, at LinuxWorld.

  • ImageStream Internet Solutions (Plymouth, Indiana) announced that it will release its next-generation Linux-based router product, the Carrier Pro. The Carrier Pro is a carrier class router with PowerPC processors, dual CompactPCI buses, hot-swap WAN cards, H.110 telephony bus, redundant power supplies, and rear panel cabling. Carrier Pro was chosen as a "Best of Show - Hardware" finalist at LinuxWorld Expo.

Servers & Hardware

  • Captus Networks (NEW ORLEANS) announced the CaptIO-G, a high-throughput implementation of its CaptIO integrated network security solution for the service provider and e-business markets. The CaptIO-G uses a hardened Linux kernel for its operating system, the CaptOS.

  • Celestix Networks, Inc. (FREMONT, Calif.) announced its new fully integrated Network Server Appliance Aries, a wireless LAN solution with a Linux-based micro server, which supports the IEEE 802.11b wireless standard.

  • CERTUS Technology (SAN DIEGO, CA) announced the release of the Split U 1200GX(SU1200GX), a powerful, compact and scalable architecture (CSA), which contains two servers in a 1U rackmount chassis with built-in remote system monitoring. Linux installed on request.

  • Compaq Computer Corporation (HOUSTON) announced enhancements to some of its Intelligent Manageability tools. The SmartStart Scripting Toolkit v1.1 now includes rapid deployment support for Compaq ProLiant Servers running Linux and adds support for Norton Symantec Ghost.

  • e-smith, inc. (BOSTON) announced that its flagship software product, the Linux-based e-smith Server and Gateway, has won a 2001 Crossroads A-List Award.

  • NEC Computers Inc. (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) announced its enterprise server platform, including the Express5800/180Rb-7 server, the EMC CLARiiON FC4500 storage area network (SAN) array, a disk expansion unit (DEU), and several rack and power options. And Red Hat 7 factory installed.

  • OnCore Systems Corporation (HALF MOON BAY, CA.) began shipping full support of IBM's PowerPC 405 embedded processor, Revision D, the latest release of this high-power embedded processor line. A full version of Linux that is fully preemptable is available.

  • Rave Computer Association, Inc. (Sterling Heights, Michigan) announced a product improvement to its Rave systems-2UAXi-C rackmount server. Comes with Linux or Solaris installed. Rave also announced its Rave Systems RackMount-1UAXe.

  • Zeus Technology, Ltd. (CAMBRIDGE, England) announced that benchmark tests performed by the IBM Linux Technology Center (Austin, TX) demonstrated that Zeus Web Server performance can be boosted by more than 85% running the Linux 2.4 kernel as compared to Linux 2.2.x.

Products with Linux Versions

  • Active Navigation (SAN FRANCISCO) announced the immediate availability of Portal Maximizer 2, a new content management and search solution.

  • Brooktrout Technology, Inc. (NEEDHAM, Mass.) announced that its RealComm 100 was honored with a Product of the Year Award from Communications Solutions Magazine.

  • Chilliware, Inc. (NEW YORK) introduced Mambo, a new Samba Administration Tool.

  • Computer Associates International, Inc. (ISLANDIA, N.Y.) announced the general availability of Unicenter TNG Asset Management Option (AMO) 3.1, an asset management solution that automates the inventory and management of enterprise IT assets. This version includes extended support of Linux devices.

  • Heroix Software (NEW YORK) announced that it is exhibiting RoboMon software at LinuxWorld.

  • IBM (Somers, NY) announced WebSphere Personalization software for Linux.

  • Integrated Research Ltd (SYDNEY, Australia) announced new auto-healing technology as part of its flagship product family, PROGNOSIS.

  • LegacyJ, Corp. (SAN JOSE, Calif.) announced PERCobol Enterprise Version 2.6.

  • NetIQ Corporation (SAN JOSE, Calif.) announced that Chariot 4.0, a network testing tool, now supports Intel's Itanium Processor. There is beta version available for Turbolinux.

  • Oracle Corp. (REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.) claims that nearly one half of the 370,000 Oracle9i Application Server downloads were for the Linux version.

  • Piranha, Inc. (FREEHOLD, N.J.) announced the development of an image archiving and search software solution that will utilize Piranha's compression science. The new database product will include search and retrieval software with a Java based interface. Pirana also announced the release of Piranha NetTM 1.2, the latest version of the company's software architecture for creating and viewing graphic-intensive image files on the Internet.

  • ScheduleOnline (SAN DIEGO) debuted ScheduleOnline Gold, the next generation of its scheduling, resource planning, and collaboration Web site. This is a subscription based service.

  • Seapine Software, Inc. (MASON, Ohio) is adding Extensible Markup Language (XML) support to its forthcoming TestTrack Pro 3.1 for Windows, Linux, and Solaris release.

  • Steltor announced the immediate availability of its CorporateTime solution for Linux.

  • TimesTen Performance Software (MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) announced the immediate availability of TimesTen 4.1, the flagship product in its real-time data management software family.

  • TransEDA (LOS GATOS, Calif.) announced the release of the VN-Check 2.0 Configurable HDL Checker.

  • VERITAS Software Corporation (MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) announced that VERITAS NetBackup now provides data protection for Linux environments.

Java Products

  • Servertec (Kearny, NJ.) announced the availability of a new release of Servertec Internet Server, an Application/Web Server written entirely in Java.

Books and Training

  • Eldritch Endeavours, Inc. (Amherst, Massachusetts), a new Linux training company, announced that it is open for business and is accepting registration for classes beginning immediately.

  • LinuxCertified.com (Cupertino, California) is holding a weekend Linux Bootcamp February 10 - 11, 2001. The cost is $1600, which includes all class materials including a laptop for each attendee. You also get a laptop with Linux for Beginners February 17 - 18, 2001.

  • O'Reilly & Associates (Sebastopol, CA) announced XML in a Nutshell by Elliotte Rusty Harold and W. Scott Means.


  • American Megatrends Inc. (ATLANTA) announced it is shipping MegaRAID Elite 1600 and Express 500 Ultra160 SCSI RAID controllers to Penguin Computing Inc. for use in a number of its Internet server products.

  • Applied Data Systems (New York, NY) announced its strategic partnership with Century Software Embedded Technologies. Together, they will produce Century's embedded Linux toolkit running on ADS' line of OEM Intel StrongARM-based systems.

  • Covalent Technologies, Inc. and Tripwire Inc. (NEW YORK) announced a strategic technology alliance that will deliver enhanced data and network integrity solutions tailored for the Apache Web Server.

  • Coventive Technologies and AXIS Corporation (SAN JOSE, Calif.) previewed a new Linux-based home TV-and-Web appliance at LinuxWorld Expo.

  • Halcyon Software (SAN JOSE, Calif.) announced that it has signed an agreement to bundle its Instant ASP (iASP), with the Turbolinux Linux distribution. iASP is a Java implementation of the Microsoft Active Server Page (ASP) framework.

  • Hifn (LOS GATOS, Calif.) announced a partnership agreement with Lineo, Inc. As part of the agreement, Hifn security processors will accelerate the security functions in Lineo's SecureEdge VPN Router Platform.

  • Integrated Computer Solutions, Inc.(LinuxWorld, New York City, NY) announced a partnership with Sitraka Software that provides a powerful solution for developers working on mission critical Motif applications.

  • LinuxWizardry Systems, Inc. (BOCA RATON, Fla.) announced that it has signed an agreement with PC Connection, Inc. PC Connection will be offering LinuxWizardry's Magic Passage line of products.

  • Metro Link and BSDi (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) announced that every eBSD operating system sold will include Metro-X for host development and a demo of Micro-X, scalable embedded X server.

  • NuSphere Corporation (BEDFORD, Mass.) announced its partnership with OpenAir.com. OpenAir, a suite of Web-native Professional Services Automation tools, will incorporate NuSphere MySQL as the preferred solution for its recently launched data back-up service.

Investments and Acquisitions

  • Aduva, Inc. (PALO ALTO, Calif.), which offers a Linux update service, announced it had received $7.8 million in venture financing from The Capital Group, Cap Ventures and Evergreen Management, Ltd. and others.

  • Cradle Technologies, Inc. (FREMONT, Calif.) announced strategic investments from CIBC Capital Partners, Charter Ventures, Mingly Ventures, Ltd, Red Hat, Inc., Signal Lake Ventures II LLP, and Smart Technology Ventures. The current round of $20 million brings the total invested in Cradle to date to $34 million. Additionally, Cradle disclosed that it is working with Red Hat to launch an Open Source Initiative for Real Time Embedded Processing based on Cradle's "stream processing" silicon platform.

Financial Results

  • Borland Software Corporation (SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif.) reported revenues of $50.3 million, up from $45.5 million in the same period one year ago.


  • Applied Data Systems (Columbia, Maryland) announced the appointment of Gregory Haerr, to the company's Board of Directors.

  • Penguin Computing (SAN FRANCISCO) announced that Scott Weinbrandt has joined the company as vice president of marketing.

  • Red Hat, Inc. (RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.) announced the appointment of F. Selby Wellman to the Red Hat Board of Directors.

  • Red Hat, Inc. (RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.) announced the appointment of CTO Michael Tiemann to the board of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

  • TeamLinux (DAYTON, OHIO) recruited former NCR attorney Paul M. Samson to serve as a senior consultant and as its chief counsel.

Linux At Work

  • The ArsDigita Corporation (CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) announced that Boston public radio station WGBH has recently re-launched their Web site, http://www.wgbh.org, powered by the open source ArsDigita Community System (ACS) e-business platform.

  • Jabber.com, Inc. (DENVER) announced that the Jabber open source project has been selected as one of two projects for early scalability testing in the Open Source Development Lab.


  • Lineo, Inc. (INDIAN WELLS, Calif.) won the top two awards at the Upside Showcase conference this week. Lineo was the recipient of the People's Choice award and the winner of the Demo Til You're Dropped award given by conference organizers for the company's demonstration of the Embedixä SDK 1.2 software development tool.

  • Motorola (TEMPE, Ariz.) announced its HA Linux was recognized as one of the "TOP Software Products" for 2000 by the Electronics Industry Yearbook, a Cahners publication.

  • Nominum, Inc. (Redwood City, California) announced plans to unveil a largely free secondary DNS hosting service Secondary.com, at LinuxWorld.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

February 1, 2001


 Main page
 Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Linux in the news page.

Linux in the news

Recommended Reading

Code Is Free Speech (Business 2.0). In January 2000 the hacker quarterly, 2600 magazine, hosted a website that linked to DVD decryption technology. Now, according to this Business 2.0 article a group of computer scientists have filed a legal brief supporting 2600 magazine. "'Our basic argument is that computer code is speech and it is entitled to First Amendment protections,' says Andy Hertzfeld, co-founder of software firm Eazel and one of the brief's authors. 'Code, whether it is source or object, is speech and should be protected. That's the truth, and there is no ambiguity. I abhor what the MPAA is doing to bend the facts to fit their commercial ends.'"

This article in C|Net's News.com also looks at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the suit against 2600 magazine and related issues. "At the center of the renewed controversy is part of the 1998 DMCA that protects almost any copyright holder's attempt to prevent unauthorized digital copying. Breaking through copy protection, or even distributing a device or information that would help break copy protections, was made illegal."

Gnutella puts up fight for Web elite (News.com). News.com has posted an update on Gnutella development. "Two things Gnutella doesn't have to improve are its hype and its swagger."

Clustering Around Linux (Business 2.0). Linux supercomputing clusters are the subject of this article in Business 2.0. "'In this area, the supercomputer area, the Linux boxes are much better designed than the Windows boxes,' said Mike Balma, director of marketing for HP Linux systems operations. 'Instead of coming up from the desktops, they're coming from the engineering area. This is the heartbeat for Linux and Linux systems.' A typical system includes a 'head node' and servers that can be small as a pizza box. The data is distributed to server 'clusters' for processing; the largest systems can hold upwards of 1,000 nodes." (Thanks to Richard Storey)

Digital-audio players heading to cars (News.com). News.com looks at the upcoming round of MP3 players for cars. "The Empeg in-car player, based on a version of the Linux operating system, will have a 600-hour capacity and a hard drive designed not to skip."


Red Hat partners with Eazel for online services (News.com). News.com looks at the Red Hat/Eazel agreement. "The Eazel-Red Hat deal has a number of ramifications, chief among them the elimination of competition for customers seeking software update services. Though Eazel and Red Hat had different target markets, their parallel technology meant a smaller market for each company while Microsoft blazed ahead with Windows Update and other subscription plans." (Thanks to Christof Damian).

Lineo dons Red Hat for telecommunications server (News.com). News.com covers Lineo's deal with Force Computers to make Linux run on Force's high-availability systems. "But Lineo also has changed directions dramatically. Although it is working on a version of Linux called Embedix, based on a product from sister company Caldera Systems, the Force device will use a different product called Availix that's based on Red Hat's version of Linux."

Big names sign on for Linuxcare programming services (News.com). C|Net's News.com writes about Linuxcare's deals with Hewlett-Packard, Network Appliance, Maxtor, Tricord and SGI. "Most of the deals tie in with Samba software, which lets file storage operations on a Linux computer behave like a Windows machine, a key requirement for infiltrating Linux computers into Windows networks."

ADS cranks down the power on StrongARM (LinuxDevices.com). This article on LinuxDevices looks at Applied Data Systems' "true sleep mode" support for Embedded Linux on Intel's StrongARM SA-1110 processor. "The new support, which reduces the SA-1110's power drain from half a watt (full on) to less than ten milliwatts, is of major potential significance to battery operated systems and handheld devices." ADS will be demonstrating this at LinuxWorld.

Skinny VA Linux servers cheaper than predecessors (News.com). VA Linux is introducing two small 1U servers to compete directly with Dell and Sun Microsystems.


Startups keep open source competitive (Upside). Upside looks at small free software companies. "That's not to say small companies are out of the running altogether, of course. A few days ago I paid a visit to WorkSpot, a 30-person company based in Palo Alto, Calif. And while the visit wasn't enough to dispel a growing cause for concern over the momentary health of the open source business sector, it was enough to remind me that even in tough times, being small has its advantages."

The state of Linux (ZDNet). Here's a ZDNet editorial looking at "the state of Linux" and where it should go from here. "We suggest that the show is as good an occasion as any for Linux backers to start changing their mind-set, from that of scrappy upstarts to that of steady enterprise players. For Linux partisans, maturity is not to be feared, but embraced."

Linux World

Linux Looks to Take on the World (Wired). Wired News tells us what to expect from LinuxWorld. "Although many developers say the newly released 2.4 kernel will also boost Linux's popularity in business markets, few expect to see many finished 2.4 products on display at LinuxWorld this week, since many developers are still working their way through the testing and certification process. LinuxWorld San Francisco, slated for August of 2001, is expected to be the true showcase for 2.4 applications."

LinuxWorld shows software entering adulthood (News.com). News.com looks forward to LinuxWorld with a list of expected announcements. "The standard-bearer for the new Linux reality is IBM, in particular President Sam Palmisano. A year ago, Palmisano pushed Big Blue to its current position as one of the loudest and most determined Linux advocates, with the company spreading Linux across all four of its major server lines. During his opening keynote address Wednesday, Palmisano will declare that the Linux effort has advanced from convincing established computing companies to support the operating system to winning over customers who actually use it, sources familiar with the speech said."

LinuxWorld 2001 (ZDNet). ZDNet looks forward to LinuxWorld. "The real news from the show is Linux's continuing journey into the mainstream of server computing. All the major server players who have already committed to Linux -- Compaq, Dell and IBM -- will be there with a flurry of new small deals to show that they're serious about Linux."

LinuxWorld set to roll (InfoWorld). InfoWorld has a preview of LinuxWorld. "Hardware vendors at Linux World will demonstrate improvements in system management, clustering, and the versatility of Linux on Intel's upcoming IA-64 Itanium processor."


IBM makes set of Java libraries open source (ZDNet). IBM has released the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) libraries as open source for Java developers. "The Universal Description, Discovery and Integration initiative, launched last year, is a multivendor effort to create registries for Web services, allowing companies to automatically discover each other and do business over the Web."


The LO Newbie Tests Mouseless (Midnight) Commander (Linux Orbit). Mouseless Commander was the original name for the Midnight Commander program. In this Linux Orbit article a Linux newbie documents his experience with Midnight Commander. "Midnight Commander is one of the best newbie helping tools, especially for those who are shy of the command line. Converts to Linux from Windows might not have seen something that looks like Midnight Commander before, but the interface should be reasonably familiar. I highly recommend Midnight Commander to all first time Linux users. It certainly has made my newbie experience easier."


Torvalds looks beyond 2.4 (ZDNet). ZDNet interviews Linus Torvalds. "I tend to avoid very specific plans [for 2.5]. It all depends on what works out and what really ends up being most important. I want to revamp some of the device driver interfaces some more. We got many issues worked out in 2.4.x, but we have a few things still left that need to just be re-engineered. Things where you can trace back the design to the original kernel 10 years ago and where the situation has just changed so much that some of those design decisions need to be revisited."


Why Linux is turning the tables (ZDNet). ZDNet ponders why Linux is doing so well. "If someone doesn't like Linus' decisions they're welcome to roll their own -- but the fact that so little kernel forking has been done so far indicates that even the big boys respect the process. They know they can't control Linux -- but then neither can any other single player, and that is Linux's ultimate victory."

Linux 2.4 is Here, but Some Goodies are Missing (ZDNet). Here's another ZDNet editorial on what Linux needs to do. Despite the title, it has little to do with the 2.4 kernel. "Here's what I think Linux needs to enable you to make a real run for contracts currently going to W2K/NT integrators. First, you need to educate decision makers about Linux and open source. Too many senior IT folks still think of open source as this scary thing that may come back and bite them with licensing problems."

MS Exec: Linux Is Going Down (Wired). Here's a delightful bit of FUD from Microsoft as covered in Wired News. "These are three key Linux trends to watch for in 2001: a static growth rate, lessening mainstream interest in the open source operating system, and a sharp decline in Linux-based companies' stock value, said Doug Miller, Microsoft's group product manager for competitive strategies." I guess we know what sort of "competitive strategy" he has come up with.

Linux Destined to Fall by the Wayside (Microsoft). Microsoft has this piece of fud on its website. "But it is true that Linux are actually rapidly increasing their market share in the US also. Doesn't this pose a threat?
Linux is simply a fad that has been generated by the media and is destined to fall by the wayside in time. Windows 2000 will gradually overtake the Linux share in the server market. In fact, the advent of Linux has spurred Microsoft's developers to move up a gear. The arrival of new competitors in applications or operating systems development provides us at Microsoft with the driving force to create even better software products.
" Please remember to be polite when responding to fud. (Thanks to Dan Kegel)

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

February 1, 2001


 Main page
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 Linux History

See also: last week's Announcements page.



Get started - Using LILO (FreeOS.com). Here are a couple of articles from FreeOS.com. The first, Starters for Linux - Part 1, looks at the Command Line Interface. The second article provides an in-depth look at LILO.

Help Wanted

Embedded Linux hacker position in London. There is a position open for an embedded Linux hacker in London.


Marc Merlin's report from Linux.conf.au. Marc Merlin has put up a report from Linux.conf.au, held recently in Sydney. As usual for his reports, this one is detailed, comprehensive, and contains quite a few pictures. Worth a look.

Pictures from Linux Expo Amsterdam. Valentijn Sessink has posted a set of pictures from Linux Expo Amsterdam for those of us who were unable to go. (Thanks to Wouter Hanegraaff).

Fresno III To Discuss Medical Open Source. Fresno III is meeting of the medical open source minds, occurring February 4 - February 5, 2001 in Fresno, California.

Open Group Conference. Larry Augustin, CEO and President of VA Linux Systems is the invited guest speaker at the upcoming Open Group conference in San Jose on Tuesday February 6th. Dr. Augustin's presentation will address how Open Source infrastructure is expanding market share in the enterprise.

Internet Appliance Workshop. The Internet Appliance Workshop targets designers, developers and marketers of Internet appliances. February 20 - February 21, 2001 at the Wyndham Hotel, San Jose, CA. There will be an Embedded Linux, Birds of a Feather Session in the evening of the 20th.

Bang!inux 2001. India's biggest Linux Developer Conference is back. The 2nd Annual Bang!inux 2001 is coming March 5 - March 7, 2001 at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.

Colorado Linux Info Quest 2001. The Colorado Linux Info Quest is coming back for another year; it will be held on March 30, 2001 in Denver, Colorado. The event has just announced that Daryll Strauss and Havoc Pennington will be speaking at the event, with other speakers to be announced soon. LWN is a sponsor of the CLIQ; we look forward to seeing you there.

European Tcl/Tk User Meeting. The second European Tcl/Tk User Meeting will be held in Hamburg-Harburg, Germany from June 7 - June 8, 2001. There is a call for papers out now.

February/March events.
Date Event Location
January 30 - February 2, 2001. LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Jacob Javits Convention Center, New York, NY.
January 31 - February 2, 2001. Linux Expo Paris Paris, France.
February 3 - February 4, 2001. Open Source and Free Software Developers' European Meeting Brussels.
February 6 - February 8, 2001. Real-time and Embedded Systems Forum Doubletree Hotel, San Jose, California.
February 14 - February 16, 2001. O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, California.
February 21 - February 23, 2001. XML DevCon Europe 2001 Novotel London West Hotel and Convention Centre, London, England.
February 28 - March 2, 2001. 3rd German Perl Workshop Sankt Augustin, Germany.
March 3, 2001. LinuxForum 2001 Copenhagen, Denmark.
March 5 - March 7, 2001. Bang!inux 2001 Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
March 5 - March 8, 2001. The 9th International Python Conference Long Beach, California.
March 19 - March 22, 2001. SGI Global Developer Conference Burlingame, California.
March 20 - March 22, 2001. FOSE 2001 Washington DC Convention Center.
March 21 - March 24, 2001. Singapore Linux Conference / LinuxWorld 2001 Singapore.
March 22 - March 23, 2001. Linux Accessibility Conference Los Angeles, California.
March 28 - March 29, 2001. LinuxBazaar 2001 Czech Republic.
March 29 - March 30, 2001. Colorado Linux Info Quest Denver Marriott Tech Center, Denver, Colorado.

Additional events can be found in the LWN Event Calendar. Event submissions should be sent to lwn@lwn.net in a plain text format.

Web sites

Open Source Development Network Kicks Off Linux Kernel Month. The Open Source Development Network (OSDN.com), a division of VA Linux Systems, Inc. announced the launch of Linux Kernel Month, a network-wide focus on the recently released Linux kernel. OSDN's Linux Kernel Month will feature events, articles and how-tos focusing on the 2.4 kernel release.

Voxeo Community Portal Registers More Than 1,000 Phone+Web Developers. Voxeo Corporation, a network and web development platform for creating and deploying phone applications, announced that more than 1,000 developers have become registered members of the Voxeo Community. This site includes an open source library, including open source sample applications and audio libraries that developers can use as a starting point to create their own custom applications.

User Group News

Reunion in Aguascalientes, Mex.. Grupo de Usuarios de Linux en Aguascalientes Mexico is having a reunion or meeting on February 1, 2001.

LUG Events: February 1 - February 15, 2001.
Date Event Location
February 1, 2001. Linux User Support Team, Taegu (LUST-T) Taegu, Korea.
February 1, 2001. Edinburgh Linux Users Group (EDLUG) Holyrood Tavern, Edinburgh, Scotland.
February 5, 2001. Baton Rouge Linux User Group (BRLUG) The Bluebonnet Library, Baton Rouge, LA.
February 5, 2001. Rice University Linux Users Group (RLUG) Rice University, Houston, TX.
February 6, 2001. Kansas City Linux Users Group (KCLUG) Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO.
February 6, 2001. Linux Users' Group of Davis (LUGOD) Z-World, Davis, CA.
February 7, 2001. Columbia Area Linux Users Group (CALUG) Capita Technologies Training Center, Columbia, MD.
February 7, 2001. Southeastern Indiana Linux Users Group (SEILUG) Madison/Jefferson County Public Library, Madison, IN.
February 8, 2001. Phoenix Linux Users Group (PLUG) Sequoia Charter School, Mesa, AZ.
February 8, 2001. Boulder Linux Users Group (BLUG) NIST Radio Building, Boulder, CO.
February 10, 2001. Route 66 Linux Users Group La Verne, California.
February 10, 2001. Consortium of All Bay Area Linux (CABAL) Menlo Park, California.
February 13, 2001. Long Island Linux Users Group (LILUG) SUNY Farmingdale, NY.
February 13, 2001. Victoria Linux Users Group(VLUG) University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
February 14, 2001. Toledo Area Linux Users Group (TALUG) University of Toledo, Toledo, OH.
February 15, 2001. St. Louis Unix Users Group (SLUUG) - Linux SIG St. Louis County Library, Indian Trails Branch, St. Louis, Missouri.

Additional events can be found in the LWN Event Calendar. Event submissions should be sent to lwn@lwn.net in a plain text format.

February 1, 2001



Software Announcements

The FreshMeat software announcements are temporarily unavailable due to the software change at FreshMeat II. We should have them again by next week. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Linux History page.

This week in Linux history

Three years ago (February 5, 1998 LWN): Eric Raymond wandered around in Silicon Valley discussing licensing terms with Netscape executives. As part of the whole thing, many people discovered The Cathedral and the Bazaar for the first time. The document apparently inspired Netscape to release their browser code as open source.

The funny blue cube shaped Cobalt Qube came out, it offered a multi-functional office-capable server with a web interface. Cobalt Networks has since concentrated on more conventional 1U rack space boxes and was acquired by Sun Microsystems last fall.

InfoWorld gave its 1997 Best Technical Support Award to the Linux community:

When users of commercial software have a problem, they have a limited number of increasingly expensive resources offered by the vendor to get the answers they need. Linux users said they have a virtually infinite array of free resources such as posting a question on various forums, doing a search of the innumerable Web pages with posted fixes, e-mailing the program developer directly, or looking at the source code and figuring out a fix of their own.

Remember, back then, people were saying that Linux had no support...

Perry Harrington suggested that the X window system should be replaced, similar talk is currently going on, and there are even some results from the Berlin project, but X continues to have tons of momentum in the Unix world.

The development kernel was version 2.1.85 and contained a bunch of fixes for SCSI on the IBM MCA (Micro Channel) bus.

Debian was dumping the pesky dselect program and revamping its package system, that was a good move.

Some interesting SuSE history was published, SuSE stands for Software und System Entwicklung.

Two years ago (February 4, 1999 LWN): Linux Certification was a big topic at the time with five different companies in the certification business. They were the Linux Institute, Digital Metrics, LinuxCertification.org, Caldera, and Red Hat. In the last two years, the Linux Institute has become the Linux Professional Institute, and it has absorbed the Digital Metrics certification effort. LinuxCertification.org is now called SAIR, Caldera is no longer doing certification (it's a supporter of the LPI), and Red Hat is still offering RHCE certification.

The FSF decided to discourage use of the Library GPL. Quoting Richard Stallman:

Proprietary software developers have the advantage of money; free software developers need to make advantages for each other. Using the ordinary GPL for a library gives free software developers an advantage over proprietary developers: a library that they can use, while proprietary developers cannot use it.

The license was, at this point, renamed the "Lesser GPL."

But is Bob Young the Richard Stallman of Red Hat? Let me tell you something. I know Bob Young. Bob Young is a friend of mine. And Bob Young is no Richard Stallman. Bob proudly states that he is behind the GPL for exactly the opposite reason most people think Richard Stallman created it. Bob Young wants to make money.
-- Nicholas Petreley, LinuxWorld.

In the world of security, the possibility of a relaxation of the US encryption export restrictions was discussed, fortunately, that actually happened, much simplifying the job of packaging and distributing security software. The topic of built-in CPU serial numbers was hot with respect to privacy, fortunately, that issue seems to have passed by for now.

The current stable kernel was version 2.2.1, also known as the "brown paper bag" release. Lots of fixes were pouring into this relatively new release. Two years later, 2.4 remains, so far, free of "brown paper bag" problems.

Wichert Akkerman replaced Ian Jackson as the Debian Project Leader, and Red Hat moved to a new, larger building in Durham, North Carolina.

Gnome was up to version 0.99.5 and KDE version 1.1pre2 was out. The Beta version of Qt 2.0 had been announced and KDE was being ported to it.

IBM Software Solutions just joined Linux International as a sponsoring corporate member.

One year ago (February 3, 2000 LWN): Sun announced the release of the Network File System version 4 (NFSv4) code to the open source community. There were still a number of issues over the restrictions presented by the Sun Industry Standards Source License and the usefulness of such a move to the Linux community.

Richard Stallman had set his sights on UCITA:

This is too outrageous an injustice to wish on anyone, even if it would indirectly benefit a good cause. As ethical beings, we must not favor the infliction of hardship and injustice on others on the grounds that it will drive them to join our cause. We must not be Machiavellian. The point of free software is concern for each other. Our only smart plan, our only ethical plan, is...to defeat UCITA!

A year later, UCITA seems to have vanished from the news. It would probably be a big mistake, however, to assume that it has gone away.

A sign that cryptographic policy really had relaxed: kernel.org began to carry crypto software.

Linux World was underway in New York City, as it is currently. Lynx, now Lynux Works, had announced its Blue Cat Linux distribution and was heading into the world of Linux. The LinuxOne people were apparently spreading the word that they were planning on buying SuSE after they made tons of money on their IPO.

The stable kernel was version 2.2.15 pre5 and the development kernel was version 2.3.42. Lots of new device support was being added to the development kernel.

Tucows reported some interesting stats on Linux distribution downloads, Corel had the largest share at 37 percent, RedHat was at 20 percent, and Debian had 11 percent. The other distributions with notable stats were Suse, Slackware, and Caldera.

LinuxPPC Developer Release 1.1 was released, as was Turbolinux 6.0 (in both server and workstation versions).

OpenSSH version 1.2.2 was released and was the first stable release of the software under Linux.

The Red Escolar project was into Phase 2 of deploying Linux in Mexican schools, they estimated that going with free open-source software had saved them approximately $120 Million dollars in software licensing fees.

Andover.net launched "server51.freshmeat.net" - an apparent attempt to compete with SourceForge. A year later, of course, Freshmeat is in no position to compete with SourceForge and server51 has disappeared from the net.

The Motley Fool discovered the DeCSS case:

But then the DVD Copy Control Authority (a name straight out of a James Bond movie if you ask me) attempted to sue the ENTIRE INTERNET. It's like a class action lawsuit in reverse. Even for Hollywood, this has to set some kind of record for sheer bulk corporate idiocy. The mind boggles

IBM announced the port of Linux to the S/390 platform, a project that is still going strong.

The embedded Linux craze was just starting to get interesting, Lineo acquired Zentropix, Monta Vista Software partnered with FSMlabs, and RedHat announced its Red Hat Tools for Embedded Developers.

Linux stocks were still soaring at incredibly high levels, VA Linux was around 125 and RedHat was around 108.


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See also: last week's Letters page.

Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@lwn.net. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.

February 1, 2001

Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 13:54:52 -0600
From: Michael Coyne <coynem@airwire.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Being scared of IBM

There seems to be a lot being made in various places on the web about
the dangers IBM could pose to the Linux community.  It's
understandable.  As last Thursday's LWN mentioned, IBM dominated the
computing industry for a large part of its period.  It was only its
financial woes caused it to reinvent itself as the "kindler, gentler
IBM".  There's a perception that IBM is going to stomp onto the lovely,
free and open playground that is Linux, close all the gates, and start
beating up some of our favourite kids, such as Bob Young in his little
red hat, or Larry Augustin.

I feel that much of this talk floating around is fear-mongering
rhetoric.  What we in the Linux community have to remember is that,
ultimately, we're not *reliant* on any corporate entities for anything. 
Sure, it's nice when companies support and fund Linux development... but
Linux thrived before any of that went on, and it can thrive in the
future even without it.  We can always take Linux as it is today, and
move in a completely opposite direction if we don't like where Linux is
going under the corporate sponsorship of IBM and others.  And that's
true on a smaller scale.  If an individual doesn't like where *Linus* is
taking Linux, that individual can go and make Linux be whatever he or
she wants it to be.  That's another aspect of "free" software.  Not just
freedom to see and add to the code--freedom to take that code whereever
we want and call it whatever we want to.

So if we want to, we can always "take our ball and go home."  Or, if not
home, at least to another playground where IBM isn't knocking down all
the smaller kids.

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 20:08:32 -0600
From: Dub Dublin <dub@conservor.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: BROWSER good, but not enough

I applaud Eric Raymond's attempt to jump-start the BROWSER environment
variable, which was badly needed in 1994.  Although I suppose I'd be
moderately happy if it became ubiquitous in the Unix-flavored world, I'd
be ecstatic if it were to become usable in other OS environments as
well, since like most, I find I don't have the luxury of enforcing my OS
preference on all those I work with.  (I find this is particularly
awkward with clients.)  Of course, bringing back a reliance on
environment variables will send the folks from Redmond screaming off the
cliffs, but that's a small price to pay to bring them into compliance
with the rest of the world.  (And now that OS X is based on real OS
guts, at least some of the consumer PC crowd should be able to handle a
BROWSER environment variable.)  On second thought, I'd just settle for
some way to transparently use the same Netscape browser configuration
and mail files from multiple platforms without a lot of unnatural a
priori setup...

Of course, we could go and build a real configuration database (a
registry that works) for Linux and other Unix derivatives.  Naaah,
that'd be too elegant, and might require as much cooperation as a new
environment variable...  Oh, that's right, I already wrote that letter
two years ago, didn't I?
(http://lwn.net/1999/0401/backpage.phtml#backpage)  Funny how the more
things change, the more they remain the same...  If Eric succeeds with
this, I wish him Godspeed in taking it further and solving the real
problem, which requires far more than an environment variable band-aid.

Dub Dublin

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 16:42:46 -0700
From: "Jim Easter" <jre@fpcc.net>
To: msfin@microsoft.com
Subject: Linux to "Fall by the Wayside"?

Dear Microsoft:

The following is an excerpt from
http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/serverappliance/kempin.asp.  It is an
interview by Nikkei Industry News with Mr. Joachim Kempin, senior vice
president in charge of Microsoft's operating system OEM strategy at the
Microsoft US headquarters.

But it is true that Linux are actually rapidly increasing their market
share in the US also. Doesn't this pose a threat?

Linux is simply a fad that has been generated by the media and is
destined to fall by the wayside in time. Windows 2000 will gradually
overtake the Linux share in the server market. In fact, the advent of
Linux has spurred Microsoft's developers to move up a gear. The arrival
of new competitors in applications or operating systems development
provides us at Microsoft with the driving force to create even better
software products."

This is of particular interest because Mr. Kempin's thoughts on
potential competitive threats were the subject of testimony at the U.S.
v. Microsoft trial, where a Microsoft defense attorney argued that Mr.
Kempin had felt such threats to be large enough to justify holding off
on price increases for NT, and went on to describe the Linux threat in
more detail:

From U.S. v. Microsoft, Trial transcript from 19 November, 1998,
available from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/trial/transcripts/
(Note that “Q” is Michael Lacovara, Esq., for the defense and "A" is
Frederick W. Warren-Boulton, an economist):


Has Microsoft and / or Mr. Kempin changed position on whether or not
Microsoft faces real competition?  Just curious.


Jim Easter

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