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Leading items and editorials

Dmitry is going home. Thursday the 13th was Dmitry Sklyarov's lucky day. He has been released from the constraints of his bail agreement, and will be able to return to his home in Russia for the holidays. Technically, the prosecution against him for violation of the DMCA has been "deferred." If he keeps the U.S. Department of Justice happy by testifying in the trial of ElcomSoft (which continues as before) and by not "violating any laws" for a year, the charges will be dropped.

Is this outcome a victory? In some ways it certainly is. A Russian programmer is no longer threatened with decades in a U.S. prison, and that is largely a result of the attention and protests that this case has drawn. Richard Stallman has presented this result as a victory for the government:

The dropping of charges against Sklyarov is a good thing, but we must not think of it as our victory, because we did not win it. Rather, it is largesse from powers that feel completely triumphant. They believe that their successes in court, together with the example presented by Sklyarov's treatment so far, make their dominion so strong that nothing can challenge it.

One could argue, instead, that we did indeed win this victory. The U.S. was faced with worldwide opposition and the prospect of a strong constitutional challenge. Rather than run that gauntlet, they backed down. It is, indeed, a win.

But we have won a small battle, at the cost, perhaps, of a setback in the conflict as a whole. With ElcomSoft, the government has as its victim a corporation which demonstrably sold the Advanced eBook Processor software in the U.S. There is no doubt that this program can be legitimately used by eBook customers to exercise their fair use rights. But that use may well not be enough to sway a court in these times, and a proprietary software company may well draw less support than Dmitry did. The chances are good that the government will get a DMCA conviction out of this case.

So the end result could well be a strengthening of the DMCA; the fight is far from over. Programmers who can be seen as violating the DMCA are no safer in the U.S. than they were before. The situation remains scary, and opposition to bad laws must continue.

The end of the Sklyarov prosecution is the loss of, perhaps, the best opportunity to mount a powerful constitutional challenge to the DMCA. Some have criticized Dmitry for having accepted the agreement, saying it was his duty to resist to the end. That criticism does not stand up, however. Mr. Sklyarov was a Russian citizen facing 25 years of imprisonment in the U.S. To say that his duty to help the American people in fighting one of their bad laws overrides his duty to his family, or, indeed, to himself, is inappropriate. He did not choose this fight, and nobody has the right to tell him that he can not withdraw from it.

The 2001 Timeline and a look back. Be careful what traditions you start - people have a tendency to expect you to live up to them. Thus, LWN continues to produce its year-end Linux timeline, and the alpha version of the 2001 LWN Linux Timeline is now available. The usual drill applies: we'll put out a revision toward the end of the year with the obvious omissions filled in, with a final release shortly after the new year. In practice, though, the Timeline changes little from its initial version; have a look and let us know what you think.

Looking back, what is one to think of 2001? Certainly some themes jump out readily:

  • It was a difficult year for Linux companies. Turbolinux, Lineo, and LynuxWorks all gave up on their initial public offering plans. EBIZ and Loki Software filed for bankruptcy, and SuSE came very close. Planned mergers (Turbolinux/Linuxcare, EBIZ/Linux NetworX) were called off. Eazel, Stormix, Great Bridge, and Atipa are no longer operating at all. And almost every Linux company was constrained to lay off staff.

  • That said, consolidation of Linux companies did not reach the level that some had expected. All of the major distributors are still in existence, as are most of the long-time Linux companies. It remains to be seen whether that situation can persist for another year. Many of the fundamental business problems remain unresolved.

  • Big companies are moving in. IBM has invested massive amounts into Linux, and now employs a large number of developers. HP and SGI are doing their best to move into this space; HP's new "blade servers" came out running Linux, not HP-UX or Windows. Linux seems to be bringing in some real revenue for some of these companies.

  • Linux development remains strong despite the commercial challenges. Numerous ambitious projects have reached major milestones over the past year. The 2.4 kernel is out and stable, powerful free web browsers are available and stable, and the Linux desktop has never looked better. Some projects have, beyond doubt, been slowed by the economic difficulties, but Linux and free software retain their momentum.

  • Free software development has shown some stress, however. The 2.4 kernel took longer than any other to stabilize, and that happened at the cost of some severe divisions in the developer community. Free software development does some things well, but we have seen that it is not immune to code quality and release management issues.

  • Linux continues to gain respect. High-profile deployments are continuing, and companies are seeing that it really can help them. Linux systems, while not free of security incidents, had no part in the numerous widespread security problems that plagued certain proprietary systems. Even the analysts are figuring it out.

  • Legal issues continue to force themselves upon the community, whether we want to deal with them or not. The arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov demonstrated, in a most clear manner, the hazards that await those who write the wrong code. Kernel changelogs have been censored out of fear of U.S. laws. Proposed legislation, such as the SSSCA, threatens to outlaw free software altogether. If we wish to continue to develop and use our free operating systems, we will have to fight for them.
2001 saw the tenth anniversary of the first Linux release. While it is not a year that many of us would choose to repeat, it was, in many ways, not a bad one. Free software is still a strong and growing force, and, most importantly, it is still fun.

The LWN.net Weekly Edition will not be published next week so that we can celebrate the holidays with our families. The daily updates page will be updated, however. The Weekly Edition will return on January 3, 2002. We wish all of our readers a great holiday season and an outstanding new year.

Inside this LWN.net weekly edition:

  • Security: Closed source rumor vulnerability; the FBI at work; security resources, reports and updates
  • Kernel: 2.4 fixes in 2.5; kill() semantics; memory pool design.
  • Distributions: Distributions in Review - Part 1; Dettu[Xx].
  • Development: MayaVi data visualizer, LPRng 3.8.3, GNOME 2.0 API, 3D Game Apps, GStreamer 0.3.0, AbiWord 0.9.6, Python 2.2c1, XML Schema languages.
  • Commerce: The Open K-12 petition drive; DaimlerChrysler's new Linux cluster; IBM's iSeries test drive.
  • History: GNOME 0.99.0 was released; software patents strike again; The Art of Unix Programming.
  • Letters: RMS and Dmitry; Microsoft; mutt and large folders.
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:

December 20, 2001


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


News and Editorials

What's in Windows XP?. Newsbytes reported a claim by an Al Qaeda suspect that saboteurs infiltrated Microsoft to plant "trojans, trapdoors, and bugs in Windows XP." This claim is difficult to believe, to say the least. Still, one wonders just how Microsoft would go about convincing its customers that Windows XP doesn't contain "trojans, trapdoors, and bugs" planted by Al Qaeda. A development process that allows flight simulators to be slipped into a spreadsheet product seems unlikely to be able to prevent more subtle insertions.

Companies selling closed source software are especially vulnerable to attacks like this one. Even groundless rumors can inflict real damage when you sell closed source software. Only when source code is available for public inspection can the public know what is fact and what is a cruel lie.

FBI reportedly seeks personal data without a warrant. The Daily Rotten has reported that the FBI has requested access to the Badtrans worm's pilfered data. Millions of victims of Badtrans had passwords and other personal data pilfered by a keystroke logger. The virus sent the stolen data back to a number of email addresses. One of the addresses was a free email account at IJustGotFired.com. IJustGotFired is owned by MonkeyBrains.

The rotten.com story states that last week the FBI contacted the owner of MonkeyBrains and requested a cloned copy of the password database and keylogged data sent to IJustGotFired.

The FBI wants indiscriminant [sic] access to the illegally extracted passwords and keystrokes of over two million people without so much as a warrant. Even with a warrant they would have to specify exactly what information they are after, on whom, and what they expect to find. Instead, they want it all and for no justifiable reason.

The Register described the request as a "surveillance bonanza" for the FBI.

Know Your Enemy: Honeynets (LinuxSecurity). LinuxSecurity.com is running a lengthy article on building honeynets. "Conceptually, Honeynets are a simple mechanism. We create a network similar to a fishbowl, where we can see everything that happens inside it. Similar to fish in a fishbowl, we can watch and monitor attackers in our network. Also just like a fishbowl, we can put almost anything in there we want. This controlled network, becomes our Honeynet. The captured activity teaches us the tools, tactics, and motives of the blackhat community."

December CRYPTO-GRAM newsletter. Bruce Schneier's CRYPTO-GRAM newsletter for December is out. Covered topics include national ID cards, SMTP banners, and forcing companies with bad security off the net. "This is where the legal system can step in. I like to see companies told that they have no business putting the security of others at risk. If a company's computers are so insecure that hackers routinely break in and use them as a launching pad for further attacks, get them off the Internet. If a company can't secure the personal information it is entrusted with, why should it be allowed to have that information?"

Security Reports

Buffer overflow problem in glibc. EnGarde Secure Linux and Red Hat released updates this week fixing the buffer overflow problem in the glibc filename globbing code.

For those who are interested, here is a detailed description of this vulnerability from Global InterSec LLC. Expect glibc updates from most other distributors in the near future.

Mandrake security update to passwd. MandrakeSoft has issued an update to its passwd package. Evidently a PAM misconfiguration in Mandrake Linux 8.1 can prevent the use of MD5 passwords.

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

  • The PHP script "Unix Manual" allows users to execute every arbitrary shell commands as reported on Bugtraq.

Proprietary products. The following proprietary products were reported to contain vulnerabilities:


Mailman cross-site scripting vulnerability. This vulnerability was first reported by LWN on  December 13th.

This week's updates:

Previous updates:

OpenSSH UseLogin vulnerability. This obscure vulnerability is not of concern to most sites. This problem first appeared in  the December 6th LWN security page.

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:


Recent SSH vulnerabilities is the topic of this CERT advisory on recent activity against secure shell daemons. "While these problems have been previously disclosed, we believe many system and network administrators may have overlooked one or more of these vulnerabilities. We are issuing this document primarily to encourage system and network administrators to check their systems, prior to the holiday break."

Email Security through Procmail version 1.131 was announced this week. This is a "collection of methods to sanitize e-mail, removing obvious exploit attempts and disabling the channels through which exploits are delivered. Facilities for detecting and blocking Trojan Horse exploits and worms are also provided."


Upcoming Security Events.

CodeCon Call for Papers. The Linux Journal is running the final CodeCon 2002 call for papers. This event will be held February 15 to 17 in San Francisco, and is intended to be "the premier event in 2002 for the P2P, cypherpunk and network/security application developer community." The CFP deadline is January 1, so time is running out.

Date Event Location
December 27 - 29, 200118th Chaos Communication CongressBerlin, Germany
January 7 - 9, 20022002 Federal Convention on Emerging Technologies: a Homeland Security ForumLas Vegas, Nevada, USA
January 30 - February 2, 2002Second Annual Privacy and Data Protection SummitWashington D.C., USA
February 15 - 17, 2002CODECON 2002San Francisco, California, USA
February 18 - 22, 2002RSA Conference 2002San Jose, CA., USA

For additional security-related events, included training courses (which we don't list above) and events further in the future, check out Security Focus' calendar, one of the primary resources we use for building the above list. To submit an event directly to us, please send a plain-text message to lwn@lwn.net.

Section Editor: Dennis Tenney

December 20, 2001

LWN Resources

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

Security Projects
Linux Security Audit Project
Linux Security Module

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
Yellow Dog Errata

BSD-specific links

Security mailing lists
Linux From Scratch
Red Hat
Yellow Dog

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

Miscellaneous Resources
Comp Sec News Daily
Security Focus


 Main page
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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.5.1, which was released on December 16. Linus has designated it as an intermediate release, so that the patches can be smaller again. The block I/O work is ongoing, however, and Linus isn't much interested in putting in anything else at this point.

The current stable kernel release is 2.4.16. Marcelo released the second 2.4.17 release candidate on December 18. If all goes well, this prepatch could turn into the real 2.4.17 release. It would not be surprising if another iteration were required, however.

On porting 2.4 bug fixes to 2.5. As work continues on the stabilization of the 2.4 kernel, a great many bug fixes are being generated which are also applicable to 2.5. It turns out, however, that Linus is not interested in those bug fixes at this time. His focus is getting core changes (such as the block I/O work) into the tree; the 2.4 bug fixes are seen as a detail which can be filled in later.

Linus's desire to get the big changes in place is understandable, but there are a couple of problems with this approach. One is that some people who want to run 2.5 kernels need some of the bug fixes; but the real threat is that, by the time Linus gets around to looking at the fixes, it will prove hard to get them all in. They will be numerous, some will be hard to merge (as a result of all the big changes), and others may simply fall through the cracks.

Dave Jones, while muttering "I'll regret this later," has decided to help out. To that end, he is putting together a set of kernel patches of his own. They are built to apply against current development prepatches, but include the interesting bug fixes from the 2.4 series. These "dj" patches will serve as an accumulator for simple 2.5 bug fixes; when Linus is ready to apply these fixes, they will already be in a nicely organized form and should go in easily.

The current patch is 2.5.1-dj3. Future LWN kernel pages will include the latest "dj" patch with the others at the top.

Tracking 2.5 API changes. In hopes of having some documentation around, Andreas Bombe has posted a list of 2.5 API changes so far. It's in a highly terse form, but it gives an idea of where to look. It turns out that Randy Dunlap is also maintaining a list of 2.5 changes on the web.

What does it mean to signal everybody? Andries Brouwer recently asserted that, according to the latest version of the POSIX standard, Linux does not handle signaling quite as it should. If the kill() system call is given -1 as the process ID, it's supposed to signal every process that the calling process has the right to touch. According to Andries, that includes the calling process itself. So he sent in a patch to implement that behavior, and Linus applied it to see what would happen.

What happened is that a number of people complained. A number of commands, including killall5 and some versions of shutdown, are unprepared for the fact that they might signal themselves. Users accustomed to doing "kill -9 -1" commands were surprised to see their shells die. In the end, Linus backed off the change:

Note that I've reverted the kill(-1...) thing in my personal tree: so far I've gotten a lot of negative feedback, and the change doesn't seem to actually buy us anything except for conformance to a unclearly weasel-worded standards sentence where we could be even more weasely and just say that "self" is a special process from the systems perspective.

The interpretation of standards can be a fun game.

The scheduler conversation continues. At one point, a question was directed to Linus asking why he wasn't seemingly worried about new schedulers for 2.5. The answer, it seems, is that he's not concerned.

Fight it out. People asked whether I was interested, and I said "no". Take a clue: do benchmarks on all the competing patches, and try to create the best one, and present it to me as a done deal.

He seems to think that it's an easy problem, and he would rather not have to deal with the details.

Linus also let slip that, rather than worry too much about scheduler overhead, he might increase the clock interrupt rate to 1khz on the x86 architecture. A faster clock will increase scheduling time (because the scheduler is called more often), but can also improve interactive feel. This comment suggests that Linus is not thinking about putting in the "tickless clock" patch anytime soon.

On the proper way to do memory pools. Last week's LWN Kernel Page talked about the new "memory pool" subsystem that had been merged into 2.5.1. Since then, a bit of a debate has come up over whether mempools are really the right solution to the problem.

The problem in question, of course, is that of ensuring that kernel subsystems that have to be able to allocate memory can always do so. Ingo Molnar's mempool implementation solves this problem by setting aside a pool of memory which is large enough to meet the maximum expected requirement. Mempools sit on top of the existing kernel memory allocators, and use those allocators to create, at the outset, a pool of the necessary size.

An alternative approach was posted by Ben LaHaise back in May. Ben's approach implements memory "reservations" in the memory allocators themselves, rather than adding a new layer. There is a real advantage to doing things this way: memory which is kept in the reservation can be put to other uses until it's needed. As long as the reserved pages can be freed instantly, there is no harm in allowing them to be used. Memory contained in mempools, instead, can not be used for any other purpose.

The reservation scheme has some disadvantages of its own. Putting reservation logic into the low-level memory allocators increases the complexity of a critical piece of code. It also makes it hard to set up pools of large (more than one page) objects - which is where the allocation problems tend to be the most severe. But the truly fatal flaw for reservations may be the simple fact that the patch was not ready at the right time; Ben admits that the first cut at the patch was not ready for prime time. But, he says, with most patches currently being ignored he is not all that motivated to go make a better one.

Other patches and updates released this week include:

Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet

December 20, 2001

For other kernel news, see:

Other resources:


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Distributions page.

Note: The list of Linux distributions has moved to its own page.


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

News and Editorials

Distributions in Review - Part 1. With this last issue in 2001, we begin a year end review of Linux Distributions. It has been a busy year, so this issue covers only January through June, 2001. Part 2 - July through December, 2001 - will conclude in the January 3rd, 2002 issue. The first part of the year saw many lay offs, and many new distributions.

Caldera did not get off to a good start. The company announced lay-offs as Caldera Systems transitioned into Caldera International (Caldera + SCO). [Caldera/SCO]

Caldera knows of no company that has built a profitable business based in whole or in part on open source software.
-- Caldera SEC filing.

Caldera's release of OpenLinux 3.1, with per-seat licensing was controversial.

Things were slow at Debian. Ben Collins was elected Debian Project Leader. HP selected Debian as its development distribution, "first among equals". The woody freeze plods along.

MandrakeSoft had its ups and downs. The company set up a donations page, in the hope of getting revenue from its users, just in time for the release of Mandrake Linux 8.0. Twenty-five employees were laid off, including CEO Henri Poole. The push into education services ended and the company announced that it would go public on the EuroNext Marchť Libre.

Red Hat Linux 7.1 was released. The company also launched new consulting services oriented toward companies migrating to Linux.

SuSE laid off most of its U.S. staff in a cost cutting move but managed to retain 48% of the U.S. retail market, according to data from one PC Data report (other reports, of course, vary). SuSE Linux 7.2 was released.

Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE, and Turbolinux announced support for Itanium systems.

Wind River Systems acquired BSDi and then laid off the Slackware developers it acquired with BSDi.

Slackware has always made money (who else producing a commercial distribution can say that?) but with BSDi, we ended up strapped to a sinking ship.
-- Patrick Volkerding

Hard Hat Linux 2.0 was released by MontaVista Software. MontaVista also had lay offs.

Jason Haas resigned from LinuxPPC, and retired from the computer world (resignation letter).

Yellow Dog Linux 2.0 shipped.

Immunix 7.0 was released with bundled proprietary software.

Progeny Linux shipped its first and last edition.

Many new distributions were announced. Here's a partial list.

New Distributions

Dettu[Xx]. Dettu[Xx] ... probably the worlds nastiest Linux-distribution is still in development. Or maybe it's a done as will get. A few brave geeks have managed to install it; the record, a runable x11 in less than 12 hours. Eight floppies gives you enough tools to download everything you need over the Internet and build the packages on your computer. It's also available at this mirror site. We've put it under 'Education' on our Linux Distribution List.

Distribution News

Debian News. Here's the Debian Weekly News for December 12. Covered topics include Debian at FOSDEM, the best way to contact bug submitters, the Debian menus policy, and more.

There are some new mailing lists for discussions of Debian qa-packages, ssh and apache.

Mandrake Linux Community Newsletter. The Mandrake Linux Community Newsletter for December 18 looks at Mandrake in the news, the latest Cooker happenings, the business case of the week, and more.

The Mandrake Linux Community Newsletter for December 12 covers a review of the Mandrake 8.1 Gaming Edition, OpenOffice, the business case of the week, and more.

Mandrake Linux has an update advisory for the flex package. Versions ML 8.0 and 8.1 are affected.

Red Hat Linux. Red Hat has announced the availability of its distribution for the S/390 mainframe. Also available, of course, are the usual array of support services.

Here's a Red Hat Enhancement Advisory for a newer jadetex package, with a missing package trigger added. RH 7.2 only.

Slackware Linux. Slackware.com was broken into and is currently unavailable. Development continues, however, with improvements to pkgtools-8.0.2 and to koffice-1.1.1 on the Slackware Linux current-Intel branch. See the ChangeLog for details.

The LinuxSalute package development team has released LinuxSalute-Gnome Desktop 1.0 for Slackware 8.0. Desktop 1.0 is designed to replace the default Slackware installation of Gnome.

Yellow Dog Linux. Terra Soft Solutions, Inc. announced the official Yellow Dog Linux Developer Support Program. The YDL Developer Support Program is free of charge and members are eligible for online access to several machines including an Apple Macintosh build-box, a single Yellow briQ Node, and a Yellow briQ cluster; as well as discounted Terra Soft products.

Minor Distribution updates

Coyote Linux. Not really an update to the distribution, but interesting none-the-less: Coyote Linux now features a page on what it took to move the Coyote Linux site.

DyneBolic Newsletter #3. dyne.org presents the DyneBolic Newsletter for December 16, 2001. Topics covered include free downloads of the DyneBolic GNU/Linux desktop, FreeJ 0.2.3, and more.

Mindi Linux. Mindi Linux builds boot/root disk images using your existing kernel, modules, tools and libraries on floppy or CD. Version 0.48 provides better support of SCSI CD-ROM drives and RAID controllers. See the ChangeLog for more details.

OpenNA Linux. OpenNA Linux is designed to be highly secure and very fast. It is intended for those who want to install and run a Linux server for mission critical tasks in a high security environment. The current version is beta1.

Rock Linux. Rock Linux will be represented at the 18th Chaos Communication Congress (December 27-29, 2001 in Berlin, Germany) by over 20 of the ROCK community.

Sorcerer GNU Linux. Sorcerer GNU Linux has released version 20011216 with minor feature enhancements.

Distribution Reviews

Mandrake 8.1 easier than Win-XP (Register). The Register reviews Mandrake Linux 8.1 from a Windows-user point of view. "But regardless of whether you choose to run KDE or Gnome, the Linux desktop definitely isn't as pretty. It's more configurable, certainly; the OS is more stable; you get lots of free applications and utilities; and your machine will be a lot more secure, if for no reason other than your immediate escape from that premium virus propagator Outlook."

Red Hat Adds To Linux's Credibility (TechWeb). TechWeb reviews Red Hat Professional Server 7.1. "Professional Server 7.1 gets one of our Best Of The Best nods because of its overall excellence rather than for superlative performance in any one area."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

December 20, 2001

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


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects

News and Editorials

The MayaVi Data Visualizer. MayaVi is a GPL licensed, python-based tool for data visualization. MayaVi is based on the Visualization Toolkit and [screenshot] uses Tkinter for the GUI functionality. The package is capable of cross-platform operation, it runs on Linux, UNIX, Mac OS X and Windows.

Graphical capabilities cover a wide range, modules are provided for visualizing grid, scalar, vector, and tensor data sets. The screenshots show some relatively complicated plots that were done with MayaVi. .

The Users Guide lists the capabilities of MayaVi. Several dataset formats are supported including VTK and PLOT3d. The package supports the use of simultaneous datasets. A number of data filters are included. Exported file formats include PostScript, PPM, BMP, TIFF, JPEG, and PNG.

The latest release is version 1.1, dated November 19, 2001. This release features scripting capabilities, operation from the Python interpreter, command line arguments, and a number of new graphics capabilities.

Binaries and source code are available for download here. Linux dependencies include glibc 2.2, Tcl/Tk 8.3.X, Mesa/OpenGL, XFree86 4.X, and libstdc++ 6.2-2.so.3. See the installation instructions for setup instructions.

Audio Projects

The latest from LINUXMUSIC. This week LINUXMUSIC looks at Midge, a text to midi program, and Midi on UNIX, a general purpose MIDI system.

Ogg Traffic for December 12, 2001. The current Ogg Traffic contains project status from the open-source Ogg Vorbis audio compression package. Topics include an upcoming Ogg Vorbis RC3 release, status from the various Ogg developers, and a new game that uses Ogg for sound.


LDP Weekly News for December 18, 2001. The December 18, 2001 edition of the LDP Weekly News is out. This edition features a new Development for Multiple Linux Distributions mini-HOWTO, and lists a large number of updated documents.


Gerber Viewer 0.0.6 released. A new version of Gerber Viewer, the printed circuit CAM file inspection tool, has been released. Version 0.0.6 features GUI improvements, better drill file support, performance improvements, and bug fixes.

Embedded Systems

Embedded Linux Newsletter. The LinuxDevices.com Embedded Linux Newsletter for December 13, 2001 is out, with the usual roundup of news from the embedded Linux community.

Network Frameworks

Mono & the .NET Framework (Dr. Dobb's). Dr. Dobb's Journal is running an article by Miguel de Icaza and Brian Jepson on Mono and the .NET framework. Check it out for an in-depth description of Mono.

Printing Systems

LPRng 3.8.3 available. A new version of the LPRng printing system is available. Release 3.8.3 fixes one small bug with the lpr -Pname variant of the print command.

LPRng author Patrick Powell has also put a lengthy Printing Cookbook on the LPRng site. "This is a set of Recipes for Printing, a set of procedures that can be used to set up and diagnose printing in a range of system environments. The main emphasis will be on using the LPRng print spooler, either by itself or with other print spooling systems."

Printing without Spooler (LinuxPrinting). Meanwhile, LinuxPrinting looks at the Direct-O-Matic system for stand-alone printing applications: "Modern printer spoolers as CUPS, PPR, or LPRng have a lot of features for printing in networks with many users, but for a single user with a single printer they are often overkill. They require a working network configuration (at least the so-called 'loopback device', an emulation of a network consisting only of the local machine), they need a daemon which is always running, and, especially for big jobs, a lot of disk space."

December 20, 2001

Application Links
High Availability

Open Source Code Collections
Le Serveur Libre



Desktop Development

Web Browsers

mozillaZine updates. The latest mozillaZine lists a new version of Chatzilla which recognizes the faces standard, and an upcoming 0.9.7 branch for Mozilla.

Desktop Environments

People of KDE: Arash Zeini. The "People of KDE" series talks with Arash Zeini, who is translating the system into Farsi. "I thought [KDE] would stand for good and reliable software as well as technology. But since you are asking, allow me to be a little sentimental! In these times of war, blindness and a lot of haterage this great collaborative effort may stand for more than technology and software."

GNOME 2.0 Developer Platform Beta: 'Everyone's Excited and Confused'. The GNOME 2.0 Developer Platform API has been frozen and the first release has been announced. The release is claimed to be "100% parallel installable" with the latest GNOME 1.x platform libraries.

GNOME Summary. The GNOME Summary for December 15, 2001 is out. It looks at the GNOME 2.0 developer platform beta, the Evolution 1.0 release, and more. The new GNOME 2.0 dependency chart is just as twisted as one would expect...

GNUstep Weekly Editorial. The December 14, 2001 edition of the GNUstep Weekly Editorial is out with the latest news from the GNUstep object oriented development environment community.

FLTK developments. The latest FLTK developments include the release of FLTK v1.1.0b7, Fl_DragBar 1.0, and Ruby/FLTK.


3D Applications Comparison. MagnetHead has posted a comparison of a number of open and proprietary 3D applications. Contributions are welcome.


Gdk-pixbuf 0.14.0 is released. A new version of the Gdk-pixbuf library has been released. "This includes a backport of the BMP loader from GTK+ 1.3 and bugfixes."

GUI Packages

XML UI: from XSD to XML. Ben Martin writes about the creation of XML documents from XSD schema files with XSL and libglade2. The Ferriscreate application from the Ferris virtual filesystem is shown as an example application. "From the programmers perspective, obtaining data from the user via a GUI form is a pain. Usually this is solved by the creation of two functions, one to create a GUI window and populate it, and another to save the data and destroy the UI. In this ad-hoc style the schema of what is edited is never made explicit. The rules governing what data must be present and the dependencies between the various information gathered are either not coded anywhere or are a wash with the GUI style information."

wxWindows 2.3.2 released. Version 2.3.2 of the wxWindows cross-platform C++ GUI library has been released. This version adds bug fixes, GTK+ improvements, and support for MacOS X.


GStreamer 0.3.0 released. Gnotices is carrying the news of the GStreamer 0.3.0 release. GStreamer is a comprehensive streaming media framework that, by all appearances, is approaching an impressive level of capability. This release contains over 100 plug-ins for working with audio and video files - it remains a development release, however, and even fewer guarantees than usual are on offer.

Office Applications

First Gnumeric 1.0 release candidate. The first Gnumeric 1.0 release candidate is available. It is, of course, a bug fix release; free beverages are being awarded to those who find any remaining problems.

KOffice 1.1.1. Here's the announcement for the KOffice 1.1.1 release. It's primarily a bug fix release, but there are a few new features as well.

AbiWord Weekly News. The AbiWord Weekly News for December 17, 2001 is out. The big item is the announcement of a feature freeze, with the long-awaited AbiWord 1.0 release planned for late January.

AbiWord 0.9.6 'We Love the internet' released. Version 0.9.6 of the AbiWord word processor has been released. This version features a number of bug fixes and some new plug-ins. The plug-ins allow access to web based dictionaries, encyclopedias, babelfish translations, and more. See the Changelog file for all of the details.

Kernel Cousin GNUe #7. The December 15, 2001 edition of Kernel Cousin for GNU Enterprise is out. Progress continues with this effort to build open source business tools.

Desktop Environments

Window Managers

Widget Sets


Programming Languages


Caml Weekly News. The Caml Weekly News for December 12 through 18, 2001 is out. Topics include pairs vs. records, a third shared patch, outil, the new OCaml 3.0.4 release , SCaml, and more.


Using OpenJMS withTomcat (O'Reilly). Jim Alateras shows how to work with OpenJMS and Jakarta Tomcat. "This article illustrates how to integrate OpenJMS with Jakarta Tomcat. It deals exclusively with Tomcat v4 (or Catalina), which is the next-generation servlet/JSP container, and OpenJMS v.0.7."

Transparent Data Pipelines for JSP (O'Reilly). Satya Komatineni introduces Transparent Data Pipelines in an O'Reilly article. "Despite the undeniable popularity of JSP among Java programmers, there is a substantial amount of doubt, if not criticism, over its suitability as a front-end language for delivering HTML pages. One of the main complaints is that it breaks the MVC (Model-View-Controller) paradigm."


A Drag-and-Drop Primer for Perl/Tk (O'Reilly). Steve Lidie illustrates Drag-and-Drop functionality on O'Reilly's perl.com site. "This article describes the Perl/Tk drag-and-drop mechanism, often referred to as DND. We'll illustrate DND operations local to a single application, where we drag items from one Canvas to another."

Perl 6 Porters for December 9-15, 2001. The latest Perl 6 Porters contains discussions on slice contexts, Make portability issues, performance patches, aggregate keys, and more.

Perl module listings move (UsePerl). The UsePerl site has consolidated all of the new Perl module listings to their own page. A virtual cornucopia of Perl awaits the eager hacker.


PHP Weekly Summary for December 18, 2001. The latest PHP Summary covers a number of fixes to PHP, discussions on PHP error reporting and test suite improvements, and other PHP news.


Python 2.2c1 released. The "first, and hopefully only release candidate for Python 2.2" is available. A number of Python PEPs have been implemented in this release. Python 2.2 is scheduled for release very soon.

This week's Python-URL. Dr. Dobb's Python-URL for December 17, 2001 is out. Covered topics include the first Python 2.2 release candidate, how Zope could be made better, XML, and more.

Python on the Side (O'Reilly). Stephen Figgins examines four Python applications by Doug Bell: "ConvertAll, a unit conversion program; FlyWay, a route planner for pilots; rpCalc, a reverse polish calculator; and TreeLine, a simple tree structured information storage program."


The Ruby Garden. The latest Ruby Garden articles include a look at Radical, a Ruby based web application server, announcements for two new Ruby books, a Spanish Ruby documentation project, and more.


This week's Tcl-URL. Here's Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL for December 18, 2001, with the usual collection of happenings in the Tcl/Tk user community.


Comparing XML Schema Languages (O'Reilly). Eric van der Vlist explores XML Schema Languages on O'Reilly's xml.com. "This article explains what an XML schema language is and which features the different schema languages possess. It also documents the development of the major schema language families -- DTDs, W3C XML Schema, and RELAX NG -- and compares the features of DTDs, W3C XML Schema, RELAX NG, Schematron, and Examplotron."

XML Matters: XML-RPC as object model (IBM developerWorks). David Mertz examines the XML-RPC function invocation protocol on IBM's developerWorks. "XML-RPC is a remote function invocation protocol with a great virtue: It is worse than all of its competitors. Compared to Java RMI or CORBA or COM, XML-RPC is impoverished in the type of data it can transmit and obese in its message size. XML-RPC abuses the HTTP protocol to circumvent firewalls that exist for good reasons, and as a consequence transmits messages lacking statefulness and incurs channel bottlenecks."

XML and Modern CGI Applications (O'Reilly). Kip Hampton looks at the Perl CGI::XMLApplication module on xml.com. "CGI is not without its weaknesses, and despite well-funded campaigns from a number of software vendors, CGI is still widely used and shows no signs of going away anytime soon. This month we will be looking at a module that offers a new take on CGI coding, Christian Glahn's CGI::XMLApplication. "


Open64 Compiler Updates. The Open64 Compiler Suite has new documentation available and the Open64 User Forum Report documents a recent Open64 meeting. Open64 includes 64 bit compilers for C, C++, and FORTRAN 90/95.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

Language Links
Caml Hump
g95 Fortran
Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC)
Gnu Compiler for the Java Language (GCJ)
IBM Java Zone
Free the X3J Thirteen (Lisp)
Use Perl
O'Reilly's perl.com
Dr. Dobbs' Perl
PHP Weekly Summary
Daily Python-URL
Python Eggs
Ruby Garden
MIT Scheme
Why Smalltalk
Tcl Developer Xchange
O'Reilly's XML.com
Regular Expressions

 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and Business

The Open K-12 petition drive. The Open K-12 Petition Drive is seeking to bring about changes in the proposed Microsoft settlement, on the theory that flooding U.S. schools with Microsoft software just isn't the way to break a monopoly. There are suggestions for a number of things that concerned people can do, as well as an online petition that can be signed. If you're concerned about this aspect of the settlement, you may want to take a look.

DaimlerChrysler's new Linux cluster. Here's a press release from AMD proclaiming its role in a new cluster set up by DaimlerChrysler. "Based on AMD's advanced multiprocessing solution, DaimlerChrysler is utilizing the strength of several hundred AMD Athlon MP processors in one of the largest high-performance Linux clusters in the German automotive industry, to run crash simulations for Mercedes-Benz vehicles."

IBM's iSeries test drive. IBM has announced a "test drive" program for its iSeries servers. They'll make a Linux partition available (running SuSE or Turbolinux) for people who want to give the server a spin over the net.

Dimensional Insight offers business intelligence tools. Dimensional Insight has announced that its full suite of "business intelligence" tools is available on IBM's servers under Linux.

Ximian announces Red Carpet Express. Ximian has announced a new variant on its Red Carpet service: Red Carpet Express. For $7.95/month, you get priority access to a special set of servers.

'Building Wireless Community Networks' from O'Reilly. O'Reilly has announced the release of Building Wireless Community Networks. The third chapter is available online for those who are interested.

Red Hat's third quarter results. Red Hat has announced its third-quarter results. The claim: a profit of $1.3 million "excluding amortization of goodwill and stock based compensation and restructuring charges." When everything is figured in, the bottom line is a loss of $15 million on revenue of $21.5 million.

WebSideStory says nobody is using Linux. Here's a press release from "WebSideStory," which has published a story detailing the "usage share" of each operating system. "For almost three years, Linux usage share has fluctuated between .2 and .3 percent, with no substantial growth. Usage share is the percentage of Internet surfers that are using a particular operating system."

Linux Stock Index for December 13 to December 19, 2001.
LSI at closing on December 13, 2001 ... 31.96
LSI at closing on December 19, 2001 ... 31.45

The high for the week was 31.96
The low for the week was 31.37

Press Releases:

Open source products

Proprietary Products for Linux

Products and Services Using Linux

Products With Linux Versions

Java Products

Books & Training


Personnel & New Offices

Linux At Work

Open Source at Work


Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

December 20, 2001


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Linux in the news page.

Linux in the news

Recommended Reading

LynuxWorks responds to Microsoft attack on Embedded Linux (LinuxDevices). LinuxDevices.com is running a response to Microsoft's attack on embedded Linux from LynuxWorks. "We did some investigating of our own and are adding some commentary on the new XP release as a contender in the embedded market. In general, we found that the operating system has limited applicability in embedded markets, and doesn't have the clout to really take on embedded Linux in head-on comparisons."

A Call to End Copyright Confusion (Wired). This Wired article shows that the SSSCA remains a threat. "Jack Valenti predicts that Congress will require copy-protection controls in nearly all consumer electronic devices and PCs. The lobbyist nonpareil for the Motion Picture Association of America delivered a stark warning to technology firms on Monday: Move quickly to choose standards for wrapping digital content in uncopyable layers of encryption or the federal government will do it for you."

Charting the Web's next transformation (News.com). News.com talks with Tim Berners-Lee about the genesis of the web. "A very significant factor was that the software was all (what we now call) open source. It spread fast, and could be improved fast--and it could be installed within government and large industry without having to go through a procurement process."

Open (Source) Government (IT-Director). IT-Director.com has an article on the U.K.'s proposed open source policy. "If taken at face value, the proposals seem to be to be saying all of the right things about open source and 'value for money'. Unfortunately they manage to leave the niggling doubt that, in practice, little will change in the short term, especially given the cosy relationship that appears to exist between the senior levels of HMG and certain large commercial software companies."

UK govt seeks to embrace open source software (Register). Here's a Register article on the U.K. government's proposed open source software policy. "The government is also concerned by the security problems. 'Security of government systems is vital,' says the draft policy. 'Properly configured open source software can be at least as secure as proprietary systems, and open source software is currently subject to fewer Internet attacks.'"

Free Software in Public Administration. The Revista do Governo Eletrônico has put up a whole series of articles (in Portuguese) on free software in government. Of this series, two articles are available in English: a matched pair by Richard Stallman and Craig Mundie. "If we are moving into an information society, government has the responsibility to ensure that the information society is under the control of the citizens and benefits them generally. This means setting a course for the use of free software." (Thanks to César A. K. Grossmann).

Is Linux a black art? (IT-Director). IT-Director says that Linux has an image problem. "Linux isn't a black art but the open source community must appeal to the mass market - all the components are there, they just have to be put together in a way to appeal to any and every user."


California Digital Offers VA-designed Servers (Linux Journal). The Linux Journal has an article that may be of interest to those who used to buy computers from VA Linux Systems. "Former VA Linux Systems customers won't have to change their speed dial. The company is in Fremont, California, they make 1U and 2U Linux servers, and their phone number is 888-LINUX-4-U. VA Linux Systems? No, it's California Digital Corporation, which recently acquired the rights to manufacture VA's server designs, along with a sublease on part of VA's building."

Lineo announces $3 million funding (LinuxDevices). Here's a LinuxDevices.com story about recent events at Lineo. "The spin-offs include the removal of several Lineo hardware products, including: Availix (high-availability hardware systems / Paris); uCdimm (microcontroller hardware / Toronto); and SnapGear (residential gateway hardware / Brisbane)."

Sun saturated with StarOffice advice (News.com). News.com looks at the progress of StarOffice. "Sun Microsystems will cut off downloads of the StarOffice 6 beta software on Dec. 31 as the company prepares for a final release in the first half of 2002, the company said Wednesday." Of course, the equally-capable OpenOffice will remain available.


Linux takes obscurity route to datacentre (Register). The Register reports on the Sistina GFS 5.0 release. "Basically, Sistina tries to do what Veritas does - provide a clustered file system and lock manager for applications - only cheaper, and on Linux. More recently GFS has got more attention recently for all the wrong reasons. At LinuxWorld in August, Sistina announced that it would no longer be available under GPL. But it remains the most used Linux clustered file system, despite several academic rival projects (Andrew and Coda) and recent competition from Compaq's decision to open source its Non Stop Cluster work." They neglected to mention the OpenGFS project

Qmail -- Secure, high-performance MTA for Linux, UNIX and BSD systems. (ServerWatch). ServerWatch reviews qmail 1.0.3. "Although qmail claims to be simple, that is not entirely correct. Because qmail has so many different modules (six in the core itself) it can get confusing to anyone that is not a *nix expert. Although each module itself is simple, their interaction can be like that of a major ballet, neural network, or anything highly coordinated and complex."

Essential GIMP for Web Professionals: A Book Review (Linux Journal). Here's a review of Essential GIMP for Web Professionals on the Linux Journal site. "If considering purchasing this book, be aware of one thing: there is more discussion than exercises. If the user is slightly overwhelmed by the features of The GIMP and would like to hear from a design professional how certain features operate and can be implemented, the book is good. If the user wants to streamline his or her workflow from imaging to HTML/scripting, it is also good. If, on the other hand, the user wants a guide on how to use The GIMP, with complete tutorials to promote methods for creating images, this may not be it."

The Boston Globe Upgrade Column. Here's a Boston Globe column about OS X. "For all the massive pro-Linux hype of recent years, it's mostly used to run Web servers and low-cost supercomputers. Hardly anyone puts it on a desktop. Suddenly, there's a mostly open-source Linux-line operating system with a superb user interface, with a target market of 25 million faithful Macintosh users."


Interview of Bernhard Herzog (Advogato). Advogato interviews Bernhard Herzhog of Intevation, a German free software company. Herzog is also the author of the Python based Sketch drawing program. "I am a scientist by heart. Computers are tools for me. As tools computers are very universal, almost as important as written speech was for humankind. I see computers at the heart of science and society and therefor improving them has a high potential of good effects."


MPlayer: The project from hell (LinuxWorld). Joe Barr describes his mplayer nightmare in this LinuxWorld story. "The MPlayer gang seems to relish nothing more than belittling their users and reminding them of just how little they know about Linux and computing in general. I don't know about the rest of you, but I suffer enough of that on my own. I do not need any outside assistance to reinforce that point of view."

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

December 20, 2001


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Announcements page.



X/Open, Uniforum vets to push Open Source in the UK (Register). An organization known as OpenForum Europe has been formed to promote the use of open source software in the UK.


International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies. The International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies will be held in Boulder, Colorado from March 4 through 6, 2002.

CodeCon Call for Papers. The Linux Journal is running the final CodeCon 2002 call for papers. This event will be held February 15 to 17 in San Francisco, and is intended to be "the premier event in 2002 for the P2P, cypherpunk and network/security application developer community." The CFP deadline is January 1, so time is running out.

Foretec Seminars, Inc. Announces Keynote Speakers, Conference Highlights for Tenth International Python Conference. Andrew Koenig, programming language guru, and Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, will deliver keynotes at the The Tenth International Python Conference, to be held from February 4 - 7, 2002 in Alexandria, VA.

Events: December 20, 2001 - February 15, 2002.
Date Event Location
January 28 - 29, 2002The Conference on File and Storage Technologies(FAST 2002)Monterey, CA
January 29 - February 1, 2002LinuxWorldNew York, NY
February 1 - 3, 2002Linux Event 2002Livorno, Italy
February 3 - 6, 2002Embedded Executive Summit(Ritz-Carlton)Half Moon Bay, California
February 4 - 7, 200210th International Python Conference(Hilton Alexandria Mark Center)Alexandria, Virginia
February 5, 2002OMG Information Days Europe 2002Amsterdam
February 6, 2002OMG Information Days Europe 2002Brussels
February 6 - 9, 2002linux.conf.auBrisbane, Australia
February 7, 2002OMG Information Days Europe 2002Paris
February 8, 2002OMG Information Days Europe 2002Madrid
February 13 - 15, 20021st CfP German Perl Workshop(Fachhochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Sankt Augustin)Bonn, Germany
February 15 - 17, 2002CODECON 2002San Francisco, California, USA

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

Free Software Magazine debut issue. A new Chinese publication, known as Free Software Magazine is coming out in January, 2002. The site is published by Hong Feng and features a column by Richard Stallman, as well as other pertinent open source information.

Help Wanted

Kernel Engineer Position. A job position for a Kernel Engineer is available in the Seattle, Washington area.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook.

December 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


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

See also: last week's Linux History page.

This week in Linux history

Three years ago (December 24, 1998 LWN): people were wondering about what IBM was going to do...

But what's really held IBM back from an official support alliance with Red Hat, say sources close to the company, are legal issues. If IBM supports Linux the way it supports other operating systems, it will need to tweak the operating system itself, and that could raise liability questions neither IBM nor its many partners want to deal with.
-- ZDNet

ZDNet ran a Top Tech Newsmaker poll. Linus Torvalds came in second, having been beaten, 2-to-1, by Jenni of the JenniCam.

After resisting for some time, Red Hat quietly dropped a set of KDE RPMs into its "Rawhide" distribution. Red Hat also put an end to its practice of dropping updates into second and subsequent pressings of its CDs. Until then, one Red Hat 5.0 CD could be visibly identical to another, but have a different set of packages.

GNOME 0.99.0 was released.

Nineteen ninety-eight was the year Linux came into its own. Beloved of techies worldwide, passed by hand from geek to geek, Linux has gained an international cult following of around 7 million. Torvalds was on the cover of Forbes magazine; Linux software publishers such as Red Hat and Caldera are doing booming business; and Los Alamos researchers created a Linux-based supercomputer. The importance of the Linux movement's technical innovations is matched by that of its ideological commitment to making software free and open to everyone, and these two aspects are inextricably linked: Because Linux costs nothing and can be read by anyone, hackers everywhere can work together to make Linux better. It won't make them rich, but it might make them happy.
-- Time.

Those looking for some amusement might want to look at LWN's 1998 year-end summary and compare it to this year's...

Two years ago (December 23, 1999 LWN): Eric Raymond announced his forthcoming book, The Art of Unix Programming. The book was to document what makes the Unix tradition special, and was to be written with a great deal of help from the community. It is still a work in progress and the community is still invited to participate. It currently it is available through Chapter 4.

People wondered about the 2.4 kernel...

Colin Tenwick, vice president and general manager European operations for Red Hat, confirmed that the kernel would be released formally to the Linux community the same time as Windows 2000.
-- VNUnet, December 20, 1999.

Needless to say, things didn't happen that way. In an attempt to get a guess at when the release would happen, Tummy.com announced its When's 2.4 pool. Bill Wendling, Master Software Project Estimater, won the pool. On January 26, 1999 he guessed the release would be Jan 6, 2001. The pool for the 2.6 kernel is open now.

Richard Stallman called for a boycott of Amazon.com as a result of Amazon's use of software patents.

Linux-Mandrake 7.0 beta was released, as was Mozilla M12.

Corel's Linux distribution was due to hit the shelves any day. Meanwhile, the company foreshadowed the general decline in Linux stocks by dropping down into the low teens from its high of $43. Of course, the low teens would look pretty good to Corel investors these days...

Red Hat, instead, announced a two-for-one stock split.

Even if Linux does turn out to be the greatest thing since the graphical user interface, I sincerely doubt that people buying shares of VA Linux (or any of the Linux companies) at their current valuations will do anything but lose sleep and/or money.
-- Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.

One year ago (December 21, 2000 LWN): British Telecom attempted to enforce its patent on hypertext links by going after Prodigy. In an "Open Letter to Mr. Charles J. Roesslein, CEO, Prodigy" Don Marti wrote:

When clueless companies start throwing "intellectual property" claims around to suppress competitors or to extract money from innovators who have left them in the dust, that's a threat to our economy and, when they attack free communication protocols, it's a threat to our freedom. In the long run, I hope that this case will make you as dedicated a software patent reform advocate as I am. But for now, don't give the bastards an inch and you'll get all the help you need.
-- LinuxJournal.

The BT/Prodigy case will go to trial early in 2002.

There were rumors that Corel might sell its Linux business.

The dollar value of the deal was not known. But one source said Corel would receive $5 million in cash for its Linux arm and retain 20 percent rights to the new [Linux Global Partners] LGP-owned Linux company.
-- News.com.

The real deal was still eight months away, but it involve LGP.

You people just don't get it, do you? All Linux applications run on Solaris, which is our implementation of Linux.
-- Sun CEO Scott McNealy, ZDNet

Maybe it just depends on your definition of Linux.

In this State of the Woody message from Debian developer Anthony Towns wrote:

It's been roughly four months since potato got released, which means woody's been in existance for eleven months, and that we probably want to think about freezing and releasing it in a few more months.

Depending on how you define "a few", Woody could be considered right on track.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

December 20, 2001

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


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Linux History

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.

December 20, 2001

From:	 "Donald J. Barry" <don@isc.astro.cornell.edu>
To:	 rms@gnu.org
Subject: Sklyarov's character
Date:	 17 Dec 2001 15:05:37 -0500

Hi Richard,

You'll be pilloried for your principled criticism of Sklyarov -- but I
entirely agree with your assessment.

That said, I can't help but notice the parallels with Bertold Brecht,
who told HUAC "I am not a communist" in 1954 and then boarded the next
plane for East Germany, never to return.  In some ways, the act itself
rubbed the committee's nose in their mess.  We certainly can't count on
the media, however, to recognize irony as a rebuttal to the acts whose
interpretation they are fully adept at orchestrating.  And if Sklyarov
does indeed return like a puppydog at the call of his new masters, the
abasement will be entirely complete.

In Brecht's (and Sklyarov's) case, the tagline may be a phrase from the
former's _Life of Galileo_, "whatever you or I do, the world will keep
on turning."  It's an entirely defeatist point of view, but that seems
to be the favored response to the increasingly unprincipled and random
acts by our corporate-controlled leadership, who put the Bill of Rights
in the vault 50 years ago and now don't even remember its guarantees. 

Thanks again for your long-standing principled stand of conscience on
issues in which I find myself in almost total agreement with you. 
You're a rarity -- a man of integrity with the courage to act his
convictions through to the end.

Don Barry,
Cornell Astronomy

From:	 Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>
To:	 dmitry-boston@lesser-magoo.lcs.mit.edu, free-sklyarov@zork.net,
	 dmitry-plan@eff.org, dmarti@zgp.org, gnu@toad.com, poole@allseer.com
Subject: An apology and an affirmation
Date:	 Tue, 18 Dec 2001 14:17:57 -0700 (MST)
Cc:	 letters@lwn.net

When I read Seth Finkelstein's message saying that Sklyarov had agreed
to "cooperate with the United States in its ongoing prosecution", and
showing damaging-looking statements he had agreed to make, it appeared
that he was giving the US government exactly what it wants in order to
nail ELCOM and put a nail in the coffin of our freedom.  I commented
based on that understanding of the nature of the deal.

Since then, people have told me that the situation is more
complicated; that his testimony won't necessarily help the prosecution
much, and that the deal will make it easier for ELCOM to argue its
case.  I'm glad to hear that things are not as bad as they looked.  So
I withdraw my criticism of Sklyarov for making the deal, and I
apologize if I misjudged its nature.

The truly important issue is not one programmer, one company, or one
case; it is the DMCA and our freedom.  On this issue, I stand by what
I have said.  We must put the strongest pressure on Adobe, on movie
companies that make encrypted DVDs, and on any other companies that
now or in the future use the DMCA weapon against our freedom.  We must
teach them to regret their arrogance.

From:	 Matthew Dillon <dillon@apollo.backplane.com>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Withdrawl previous letter please 'On RMS's comments regarding Dmitry'
Date:	 Tue, 18 Dec 2001 13:47:22 -0800 (PST)

    Oh my god!  Stallman actually apologized for something!  Good for you!
    I'd like to withdrawl my previous nastygram please.  If you want to post
    this one instead that would be fine.

					Matthew Dillon 
From:	 Nathan Myers <ncm-nospam@cantrip.org>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Microsoft Remedies
Date:	 Thu, 13 Dec 2001 08:07:45 +0000

To the editors, 

There's only one remedy for Microsoft's crimes that I'd enjoy seeing:
take them at their word, and keep the Feds out of their business.  

More precisely, keep the Feds out of copyright, trade secret, and
patent enforcement wherever MS properties are involved.  Let MS compete 
as well as they can manage in the truly free market for, oh, five years.  
Let them draw down their cash reserves, and try to retain what market 
presence they can for when their penalty expires.  After some time they 
might begin to recognize benefits of a government presence.

My question is, when do the perjury trials begin? 

Nathan Myers
From:	 Myrddin Ambrosius <imipak@yahoo.com>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: WRT "LynxWorks responds to Microsoft attack"
Date:	 Tue, 18 Dec 2001 08:35:49 -0800 (PST)


    I've just finished reading the article on
LynxWorks responding to Microsoft's attack on embedded
Linux. I also read Microsoft's original article. I was
   Microsoft's comments are, for the most part,
totally inaccurate. Where there is some accuracy, it
is presented in a misleading way. This is FUD at it's
very, very worst.

   I strongly urge LWN readers to submit Microsoft's
claims, along with proof of inaccuracies, to the DOJ
and the trial judge in the Microsoft case. This is
some of the clearest evidence yet that Microsoft will
not tolerate ANY competition, no matter how marginal,
in ANY market, and that they WILL leverage their
monopoly on the desktop to destroy that competition,
using fear, uncertainty and doubt.

   If a criminal is caught on bail, commiting the SAME
offence, they are usually treated with considerably
less mercy. I believe Microsoft has done some good in
the world, but that makes this all the LESS tolerable,
in that we -and they- know that they CAN be both
tolerent and profitable. There is no excuse, and -we-
have no business letting this go.

Jonathan Day

From:	 "Jay R. Ashworth" <jra@baylink.com>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Galeon release announcement
Date:	 Tue, 18 Dec 2001 13:54:39 -0500

Ok, maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood today (I am).  And maybe I've
turned into an appliance operator over the years (not really).

But the announcement in last week's LWN that Galeon 1.01 is out really
doesn't do me much good.  Because, you see, when I download the RH6 RPM
to my 6.2/KDE 1.2 machine, and try to install it, what do I find?

I find that it depends on about a dozen other things I don't have
installed.  And no one bothered to mention this.  Luckily, that 2MB
download only took a minute; broadband is great.

But, still; c'mon, guys: if it's a research item rather than a software
product, just let us know that, ok?  It's not an unreasonable
expectation: Mandrake is derivative of RH, but it's complete.  NS6 is a
derivative of Moz, but *it's* complete, too.

It's fine that Galeon is an erector set to *build* a browser out of
other parts... but just *tell* me that.  'k?

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                                                jra@baylink.com
Member of the Technical Staff     Baylink                             RFC 2100
The Suncoast Freenet         The Things I Think
Tampa Bay, Florida        http://baylink.pitas.com             +1 727 647 1274

   "If you don't have a dream; how're you gonna have a dream come true?"
     -- Captain Sensible, The Damned (from South Pacific's "Happy Talk")
From:	 Peter Corlett <abuse@cabal.org.uk>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Aargh, the tentacles
Date:	 Wed, 19 Dec 2001 18:59:48 +0000

In LWN of October 25, 2001 you reported on the release of Emacs 21 and said,
apparently in jest that

  "On the other hand, the rumor that one can now boot directly into emacs
   from LILO or GRUB, and thus avoid the need for an operating system
   entirely, proves to be unfounded."

because it would be absolutely inconceivable that Emacs could ever get that
bloated, could it?

Well, roll on QNX. QNX apparently has a rather neat feature where one can
statically link an application with the kernel, giving you a kernel image
with said application embedded in it but without kernel features that are
not required. This means you have a lean and fast kernel that is perfect for
an embedded system.

I was recently informed that Emacs will quite happily combine with the QNX
kernel in this fashion. The result is that not only can Emacs be bootable
from LILO or GRUB, but Emacs' aim of using all the CPU and memory in the
system would finally be achieved.
From:	 "J. Lasser" <jon@lasser.org>
To:	 Eric Kidd <eric.kidd@pobox.com>
Subject: More on mutt and ~b
Date:	 Thu, 13 Dec 2001 14:32:23 -0500
Cc:	 letters@lwn.net


You can do some (more) of what you complain about in Mutt: Rather than
/~b use the (L)imit command to limit to messages containing that
pattern. Of course, you can combine more of Mutt's search features to do
more complex searches of folders.

One Mutt-compatible solution, one which will help performance, is to
switch away from mbox-format mail to any of the one-file-per-message
systems. This will improve the performance on that front.

As far as searching 100,000+ message archives, using maildir or a
similar format in combination with Glimpse (or any other full-text
search solution that indexes in advance) will provide search speed far
in excess of what even Evolution can do. :-)

The virtual-folder piece can almost be done in Mutt: what I would do is
to write these searches as standard Mutt searches (for example, all
messages from 1998 with the word 'linker' in the body would be '~d
1/1/1998+1y && ~b linker' and to associate this as a macro (ie the F4
key). Then you can simply L<F4> to achieve the effect of virtual

Of course, if Evolution meets all of your needs, use it. The right tool
for the job is always the right solution. :-)

Jon Lasser	
Home: jon@lasser.org		|    Work:jon@cluestickconsulting.com
http://www.tux.org/~lasser/     |    http://www.cluestickconsulting.com
   Buy my book, _Think_Unix_! http://www.tux.org/~lasser/think-unix/

From:	 Andrew Pimlott <andrew@pimlott.ne.mediaone.net>
To:	 Eric Kidd <eric.kidd@pobox.com>
Subject: Re: Searching big gobs of e-mail
Date:	 Fri, 14 Dec 2001 12:52:21 -0500
Cc:	 letters@lwn.net

I'm sure you're getting lots of advice on mutt, but let me try to
add to it:

> * The aforementioned /~b feature walks me through search results
> one message at a time.  But some of the queries I need to perform
> return hundreds of hits (say, digging through
> automatically-generated CVS e-mails from years ago).  So when I
> most need /~b, it turns out to be nearly useless.

The "limit" feature does exactly what you want.

> * Mutt has no ability to save search results in a virtual folder 

"limit" seems to be the same feature as "virtual folder" (unless I
misunderstand).  The only lack in mutt is that you can't name and
save your limit patterns (although you could simply define a macro
for each limit pattern).  This would seem to be an easy feature to
add.  You could put in your configuration

    pattern "conversation with Bob" ~f bob | ~C bob

Then when you use limit or any other command taking patterns, you
could press tab to see a menu of predefined patterns.  Maybe someone
will do this. :-)

From:	 Joey Hess <joey@kitenet.net>
To:	 Eric Kidd <eric.kidd@pobox.com>
Subject: Re: Searching big gobs of e-mail
Date:	 Thu, 13 Dec 2001 12:17:37 -0500
Cc:	 letters@lwn.net

> Don't get me wrong; I love mutt.  It's just breaking under the strain.

When I find myself in this situation, I reach for grepmail
(http://grepmail.sourceforge.net/). It is an elegant little program that
can do quite powerful searches of mail, and it spits out a valid mbox to
stdout. You can even chain grepmail calls to do more complicated
queries. There's a wrapper that can feed the result into mutt. It's a
good example of the unix tools philosophy, as opposed to the monilithic
program philosophy.

see shy jo
From:	 Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
To:	 <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: The MS DRM Patent and Freedom to Speak and Think
Date:	 Fri, 14 Dec 2001 23:08:13 -0500

In his November 6 essay "You're Free to Think,"
Dave Winer comments that whatever else happens in the
ongoing, increasing trend towards policing of the public's
right to use information and information technology, we are
still left with the freedom to *think* for ourselves.  He
seemed to me to be offering this comment as a bare source of
solace against the government's increasing intent to control
the prospects of communications technology.

Microsoft's favorable treatment of late caused him to wonder
what kind of deal Bill Gates must have worked out with the
Bush Administration.  He wondered what Microsoft might have
given the government in return for the highly favorable
terms of the settlement that's currently on the table in the
court proceedings against the company, for monopoly
practices in the operating systems arena.

He commented specifically on the current ramifications of
Microsoft's increasing position of power in the operating
systems market:

> Now, they have to get people to upgrade to
> Windows XP -- that's the final step, the one that
> fully turns over the keys to the Internet to them,
> because after XP they can upgrade at will, routing
> through Microsoft-owned servers, altering content,
> and channeling communication through government
> servers. After XP they fully own electronic
> communication media, given the consent decree,
> assuming it's approved by the court.

Now, it has just come to light that Microsoft has been
awarded a software "patent" for a "Digital Rights
Management" operating system.

This development shows us exactly where we stand now. 
Microsoft doesn't have to offer anything to the government;
it has only to hold possession of a patent covering the
"DRM" elements of its latest OS, thereby providing an almost
absolutely assured trajectory toward establishing the terms
by which the public's ability to communicate digital
information will be controlled.

Please see the message I am posting below, from the CYBERIA
email list, which quotes from the patent.

The real kicker is right here:

> The digital rights management operating system
> also limits the functions the user can perform on the
> rights-managed data and the trusted application, and
> can provide a trusted clock used in place of the
> standard computer clock.

The ability to use information freely is now going to be
policed at the most intricate level, in the name of
exclusive rights and to the detriment of the most
fundamental Constitutional principles of our society.

Whereas the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution assures
that every American citizen has the full right to freedom of
speech, we see here the ultimate legislative and technical
trappings by which the public will be demarcated as mere
information consumers.

Facts and ideas are not contraband and may never be
copyrighted or otherwise constrained under the terms of
intellectual "property," whether they are bound up in an
expressive work or not; and the computer is a *logic* device
that now sits on nearly every citizen's desktop -- it is
*not* a consumer appliance.  From both the standpoints of
speech and thought, so-called digital "rights management" is
a utterly desolate *dead end.*

Whether we speak of the constituent pieces of expressive
works, or the nature of the computer itself, so-called
digital "rights management" marks the beginning of a grand
rollback of the means by which the promise of our
participation in and advancement of civil society have
lately been greatly augmented.

Rather than facing the simple, plain truth that the power
given in the U.S. Constitution for Congress to grant (or
deny) to authors and inventors "exclusive right" to their
works, was intended to cover products that do not
intrinsically bind up the very means of communication and of
our participation in civil society, we instead are
experiencing a social condition wherein monopoly interests
exploit the fluidity of logical products to evade the very
terms of antitrust law and to assure that the public's
ordinary rights do not gain purchase against their
interests.  Antitrust law is all about competition in a
particular product, but software is as amorphous in its
possibilities as our own vaunted power to think.  Thus
Microsoft easily maintains it is not in the browser market,
competing with Netscape; it is, rather, in the market for
"innovative operating systems."

We are now seeing just how "innovative" that operating
system can really be.

If we do not confront the ludicrousness of the idea of
holding a patent of this nature, and the outrageousness of
our courts' failure to confront the truth about what holding
market power in the field of informatin products really
means, we will soon be free to speak and think -- only so
long as we don't use our computers to do it.

Thus, in the name of exclusive rights, Microsoft is serving
old world publishing interests, acting by means of legal
fictions to assure that citizens who seek to further the
prospects of information technology, will be inexorably
locked into the role of information consumers, blocked from
exercising their own tools in full accordance with the
rights that our Constitution supposedly guards.

We are *all* information producers, whether we manifest this
as a routine, inalienable part of the ordinary rights we
exercise in our everyday lives, or whether we engage
ourselves in the present, increasingly desperate and furtive
struggle to guard commercial interests by restricting the
use of information delivered in digital form.

We have always been information producers, and we must not
accede to the interests of those who do not regard the
public at large as full and equal citizens, but rather as
mere consumers.

Seth Johnson
Committee for Independent Technology
December 14, 2001

Information Producers Initiative:

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