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Leading items

Linux, business, and how the two relate seems to be the theme for the week. Here are some interesting developments.

IBM is reconsidering releasing a free version of DB2 for Linux, see this Computer Reseller News article for more. The problem is an interesting one: they have received "overwhelming interest from the corporate market." The expected consumers of DB2 were students, hobbyists, and so on - people who are relatively unlikely to want to pay "enterprise database" prices. Instead all these companies, which presumably have money, were showing up.

IBM's experience thus closely parallels that of Informix, which also found itself surprised by the amount of corporate interest in its products on Linux. Linux's image no longer entirely matches the reality of its user base. Expect to see even more companies showing up on our doorstep once people begin to figure this out. 1999 is indeed going to be an interesting year.

Then there is the case of Creative Labs, their "SoundBlaster Live" card, and Linux. Questions have circulated for a while as to whether this card would be supported under Linux. Until recently the answer was a clear "no." Creative has not released any sort of programming information for this card, so drivers can not be written. The reasoning behind this is unclear. On January 8 Creative sent a note claiming that they were under nondisclosure to EMU, who provides a chip for the SB Live, and thus Creative couldn't release programming information. That excuse might have held water, except for the fact that Creative owns EMU, and thus should be able to find a way around such problems.

Creative followed that one with another notesaying flat out that "Creative has no plans of releasing its intellectual property to the general public.." They did state that a Linux driver would eventually appear.

The tone moderated somewhat with a later message saying, instead "Creative is not unwilling to provide programming information, there simply isn't any because it hasn't been written." This posting came out at about the same time that Creative put out this job posting, wherein they seek a Linux device driver writer. It seemed that Linux support was of interest after all.

LWN had a brief conversation with Jacob Hawley of Creative. He tells us that they have not worked out what the licensing will be for the Linux drivers they write. He fears that the GPL is incompatible with some of their other software products, and is looking at perhaps a variant of the Mozilla license. Meanwhile some sort of binary-only driver for the SB Live card is probably the first thing that Linux users will see.

It is all in flux currently, but it appears that Creative is trying to come to terms with Linux and to find a way to do the right thing. Another company is waking up. For now the thing to do is to try to encourage them gently and not flame Creative further.

The Bazaar has run into serious difficulties. The Bazaar, of course, is a conference to be held in New York in March; it is styled as a gathering of free software developers and users. The Bazaar's problems, as spelled out in this Slashdot article, stem from their temporal proximity to the LinuxWorld Expo conference. The latter, run by IDG, has pretty well emptied out the pool of possible exhibitors for anything else. Thus a volunteer-run conference in the spirit of free software gets run out by well-funded big business competition.

It's unlikely that IDG has any ill will toward The Bazaar; they probably hardly know that it exists. But their impact is being felt nonetheless. We will likely see more of this sort of thing in the future.

Meanwhile, it appears from the Slashdot article that The Bazaar has found a benefactor who wants to help make it a success. That is certainly encouraging.

January 14, 1999


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See also: last week's Security page.


Last June, it was first announced that Tripwire, a program that helps monitor an installed software base and report possible compromises, had been turned over to a commercial entity. At the time, we asked if anyone was maintaining the original, free version. The answer appeared to be "No".

Recently on Bugtraq, a thread titled "Tripwire Mess" discussed a bug in Tripwire 1.2 and lesser versions. It turns out that this bug is fixed in version 1.3 of Tripwire. Tripwire 1.3 was released by Tripwire Security Systems, Inc in July this year. However, it is not a commercial product. It was released under the same Academic Source Release license as the original tripwire. So for any of you using Tripwire, upgrading to Tripwire1.3 is highly recommended (but requires an email address for confirmation).

In afore-mentioned Bugtraq thread, Gene Spafford posted a note explaining why Purdue chose to turn Tripwire over to Gene Kim (the original author) and his company. Purdue was uninterested in doing support for Tripwire and very much wanted to see the code ported to the Windows environment and enhanced. Jon Speer, Product Manager for Tripwire Security Systems, Inc, also posted a note, stating that they intend to provide occasional updates to the original ASR releases, as they did when they released Tripwire 1.3. In a followup phone call, Jon went further to state that they are committed to providing "whatever tools or resources the community requires" in order to support the original ASR version of tripwire. "While we are building a company around the commercial release, we do not want the spirit or functionality of the academic version of Tripwire to die".

In the meantime, if you are interested in more news about Tripwire, keep your ears open for reports from the upcoming RSA '99 conference.

An updated version of the OpenSSL Project Announcement has been posted. The new announcement indicates that efforts to maintain and improve SSLeay have been merged into the OpenSSL project, to benefit the community. The result of the project should be "a robust, commercial-grade, fully featured, and Open Source toolkit implementing the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL v2/v3) and Transport Layer Security (TLS v1) protocols with full-strength cryptography world-wide." It will definitely be released under an open source license.

The discussion on Bugtraq as to the most secure way to implement an MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) continues without reaching any final conclusion. A couple of notes from this week's discussion that are interesting include one from Illuminatus Primus, describing his ideas on inter-process communication and one from D.J. Bernstein on the "costs and benefits of splitting a setuid program into an unprivileged user process and a non-setuid daemon ". The latter advocates the use of getpeeruid(). His comment, though, that implementing getpeeruid() under Linux would be a five minute job for a kernel implementor also provoked response, not because the implementation was difficult, but because he didn't allow time for careful design and validation.

Note that Aleph One has closed Bugtraq discussion of qmail or postfix, so future discussions will presumably take place on the qmail and postfix mailing lists instead.

Donald McLachlan asked Bugtraq for information on past or current probes/attacks using multicast and followed up with this summary of the responses he received. Actual multicast-based attacks seem rare, but ideas on how they could be done are not.

Bruce Redmon confirmed last week's report of a denial of service problem with Oracle8 in this message, forwarded to us by Jason Ackley.

Ben Woodard reported another bug that can crash HP printers. He mentions that HP has been informed and is working on a JetDirect flash upgrade to resolve the problem.

Cisco finally released their security notice regarding versions of Cisco IOS software that crash or hang in response to invalid UDP packets. As usual, the notice contains information to help determine whether or not the version of software you are using is vulnerable and how to get a fix for the problem if it is.

Jon Ribbens filed a note about a buffer overflow in the cgic library.

Continuing reports of vulnerabilities to nmap scans have been seen this week. Here is the report on Neoware X-Terminals

Sekure SDI filed a report on problems in mSQL with the use of buffers with unchecked bounds. As a consequence, all versions of mSQL are vulnerable to a Denial-of-Service attack. The report contains a pointer to the patch they have provided.

Security-Related Events

The 6th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security will be held November 1-4, 1999. For more details, see the conference web page.

The National Information Systems Security Conference (NISSC) has issued their Call-For-Papers. The conference will be held the week of October 18, 1999.

January 14, 1999


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See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development

The current development kernel release is 2.2.0pre7. Linus saysthis one is just about there; a few more fixes and 2.2.0 will be unleashed on the world. Alan Cox's 2.2pre7 bug listsays we have a little ground to cover still, though. Alan also has a 2.2.0pre7ac2 patch out there.

Bug-fixing work has been going on in an especially high gear over the last week. One senses that the kernel developers really want to get the 2.2 release out the door and done with - it has been a long haul. An especially active area has been memory management. Linus took a hatchet to the memory code with 2.2.0pre5, incorporating much of Andrea Arcangeli's work, but in his own way. Since then many cycles of patches and benchmarks have been passed around, with additional tweaking being done. As of pre7, Linus seems to be reasonably well satisfied with the results, and has put further memory management work on the back burner.

H. J. Lu's long-awaited kernel NFS fixes went into 2.2.0pre4, something which escaped our notice last week. Further NFS work has been going on, to the point that NFS over TCP works on the client side (2.2.0 will almost certainly lack the ability to do NFS over TCP as a server).

Alan Cox has put together a "hint sheet" for folks trying out the 2.2pre kernels as their first experience with the 2.1 series. Have a look on his web site. It could save you some frustration.

One additional hint that people seem to need: the 2.2 kernels are simply bigger than the 2.0 series. They are big enough that the old "zImage" format for the kernel image will no longer work; one must now use the "big zImage" ("bzImage") format for all but the smallest of configurations. Build the kernel with "make bzImage" and otherwise proceed normally. As long as you have a reasonably recent boot loader, all will work fine. The next person who ignores this and asks about the "System is too big" message on the list may not like the responses that come back...

Is your distribution 2.2-ready? The new kernel needs a different environment, including current versions of a number of utilities (especially networking), some changes in boot scripts, etc. The results of some discussion are:

  • SuSE 6.0 is supposed to be completely ready for 2.2.
  • Slackware 3.6 claims 2.2 readiness.
  • The Debian "slink" release, hopefully to hit the net Real Soon Now, is "almost" 2.2 ready, with a couple of small problems.
  • Red Hat 5.2 is a little behind, with some old utilities. Nonetheless, your editor is running the 2.2pre kernels on a vanilla 5.2 system without ill effect (though HJ Lu's knfsd startup scripts were needed).
  • "Rock Linux" is currently based on the 2.2pre kernels. No, we hadn't heard of it either; learn more at this site.
  • No word was heard from users of Caldera, Pacific Hitech, etc.

As a sign of how much interest there is in the 2.2 kernel series, the size of the linux-kernel mailing list has tripled since the 2.2.0pre series began. The result has been a large increase in traffic on the list, with the result that smoke was seen pouring out of vger.rutgers.edu, the machine which handles the whole thing. Turnaround time on the list grew to over 24 hours at one point; David Miller had to disable anonymous CVS access for a while to allow the backlog to be reduced somewhat. Things since then have stabilized.

Printing on SBUS-based UltraSparcs came up again; the official word is that the parallel port driver for SBUS machines is not supported; in fact, it doesn't even compile. Christopher Platt is working on the problem; he posted a patch which gets the driver to the point of compiling and doing some simple things. He's interested in feedback; give it a try and let him know how it goes.

A new RAID release has been announced; this release contains bug fixes only. The patch applies against either 2.0.36 or 2.2.0-pre5, so just about anybody should be able to make use of it.

When your editor was younger and had time for computer games, he was a fairly avid netrek fan. The netrek folks used to circulate a "frequently offered clever suggestions" list, the idea being to head off recurring discussions on ideas that had been rejected long since. Perhaps the Linux kernel list could use such a document, if the current discussion on whether the Linux kernel should be rewritten in C++ is any guide.

Of course, an experiment with C++ was tried back in the dim and distant past, with such poor results that the kernel was reverted back to C almost immediately. The extent to which this was due to the poor quality of the g++ implementation at that time is debatable (and debated), but there is a certain amount of truth to the claim that C++ encourages too much weirdness going on in the background. It is hard for a kernel developer to look at a piece of code and really know what is going on. Thus there is almost no sentiment in favor of C++ among serious kernel developers.

The debate does provide the opportunity for some interesting quotes, though...

"Been there, done that, didnt like it threw it out"
--Alan Cox
"One day, computer power will eventually outstrip demand, and OS engineers will be free to use friendly languages like LISP again.. until then, I think we're stuck with C."
-- Oliver Xymoron
"The day the Linux kernel starts to go c++ is when I stop working on it. With C I can see the cycles I get as I code, with c++ there is no chance."
-- David Miller
"...handing C++ to the average programmer seems roughly comparable to handing a loaded .45 to a chimpanzee."
-- Ted Ts'o
"So instead of C++ we should be talking about converting to Bliss?"
-- Mark Wood
"Do we really want to replace straight-forward use of macros with anything that requires 150 pages to be defined clearly?"
-- Martin Mares

Just in case you don't get enough kernel news here, a new kernel development newsletter has been started, called Kernel Traffic. Its official launch is supposed to be Friday the 15th, but there is a page at that address now.

January 14, 1999

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.


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See also: last week's Distributions page.



Caldera has announced their OpenLinux Power Bundle, containing Caldera OpenLinux 1.3 and PowerQuest PartitionMagic 4.0 for $89.

This ZDnet article covers Microsoft's decision to withdraw its motion seeking to have Caldera held in contempt of court. This is not a major victory for Caldera, but it is an interesting development, for those following Caldera's lawsuit against Microsoft.


The second edition of the Debian Weekly News, covering January 5th through January 12th, is now available. The new edition has been expanded and greatly improved. It now has sections on "Interesting Package Releases", "Packages in Trouble" and "Followups" to previous items. The primary news is also more extensive.

Picking a couple of top items from the Debian Weekly News, release-critical bugs for slink now number less than 40, so a deep freeze of slink is planned soon. To further the process, a Bug Squashing Party is being planned. Wickert Akkerman is coordinating this.

On another note, a minimal Debian GNU/Hurd system is now available. That should speed up progress on the GNU/Hurd project.

Paul Slootman has provided debs for on the Alpha. He followed up with an addendum warning of problems with the version of X at higher than 8pp.

A report to Debian-Sparc indicates that there may be a problem with the resc1440.bin image on ftp.debian.org. The same image from ftp.cdrom.com had no similar error. This report has not yet been confirmed.


A vmlinux development kernel with Adrian Sun's updates to the in-kernel HFS support is likely to be available by Wednesday.

This article from the weekly MacIntosh publication TidBITS covers installing Linux on the MacIntosh using MkLinux DR3. [contributed by Peter PD Williams]

Red Hat

This report from Tony Nugent indicates that the perl package shipped with Red Hat 5.2 is broken. In this case, it caused a problem with an older version of majordomo. The report was confirmedby Kayvan Aghaiepour Sylvan. The perl package available with RawHide appears to fix the problem.


According to the slackware change log on ftp.cdrom.com, the current version of Slackware has been modified to remove the user "operator" from the default passwd and shadow files, as well as /etc/aliases.

In addition, for users other than root, "." has been restored to the default path (see last week's Distribution Section for details on why it was originally removed.)


Joey Maier of the Trinux Doc team has provided a handy "Table of NICs and Kernel Modules", to help quickly determine what module is needed for what Ethernet card. Of course, the usefulness of the Table is not limited to Trinux ...

January 14, 1999

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


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See also: last week's Development page.

Development tools


The latest status reports on the JDK 1.2 from blackdown.org indicate that the JDK 1.2 is running on Intel and PowerPC platforms, though currently only with native threads. Ports to SparcLinux and other platforms are underway. Current estimate is a release date "in less than a month from now". No date for "now" is listed, but the page indicated that it was last modified on January 11th.

J.P.Lewis announced his network file synchronization utility, version 1.1., developed with Blackdown jdk1.1.7a.

Kirk Hutchinson posted a note voicing his opinion that the jdk 1.2 was released way too early and suffers with many problems as a result. Other comments confirmed this opinion, though there were indications that 1.2 contains some significant speed improvements. Hopefully as Sun's code becomes more and more open, we can expect to see some better initial releases, or at least fast fixes for reported problems.

In response to many people who offered to help test the Linux port of JDK 1.2, Steve Byrne explained that they are not legally allowed to put out pre-release versions until they pass the JCK (Java Compatibility Kit). Getting the Linux port to pass the JCK is exactly where they are working now.

Marcel Ruff posted some hints on running VisiBroker on Linux and a minor update to the hints came from Ron Resnick.

On another note, it appears that the java-linux mailing list may be looking for a new home.


The Java Review Service is looking for developers to volunteer as judges for new sections on their web site, including a new section on Perl.

An introduction to Perl Tutorial is being held in Boulder, CO from January 26th through the 28th and still has a few openings.

  • Puppet::Body, a new module to manage dynamic has-a relations between objects
  • DbFramework, version 1.06, a collection of classes for manipulating Mysql databases


Guido van Rossum has released IDLE 0.2, the latest pre-release of his Tkinter-based IDE for Python. The latest version has a long list of changes, including the ability to write and configure your own IDLE extension modules. See extend.txt in the new release for more details. Separately, he has released ScriptBinding.py to fix a reported problem in the new release.

Oliver Andrich has updated his RPM Python distribution, see his note for details.

For another report on the Seventh International Python Conference, see this article in the current Dr. Dobbs Journal.

And, of course, this section wouldn't be complete without this week's Python-URL.


GTK Squeak Smalltalk, otherwise known as GTalk, is a fork in the Squeak source code which "uses the object engine of Squeak 2.1 and binds the GTK+ widget set to Squeak". GTalk uses only native widgets, is highly experimental and far from complete. However, the homepage for GTalk (linked above) provides all you need to get started.

VisualWorks 3.0 for Linux has been released. Here is the press release. Some fun points to note, they comment that the port to Linux took less than ten minutes, ran without a hitch and with an immediate speed improvement ...


This week's Tcl-URL! is now available. It contains some good pointers to excellent information postings on topics such as how to write daemons in Tcl, advice on color palettes and more.

January 14, 1999



Development projects


Version 0.99.3 of GNOME, called the "Profiling Bonobo Release", is now available. It appears to contain lots of bug fixes, code cleanup, and some speed improvements.

Version 0.3.2 of gwp, the GNOME word processor, has been announced.


Geoff Hutchison wrote in with some notes on ht://Dig. First, he's called for a feature freeze for the upcoming 3.1.0 release at midnight, Friday, January 15, 1999. With the freeze and a few weeks to squash some bugs, the new release should be the most stable yet. Geoff also mentioned that they just brought up a new, dedicated server for htdig.org and will be slowly adding new services. Anyone interested in helping out with any aspect of development should check out the htdig web pages.


As always, for the latest Mozilla news, we recommend the MozillaZine. Their most amusing item this week is Music to Code By, selections of music currently being listened to by Mozilla developers ...


An Aussie Linuxconf mirror site is now available.


Wine-990113 has been released and is now available at Wine Headquarters.

Douglas Ridgway is the New Maintainer for the Wine FAQ, replacing Dave Gardner, who has done an excellent job for so long.


Digital Creations has announced the release of the source code for DCOracle, their Python extension module for Oracle. It sounds like their staff is expanding as well, so expect to see more announcements from them over the coming year.

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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Corel Computer has announced their new Netwinder Group Server product, details can be found in their press release. This box is another entry into the increasingly crowded "thin server" market; it will compete with offerings from Cobalt, Technauts, and others.

Interestingly, they offer a diskless version, perhaps pioneering the concept of a "diskless server." More interesting configurations can be seen on the product page; systems with a disk start at US$ 1,339. There is a "$100 off" deal in effect for the next month. The system appears to still be running Corel's port of Linux, rather than a straight Red Hat offering; the product page lists things like a 2.0.31 kernel and Apache 1.2.6.

Compaq has put out another goodie: Iprobeis a tool to access the performance counter registers in Alpha processors; it can be used for hardcore optimization tasks. It has been released under the GPL, and is available now.

The folks at Parasoft have announced an "Internet Store" product, (see the press release) aimed at getting Linux further into electronic commerce operations. "ParaSoft's Internet Store is the world's first fully automated, commercially affordable e-commerce system which can automatically update a retailer's actual inventory when an online sale is made."

Raven Software and Activision have released the source for their "Hexen" and "Heretic" games, according to this GameSpot article. A Linux port is one of the things they are hoping to see from that release.

A market research firm named Summit Strategies has put out a list of ten "top computer industry trends." Interesting entries (from their announcement) include "Linux Threatens Commercial Operating Systems and Provides Model for Freeware Industry," and "Java Reemerges as a Legitimate Windows Alternative".

Press Releases:

January 14, 1999


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

Linux in the news

Here, for your enjoyment, is this week's recommended reading:
  • Linux, grab your slingshot cries Healthcare Informatics (scroll down a page or so). This is a story about a hospital which switched over to Linux for a number of functions. It's more positive than many: "...with recent graphical user interface advances, Linux is gaining new respect as a desktop operating system also."

    It's also hard to resist this quote: "John Carpenter, Microsoft's worldwide healthcare industry marketing manager, admits that Linux has their attention. 'It will certainly drive us to put new stuff into our products.'" More stuff...certainly the answer to the Linux challenge...

  • LinuxWorld has a column by Stig Hackvän about the development of the GIMP and the difficulties it encountered when the two principal developers left the project. "If the story of Gimp's development represents an emerging pattern, then all is not well for open source software."

  • Have a look at this lengthy interview with Richard Stallman in Network World Fusion. Once they get past the GNU/Linux thing it's an interesting discussion. "If somebody took a gun and pointed at me and said write proprietary software or I'll shoot, I think under those circumstances, I'd be justified in writing some proprietary software, although I think that it would be very buggy and would never get to work reliably." Note that NW Fusion is a registration-required site; "cypherpunks" as username and password will work if you do not wish to register. (Thanks to Wari Wahab).

  • Here is a nicely written article about Linux and Java on O'Reilly's site. It delves into, among other things, one aspect of Linux that is often overlooked: that Linux makes working with computers fun again. Pass it on to your buddies who are still stuck in the Windows world.

    "The title of this article comes from a chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Two Towers.' It tells of the wizard Gandalf and his army, preparing for a grueling battle at the enemy stronghold Isengard, only to arrive and find that it's already been leveled by an unexpected foe: an entire forest of seemingly-innocent trees. The parallels are obvious." (Thanks to Kyle Dawkins).

  • Want to make good money? Here's the scoop, according to this brief salary survey in the Detroit News: "The greatest wage gains between 1997 and last year were reported by people working with Linux, a free operating system. Their knowledge of this increasingly popular system puts them in high demand for Internet projects..."
With any luck, the pundits have now put their predictions for 1999 behind them. Meanwhile, we have another pile of them here, and most of them mention Linux somewhere.

  • A pair of articles was run in the Bangkok post, with different points of view. The first proclaims: "Here's a hunch: 1999 will go down in the annals of computer history as the Year of Linux. I could be wrong, but all the evidence suggests otherwise." The author is particularly happy about the availability of WordPerfect.

    The other one is a bit less optimistic: "Linux, the open source software challenge to Microsoft NT may face a less than stellar year - following its rapid ascendance last year - and momentum may be lost, mainly because most software developers, the resource needed to develop exciting applications, are in the Windows NT camp." (Thanks to Frank Skagemo).

  • CNEWS has a brief mention in a 1999 look-forward. "The New Year is going to bring about some interesting competitors and developments to the world of Operating systems and to Internet programming. One of the fastest growing OS programs out right now is a rogue program called Linux."

  • Internet Week went a little overboard, starting with this 99 to watch in 99 list; Linux comes up several times.

    They also have an article entitled Microsoft To Lose While Linux Wins. "Prognosticating Linux's fortunes in 1999 is delicious, in part because this open-source software triggered so many surprises in 1998. I predict that a major entity, say IBM or Oracle, will put significant resources behind Linux..."

    Plus their Editor's note says Linux will make progress this year despite the overwhelming presence of the y2k stuff. "Speaking of success, Linux is already coming in through the back door in large accounts. And either it's not reading the 'Reserved For Windows 2000' signs or it simply doesn't care. This is going to make for a very interesting debut if and when Microsoft, fresh from its DOJ spanking, releases 'Why 2K' only to find a coyote in the hen house."

    And as if that weren't enough... this article about intranets is also up on Linux: "In 1999, open source will cement itself as the key method for building highly scalable, Internet-age software. Linux will continue to explode." Interestingly, they also say: "A backlash among developers is already mounting against some open-source 'stars' who have risen (some say without merit) to the level of spokesmen for the movement."

  • Jesse is back! Linus Torvalds has made Jesse Berst's list of five "people to watch" in 1999. The emphasis here is on Transmeta, not Linux, though.
There was a fair number of introductory articles this time around:

  • InfoWorld has a general article on the increasing success of Linux. "Although the mainstream world discovered Linux last year, InfoWorld readers have been aware of it for years. Battey discovered that the first mention of Linux in InfoWorld was in April 1993, in a letter to the editor from a reader who chided us for failing to mention Linux in an article about Unix on the desktop."

  • Newsweek discovers Linux with a pair of articles. Code Warriers talks about open source and has one of the uglier pictures of Linus around. It's a longish introductory piece.

    I ran Linux - and lived is a pure and not entirely accurate discussion of how hard it can be to run Linux. "And the apps you can get won't work until you have the OS 'properly configured.' Linux is bewilderingly complex, requires a steep learning curve and often demands a willingness to get down and dirty with arcane text-based 'configuration files.' Only very recently have a handful of small companies begun selling computers preloaded with Linux and aimed at the consumer market..." "Only recently"? Your editor bought a pre-loaded laptop from a little company called Fintronic (since renamed VA Research) five years ago...

  • The Age (Melbourne, Australia) ran this introductory article. "Analysts estimate there are between seven million and 20 million Linux users. At the current adoption rate, the number of Linux users will be about 40 million by the end of next year and would surpass Microsoft Windows users within five years." (Thanks to David Brown).

  • There is an introductory article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Linux also faces the obstacle of entrenched ideas. People are familiar, and comfortable, with Microsoft products."

  • The Detroit News has an article (from USA Today) about Linus and Linux. "But it was his grandfather Leo Toerngvist, a statistics professor at the University of Helsinki, who had the biggest influence on Torvalds. In the mid-1970s, Toerngvist bought one of the first personal computers, a Commodore Vic 20. Torvalds learned to write computer games at age 12."

In the area of Linux and business (including reviews) we had:

    Here is a long ZDNet article about WordPerfect 8 for Linux. It's a positive article with some useful information, worth reading for anybody interested in this product. "WordPerfect8 presents an astounding array of features, but seamless installation may not be among them, especially if you run an up-to-date version of Linux..."

  • Smart Reseller has a brief article about Red Hat's dealings with Ingram, a large distribution house. "'Our sales volumes have more than doubled in the past 60 days ... as a result of Ingram Micro,' says [Red Hat CEO] Young..."

  • PC Week reviewedIBM's DB2 beta release for Linux. "...Linux's immaturity on high-end hardware, combined with other technical issues and its relatively short corporate IT tenure, makes DB2 for Linux best-suited for workgroup and branch office implementations."

  • Dell will offer a low-end Linux box within the next three months, according to this "The Age" article. They also have an article on Iveco's adoption of Linux. "A BITTER experience with closed systems has caused the Australian arm of the Fiat group's international truck making giant, IVECO, to move to ``scarier'' open systems for its business survival."

    Finally, they also have a brief note on Wang's agreement to support the Corel Netwinder. (Thanks to Neville Caine).

  • PC Week has an article about how the various commercial database systems are helping Linux get into corporate environments. "However, companies are still waffling on how committed they really are--particularly if a cheap Linux product promises to cannibalize sales revenue from other platforms." (Thanks to Richard Storey).

  • Data Communications reviews the Technauts Linux-based server box.

  • PC World reports on cheap PC's, making the point that prices have pretty much bottomed out for now. "Vendors could knock about $50 off the price by offering systems with alternative operating systems like Linux or even Windows CE."

  • Here's an InfoWorld article about the upcoming release of ApplixWare for LinuxPPC. "[Applix sales director] Miller sees the Linux market as 'a big fat niche,' which he expects will grow significantly in the next couple of years, spurred on by the momentum gathering behind open-source software."
And a few other articles that came along are:

  • The Bangkok Post ran this article, which compares free Unix security with that of other Unix systems, and the free systems come out very well. "With free Unixes, the author of the software is always known. If a bug is reported, it usually gets fixed within 24 hours..." (Thanks to Frank Skagemo).

  • PC Week has gotten the open source religion, at least if this editorial is to be believed. "Those who avoid the free or low-cost alternatives to products from big software houses should understand that Linux and the open-source model are here to stay. The passion that once permeated the computer industry is back. Developers at big software houses are fixated by stock options and early retirement, but open-source developers are more interested in changing the world--and they are doing it."

  • For those who can read it: a Norwegian article on LinuxPPC. (Thanks to Pål G.Larsson).

  • Inter@ctive Week ran an article about eCos, the open source embedded operating system put out by Cygnus. "ECos 'is sending ripples through the industry. It's addressing a need' for a low-cost system that can be modified without permission, said Jerry Krasner, research editor at Miller Freeman Electronics Markets Forecasters."

  • Windows Developer's Journal reviews"Using Linux, Fourth Edition" by Jack Tacket, Jr. and Steven Burnett. The author uses the column to talk as much about his experience with Linux as the book. "The moral of the story for me was that both the good and bad things you hear about Linux are generally true: you'll likely get your hands dirty setting up and using a Linux system, but it's not a toy by any means and can breathe new life into systems that just can't keep up with Windows' evolving hardware demands." (Thanks to Kenn Humborg).

  • InfoWorld talks about Red Hat and GNOME, but without saying a whole lot. They do report that the next Red Hat release is due in April or May, and will feature GNOME as the standard desktop.

  • TechWeb ran an article about LinuxPPC. It's a mostly positive piece with some minor technical accuracy problems.

January 14, 1999


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



Mail-archive.com now hosts archives for over eighty different linux and open source mailing lists. They are interested in feedback and are looking for additional lists that need archives. See their note for more information.

We forgot to mention last week that Linux Gazette #36 is out; check it out on the Linux Gazette site.


The Wizards of OS is a conference to be held in Berlin in July; their goal is to "...take the current debate about Microsoft and Linux as an occasion to examine the meaning of operating systems as the foundation of the contemporary 'information society'. The event will emphasize the ways operating systems function, their relationships to social systems (politics, economics, culture, education, etc.) and the alternatives to MS operating systems." Some information can be had at their web site, but the announcements they sent out are actually more informative. See part one, which describes their motivations and goals, and part two, which describes their agenda.

LinuxCare is running a contest for the best Linux stories, with some cool techno-toys as prizes. Details can be found on their web site.

The Chair of the O'Reilly Linux Conference has put out a call for presenters for the upcoming event, which will be held in August, 1999. Interested presenters have until February 15 to get their submissions in.

The writeup (in French) from the "Autrans 99" roundtable on free software is available (also in English via Babelfish). Discussion ranged over a number of issues, including security and stability, and how free software is an opportunity for Europe. (Found in NNL).

Web sites

Just in case anybody hasn't heard about Linuxberg (the new TUCOWS Linux site), here's their press releaseon the matter.

User Group News

Linux Arverne will be hosting Le Forum at Clermont-Ferrand, France, January 29 and 30. Events include demonstrations of software and a vendor exhibition area.

Job Opportunities

Creative Labs, Inc. has an opening for a full-time, permanent Senior Software Engineer to develop Linux device drivers for the Creative Labs PCI audio product line.

Coastal Enterprises Incorporated is looking for a Linux system admin in Maine.

January 14, 1999



Software Announcements

Package Version Description
aee 2.2.0 A capable but easy to use editor for console and X11
Apache 1.3.4 High performance, UNIX based HTTP server
asp2php 0.55 Converts Active Server Pages (ASP) to PHP3 scripts
Aspell 0.26.2 Intelligent Spell Checker
aumix 1.14.1 Color text mode sound mixer with GPM support
Autobuse snap915639608 Log monitoring and reporting tool
barracuda 1.0 Barracuda is a graphical BibTeX database manager
Batalla Naval 0.73.12 Networked BattleShip game
Blender 1.54 Extremely fast and versatile 3D Rendering Package
Bochs 990110b Portable x86 PC emulation software package
bttvgrab 0.14.6 Provides high-quality grabbing suitable for video recording
burch 0.0.0 The beginnings of a portable i8086 emulator library
bzip2 0.9.0c Very high-quality data compression program
C Masqdialer Server 0.3.3 Protocol compatible replacement for Masqdialer server written in C
CLISP 1999.01.08 ANSI Common Lisp interpreter, compiler and debugger
Clobberd 4.3 Monitors users. used by ISP's to metre resources
Condor 6.1.2 A distributed batch system that takes advantage of idle cycles of computer
ConferenceRoom 1.6.3 IRC server with web integration tools
Cryptonite 1.0.1 Pure Java Strong Encryption Package
curl 5.4 Tiny command line client for getting data from a URL
Dave Gnukem 0.35 GGI-based 2D scrolling platform game, similar to Duke Nukem 1
DejaSearch 1.01 DejaSearch is a frontend to DejaNews, the leading Usenet archive
Doc++ 3.3.5 Powerful Javadoc like C++ documentation creation tool.
DocWiz 0.60 A GUI tool for developing Javadoc documentation
DOSEmu 0.99.6 Application that enables the Linux OS to run many DOS programs
Drall 0.10.4 Allows users to access their directories and files remotely via a web browser
EPIC 4pre2.001-NR11 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
ezbounce 0.80 A very configurable IRC Proxy
Falcon Module Player 0.3 Various module formats ncurses color player for Linux
Fetchmail 4.7.5 Free, full-featured, robust, well-documented remote-mailretrieval utility
FLTK Beta 19990107 C++ user interface toolkit for X and OpenGL
flwm 0.10 The Fast Light Window Manager
Freedom VR 2.0 Java applet replacement for Quicktime VR for 3-d objects and panoramas
FVWM 2.1.7 The classic highly configurable virtual window manager
Gaby 0.9.2 An address book written in GTK
gEdit 0.4.9 GTK+ based text editor
gentoo 0.9.22 Two-pane filemanager using GTK+, 100% GUI configurable
gFTP 0.21 A multithreaded ftp client for X Windows
GGUI 0.2.1 An easy multi-purpose, multi-program GUI.
GHX 2.10 (99/01/06) GTK clone of the Hotline software
gIDE 0.0.14 Gtk-based Integrated Development Environment for C
Gifsicle 1.10 Command-line tool for creating, editing, and optimizing GIFs and animations
GNetConfig 0.1.4 Gtk-based Linux utility for configuring network settings.
gnometool 0.5.2 Tiny perl program to manage Gnome CVS modules
gnotepad+ 1.0.7 An easy-to-use, yet fairly feature-rich, simple text editor
GNU Privacy Guard 0.9.1 GPLed PGP replacement tool
gpnpconf 0.6.0 Perl/Gtk applet for Plug 'n' Play device configuration
gppp_button 0.1.19990109 Button to make and break a pppd connection.
GRadio 0.9.10 GTK-based interface to RadioTrack/RadioReveal cards
Grip 0.8 A gtk-based frontend for CD-rippers
Groovy CD Player 0.51 Groovy console based (ncurses) CD player with fluffy numbers
gRun 0.9.0 GTK based Run dialog
GtkEditor 0.0.6 Source code editor widget for GTK.
gtkMeat 0.5.5 A Freshmeat new submissions ticker
GtkSC 0.11 Utility for listing and playing SHOUTcast streams
gtkSlash 0.5.5 Gtk+ based Slashdot headlines news ticker
guiTAR 0.0.7pl1 A tar frontend for Gtk+
Gwydion Dylan 2.1.3 Compiler for Dylan, an dynamic, efficient, object-oriented language
HSX 99/01/12 Hotline Server clone for Unix
HTMLDOC 1.7 Converts HTML to indexed HTML, PostScript, and PDF
icewm 0.9.28 Window Manager designed for speed, usability and consistency
IMP 1999-01-06 IMAP and PHP3 based webmail system
ipac 1.01 Linux IP accounting package
Iprobe Tool Suite 4.0 Alpha/Linux performance tool
JavaBlue 0.8.5 Java Development Environment aimed at teaching
jEdit 1.3pre4 Powerful text editor
Kkb 0.1 Initial version
klm 0.3.1 KDE frontend for the LM SENSORS linux kernel
Korfe 0.2.4 Fast GUI Builder for Java that supports Swing as well as custom components
Kover 0.20 An easy to use WYSIWYG cd cover printer for KDE
KPackage 1.1.1 GUI interface to the RPM and the Debianpackage manager
kPGPShell 0.10 A KDE shell for GPG/PGP2/PGP5
laddr 1.0.2 Lesstif Address Book
Lesstif 0.87.1 LGPL'd re-implementation of Motif
libprint 0.0.9 Printing and Font Management Library for Application Development
Lilo-Colors 1.21.0
LinPopup 0.9.6 Linux port of Winpopup, running over Samba.
Linux Logo 3.0b1 Displays an ANSI or ASCII Linux penguin, along with some sytem information
Linuxconf 1.13r12 Sophisticated administrative tool
LiveMix redhog.0 Mixing of live broadcasts of streaming media.
lm_sensors 2.1.1 LM78 and LM75 drivers
mgeupsd 0.4 MGE Pulsar UPS monitor
midas 1.1.2 Multi-channel digital sound and music system
MindTerm 0.97 SSH-client in pure Java, includes stand-alone ssh- and terminal(vt100)-packages
minordomo 0.3 A minimalistic mailing list manager
mod_frontpage 1.3.4- FrontPage server extensions patch
mod_roaming 0.9.1 With mod_roaming you can use Apache as a Netscape Roaming Access server
mod_ssl 2.1.7-1.3.4 Apache Interface to SSLeay
moodss 6.0 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
mount.app 2.2 Window Maker dock app for managing storage devices
Muppet 0.05 A web-based IMAP client written with PHP3
MyAdmin 0.2 Fully administer a mysql database from the web
Ncurses Hexedit 0.8.9 Ncurses file hex editor - edit/insert/delete/search
ocs-base 1.0-17 Base system for Linux intranet applications
ocscal 1.0-17 An intranet calendar system featuring shared appointments
ocsemail 1.0-17 Electronic web email system for you intranet
Pack install monitor 1.0.0 Pack install monitor
pavuk 0.9pl4 Webgrabber with an optional Xt or GTK GUI
pcmcia-cs 3.0.7 Card Services for Linux is a complete PCMCIA or ``PC Card'' support package.
playlist 1.0 Generates lists in plaintext and HTML for a directory tree of music files
pload 0.9.1 Display ppp statistics in an X window
plugger 3.0 Streaming multimedia plugin for UNIX netscape
Pocket Linux 2.51 A modern, single floppy distribution of Linux dedicated to networking
psntools 2.0beta1 Administrative tools for large numbers of accounts
qpopper-mysql 0.3b A patch to add a decent set of MySQL capabilities to qpopper 2.53
RHIDE 1.4.7 RHIDE is an integrated development environment for Linux.
Ripenc 0.3 Bourne shell script frontend to Cdparanoia, and Bladeenc.
rrlms 0.3 RoadRunner login client
Ruby 1.2.1 An object-oriented language for quick and easy programming
SBScan V0.02 System Security Scanner
ScanDoc 0.9 Themable documentation generator similar to Javadoc or KDoc
seahaven 1.41 Classic Unix solitaire game
SFI Director 3.00b3 System Management Tool For Heterogeneous UNIX Networks
Sip 990111 X11 PPP dialer interface written in gtk+
SkyeFinger 0.1 A Finger client written in Java 1.1.
snes9express 0.99-4 Gtk GUI front-end for snes9x
Squij 0.7 Squid logfile analyzer
SWORD Project 1.3.4 Free Bible Study Software Development Libraries and Tools
TCL Developer Studio 0.18 small
TeamWave Workplace 4.1b1 Shared Internet places for any-time collaboration
Terraform 0.2.0 Interactive digital terrain (height field) editor/viewer
tgif 4.0.3
TkNotepad 0.4.8 A simple notepad editor written in Tcl/tk
TPROC 0.3 Very simple text processing language for assembling Text files.
UAE 0.8.7 Software emulation of the hardware of theCommodore Amiga 500/1000/2000
Universe 0.9.1 Space Strategy game
useripacct 0.7c Per user IP accounting program/kernel extension
Vim 5.4c Popular vi clone that features syntax highlighting and an X11 interface
WallP 0.61 Random desktop wallpaper changer
Web Secretary 1.22 Web page monitoring software
WebMacro Framework 0.75.3 Java server-side web template engine and servletdevelopment framework
WebMaker 0.7.1 HTML editor for Unix
Webmin 0.65 Web-based interface for system administration for Unix
WebTTS 2.5 WWW-based Trouble Ticketing System for ISP's
WEEDS 0.94a Java application that converts XML files describing plants into an HTML flora
Window Maker 0.50.2 X11 window manager with NEXTSTEP look and feel
Wine 990110 Emulator of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs.
wmmixer-alsa 0.4 A hack of wmmixer to make it use ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture)
wmpinboard 0.7 Window Maker pinboard dock-app
wmx 5 Rather less minimal derivative of wm2
WSoundPrefs 0.9.1 WMSound Server Configuration Utility
X-Chat 0.5.1 GTK+ Based IRC Client. Alot like AmIRC (Amiga).
X-Mame 0.35b1.1 The Unix version of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator
xap 0.5 X application panel and simple file manager
xbeats 0.3 A beats clock dockable in the windowmaker dock
xcallerid 2.0.0 callerID program that pops up incomingphone numbers in an X-window
xdiskusage 1.31 Graphical display of disk usage
XFCE 2.3.0 Easy-to-use and easy-to-configure environment for X11
Xfiles 1.1 Xfiles file tree synchronization and cross-validation
Xtraceroute 0.8.12 OpenGL traceroute
Xxl 2.1.1 Simple, easy to use and user friendly graphical spreadsheet
YAX Standard Services 0.99.0 The Standard Services for the YAX API and YAX Window System.
Zigzag 0.66 A unique hyperstructure kit for Linux

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat


 Main page
 Linux in the news
 Back page

See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week

This week's links are all "tips and help" sites for Linux users with questions.

One that just popped up is portico.org, a clearing house of brief tips (mostly one-liners) which is, unfortunately, afflicted with the "small font disease."

Tip of the week has fewer entries, but explores them in depth. Some of what's there is quite useful.

LinuxHardware.net intends to be a clearinghouse for hardware-related information.

January 14, 1999



Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to editor@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.
From: "Matt Wilkie" <matt.wilkie@gov.yk.ca>
To: <editor@lwn.net>
Subject: open file formats
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 13:04:13 -0800

Hi, on Jan 7 Zack Brown said:

  Now I'm not saying everyone should run out and learn TeX. That
  system has its own problems and limitations. But people should keep
  in mind that up until now Linux has remained a fully integrated
  system, with everything talking to everything else. Why should
  office and productivity suites be above all that? Why should the
  linux community allow linux to become just a cheaper and more stable
  version of Windows 98?

  In the coming months, let's learn to put open file formats and
  scripted automation on a par with open source. The gimp is a good
  example of something that does these things already. Let's let the
  commercial venders know that if they want to run on linux, they have
  to let linux run on them.

and I would like to emphasize Zack's message. In my work as a
Geographic Information System technicican closed & incompatible
file formats have been my single biggest bane. I have wasted more
hours on, and my clients have recieved much bigger invoices because
of, and I have spent more money on more software packages, screwing
around transferring data.... I just don't want to think about it. But
I have to. Everyday. Sadly, it's not a matter of choosing the best
tool for the job, but choosing the jobs for the tool, and throwing out
(or losing) what doesn't fit.

My experience and background is in the Wintel World. Over the last few
months, while hanging out at LWN, /., Gnome.org, and the like, hope
has been rising and flowering within me. A light at the end of the
tunnel. Maybe I _won't_ be condemned to curse the tools I make my
living with on a daily basis.

Anyway, please, please take heed. 'Free' and 'open' need to be
expressed across the board: source code, documentation, file formats,
protocols, procedures, everything... It's very important.

Well, that's it then.


Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 12:00:19 -0500 (EST)
From: Peter Rasmussen <plr@isgtec.com>
To: Barry.Randall@minnesotamutual.com
Subject: Re: FUD

Hi Barry Randall,

You wrote:
>From: Barry.Randall@minnesotamutual.com
>To: "editor(a)lwn.net" <editor@lwn.net>
>Subject: FUD
>Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 09:58:27 -0600
>Dear Linux Daily News
>I'm a dedicated reader, and I appreciate your work in assembling all
>the Linux info. It sure makes my life easier.
>One suggestion: please stop referring to any criticism of Linux as
>"FUD." You seem to do this reflexively, which makes you look bad. 
> [...]
>Barry Randall
>Equity Technology Analyst
>Advantus Capital Management
>St. Paul

I have seen this before, especially on slashdot.org, and I would like
to say that I disagree with you. Keeping this short, I will dare you
to tell me where you saw criticism of Linux being fended off as FUD
when it wasn't. And please be careful to explain why that/those
article[s] weren't in fact at least partly FUD, because otherwise I
will get back to you.

Following various mailing lists, eg. on vger.rutgers.edu, you will see
plenty criticism, so the Linux community doesn't think Linux is
perfect. However, when un/mis-informed journalists wants to add some
bad/weak points to Linux in their stories it often comes down to
FUD. And because those articles are often read by not-yet-users of
Linux it is very important that they are rebutted in a timely and
ordely manner.

Finally, please withdraw your claim that LWN is "unable to tolerate
any viewpoint but your own", as for example these (and your's) letters
to the editor are published (hence my email to you) and show that
other opinions are in fact tolerated. Therefore your claim is
offensive to me.

I am in no way related to LWN, except as a reader of their articles.

Thank you,

Eklektix, Inc. Linux powered! Copyright © 1999 Eklektix, Inc., all rights reserved
Linux ® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds