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Leading items and editorials


Pulling back from open source to intellectual property.  The DMCA has stirred panic among some of our readers. While that bit of legislative muck isn't something to sneeze at, it isn't the cause of all changes to the open source world. This past week saw three different - and unrelated - events get attributed by some to the DMCA. In truth, none had anything to do with this.

Last week, Broadcast 2000 was pulled from circulation. This application is one of the few open source projects designed for digital video editing. The tool has been used in Hollywood, so we've been told, though its popularity is probably limited to a more artistic user base. It is, essentially, a Linux version of Apple's iMovie package delivered on their new Macs - but not quite as evolved. In addition to its video functionality, Broadcast 2000 has one of the best audio editors currently available under Linux.

In his announcement to pull the package, the developer of Broadcast 2000 cited liability issues associated with the package being used in real world environments, i.e. the movie industry. A number of readers suggested those liabilities were related to the DMCA. See last week's LWN development page for more information on the announcement.

LWN.net wasn't able to contact the author, but we perused the discussion forum set up for the project at SourceForge. According to the author, Broadcast 2000 reached maintenance phase late in 2000 when the developer opened a Sourceforge site for Heroine Virtual. One note from Heroine (the developer) says that FTP servers were being pulled from under him too fast to keep up. But another complained about problems writing code for free while engineers were being laid off in Silicon Valley. In fact, many of his messages seem to reflect a disappointment in both employment, and the lessening use of PCs by users as a whole. In reality, he appears to be dropping Broadcast 2000 for Cinelerra, which is supposed to be the next generation of the program, but which also is expected to be a commercial package where source would always be available, but packaged solutions would be sold. He is, it appears, trying to deal with the issue that large scale open source projects require funding of some kind in order to pay for the developer's time - in this case his own. Like many open source developers, he seems to have realized that you can't develop complex software on your own time. Someone still needs to foot the bill for rent and food.

The Enhydra project appeared to be having similar difficulties. The company which started the original Enhydra project, Lutris, was in the process of building an extended system known as Enterprise Enhydra, which was built around Sun's J2EE API specification. Now they only provide a commercial implementation and have dropped support for the open source option. What happened here is a case of trying to do right, but having to do what is required.

Lutris, whose name comes from the scientific name for the California Sea Otter - Enhydra Lutris, started as a consulting company in late 1995 building custom Web applications for companies such as FedEx and Kinkos. As part of their consulting services they developed a toolkit written in Java. In 1999 they created Enhydra.org and contributed the Enhydra Java XML sever as an open source project. The response to that system was greater than they expected - with commercial alternatives running as much as $30,000 to $40,000 per CPU, other consultants who needed to build sites found they could use Enhydra as a more cost effective solution. Some companies built global environments on Enhydra, but like other open source contributors, Lutris gets no revenue from those products.

And there are many other open source projects on Enhydra.org, such as EnhydraME for microedition J2ME servers, Zeus for creating Java bindings to XML documents, and Barracuda which adds a Motif like interface for Web pages. But Enhydra Enterprise is something more. While Enhydra is really just a Java servelet runner with additional features for building a full blown application, Enhydra Enterprise is the same system with support included for the Sun J2EE specification. This association with J2EE is where things got complex.

J2EE is a set of API standards for building web applications in Java. Enhydra negotiated with Sun for rights to support J2EE, which is covered under SCSL, the Sun Community Source License, in their open source projects. According to David Young, Founder and current Linux Evangelist as Lutris, the SCSL license protects the J2EE API by preventing companies from changing it while keeping it available for general research.

"We had been working with Sun for a year and half, inviting them to work a deal to create an open source clause in SCSL. But that didn't happen." When Lutris got to the point of releasing a commercial version of the J2EE support they realized they had to drop support for Enterprise Enhydra because it was in violation of SCSL. Young adds, "Sun has the right to do what they want with that license and companies like IBM and BEA are paying big bucks to be a SCSL signee - and we will too because we want to sell a commercial version of the J2EE platform. Sun has said publicly that SCSL is incompatible with open source. That's just the way it stands today." And customers were asking for that J2EE support. Lutris simply couldn't ignore those customer requirements.

But Young adds that while Enterprise Enhydra is no more, the rest of the open source projects are still going strong. "Zeus, Barracuda, and the rest of Enhydra.org, including the original Enhydra lightweight applet server runner is still there. Only Enterprise Enhydra has been withdrawn." This has been the confusion he's encountered since the announcement. Some folks have thought that the entire site and associated projects were gone, and that just wasn't true.

The last event that spurred concern from our readers was a note that Collabnet was pulling some of the Tigris code back into intellectual property. We attempted to set up a conversation with Brian Behlendorf, the Founder and CTO of Collabnet, but events last week distracted both ends and we were unable to interview him in time for this week's publication. In any event, the pullback appears to be based on the same needs at Lutris - to make sure that they maintain a guaranteed form of revenue generation while trying to keep in touch with open source ideals. That may be a fine line to walk, but it can be done.

DRI team released by VA Linux.  The members of the DRI team, including Brian Paul who authored the OpenGL-compliant library Mesa, have been laid off from VA Linux. While this won't stop development, it may slow it for a time while developers find their way into new employment. (Thanks to Guido Guenther.)

Like the pullback issue, readers felt concerned for the future of their open source favorites. One reader wrote us:

Since 3D acceleration is probably of crucial importance for the success of Linux on the desktop this is (IMHO) a serious issue (if we don't want to stick to the binary only nVidia drivers which is not really an option).

Well, this depends on your definition of success. Remember that Xi Graphics continues to sell low priced commercial 3D hardware accelerated servers. Are these open source? No. But they are available, and range from $29 to $179, depending on the card you use, for the downloadable driver. That said, since when is 3D acceleration crucial to the desktop? Which set of office tools absolutely relies on 3D rendering facilities? None, actually. Games usually do, but games are not as crucial to the desktop as basic word processors, spreadsheets, presentation graphics and email interoperability. Chances are good that support for 2D in the card you just purchased is available. You just might not have 3D support. For the majority of the world, that's just fine.

In any case, lack of jobs has never kept the XFree86 project from moving forward. It can slow it, but only long enough for developers like Brian Paul to find a new day job. Just as he points out in his note about the layoffs, Work will continue on XFree86 and DRI.

Inside this LWN.net weekly edition:

  • Security: Is U.S. Crypto in danger again? Mandrake Apache fix, Debian "most" advisory.
  • Kernel: Merging with VM and Preemptible kernels.
  • Distributions: aXon Linux preview 1.0; Linux Mandrake 8.1 RC 1.
  • On the Desktop: BRU rises again, KDE releases again, KOffice reviewed...again.
  • Development: GPL Licensing Turmoil, open source robots, quantum computing, OpenMCL 0.7, Python exceptions.
  • Commerce: Red Hat stock buy back; Red Hat financial results; Caldera consolidates.
  • History: Five years ago Troll Tech released Qt for X Windows; the rise and fall of UDI.
  • Letters: Call to action, copyright law ad nauseum, not so gloomy outlooks.
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:


September 20, 2001

   

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

Security


News and Editorials

Attack on American Crypto?. Not surprisingly, the recent terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. have had a number of effects on security administrators around the world. This week we saw a lot of activity in the area of cryptography software, with much scrambling in anticipation of possible changes to US laws. Here's a sampling of what we have received.

DNS mega-hack hits thousands of sites (Register). The Register investigates a breach of security involving the domain name registrar NetNames. "Jonathan Robinson, chief executive at Net Benefit, which runs the NetNames registration and hosting service, told us that the "majority" of its 100,000 customers had their Web traffic re-routed in the hack. He said the firm was focused on restoring services, which were disrupted for more than an hour before being returned to normal between 10am and 10:30am today, [rather] than counting the number of people affected."

Security Reports

Mandrake advisory for Apache. Mandrake-Linux has issued an advisory for apache to address directory indexing and path discovery problems in all versions prior to 1.3.19 of the Apache Web server.

Debian advisory for "most" package. Debian has issued a security advisory for their most package, addressing buffer overflows found in that programs tab expansion handlers.

This was an unusual week, we received no new updates for the following packages:

Updates

Apache-contrib command injection vulnerability. The Apache module mod_auth_mysql 1.4 was found vulnerable to possible bypass authentication by MySQL command injection. See last week's LWN security page for a discussion of the SQL injection problems with a number of Apache modules.

Previous updates:

Bugzilla unauthorized user access. There are security problems with bugzilla, in which valid users can obtain confidential data without authorization. A problem also exists where parameters are not checked properly. See the September 13, 2001 LWN security page for the initial report.

Previous updates:

Buffer overrun vulnerabilities in fetchmail. (Found by Salvatore Sanfilippo). Two buffer overrun vulnerabilities exist in the much-used fetchmail program. Given a hostile server, arbitrary code can be run on the system running fetchmail. The solution is to upgrade to fetchmail 5.8.17. See the August 16 Security page for the initial report.

Previous updates:

Format string vulnerability in groff. A format string problem exists in groff; apparently it could be remotely exploited when it is configured to be used with the lpd printing system. (First LWN report: August 16, 2001).

The stable release of Debian is not vulnerable.

New updates:

Previous updates:

Vulnerabilities in Horde IMP Horde IMP has several vulnerabilities which are fixed in version 2.2.6; see Bugtraq ID's 3066, 3079, 3082, and 3083 for more details.

Previous updates:

Linux Kernel 2.4 Netfilter/IPTables vulnerability. Check the April 19 LWN Security Summary for the original report. The NetFilter team has provided a patch for Linux 2.4.3.

Previous updates:

Mailman security update. Mailman has a number of vulnerabilities, some fairly old. See the September 13, 2001 LWN security page for the initial report.

Previous updates:

Denial of service vulnerability in OpenLDAP This problem was first identified in a CERT advisory issued in July, 2001. It was covered in the July 19, 2001 LWN security page.

Previous updates:

OpenSSL Pseudo-random number generator weakness A weakness has been discovered in the OpenSSL Pseudo random number generator that can allow an attacker to discover the PNRG's state and predict future values. (First reported July 12).

Previous updates:

Procmail race conditions. See the July 26 Security page for the initial report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

Input validation problem with sendmail. An input validation error exists in versions of sendmail prior to 8.11.6 (or 8.12.0Beta19) which may be exploited by local users to obtain root access. See the August 23 Security Page for the initial report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

SQL injection vulnerabilities in Apache authentication modules. Several Apache authentication modules have vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to feed arbitrary SQL code to the underlying database, resulting in a compromise of database integrity and unauthorized access to the server. See the September 6 security page for more information.

New updates:

Previous updates:

Squid httpd acceleration ACL vulnerability. This vulnerability could result in unauthorized access to the squid server. See the July 26 Security page for details.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

Multiple vendor telnetd vulnerability. This vulnerability, originally thought to be confined to BSD-derived systems, was first covered in the July 26th Security Summary. It is now known that Linux telnet daemons are vulnerable as well.

This week's updates:

Previous updates: Uucp local user exploits. There is a vulnerability in the command-line argument handling of uucp which can be exploited by a local user to obtain uid/gid uucp. See the September 13, 2001 LWN security page for the initial report.

New updates:

Previous updates:

Buffer overruns in Window Maker A buffer overrun exists in Window Maker which could, conceivably, be exploited remotely if the user runs a hostile application. This problem initially appeared in the August 16, 2001 LWN security page.

New updates:

Previous updates: Security audit of xinetd and resulting fixes. Solar Designer has performed an extensive audit of xinetd, looking for certain types of security vulnerabilities. So many problems were found in the code that the resulting patch weighed in at over 100KB. This patch was only fully merged as of xinetd 2.3.3. See the September 6, 2001 LWN security page for the initial report.

This week's updates:

Previous updates: Buffer overflows in xloadimage This problem was first covered in the July 12 Security page.

Previous updates:

Events

Upcoming Security Events.
Date Event Location
September 28 - 30, 2001Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies(CASIS 2001)(Dalhousie University)Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
October 10 - 12, 2001Fourth International Symposium on Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection(RAID 2001)Davis, CA
November 5 - 8, 20018th ACM Conference on Computer and Communication Security(CCS-8)Philadelphia, PA, USA
November 13 - 15, 2001International Conference on Information and Communications Security(ICICS 2001)Xian, China

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: Forrest Cook


September 20, 2001

LWN Resources


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

Security Projects
Bastille
Linux Security Audit Project
Linux Security Module
OpenSSH

Security List Archives
Bugtraq Archive
Firewall Wizards Archive
ISN Archive

Distribution-specific links
Caldera Advisories
Conectiva Updates
Debian Alerts
Kondara Advisories
Esware Alerts
LinuxPPC Security Updates
Mandrake Updates
Red Hat Errata
SuSE Announcements
Turbolinux
Yellow Dog Errata

BSD-specific links
BSDi
FreeBSD
NetBSD
OpenBSD

Security mailing lists
Caldera
Cobalt
Conectiva
Debian
Esware
FreeBSD
Kondara
LASER5
Linux From Scratch
Linux-Mandrake
NetBSD
OpenBSD
Red Hat
Slackware
Stampede
SuSE
Trustix
turboLinux
Yellow Dog

Security Software Archives
munitions
ZedZ.net (formerly replay.com)

Miscellaneous Resources
CERT
CIAC
Comp Sec News Daily
Crypto-GRAM
LinuxLock.org
LinuxSecurity.com
Security Focus
SecurityPortal

   

Sections:
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 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 On the Desktop
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
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 Linux History
 Letters

See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development


Jon is taking a break this week. That, combined with a major power failure that took out his temporary replacement for a while makes for a light kernel page this week. We apologize for the inconvenience, but this is Jon's first real break in quite some time. He'll be back next week.

The current kernel release is still 2.4.9. Despite warnings from Jon that Linus would likely ship 2.5 in his absence, it hasn't happened. Linus shipped a couple of prepatches instead. The latest is patch-2.4.10-pre11, which includes only a few minor updates, plus Andrea Arkangeli's major VM merge. Prior to that, Linux released patch-2.4.10-pre10. This patch included a continuing merge with Alan's releases, a USB init fix, and some NFS locking fixups. The only other update this past week was 2.4.10-pre9, which included the beginning of a migration to the new min/max solutions along with NTFS and IrDA updates.

Alan had a pair of releases this past week, which for him seems like a slow week. His latest release is 2.4.9-ac12. It includes a 3c507 ring buffer fix that may affect other similar drivers, a number of reiserfs fixes and a Matrox driver update, among many others. His other update for the week was 2.4.9-ac11 which merged in 2.4.10pre9 and fixes the sign check error in death signal.

Preemptible kernels.  Robert Love sent in news of a patch to make the Linux kernel preemptible. He says this patch will make for better system response by making user space programs preemptible. The patch will work with XFS but only if another supplied patch is also applied. More importantly, preemption is no longer marked experimental with SMP.

In addition to this patch, Love posted another patch, this one coming from MontaVista. This is a latency measurment patch for the preemption patch. According to Love, some users noticed latency even with preemption enabled, most notably with mp3 files. This patch will help with the examination of that problem.

Other patches and updates released this week include:

  • Jonathan Day noted that the latest FOLK patch (2.2.5) is out, with even more VME support. It also includes KGI, a kernel-based CORBA broker, and Parallel Port SCSI support, along with updates to i2c/lm_sensors, XFS, JFS, the VAX architecture, and the purple kitchen sink.

Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet


September 20, 2001

For other kernel news, see:

Other resources:

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 On the Desktop
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Linux History
 Letters

See also: last week's Distributions page.

Lists of Distributions
distrowatch
ibiblio
Kernelnotes
Linux.com
LinuxLinks
Woven Goods

Embedded Distributions:
3ilinux
Bifrost

BluePoint Embedded
Compact Linux
Coollinux
DSPLinux
ELinOS
ELKS
Embedded Debian
Embedix
Etlinux
FlightLinux
Hard Hat Linux
Jailbait
Linux/Coldfire
LEM
Midori
NeoLinux
OnCore Systems
PeeWeeLinux
RedBlue Linux
RedIce-Linux
Royal Linux
RTLinux
Tynux
uClinux
White Dwarf Linux

Handhelds/PDAs
Agenda-VR
Familiar (iPAQ)
Intimate (iPAQ)
Linux DA
PocketLinux
PsiLinux

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

Special Purpose/Mini
2-Disk Xwindow System
Mindi Linux
SmoothWall

Floppy-based
Brutalware
BYLD
Coyote Linux
DLX
Fd Linux
Fli4l (Floppy ISDN/DSL)
floppyfw
Floppix
FREESCO
Linux in a Pillbox (LIAP)
Linux Router Project
LOAF
muLinux
Nuclinux
Proxyfloppy
ShareTheNet
Small Linux
Tomsrtbt
Viralinux_II

CD-based
BasicLinux
BBLCD Toolkit
CDLinux
Crash Recovery Kit
DemoLinux
Devil-Linux
Finnix
Gibraltar
innominate Bootable Business Card
Linuxcare Bootable Business Card
LNX-BBC
MkCDrec
RunOnCD
Sentry Firewall
SuperRescue
Timo's Rescue CD
Ututo
Virtual Linux

Zip disk-based
NBROK
ZipSlack

Small Disk
hal91
MicroLinux
--> Peanut Linux
PKLinux
Relax Linux
TA-Linux
Tomukas
ttylinux
VectorLinux

Wireless
Bambi Linux
Flying Linux

Hardware-specific
(ARM)
ARM Linux
(Beowulf)
Scyld Beowulf
(IBM)
Think Blue Linux
(Oracle's NIC)
NIC Linux
(PA-RISC)
PA-RISC Linux
(Playstation)
Runix
(PowerPC)
Black Lab Linux
LinuxPPC
MkLinux
Yellow Dog
(Sparc)
Splack
UltraLinux
(Older Intel)
ClarkConnect
Monkey Linux
TINY

DOS/Windows install
Armed Linux
DragonLinux
Phat Linux

Diskless Terminal
GNU/Linux TerminalServer for Schools
K12LTSP
LTSP
Pygmy
Xdenu

Distributions


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

New Distributions

aXon Linux preview 1.0. aXon Linux is a new server distribution based on e-smith 4.1.2 and geared toward small and medium-sized businesses. It uses a 2.4 Linux kernel with extensions for SGI's XFS journaling file system and FreeSwan IPSEC VPN. Extensive firewalling allows Internet connection sharing via masquerading and improved security. aXon is capable of NT Domain controlling and support for Window 2000's roaming profiles, right out of the box. Also included are the HylaFax Fax Server, CUPS to share and monitor printers throughout the network, Qmail for high performance email serving with IMP acting as a secure Webmail interface. Web serving is provided by Apache and accelerated by mod_GZIP. Development support includes Python 2.1.1, Perl 5.6.0 with more than 25 modules pre-installed, Sun's Java SDK, and GNU's gcc 2.96. All of these features are manageable through a web interface or the console and all the code is released under the GNU GPL. You can find aXon Linux preview 1.0 at home or on Freshmeat.

Distribution News

Caldera. Caldera is not maintaining the openlinux.org site anymore. Attempts to reach that site are redirected to caldera.com. All is not lost, ftp://openlinux.org/pub/ is still available.

Coyote Linux. Development and testing is underway to provide Coyote Linux solutions that are based on IDE flash devices. The actual version of Coyote to be used has yet to be decided (but will likely be Embedded Coyote). More information on Coyote Linux on CompactFlash here.

Debian News. The Debian Weekly News for September 17th, 2001 includes notes on getting isdnlog into the Woody tree, a new builder for "personal packages", and a few new packages.

There is also a Kernel Cousin Debian Hurd #107 available. This issue talks about update-rc.d, which was moved from dpkg to sysvinit and other topics.

The Debian Project is looking for a secretary for the core Debian Security Team. If you are a Debian developer looking for a more active role, you might want to consider this job.

FreeBSD News. The August 2001 Status Report is now available. Covered topics include progress in the development of the RELENG_4 line and the delay of 5.0. If you would like to help get 5.0 back on track see this list of outstanding projects and information on how to get involved.

Linux Mandrake. Mandrake Linux 8.1 Release Candidate 1 has been released. Changes and improvements since the beta3 include: the new Mandrake Server Wizards which have been integrated to the Mandrake Control Center and XFS, the SGI journalized files system. Also SuperMount is back. The freshly released KDE 2.2.1 is in there too.

HP is now offering PCs with Linux Mandrake pre-installed! Due to the merger of HP and Compaq, the Vectra models vl420 and vl800 and the e-pc40 come with the option of Mandrake 7.2 or 8.0 (according to the model).

The Mandrake Cooker Weekly News for September 17, 2001 tells about the hot spots and package updates.

Here's an unofficial HOWTO on installing Oracle8i release 2, version 8.1.6 on Mandrake 8.0. "Another problem is that Oracle attempts to link its libraries at install time using glibc version 2.1.x. Mandrake 8 uses glibc version 2.2.x. Oracle will not link with this version. Various methods were tried during my efforts to install Oracle, the method that worked for me is detailed in this HOWTO. "

SmoothWall. SmoothWall is a small, dedicated firewall/router distribution. Version 0.9.9 was released on September 15, with a new English language installation guide. SmoothWall is available under the terms of the GNU GPL. Daniel James, News + Web Editor for LinuxUser magazine, told LWN, "I think it's the best firewall I've tried. Particularly useful is the support for old hardware, like ISA network card autodetection."

Distribution Reviews

Linux-Mandrake Corporate Server 1.0 (ZDNet). The Linux-Mandrake Corporate Server 1.0 is reviewed by ZDNet. "The problem is that the bulk of Corporate Server's configuration facilities are aimed at putting your network on the Internet. In doing so, MandrakeSoft has minimalized the basic network configuration to the point of near obscurity. DrakeConf, Webmin, and WizDrake all have a hand in the total process, but there appear to be duplicate functions available within each of these facilities."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol


September 20, 2001

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


Leading
Caldera OpenLinux
Debian GNU/Linux
Linux-Mandrake
Red Hat
Slackware
SuSE
TurboLinux

Also well-known
ASPLinux
Best Linux
Conectiva Linux
e-smith

Progeny
Rock Linux

Non-technical desktop
easyLinux
Icepack Linux
Independence
LibraNet
Redmond Linux
WinSlack

Education
Boston University
kmLinux
LinuxFromScratch
OpenClassroom
Red Escolar

General Purpose
Alzza Linux
aXon Linux
Bad Penguin Linux
BearOps
Black Cat Linux
BluePoint Linux
BYO Linux
CAEN Linux
Cafe Linux
ChainSaw Linux
Circle MUDLinux
cLIeNUX
Complete Linux
Console Linux
Corel Linux
CRUX
Darkstar Linux
DLite
easyLinux
Elfstone Linux
ESware Linux
Eurielec Linux
eXecutive Linux
Fried Chicken
FTOSX
FullPliant
Gentoo
Go!Linux
HA Linux
Halloween Linux
HispaFuentes
IceLinux
Ivrix
ix86 Linux
J-LINUX
JBLinux
Jurix
KRUD
KSI-Linux
Lanthan Linux
Laonux
LASER5
Leetnux
Linpus Linux
Linux Cyrillic Edition
Linux MLD
LinuxOne OS
LinuxPPP
Linux Pro Plus
Linux-SIS
LNX System
LoopLinux
LSD
Lute Linux
MageNet
Mastodon
MaxOS
minilinux
MSC.Linux

NoMad Linux
Omoikane GNU/Linux
PingOO Linux
Plamo Linux
PLD
Project Ballantain
PROSA
Rabid Squirrel
Repairlix
Root Linux
Scrudgeware
Serial Terminal
Sorcerer
spyLinux
Stampede
Stataboware
TechLinux
TimeSys Linux/RT
Tom Linux
Trinux
Turkuaz
Ute-Linux
VA-enhanced Red Hat
Vine Linux
Virtual Linux
WholeLinux
WinLinux 2000
XTeamLinux
ZipSpeak

Country-specific
Argentina
GNU/Linux Ututo
Britain
Definite Linux
Eridani
China
COSIX
Red Flag
France
Linux/MNIS
Italy
LinuxEspresso
Madeinlinux
Vedova
Spain
Linux Esware
Thailand
Kaiwal Linux
Thai Linux Extension

Related Projects
Chinese Linux Extension

Historical (Non-active)
Dualix
Gentus
Giotto
MCC Interim Linux
OS2000
Storm Linux


   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 On the Desktop
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Linux History
 Letters

See also: last week's On the Desktop page.


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

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

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

Desktop Publishing
AbiWord
iceSculptor (*)
Impress
Maxwell Word Processor
Mediascape Artstream (*)
Scribus

Web Browsers
Mozilla
Netscape (*)
Opera (*)
Konqueror
Galeon

Handheld Tools
KPilot
JPilot
Palm Pilot Resources
Pilot Link
SynCal

On The Desktop


The backup phoenix
In the midst of the horrors of last week and the eternal drop in the markets mixed with an overall feeling of economic doom and gloom, LWN.net thought there must be some rays of hope under which to rest our pale outlook. Somewhere out there, someone had found a business plan that worked. Somewhere, the realities of business hadn't crushed the genuine spirit and dedication found so often in the open source world. Somewhere, there is business success with Linux.

In fact, there is. And not just one. Last week we looked briefly at HancomLinux, which recently merged with KDE developer theKompany. Their business is booming in Asia and they're expanding to the U.S. Here in the U.S., we found another example of success: The Tolis Group. This company is nearly unknown to the Linux world as it is now, but many know it from its past. The Tolis Group is the phoenix which rose from the ashes of the EST/Atipa merger, and who continues to bring the BRU backup and restore utility to the Linux world.

The current economy has helped flush Linux startups faster than anyone would have liked. Tim Jones, President and CTO of the Tolis Group, says the problems with those companies which are failing is obvious. "They got funding, spent it fast and furious without concern on how they would produce revenue, and simply weren't cautious enough with how quickly they burned through the funding. You can't exist that way." This, he says, was the problem with the EST/Atipa merger.

EST, makers of an archival system called BRU, was founded in 1985. In 1999, Atipa bought EST as part of a plan to build a number of Internet appliances in which BRU would provide backup services. Those plans never fully developed. A number of management changes at EST, via Atipa, caused some friction with the original EST group, including Tim Jones. "Atipa allowed EST's new management team to spend too fast. They ramped up the staffing, paying some employees ludicrous salaries. Some of them were making up to $200,000 a year and did almost nothing for the company." Atipa had been called the next VA Linux at one point, focusing on hardware solutions ranging from PCs to network appliances to server systems. But they never quite got on track. Jones added, "When your burn rate is 3 times your monthly revenue rate, there's only one thing that's going to happen."

The EST/Atipa management team, which replaced EST's team after the merger, lost money every month of the combined operations. For Jones and the other original EST management, this was the most difficult part of the merger. "There had never been a red month at EST. We had been in the black since day one. Then you turn that into a company that is 3 times in the red each month, we just had to say ``enough''." Jones and the other EST originals left the company. At one point Atipa attempted to sell off EST to EBIZ (now in chapter 11). Finally, Atipa closed EST down, offering to let the new management team buy back the company, a deal they couldn't put together. Jones and his group, however, could.

Jones' group pulled back the core players which brought EST and BRU to their original success, including Bob Christ as Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Paige Christ as Director of Marketing. They took the company, which had grown to 27 people under Atipa, back down to a core group of 7 individuals.

The financiers for the Tolis Group offered the new company a couple of million dollars up front to get a building, to hire people to handle finances and so forth. But the team didn't want to do that. "Before the Atipa merger, we got along on $1.2 million a year in revenue with 6 or 7 staff members. There was no reason to go down the pre-IPO trail." Jones says a perfect example of this problem was with the EST/Atipa product support staff. At that time they had 5 support staff members in addition to the product development staff. "They weren't in the kernel or the code so if you called with an esoteric problem they would just say it's a hardware problem." The alternative was to go up the support chain to the developers which may or may not get those esoteric problems described accurately. "Now, when you call in, you go right to my desk, or to any developer. There is no one else who knows the product better."

But that raises the question of how to survive expansion, as every successful company must eventually face. Jones says this isn't as difficult as it might sound because BRU is a very mature product. "We've got in the multiple millions of licensed packages out there since inception. The product just does what its supposed to do, so the phone don't ring as much as you might expect." Because of this, he says, he has no reason to stop answering support questions himself, and neither does the rest of the team.

Another aspect of support that they addressed was the "dumbing down of Linux," where Linux was now in the hands of people who weren't typical systems administrators. Jones says they decided to build their X11 interface using Tk and Tcl. Having a simple graphical interface allowed them to address customer requirements for less technical users. As Jones says, "We stopped developing BRU in 1995. Since then, customers have been designing it by requesting new features."

BRU can backup to devices as small as Zip disks and has handled systems as large as American Express' petabyte systems. This means they can handle devices as large as Hitachi and Fujitsu Silos. "We have no device dependencies. BRU can scale from floppy tapes up to systems like Silos". BRU is actually a mid-level package that is designed to work on its own or as an intermediary between higher level interfaces (X or Web based, for example) and the low level offline storage systems. Jones says that many NAS (network attached storage) vendors are using single board computers running Linux and BRU as the backup engine. "These vendors OEM the BRU engine because the reliability of recovery of those backups is paramount to their customers."

The Linux Tape Certification program was started by Tolis to help vendors certify their drives and equipment with Linux. Vendors that are participating here include HP, Ecrix/Exabyte, and Tandberg Data, and others. This program helps make sure that reported problems get to the vendors and driver developers as quickly as possible, which helps to get the problems fixed quickly. Jones is directly involved with verifying that the fixes are integrated into the appropriate kernels. They even came up with a Tux based logo for hardware manufacturers to use as a branding element. That use still requires more organizational work in the Open Hardware Group but Jones hopes to see the logo in use in the near term.

Tim Jones is obviously enthusiastic and adamant about his reborn company's success. Interestingly, Jones suggests that the overall success of the Linux market is not in questions, based on upcoming projects or announcements, but he says he couldn't discuss those projects due to NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). Says Jones, "These are projects that will keep Linux going for many years to come." We think he's right.

KDE 2.2.1 released.  Earlier this week SuSE posted binaries for KDE 2.2.1 in their 7.2 packages list, which suggested 2.2.1 announcements would be just around the corner. That was on Monday, September 17th, which was the scheduled due date for 2.2.1's official release, according to the last schedule posted on September 9th.

Discussions on the KDE-Devel list suggested that distributors tend to either get the source tar ball from the release manager (Waldo Bastian for 2.2) or grab it directly from the CVS source, which would have explained how SuSE might have had a little jump on distributors. Interestingly, the source tarball from Bastian wasn't available prior to SuSE's packaging listing for the 2.2.1. version.

The official announcement for the 2.2 series came from the KDE development team on Wednesday. The release was described as having been focused on documentation and translations for its 42 different language versions, though quite a few bugs were addressed as well. KDE 3.0, which should be based on the new Qt3, is expected to ship in beta form by the end of the year.

KWord not for the business market?.  We caught a short note posted to the KOffice mailing list from the leader of the GUI translation project for KDE regarding KWord, KDE's word processor. Apparently, he doesn't think KWord should have high end DTP features.

As to DTP: I think it's great that KWord follows a frame paradigm like most programs in this area and I also think that quite a lot of ideas could be borrowed from a well-designed DTP program like Ventura Publisher. But I'm not after heavy-weight DTP functionality in KWord, ie all the professional typesetting features, high precision output, color calibration and separation etc. This would probably best be reserved to a specialized app like the KVentura project we were talking about the other day. For KWord, most of this would be a waste of ressources which only a few users would appreciate.

Perhaps he underestimates the size of the DTP market. KWord probably has enough features to be usable to any business that doesn't require extensive MSWord document support. Import filters are still a concern, with RTF having been added only recently by developers. But most formatting features seem to be available if you are creating new documents. It is unclear if revision marks are available though, since we have not yet installed KOffice 1.1 and KOffice 1.0 didn't have them.

In any case, the KVentura project, which will surely address the same name-change problem that faced KIllustrator (now known as Kontour), is just getting off the ground. Which means KDE might not be ready for high end markets any time soon, if "heavy weight DTP functionality" is a necessity for that market.

Desktop Environments

Minutes of the GNOME Board meeting 4 September 2001. At the GNOME Board meeting this past week, discussions included concerns with making sure the 2.0 release is made in a reasonable time frame and there was a lot of talk about the roles of members of the 2.0 coordinating team.

Havoc Pennington and GConf. Havoc Pennington, one of the primary developers for GTK+ and GNOME and the chair of the GNOME Foundation, talks about GNOME 2.0 progress and GConf, the application configuration mechanism to be shipped with GNOME 2.0. "GConf makes preferences code much more manageable, since it eliminates the issue of synchronization between apps and processes and even various portions of the same process. Also, something like George's PonG - automatically generating a prefs dialog tied to GConf keys - is pretty nice. It needs to be integrated into Glade somehow to be really useful."

Noatun-Interview with KDE Developer Charles Samuels (KDE Dot News). Noautun author Charles Samuels is interviewed in an article posted by KDE Dot News. Noautun is the audio/video multimedia player for KDE. "We're working on making Noatun itself much more powerful and extensible via plugins. It's designed bottom-up to make a huge amount of features in the form of plugins, and KDE 3.0 will make this hold even more true. Multimedia-wise, support for more formats, more features, different effects."

Gdkxft 1.2 released. Gdkxft is a library which transparently adds anti-aliased font support to gtk+-1.2 in existing applications. XFree86 4.x is required (4.1 is recommended, but not required). Note that A botched install of gdkxft has the potential to make your X configuration unworkable, so be sure to read the documentation closely to avoid serious problems.

KPart demonstration. A tutorial on KParts and embedding KDE components describes the code required to get items such as an HTML browser or text editor in as part of an application.

Office Applications

KOffice 1.1 Rolls Out (KDE.News). KDE.News carried another review of KOffice 1.1 this past week. Their conclusion is that the interface is slick, but KOffice still has distance to cover. "But, with all due respect to the diligent work of the filter developers, the biggest obstacle to KOffice right now is the filters for MS Office documents. So while I will make KOffice my primary office suite, someone who (1) has a repository of .doc files; and/or (2) receives many .doc files by email; and/or (3) needs to collaborate on document production with someone tied to non-KOffice formats, and/or (4) has unusually demanding office needs, will likely not be happy with KOffice as their exclusive Office Suite (yet -- things are improving quickly!). "

KOffice falls short of Microsoft Office standard (ZDNet). ZDNet says KOffice 1.1 doesn't quite meet MSOffice users' needs, though KPresenter does seem to be very useful. "KOffice is the result of a volunteer effort, many features found in other office productivity suites are either not functional or are missing entirely from KOffice. For that reason, while KOffice 1.1 represents a significant step in the right direction for the future of Linux, its usability in corporate or other environments with serious information-processing needs is, at best, problematic."

Desktop Applications

Mentalix imaging software gets the picture for Linux users (ZDNet). Mentalix's proprietary Pixel!FX integrated graphics package is reviewed briefly by ZDNet. "The database segment of the package, Pixel!FX Image Album, uses thumbnails to display existing images. It can also manage non-image objects and launch third-party software to handle them if you've previously defined them."

And in other news...

Linux as a Replacement for Windows 2000. This very detailed description of one consultant's work to migrate a client from Windows 2000 to a mixed Windows/Linux/KDE environment says that Linux is a viable alternative and shows that by migrating to Linux a savings of $10,000 was possible for the client. "When it become clear that Linux could provide most of my clients requirements, especially the intranet database application and almost US$10,000 could be trimmed off the IT budget, it was an easy business decision to implement Linux Red Hat as a replacement for Windows 2000. Linux would be deployed on the server for file, print, database and Web services, and on 20 workstations, it would replace Windows NT as the desktop OS."

The work includes detailed charts showing which Linux applications match up to which Windows applications, costs associated with migration, hardware compatibility comparisons and a long list of good and bad points about Red Hat Linux. This may be one of the most detailed analyses of a real world migration we've seen. It also raises some important design considerations for future desktop features. "When copying files under Linux, original timestamps are replaced with the current date. So the "date last modified" file attribute becomes "date last copied". This becomes a nightmare for anyone dealing with many files - how can you keep track of when a file was last modified. You can force the original timestamps using cp -p., but this means not using the GUI file manager. Very poor Linux design feature!"

Linux Invades Hollywood (Computer Graphics World). Computer Graphics World reports on the wholesale conversion to Linux by the visual effects industry. "For flipbook playback of high-resolution movies, ILM [Industrial Light and Magic] has ported its Irix Quicktime-compatible player to Linux. Generally speaking, the players that are available for for Real, Quicktime, MPEG-1, and AVI don't do well above 320-by-240 pixels. But with Linux, says Hendrickson, "we've got flipbook playback of movies working at 1280-by-700 pixels and 24 frames per second-as wide as the typical monitor. We're hoping to bring that to full 2K-by-1K soon." ILM plans to release its flipbook movie player, internal file formats, and batch job scheduler as open source." Dreamworks, Pixar, ILM - just about the entire industry is moving to Linux. And they're doing it on both the server side and the desktop side. (Thanks to Anand Rangarajan)

Xi Graphics releases Beta 3D Graphics Drivers. Xi Graphics has announced the Beta release of Version 2.0 of their Accelerated-X 3D Linux Graphics Drivers (LGDs).

Trolltech releases Qt PalmTop 1.4. The new release of QT provides basic palm-top applications along with a complete graphical interface that can run on handhelds running a version of embedded Linux.

IBM developerWorks Announces Theme Contest Winners. IBM developerWorks announced the winners of KDE theme contest.

Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel


September 20, 2001


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

Desktop Environments
GNOME
GNUstep
KDE
XFce

Window Managers (WM's)
Afterstep
Enlightenment
FVMW2
IceWM
Sawfish
WindowMaker

Minimalist Environments
Blackbox

Widget Sets
GTK+
Qt

Desktop Graphics
CorelDRAW (*)(w)
GIMP
Kontour
Photogenics (*)
Sketch

Windows on Linux
WINE
Win4Lin
VMWare

Kids S/W
Linux For Kids

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See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects


News and Editorials

GPL Licensing Turmoil Last Friday, the Free Software Foundation issued a press release, claiming that Victor Yodaiken, CEO of FSMLabs was violating the GPL by imposing restricted distribution on the Linux component of RTLinux, a real-time Linux implementation.

Fortunately, as of this Tuesday, the FSF and FSMLabs managed to resolve the issue quickly with the FSMLabs RTLinux Open Patent License being modified to be fully GPL compliant as a result.

In the Linux Devices coverage of the issue, Victor Yodaiken said that they: "were happy to have this settled and go back to our business. There seems to have been some miscommunication, and it's good to see that we can get past it." The quick resolution was very fortunate, the GPL software world can do without a nasty court battle right now.

For a good view of the Free Software Foundation's stance on GPL, see GPL counsel Eben Moglen's paper on Enforcing the GPL, Part One and Part Two. Software developers who are mixing proprietary and GPL software should make it their business to be informed on the issues here.

Audio

New RPMs available for Ogg Vorbis. The Ogg Vorbis site lists some updated RC2 RPMs that replace broken RPMs which were built with a funky version of GCC.

Databases

New SapDB available. A new release of SapDB is available. From the release notes, this appears to be version 7.3.00.15, which includes numerous bug fixes.

Education

SEUL/edu report for September 17, 2001. The September 17, 2001 edition of the SEUL/edu Linux in education report is out, with stories about Linux in Greek and Australian schools, Guatemalan and Belize school systems who are looking at Linux. The long list of software projects listed this week include some utilities for tracking student enrollment and accounting information, schedule planning, and much more.

Embedded Systems

Embedded Linux Newsletter. A new issue of the Embedded Linux Newsletter is out, this edition includes a review of leading Embedded Linux toolkits, news of Lineo's downsizing, and Red Hat's choice of RTLinux.

Robots marching into open source (IBM developerWorks). Darrick Addison gives an overview of robot technology in an IBM developerWorks article. "The word "robot" originates from the Czech word for forced labor, or serf. It was introduced by playwright Karel Capek, whose fictional robotic inventions were much like Dr. Frankenstein's monster -- creatures created by chemical and biological, rather than mechanical, methods. But the current mechanical robots of popular culture are not much different from these fictional biological creations."

Filesystems

Advanced filesystem implementor's guide, Part 3 (developerWorks). In part 3 of this series from developerWorks, titled " Using the virtual memory (VM) filesystem and bind mounts", the author looks at the advantages of tmpfs and bind mounts now available with kernel 2.4.
Part 4
of the series is also available and covers devfs, the Device Filesystem. "These days, Linux supports a lot of different kinds of hardware. This means that most of us have literally hundreds of special files in /dev to represent all of these devices. Not only that, but most of these special files don't even map to an existing device on our system (but they need to be there just in case we eventually add new hardware/drivers to our system), making things even more confusing.
From just this one aspect, we can see that /dev is in need of an overhaul, and devfs was created with the express purpose of whipping /dev back into shape.
"

Games

SDL Game Contest. No Starch Press is running another Linux game developer's contest. Entries should be submitted by December 1, 2001.

Interoperability

Wine Weekly News for September 12, 2001. The September 12, 2001 edition of the Wine Weekly News is out. Topics include a discussion on implementing the advapi32.dll crypto api, dealing with bugs in Specmaker and with keyboards, and more.

Printing Systems

Omni version 0.4.3 released. A new version of the Omni printer driver was recently released. Version 0.4.3 adds patches for ghostscript 6.51 and 5.50, and brings with it the latest Foomatic enablement code.

Science

Introduction to Quantum Computing (IBM developerWorks). Brad Huntting and David Mertz discuss quantum computing as a way to solve a certain class of difficult computational problems. "In the next few decades, quantum computers are likely to move out of science fiction and research labs (largely at IBM) and into practical applications. A class of problems surrounding complex combinatorics that plague deterministic computers can be solved efficiently on Quantum Computers (QCs). This article, which builds on a basic knowledge of the mathematics of vectors, gives an introduction to quantum computing."

Web-site Development

The MEMS Exchange Architecture. Andrew Kuchling has written a paper describing the web architecture used in the design of the MEMS Exchange, a project in distributed microfabrication.

The latest Zope News. The latest news from the Zope project includes news of release 0.9.2. of My Media Manager, release 4.2.0 of ZStyleSheet, with support for Konqueror and MS IE6, and more.

Convergence of Peer and Web Services (O'Reilly). Jeff Schneider looks at similarities between Peer and Web Services in an O'Reilly article. "Two of the hottest topics in computing in the new millennium have been peer services and Web services. Although these concepts have a significant amount of overlap, their current manifestations remain very different. In reviewing the types of problems that these systems solve and their method for solving them, it is very possible that the two will converge, producing a single hybrid solution."

Window Systems

XFree86 DRI team released by VA Linux. The members of the DRI team, including Brian Paul who authored the Mesa OpenGL-clone library, have been laid off from VA Linux. While this won't stop development, it may slow it for a time while developers find their way into new employment. (Thanks to Guido Guenther.)

Miscellaneous

Software Carpentry Spin Offs (O'Reilly). Even though The Software Carpentry project seems to have fallen by the wayside, some of the projects that were inspired by it live on. Stephen Figgins examines several of the successful software engineering tools that resulted from the project.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook


September 20, 2001


Application Links
GIMP
Mozilla
Galeon
High Availability
ht://Dig
mnoGoSearch
MagicPoint
Wine
Worldforge
Zope

Open Source Code Collections
Berlios
Freshmeat
OpenSourceDirectory
Savannah
Le Serveur Libre
SourceForge
Sweetcode

   

 

Programming Languages


Caml

Caml Weekly News. The September 12 through 19 edition of the Caml Weekly News is out. Topics include the Ensemble distributed communication system, a tutorial on phantom types, and a new FORT mailing list.

FORTRAN

Progress continues on G95. The G95 FORTRAN compiler project continues to make progress towards a working compiler. A binary parser for Linux X86 is currently available for download.

Java

Java-GNOME 0.7.0 Released. Java-GNOME 0.7.0 has been released. "The Java-GNOME team is pleased to announce the next release of the bindings. This release delivers native compilation using gcj 3.0 or higher."

Clustering with JBoss/Jetty (O'Reilly). Bill Burke looks at JBoss/Jetty for the development of a scalable e-commerce site and discusses workarounds for some missing features.

Lisp

OpenMCL 0.7 has been released. Version 0.7 of OpenMCL has been released. This release features a BSD sockets interface, primitives for manipulating shared libraries and doing multiple i/o, and bug fixes. OpenMCL runs under LinuxPPC.

Perl

Perl 6 Porters for September 8, 2001. The September 8, 2001 edition of Perl 6 Porters is out. This issue covers the new %MY:: interface, runtime prototype checking, new documentation, and progress on the Parrot interpreter.

Python

Dr. Dobb's Python-URL!. This week's Dr. Dobb's Python-URL! includes the first discussion on the Python language newsgroup on what .Net means to Python.

The Architecture of Python. Jim Jackson and Kar-Han Tan have written The Architecture of Python, an online overview of the Python language.

Python 101 (part 8): An Exceptionally Clever Snake (Developer Shed). Vikram Vaswani Melonfire examines Python exceptions in part 8 of his series on Python. "Normally, when a Python program encounters an error, be it syntactical or logical, it exits the program at that stage itself with a message indicating the cause of the error. Now, while this behaviour is acceptable during the development phase, it cannot continue once a Python program has been released to actual users. In these "live" situations, it is unprofessional to display cryptic error messages (which are usually incomprehensible to non-technical users); rather, it is more professional to intercept these errors and either resolve them (if resolution is possible), or notify the user with a clear error message (if not)."

Ruby

Ruby Garden News. The latest news from the Ruby Garden includes an announcement for Ruby 1.6.5, Jruby, a pure Java implementation of Ruby, discussions of various Ruby language features, and a new Visual Tk interface for Ruby.

Tcl/Tk

Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL!. Tcl-URL! this week covers topics such as the use of canvases and scaling, Tk fonts under Windows, and more license questions.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

 
Language Links
Caml
Caml Hump
Tiny COBOL
Erlang
g95 Fortran
Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC)
Gnu Compiler for the Java Language (GCJ)
Guile
Haskell
IBM Java Zone
Jython
Free the X3J Thirteen (Lisp)
Use Perl
O'Reilly's perl.com
Dr. Dobbs' Perl
PHP
PHP Weekly Summary
Daily Python-URL
Python.org
Python.faqts
Python Eggs
Ruby
Ruby Garden
MIT Scheme
Schemers
Squeak
Smalltalk
Why Smalltalk
Tcl Developer Xchange
Tcl-tk.net
O'Reilly's XML.com
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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and Business


Red Hat stock repurchase program; financial results. Red Hat, Inc. announced a stock repurchase program. The board of directors has authorized up to 10% of outstanding common shares to be repurchased over the next twelve months. The buy back was triggered last Monday in an effort to buoy stock prices after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it would allow companies to repurchase stock without meeting the usual volume and timing restrictions. Red Hat currently lists approximately 170 million shares outstanding.

Later this week Red Hat reported its fiscal second quarter results. Red Hat's net loss, including some one-time only items, was $55.3 million, or 33 cents per share, compared with a loss of $20 million, or 12 cents per share, reported one year ago. Without the one-time items the loss was called "slim".

Caldera Announces Restructuring and Consolidation. Caldera International announced details of its recent reduction in force (51 people or 8 percent of the workforce). The company is consolidating unused facilities in Orem, Utah and Santa Cruz, California, streamlining product lines and reducing budgets to allow the company to immediately reduce its overall expenses.

Nortel switches to Red Hat. Nortel Networks has switched their Meridian MAX call center to Red Hat Linux.

Motorola Selects Lineo Embedix Digital Media Core for DCT5000 Family of Advanced Interactive Set-Top Terminals. Lineo, Inc. announced that Motorola Broadband Communications Sector has selected Lineo Embedix(TM) Digital Media core as the initial Linux operating system software for its DCT5000 family of advanced interactive digital set-top terminals.

Trolltech releases Qt PalmTop 1.4. The new release of QT provides basic palm-top applications along with a complete graphical interface that can run on handhelds running a version of embedded Linux.

Xi Graphics releases Beta 3D Graphics Drivers. Xi Graphics has announced the Beta release of Version 2.0 of their Accelerated-X 3D Linux Graphics Drivers (LGDs).

EU IDA study on the use of open source software in the European public sector. The European Commission Interchange of Data between Administration (EU IDA) program has posted a study into the use of open source software in the public sector.

LWN Linux stock page change. Danaher has replaced Microtest in the tier two companies on the LWN stocks page. Fluke Networks announced its completion of the acquisition of Microtest, Inc. on Aug 9, 2001. Fluke Networks, Inc., is part of the Danaher family of companies (NYSE: DHR).

Linux Stock Index for September 17 to September 19, 2001.
LSI at closing on September 17, 2001 ... 21.42
LSI at closing on September 19, 2001 ... 21.51

The high for the week was 21.54
The low for the week was 21.42

Press Releases:

Open source products

Proprietary Products for Linux

Hardware and bundled products

Products and Services Using Linux

Products With Linux Versions

Java Products

Books & Training

Personnel & New Offices

Linux At Work

Other

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.


September 20, 2001

   

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Linux in the news


Recommended Reading

Computing Made Good, Easy (Wired). Users seldom use computers efficiently, opting instead to stick with the method that first worked even if another method improves speed, according to this Wired article describing how the "Good Easy" environment uses concepts Unix users have known for years. "This system is tied together by a culture that, like Unix, keeps technology simple and understands how to use programs together. You either delete an e-mail or pipe it through the text editor to strip out the line breaks and save it as plain text on the hard disk. In fact, anything that can be kept in plain text is -- so no more Excel address books with long lists of phone numbers. Keeping all your data, including e-mail messages, in plain text makes searching quicker and easier because users don't need to run searches in multiple locations. If users find themselves repeating an action, it can be easily automated." (Thanks to Robert George Mayer)

Geeks Gather to Back Crypto (Wired). Wired reports on one groups efforts to help keep congress from enacting legislation in response to last week's attacks that they feel may threaten civil liberties. "Carlson plans to post details, including a draft don't-ban-crypto-letter, to a newly created Working Group on Privacy and Civil Rights website."

Hollywood Loves Hollings' Bill (Wired). Wired quotes a Disney VP saying that the proposed SSSCA bill is a reasonable compromise that will spur high-speed Internet access and boost hardware sales. "A person close to the Senate Commerce committee said that discussions with industry groups over the past few weeks will continue and that the final bill could change. The source said, however, that "not much" has been rewritten since the Aug. 6 draft obtained by Wired News."

Open Letter to Michael Eisner, Chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Company (Linux Journal). This editorial looks at the SSSCA and how passing a law like that would effect the usefulness of the Internet during times of crisis. "The SSSCA is all the more dangerous because we're a big country. I would love to be able to say that even without the Internet, our independent radio stations, local newspapers and town meetings would get our communicating done. I would love to be able to say that many voices in all media brought us news, personal appeals, debate."

Virtual talk (San Diego Union-Tribue). The use of artificial intelligence as chatting `bots', according to a San Diego Union-Tribune report, is creating for some lonesome souls an unsettling feeling of false comfort. "The program merely simulates conversation by identifying key words and searching its database for an appropriate response. Alice can string together several sentences, refer to something discussed previously and even personalize the reply with the user's name, giving the illusion of a heartfelt response. Still, Alice tends to repeat comments, a trait that Wallace said is not unlike humans."

Enforcing the GNU GPL (LinuxDevices). Eben Moglen, General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation, describes why the GPL is legally sound in an editorial posted to LinuxDevices.com. "This right to exclude implies an equally large power to license -- that is, to grant permission to do what would otherwise be forbidden. Licenses are not contracts: the work's user is obliged to remain within the bounds of the license not because she voluntarily promised, but because she doesn't have any right to act at all except as the license permits."

It's a Dirty Job, but Does Anyone Have to Do It? (Linux Journal). Napster may be dead, but Napster clones are very popular. This Linux Journal article examines the issues between the recording industry and open source Napster clones. "But it does seem that the fantasy view of unlimited free music, and both listeners and artists getting everything they want, may be a little naive (for alternative "fantasies" see Doc Searl's Linux for Suits in the October 2000 issue of Linux Journal). Perhaps not unlike the view prevalent among the Open Source community before reality set in--that open-source software would save the world, and the artists could still make money. "

Companies

Hard times for Linux biz (Register). The Register covers Caldera's and Lineo's recent woes. "Last week Caldera announced in a SEC filing a consolidation of their stock, in other words a reverse split with a 1:6 ratio. Caldera's hand has been forced by the stock trading well below the $1 required to justify a NASDAQ listing."

Bankruptcy, more layoffs in Linux world (News.com). News.com examines Lineo's layoffs and EBiz's chapter 11 filing. "Lineo had hoped for an initial public offering but canceled its plans at the start of the year. In August, the Lindon, Utah-based company secured $20 million in funding to continue its effort to compete with better-established embedded operating system companies such as Wind River Systems."

Key programmer among Caldera job cuts (News.com). Set to be detailed on Monday, Caldera's next round of layoffs will include 51 employees from across all departments and will leave the company with 618 employees. "Caldera spokeswoman Tania Cantrell confirmed Thursday that Kienhoefer was among those to have lost a job. But she added that the LKP software remains "a fundamental element of our entire product and platform design." The company still has several key individuals working on the project, she said."

Fujitsu opens up Linux-based humanoid robot (ZDNet UK). Fujitsu is planning on releasing details on the architecture of their Linux-based humanoid robot this coming Tuesday. "Engineers from Fujitsu Laboratories will disclose the internal architecture of Hoap-1 at a meeting of the Robotics Society of Japan, which will be held at Tokyo University. By revealing some of the secrets of the robot, the scientists hope to encourage users to write original programs for it." (Thanks to Richard Storey)

IBM gains in shrinking server market (News.com). C|Net reports on IBM's growth both in the overall server market and it's gains in Linux workstations. "In the Linux server market, Compaq is the leader, with $119 million in sales for the quarter--a 14.4 percent decrease from the $139 million in the year-ago quarter. No. 2 Dell increased 33.9 percent from $59 million to $79 million, while No. 3 IBM increased the most, 39.5 percent from $43 million to $60 million, IDC said."

IBM maps out database sales campaign (Register). Marc Dupaquier, IBM's worldwide VP for data management solutions sales talks with IT-Analysis about his company's database thrust, and says Linux is much bigger outside the U.S. than inside. "In Europe I could not name one major manufacturer that does not have a Linux project or live installation. Linux is huge. To be honest though, it's not quite so popular in the US. I don't know why. But for some reason the US seems to be more reluctant to go with Linux. Perhaps this is because Sun is so big or Microsoft so popular."

Business

Business To Business: Licensing Liability (TechWeb). TechWeb looks at software licensing. "UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act) makes software licensing really troublesome. But it's not about legislation or liability. Network managers need to consider licensing's burdens. What is the overhead associated with using reasonably licensed software versus unreasonably licensed software?"

Reviews

Product Review: NuSphere MySQL (Linux Journal). Linux Journal reviews NuSphere MySQL. "Why should you buy such a package when your favorite Linux distribution probably comes with most, if not all, of this software? The fun comes in getting all the pieces to work together. I've set up Apache/MySQL/PHP on several machines, including Solaris, from source. It's not hard, but it does take a little time, and I can't count the number of requests for help I've seen on the various lists for getting PHP working with Apache or for getting MySQL set up and usable. "

PHP-Nuke radiates power (ZDNet). eWeek's evaluation tests of corporate portals used PHP-Nuke for their own portal, according to their report on the setup. "One of the strongest points of PHP-Nuke is its excellent administration interface, which is as good or better than some found in corporate portals costing six figures. From this interface, we could easily add content, customize the look and feel of the portal, and manage users."

NetMAX sidesteps VPN security scares (ZDNet). ZDNet reviews NetMAX, a VPN server package built on top of Red Hat Linux. "Making remote connections to our network was a breeze. Once connected, we were able to log in to the Windows NT domain and access directories and resources on our network. Performance was acceptable but, because our dial-up connections were limited to 56Kbps, accessing large files across the link was time consuming. Except for the speed, our test systems operated as if they were directly connected to our internal network."

Miscellaneous

COMPUEXPO in Costa Rica (Linux Journal). Here's a look at COMPUEXPO, a computer trade show in Costa Rica. "In Costa Rica, RACSA is the government monopoly that provides connection services. They had a great booth and were up for this crowd. I got excited by the new term they had plastered on the walls: "RACSA-sat". I asked what that meant, as I live out in a small pueblo and connection is by undependable phone line. Visions of a new satellite dish on my roof popped into my head. The man said that, yes, satellite connection existed, and I could call their office as he didn't really know much about it. I did, later, and found out that for $1,000 down and $500 per month, I could be right up there with the big boys. "

Section Editor: Forrest Cook


September 20, 2001

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 On the Desktop
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Linux History
 Letters

See also: last week's Announcements page.

Announcements


Resources

The Safe Way to Remote Console (TechWeb). Tech Web discusses a number of issues in dealing with remote consoles for server machines. " Console access is the next best thing to being there. You can do things on a console that you can't do by normal remote management. For example, you can't normally see the status of the boot RAM check remotely, and if a server is rebooted and a floppy disk is in the drive, the computer's operating system might not load. The network card might go bad, or the server could become unplugged from the network. No matter how good the operating system is, you will need to access the console at some time."

You Can Get There from Here, Part 2 (Linux Journal). Linux Journal talks more about dealing with email and other data while on the road. "Every once in a while, you need to get to your system. Specifically, you need to get shell access. If you happen to be on someone else's network or, if you are not carrying your handy-dandy notebook (computer), this can be a problem. The problem gets worse if, being the security-conscious type that you are, you deny Telnets in favor of an SSH connection. Just about every PC has some kind of Telnet terminal application (though the standard one that comes with that other OS tends to be pretty, ahem, crappy), but not everyone has a SSH terminal for you to use."

Events

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Showcases the Adoption of Open Source in the Enterprise. Business wire summarizes the events at the recent LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. "Attracting more than 18,000 attendees and 180 exhibitors, the show's success demonstrated a growing popularity and demand for all things Linux, and marked a shift from what was once considered a meeting place for "hackers" to a mature marketplace for businesses both emerging and global."

Linuxbierwanderung 2001. For all those who missed it, here's an account of this year's Linux Beer Hike.

SDL Game Contest. No Starch Press, publishers of the Programming Linux Games, has announced a contest for game developers. Games written with SDL that compile to under 1MB are eligible.

O'Reilly P2P postponed. Due to the recent terrorist events and the effects that they have had on travel, O'Reilly has postponed it's upcoming P2P conference. (Thanks to Lynn Danielson)

6th Linux Developers Meeting in Oldenburg. Linux developers are invited to attend the 6th Linux Developers Meeting in Oldenburg As in previous years, the meeting brings Linux/m68k core developers and active users together to discuss current problems, show off projects, exchange news, and generally to have fun. The meeting will take place at the University of Oldenburg, Wechloy from September 27 to September 30, 2001.

Open Source in Banking and Finance. A conference for Open Source in Banking and Finance will be held on November 9, 2001 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Events: September 20 - November 22, 2001.
Date Event Location
September 20, 2001XML Information DaysZurich
September 21, 2001XML Information DaysMilan
September 23 - 28, 2001Australian Unix User Group's Annual Conference(AUUG 2001)Sydney, Australia
September 24, 2001XML Information DaysParis
September 25, 2001XML Information DaysCopenhagen
September 26, 2001XML Information DaysOslo
September 27, 2001XML Information DaysStockholm
September 27 - 30, 20016th Linux Developers MeetingUniversity of Oldenburg, Wechloy
September 28, 2001XML Information DaysHelsinki
September 30 - October 4, 2001XML OneSan Jose, California
October 1, 2001XML Information DaysBudapest
October 2 - 5, 2001Federal Open Source Conference(Ronald Reagan Building)Washington DC
October 8 - 12, 2001IBM pSeries and UNIX Technical University(Hotel Munchen)Munich, Germany
October 10, 2001Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen to speak on: "Free Software: the Free Market/Free Speech Solution to the Microsoft Antitrust Problem."(George Washington University)Washington, D.C.
October 11 - 13, 2001Wizards of OS 2(House of World Cultures)Berlin, Germany
October 14 - 18, 2001ACM Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications(OOPSLA 2001)(Tampa Convention Center)Tampa Bay, Florida
October 22 - 25, 2001XMLEdge International Developer Conference & Expo 
October 22 - 26, 2001The Open Group Quarterly ConferenceAmsterdam, Netherlands
October 30 - November 1, 2001LinuxWorld GermanyFrankfurt, Germany
October 30 - 31, 2001tech-u-wear 2001(Madison Square Garden)New York City
November 6 - 10, 2001Annual Linux Showcase and ConferenceOakland, CA
November 6 - 8, 2001LinuxWorld MalaysiaKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
November 8, 2001NLUUG Annual Autumn conferenceDe Reehorst, Ede, Netherlands
November 8 - 9, 2001XFree86 Technical Conference(Oakland Convention Center)Oakland, CA
November 9, 2001Open Source in Banking and Finance(OSBAF)(Baltimore Engineering Society)Baltimore, Maryland

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

Web sites

User Group News

LUG Events: September 20 - October 4, 2001.
Date Event Location
September 20, 2001St. Louis LUG(SLLUG)(St. Louis County Library, Indian Trails Branch)St. Louis, MO.
September 20, 2001Omaha Linux User Group(OLUG)Omaha, Nebraska
September 20, 2001South Mississippi LUG(SMLUG)(Barnes & Noble)Gulfport, Mississippi
September 20, 2001
October 4, 2001
Gallup Linux Users Group(GalLUG)(Coyote Bookstore)Gallup, New Mexico
September 20, 2001Linux Enthusiasts And Professionals of Central Florida(LEAP-CF)(DeVry Institute)Orlando, FL.
September 20, 2001New Orleans Linux Users' Group(NOLUG)(University of New Orleans (UNO) Mathematics Building)New Orleans, Louisiana
September 20, 2001AaLUG: Foredrag om DiaDenmark
September 20, 2001SSLUG: Quicktalks...Denmark
September 21, 2001Rock River Linux User Group(RRLUG)(Rockford College)Rockford, Illinois
September 21, 2001AaLUG: AaLUG Linux Weekend 2001Denmark
September 22, 2001Consortium of All Bay Area Linux(CABAL)Menlo Park, CA
September 22, 2001Greater London Linux User Group(GLLUG)London, England.
September 22, 2001North Texas Linux Users Group(NTLUG)(Nokia Centre)Irving, Texas
September 22, 2001Rice LUG Installfest Fall 2001(Duncan Hall, Rice University)Houston, TX.
September 24, 2001Roseville Area Linux Users Group(roselug)(Nerd Books)Roseville, California
September 25, 2001Hazelwood Linux User Group(HLUG)(Prairie Commons Branch Library)Hazelwood, Missouri
September 25, 2001
October 2, 2001
Kalamazoo Linux Users Group(KLUG)(Western Michigan University)Kalamazoo, Michigan
September 25, 2001Western Cape Linux Users Group(CLUG)University of Cape Town, South Africa
September 26, 2001Linux User Group in AssenNetherlands
September 26, 2001Nashville Linux User's Group(NLUG)Nashville, Tennessee
September 27, 2001GalLUG Installfest(Connecting Point Computers)Gallup, New Mexico
September 27, 2001K-LUGRochester, Minnesota
September 27, 2001LinuxDK: Seminar: HP og IBM viser high-end Linux-lÝsningerDenmark
September 29, 2001Central Ohio LUG(COLUG)Columbus, Ohio
October 1, 2001Baton Rouge Linux User Group(BRLUG)Baton Rouge, LA.
October 2, 2001Linux User Group of Davis(LUGOD)(Z-World)Davis, CA
October 2, 2001Missouri Open Source LUG(MOSLUG)Kirkwood, Missouri
October 3, 2001Silicon Valley Linux Users Group(SVLUG)San Jose, CA
October 3, 2001Southeastern Indiana LUG(SEILUG)(Madison/Jefferson County Public Library)Madison, IN
October 3, 2001Kansas City LUG Demoday(KCLUG)(Kansas City Public Library)KC, Missouri
October 4, 2001Edinburgh LUG(EDLUG)Edinburgh, Scotland
October 4, 2001St. Louis Area Computer Club Linux workshopSt. Louis, MO
October 4, 2001UNIX/Linux Special Interest Group of the Dayton Microcomputer Association(DMA office at 119 Valley St)Dayton, OH, USA.
October 4, 2001Ottawa Canada Linux Users Group(OCLUG)(Algonquin College Rideau Campus)Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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

Section Editor: Forrest Cook.


September 20, 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

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 On the Desktop
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Linux History
 Letters

See also: last week's Linux History page.

This week in Linux history


Five years ago Troll Tech released Qt for the X Window System.

Four years ago Pacific HiTech released TurboLinux 1.0 for the i386 architecture.

Three years ago (September 24, 1998 LWN): The Uniform Driver Interface (UDI) burst on the scene with great fanfare. UDI was a layer intended to make it possible to write device drivers that would work on multiple systems. Surprisingly, Linux was not only to be supported by UDI, but was being actively courted:

However, writing new drivers for the thousands of peripherals on the market is a daunting task. Hence, Project UDI is hoping the Linux community will help... A reference platform will be distibributed as freeware for Linux, and the Project UDI members will be counting on the Linux community to work on device drivers...
-- ZDNet.

The Linux community showed little enthusiasm for the idea of providing device drivers for the convenience of proprietary Unix vendors, and UDI faded away.

The development kernel release remained at 2.1.122. Linus called for a change in how the network drivers worked, because it was all wrong at the time. The changes called for happened, but not until 2.3.43.

IBM finally got around to announcing that its DB2 database would be made available for Linux. Sybase, too, got in on the act with its release of "Adaptive Server Enterprise."

Two years ago (September 23, 1999 LWN): A previously obscure company called LinuxOne released a new distribution (called by some "Red Hat with the serial numbers filed off") then promptly filed for an IPO. Needless to say, this move was not well received. The IPO never happened and LinuxOne has faded back in obscurity.

Corel Linux went into beta test. The event was overshadowed, however, by a rather severe nondisclosure agreement that beta testers were expected to sign. Linux-Mandrake 6.1 was made available for download.

LinuxOne was not the only IPO filing that week; Andover.net also put in for an offering. They had rather more success at it. Linux was hot.

Andover.net paid $1.5 million to acquire Slashdot.org and $367,000 to acquire another Linux/open-source site, Freshmeat.net. Both will receive further cash and stock considerations if the founders, notably Malda and a couple of others, remain with Andover.net for two years. Malda will receive an additional $3.5 million plus stock over the next two years should he remain with Andover.net.
-- ZDNet.

Several months after the IPO was finalized Andover.net was swallowed by VA Linux Systems.

Appwatch.com had just entered its "beta" stage. Appwatch closed August 31, 2001.

One year ago (September 21, 2000 LWN): wrote, "The money is back - sort of." Our examples included Sun's purchase of Cobalt Networks, Caldera Systems' investment in EBIZ, and an investment in Corel, among others. However, since then Cobalt has been happily cranking out SPARC/Solaris systems, EBIZ has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and Corel has sold its Linux division. This past year has not been good for many companies.

Red Hat has done better than some. The company reported revenues of $18.5   million and a net loss of only $1.9 million for its fiscal second quarter 2000. Red Hat seemed to be well on the way to profitability, but they haven't quite made it yet. (See this week's Commerce page.)

Meanwhile BusinessWeek looked at the prospects of Great Bridge Software.

Great Bridge has zero market share and has yet to release a commercial product. Even tracking how many unofficial PostGres installations are up and running in corporations and universities is difficult since no one sells PostGres yet. But Batten has already seen value where others saw folly. "He has an acute sense of valuation. That's his biggest strength," says Ted Snyder, the dean of UVA's Darden B-school who has worked with Batten on several programs. If past is prologue, then Batten, perhaps more than anyone else, can build a company out of free software. Larry, look out.

And then came the Red Hat Database ...

Cisco claimed to have patented NAT, a "security system for network address translation systems", generally referred to it as "masquerading" on Linux systems. This proved to be a non-event.

The Debian Project announced plans to phase out security support for 2.1 (slink). There was some screaming, but support was phased out and people coped.

The stable kernel release was 2.2.17, but the 2.2.18pre9 prepatch merged in the long-awaited NFS fixes.

Linux job site Mojolin.com was announced. Mojolin is a free, international job site and resume database for the Linux, unix and embedded communities. If you are among those looking for a new job, you might want to check it out.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.


September 20, 2001

LWN Linux Timelines
1998 In Review
1999 In Review
2000 In Review
2001 In Review

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 On the Desktop
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Linux History
 Letters

See also: last week's Letters page.

Letters to the editor


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

September 20, 2001

   
From:	 "Robert A. Knop Jr." <rknop@pobox.com>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: The Boston CD Party
Date:	 Thu, 13 Sep 2001 07:18:48 -0500

If the SSSCA, the law mentioned in the September 13 issue of Linux
Weekly News which would require all computer hardware and software to
have federally regulated copyright-protection measures, does get
introduced in any form to the House or the Senate, free software
advocates across the USA should gather in Boston to throw CDs, DVDs,
eBook readers, and other products of the "digital copyright industry"
into Boston harbor.

Given the environmental and waste management problems that this would
cause, I am not seriously advocating this.  But we need to do
*something* to raise public awareness of what is going on.  Most people
in this country don't use free software, and won't think a law like this
(which would effectively outlaw Free Software) is such a big deal.  They
read in the newspapers the copyright industry's outlandishly inflated
estimates about the losses which "piracy" is causing them, and
misguidedly think that anybody who would object to this law is probably
just a thief anyway.  The digital copyright industry has many,
well-funded lobbyists in Washington, D.C. pushing their dangerous point
of view, while the best most of the rest of us can do is write letters
to Congressmen which will be filed and ignored by staffers.  Only one of
our legislators (Rick Boucher) seems to have a clue.  It really sounds
like there is no hope, and that soon the only real option that people
such as myself will have will be to flee this country.

How ironic and sad would it be if, after the terrible events on
September 11 we refuse to let the fear of terrorism weaken our resolve
for freedom, yes we let one industry's fear of *possible* copyright
violation sell out our freedom?  It would be a direct insult to the
memory of the people who gave their lives on September 11.

Anybody who cares about these issues and understands them needs to write
letters to Congressmen and Senators now.  A few will make no difference,
but if they get enough letters, especially from constituents, it will
start to matter.  We all have to do our part by writing our one small
letter, knowing that even if one won't matter, we have to write it for
there to be any hope of there being enough letters.  We also need to
write letters to the editors of newspapers.  Heaven knows that most
people don't read such letters printed in newspapers, but perhaps the
editorial staff of local newspapers will begin to see how significant
this issue is if they receive a large number of letters on the issue,
and will begin to run articles accordingly.

The time for action is now.  We have to make ourselves heard.  The DMCA
is already a terrible law, a law which may have future historians
looking back on 1998 as the year in which the USA finally started
dismantling its experiment with freedom.  That real Senators are
planning to propose a law which is many, many times worse should chill
us all to the bone.  If we do not want to lose the computational
freedoms we take for granted now, we all have to start doing something.

For those of us out there who may not be experienced programmers, or
don't know how to break into the large Free Software projects, this is
our opportunity to make a real contribution to Free Software.  Any
efforts made in convincing our lawmakers not to pass laws such as the
SSSCA will be just as an important and valuable contribution to free
software as the programming performed by the core developers of projects
such as Linux, Apache, Mozilla, and countless others.  This cannot be
overemphasized.  Indeed, I would like to see publications such as
LWN.net and Linux Journal begin to recognize the efforts of people who
perform such political activism right alongside the recognition of the
efforts of Free Software's programmers.

-Rob Knop

-- 
-=-=-= Rob Knop =-= rknop@pobox.com =-= http://www.pobox.com/~rknop =-=-=-

   Free Skylarov!  Repeal the DMCA; preserve free speech in the USA
              http://www.freesklyarov.org

   
From:	 Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Re: Would LiVid be safe from the DMCA
Date:	 Thu, 13 Sep 2001 13:16:58 -0700

Richard Corfield asks whether projects like LiVid are safe from the
DMCA because they are non-commercial.  I think he's misunderstood what
others were saying.

The DMCA provides for both criminal and civil penalties.  In a
criminal case, the government is the plaintiff, and the penalties can
include jail; in a civil case, a private party can be a plaintiff, and
the penalties are normally money damages or injunctions.

The DMCA's criminal penalties apply only to commercial infringement
(although the definitions of "commercial" may be quite broad); the
civil penalties apply to any infringement.  That's why previous DMCA
cases and threats, before Dmitry Sklyarov's case, have been civil
matters.  A civil lawsuit is still extremely serious; it's easy for
defendants to lose everything they own.

Until recently, no part of U.S. copyright law provided criminal
penalties for any non-commercial infringement.  In 1997, after the
acquittal in criminal court of David LaMacchia, who was alleged to have
infringed copyrights from non-commercial motives, Congress passed the
"No Electronic Theft Act", which provides criminal penalties for both
commercial and non-commercial copyright infringement.  Its name also
misleadingly suggests that copyright infringement is like theft, a
view which has been seeping into popular culture, possibly doing much
more damage than NETA itself.

The court in LaMacchia's case suggested that

	Criminal as well as civil penalties should probably attach to
	willful, multiple infringements of copyrighted software, even
	absent a commercial motive on the part of the infringer. [...]
	But, it is the legislature, not the court, which is to define a
	crime and/or ordain a punishment.

Many people felt that LaMacchia had escaped punishment because of a
loophole, which NETA was supposed to close.  However, the DMCA still
draws a distinction in this area.  See

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/1203.html
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/1204.html

-- 
Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org> | Its really terrible when FBI arrested
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/ | hacker, who visited USA with peacefull
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF) | mission -- to share his knowledge with
     http://www.freesklyarov.org/      | american nation.  (Ilya V. Vasilyev)

   
From:	 "Zenaan Harkness" <zen@getsystems.com>
To:	 <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: licenses
Date:	 Thu, 13 Sep 2001 16:41:43 +1000

Hello, I would like to request that you make a greater effort to distinguish
between Open Source and Free Software.

When you use the phrase "open source" (no capitals), eg in todays LWN:

"On2 Technologies open sources VP3 codec. On2 Technologies announced that
the source code and open source license for their VP3.2 video compression
algorithm can now be accessed at www.vp3.com. According to the press
release, both RealNetworks and Apple have added support for VP3.2 in their
video players."

it is not possible to know whether you mean proprietary or Free, as both can
be open source. Open Source with capitals should imply a license compatible
with the Open Source Definition (also DFSG) as defined by the Open Source
Foundation (and Debian, for DFSG). But even this may confuse some people.

This would be appreciated and would certainly add to your excellent
publication.

Regards
Z


   
From:	 Leon Brooks <leon@brooks.fdns.net>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Bleak? Blerk. What you lose on the swings you get back on the roundabout.
Date:	 Thu, 13 Sep 2001 21:44:11 +0800

DOOM AND GLOOM

>From various part of the 13 Sep 2001 LWN - front page:
> 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.

Front page again:
> In other words, this is a law that would ban free software.

Front page again:
> 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.

Security:
> security advisors are recommending that now is a good time to
> be on the lookout for cyber attacks, which have reportedly
> increased by an order of magnitude.

This all looks doom and gloom, but conside this:

* Linux does not exist to make money. Linux exists as the result
  of scratching an itch. Linux will not go away even if *all* of
  the money goes away, if RedHat and Mandrake and SourceForge
  and so on all die, Linux will continue. There is Debian, and
  most distributions are entirely open source, so it's not
  difficult for Joe Random SysAdmin to pick one up from a mirror,
  enlist a few dozen good (wo)men and keep it current.

* Business tried to adopt the GPL as if it were just another
  business method. Oops. Businesses failed, but neither Linux
  nor the GPL have done any less than they expected to.

* The bottom is falling out of the entire IT market. In the light
  of that, Linux's doom and gloom can be seen to be relative.

* So cyber-attacks are on the rise. Who has the best track-record
  of surviving this, among the ``world domination'' candidates?

* If the US government is sufficiently hell-bent that it outlaws
  Open Source, more fool them. The rest of the world *is* out
  there and will continue to spin without the US until after the
  economic collapse resulting from an inability to compete in any
  IT market. I think the French would be delighted to firewall off
  the entire US to block the storm of outbound probes and trojans
  when CodeRed-n hits within a 100%-Microsoft network monoculture.

BTW, This is an argument Microsoft use: that the world would practically stop 
spinning if we were inhibited from cheating. How does it look when it's 
turned around like this?

Also, in amongst the sadness there were a few gleams of promise as well. Even 
in the business world.

Kernel:
> Linus has suggested [...] that, once the merge with Alan
> is complete, the 2.5 series will begin

Commerce:
> IBM says Linux is "Ready for Business".

..and other reports in today, including HP shipping Mandrake-Linux 
preinstalled on workstations and some maniac mathematician fitting a live 
ELF32 executable version of the DeCSS broken-encryption-decoder software into 
a prime number.

LUNATICS WITH KNIVES, GLOBAL COMMUNITY

I think that for many US citizens, the NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] bubble has 
been devastatingly burst. Some are learning, at an enormous cost, that all is 
not smiles and open arms outside their view of the universe. That there is 
much more to the story than they have ever been told, and some of it is very 
unpleasant.

However, they also see that in their first time of great need in a long 
while, there are also many in the world who will rush to help them, history 
be damned.

The few who get to read Uwe Thiem's message of support might think a bit 
better of us than the ``computer vandals'' association which the name 
``hackers'' normally provokes. Print it out, post it on noticeboards, get it 
read.

The readers might think even more about how well this brotherhood based on a 
common purpose rather than manipulation works. Yes, we do bicker. Yes we do 
have hard-heads in our midst. Yes, it all works in ways that the commercial 
world can't imagine, that politicians can't imagine, primarily because it's 
not all caged in and forced along and regulated into the ground. Yes, we have 
Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Atheists, all manner of faiths; we have a 
rainbow of skin colours; we have a Babel of languages; we have girl geniuses 
and great-grandfathers on our programming teams - and generally we don't 
care. It doesn't matter.

Hackers are doing what the UN cannot. There's a message in that.

(See http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2001-09-11-014-20-NW-CY-KE 
for a copy of Uwe's post)

BROADCAST 2000

> Unfortunately, due to DMCA lawsuit issues, Broadcast 2000
> is no longer available for download

I have a copy of Broadcast 2000c from a recent Mandrake SRPM and will upload 
it to a project named hev-E (High End Video Editor) on SourceForge, if they 
approve my application, with an eye toward picking up development of it (it's 
GPL). Given the way things are going, at least one mirror would be good. 
Volunteers...?

   
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