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Leading items and editorials

A bit of perspective.  Late last week, we were preparing to work on our lead in pieces for the front page. At the time, the Linux business market was ending what looked like a rather ugly week. Caldera's future looked bleak, according to a report from C|Net's News.com, based on the Linux distributors recent quarterly filings.

In the third quarter ended July 31, Caldera had $18.9 million in revenue. In the fourth quarter, the company expects revenue of $15 million to $20 million and an operating loss of $20 million to $24 million, including restructuring charges.

Even more scary were the layoffs from Lineo and closing of Great Bridge. Lineo announced that it was restructuring around its core embedded platform business. About 60 employees are to lose their jobs and another 100 will be "spun out" as Lineo divests itself of many of the acquisitions it has made over the last couple of years. The leaner, meaner Lineo will be left with about 110 people. Great Bridge had even less luck, announcing they would be closing their doors after being unable to find a suitable investor.

Great Bridge LLC announced today that it has ceased business operations. Great Bridge, founded in May 2000 by Norfolk, Virginia-based media conglomerate Landmark Communications, Inc., initiated a search for additional investors or an acquirer in July of this year. This search did not generate a qualified investor or acquirer, and Great Bridge's board decided to close the business.

With the Linux world crumbling around us, due mostly to a difficult economic condition and companies finding it difficult to make business plans function, we began to wonder just what could make it worse.

Yet now, with life in a very new perspective, business problems just don't seem to be worth the worry. New businesses will arise. Old ones survive. For most of us, we're okay. Life has changed. But it's still the same too. Our spirit is unbroken. Tomorrow, we pick up the pieces. And then we'll build again.

If you thought the DMCA was bad... just wait until the SSSCA takes effect. The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act is an impressive bit of big-brotherism currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate. The core of this proposed law is this text:

It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to the security systems standards adopted under section 104.

The definition of a "digital device" is just as broad as it sounds - essentially, anything - hardware or software - that is capable of moving and storing bits.

In particular, a computer running Linux is certainly such a digital device, as is Linux itself or any of a number of other free programs. The "security standards" mentioned are to be developed in the future; one can, without too much trouble, imagine that these standards to not specify "source available so that the security systems can be changed."

In other words, this is a law that would ban free software. No source-available system will ever be able to conform to the security standards that the industry will come up with; these people are not interested in something that can be turned off. The outlawing of free software seems outlandish, to say the least, but remember that we are dealing with the people who are trying to put Dmitry Sklyarov in jail for 25 years.

This law will probably not pass in this form. It bears careful watching, however. It could emerge, after a high-profile "compromise," as something just as nasty with bipartisan support. It could really happen here.

Interview: Lawrence Lessig. LWN's Dennis Tenney had the opportunity to interview Lawrence Lessig at LinuxWorld. The discussion covered the Sklyarov case, what the government might do next in support of the DMCA, what could happen in the supreme court, and more. "I think that things have gone pretty well up to this moment. The real fear is that the next layer of struggle, at the network layer, will have a profound tilting effect away from open source projects. If that is true then open source won't continue to provide an opportunity to check improper power."

Inside this LWN.net weekly edition:

  • Security: Bugzilla bugs, vulnerabilities in mailman, uucp and xinetd, updates for fetchmail, apache-contrib, sendmail, xloadimage, OpenAntivirus.
  • Kernel: Defining network addresses, min/max solutions, USB developer job hunts.
  • Distributions: The Proxyfloppy Linux distribution; A Distribution is (Re)born; Installing KDE 2.2 from source on Slackware 8.
  • On the Desktop: Hancom for any desktop, Gobe GoProductive for Linux, Konqueror wins award.
  • Development: Broadcast 2000 pulled, two new versions of mSQL, Gerber Viewer, OpenNMS 0.8.1, Internet C++ goes GPL, new Lisp newsletter.
  • Commerce: Restructuring at Lineo; EBIZ Enterprises files Chapter 11; FSMLabs RTLinux Provides Realtime for Red Hat Linux Systems.
  • History: Six years ago: Miguel de Icaza released Midnight Commander version 3.0; two years ago "Channel One Gmbh" registered the "Linux" trademark in Germany; Real-time competition heats up.
  • Letters: In defense of Sourceforge, Linux and education.
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

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September 13, 2001


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