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Leading items and editorials

Microsoft's comments on open source, as expressed by VP Jim Allchin, came out shortly after the last LWN weekly edition went to "press." By now, most readers will likely have seen what he had to say; those who may have missed the story can check it out on News.com. Since then, the volume of responses from the free software community has vastly exceeded the original remarks. One would think that there was little to add at this point.

Except that many or most of the responses appear to miss the point. It is important to understand what Microsoft is after with those sorts of comments, or we risk fighting the wrong battle.

It is highly unlikely that Microsoft is making any serious attempt to "outlaw open source." Getting such a law passed would be incredibly difficult, and enforcing it would be impossible. The United States is certainly a strange place, but it's not that weird. Nobody will be outlawing free software anytime soon.

Besides, a big legislative fight over an attempt to ban free software would make it all too clear just how threatening Microsoft sees it to be. Instead, the strategy will be to create de-facto prohibitions through patents, proprietary protocols and formats, and all the other usual tactics. So there is no need to get ready to fight a new battle. No need to print up "They'll take my free software when they pry my cold, dead, carpal-tunneled fingers off it" bumper stickers.

Microsoft's goal, instead, has to be this: the company wants to head off any move within the government toward the use and support of free software. Microsoft is right to fear this scenario: free software makes all kinds of sense for governmental use. Governments should strive toward openness; should certainly avoid being locked into a single vendor's software, file formats, and protocols; and should try to spend its taxpayers' money wisely. All of these point toward the use of free software.

The other role of government in the modern world is the creation of public goods. Parks, roads, bridges, air traffic control systems, etc. The more libertarian side of the free software movement will disagree, but many others think that free software is another example of a public good that governments should fund and support. Proprietary software companies, of course, are less than pleased with the idea of tax money going to build free alternatives to their products.

Mr. Allchin's real objective when he says "world's largest software maker has to do a better job of talking to policymakers" is to keep the U.S. government firmly behind proprietary software. He may well succeed. Free software seems to be a hard concept for many people to understand, and the clue level of many U.S. legislators is remarkably low.

As distasteful as it is, the free software community at some point may have to think about doing "a better job of talking to policymakers." As Lawrence Lessig (along with many others) has pointed out, if you ignore the system, it will do things that affect you without your input. Perhaps it's time for a free software lobby?

(See also: Tracy Reed's comments, which were sent to LWN; I don't want to be Jim Allchin on kuro5hin, Rant Mode Equals One on LinuxToday; this ZDNet article saying that the GPL was Allchin's real target; and .comment: Microsoft Doesn't Care What We Think on LinuxPlanet).

The declaration of software freedom. The folks at FreeDevelopers.net aren't about to accept any grief from any proprietary software concern. Instead, they have published The Declaration of Software Freedom, which doesn't mince its words in any way. Consider:

We, therefore, the representatives of Free Software Developers, in FreeDevelopers.net assembled, do, in the name of Developers of GPL Software everywhere, solemnly publish and declare, that Free Software Developers of the world are, and of right ought to be, Independent Software Developers; and that all commercial connection between them and the projects of Proprietary Software is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent Developers, FreeDevelopers.net has full power to levy Philosophical War over the software development paradigm, develop Free and Independent GPL Software, contract commercial alliances, establish e-commerce and communications, and to do all other acts and things which Independent Software Developers may of right do to protect themselves and citizens everywhere from software predation and monopolization.

It must be about time for soldiers in red coats to show up.

Legal issues were also a big theme at the Peer-to-peer conference, hosted by O'Reilly last week. Peer-to-peer technology raises both hopes and concerns, and for the same reasons. When the Internet first started to take off, it was noted that it enabled people to converse and exchange with each other, without the need for intermediaries. Somehow that vision turned into the current web, which, to the cynical, looks much like an American suburban street full of big-box stores.

Peer-to-peer protocols have the potential of restoring that earlier vision and allowing people to make their own associations. This idea does not sit well with any number of institutions that prefer to have a say in how people interact. Music companies are terrified that musicians might deal
Lawrence Lessig (photo: Derrick Story / O'Reilly Network)
directly with their fans, and governments don't like communications paths that do not have obvious control points. And, of course, software companies worry about their role in a world where developers talk directly with each other and their users and where world-class software is developed without the need for large, proprietary firms.

So it is not surprising that one of the highlights of the Peer-to-peer conference was Lawrence Lessig's keynote, where he called for P2P developers to fight for their right to innovate. Otherwise, those who benefit from the increasingly restrictive intellectual property climate will take that right away.

At the same talk, John Perry Barlow came out with an even stronger line:

After the 9th Circuit Court decision, I feel that the only way to deal with law in cyberspace is to ignore it, wildly, flagrantly. I want everyone in this room to consider themselves a revolutionary and go out and develop whatever you damn well please.

The decision referred to, of course, was that one taken against Napster. The fact that many of Napster's users were using the system to violate copyright law was sufficient to shut down the entire service. The free software community cares greatly about copyright - our licenses are based on it, after all. But we should be afraid when a useful service can be shut down just because it can be used illegally.

The intellectual property battles are going to get fiercer before they get better. And free software is going to be at the heart of them. Napster, as a centralized system, is relatively easy to shut down. Free software, being inherently decentralized, is much harder - see, for example, just how long it takes to track down a copy of DeCSS. So many of the most interesting and subversive protocols of the future will be done in the free software mode. It will be interesting to watch.

(See also: the O'Reilly Network's extensive coverage of the Peer-to-Peer conference).

Italian law 248/2000 and free software. Of course, the U.S. is not the only country with an interesting legal situation involving free software. Last September, Italy passed an amendment to its copyright law with an interesting twist: any medium containing software which is to be used for commercial purposes must bear a "SIAE stamp," which must be purchased from the taxation authorities.

In practice, in order to obtain the stamps, you should go to one of the authorised offices, fill out a host of forms only available at the office premises, pay the dues, and come back after one to three weeks in order to get your coveted little adhesive rectangle of legality.

Needless to say, this law has interesting implications for those working with (or, perhaps, simply using) free software in Italy. Each CD or diskette with a free package on it needs a stamp; and a CD (or laptop) with hundreds of packages could, conceivably, need hundreds of stamps. Italy, often considered an innovator in the area of taxing absolutely everything, is now attempting to tax free software.

The Associazione Software Libero in Italy is, not surprisingly, concerned about this law, and has written up a summary of the law and its implications for free software. Worth a read.

Announcing: the new LWN.net desktop page. This week, we are pleased to announce the debut of a new page in the weekly edition, On The Desktop. This section, edited by Michael J. Hammel, will cover all aspects of desktop Linux. Have a look, and let us know what you think.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Phil Zimmerman leaves NAI, vixie-cron, pgp4pine, ROADS and Bajie vulnerabilities, OpenSSH 2.5.1.
  • Kernel: Exception table races; ReiserFS and NFS; ext2 directory indexes; Adeos.
  • Distributions: Coyote Linux bugged by bogus buys, Debian tries a new freeze strategy.
  • On The Desktop Ximian strategies, Eazel and the giants, and KDE gets financial software.
  • Development: Music as data, DVD on Linux, BlueHoc, Narval, Ruby Book online.
  • Commerce: Hard times at VA Linux Systems, Maximum Linux shuts down.
  • History: The roots of ALSA; leading up to the first LinuxWorld conference.
  • Letters: Lots of letters: RTLinux patent, BIND alternatives, SAIE, and more.
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

February 22, 2001


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News and Editorials

Phil Zimmerman leaves NAI. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Phil Zimmerman, he is the original author of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). He's also from Boulder, Colorado, the home of LWN.net, and someone that we have previously met and worked with (in a former, non-Linux life-time). PGP was originally a freely available, non-proprietary product, one to which Phil dedicated himself and for which he also dealt with a great deal of legal furor and hassle. The U.S. government chose Phil and his software as a test case for the enforcement of regulations that make exporting cryptography illegal -- though the "exportation" in question was simply the posting of the source code (by somebody other than Phil) to a set of bulletin board sites. For more information on that historical footnote, check out The Phil Zimmerman Case, the Zimmermann Legal Defense Fund Appeal or simply search on his name on Google. The case was eventually dropped.

Since then, PGP itself has become a proprietary product. It has been owned by Network Associates, Inc., since 1997, when they purchased PGP, Inc., a company started by Phil. Phil continued to work for NAI after the acquisition. This week, however, he announced his departure, along with his plans to promote OpenPGP, an IETF open standard (RFC 2440). Along with that, he'll also be doing work for a number of NAI's competitors, including Hush Communications and Veridis.

Phil's departure was apparently driven by NAI's decision to close part or all of the source code for PGP. "New senior management assumed control of PGP Security in the final months of 2000, and decided to reduce how much PGP source code they would publish".

Phil understands well that without the availability of source code, the security of the product can't be determined and is therefore non-existent. In order to pursue his original goals, the wide dissemination and availability of products to secure an individual's privacy, he could no longer stay. He does state, however, that the current NAI PGP release (7.0.3) is free of backdoors.

His departure marks a good opportunity to thank Phil for his original contribution, PGP, and to also be glad that we have a Free Software implementation, GnuPG, available, whose future will not be dictated by some corporate manager.

Updates on the ssh trademark issue. Here's a couple things that have come our way in the ongoing ssh trademark dispute issue (covered in last week's LWN.net weekly edition):

Wi-Fi vs. Open Source. Here's an article by Jay R. Ashworth dealing with the cracking of the security scheme used with 802.11b wireless networking. Why, he asks, was the system cracked so easily? "Well, one assertion that could be made fairly is that it was because the design process was closed, rather than the open, peer-reviewed process which as (at least to me) been proven repeatedly as being much more likely to find the possible holes in both protocol and implementation which will make a security system insecure."

February CRYPTO-GRAM newsletter. Bruce Schneier's CRYPTO-GRAM newsletter for February is out; it's worth a read. Topic include hard drive copy protection (CPRM: "a serious threat to civil liberties"), the InterBase back door, "e-mail filter idiocy," and a brief mention of the Ramen Worm. Here is the HTML version as well, for those that prefer it.

Linux Kernel 2.4 Firewalling Matures: netfilter (LinuxSecurity). LinuxSecurity posted a detailed summary of the new netfilter facilities in the 2.4 kernel. "Netfilter provides a raw framework for manipulating packets as they traverse through various parts of the kernel. Part of this framework includes support for masquerading, standard packet filtering, and now more complete network address translation. It even includes improved support for load balancing requests for a particular service among a group of servers behind the firewall."

The Key Vanishes: Scientist Outlines Unbreakable Code (New York Times). The New York Times published this registration-required article on research work done by Dr. Michael Rabin at Harvard investigating the development of "provably unbreakable" cryptography. It is based on the theoretical use of rapidly-generated random cryptography keys. "Bruce Schneier, who is founder and chief technical officer for Counterpane Internet Security in San Jose, said that, as a scientist, he liked the idea of a provably secure system. 'Research like this should be encouraged,' he said. 'But research is different from engineering.'" (Thanks to Robert George Mayer).

Security Reports

vixie-cron long username buffer overflow. A local root compromise was reported in Paul Vixie's crontab version 3.0.1-56 on February 12th. A long discussion resulted. It seems that exploitation of the vulnerability was highly unlikely since it was only possible from an account with a name longer than 20 characters. Nonetheless, as the debate settled, the vulnerability was acknowledged and quickly fixed.

This week's updates:

pgp4pine expired key vulnerability. pgp4pine, a program that interfaces various implementations of PGP with the mail reader pine, fails to properly handle expired keys when working with GnuPG. When GnuPG refuses to use an expired key and returns an error, pgp4pine fails to note the error and causes the message to be sent on in plaintext without any warning to the user. A patch to fix the problem is included with the advisory.

Martin Hamilton ROADS file disclosure vulnerability. ROADS is a Yahoo-like system written in Perl by Martin Hamilton. A file disclosure vulnerability was reported in ROADS 2.3. This has been fixed in ROADS 2.4 (and a patch for 2.3 has also been made available).

Bajie Java-based Webserver remote command execution. The Bajie Java-based webserver can be exploited remotely to execute arbitrary commands by using the built-in upload feature to upload a malicious script to a well-known name and location. The script can then be executed. No workaround or fix has yet been mentioned. Check BugTraq ID 2388 for more details.

web scripts. The following web scripts were reported to contain vulnerabilities:

  • SilverPlatter WebSPIRS, an http gateway and search interface, has been reported to contain a file disclosure vulnerability. No vendor response has yet been seen.
  • Stephen Turner Analog 4.15 and previous can be exploited remotely to execute arbitrary code. Analog is a log analysis tool. Version 4.16 is available and will fix this problem.
  • Thinking Arts ES.One, a commercial e-commerce package for small and medium-sized companies, is reported to contain a directory transversal vulnerability.
  • Caucho Technology Resin, a fast servlet and JSP engine, is also reportedly vulnerable to a directory transversal vulnerability in versions 1.2 and earlier. Resin 1.2.3 has been released with a fix for the problem.

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

  • Micro Focus Cobol from Merant can be exploited locally to gain elevated privileges if installed with the 'Apptrack' feature enabled. An unofficial workaround has been suggested, but no vendor response has been posted so far.

  • Watchguard Firebox ll has been reported to be vulnerable to a denial-of-service attack via its PPTP services. Watchguard has released a patch to address the problem.

  • Chili!Soft ASP is reported to contain multiple vulnerabilities, including a directory transversal vulnerability, a default username and password, and some file permissions problems. Chili!Soft 3.5.2 is reported vulnerable, plus possibly older versions. No vendor response has been seen so far.

  • With Telocity Gateway Modems, at least older models, it is reportedly possible to connect to the modem remotely and gain information about its setup. Newer modems will produce a "403 Forbidden Error". No automatic upgrade path to the newer modems has been provided.


Multiple ssh/OpenSSH vulnerabilities. Multiple vulnerabilities in ssh/OpenSSH have been reported over the past few weeks, including a remotely-exploitable integer overflow (February 15th), a bruce force password vulnerability (February 8th) and a key session recovery vulnerability (February 8th). Currently, upgrades to SSH 2.4 and OpenSSH 2.3.0p1 should fix these problems.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:
  • Debian, OpenSSH (February 15th)
  • LinuxPPC, OpenSSH (February 15th)
  • FreeBSD, OpenSSH and SSH1 (February 15th)

Multiple glibc vulnerabilities. Multiple glibc vulnerabilities have been reported in recent weeks in glibc. Since glibc updates generally address all the problems, rather than one specific problem, the update report for them has been combined. For the original reports, check the January 18th, 2001, LWN Security Report under the topics "glibc RESOLV_HOST_CONF preload vulnerability" and "glibc local write/ld.so.cache preload vulnerability".

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

Kerberized telnetd. Check the December 28th, 2000 LWN Security Summary for the original report. Telnetd's allowance of arbitrary environment variables and a buffer overflow in the kerberos v4 library combined to allow a local root exploit.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:
  • NetBSD (December 28th, 2000)


OpenSSH 2.5.1. OpenSSH 2.5.1 was released this week. New features include agent forwarding, support for -R forwarding, RSA host and userkeys and extended support for older SSH 2 protocol implementations. In addition, Damien Miller contributed an interactive sftp client and David Mazieres' ssh-keyscan has been added.

Note that the transition to OpenSSH 2.5.1 is not 100% transparent. 2.5.1 supports three different key types, RSA1 (supported only for the SSH 1 protocol), RSA and DSA (used by the SSH 2 protocol implementation). Check the announcement for details on generating the newer keys.

The portable OpenSSH version 2.5.1 has also been released.

Analysis of the integer overflow vulnerability in SSH. The week of February 15th, a remotely-exploitable integer overflow in SSH was reported. This week, Paul Starzetz posted an analysis of this vulnerability, which he called, "neither a typical buffer overflow exploit (shell code) nor a format string exploit".

TMPDIR/TMP scripts. The CVS repository for Bastille contains a group of TMPDIR/DIR scripts that will be included in the next version of Bastille, reports Peter Watkins. "The scripts allow you to put TMPDIR somewhere other than $HOME (say, local /tmp if $HOME is on NFS), to keep track of TMPDIRs on a host-by-host basis, to hide the number of files and last access time of $TMPDIR, etc".

Paper: Examining Remote OS Detection using LPD Querying. f0bic has published a paper entitled "Examining Remote OS Detection using LPD Querying" which examines the behavior of the line printer daemon under various operating systems as another source of information to determine the type of operating system. A proof-of-concept tool has also been developed and made available.


Call-for-Papers: LISA 2001 Security Track. A Call-for-Papers has gone out for the Security Track at the upcoming Large Installations Systems Administration (LISA 2001) conference, scheduled December 2nd through the 7th, 2001, in San Diego, California, USA. LISA is a Usenix-sponsored event.

Upcoming security events.
Date Event Location
February 24-March 1, 2001. InfoSec World 2001 Orlando, FL, USA.
March 3-6, 2001. EICAR and Anti-Malware Conference Munich, Germany.
March 26-29, 2001. Distributed Object Computing Security Workshop Annapolis, Maryland, USA.
March 27-28, 2001. eSecurity Boston, MA, USA.
March 28-30, 2001. CanSecWest/core01 Network Security Training Conference Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
March 30-April 1, 2001. @LANta.CON Doraville, GA, USA.
April 6-8, 2001. Rubi Con 2001 Detroit, MI, USA.
April 8-12, 2001. RSA Conference 2001 San Francisco, CA, USA.
April 20-22, 2001. First annual iC0N security conference Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
April 22-25, 2001. Techno-Security 2001 Myrtle Beach, SC, 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 22, 2001

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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current kernel release is 2.4.2. The official 2.4.2 patch is large due to the incorporation of the CRIS architecture and a big S/390 update, but it really contains only a few patches that matter to most users. It does have a fix for the ReiserFS "zero bytes" problem, and a couple of other worthwhile fixes, so 2.4 users will want to upgrade.

Alan Cox has been somewhat more active; his patch is up to 2.4.1ac20. On the 2.2 front, 2.2.19pre14 is out.

Trouble with exception tables. Those who were not looking closely may have missed the following note at the top of Alan Cox's announcement of 2.4.1ac15:

Question of the day for the VM folks: If CPU1 is loading the exception tables for a module and CPU2 faults.. what happens 8)

The answer, of course, was "the system dies an ugly death." The problem is interesting to look at as an example of how an obscure part of the kernel works, and how hard it can be to get fine-grained SMP working correctly. Prepare your pocket protectors, here we go...

In general, Linux system calls require that data be exchanged between the user process making the call and the kernel. The kernel does not (usually) access user memory directly; instead, data of interest is copied between a kernel space buffer and the user's memory. This copying is done with functions like copy_from_user() and copy_to_user().

Back in the 2.0 days, those functions (well, their equivalents, which had different names) went to a great deal of trouble to be sure that the user process could actually access the given memory array (thus avoiding security problems) and to ensure that the array was resident in memory. More modern kernels, however, let the processor's memory management unit handle most of those tasks. After some very simple checks (which keep the process from overwriting arbitrary kernel-space memory), the copy functions simply proceed with the operation.

So what happens if the user process has passed in a bogus pointer? The memory management unit will deliver an exception to the processor, indicating a "segmentation fault" sort of error. Normally, such errors are fatal when they occur in kernel code. But before the kernel goes off and generates one of those cheery "oops" messages, it performs a check to see if the kernel had been attempting a user space copy.

That check is done by way of an exception table. By way of some deep inline assembly magic, every function which copies data to or from user space creates an exception table entry giving the address of the instruction actually doing the copy. When a fault happens in kernel mode, the kernel fault handler scans through the exception tables trying to match the address of the faulting instruction with a table entry. If a match is found, a special error exit is taken, the copy operation fails gracefully, and the system call returns a segmentation fault error.

So where is the problem? Every loadable module comes with its own exception table; when the kernel is handling a kernel fault, it must check the exception table for each loaded module. This check is performed by scanning a list of module structures to find all the tables. The problem is: the module structure is set up and added to the list before the exception table is copied in from the module file. Should the kernel try to handle a fault at that particular moment, it will be looking at an exception table which holds garbage.

A similar problem comes up when the module is removed. The module structure is removed from the list before the memory for the exception table is freed, which is the proper order of operations. But another CPU may have already found that exception table before the module structure was removed, and may be scanning it just when it is freed (and, perhaps, reused for some other purpose). Again, there is the potential for serious disorder.

Alan has fixed these problems in later "ac" kernel releases by putting in a lock to control access to the exception tables. When something is being done with an exception table, any other users must wait until the job is done. This fix, probably, will find its way into an official kernel release before too long.

The fight to eliminate all of this kind of race conditions from the kernel will probably never end, however. Multiprocessor systems are inherently tricky to work with. And module deletion, in particular, seems to be problematic. It may well be that, in the 2.4 series, removing a module from the system will never be entirely safe - even though almost everybody will get away with it almost all of the time. Various schemes exist for fixing the module deletion problems (see, for example, this note from Keith Owens), but they are all big enough that they are unlikely to make it into the 2.4 series.

ReiserFS and NFS. The various problems that have bit (a small number of) ReiserFS users in 2.4 are being cleared up. But one larger problem remains: ReiserFS, as shipped in 2.4, does not support NFS. That limitation gets in the way of quite a few people who would like to use ReiserFS, but who also need to be able to export their filesystems.

For the short term, those who are not afraid of kernel patches can have a look at this message from Neil Brown describing where to get the patches he has made available. They are still under development, but they provide "reasonable NFS service" in their current state.

The picture for the longer term is a bit less clear. Neil has a plan for proper support of NFS with ReiserFS, and for improving NFS service in general. It is, however, a large change, requiring tweaks to every filesystem which needs to support NFS. Filesystem changes tend to make kernel hackers nervous, especially in the middle of a stable kernel series. And, in fact, Alan Cox responded that he was not interested in such an extensive patch.

Those who are curious about the troubles with NFS should look at Neil's justification for the changes. It is a lengthy, detailed, and well-argued discussion of how the current NFS implementation fails to mesh well with the various Linux filesystems, and exactly what needs to be fixed to make things work better. It was persuasive enough that Alan agreed that the approach made sense - for the 2.5 kernel series.

Thus, the 2.4 kernel may never support exporting of ReiserFS filesystems over NFS. Those who need this capability will have to apply the patch themselves. That is, if the distributors do not apply the patch themselves before shipping the 2.4 kernel. SuSE, at least, applied such a patch when it shipped ReiserFS with 2.2, so it would not be surprising to see that happen again.

Indexed directories in ext2. Daniel Phillips, creator of the TUX2 filesystem, recently encountered a problem:

Earlier this month a runaway installation script decided to mail all its problems to root. After a couple of hours the script aborted, having created 65535 entries in Postfix's maildrop directory. Removing those files took an awfully long time.

The difficulty here, of course, is that the ext2 filesystem keeps directories as a simple, linear list. When a directory is small everything works fine, but search time grows as the square of the directory size. Thus, the system slows to a crawl when it must work with large directories.

Mr. Phillips is not the type to just complain about this sort of performance problem. Instead, he posted a lengthy request for comments which not only described a fix for the problem, but which also included a patch which implements that fix.

Essentially, he has implemented a "uniform depth hash tree" for ext2 directories. It resembles, superficially, the balanced trees used in ReiserFS, but it is claimed to be much simpler to implement. Certainly the results are impressive. For small directories, the patched ext2 behaves much like the original; as the directory size gets larger, however, the [Performance graph] performance difference becomes huge. A performance graph (reproduced in small form to the right; click on it to get the full version) was posted; the patched system's performance is represented by the red bars that you can't really even see.

For those who want hard data, there's a set of results in Mr. Phillips' posting. At the far end of the test, he timed a process that created 90,000 files in a directory. With the patched filesystem, this process took just over 13 seconds; with standard ext2, instead, it required over 33 minutes.

For those who would like to try the patch, bear in mind that it's in an internal form. "There has not been a lot of stability testing yet and indeed there are a number of unhandled error conditions in the code, and possibly some buffer leaks as well." Linus had a list of things to try as well. So a stable version of this patch is probably somewhat distant, but there seems to be a lot of interest in the final result.

The Adaptive Domain Environment for Operating Systems (Adeos) was unveiled by Karim Yaghmour this week. The purpose of Adeos is to allow multiple operating systems to share a single system; thus, it is designed as a small layer which controls and arbitrates access to the hardware. With sufficient cleverness, various operating systems can be run in such a way that they think they have the system to themselves, while, in reality, they are coexisting with other systems.

One obvious application of Adeos would be the creation of "simultaneous dual-boot" systems. Another, however, would be to support running Linux alongside a real-time kernel in a way that does not violate the RTLinux patent (see last week's LWN). Adeos could also be helpful for operating system development and debugging.

Of course, at the moment it's mostly just a design (which may be found on the Adeos web page). A small amount of code is available via the Adeos page on SourceForge, but it "will certainly crash your machine." But all projects have to start somewhere.

How short is too short? Some 2.4 users have found, to their surprise, that the 2.4 kernel ignores them when they try to set a small MTU (maximum packet size) on a network interface. Setting a small MTU is a fairly common practice, especially among users of noisy point-to-point links. The theory, of course, is that using short packets limits the amount of data that is lost (and must be retransmitted) when noise corrupts a packet.

The 2.4 kernel puts, by default, a floor of 536 octets on the MTU. Attempts to go below that are ignored. The reasoning, according to networking guru Alexey Kuznetsov, is that the IP protocol suite just does not work right below that size. Others have disagreed, however, pointing out that they have perfectly good connectivity using a smaller MTU.

The 536-octet limit is likely to go in the near future. Meanwhile, anybody who needs to go lower than that need only change the limit via the /proc interface:

    echo 256 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/route/min_adv_mss
No source hacking required.

Other patches and updates released this week include:

  • ALSA 0.9beta1 is out. This is the first beta release of the ALSA (Advance Linux Sound Architecture) code.

  • Mike Coleman has released SUBTERFUGUE 0.2, his "framework for observing and playing with the reality of software."

  • David Miller has released Zerocopy Beta 1. This is the first beta release of this code; "I currently feel that all performance and other issues have been addressed and that the patch is up for serious consideration for inclusion into a future 2.4.x release."

  • Paul Gortmaker noticed that the BUG macro, used for kernel debugging, creates several tens of kilobytes of string data in the kernel image. So he has produced a more efficient version which shrinks things down considerably.

  • A new version of the automatic kernel configurer was released by Giacomo Catenazzi.

  • Philip Blundell has released net-tools 1.59; this release fixes an unpleasant bug in 1.58, and an upgrade is recommended.

  • A FreeS/WAN redesign plan, in its third revision, has been posted by Richard Guy Briggs.

Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet

February 22, 2001

For other kernel news, see:

Other resources:


 Main page
 On the Desktop
 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

Coyote Linux rethinks revenue model. We have been following and reporting on Coyote Linux since December of 1999. Coyote Linux is a single floppy distribution that turns a PC into a simple masquerading router/firewall in order to share an Internet connection among computers on a LAN.

In August of 2000, Coyote Linux Pro was announced. This version of Coyote Linux came with a configuration tool that ran under Windows, to allow for easy configuration of Coyote Linux for non-Linux users. This tool, Coyote Windows Disk Creator, was closed source and proprietary. While Coyote Linux itself continued to be freely available with source, Coyote Linux Pro cost $50. The money was then used to pay for the bandwidth and co-location costs for the Coyote Linux website.

This week, the Coyote Linux website reported that sales of Coyote Linux Pro had been terminated, due to the constant, repeated receipt of bogus orders, to the point that the revenue from the sale of Coyote Linux Pro had been destroyed, prompting discontinuation of its sale. The future of the entire Coyote Linux project was also in doubt as a result.

It seems likely, though it will always be unprovable, that the bogus orders were specifically generated in order to punish the author from choosing to bundle a proprietary tool with their product. Although we're well-known advocates against the inclusion of proprietary tools, the idiocy of campaigning against them by using bogus credit card orders is simply astonishing. Anyone that didn't like the inclusion of the proprietary configuration tool had plenty of good alternatives: choose not to use the software, choose another software package to do the same job, or, if none of them met your criteria, develop one yourself that did.

Those are all acceptable methods of supporting Free Software. Lying and cheating are not acceptable. Anyone who has done this owes Coyote Linux author Joshua Jackson an apology and some money.

Of course, perhaps there really are that many dishonest people who wanted the Windows configuration tool but were unwilling to pay for it. That would also be sad and pathetic, but would reflect less on the morals of some Free Software advocates.

Meanwhile, Coyote Linux is not gone. Any project that can generate 2GB of traffic per day has a lot of supporters and those supporters have managed to convince Joshua to keep going. Check this description of his plans for the future. Revenue generation will come, instead, from expanding the number of sites hosted by his small company, Vortech.net. If you need a place to host your own site, consider them. You'll have the satisfaction of also supporting a free software project. Let's hope this method will produce the revenue that he needs.

Oh yes, the Coyote Wizard source code has also now been released. However, since it is written in Borland Delphi, you'll need to use that proprietary tool in order to work with it.

Debian prepares to freeze. Debian is a distribution in search of the perfect freeze process. So far, they haven't found one. Debian freezes tend to start early, but end late, in spite of large amounts of effort. In addition, the length of a freeze has meant that the final product, once released, contains old versions of many popular applications (newer ones weren't allowed in due to the freeze).

We're pleased, though, to see that they are continuing to examine the problem and look for innovative solutions. This time, Anthony Towns, the Woody release manager, posted to debian-devel his plans for the upcoming freeze. "So, what I've been thinking, and what I'm (belatedly) proposing, is to roughly invert the test cycles and the freeze itself, so that instead of freezing everything then doing test cycles to work out where we're at, we instead choose some part of Debian to test, test it, and, if it's good enough, freeze it. Once everything's successfully tested and frozen, we release."

The estimated length of the freeze cycle is still five months (and that is considered highly optimistic). We certainly wish them luck; we'd certainly enjoy announcing a new Debian distribution in July or August, only a year after the previous one.

Distribution News

Slackware News. Slackware modified its installation defaults for XFree86 this past week, now choosing to follow the XFree86 defaults. Those, in turn, have been approved as part of the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS). The upgrade script for the next version of Slackware will be responsible for converting from the old style install to the new. Slackware admins will have to remember not to look under /var for the actual install, but will gain more compatibility when using/supporting non-Slackware systems.

glibc2.2.2 was installed under the Intel and Sparc platforms, resulting in a few minor changes. XFree86 4.0.2 was also installed (on Intel), with 4.0.1 getting removed and XFree86 3.3.6 being moved to a new directory called "/pasture".

Jesper Juhl also posted an article on upgrading from KDE 1.1.2 to 2.0.1 on Slackware.

Linux-Mandrake News. MandrakeSoft has announced that it will be supporting the PHP-Nuke project. PHP-Nuke is a PHP-based system which makes it easy to create online community sites. MandrakeSoft's support would seem to take the form of hiring the PHP-Nuke team.

SmoothWall News. The SmoothWall team made it out to this year's Open Source and Free Software Developers' Meeting (OSDEM). They've published a news item about the event and their attendance. Team members sported the first-ever SmoothWall T-shirt. "The theatre started filling until they were around 270 people seated ready to listen to the SmoothWall talk (available in media streaming format on www.opensource-tv.com - go watch :) ). It seemed to go well. We had an hour to fill and we overran with question and answer sessions with attendees from as far as Russia who were using SmoothWall."

SmoothWall is a GPL Linux distribution specifically designed to be a router and a firewall. SmoothWall is based on VA Linux 6.2.1 "which is an optimised RedHat 6.2 build customized in the labs at VA Linux". Note that SmoothWall is not a VA product, just based on one.

Trustix News. Trustix, a general-purpose Linux distribution out of Norway that has an emphasis on security, announced this week plans to jointly develop a Linux training program with IBM. This adds Trustix to the list of distributions with which IBM is currently working: Caldera, Red Hat, SuSE and Turbolinux. It also appears to be a new entry into the certification wars, "IBM and Trustix are planning to take the co-operation in a direction where joint seminars are being offered, and new training packages as well as a certification programme are developed".

Debian News. The latest list of packages needing work has been distributed. This is where you'll find packages that have been offered up for adoption or orphaned.

With the announcement of the planned Debian freeze also comes the renewal of the party season -- the bug-squashing party season, that is. Here is your invitation for the first of this round of frivolity.

For more Debian news, check out this week's Debian Weekly News. In it, you'll learn why the boot-floppies team is looking for help and hear concerns that Debian doesn't have enough hardware to handle all of its auto-builds, particularly for the m68000 platform. Got any old hardware you want to donate?

Meanwhile, on the election front, Ben Collins and Branden Robinson have posted their campaign platforms.

Minor Releases. Released this week:

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

February 22, 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
 On the Desktop
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects

News and Editorials

Regular readers of the LWN Development page may notice some changes this week, material that specifically relates to Linux desktop computing will now be available at the new On The Desktop page. The Development page will focus more on general software development issues under Linux.

Recorded Music as Data

In recent years, recorded music has transitioned from being just another commodity product into a form of computer data. Those data files can now be shared across the Internet by the use of file sharing technologies such as Napster and Gnapster as well as older protocols like FTP and the web. The MP3 compression format has reduced the size of the music data enough to allow the files to be easily transported across the Internet, even through low bandwidth modems.

Recordable CDs have helped to bridge the gap between data on a computer and common audio CD players. A music collection can now be transferred from hard drive to CD and played in the car or shared with friends who own no computer. Thanks to the mass market for computer media, prices of blank recordable CDs have plummeted.

People are now able to take large, inexpensive hard drives and build music databases out of MP3 files. It has becomes almost trivial for someone to trade their entire music collection with a friend by simply copying an entire hard drive worth of material to another drive. Once again, mass marketed computer hardware has made this economical and the use of data management techniques has made it easy. Cheap disk drives have also made it possible to quickly and easily back up a large music collection.

As the old saying goes: never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon loaded with tapes. The modern version would be: never underestimate the bandwidth of a 40GB IDE disk drive in a Fed-Ex envelope.

Linux is, and will continue to be an excellent platform to work with digital music as data. The incredible suite of time-proven data handling tools combined with the lack of a single monopoly that controls the tools will keep Linux viable in that capacity.

Copyrights are, of course, still a major stumbling block, at least for legitimate copying of copyrighted material. Some traders of music will no doubt stray across the line of legal copying and venture into the world of bootlegging. It is not LWN's position to promote that any more than we would promote the copying of non-free software.

Many musicians have taken matters into their own hands and freely allow taping and trading of their live performances. By allowing their material to circulate freely, musicians can become more widely known, and consequently can draw larger audiences to live performances, which generates money. Ironically, sales of a musician's copyrighted material may also go up due to this wider exposure. If enough musicians allow their music to be traded freely, and there are already many out there who do, then free music trading will become as big as free software.

The music industry may end up in a situation that is similar to that of proprietary software vendors who can only view open-source software as a "competitor" and miss the point that they are dealing with an entirely new paradigm.

Ownership of music currently remains an open issue, but as the free trading situation continues, there may become a need for a more formal GPL style music license that allows material to be freely traded as long as it is never sold.

Although it is typically several orders of magnitude larger in size, recorded video will likely go down this same path in the near future.

Along those lines, the LiViD project has announced the first official release of the Open Media System - an open source media and DVD player. This is, of course, a major milestone - Linux users can, at last, play DVDs on their systems. Congratulations are due to the LiViD team, which has had more than the usual number of obstacles to overcome on the way to this release. While not specifically aimed at copying or recording video, the ability to play DVD on Linux could be viewed as a step in that direction.


Mozilla 0.8 released. The release of Mozilla 0.8 has been announced. This version contains lots of new features and bug fixes, see the release notes for the details.

Embedded Systems

IBM develops Bluetooth network simulator (IBM developerWorks). IBM DeveloperWorks introduces the BlueHoc simulator. "BlueHoc, a new project on developerWorks' Open Source Zone, provides a simulated Bluetooth environment to allow developers to design applications operating over radio, baseband, and other communication layers."


Wine Weekly News. Although somewhat late, here is the February 14 issue of the Wine Weekly News. Included are discussions on reverse engineering, PS printing, startup directories, and more.

And here is the February 19, 2001 Wine Weekly News which discusses the February 16, 2001 release of Wine. The new version features improved PostScript drivers, enhanced metafile support, the beginnings of PowerPC support, and lots of bug fixes. Also discussed are working with Novell and Wine, copyright issues, Wine speedups, and more.

Network Management

Creating Network Diagrams (O'Reilly). In an O'Reilly Network article, Terry Dawson discusses the use of the open-source tools dia, Tgif, Tkined, and Xfig for creating diagrams that illustrate network layouts.

OpenNMS Update v2.8. The OpenNMS summary for February 20 is out. Among other things, it covers the 0.6.1 release, happening this very day.


bioinformatics.org, the open lab. The bioinformatics.org site is being run by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Intelligent Biomaterials and aims to bring open-source software into the world of bioinformatics. "Bioinformatics.org is a non-profit, academe-based organization committed to opening access to bioinformatics research projects, providing Open Source software for bioinformatics by hosting its development, and keeping biological information freely available."

Web-site Development

Midgard Weekly Summary - February 16th, 2001. The latest issue of the Midgard Weekly Summary has been posted. This past week's news included progress reports on the 1.4.1 release and notes from the Developer's Meeting and OSDEM in Brussels.

Zope News for February 19th. Ethan Fremen posted a new issue of the Zope News today. Topics include the Content Management Framework formerly known as PTK, the release of Zope 2.3.1 beta, Zope's DHTML replacement known as Presentation Templates, and stabilibizing Zope.org.

Zope book moves to New Riders. Michel Pelletier pointed us to the news that his text on Zope was dropped by O'Reilly. After some searching, Michel and co-author Amos Latteier have found a new publisher in New Riders. No firm ship date is given, though Michel hopes to have the book available by June.

Zope directions roadmap. The folks at Digital Creations have posted the Zope Directions Roadmap, a discussion of where they see the Zope platform heading in the near future. It includes a lot of nice ideas, including simplifying the architecture, shortening the learning curve, making it easier to use external HTML editors, and much more. They are looking for feedback, of course...

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

February 22, 2001

Application Links
High Availability

Open Source Code Collections
Le Serveur Libre



Programming Languages


Build better Web sites using the Translator pattern (IBM developerWorks). Donald S Bell discusses the use of Java and the Translator pattern in an IBM developerWorks article. "When building Web applications using JSP files and servlets, the application's interface is most likely going to be HTML. The HTML that is rendered by the browser is nothing but a big string. Business objects that make up an application have a few attributes that are strings, but the rest are dates, numbers, and even other business objects. When building Web applications, there is a big problem of how to get the information contained within business objects translated into HTML that the browser can understand."


Perl 5 Porters for February 19, 2001. The February 19, 2001 edition of Perl 5 Porters is out. This week's topics include Unicode fun, nlink and tmpfs problems, parsing XML, and lots more.

Perl 6 Alive and Well! Introducing the perl6-mailing-lists Digest. A new Perl 6 digest has been created by Simon Cozens, the digest is done in the same spirit as the Perl 5 Porters digest. This issue discusses autoloading modules, packaging, vtables, and more. Included are some comments on Eric Raymond's ongoing online book The Art Of Unix Programming with regards to Perl 6.

HTML::Table 1.06 released. Version 1.06 of HTML::Table has been announced. "HTML::Table is used to generate HTML tables for CGI scripts"


phpReview for book reviews. A new project, phpReview has been announced. "phpReview is aiming to be a complete Free Reviewing system, entirely based on PHP. Originally made for book-reviews for the NL.Linux.org site it will be redesigned to be a general reviewing system, including voting, reactions and about anything else found in a good reviewing system. It will be licensed GPL." (Thanks to Hans Wolters).

PHP Weekly Summary for February 19, 2001. The February 19, 2001 issue of the PHP Weekly Summary is out. Topics this week are: fixes to the cURL extension, redesign of safe mode, problems and fixes for dealing with high volume database connections, a new midgard extension, and more.

PHP Configuration Directives (O'Reilly). Darrell Brogdon writes about configuring PHP in an O'Reilly Network article. Configuration directives in the php.ini file are discussed in detail.


Python-Dev Summary, 2001-02-15. The biweekly summary of the python-dev mailing list has been posted, covering stackless python in Korea, performance, Python 2.1a2 and future release cycles.

This week's Python-URL. Dr. Dobb's Python-URL for February 20 is out, with the latest happenings in the Python community.

Charming Python: Getting version 2.0 (IBM DeveloperWorks). David Mertz discusses new Python 2.0 language features in an IBM developerWorks article. "Python programmers have recently acquired a shiny new toy with the release of version 2.0. Python 2.0 builds on the strengths of previous Python versions, while adding a number of new conveniences and capabilities. This article contains its author's impressions of Python's newest version, and some tips on using it effectively."

Introducing Narval. Narval , the Network Assistant Reasoning with a Validating Agent Language, is a Python based project that aims to help people filter their daily data. "Narval is designed to be a companion that will help you in your daily work in the information world. It runs on your machine or on a remote server, and you can communicate via all standard means (email, web, telnet, phone, etc). It executes recipes you wrote, to perform a wide range of tasks, such as prepare your morning newspaper, help you surf the web by filtering out junk ads, keep searching the web day after day for things you want, participate in on-line auctions, learn you interests and bring you back valuable information, take care of repetitive chores, answer e-mail, and much more..." Narval is being developed under the GPL license.

4Suite 0.10.2. New releases of 4Suite and 4Suite Server have been announced. The 4Suite releases provide an open-source XML data server and XML processing tool set. The 4Suite license is similar to the Apache web server license.


Programming Ruby is now online. An new online book, "Programming Ruby" has been announced. The book is available online and is also downloadable in HTML and XML formats.


This week's Tcl-URL. Here's Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL for February 20 with the latest from the Tcl/Tk community.

Getleft 0.10 released. Version 0.10 of Getleft has been released. Getleft is a Tcl/Tk based web site grabber that clones a web site to your local hard drive and tweaks absolute links to use local file copies.

ImPress 1.1-b7 released. Version 1.1-b7 of the ImPress web publishing system has been released. "ImPress is a Tcl/Tk based desktop publishing and layout package. It also supports presentations and it can run inside or outside of a web browser." ImPress also has slide show capabilities.


LDP Weekly News. The LDP project is starting a weekly news notice on their web site and has sent us the first of these announcements. This week's LDP news includes news on a new document for using TrueType fonts with XFree86, and updates to the documents on securing Red Hat and enabling process accounting.

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
 On the Desktop
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes a proprietary product, (w) denotes WINE based tools.

Office Suites
Ability (*)(w)
Anywhere Desktop (*)
(formerly "Applixware")
GNOME Office
StarOffice / OpenOffice
Siag Office
WordPerfect Office 2000 (*)(w)

Java / Web Office Suites
ThinkFree Office (*)
Teamware Office (*)
Cybozu Office (*)

Desktop Publishing
iceSculptor (*)
Maxwell Word Processor
Mediascape Artstream (*)

Web Browsers
Netscape (*)
Opera (*)

Handheld Tools
Palm Pilot Resources
Pilot Link

On The Desktop

LWN.net is in a state of evolution these days, and one of the things we're looking at is more targeted and expanded coverage of the Linux industry as a whole. This page, On the Desktop, is our first new page in our expansion. Written by Senior Editor Michael J. Hammel, a long time follower of the Linux desktop scene, On the Desktop will look at the news from an end users perspective with an eye towards ease of use and the tools, developers and companies that aim to make the Linux desktop a comfortable and productive place for all users.

This page is designed to look at three major areas of the desktop: the desktop environment, office applications, and other desktop applications. Desktop Environments include GNOME and KDE along with lesser known but still important environments like XFce and CDE. Discussions on mail readers, word processors, spreadsheets and related applications will fall under the Office Applications section. Finally, any other useful application, that is any application that is aimed primarily at anything other than software development, will be covered in the Desktop Applications section.

We hope you enjoy this new addition to the LWN.net Weekly edition. As always, comments are welcome.

[Michael Meeks of Ximian]
Michael Meeks of Ximian
Ximian. As I type furiously in the hopes of making my first lead in to this new Weekly page something readers will never forget, I can't help but fall back to that unusual logo from Ximian (which, by the way, reminds me of one of the Barrel of Monkeys gone arthritic). While I was at LinuxWorld a few weeks back I managed to squeeze in a chat with Ximian developer Michael Meeks, whose strong British accent mixes well with his enthusiastic demeanor. Standing on the fringes of what could only be called a jungle compound for a booth, I asked Meeks what Ximian was all about.

"We're spanning our products to HP, Solaris, BSD-like systems in order to get GNOME on people's desktops really easily," says Meeks. At LinuxWorld the Ximian crew were happily demonstrating their new port to HP, but Meeks said they had PowerPC Linux and Solaris running GNOME, Evolution and their latest offering, Red Carpet, back at the home office.

Ximian's crew was most excited about Red Carpet, their package management product designed to make updating RPM-based systems seamless and painless. It resolves dependencies in an intelligent fashion across the network. It is supported across all major distributions, including Debian. One of the interesting features of Red Carpet is Ximian's use of Internet cache pioneer Akamai. Akamai's globally distributed Web caches are used to distribute RPM packages to make Evolution users downloads very fast.

"Akamai is a cool business," he says. They get money from ISP's and also from the companies distributing packages in order to reduce their companies bandwidth requirements. They ask for Akamai caches within their subnets and companies pay Akamai to cache their stuff. You can ask for downloads and it's likely your ISP will already have it. Downloads happen much quicker that way.

Another of Ximian's products is Evolution, the replacement for Outlook which integrates with Exchange at the IMAP level and can interoperate with other mail exchanges. Evolution also does shared calendaring using the Internet standard ical protocol, but also supports vcal and vcard. But Meeks says one of the best features is how Evolution handles mail folders.

"The problem with procmail is I lose mail", says the smiling developer. "When replies come in to mailing folders but addressed to me directly, I never see it. So you can query folders for things only meant for you and you can rank mail by scores, which come in colors. Lots of really cool features in Evolution. We're transitioning the company right now, with most people starting to use Evolution everyday."

Milestone releases, with 0.9 due shortly, are the main method of Evolution distributions at this time, with a stable 1.0 release coming in a few weeks or perhaps a few months. The 1.0 release will happen a bit after GNOME 1.4, however, in order to sync up Evolution with all the new bits of that release of GNOME as well as load up on more features.

Meeks says that while most Linux distributors have folks that are good at the kernel level, they aren't very good with GUIs. "We've got the best team of GNOME developers around, which means we can provide a really polished easy to use desktops. That lets us provide that as a service to customers along with doing corporate rollouts. We've got around 60 people, with about 50 people programming."

While Ximian's products are not quite at the 1.0 stage, the demonstrations were rather impressive at LinuxWorld. With all the interoperability promised, Ximian will be a company worth watching over the coming months.

Desktop Environments

Ximian Red Carpet Beta Released. Ximian has released the first beta of their Red Carpet software management tool for Linux and other Unix systems.

GNOME 1.4 beta 1 available. For your bleeding edge desktop pleasure, beta 1 of GNOME 1.4, known as "Oops, We Did it Again", has been released.

Ximian GNOME: Welcome To Your Desktop! (O'Reilly). Daniel Solin takes a look at Ximian Gnome in an O'Reilly Network article. The article provides a basic introduction of the Gnome desktop that is aimed at Windows users. Veterans of fvwm2 and twm may want to give it a look to see what they've been missing.

Eazel and the Giants (LinuxToday Australia). Eazel's recent business moves have made it a force to be reckoned with, according to this story from LinuxToday Australia. "Eazels' product, Nautilus, will be distributed with the GNOME environment, to form the standard operating environment for the Solaris platform. Basically what this means is, that when you use Solaris's desktop, GNOME and Eazel will be right there."

Installing the latest KDE 2.1. ResExcellence has this article on installing KDE 2.1 on LinuxPPC 2000. "The Mac/LinuxPPC community owes a big tip-o-the-hat to Ian Geiseri who is constantly building new rpm packages from the latest KDE 2.1 beta source tree."

Help give a voice to KDE (KDE dot News). The KDE project is looking for people to help put together sound effects for the upcoming 2.1 release. If you have talents in the audio arena, your help would be appreciated.

KDE Promotion launches(KDE dot News). KDE.org launched a new website this week to help with promoting the use and advancement of the KDE environment. The web site is a tool for helping to market KDE, something which that project has needed for quite some time.

CUPS v1.16 update. An updated version of CUPS v1.16 is available for downloading. This update includes fixes for several security problems and distribution problems.

Office Applications

Another OpenOffice build is released.. If you're looking for even more bleeding edge desktop pleasure, Build 619 of OpenOffice 6.0, the code for which consists of the majority of the code under development for StarOffice 6.0, was released on Tuesday, February 20th.

Bluefish HTML editor 0.6-2 released. Version 0.6-2 of the Bluefish HTML editor is available for download. Documentation about the current release is very sparse, but it does compile and run on a RedHat 6.2 system.

Desktop Applications

Kapital, a Personal Finance Manager for KDE (KDE Dot News). theKompany.com released Kapital on Wednesday, February 21st. Kapital is a commercial application written specifically for the KDE environment to handle personal finances, much in the same manner as Intuit's Quicken or Microsoft's Money.

Chilliware release Mambo, xFactor. Chilliware announced the release of two new desktop tools for Linux: Mambo, a Samba Administration Tool, and xFactor, a GUI Faxing Tool.

Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel

February 22, 2001

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes a proprietary product, (w) denotes WINE based tools.

Desktop Environments

Window Managers (WM's)

Minimalist Environments

Widget Sets

Desktop Graphics
CorelDRAW (*)(w)
Photogenics (*)

Windows on Linux

Kids S/W
Linux For Kids

Send link submissions to lwn@lwn.net


 Main page
 On the Desktop
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

Linux and Business

Hard times at VA Linux Systems. It was only one year ago that VA Linux Systems announced that it would be purchasing Andover.Net. The deal was worth the better part of $1 billion in stock, with a nice $60 million cash payment tossed in as a sweetener (the cash portion was later removed). It must have felt nice to be able to do billion-dollar deals.

On February 20, VA Linux announced its second quarter results. They were not good. The company lost $0.28/share, right at the worst-case end of its (already lowered) estimates for the quarter. Revenues are up - $42.5 million - but expenses went up as well.

Even worse, though, is the projection for the next quarter. VA thinks that the downturn in the economy is going to hit it hard, to the point that revenue could fall below $30 million. As a result, profitability is not going to happen this year after all; the company now projects that it will become profitable in 2002.

When things turn bad, investors want to see some sort of action. VA has tried not to disappoint them; it has announced a number of management changes, including the appointment of Ali Jenab as president and chief operating officer. And, though this news evidently wasn't worthy of inclusion in the press releases, the company will be laying off 25% of its workforce, about 140 people.

As of this writing, VA's stock has dropped to the point that the entire company's market capitalization, including Andover.Net, is under $300 million. There will not be any more billion-dollar deals happening for a while.

What went wrong has been well analyzed elsewhere. VA is far too dependent on sales to dotcoms, and they are no longer buying. A year ago, when dotcom money was still raining from the sky, these customers were a form of lucrative low-hanging fruit. But the dotcom money is no more, and VA needs to find a different kind of customer.

VA, of course, is far from doomed. Much of what is happening here is part of the normal business cycle; anybody who has watched the technology sector for a while knows that these things happen. The value of Linux, however, is undiminished by an economic downturn, and there is much about VA which remains fundamentally good. As Eric Raymond wrote in his message entitled When times get hard:

And, as it says in large friendly letters on the back of the Hitchhiker's Guide, DON'T PANIC! What we're seeing now is entirely normal. It's the long, dizzy boom time that has just ended, all smiles and champagne and venture capital sloshing around looking for business plans, that has been exceptional. Business cycles happen, there are layoffs and retrenchments all over the economy -- and this, too, shall pass. Things will get better.

Just what form the layoffs will take remains unclear as of this writing. The cuts will be, evidently, "broad-based" and will include engineering staff. Some of them, certainly, will affect the many community resources that are sponsored by VA.

In particular, some people are already worrying about what will happen with SourceForge. This site, which hosts a vast number of development projects, can not be cheap to operate, and it is unlikely that banner ad revenues come close to covering those costs. Cuts at SourceForge could cause a drop in the quality of the service provided, and that, in turn, could cause projects to start looking for new homes.

VA has indicated, however, that it sees its SourceForge OnSite service (essentially a "rent-a-SourceForge" service for internal corporate development) as being an important component of its future, more profitable business. If that is the case, VA would be ill-advised to cut support for SourceForge at this point. And, in fact, this note on the SourceForge site tells us that "SourceForge is here to stay."

Nonetheless, the cuts at VA will certainly affect the larger free software community - if only because 140 people will become unemployed. 2001 looks like a hard year, and it's only February. But this, too, shall pass.

Maximum Linux shuts down. Imagine Media has shut down Maximum Linux magazine. The issue that is on the stands now will be the last.

Imagine Media's cutbacks include 5 titles besides Maximum Linux and are only a small part of cutbacks at The Future Network, Imagine Media's parent company. The Future Network is cutting a total of 20 "loss-making magazines", out of a total portfolio of 134 titles. Maximum Linux employed 4 people full-time along with many freelancers and part-timers, only a small part of the 350 people laid off by The Future Network (which currently employs about 2000 people).

Maximum Linux put out some good stuff in its short run; it will be missed. More information can be found in these articles at Newsforge and Binary Freedom as well as at The Future Network's home page.

ActiveState Programmers' Choice and Activators' Choice awards. ActiveState has rather belatedly sent us an announcement for its "Programmers' Choice and Activators' Choice Awards." They are looking for nominations of the people who have actively contributed to the success of Perl and Python. The the deadline was February 20, though...

IBM and Oki Data Team to Deliver Linux Printer Drivers. IBM's impact in the Linux arena continues to be felt as they jointly announced with Oki Data today the release of open sourced Linux drivers for over two dozen OKI Impact printers.

LinuxBIOS for Alpha. Linux NetworkX has released their LinuxBIOS for the Alpha platform.

Turbolinux announces Linuxcare acquisition, cancels IPO. It's official, finally: Turbolinux has announced that a "definitive agreement" has been reached in the acquisition of Linuxcare. Turbolinux's T. Paul Thomas will remain in charge of the new company, while Linuxcare's Art Tyde will become the CTO.

As was expected, Turbolinux is also withdrawing its IPO filing.

e-smith extends olive branch to Microsoft. In light of Microsoft's recent comments on the "un-American" nature of open source software, e-smith has put out a press release telling the proprietary software vendor not to worry. "[CEO Joseph] Morrison, whose company produces the world's leading open source server solution for small-business, said he can understand why Microsoft is afraid to compete with companies such as e-smith. e-smith's flagship software product, the Linux-based e-smith server and gateway, is not only faster to install and easier to use than Microsoft's Small Business Server, it is also far more reliable and cost-effective."

Linux Stock Index for February 15 to February 21, 2001

LSI at closing on February 15, 2001 ... 39.57
LSI at closing on February 21, 2001 ... 34.24

The high for the week was 39.57
The low for the week was 34.24

Press Releases:

Open Source Products

Unless specified, license is unverified.
  • eProcess (Montpellier, France) announced the immediate release of popCorn, an open source MPEG-1 streaming player for Linux.

  • TrustCommerce released TCLink, an LGPL'd client API used to run credit card transactions over TCP/IP.

Proprietary Products for Linux

Products and Services Using Linux

  • Eicon Networks (SAN JOSE, CA) announced the upcoming entries to its Linux-based SafePipe VPN product line, the SafePipe 5000, SafePipe 30 and SafePipe x100.

  • MigraTEC, Inc. (DALLAS) announced it has established a Linux practice in its MigraTEC Migration Center.

  • The Open Source Development Network (ACTON, Mass.) announced the availability of Compaq's AlphaServer platforms with Linux, on the SourceForge.net CompileFarm.

  • Sensormatic Electronics Corporation (BOCA RATON, Fla.) announced EYE-C, a digital video transmitter capable of sending video surveillance images over the Internet, is now available and shipping in Europe. EYE-C uses the latest Wavelet compression technology and has a Linux-based embedded PC architecture.

  • SoftConnex Technologies, Inc. (SAN JOSE, Calif.) announced the integration of SoftConnex's USB host software with Filanet's InterJak Internet Service Appliance. InterJak runs on embedded Linux.


  • Rave Computer (Sterling Heights, Michigan) announced the Rave Systems RackMount-1UAXe, a 1U rackmountable thin server with a faster processor, expanded memory capacity, and dual Ethernet. Solaris or Linux may be installed.

Products with Linux Versions

  • Ariel Corp. (CRANBURY, N.J.) announced a high density 56K/ISDN network access solution for CompactPCI systems.

  • Central Command (MEDINA, Ohio) announced the availability of AVX Scan Online, a free security and virus protection service.

  • Diversinet Corp. (TORONTO, CANADA) announced the launch of its new Passport Certificate Server V4.1, which incorporates both RSA and ECC encryption technologies.

  • Group 1 Software (LANHAM, Md.) announced the release of CODE-1 Plus International 1.5, a comprehensive international address validation solution.

  • Kinecta Corporation (SAN FRANCISCO) announced the general availability of Kinecta Syndicator Lite, a free content distribution application.

  • Macromedia, Inc. (SAN FRANCISCO) announced the availability of the Macromedia Flash Player 5 for the Linux and Solaris platforms.

  • Motorola, Inc. (CANNES, France) launched the Motorola Mobile Office Solution, which enables users to access their existing corporate Email, Calendars and Address books, directly from a handset.

  • Oracle Corp. (REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.) announced the availability of a free CD sampler of Oracle Internet Developer Suite for members of Oracle Technology Network.

  • PacketVideo Corporation (CANNES, France) launched PVPlatform 2.0, an MPEG-4 compliant solution for delivering wireless multimedia. There are three dynamic components, PVAuthor, PVServer and PVPlayer. PVServer 2.0 runs on Solaris, HP-UX and Linux platforms.

  • Runtime Revolution Ltd. (EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND) released Revolution 1.0, a rapid application development system, in a public beta form.

  • Spectrum Systems, Inc. (FAIRFAX, Va.) announced that Tarantella Enterprise 3 and Tarantella Express web-enabling software products from Tarantella Inc. have been added to their General Services Administration/Federal Supply Service (GSA/FSS) Schedule (GS-35F-5192G).

  • WebPartner (CUPERTINO, Calif.) announced WebPartner Performance Suite, a comprehensive enterprise solution that includes both front-end and back-end IT performance monitoring and management.

Java Products

  • ASTAware Technologies INC. (TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA) announced the release of SearchDisc v.3.1 and SearchKey PRO v3.1, ASTAware's Java-based search and index applications for Internet, intranet, CD-ROM / DVD and Desktop.

  • Borland Software Corporation (SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif.) announced the release of Borland Enterprise Studio Java Edition.

  • Thin Wireless Networks, Inc. (NEW YORK, N.Y.) announced the immediate availability of the MyThin desktop, a complete graphical Linux computing environment available for free over the Internet.


  • California Software Corp. (IRVINE, Calif.) a announced it has negotiated a reseller contract with IBM. CSC works with IBM Midrange migration products and it developed the BABY, Unibol and MLPS product lines.

  • Command Prompt, Inc. (Portland, Oregon) announced that it has signed an agreement with Entercom Communications to provide programming and managed services via the Active Ads project. The agreement includes the development of an application consisting of three Open Source technologies: the PHP programming language, PostgreSQL database, and Red Hat Linux to provide enterprise class stability to the Active Ads project.

  • Epoch Internet (BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.) selected The Blaine Group as one of its executive partners in its Web Accelerator Program. The new technology accelerator will feature deployment on the Linux operating environment.

  • Knox Software Corp (Carlsbad, Calif.) announced that the company has entered into a reseller agreement with Penguin Computing Inc.. Penguin will be bundling Knox's flagship network backup application, Arkeia with Penguin's pre-configured custom Linux servers.

  • OEone Corporation and EarthLink(Hull, Quebec) announced a joint agreement to fully integrate EarthLink's Internet access software with OEone's Internet computer operating environment platform. OEone's software platform is comprised of the Linux operating system, browser desktop and personal applications.

  • Virtual Access Networks, Inc. and Wasabi Systems (LAWRENCE, Mass. & NEW YORK) announced a strategic relationship to develop a Windows to NetBSD and FreeBSD settings migration tool.

Investments and Acquisitions

  • NetSilicon (WALTHAM, Mass.) announced that it has purchased its Japanese distributor, Dimatech Corporation, based in Tokyo, Japan. NetSilicon makes NET+Lx, which runs uClinux.


  • NuSphere Corporation (BEDFORD, Mass.) provider of NuSphere MySQL announced the appointment of Lorne Cooper as president.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

February 22, 2001


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Linux in the news


VA Linux Misses Estimates, Cuts Staff (TechWeb). TechWeb reports on the VA Linux conference call. "The company will attempt to regain higher margins by focusing more on its SourceForge open-source services site, a turn-key collaboration system for open-source deployment where margins have been traditionally higher."

VA Linux pushes back profit goal by 9 months (Reuters). Here's a Reuters article on VA's quarterly results. The company evidently thinks that revenues could drop significantly (below $30 million, as compared to $42.5 million in the second quarter) and profitability in 2001 is no longer in the cards. "Chief Executive Larry Augustin said while the $30 million figure may be 'overly pessimistic,' VA Linux was readjusting its business to try to turn a profit on lower revenue levels. It said earlier it was cutting its work force by 25 percent, a move Augustin said will save $5 million a quarter."

IBM To Unveil New Linux Moves (TechWeb). Here is a TechWeb article about IBM's expected announcements at its PartnerWorld conference, going on this week. "To support its moves, IBM (stock: IBM) will introduce programs to make Linux available on its iSeries servers, formerly known as the AS/400 line, said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president for Big Blue's Server Group."


Linux quietly finding its way into NZ business (Stuff). Stuff has put up an article on adoption of Linux in New Zealand. "Carl Klitscher, IBM New Zealand system specialist within the enterprise systems group, says about 15 per cent of IBM customers are loading Linux on to IBM machines." (Thanks to Rodger Donaldson).

Searching for a supermodel (ZDNet). What's the right Linux business model? asks this ZDNet column. "The Linux industry, as most people know it, has yet to really prove it can make a buck. Let's face it -- there's not a whole lot of money to be made selling boxes of Linux on store shelves for $30 or so."

P2P survival hinges on Napster's fate (News.com). News.com reports on a speech by Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig. "Speaking to an audience of peer-to-peer software developers, many of whose products are much closer to a Microsoft Outlook than to the industry-shaking file-swapping Napster service, he issued a pointed warning: The threat to Napster's survival is a threat to the developers' freedom, he said."

Court Hands Barnes & Noble.com a Legal Victory (InternetNews.com). According to this InternetNews.com story, a federal appeals court has overturned the injunction for Amazon's one-click shopping patent suit against Barnes and Noble. "'Because Amazon.com is not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief under these circumstances, we vacate the order of the district court that set the preliminary injunction in place and remand the case for further proceedings,' the Circuit Court wrote in an unusually harshly worded ruling." (Thanks to Jay R. Ashworth)


PC Engines releases embedded-PC BIOS as open source (LinuxDevices.com). LinuxDevices.com reports on the open source release of tinyBIOS, a stripped down PC BIOS targeted at embedded devices.

ALICE Community Grows (BotSpot). ALICE, a chat bot which was awarded the 2000 Loebner Bronze Prize as the most human-like computer software, has a fast growing community, says this BotSpot article. "Where once we saw millions of independent bots linked to individual web sites, the developers now envision a single unified knowledge base, linked by a Napster-style file-sharing protocol." (Thanks to Dr. Richard Wallace, ALICE inventor)

DSPs and Embedded Linux: a great combination (LinuxDevices). LinuxDevices.com has published a white paper on the growing trend of combining Embedded Linux with digital signal processors. "Linux is particularly well suited to providing such simulators, by allowing a desktop Linux PC to run an embedded version of Linux as an application, including Internet connectivity and peripheral support through USB and Ethernet ports and common bus structures. Such environments makes it much easier to write applications and kernel-level code."

Alcatel says 'yes' to Linux USB ADSL support (Register). The Register reports that Alcatel will be providing a Linux driver for its SpeedTouch USB ADSL modem. "The driver will be ready next month, Alcatel said, along with full source code and the modem's firmware as a binary." (Thanks to James Taylor).

Adeos: a resource sharing multi-OS environment (LinuxDevices). Rick Lehrbaum interviews Karim Yaghmour, founder of Adeos, an open source project aimed at providing an alternative to the RTLinux patent problem, about that projects goal of sharing hardware resources between multiple operating systems.

Linux lookalike RTOS passes "Quake test" (LinuxDevices.com). LinuxDevices looks at LynuxWorks RTOS binary compatibility with Linux through the eyes of the new compatibility test bed: Quake. "The "Quake demo" consisted of running identical binary images of Quake on two side-by-side systems -- one running on top of Linux, and the other on the LynxOS RTOS. The intent of the demo, of course, is to raise the possibility that other Linux software might also run unmodified on LynxOS."

An introduction to Waba (LinuxDevices). Waba is an open source, Java-like programming platform for small devices. LinuxDevices.com has this look at Waba. "Waba was developed by Rick Wild of Wabasoft, initially for PalmOS -- principally to provide programmers with a layer hiding the instabilities of PalmOS (especially regarding low memory). Wild then ported Waba to Windows and PocketPC." A Linux port is in the works.


The Story of Linus' Babies (Wired). Wired News talks with Glyn Moody, author of Rebel code. "Of all the people Moody interviewed, he said that open source guru Richard Stallman made the strongest impression on him -- 'not least because he had the novel habit of criticizing my questions as I asked them,' Moody said."

Intelligent devices: A new arena for Linux (OLinux). OLinux interviews LinuxDevices.com founder Rick Lehrbaum. "I consider LinuxDevices.com to be a community resource -- devoted to the Embedded Linux Community. My goal is to serve the needs of the community and make LinuxDevices.com the most useful resource on the web devoted to Embedded Linux and Linux-based 'devices'."


Why Linux kicks Windows all over the desktop (ZDNet). ZDNet columnist Henry Kingman describes his experience with Debian as his desktop system. "It has been inspiring to watch my Linux desktop improve. I enjoy sitting back with a cup of coffee watching my system update itself, occasionally asking me a question when it comes to a fork in the road or writes a config file with a new option. Despite this constant system activity and 'unstable' versions of everything, my system hummed along perfectly with nary a reboot."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

February 22, 2001


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IBM developerWorks China. IBM has announced the launch of its Chinese developerWorks site. Like the English-language version, it includes a good deal of coverage of Linux and other free software topics.

Linux Gazette #63. A new issue of the Linux Gazette has been published. This midmonth extra includes articles on Linux multimedia, PHP programming, using online dictionaries, and getting USB and PCMCIA working on a 2.2.18 kernel and a laptop.

LinuxDevices.com Embedded Linux Newsletter. The LinuxDevices.com Embedded Linux Newsletter for February 15 is out, with the usual comprehensive summary of embedded Linux events and coverage.

Easy Internet Sharing NHF: VERSION 1.0. LinuxNewbie.org has a tutorial on sharing your Internet connection by configuring a Linux machine as your gateway/firewall.

Tip of the Week: RTFM. Linuxlookup.com presents RTFM, this week's tip of the week.


European Open Source Developers Conference. Richard Morrell, of SmoothWall.org, went to OSDEM in Brussels and produced this report. It sounds like a good time was had by all.

REDSonic announces its upcoming events in Asia. REDSonic, Inc. will be featuring REDICE-Linux, the company's embedded OS, in an Asian tour. The tour visits Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore and Taipei between February 21 and March 2, 2001.

COMDEX Chicago schedule. Key3Media has released this press release with a look at the schedule for COMDEX Chicago and the accompanying Linux Business Expo, April 2 - April 5, 2001.

Keynote speakers announced for Embedded Systems Conference. Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy joins Sun Microsystems' Java experts as keynote speakers at the Embedded Systems Conference, San Francisco, April 9 - 13, 2001.

O'Reilly Open Source Convention call for papers. The O'Reilly Open Source Convention will be happening July 23-27 in San Diego, California. The call for papers is out; they are looking for both tutorials and talks. No deadline is given.

The Ottawa Linux Symposium. The 2001 Ottawa Linux Symposium is also coming up, July 25 - July 28, 2001.

Embedded Internet Conference. There is an Embedded Internet Conference coming up next August in Santa Clara, CA.

Upcoming Events: February - April, 2001.
Date Event Location
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. BangLinux 2001 Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
March 5 - March 8, 2001. The 9th International Python Conference Long Beach, California.
March 5 - March 9, 2001. Networld+Interop 2001 Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney, Australia.
March 7 - March 9, 2001. Linux Open Source Conference and Business Expo. Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney, Australia.
March 15. 2001 Linux convention (in Icelandic). Iceland.
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.
April 2 - April 5, 2001. COMDEX Chicago McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois.
April 4 - April 5, 2001. Linux Expo Madrid Palacio de Congresos, Madrid, Spain.
April 4 - April 6, 2001. ApacheCon 2001 Santa Clara, California.
April 6 - April 8, 2001. GNOME Users And Developers European Conference (GUADEC) 2001 Copenhagen, Denmark.
April 8 - April 11, 2001. XML DevCon Spring 2001 New York Marriott Marquis, New York City.
April 9 - April 13, 2001. Embedded Systems Conference San Francisco, California.
April 20, 2001. 2nd Annual Symposium on Pliant Implementation and Concepts (ASPIC 2001) Paris, France.
April 23 - April 27, 2001. Linux Expo Road Show Eastern Europe.

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

User Group News

GNHLUG Quarterly Meeting. The Greater New Hampshire Linux Users Group is having it's quarterly meeting at Martha's Exchange, Nashua, NH on February 26, 2001. Moiz Kohari, president of Mission Critical Linux will be speaking.

LUG Events: February 22 - March 8, 2001.
Date Event Location
February 24, 2001. Greater London Linux User Group (GLLUG) Eisai Lounge, University College, London, UK.
February 24, 2001. Consortium of All Bay Area Linux (CABAL) Menlo Park, California.
February 25, 2001. Tucson Free Unix Group (TFUG) Installfest Tucson, AZ.
February 26, 2001. The Greater New Hampshire Linux Users Group (GNHLUG) Martha's Exchange, Nashua, NH.
February 28, 2001. Hazelwood Linux User Group (HZLUG) Prairie Commons Branch Library, Hazelwood, Missouri.
February 28, 2000. Central Ohio Linux User Group (COLUG) Columbus, Ohio.
February 28, 2001. Linux User Group of Assen Assen, Netherlands.
March 1, 2001. Edinburgh Linux Users Group (EDLUG) Holyrood Tavern, Edinburgh, Scotland.
March 5, 2001. Baton Rouge Linux User Group (BRLUG) The Bluebonnet Library, Baton Rouge, LA.
March 6, 2001. NorthWest Chicagoland Linux User Group (NWCLUG) Harper College, Palatine, Illinois.
March 6, 2001. Omaha Linux Users Group (OLUG) Omaha, Nebraska
March 7, 2001. Kansas City Linux Users Group Installfest (KCLUG) Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO.
March 7, 2001. Southeastern Indiana Linux Users Group (SEILUG) Madison/Jefferson County Public Library, Madison, IN.
March 7, 2001. Silicon Valley Linux Users Group (SVLUG) Cisco Building 9, San Jose, CA.
March 8, 2001. Phoenix Linux Users Group (PLUG) Sequoia Charter School, Mesa, AZ.
March 8, 2001. Boulder Linux Users Group (BLUG) NIST Radio Building, Boulder, CO.

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 22, 2001



Software Announcements

Here are this week's Freshmeat software announcements. Freshmeat now offers the announcements sorted in two different ways:

The Alphabetical List and Sorted by license


Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


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This week in Linux history

Three years ago (February 26, 1998 LWN): Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman won the 1998 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Jaroslav Kysela announced the "Enhance Linux Sound Architecture" project, renamed from the "Ultra Sound Driver," which was intended to produce a new, better sound system for Linux. Three years later...the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) project is going strong, having just produced its first beta release. It may reach a point of being ready for inclusion in the kernel sometime during the 2.5 development series.

The General Graphics Interface project also drew attention; this project hoped to build a new, kernel-based video system for Linux. GGI has always been controversial, however, with a lot of people strongly criticizing its design. Three years later, the project appears to still be active, but it has a low profile and not much seems to be happening.

Caldera OpenLinux 1.2 was released.

Two years ago (February 25, 1999 LWN): IBM made its first announcement of support for Red Hat Linux.

So why bother? The answer is actually very simple--services. Services have helped the IBM resurgence, even as its hardware sales are sliding lower. By shipping Linux with its hardware, IBM can now get additional revenues by providing Linux OS-related services to its clients.
-- Forbes.

The Debian 2.1 release candidate was made available, leading up to the planned March 2 release (which didn't quite happen as planned, but that's for next week's history section). PROSA Debian Gnu/Linux 2.1, a version of the distribution for Italian users, was released.

Linuxcare was busily preparing for its public debut at LinuxWorld; among other things, the company announced that it would be giving away a 1999 VW at the show. Nowadays, Linux vendors give away rather fewer automobiles...

One year ago (February 24, 2000 LWN): Eazel announced its existence and its plans to provide a better desktop for Linux users. Since the company is made up of a number of members of the original Macintosh team, this announcement drew a lot of attention. A year later, we're still waiting for our desktop - which is getting close; Nautilus 1.0 should ship "real soon now."

LinuxSecurity.com hit the net.

Development kernel 2.3.47 came out; among other things, it included, finally, the Linux Volume Manager patch.

If for example the capacity of a LV gets too small and your VG containing this LV is full, you could add another PV to that VG and simply extend the LV afterwards. If you reduce or delete a LV you can use the freed capacity for different LVs in the same VG. -- The documentation needed some work still...

Journalist Nicholas Petreley resigned as LinuxWorld's editorial director, and took a job with Caldera working with the Linux Standard Base project.

On Dec. 9, the company went public, and propelled by Linux mania, it shot off the launchpad, reaching an orbit of $239, up 698%, the biggest-ever first-day gain. The new year hasn't been so kind to Augustin, though. VA Linux' stock is now trading at about $115 a share, and there's nothing on the horizon that augurs for an immediate recovery.
-- Business Week was rather understating things

Ah yes, there was also a much-hyped release of a legacy system called "Windows 2000," but it didn't change much in the Linux world...


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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 22, 2001

From: "Neuer, David" <dneuer@eflatbed.com>
To: "'letters@lwn.net'" <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: RTLinux patent
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 09:59:52 -0500

I am opposed to software patents. However, if one has to patent software,
this is the type of licensing I'd like to see more of. The idea of saying,
"OK. I can play by the IP rules. And according to those rules and my terms,
to use my IP you either have to a) fundamentally eschew traditional notions
of IP protection by making anything you do with my IP a possible stepping
stone to your own competitors' economic success -- by licensing your work
under the GPL; or b) pay me huge -- possibly prohibitive -- sums of money"
pleases me due to the irony of using IP law to defeat the purpose of the
same twisted IP laws. It's only unfortunate that there are so many
alternatives to RTLinux in the real-time space that this type of licensing
situation won't help to precipitate the demise of software patents. I'd love
to have seen this happen in a market segment so dominated by big,
proprietary software companies that the sound of their lobbying efforts to
do away with software patents became deafening.
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 16:36:36 +0100 (CET)
From: Jean-Marc Saffroy <saffroy@ri.silicomp.fr>
To: <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: RTLinux patent: probable prior art

The concepts covered by the RTLinux patent seem so broad that there is
probably prior art that could invalidate it.

A colleague of mine, who was already working here when our lab was still
the OSF Research Institute, has reminded me of the MkLinux and MK-PA
projects: both are general purpose operating systems (Linux and HP-UX)
running on top of a real-time scheduler (the OSF implementation of the
Mach microkernel).

You can find more detailed information on these (old) projects here:

I don't know if this is enough to invalidate the patent, but at least this
is the proof that the ideas in the RTLinux patent are certainly not new.


Jean-Marc Saffroy - Research Engineer - Silicomp Research Institute

Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 10:48:29 -0500
From: Pierre Baillargeon <pb@artquest.net>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: RTLinux licencing

In the article about RTLinux patent, Mr. Victor Yodaiken argues about
the reasons behinds the licensing of his patent. If we are to judge his
position from what has been reported, we are bound to find his reasoning
incomplete. To quote his argumentation, according to the article:

"Those who want to use the RTLinux method and do not want to license
their code under the GPL are, according to Mr. Yodaiken, doing
proprietary work. Such people should be both willing and able to pay for
the previous proprietary work (such at the RTLinux patent) that they
make use of. He sees people who wish to use RTLinux in proprietary
products without paying as would-be free riders, and sees no
justification for any complaints that they might make."

And further:

"Mr. Yodaiken expresses respect for those who are opposed to software
patents (while disagreeing with them), but has little patience for those
who wish to make money off other peoples' work."

It would seem that Mr. Yodaiken fails to apply his own logic to himself. 
According to this logic, isn't Mr. Yodaiken taking a free ride and
making money off the people who developed Linux? After all, if a company
develops a proprietary solution using RTLinux, then RTLinux is making
money from proprietary work using Linux, a free system. According to the
logic, RTLinux would thus have to pay off the Linux developers.

Also, can someone simply distribute their proprietary work under a dual
license to get off the hook and make money while not paying any
licensing? If that is so, then RTAI has nothing to fear.
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 09:12:40 +0100
From: Lothar Werzinger <werzinger.lothar@krones.de>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: RTLinux Patent issue

As you stated the patent is mainly about two core issues:

> Running a general-purpose operating system (i.e. Linux) as a
> low-priority process under a real-time system. The general purpose
> system is not allowed to block the real-time system from executing
> whenever it needs to. 

> Placing an emulation layer between hardware interrupts and the
> general-purpose system. Linux thinks it is working with interrupts as
> always, but RTLinux is pulling the strings behind the scenes. 

I wonder if that would affect Companies like Venturecom
(http://www.vci.com/) that provide a similar RT layer beneath Windows NT
(RTX). It would be interesting if they may have a prior arts attack
against the RTLinux patent.

Lothar Werzinger
Lothar Werzinger Dipl.-Ing.Univ.  
Dept. R&D (Abt. EW)            Phone: +49-(0)9401/70-3499
KRONES AG                      Fax:   +49-(0)9401/70-3679
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Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 16:10:17 +0100
From: Fred Mobach <fred@mobach.nl>
To: Linux Weekly News <lwn@lwn.net>
Subject: The RTLinux patent


In the February 15, 2001 issue Mr. Yodaiken's position is been said to
be :

> His position is that he has made an innovation that he has a right to
> exploit. Nonetheless, he wishes to make it freely available to anybody
> who is working with code licensed under the GPL. He sees this as a
> fulfillment of his obligation to the free software community"

Perhaps it is time for Mr. Yodaiken to study the Free Software
Foundation's opinion regarding Free Software licenses, which can be
found at http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/license-list.html. I don't know
why some think that Richard Stallman is radical, he does acknowledge
here at least 13 other licenses as Free Software licenses. 

My stance at software patents is clear, see my sig. I deny anyone the
right to impose limits on my freedom to write programs for my computers
and the computers of my clients, friends or whomever else.


Fred Mobach - fred@mobach.nl - postmaster@mobach.nl
Systemhouse Mobach bv - The Netherlands - since 1976
/"\  --software patents will burn in hell--
\ /   --and software patent holders also--

Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 23:54:01 -0800
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: BIND vulnerablility
From: Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com>

Dear Ms. Coolbaugh and Mr. Corbet:

I applaud your effort to cover the field of alternatives to the problematic
BIND v. 8 DNS server, including the unusual and ambitious djbdns package.
The latter's classification as "almost free" was... almost persuasive.

In the name of completeness, here are some additional candidates, to add to
your lineup of djbdns, CustomDNS, Dents, and ENS:

Hubert Tonneau's Pliant DNS Server (http://pliant.cx/pliant/protocol/dns/)
is implmented in his Pliant programming language, a cross between the logical
and procedural language types.  It has apparently reached a design-complete
stage, as a "partial DNS server implementation, according to RFC 1035".
It is offered under the GNU GPL.

Roland Schemer and Rob Riepel's lbnamed
(http://www.stanford.edu/~riepel/lbnamed/) is a DNS server implemented in
Perl, capable of serving from SQL (and other) database back-ends, with the
additional capability of managing a load-balancing system (e.g., for Web
farms).  It is BSD-licensed.

Eddieware's lbdns (http://eddie.sourceforge.net/lbdns.html) is a very
similar package, with full-featured DNS and support for and monitoring of
load-balanced systems.  It is offered under the Erlang Public License
(very similar to the MPL).

Cheers,              "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us
Rick Moen            in trouble.  It's the things we know that ain't so."
rick@linuxmafia.com             -- Artemus Ward (1834-67), U.S. journalist
From: "Scott Morizot" <tmorizot@sd.is.irs.gov>
To: letters@lwn.net
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 15:49:05 -0600
Subject: djbdns


I read the letters from the djbdns supporters.  As usual,
they're a very vocal bunch.  I don't really care that much
about the DNS software any individual uses, but there is one
point that is the key one for most people out there.

djbdns doesn't support the full suite of DNS related standards.
For instance, it doesn't support the IETF DNSSEC standard
and the author of the software has repeatedly stated he
has no intention of supporting it.  He prefers his own
approach.  Similarly, he's stated he has no intention of
supporting the IETF IXFR standard.  Again, he prefers
his own approach.  And, last time I checked, djbdns didn't
support the IETF Notify standard.  Those are just three examples,
but enough to illustrate the point.

If you want to implement software that takes a different approach
to issues than the standards outlined by the IETF, that's fine.
I don't have a problem with that, and I doubt it bothers very many
people anywhere.  Maybe some people don't need those features or are
perfectly happy with the non-standard approach.  The majority of us, 
however, prefer to stick to products that adhere as closely as possible 
to the IETF standards.  Right now that's BIND.

Of course, the author of djbdns is perfectly free to submit his
approach to the IETF for consideration as a standard in any area where
he deviates.  That's legitimate as well.  Of course, if an approach
is adopted as a standard, BIND will implement it as well.  But the
competition would be nice.

However, particularly for something as critical as DNS, the majority of
us will quietly stick with the product that strives to adhere to all of
the IETF standards, not just the ones the authors like.  All the 
protestations of its supporters aside, that's the issue that will keep
djbdns a (comparatively) fringe player in the DNS arena.

I don't think any of us would object to more real competition in DNS 
software.  Heck, I don't think the ISC would object to more real 
competition.  But most of us have been burned enough to want
to steer clear of people and products playing a standards game.

Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 10:28:16 +0100
From: Sergio Callegari <callegar@libero.it>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: SIAE law

Your feature about the new Italian law 248/2000 is excellent, and it is
very important to debate these new regulations, to make them known in
countries other than Italy and to help confronting how intellectual
property (IP) is protected in different countries.

I would like to point out some other issues of the new law:

1) The new law suggests that it can have legal consequences to separate
a medium from its SIAE stamp. However, the stamp is usually placed on CD
plastic cases rather than on CDROMs themselves (I suspect that a stamp
placed on a CD could make it useless). Unfortunately, this makes the
CDROM medium extremely risky. Consider how often it happens to replace a
broken CDROM case with a new one, or to place CDROMS in CDROM holders
where only the disks fit and the cases do not.

2) SIAE means "Italian Society of Authors and Publishers" and is meant
to protect IP.  Originally, the money paid for each stamp was not a
"tax", but simply a means of sustaining the Society. However, if you are
an author, you cannot decide to have your rights protected by any other
(cheaper) institute but SIAE.

3) SIAE is an institution that touches many aspects of the Italian
people life.  For instance, if you decide to have a party, say to
celebrate your graduation, you have to pay SIAE for it, even if the
admission is free.  No wonder then that free software is now affected.

4) An extensive interpretation of the "for profit" clause of the law is
often proposed, suggesting that one has profit even when he justs saves
money. This means that even if you are not a professional and you have
free software for personal use, you need to have it stamped. In fact, if
you use a free office suite, you save the mony necessary for buying a
commercial one.

5) Not only the free software movement is affected by the new law.
Teaching might be too.  Some publishers have suggested that "class
notes" distributed in schools and universities courses should be
stamped, because they save students the money necessary to buy textbooks
or --- if the schools are private own --- they participate to the school

Note that many aspects in the new law are still unclear, and some of our
concerns might result excessive.  Probably we will have to wait until
clarification/actuation norms are emanated by the Government or until
the law is actually enforced in some Court.

In the meantime, I would be very pleased if in the future you could
continue presenting features about how IP is protected in the various

    Sergio Callegari

Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 22:51:08 -0800
From: Pascal F. Martin <pascal_f_martin@yahoo.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Italian law 248/2000

Dear editor.

In a daily update section, you make reference to an Italian law (248/2000),
which may harm the independent software authors and free software users.

It seems that law requires to stamp all medium containing software, one
stamp for each software. this is totally impractible, and therefore it
could be used in very interesting ways.

For example, I really doubt all computers owned by Microsoft in Italy bear
one legally mandatory stamp for each of the softwares stored on their hard
disk. May I suggest anonymous informants to tell the SIAE about this
serious breach of the law ?

I am looking forward for Microsoft executives put in jail for six months
for the sole reason that they hold "illegal" copies of their own software !

Pascal F. Martin.
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 21:05:21 +0100
From: Toon Moene <toon@moene.indiv.nluug.nl>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Re: An "Un-American" essay

Tracy R Reed <treed@ultraviolet.org> wrote:

> Microsoft is speaking to lawmakers to have open source software 
> outlawed.

> Their immediate goal in Washington is to poison our leaders on the idea 
> of open source software and prevent it from ever becoming officially 
> accepted and supported software in government offices.

If you think so ("to poison our leaders") you read it differently than I

	"Linux is developed in a so-called
	open-source environment in which the
	software code generally isn't owned by any
	one company. That, as well as programs
	such as music-sharing software from
	Napster Inc., means the world's largest
	software maker has to do a better job of
	talking to policymakers, he said."

This is a straight "guilt by association" argument; do not think
"poison" - think "outlaw".  If your leaders accept such a mode of
discourse - well, you get the government you deserve :-)

Far more scary is the following:

	"I worry if the government encourages open source,
	and I don't think we've done enough education of
	policy makers to understand the threat."

Uhhh, "education" - like: "Let me tell you this, buddy, and let us make
no mistake about it!".

>From a safe distance ...

Toon Moene - mailto:toon@moene.indiv.nluug.nl - phoneto: +31 346 214290
Saturnushof 14, 3738 XG  Maartensdijk, The Netherlands
Maintainer, GNU Fortran 77: http://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/g77_news.html
Join GNU Fortran 95: http://g95.sourceforge.net/ (under construction)
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 20:04:29 -0500
From: Thomas Hood <jdthood@ubishops.ca>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Reaction to Tracy Reed's letter

Dear lwn.net,

I am sure you will get many letters on this subject,
but I want to make sure that you get at least one.

Because you not only published Tracy R Reed's letter about
Jim Allchin's remarks but also endorsed it by saying that
it 'gets the real point', I feel I must respond to one aspect
of the letter.

Reed says that "corporations are amoral".  In the sense that
Reed seems to mean this, it is nonsense.  Corporations are
creations of the state and thus of the people who comprise
the state.  Corporations derive their purpose from the purposes
of citizens.  Even if you agree with Locke that the pursuit
of private property is a natural right, you cannot say that
corporations are natural.  We created them---through our 
governments, in order to serve our ends.  As there is more to
the lives of citizens than making money, there is more to the
corporate purpose than making money.

Admittedly, corporations serve their purposes largely because
of the existence of the desire for profit.  Corporations do
seek to maximize profit.  But that should not be regarded as
their ultimate purpose, and it cannot in truth be regarded
as the only purpose that actual corporations have.  Corporations
do not "make decisions without regard to compassion or ethics
much like a computer."  (That's insulting to computers, BTW.)
The leaders of better corporations understand that their job is
not only to enrich their shareholders.  They understand that
they have responsibilities to the society that allows their
corporation to exist.  To say categorically that corporations
do nothing but grub money (or even more ludicrously to say that
they are legally obligated to do nothing but this) is thoroughly
cynical.  We should not believe it, because it is not true.

Unfortunately, Microsoft isn't one of the world's better
corporations.  :)

Thomas Hood
Instructor in Philosophy, Bishop's University
Author of tpctl, ThinkPad Configuration Tools for Linux
From: "eeeg ilich" <eeeg_ilich@hotmail.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: linux advocacy how-to
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 15:43:00 -0000

Perhaps it is time for the folks at lwn to re-read the Linux advocacy 
how-to.  In response to Microsoft's Jim Allchin's comments regarding open 
source software you received a letter from Tracy R. Reed which you termed 
'gets the real point of Allchin's remarks.'  While the author has invited us 
'to trash' the essay, I'll try to refrain from that, but I will respond to 
several of the weaker arguments in hope that we can elevate the dialogue.

The opening comment, 'Microsoft is speaking to lawmakers to have open source 
software outlawed' cannot be substantiated and quite frankly lacks any 
foundation (well, at least given the links from his essay and lwn).  It 
takes great imagination to accept this statement as true, while it is much 
easier, and quite frankly, more correctly, treated as FUD.  Rather like the 
FUD Mr. Alchin produced.  This is the hyperbole one would expect the 
advocacy how-to advises against.  Mr. Reed would have served the community 
better had he simply stated what hitherto can only be verified: Microsoft's 
Mr. Allchin is attempting to stain the image of open source software in a 
rather childish, McArthyesque fashion.  Fighting FUD with FUD leads to 
sensless debates that I am growing tired of reading in news groups and 
message boards.  Of course the second paragraph does bring about an 
interesting, and probably quite accurate, view of Micrsoft's goals.  This 
would come across as more valid had we not had the overly dramatic opening 

Continuing we are met with a little more hyperbole and a tagential 
discussion of the authors view on the roles of corporations in society. 
Statements like: "If the stockholders found out that a big
company gave someone a break and didn't do everything they could to
maximize shareholder value they would get their pants sued off."  Aside from 
being inaccurate one wonders why it is even in this essay.  Linux/open 
source is about better software.  It is not about social economic systems.  
We are not going to win *any* 'Corporate America' is the root of all evil 
arguments.  In fact when you go down that road  people start debating that 
topic and the message gets lost.  I could write paragraphs about how that 
statement is false.  Really, name one case where stockholders brought upon a 
corporation's board or executives legal action for poor performance (note: 
fraud is a different issue).  Finally, let's remember that Mr. Torvalds, Mr. 
Cox, K&R, Mr. Stroustrup all work for, gasp, corporations (the last three a 
very large one).

Unfortunately, the most critical point of Allchin's comments are scarecly 
addressed.  This being that open source threatens innovation.  Allchin 
argues that firms will fear investing in new technologies and research.  I 
gather this 'fear' stems from the fact that companies believe an open 
source/free software solution will replicate it.  What the Reed essay does 
not examine is the fact that these same charges have been levied against a 
huge monolothic software firm that buys up its competitors (read: the real 
innovators) and does with them what it pleases.  We need to emphasize the 
good things about Linux.  We need to point out the features that Linux had 
first and which Microsoft only later added.  And while Mr. Reed did show 
some evidence of the open source system benefitting society we need to 
concentrate on this area more.  Mr. Allchin's comments on innovation are so 
easily attackable.  Innovation is not going away any time soon.  Nor, is 
open source.  It has always been around in academia and because of that will 
never be illegal.

Okay, sorry about that.  Now it's time to trash me!

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