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News and Editorials

PostgreSQL 7.1 is out, almost exactly one year after the 7.0 release. PostreSQL, of course, is a full-featured relational database management system with a long history. It remains the most feature-rich free database implementation (but MySQL claims better performance, still). The major additions in 7.1 can be seen in the announcement; in general, development this time around has been oriented toward the removal of long-standing PostgreSQL limitations. New features include:
  • The addition of a "write-ahead log," which resembles the operation of a journaling filesystem. PostgreSQL need not wait until all the changes in a particular transaction make it to disk; instead, they need only be written to the log. As a result, commits will happen more quickly, and the performance of the system as a whole should be much improved.

  • Anybody who has tried to store large items in a PostgreSQL database is likely to have run into the attribute length limitation. As of 7.1, that limitation is no more; a new technique called "The Oversized Attribute Storage Technique" ("TOAST") addresses the problem.

  • Outer joins are now supported. In general, complex queries should work much better and more quickly.
For those who are interested, the full set of changes can be found in the version 7.1 changelog; it's a long list.

The era of free software database management systems is getting closer, as the available software approaches the proprietary systems in power and performance. Given the current pace of development and the increasing level of commercial support behind free software databases, it would be surprising if corporate adoption did not begin to increase. Consider, for example, the success story related in this Linux Journal article by Great Bridge CEO Robert Gilbert:

Just Sports saved itself a boatload of money by using the Linux operating system and PostgreSQL, a powerful open-source database management system, all running on Apache-powered servers. The final product is fast and highly customized with functions not available to users of Microsoft, Oracle or other proprietary software.

Companies are understandably nervous about their relational database systems - if the database doesn't work, the rest of the system is guaranteed to have problems. As the performance, reliability, and features of the free alternatives become clearer, though, the economics of free databases are likely to inspire many more stories like the one related above.

Samba 2.2.0 released. The Samba Team has released samba-2.2.0, the first major Samba release in some time. The list of new features can be found in the announcement; it is long, and is oriented, of course, toward even tighter integration between Windows and Unix/Linux systems.


CSL 0.1.1. The initial release of CSL - the Common Sound Layer - has been announced. CSL is an attempt to encapsulate audio code into a single module in order to facilitate the easy creation of portable code.


Qt Mozilla released. The effort to port Mozilla to the Qt toolkit began sortly after the initial Mozilla source release. As of April 17, the results are actually available as part of the regular Mozilla source tree; see the announcement for details.


Alinka Clustering Letter. The Alinka Clustering Letter is celebrating its first birthday. This newsletter provides a rundown of interesting conversations, events, and announcements from the Linux clustering community.


LDP Weekly News for Apr. 17, 2001. The latest issue of the LDP Weekly News carries word of updates to the XML-RPC and Apache Overview HOWTO's, among others.


Linux in education report #42 for April 16. The latest issue of the Linux in Education report has been published.

Embedded Systems

Building a Linux/RTAI based software radio (LinuxDevices). LinuxDevices.com describes a do-it-yourself demonstration of the capabilities of RTAI, a real-time Linux add-on. The demo consists of a floppy-booted Linux system that uses an RTAI task to create a radio carrier on which synthesized music is superimposed.


The Finicky Financial Trading System. Version 0.5 of the Finicky Financial Trading System is out. FFTS is oriented toward front-office trading and risk management; it looks like a good tool for the more advanced investors out there. It is based on Qt and PostgreSQL, and it is licensed under the GPL.


The Chopping Block returns. After a bit of an absence, the Chopping Block, an electronic newsletter covering the WorldForge project, has released an April issue. It covers the Acorn 0.3 release, WorldForge outreach efforts into the gaming community, an interview with Acorn team head Al Riddoch, and more.


Wine Status A new Wine Status Report came out on April 16. It is terse and oriented toward those who know the code, but it does give an overview of where the various Wine components stand.

Mail Software

Mailman 2.0.4 has been released. The biggest changes in this release are fixes to make it work with Python 2.1; for people who aren't upgrading their Python soon this release is considered "optional."

Network Management

OpenNMS Update. The OpenNMS Update for April 17 is out. It covers the 0.7.3 release, upcoming road shows, and more.

Office Systems

GNU HaliFAX Viewer 0.21. Version 0.21 of the GNU HaliFAX Viewer has been released. It is the fax viewer component for the HaliFAX project, which plans to provide a set of client applications for free fax systems.


Linux in Science report #9 for April 17. The latest issue of the Linux in Science report has been published.

Software Development

Savannah status report. Savannah, the GNU Project's answer to SourceForge, has posted a status report. It seems that Savannah will be open to free software projects that are not part of GNU, something which had not been clear until now. There is, however, trouble in that a web interface is needed for GNATS, and nobody is currently on the job. If you're looking for a project to help out GNU, this could be the one.

SourceForge more popular than beer? Here's a news item on the SourceForge site pointing out that a search on Google for "SourceForge" turns up 3,570,000 hits, while searching for "beer" only gets 3,120,000. This presumably means something...


Draft 6 of the POSIX/Single Unix Specification available. The Austin Common Standards Revision Group has announced the release of draft 6 of the "Joint Revision to POSIX and the Single Unix Specification." This standard draft is a mere 3698 pages long; nonetheless review and comments are being requested. The comment period will be open until May 21.

Web-site Development

Zope 2.3.2 beta 1. The first beta of Zope 2.3.2 has been released. This release fixes some problems with Zope 2.3.1; it looks like a small patch, and no further changes are planned before the official 2.3.2 release.

Zope 2.4 will require Python 2.1, to the evident disgruntlement of some Zope users. People who follow the bleeding-edge Zope code will need to get Python 2.1 installed fairly soon; everybody else can wait until they decide to install Zope 2.4, which, of course, does not exist yet. The 2.4 release will contain a number of internationalization improvements, and those require the better Unicode support that Python 2.1 provides.

PHP Networking (ONLamp). ONLamp has posted a tutorial article on PHP's networking functions. It gives particular attention to sending mail from PHP scripts, but it also gives an overview of the networking functions in general.

Window Systems

New developer releases of GTK+ libraries. Owen Taylor posted to various mailing lists yesterday the release of new libraries for the GTK+ family. Included here are GTK+-1.3.4, GLib-1.3.4 and Pango-0.15. Pango is the library for the layout and rendering of text being written for the upcoming 2.0 release of the GTK family of libraries. Note that these are all developer releases, not intended (just yet) for production applications.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

April 19, 2001

Application Links
High Availability

Open Source Code Collections
Le Serveur Libre



Programming Languages


Free ISO C reference manual. Sandro Sigala has released a reference manual for the C language under the GPL; it is available as PostScript or as LaTeX source.


Caml weekly summary. David Mentré has kindly sent us his overview of events in the Caml programming community.


Glasgow Haskell Compiler version 5.0 released. A new version of the Glasgow Haskell compiler, which is a Haskell 98 implementation, has been released.


Volano Report. A new Volano Report on Java network performance is out. Linux-based systems do well on the network messaging benchmark, and the Blackdown Java implementation maxes the scale on the network scalability test. As was stated by John Neffenger, who ran the tests: "Blackdown's Java VM using green threads on Linux is the only hope for pure Java servers with lots of connections -- at least while we're waiting for the Java 1.4 'new I/O' (or a different Linux threading model)."


Python 2.1 is out; the announcement went out on April 17. It includes a number of new features, including nested scopes, the __future__ mechanism, weak references, function attributes, support for more platforms, and more.

This week's Python-URL. Here is Dr. Dobb's Python-URL for April 16, with coverage of the 2.1 release, Python interfaces, and other news from the Python development world.

Python-dev summary. The Python-dev summary for April 11 is also out. It talks about the magic __debug__ variable, inverse string interpolation, and other topics relating to the development of the Python language.


This week's Tcl-URL. Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL for April 16 is out, with coverage of the Tcl/Tk 8.3.3 release and more.

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

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