Linux Weekly News

Bringing you the latest news from the Linux World.
Dedicated to keeping Linux users up-to-date, with concise news for all interests
Published June 25, 1998

Linux articles
Kernel news
Software Development
Free/Open-Source Software
Commercial/Press Releases
Links of the week
Feedback and corrections

Other stuff:
LWN Archives
Linux Links
Linux Events Calendar
Daily Updates

Leading items has served as a central clearing ground for information on what actually happened with the Beowulf site shutdown. This week, they provided a pointer to a Dr. Dobbs article that explains the reasons for the shutdown and the timing. Beowulf clusters can achieve processing power well beyond the 7,000 MTOPS (Million Theoretical Operations per Second) ceiling imposed by the U.S. supercomputer export laws for certain countries.

The Beowulf performance triggered anxiety in the minds of some people who had already taken heat recently for providing spare missile parts to China. However, unlike presumably spare missile parts, the very definition of a Beowulf guarantees that all the parts necessary to build a supercomputer are already available in quantity, at low cost, outside the United States.

Between encryption and now processing power, the U.S. Congress is living in another universe where the United States is the only one with technical knowledge and power and therefore can control it. They are wrong. The world moved on when they weren't looking and their laws are only going to cause long-term damage to US industries if they don't learn better.

Another area of potential long-term harm to the ability of U.S. industries to compete is the use of patents. Alan Cox ranted a bit about this on linux-kernel. Stupid patents on widely-known information debase the original intent of a patent, which was to allow valid recompense to the original "inventor", while guaranteeing that knowledge would move into the public domain. Instead, we have patents that are created for the sole purpose of harassing competitors and generating lawsuits. The U.S. Patent Office needs a severe overhaul.

The interview with Alan Cox is quite fabulous, providing a historical view, some insights into the development of various pieces of Linux, good information on current porting projects and an overview of fun things to come. Plus, we get to hear how Alan got his really cool job for Red Hat!

Red Hat reported on a recent Datapro survey that shows Linux is the only operating system except Windows NT that is growing in corporate markets. The original survey does not appear to be freely available (requires registration), but Red Hat's synopsis indicates that satisfaction with Linux outstrips any other surveyed operating system. And this from a survey primarily of managers and directors!

Many thanks, again, to Sean and Evelyn ( ) who kept us up-to-date with the Usenix Conference last week. Here are their reports from June 17th, June 18th and June 19th.

Got some feedback, some news to publish, or something else you would like to tell us? is our address.

Or would you like to be notified when new editions of the Linux Weekly News are published? Click here and send a blank message.

Please see our contact page for other contact information.

Here is the permanent site for this page.

Need top-quality commercial Linux support? Please see our Linux support page.


Linux in the news

Engineers Speak Out: Linux vs. Windows NT, Part 1, is the July cover story for ISD. It covers responses they received to their April article on "Why Most Engineers Insist on Unix." The July article includes many great quotes and heartfelt information from the people whose lives stand to be highly affected by this issue.

Wesley Darlington notified us that the August 98 issue of PC Pro, a UK computing magazine, has a five page article on "Building a Supercomputer" which devotes a fair bit of space to Beowulf and Linux. Neither of us could find a copy on-line, so for details, you'll have to get your hands on the hard copy. Note that this article was written before the US munitions people took down the NASA Beowulf site!

Michele Beltrame describes his project to build a server on a 486SX/33 with only 8MB of memory. The system is running great and the customer is happy, particularly with the cost of the system!

Jesse Burst's article on How Linux could kill Windows goes over recent articles and uses them as evidence of the growing Linux momentum (but we knew that). Still, the article is well-balanced and makes some well-organized and supported points.

The Supreme Court decision for American On-Line which let stand a ruling that Internet service providers may not be held liable for defamatory material posted on their systems, has all ISPs breathing easier.

The Linux vs NT forum seems to have ended resoundedly in favor of Linux. Last week, we put in some notes from Phil Tomson, who was actually present. That was followed by this report in the EETimes.

This article on Red Hat, while fairly general, contains some good quotes from Bob Young and is definitely good coverage for Linux. It is nice that they took the time to do the piece from a slightly different angle. [ed. Nalin Dahyabhai gave us the link to the original, full article in the Raleigh News and Observer.]

The demise of the java-based Network Computer is discussed in this Infoworld article by Nicholas Petreley. He uses the folding of NC World to represent how vendor apathy can spell the demise of a good technology, in favor of a "good enough" technology with better marketing and support.

Linux only gets a paragraph in this Detroit Free Press article on alternatives to Windows 95 and 98. Warning: the article starts by explaining how a program talks to the computer using ones and zeros ...

PC Quest, India's mainline computing mag, has decided to give Linux a permanent spot on it's web site, from where you can read all the Linux articles published so far. It even appears on the main navigation bar! (Item contributed by Atul Chitnis)

Informatique Magazine, a leading french monthly publication, published an article comparing the explosive growth of the Internet, after a period of maturation, to the current Linux explosion. (in French)

Ziff-Davis has launched an Internet Service Provider (ISP) Database. Their research is turning up some interesting items: "Take operating systems, for example: we found that UNIX is the OS of choice and NT is strong, but the surprise No. 3 contender is Linux.

The South China Morning Post is the "main English language newspaper" for Hong Kong, according to Alan Knowles. He sent us a pointer to this article from their Technology section: OS Renegade Linux moves into Business.

This article, entitled The Linux Alternative To Windows: It's Free, And It's Not Microsoft was published June 18th, 1998, in the Hartford Courant. It mentioned the recent formation of the Connecticut Free Unix Group and is another example of good information on Linux started to trickle down in the media.

Michael Warren sent us this tidbit, which announces that the Los Alamos "Mail-Order" super-computer is among the world's fastest. The computer, called Avalon, is a Beowulf and the report mentions "The key to the success of these machines lies in their software, and the most important part of that software is the Linux operating system."

In India, The Economic Times published a good two-part article on Linux Here are parts 1 and 2.

IBM plans to bundle and support Apache's web server. This will certainly continue to raise awareness and confidence in free software. It is stated that IBM developers will contribute to Apache as well. Perhaps IBM sees free software as a way for them to regain market share lost to Microsoft?

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  
[Security] Privacy Online: A Report to Congress is a report from the US Federal Trade Commission. The report addresses the collection of information from individuals on web-sites, with the principle that when such collection is done, the individual should be notified how the information will be used, given a choice whether not to contribute the information, given access to any information that is collected about them and that appropriate steps be taken to address the security of such information. They report that 85% of web sites are not in compliance with these voluntary rules.

They are recommending the creation of "greater incentives" for voluntary regulation, though in the case of the collection of information from children, they are also recommending legislative measures to require parental notification when information is collected.

Actual recommendations are due out later this summer. It will be interesting to see if the recommendations will help protect people's privacy or create new liability rules that might restrict or hinder reasonable activities.

The L0pht guys got a lot of kudos in response to their testimony at recent Senate hearings. It is nice to see politicians recognizing and rewarding efforts to improve software security for everyone.

Anyone else notice that tripwire has gone commercial? Visual Computing Corporation is currently working on new releases of tripwire. Anyone out there maintaining the original, free version?

Problems in pine and popclient have been reported, where mail messages with particular content inserted into the mail headers or message body can cause severe difficulties. No word on patches yet.

The Linux Security Audit project is looking for a site and maintainer to help get the project off the ground. Volunteers for the site seem available, but no one has yet offered the time to get a web site up and going. Until that site is off the ground, you can find the archives for the mailing list at

There is a very recently reported bug in ncftp2.4.3 which can cause ncftp to crash. This is not a buffer overflow and does not appear to be exploitable. The problem has been fixed in ncftp3.0beta.

The first draft of a new FAQ for was recently posted by author Alan Rosenthal. [Editor: the permanent URL for the faq is here] And the Firewalls FAQ was updated on June 22nd.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  
[Kernel] Eric W. Biederman has been following the glibc vs ext2fs-tools debate (mentioned in the June 18th edition) for some time now and sent in a good explanation of the issues.

Alan Cox posted a pointer to a web-site which holds an index of the major 2.1.X problems. This coordination of effort has spurred on work to fix the bugs; that should help get out a cleaner 2.2 kernel faster!

We are still at kernel 2.1.106 and Alan Cox's latest patches are up to ac4. Alan has also released 2.0.35 pre patch 1.

File corruption problems with kernel 2.1.106 have been reported by several different parties. When Alan Cox joined the group, it seemed that the problem was likely to be pinpointed quickly and taken care of. However, Alan's problem turned out to be a bad SIMM and we've seen no followup confirming or resolving the other problem reports, as of yet. If you see file corruption problems with 2.1.106 (most often seen only when a full fsck is forced, "fsck -f"), get all the details and report it, but then check your hardware carefully, in case that is the real culprit.

This note by David Miller sparked the largest linux-kernel debate of the week, all about linux threads. Out of it came this pointer to a document covering various issues with I/O events by Richard Gooch. Opinions are mixed as to how well his proposals might work, but since he intends to implement them, we can wait for actual performance data before deciding.

Some progress is being made by Andreas Schwab on an mmap() bug in 2.1.106 reported by Paul Gortmaker. A good patch has not yet been released; hopefully we'll see that soon.

Some people are reporting a CRC failure upon boot with 2.1.106. Remember to use bzImage to make your kernel, not zImage. If that gives you an "out of memory" error, you may need to apply a CRC fix. Here is one CRC fix that has been reposted, with the original author lost, unfortunately. At least one person has found that the CRC fix was not necessary as long as he went back and did a make mrproper and rebuilt the kernel from scratch.

How much kernel stack do we need? That was the question Bernd Schmidt asked. He has a patch that could make the size of the kernel stack a configurble option. [Note: this is not a "safe" patch!] Of course, there are two or three functions that actually allocate a 2000 byte array on the stack ...

Alan Cox confirmed that this old NFS buglet was still present in the 2.1.X kernel series.

Having problems related to IDE-DMA? Here are some notes on the topic from Andrew Balsa.

Since we're a weekly publication, chances are we'll be behind a rev or two on the kernel release by the time you read this page. Up-to-the-second information can always be found at LinuxHQ.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  

Version 2.9.2 of the Linux Router Project, a networking centric mini-distribution of Linux that fits on a floppy disk, is fully glibc based and was released last Friday.


Caldera has announced the beta version of their Caldera Netware Server for Linux. A three-user license version of the beta should be available for download at no charge as of Wednesday, June 24, 1998.


Brian White has sent out the official Debian 2.0 Beta announcement. This is the last phase before the final release, which will happen when all serious 2.0 bugs are fixed. 30 bugs were closed last week and only 66 remain, so hopefully that won't be too far away! At least two vendors will have Gold Debian 2.0 Beta CDs on Wednesday and, of course, hamm can be downloaded directly (mirror information available on

.debs have been released for Gnome. The gnome-admin package is not yet finished.

The text of the potential articles of agreement between Debian and SPI, as outlined in section 9 of the new Debian constitution, has been mailed to the SPI board recently. A copy of the SPI charter should also be posted soon, so the relationship between the two groups is getting better defined.


Al Guerra Enterprises has started a MkLinux bug list, for use with all McLinux packages.

Red Hat

The announcement of official Adaptec hardware support for Linux has finally been jointly released, by Red Hat and Adaptec. We've mentioned this before, since it came up at the Linux Congress and is now implied by Red Hat's hardware support page, but it was fun to see the actual report. "That Adaptec recognizes the Linux operating system and the Linux development model as beneficial to the PC industry speaks volumes about the future of Linux."

The unofficial Red Hat 5.1 security bugs page maintained by Chris Evans was updated again a couple of times this week. Twelve unresolved problems were listed at last count.


Please note that not every distribution will show up every week. Only distributions with recent news to report will be listed.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  


Jim Paradis posted a note that he and his buddies (Jay Estabrook, Joe Martin, Russ Pavlicek, Maddog) are still alive and kicking at the company-formerly-known-as-Digital. These are our favorite Alpha design team members, so good news for them is good news for Linux on the Alpha.

Here's the announcement, from Jay Estabrook, of both a set of Alpha-related patches against pristine linux-2.0.34, and a full source tree with those patches already applied.

Best of all, the source code for linload.exe has been released. Jim Paradis posted this announcement, along with an explanation of what changed so that he could do this. Very good news!


This is old news, but somehow managed to slip by this author. Intel announced that the schedule for the shipment of the Merced chip has changed. Radically changed, as in volume production won't be here until mid-2000. Inforworld commented June 2 on the changed and its impact on the industry. The signs of increased interest and focus on the alpha CPU have been noticeable.


Brian Warner is working on getting linuxppc versions of the PalmOS development RPMs up and running. Here are the details.


Red Hat 5.1 for Sparc was put out on the web site for distribution on June 22nd. You can find the files at or one of its mirrors. Here is the official announcement.

The first immediate reaction seems to be surprise among the sparc crowd that 5.1 breaks compatibility with libc5! Guess they expected, having waited so long, that the painful transformation would not be expected of them. Don't upgrade to 5.1 yet unless you know glibc versions of your essential applications are there! Other than that, reports are good. SunOS emulation appears to still work, Netscape is working again, usercfg and glint may be broken.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  
[Software Development]


NetBeans, Inc., has launched NetBeans IDE, their first JFC-Based Java Development Tool.


The Perl Conference is heating up. They have announced six $1000 prizes for the best papers by users describing their real-world applications of Perl. They also will be hosting "The Guru Is In", small informal sessions with various perl gurus. Gosh, and just a few years ago, the entire conference would have been a small informal session with a few gurus ...

Randal Schwarz will be in Chicago on Saturday, June 27th, to present his "Just Another Convicted Perl Hacker" speech to the Chicago Perl Mongers.


Guido van Rossum mentioned that the schedule for the creation of a Python consortium has slipped a bit, meaning that it may not exist by the time of the next conference. The consortium will require a serious financial commitment from members, with the money going to fund programmer time for coding and designing the future architecture for Python, integrating patches, etc.
  • mxODBC 0.8.0, an extension package providing a generic interface to ODBC 2.0 API compliant database drivers or managers
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free
/ Announce / Feedback
[Free/Open-Source News]

Free/Open-Source Software News

Work on the Linux C library 5 is phasing out. Maintainer H.J. Lu just released libc 5.4.46 and mentioned at the same time that he will be maintaining it for very serious bug fixes only. If you want new features or improvements, you'll have to move to libc6, aka glibc.

Will Solaris x86 be the next announced open-source software product? That's the rumor from Spencer Katt at ZDNet.

Linart, a discussion list for artists who use GNU/Linux and other free software in the creation and distribution of their work has gained its own website. It contains subscribe and unsubscribe directions, archives, and the beginning of a list of member sites.

The GNU Animation Multimedia Entertainment System (GAMES) has gained another piece with the release of Sprite32/X version 19980211.

Two free/open-source software products gained additional recognition with "Best DB of the year" awards going to MySql and PHP. The award is also a tribute to the Open Source initiative; both products are used, developed and supported by interlocking communities of people on the Net. [Origin: slashdot]

The SEUL project has released a note outlining the changes in their goals over the past few months. They no longer intend on coming out with their own distribution. The note describes the efforts they are working on now.

Speaking of SEUL, Greg Nate posted a "rant", encouraging everyone to vote for the petition to Insignia asking them to port SoftWindows to Linux. He strongly believes that such emulators will help build markets for direct ports of commercial software to Linux. Some people fear that if an emulator exists, the software will never be ported. Certainly the availability of SoftWindows for other versions of Unix didn't guarantee the ports of such software. It may be the size of the Linux market, already outstripping other Unix vendors, that determines whether more commercial applications are ported.


Current rumor is that the apache-ssl patches for 1.3 will be out "some time this month." Demand for them seems to be growing ...


The Beowulf project is looking for mirror sites, particularly outside the United States. Robert Levin posted a plea for assistance on slashdot on June 20th.


The Gnome project announced their new disk parition program, Gnome FDisk, for those of you that would like a nice GUI on top of your fdisk.


A warning went out about tree instability on June 22nd. This was actually good news, since the instability is due to the merging of mail and news code onto the trunk of the Mozilla codebase. is now up and running, so you can now get your jarballs fresh!


Although nothing as earth-shaking as a full change in qmail's license has happened or is likely to happen, it is now possible to distribute qmail binaries, under certain very strict rules. If you are interested, check it out. Note that this information is new to this author, and recently posted, but I was unable to confirm just how recent a change this is.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  
        News/Press Releases]

Linux and the Commercial World

It was very good to see, in writing, an open-source commitment from Red Hat's new partner, Precision Insight. And even better to see a new driver for the Neomagic 128!

Robert Wuest posted a review of LinuxCAD, a CAD program from Software Forge. The review is pretty thorough and, unfortunately, not too promising. Hopefully Software Forge will read the review as well and work on the problems.

Press Releases:

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  


Many of you may have already noticed the recent, major changes at Freshmeat. They also bode well for the return of the one-line software descriptions. Keep an eye tuned for the software announcements next week ...
Alien 6.11 with security fix
analog 3.0
Arrow 0.5
Audio File Library 0.1.3
Blackbox 0.33.5
Blender 1.35
C-Forge IDE v1.1 Single-User Commercial
Caldera NetWare Server Beta
Code Crusader 0.13.2
cRadio 0.6
DDD 3.0
DDD Snapshot 19980617
Debian 2.0 Beta
DUMB 0.13
egcs snapshot 980621
Enlightenment DR0.14 Snapshots
EOS - Electronic Object Simulator
freestyle DJ sample player
FreeWRL 0.07
Gamora DR0.51
Gnome FDisk
gpppkill 0.8.15
Gtk-- 0.9.8
gxsnmp 0.0.8
icewm 0.9.8
jail 1.3
JX 1.0.7 and JX 1.1.16
Kalendar 0.4d
KBiff 0.8
kcrontab 0.1.6
kcrontab 1.71
KDE 1.0pre1
ktuner 0.2
LCDproc v0.3.3
LessTif 0.85.2
Libc 5.4.46
libpng 1.0.2
Linux JDK 1.1.6 v2
Linux joystick driver v1.2.6
Linux Router Project 2.9.2
Linuxconf 1.10r34
Masqdialer 0.0.3
MSWordView 0.0.23
mxODBC 0.8.1
NcFTP 3.0beta13
NEC2 graphyc Post Processor 1.3
NewsX 0.15
pgpmenu / pgp4pine 0.5
Pilot Applet 0.1.0
Sced 1.0
Scwm 0.7
Sprite32/X 19980611
The Internet Junkbuster 2.0
tin 1.4 pre 980618
tinyproxy 1.0c
Wcal 1.00
wmnet 1.04
wmtools 0.01
X-Mame 0.33b6.1
X-MESS 0.1
XAsk 0.3
XBoard 4.0.0
xnetload 1.5.0
XRoads v0.1
Xscreensaver 2.22
Xscreensaver 2.23
Xterminal 0.1
xwpe-alpha 1.5.9a


Adam Ophir Shapira is looking for beta-testers for some software that is a combination of GPL and commercial code.


Kristian Soerensen pointed out that the Linux Resource Page now has listings for over 539 mailing lists and newsgroups. It is searchable, too.


This Sunday, June 28th, the Silicon Valley Linux User's Group (SVLUG) will launch Windows 98 ... on a rocket. You are invited to come help them "poke some good clean fun" at Microsoft's "Win98 Launch" event of June 25.

Web sites

The Linux Console Tools now have a real WWW site.

New user groups

John Tipton is working on the development of the Knoxville Linux User's Group (KLUG). Contact him directly if you are interested.

New mailing lists

A new mailing list for SAL (Scientific Applications on Linux) has been announced.
  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  

Linux links of the week

We meant to highlight this one a couple of weeks ago. Now that their DNS troubles have been worked out, it is a good time to check out the newly revamped site! The amount of information now easily accessible from the site is truly amazing. Their Linux Projects page is a great glimpse at much of the work going on in the community.

Read this bit to bring a little humor into your day. Thanks to Lenz Grimmer for the pointer.

  Top / News / Security / Kernel / Dists / Ports / Devel / Free / Announce / Feedback  

Feedback and Corrections

Robert Napier asked for more information on bill HR 2281, which is opposed by Richard Stallman. We provided some pointers and he did some digging himself, coming up with both the text of HR 2281 and its alternative, HR 3048. We've included his note, with the pointers and his personal commentary after reading both bill.

Phil Kristin pointed out an error in Phil's Tomson's report on the Linux vs NT shootout. Mr. Shukla works for Ambit, not Avant! This was an inadvertant mistake and has been corrected.

Michael Sangrey sent in his letter to John Dodge.

Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! This page is produced by Eklektix, Inc.