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This week in Linux history

Five years ago: the second "NCSU Linux Expo" was announced. There were no specific speakers named, and attendance cost all of two dollars.

Also announced was Red Hat 3.0.3. It included a bleeding-edge 1.3.57 kernel, RPM 2.0, and a number of other goodies.

Three years ago (March 19, 1998 LWN): Bruce Perens resigned as the leader of the Debian Project. Said Bruce:

I'm sorry it had to be this way, but I feel that my mission to bring free software to the masses really isn't compatible with Debian any longer, and that I should be working with one of the more mainstream Linux distributions.

He never did end up working with a "more mainstream" distribution, though...

Debian, meanwhile, went into code freeze for its 2.0 release.

Eric Allman announced the creation of Sendmail, Inc., which would seek to make money from the sendmail system.

The GIMP 1.0 release was delayed, not for the last time.

Two years ago (March 18, 1999 LWN): Apple announced that parts of its upcoming OSX would be released under an open source license. Those parts, of course, were mostly the BSD core, which were already available under a free license. Apple, however, created its own "Apple Public Source License," which, after some tweaks, got the Open Source Initiative's seal of approval as "open source." Bruce Perens immediately objected, and posted a complaint, coauthored by Wichert Akkerman, and Ian Jackson. Richard Stallman also complained. The objections mostly centered around a notification requirement for changes, and a clause allowing Apple to revoke the license at any time.

The Open Source Initiative responded with a note of its own:

The OSI stands behind its endorsement, applauds Apple's vision, and confidently expects the APSL terms will serve as a model for the open-sourcing of other Apple technologies -- perhaps, indeed, for the open-sourcing of operating systems from other computer systems manufacturers now that Apple has taken the first groundbreaking step.

The Apple issue eventually faded away - and the APSL certainly has not served as a model for too many other releases. But this event perhaps marks the beginning of a new phase in the open disagreement between the "open source" and "free software" camps - things only got uglier from there.

Raymond's cozy relationship with big business has caused a rift with Perens, who has been vocal in his criticism of things he sees as detrimental to the philosophy of the free software movement, championed by such people as Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation.

In February, Perens stepped down from his position on the board of the Open Software Initiative, a group that he founded with Raymond.

Press reports attributed the division to an argument in which Perens referred to book publisher Tim O'Reilly -- an advocate for open-source software -- as "one of the leading parasites of the free software community." -- Wired News.

Linux-Mandrake merged with the BeroLinux project. Conectiva Linux 3.0 was released.

Linux Expo was putting out announcements again. The fifth (and last) Linux Expo featured Red Hat's Bob Young as the keynote speaker.

One year ago (March 16, 2000 LWN): version 1.1 of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) was released. One year later, there does not appear to have been a great deal of documentation released under this license.

XFree86 4.0 was released, finally. This release, too, has taken a long time to work its way into widespread use - but it's getting there.

Trustix Secure Linux 1.0 was released, as was FreeBSD 4.0 and ROCK Linux 1.3.8. The first alpha release of Apache 2.0 was made available; one year later, the release is called 2.0.14 - but it's still an alpha release.

Linus announced another pre-2.4 code freeze. This one, too, would prove rather soft, and the real 2.4 release was a good nine months away, still.

Simson Garfinkel predicted a flood of Linux viruses:

No, what's stopped the spread of viruses on the Linux platform isn't technology, but the lack of interest from the virus writers. Why write a Linux virus when the same skills will let you bring up a new web-site and become a millionaire in just a few weeks? But if the economy goes south, we're likely to see a suddenly bloom of viruses from out-of-work overachievers.

If he's right, that virus flood should show up any day now....

March 15, 2001


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