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Leading items and editorials


Linux survived the year-2000 bug in fine form. A number of small problems turned up, and some last-minute fixes have been (or are being) rushed out, but nothing serious happened. Of course, that pretty well describes the rest of the world's experience with Y2K, so it's hard to be too smug about it...

Talk about open documentation. O'Reilly and Associates has set up an online forum to discuss the best way to go about creating open documents. There are a lot of issues involved in the creation of such documents, including "...quality control, Internet-time release schedules, the big-picture thinking required to keep the book's balance and structure strong during updates, risks and benefits of forking, adequate compensation for writers and publishers, dealing with the natural tendency to want to hide work in progress with competitive publishers..."

This forum, as of this writing, has only seen about a dozen postings. It's time to get some more people involved. Free documentation for our free operating system has come a long way in the last year. Consider, for example, how much richer we are for having access to:

These books all come out in 1999. Wouldn't it be nice to have far more free books show up in 2000 and beyond?

Free documentation is just as important as free software, and we have all too little of it. The process of producing free documentation is different from that which creates software. While free software developers have a whole set of tools, procedures, licenses, and experience to work with, those who would produce documentation on the same scale are still blazing the trail.

If you would like to see more free, high-quality documentation like the books listed above, please consider helping out the process somewhat. Head on over to the O'Reilly forum, think about the issues, and contribute your thoughts to the cause.

DVDCA and the Big Lie. Eric Raymond writes about DVDCA and the Big Lie - a look at how the DVD Control Association is trying to obscure the real issues in the whole DeCSS affair. "One can almost pity DVDCA. Like the feeble minds behind the misnamed 'Communications Decency Act' in 1996 and the NSA's key-escrow power grab back in 1994-95, they're about to find out what happens when you try to step on the Internet community's liberty."

We have gotten some mail contesting Eric's claim that it is not necessary to decrypt DVDs to be able to make illegal copies. In fact, as documented in this IEEE Spectrum article, a number of steps have been taken to make bit-for-bit copying of DVDs hard - including prerecording sections of blank disks so that the encryption key can not be copied onto them.

None of that changes the fundamental point, though: pirates determined to make illegal DVD copies will be able to do so without any need for the DeCSS software. Subverting a (hardware or software) player to get a clear bit stream, or finding a source of non-prerecorded disks are both entirely viable approaches. Trying to protect bits that are in the hands of users is a losing battle.

And the simple fact is that the writers of the DeCSS code had no interest in pirating disks. Users of DeCSS also have no interest in pirating disks. They simply want to play their (legally purchased) disks on their Linux systems. The DVD industry has gone to battle against its own customers.

The DVD case as a test of shrink-wrap licensing. LWN is pleased to run this feature article from Nathan Myers on the DVD case. Nathan has noted an interesting aspect of this case: it's likely to be the first court test of "shrink wrap" licenses. There is a definite possibility that shrink-wrap licenses could be held to be non-binding.

Should the court rule on the validity of these licenses, it will be interesting to consider how free software licenses differ legally - if at all - from the commercial shrink-wrap variety. This topic and shrink-wrap licensing in general are also discussed in this week's Letters to the Editor section.

One last DVD item: The Great International DVD Source Code Distribution Contest has been announced by Don Marti. Don and company are looking for the most imaginative and effective ways to get the DeCSS code distributed throughout the world. The prize will be, of course, movies on DVD...

More information on the whole DVD issue can be found at OpenDVD.org.

LWN 1999 Linux Timeline 1.0 released. Version 1.0 of our 1999 Linux Timeline is now available. The changes from the original version are relatively small. Thanks to everybody who wrote in with suggestions for improvements.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

  • Security: Denial-of-service attacks intensify.
  • Kernel: The "2.3 things to fix" list, the year 2038 bug
  • Distributions: XLinux: Multi-lingual support.
  • Development: New Linux in Education report.
  • Commerce: Corporate open source releases, Red Hat buys HKS
  • Back page: Linux links and letters to the editor
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:


January 6, 2000

   

Sections:
 Main page
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 Kernel
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 Development
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See also: last week's Security page.

Security


News and editorials

Denial of Service Attacks continue to escalate. Last week, we mentioned a CERT advisory about the increased presence of automated tools to facilitate Denial-of-Service attacks. CERT has issued a new advisory on developments in this area, partially in reaction to this detailed analysis of one such DOS tool, "stacheldraht", by David Dittrich.
In late June and early July of 1999, one or more groups were installing and testing trinoo networks and waging medium to large scale denial of service attacks employing networks of over 2000 compromised systems. These attacks involved, and were aimed at, systems around the globe.

In late August/early September of 1999, focus began to shift from trinoo to TFN, presumed to be the original code by Mixter. Then in late September/early October, a program that looked a lot like the TFN agent, known as "stacheldraht", began to show up on systems in Europe and the United States.

Both Solaris and Linux are target platforms for "stacheldract", even though Solaris appears to be the more popular platform for it at the moment. The key to this attack is the ability to find literally thousands of exploitable sites from which to launch Denial-of-Service attacks on the intended victim. As a result, the primary defense against it is to increase security awareness and improve practices on all sites, as well as to increase intrusion detection measures, so that exploited sites can find out they have been impacted and address the problem. A perl script called "gag" is referred to in David's analysis and can be used to detect the presence of stacheldraht on your machine.

The issues are complex, so we won't try to reproduce the work of CERT and others, but instead direct your all to their advisory above for more information.

DNS Insecurity. No, this isn't a yet-another bind vulnerability. This issue is the use of email to allow modifications to your registered domain information. Email-spoofing is easy and now being actively used to modify domain name service information for registered domains. A number of such incidents were reported to the SANS Institute, during their Y2K alert program. SecurityPortal.com's Kurt Seifried has written this editorial on the topic, outlining your option to add password or PGP protection to your DNS records with your registrar, if you are working with Network Solutions.

Security Reports

Majordomo vulnerabilities. SuSE has sent out an announcement that the Majordomo mailing list manager has a number of security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, Majordomo is not entirely free software, so SuSE is currently unable to distribute a fix. Majordomo installations on other distributions and operating systems will be equally vulnerable. Until a fix is made available, removing execution permissions for "other" (chmod o-x) is recommended. For more information, check out BugTraq IDs 903 and 902.

PHP 3.X vulnerability. An exploitable vulnerability has been reported in PHP 3.X's 'safe_mode'. More information and a workaround can be found in the BugTraq database.

Zope security update released. A security update to Zope has been announced. The vulnerability looks like a nasty one; those running publicly-available Zope-based sites will want to apply it at the earliest opportunity.

vibackup.sh. The vibackup.sh script, reportedly used on OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Debian GNU/Linux, insecurely removes files. This has apparently been replaced in OpenBSD 2.6 and a fix for stable and current versions of FreeBSD has gone in. No word from Debian has been seen as of yet.

Commercial reports. Cisco reported a Kerberos Client Authentication Failure for Cisco products with Kerberos authentication enabled.

Netscape Fasttrack 2.01a is reported to have a vulnerability that makes the uid of the httpd daemon exploitable.

Altavista has provided a patch for the security vulnerability reported in BugTraq ID 896. This vulnerability can allow the password for the remote administration utility to be retrieved.

Updates

usermode and pam. Red Hat has issued an update to usermode and pam which fixes a bug in the userhelper program that can allow a local root exploit. Note that the advisory recommends upgrading the package with the "rpm -Uvh" command. "rpm -Fvh" is probably a better alternative, as pointed out by several people on BugTraq. That will guarantee that the package will not get installed if you have never previously installed it.

Resources

Secure Programming for Linux HOWTO. Developers will want to check out David A. Wheeler's just-released document titled "Secure Programming for Linux HOWTO". Issued under the GPL, this 28 page document "provides a set of design and implementation guidelines for writing secure programs for Linux systems. Such programs include application programs used as viewers of remote data, CGI scripts, network servers, and setuid/setgid programs."

Intrusion Detection System Signature Database. Max Vision has announced the availability of arachNIDS, his free, CVE and BugtraqID compatible/searchable database of "attack" signatures.

SHADOW Intrusion Detection System y2k updates. Versions of the SHADOW IDS prior to 1.6 had difficulties with the January 1, 2000 date change. For those people that do not want to upgrade, a workaround has been posted, but an upgrade is recommended.

Saint 1.4.1. This latest minor update to SAINT has been updated to reflect recently reported vulnerabilities. "New checks have been added for an ODBC RDS bug, for an IIS 4.0 buffer overflow, for Calendar Manager service, for sadmind, for Trinoo and for DRAT backdoor. Updates have been made to the checks for DNS, ftpd, ssh, and QPOP...".

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


January 6, 2000


Secure Linux Projects
Bastille Linux
Immunix
Khaos Linux
Secure Linux

Security List Archives
Bugtraq Archive
Firewall Wizards Archive
ISN Archive

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

Miscellaneous Resources
CERT
CIAC
Comp Sec News Daily
Crypto-GRAM
Linux Security Audit Project
OpenSSH
OpenSEC
Security Focus
SecurityPortal
   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Back page

See also: last week's Kernel page.

Kernel development


The current development kernel release is 2.3.35. The patch includes the usual large set of fixes (271 files changed), a driver for Quicknet Internet PhoneJACK and Internet LineJACK cards, more Sparc fixes, a reorganization of the Arcnet driver, lots of Adaptec SCSI driver changes, USB updates (including a new HID (human input device) driver), and a number of other changes.

The current stable kernel version is (finally!) 2.2.14. This release has been long in coming, and should be well received - it contains a lot of important and useful fixes. See the release notes for the full scoop.

The first 2.3.x "things to fix" list has been posted by Alan Cox. The list covers a lot of ground - one wonders how all of that stuff is going to get done anytime soon. But, of course, the posting of a list like this causes an immediate flood of additions... The most popular items which did not appear on Alan's list would appear to be:

  • 32-bit UID support. Linus has said in the past that he wants to incorporate 32-bit user ID's, so this one may yet happen.

  • A journaling filesystem. None of the journaling filesystem alternatives are currently in a state that is ready for 2.4. Ext3 needs a fair amount of work on how it handles buffer memory before it can go in - too much for this release. Reiserfs, on the other hand, might just happen: Hans Reiser says a 2.3 port is close, and Linus has said that inclusion in 2.4 is a possibility. Meanwhile, XFS from SGI has still not been released (though they have begun to make small pieces available). Thus, the only journaling filesystem alternative for 2.4 is reiserfs, and that remains uncertain.

  • Version 3 NFS. Another major kernel release with a sub-standard NFS implementation would be a shame. There's been no word on whether the NFSv3 work that has been done will be merged or not.

Linus had wanted to get a pre-2.4 series going before the end of the year. Not only did that not happen, but it appears that it is still rather distant at this point. Some things can not be rushed; 2.4 will come out when it is ready.

Now that Y2K has wimped out, it's time to worry about the year 2038 problem. 2038, of course, is when the 32-bit time_t value that Unix systems use to represent times overflows. Some people want to try to deal with the problem now; others feel less urgency.

One point of view says that we'll all be using 64-bit systems by then; at some point we just redefine time_t to be a 64-bit value, recompile everything, and the problem goes away. There are, however, a couple of problems with that approach:

  • Old hardware has an amazing ability to hang around in crucial roles long past when it seems it should have been junked. That 32-bit Pentium doorstop in the corner of the machine room may still be doing something important when the rollover happens. Embedded applications, where size and power consumption are crucial, also tend to use less capable hardware for long periods of time.

  • Making time_t into a 64-bit quantity and recompiling everything will make a lot of programs work. But it will do nothing for all of the databases and file formats which contain 32-bit quantities. Quite a bit of application fixup work will be required to deal with all of those problems.
A reprieve could be had by simply redefining time_t to be an unsigned quantity - it would then be good until slightly after the beginning of the 22nd century. The only problem there is that some applications actually use negative time values to indicate times before the epoch.

The solution would seem to be to design a migration path now. With almost forty years in which to make things work correctly, one would assume the a reasonably painless transition could be made. In practice, many of us may well find ourselves being called out of retirement in 2037 to deal with the last-minute fixes...

A beta version of RealTime Linux V3.0 has been released. This version is based on the 2.3 kernel series, and does not (yet) contain much that is new at the API level. Note that RTLinux 2.x is still under active development as well...

A programming guide for Linux USB drivers has been released by Detlef Fliegl. It documents the structure of the Linux USB subsystem, and should be a valuable resource for those wanting to write USB drivers.

Other patches and updates released this week include:

  • Jens Axboe released a set of patches to bring DVD support into the IDE driver. It works with the 2.2 kernel series.

  • David Sauer released a driver for the MediaForte SF16-FMR FM Radio card.

  • Devfs v152 was released by Richard Gooch.

  • Randy Dunlap released a /proc tree viewer for the USB bus and attached devices.

  • RSBAC 1.0.9a (Rule Set Based Access Control) has been released. RSBAC is an ambitious project to add a number of security mechanisms to the Linux kernel.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet


January 6, 2000

For other kernel news, see:

Other resources:

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
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See also: last week's Distributions page.

Distributions


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

XLinux. Jyan-Min Fang dropped us a note to point out a possible new Linux distribution: XLinux. Unfortunately, the press releases he could provide to us were in Chinese and therefore not too informative, (unless you know Chinese, which we unfortunately do not). We checked out the website, but with little success, since it is under construction. At that point, we contacted them via email for more information, receiving this file (originally in Word format) in response. Despite the appearance that gave, it does appear that a real distribution is being supported, from a real company, formerly Taiwan Wahoo Cc, now XLinux.com. Whether the distribution is called "XLinux" or "Power Linux" is a bit less clear. In any case, it is being developed as a "Multi-Lingual" version of Linux, with initial support for twelve different languages using GCS (Giga Character Set) which they claim is technically superior to Unicode for multi-lingual support.

Please understand that the Word document in question has obviously been translated from Chinese and includes references that we have not yet researched. As a result, we currently have more questions than answers about this distribution. Nonetheless, it looks interesting and we hope to learn more about in the future.

Corel Linux

LinuxPlanet has reviewed Corel Linux. "Newcomers who have little or no exposure to Linux will find this a user-friendly and usable operating system that can serve the needs of most mainstream computer users. Experienced Linux users will marvel at how well Linux can be positioned for the mass market, both in terms of installation and in terms of everyday usability."

Debian GNU/Linux

Debian Weekly News. The first Debian Weekly News of 2000 covers the last-found Y2K issues, which are resolved with updates to the ntpdate, sendfile, webalizer, birthday, cbb, pilot-manager, slrn, xinetd, http-analyze, and hyperlatex packages. It also talks about issues of new maintainers, tracking the active status of old maintainers and more. Meanwhile, a pre-freeze moratorium on new packages has been imposed.

Distribution reviews in LinuxPlanet. LinuxPlanet ran this review of Debian GNU/Linux 2.1. "Weighing in at over 2,000 packages, the Debian distribution provides the largest and most varied collection of software available on any distribution.... In spite of its size, Debian is remarkably coherent and stable. Linux exhibits these attributes largely due the open-development model. It's only natural that Debian should exhibit similar attributes for the same reason."

Definite Linux

Definite Linux has released an updated sharutils package which fixes the Y2K problem found there.

Red Hat Linux

Red Hat Y2K update to sharutils. It seems a last-minute year-2000 bug turned up in sharutils, so Red Hat has put out an updated version.

More last-minute Y2K updates. Red Hat has released updates to the groff and libtiff packages which fix "apocalypse-inducing" year-2000 bugs.

Slackware Linux

The Slackware Changelogs report no updates or modifications since Christmas Day, 1999.

Spiro Linux

The guys over at Spiro have started developing a version of Spiro to serve as an easily-installed Firewall. Check out the Freshmeat announcement for more details, but note that this is a very rough, firstcut effort.

SuSE Linux

SuSE 6.3: Linux from the Deutschland (LinuxPower). LinuxPower reviews SuSE 6.3. "A lot of the defaults are still in German. The default page for the install help you click on the KDE desktop gives you online help in German. Also, a reasonable amount of the online help is not available in English."

SuSE Linux for PowerPC available in beta form. SuSE has announced that a beta of its 6.3 distribution for the PowerPC is available.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


January 6, 2000

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


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

Also well-known
ASPLinux
Best Linux
Conectiva Linux
e-smith
Kondara MNU/Linux
Progeny
Rock Linux

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

Education
Boston University
kmLinux
LinuxFromScratch
OpenClassroom
Red Escolar

General Purpose
Alzza Linux
aXon Linux
Bad Penguin Linux
BearOps
Black Cat Linux
BluePoint Linux
BYO Linux
CAEN Linux
Cafe Linux
ChainSaw Linux
Circle MUDLinux
cLIeNUX
Complete Linux
Console Linux
Corel Linux
CRUX
Darkstar Linux
DLite
easyLinux
Elfstone Linux
ESware Linux
Eurielec Linux
eXecutive Linux
Fried Chicken
FTOSX
FullPliant
Gentoo
Go!Linux
HA Linux
Halloween Linux
HispaFuentes
IceLinux
Ivrix
ix86 Linux
J-LINUX
JBLinux
Jurix
KRUD
KSI-Linux
Lanthan Linux
Laonux
LASER5
Leetnux
Linpus Linux
Linux Cyrillic Edition
Linux MLD
LinuxOne OS
LinuxPPP
Linux Pro Plus
Linux-SIS
LNX System
LoopLinux
LSD
Lute Linux
MageNet
Mastodon
MaxOS
minilinux
MSC.Linux
nmrcOS
NoMad Linux
Omoikane GNU/Linux
PingOO Linux
Plamo Linux
PLD
Project Ballantain
PROSA
Rabid Squirrel
Repairlix
Root Linux
Scrudgeware
Serial Terminal
Sorcerer
spyLinux
Stampede
Stataboware
TechLinux
TimeSys Linux/RT
Tom Linux
Trinux
Turkuaz
Ute-Linux
VA-enhanced Red Hat
Vine Linux
Virtual Linux
WholeLinux
WinLinux 2000
XTeamLinux
ZipSpeak

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

Related Projects
Chinese Linux Extension

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

   

Sections:
 Main page
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See also: last week's Development page.

Development projects


Education

SEUL/edu Linux in education report. Thanks to Doug Loss, we have the first SEUL/edu Linux in education report. Quite a bit has been going on in that part of the world, have a look for the latest.

Getting Linux into the Schools is the topic of this article from The Linux Gurus. It compares and contrasts the costs of using Linux versus Windows but also touches on one of the critical reasons for introducing it as an alternative. "Administrators believe that by teaching a student how to use a specific application that this somehow helps them function later in life. Too many times I have seen so called "tech" education classes as simple scripted classes where a student is simply led through the motions of pointing and clicking. We need to show administrators that this does not truly help a student, that we should teach a more broad understanding of the concepts involved. If we can teach those broad concepts then students can apply them to a broad range of situations, applications, and operating systems. " [From LinuxForKids.]

On the Desktop

This week's GNOME summary. Here is this week's GNOME summary by Havoc Pennington. It's a long issue, covering almost three weeks of GNOME development. Highlights include Miguel's Innovator of the Year Award and Linux Journal's article on Gnome, Its State and Future.

Mosfet.org Debuts, for KDE Developer News. Mosfet has launched his mosfet.org site, with a focus on KDE 2.0 Development News.

Kurt Granroth has provided a tutorial on converting KDE applications to Konqueror browser plug-ins.

Mozilla developer chat. MozillaZine will be holding its next developer chat with Dave Hyatt on Thursday, January 6, at 3pm PST via IRC to talk about the customizability of the Mozilla UI.

Vertical Markets

FreeMed v0.1 released. Version 0.1 of FreeMed, an open source medical records management tool, has been released.

FreeVet 1.1.1. In a similar area, this latest version of FreeVet "aims to provide the veterinarian with a complete solution for running a clinic, small or large."

Web Development

Phhttpd 0.0.2 available. For those of you who want to experiment with extreme high-performance web serving, phhttpd 0.0.2 is now available. Do note the warning, however: "Right now this stuff is still highly experimental. There are numerous bugs and features lacking that prevents phhttpd from being used in a production environment. This release is intended for interested developers and daring sysadmins who want to send me mail and tell me what's broken."

Midgard Weekly Summary. Here is this week's Midgard summary, thanks to Henri Bergius. It mentions that the Midgard 2 API has been frozen and both a stable 1.2.x release and an alpha release of Midgard 2 are expected "soon".

Zope Weekly News. This week's Zope Weekly News is now available, complete with a link to the previously mentioned security advisory, new programs, updates, patches and a discussion that may be of interest to other people just getting started developing Zope applications.

Netizen releases 'Xen'. Netizen (a Melbourne, AU consultancy) has announced the release of "Xen," an open-source, Zope-based task tracking system.

Wine

Wine Weekly News. The Wine Weekly News for January 3rd, 2000, mentions a Y2K problem, "Wine release naming scheme Year 2000 problem, and there's no Wine 1.0 yet to replace the scheme! (Let's see how Alexandre deals with it...)"

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh


January 6, 2000


Project Links
EmbedLinux.net
EMLAB
linux-embedded.com
Gnome
High Availability
ht://Dig
KDE
MagicPoint
Midgard
Mozilla
PHP
YAMS
Wine
Worldforge
Zope

More Information
AppWatch
Freshmeat
LinuxDev

   

 

Development tools


Perl

Farflung Perl Groups utilize Virtual Presentations. Adam Turoff has written up an article entitled Virtual Presentations with Perl in which he takes a look at how perl and other high and low technology techniques have been put together to allow small Perl Mongers groups to enjoy and participate in presentations hosted by more populous and active groups. The technique should be of interest to Linux User Groups, which can have many of the same issues.

Applixware Perl API 0.2.0. An initial development version of a Perl API for Applixware has been announced.

Python

This week's Python-URL. Here is this week's Dr. Dobb's Python-URL, covering the latest in Python development news.

Tcl/tk

Dr. Dobbs' Tcl-URL!. This week's Tcl-URL! is brought to us by Jeffrey Hobbs. It indicates that people are starting to notice advantages to the 8.3 release, such as a faster canvas widget. Of course, it also contains the usual pointers to other interesting topics on the tcl lists this past week.

Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh

 
   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Back page

See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business


Numerous corporations announced open source software releases this week. Corporate source releases are now simply a part of the landscape - it is part of how business is done. Releases this week include:

  • Inprise is opening up InterBase. Inprise's open source announcement made perhaps the biggest splash of the week. InterBase may have had a hard time of it in the marketplace, but it is a serious database system and will be a valuable contribution to the open source portfolio.

    The source will be released later in this quarter. Meanwhile Inprise has not released any details on which open source license will be used.

  • Macbird has been released by UserLand Software. MacBird is a Macintosh drawing program; it is being released under an MIT-style license. UserLand hopes to see a Linux port soon.

  • MontaVista Software released its CompactPCI networking package as open source. This package will be useful for developers working on certain types of embedded systems; see the announcement for more.

  • QLogic has announced that open-source Linux drivers are available for its Fibre Channel and SCSI adapters.
The motivation behind these releases varies, of course. Inprise is trying to bring some energy to a struggling product. QLogic is simply trying to maximize demand for its hardware by making the drivers available. But the real point is the business is increasingly finding that releasing source is in its interest.

Red Hat has bought Hell's Kitchen Software, the makers of the widely-used CCVS credit card processing system for Linux. Evidently the HKS software will now be bundled with the "professional" version of Red Hat's distribution. The current CCVS license is far from open source - binary only, no reverse engineering, etc. Presumably some changes will come once Red Hat takes over, though evidently some of the code needs to remain closed-source due to its use of proprietary financial protocols.

This move helps to position Red Hat for sales into e-commerce settings. It may be cause for some concern for others, in that CCVS has been, for a long time, the only commercially-available credit card processing system for Linux. About the only alternative appears to be the open-source YAMS system; it can do credit card processing, but only through one clearinghouse. The OpenMerchant system provides a lot of interesting functionality, but says nothing about credit cards. Thus, to a great extent, Red Hat is now the only source for this capability.

HKS is being purchased for about $90 million in Red Hat stock. The final deal is contingent on approval from HKS's stockholders. More information in Red Hat's press release.

Red Hat will be carrying Salon's content on Wide Open News, thus helping to fill out the content on that site. Salon's stock price took off on this news, of course... See Salon's press release for more.

VA Linux Systems announces SourceForge. VA Linux Systems has put out this press release announcing SourceForge to the world. The Linux community has known about SourceForge for a bit - it seems like a dozen development projects move over there every day. But this announcement is the first much of the wider world has heard about this resource, and it has drawn some significant attention.

XFree86 wins IDG/Linus Torvalds Award. IDG World Expo announced that The XFree86 Project, Inc. is the recipient of the February 2000 IDG/Linus Torvalds Community Award.

More announcements from LinuxOne. LinuxOne may not be all that strong on revenue, but they have the press release game down. Recently, it has announced the opening of a Taiwan office, staffed by six people.

LinuxOne has also put out a somewhat suspicious press release claiming to have a $500,000 order from Power Source. A good counter to this release can be found on Technocrat.net, where Bruce Perens points out that Power Source, a tiny company, is not in much of a position to spend $500,000 on anything.

White Paper: Open Source and Microsoft. The Aurora Development Group has put up a white paper on open source software and Microsoft. They side strongly with Microsoft. "While Linux is reliable, free, and scalable, you should really consider sticking to NT. Love it or hate it, we all know how NT will behave in just about every situation. Since each person who uses it can modify Linux, it makes the OS harder to master. On a typical day, I visit three different client sites in New York City. Each of them are running Windows, so I know what to expect. What if they were each running a customized version of Linux? My support burden would dramatically increase."

OS X released. Apple has put out a press release announcing the rollout of OS X. "At the core of Mac OS X is Darwin, Apple's advanced operating system kernel. Darwin is Linux-like, featuring the same Free BSD Unix support and open-source model."

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

 

Press Releases:

    Commercial Products for Linux:

  • Dataware Technologies, Inc. announced (Red Hat) Linux support for it's search technology components.

  • Planet Intra announced that its "instant Intranet" software for small and medium-size enterprises will be bundled in Donovan's Penguin64 Lite - a 64bit server running the Linux operating system for under $2,000.

  • PowerQuest Corp. announced the addition of SmartSector support for Linux ext2 and Linux Swap partitions in Drive Image Pro 3.01.

  • Tux Games has gone live as "the first online store dedicated just to selling Linux gaming products."

    Java Products:

  • Track Data Corporation announced the release of myTrack-Linux v1.0. myTrack is a Java-based stock trading system, apparently tied into Track Data's brokerage.

    Products with Linux Versions:

  • Accrue Software, Inc. announced expanded platform options for Accrue Insight and Hit List for customers who choose Linux operating system deployments.

  • Active Concepts announced the release of Funnel Web 3.6.

  • Andover.Net announced Animation Factory Volume Two, a CD-ROM including over 60,000 clipart images.

  • Alteon WebSystems announced the commercial availability of a Gigabit Ethernet adapters which can operate over common copper wiring.

  • Connectix Corporation announced its expansion of the Virtual PC product line with two new versions, including Virtual PC with Linux.

  • ECCS Inc. announced the availability of Linux support in its Synchronix family of fault-tolerant data storage products.

  • InfoValue Computing, Inc. announced the development of a Linux version of its comprehensive suite of QuickVideo software.

  • Lava Software announced Japanese WordMage v5.7, a complete Japanese application suite.

  • OptiSystems Solutions Ltd. announced the availability of its Energizer PME for R/3 support for AS400 and Linux platforms.

  • Performance Technologies, Inc. announced enhancements to its Synchronous/Serial and T1/E1 WAN communications adapters.

  • PowerCerv Corporation announced that it will support the Linux operating system in the next release of its ERP Plus software suite.

  • Progress Software Corporation announced that it is shipping its embedded database and other deployment products on the Linux operating system.

  • Virtual eXecuting Environment protects Unix/Linux servers from intruders and hacker attacks. Product is free for non-commercial use.

    Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions:

  • Ariel Corp. announced that it has expanded its distribution and integration agreement with Trilogic Systems to encompass all of the U.S.

  • Classics International Entertainment, Inc. announced the signing of the final documents for the purchase of IBP, Inc., a private company that specializes in Linux based data compression technologies.

  • click2learn.com, inc. and ComputerPREP announced a strategic partnership to distribute ComputerPREP's e-courseware through click2learn.com.

  • Cyber Merchants Exchange announced that it signed an agreement licensing its Linux-based Internet Sourcing Network software to C-ME.com./Taiwan.

  • Midnight Cafe LLC announced the acquisition of Gamers Depot. It now plans to create a network of Linux, Macintosh and Console Gamer sites.

  • Unibol announced a contract with RoTech Medical Corporation for custom software development and associated licenses that will allow RoTech to use Linux-based web servers to access corporate applications and data.

  • VA Linux Systems, Inc. announced that NetLedger, a provider of Web-based applications for small business, has selected VA Linux to provide rackmount Linux servers and integration management services for its entire application server infrastructure.

    Other:

  • Lehman Bros. has announced that it is starting its coverage of VA Linux with a "outperform" rating; they think it will hit $230/share.

  • Simultaneously, W.R. Hambrecht + Co. has announced its coverage of Andover.net - also with an "outperform" rating.

  • Andover.Net opened the balloting for the first-annual Slashdot Open Source Community Awards, a.k.a. Slashdot Beanie Awards.

  • Applix, Inc. announced estimated 4th quarter results for 1999.

  • Global Media announced that its Linux-based broadcast solution was featured in the January 2000 issue of Linux Journal.

  • internet.com announced a re-launch of its homepage. Part of the re-design includes the addition of the Linux/Open Source channel.

  • The Linux Business Expo has announced that it is expanding to four annual events in North America. An advisory board has also been named, with names like Larry Augustin, Mark Bolzern, Lyle Ball, Jon Hall, Dave Sifry, and a guy named Linus Torvalds.

  • The LinuxPower folks asked us to put out a reminder of their ongoing membership contest. Create an account with linuxpower.org (make an account here) to be one of the winners of a t-shirt, a penguin hat and a chocolate bar from copyleft.net and linuxpower.org. Contest ends January 9.

  • Track Data Corporation reported a new milestone for its myTrack online trading service. To download myTrack-Linux software, go to http://www.mytrack.com.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.


January 6, 2000

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Back page

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

Linux in the news


Recommended Reading:

Dan Gillmor writes about the DVD case in this San Jose Mercury column. "I don't know who'll win the legal case. But it's plain enough who's already won the war over access to DeCSS. In this case, the Net is acting as an antibody to what it perceives as a dangerous disease -- and the implications are clear."

More DVD Hack:

EE Times reports on the DVD lawsuit. "At stake, the plaintiffs assert, is the future of the DVD format itself. But supporters of the DVD hack disagree. They point out that the DVD encryption was cracked not for piracy but as part of a project to develop a Linux-based DVD player, something the DVD industry itself has yet to tackle."

VA Linux:

News.com reports on the announcement of SourceForge.net and other moves by VA Linux Systems. "SourceForge is hosting, at its launch, about 700 open-source projects, including the following: VA Linux's own Cluster Manager; Topaz, a next-generation version of the Perl programming language; and the Berlin Project, a graphical system for Linux and Unix."

From Inter@ctive Investor: a conversation with Larry Augustin about the Linux stock craze. "Sadly, most Linux-related press releases have been coming from companies that can hardly claim any sort of pure devotion. Whether it's 'K-tel International Selects Red Hat Linux as New Operating System' or 'Dunn Delivers Linux Servers' or 'Learn2.com Expands Courseware Offerings into the Linux Market', it's blather coming from companies that get hardly any Linux revenue now and likely won't get a large portion of their revenue from Linux in the foreseeable future."

The Red Herring takes a detailed look at VA Linux Systems. "Mr. Augustin's big challenge is not only selling the company's products and stock, but convincing people that VA Linux isn't just a hardware vendor. 'Because we sell systems, many people view us as a hardware company,' he says. 'That's a misnomer. We offer expertise in getting customers to open code.'"

Red Hat:

The E-Commerce Times looks at Red Hat's acquisition of Hell's Kitchen Software. "The Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based Linux vendor will bundle the HKS credit card verification system software with the Professional Edition of its OS package, which will provide users with an e-commerce server and services solution."

ZDNet's Inter@ctive Investor reports on the Salon/Red Hat deal and the effect on Salon's stock price. "Salon used a proven formula -- company mentions Linux and/or Red Hat in a press release and surges as day traders go bonkers."

Business:

Here's an article in ZDNet about Intel's new, Linux-powered web appliance. "[Intel manager Claude] Leglise downplayed any split with Microsoft. He said customers asked Intel to use Linux, a free variant of the Unix operating system, because of its flexibility, reliability and ability to deliver much the same capability as PC software. The devices will use Intel's low-cost Celeron microprocessors, Leglise said. Microsoft officials didn't respond to calls requesting comment."

EE Times looks at Linux in the testing and measurement world. "'We like to jump into an area when we see a lot of requests,' said Carsten Puls, instrument control product manager at National [Instruments], 'so we're expanding our Linux-compatible products, which started as a grass-roots effort on the part of our own programmers.'"

Here's an article in the Ottawa Citizen about Inprise. "Inprise said that since it released its JBuilder 3 Foundation product on its Web page early in December, Web traffic has jumped four times. More significantly, demand for a Linux version was double that for a Windows version."

Linux distributors are moving away from direct retail sales and into VAR relationships, according to this Computer Reseller News article. "The fact that most of the Linux business still is going through retail indicates that developers are buying it with plans to build applications that are specifically for the Linux platform..."

Government Technology ran this article about Dallam County (Texas) and its use of free software for its web server. "'It came down to the bottom line for us,' admitted [County Treasurer] Ritchey. 'It's a good use of taxpayer money to use open-source software.' But, it isn't all about the Benjamins. 'If I was going to set up another server and I had money, I would still use Linux and Apache,' he said."

Computer Reseller News looks at Corel. "Despite its current financial woes, Corel Corp. is banking heavily on Linux."

News.com looks at LinuxOne's IPO. "LinuxOne is expected to launch its initial public offering as early as next month. But the upstart company faces a host of issues that were absent in the highly successful IPOs of Linux companies Red Hat, VA Linux, Cobalt Networks and Andover.Net."

ZDNet UK looks at the possibility of a Microsoft Linux. "Anybody tells you that Bill Gates is recruiting Linux programmers in order to launch MS Linux on the new Intel Itanium chip in the year 2000, can be safely sent away with a scornful flea in their ear." (Thanks to Mark Gravolin).

Finally:

News.com ran this retrospective, looking at Linux in 1999. "When the year began, Red Hat had 40 employees. Now, with the acquisition of Cygnus Solutions, Red Hat has grown tenfold to about 410..."

Time makes some predictions for this year. "Linux Gets Small. It was a great year for the Linux operating system and the Open Source community in general. Now it's time to face some hard facts: Linux owns only a tiny sliver of the desktop market, and that sliver isn't likely to get much bigger."

Nowadays, introductory Linux articles even show up in Playboy. "I believe that very soon the Linux OS will dramatically change the operating system as most of us now know it and thus the way we work and play on our computers. At least I hope so; I'm tired of rebooting."

This MacWeek column paints a pretty sad picture of Apple's attempts at open source thus far. "Apple boldly announced Darwin in mid-March and has released several tepidly received updates since then. The main problem is that all the source opened thus far can best be labeled 'mostly useless.' The so-called 'final version' of OS X will not be based on the Darwin source code available today. That means nothing Apple has released until now under the guise of the Darwin OS is much more than smoke screen." (Thanks to John Jensen).

Evan Leibovitch makes his predictions for 2000 in this ZDNet column. "Linux Magazine, in an attempt to increase its profile, decides to feature centerfolds. Their first (and last) one features Corel first lady Marlen Cowpland. As a result of the ensuing revenue from magazines and posters, Linux Magazine goes public, purchases IDG and fires Bob Metcalfe."

Salon has put up an amusing set of predictions for 2000. "Having resolved in a national referendum that it was high time that the country of Finland should be known for something more than saunas and the world's highest per-capita cell phone use, the Finns will declare an open-source country. Citizenship will be open to anybody who writes any portion of the new constitution."

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol


January 6, 2000

   

Sections:
 Main page
 Security
 Kernel
 Distributions
 Development
 Commerce
 Linux in the news
 Announcements
 Back page

See also: last week's Announcements page.

Announcements


Resources

Dave Whitinger has announced the launch of the Linsight network. "Phase 1" consists of an events calendar, and a set of training and certification resources.

LinSight has announced that interested parties can locate upcoming Linux events on the LinEvents site by zip code - in the U.S. at least.

Issue 49 of the Linux Gazette (January) is available.

Christian Scholz announced a project called GROUP.lounge. It is a groupware server which uses an enhanced filesystem model. User can share documents, notes with each other via either a web or a webdav interface.

Linux Facile is a Linux manual in Italian for entry-level users.

Events

Linux University will be offering a free 8 week course covering ANSI C through the Nashville Linux User Group, beginning on January 13. Like all LU courses, there is no cost and it is open to the public. Additionally, the curriculum will be posted on the Linux University site for those who wish to participate, but are too far from Nashville to attend. For further information, see http://www.linuxuniversity.org.

Linux World/Linux Expo Paris will be held February 1-3, 2000.

Tuesday, February 8; Excelco, The Linux Store, Enhanced Software Technologies & AZSOFT.net present Linux for Business:
Overcoming the FUD Factor Seminar 8AM-12PM (Phoenix), For more information contact: Francine Hardaway (602) 331-0997,
URL: http://www.excelco.com/

O'Reilly announced that the keynote speaker for the O'Reilly Java Conference, March 27-30, 2000, is Simon Phipps, "IBM Corporation's Chief Java and XML Evangelist."

The Linux Show!! announced that it will be the official "Broadcast Sponsor" of LinuxFest2000, June 20 through 24, 2000 in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Libre Software Meeting #1 (French version) has been scheduled for July 5th through the 9th, sponsored by ABUL, (Linux Users Bordeaux Association). It will be held in Bordeaux, France, at ENSERB ( cole nationale sup rieure d lectronique et de radio lectricit de Bordeaux). All "libre" software developers are invited and the emphasis of the event will be non-commercial.

Web sites

TSCentral, a business and professional event directory, launched www.linux.tscentral.com. The new site will provide the technical and business communities with ready access to information about Linux-related tradeshows, conferences, and training opportunities.

User Group News

A newly forming group of Linux enthusiasts in Singapore would like to correspond with members of LUGs in the United States and Europe. Write to Eileen Lim (ligouripjp@pacific.net.sg) if you are interested in exploring opportunities in the Far East.

Help wanted

Greenpeace is looking for a Linux administrator, location unspecified. "We are committed to use open source software therefore the new system administrator will work on our Linux server and will help in the implementation of a content management system for this platform." Details in the announcement.

January 6, 2000

   

 

Software Announcements


Package Version Description
3DSE patch for XMMS 2 3DSE support for XMMS 0.9.5.1.
3Dsia Prototype 0.0.1 A virtual reality shell.
aargh 1.0 A procmail auto-response generator.
ACUA 3.01
AIDE 0.5 Free replacement for Tripwire(tm)
aimirc 0.80 AOL Instant Messenger to Internet Relay Chat gateway
Anteater 0.2 A Sendmail log analyzer.
AoNettool - Alex's own Nettool AoNettool 0.9a revision 1 A graphical frontend to finger, whois, traceroute, nslookup and ping.
Applixware Perl API 0.2.0 A Perl implementation of the C API for Applixware 4.4.
aps 0.12 Text-based network analysis tool which displays many protocol details.
apt-proxy 0.3 A simple apt-get proxy cache.
asDrinks 2.0 News headlines from nerd/UNIX type sites in your AfterStep startmenu
asNews 0.6.0 Simple news retrieving software which shows the news on your desktop
Austin 0.1 ANSI C morphing ordered container library.
Authenticated User Community 0.6.0 CGI-based intranet system intended for K-12 settings
AutoConvert 0.3.5 Chinese GB/HZ/BIG5 encoding auto convert
avtv 0.05 An Accuview TV/Video viewer.
BabyTrans 0.3.3 GTK front-end for Windows Babylon Translator
BASHISH DR4 A modular Bourne-shell theme engine.
BattleChat 0.96 Chat interface for Blizzard's Battle.Net
bbslogin 0 A login replacement that accepts GECOS full name entries as login names.
BEAST/BSE 0.3.0 A music composition and audio synthesis tool.
BGproc 0.4 A program to check for background processes via the command line.
BibleTime 0.22 A bible study program for KDE
bkmrkconv 1.04 A Netscape bookmarks converter.
BLADE 0.11.0 Broad Language Aided Document Environment
BladeEnc 0.91 Freeware MP3 Encoder
Blur Scope MAX 1.0 A visualization plug-in for XMMS.
Boa 0.93.19 Lightweight and High Performance WebServer
BookScape 0.0.9 BookScape is a PHP script for presentation of Netscape Navigator bookmarks.
botnet 1.00 Communication package for making IRC bots (or even clients)
Brain 0.5.2 Prototype based, object-oriented scripting language
BsdScan 0.4 Simple port-scanning utility
cadaverserver 1.0.0 realtime artificial intelligence battle game server
CBB 0.8.0 Personal check book balancing utility for Unix/X
ccirc 0.90 An irc client written in shell scripts and telnet.
CD-Tux 0.3-1 An ncurses-based CD-writing frontend.
cdrecord 1.8a38 Allows the creation of both audio and data CDs
centerICQ 2.2.1 a textmode-based ICQ clone for Linux
cfe 0.4 Console font editor.
chlastmeter 0.2 A display graph of the amount of alcohol in blood.
CivPlug 0.7 SMiaB plug-in for Civilization: Call to Power.
ClanBomber 1.00 Bomberman clone for ClanLib (X11 for now).
clig 1.9.1 command line interpreter generator
CMYKTiff 1.01 Pnm to CMYK tiff image filter.
Common UNIX Printing System 1.0.4 Internet Printing System for UNIX
ControlFreak 1.1 A scriptable toolbar application.
Courier-IMAP 0.22 IMAP server for maildirs
cyrus-imapd-sql 1.6.20 An IMAPd with SQL authencation and virtual domains support.
cyrus-sasl-mysql patch 0.8.0 Cyrus-Sasl patch for authentication through mysql
Dante 1.1.1 Free socks v4/5 implementation
Dave Gnukem 0.5 GGI-based 2D scrolling platform game, similar to Duke Nukem 1
DB-J 0.1 A database shell.
dbMan 0.0.9 A DB manager based on Perl, DBI, Tk, or CGI.
DEEPSubmit Lite 1.0 A Perl script for submitting multiple URLs to search engines.
Delay 1.4 Delay is like sleep, but with a count of time left.
Deltree 2.1.1 A Windows Recycled.bin-like program under UNIX.
demcd 2.1.3 CDPlayer for Linux
dep.pl 1.22.0 Check dependencies of multiple files.
DeuTex 4.4.0 Doom wad composer/decomposer
Digicam 1.10 A command-line utility to control Kodak DC21x cameras.
DiSi-Poll 0.7.1 An easy-to-configure php3 voting script.
dkftpbench 0.3 An FTP benchmark.
Doc++ 3.4 Powerful Javadoc like C++ documentation creation tool.
domaincheck 1.0B InterNIC Whois domain scanner.
Domtools 1.5.0 High-level name server query tools
Dual Spectralizer 1.0.1 Dual spectral analyzer plugin for XMMS.
DWUN 0.6d Controls PPP link by client requests for connection
DynDNS 0.5.1 Dynamic DNS server
Ecology-HOWTO 0.5 Linux as a mean to protect our environment.
ELSA 1_0b-018 RTSP/RTP Streaming Media Server
EPIC 4-2000 ANSI capable textmode IRC Client
epkg 1.0 Installed Source Package Manager
Epplet Library 0.5 Library and example epplets for Enlightenment 0.16
Ethereal 0.8.0 GUI network protocol analyzer
Eucalyptus 0.1.6 Advanced MIME email program
exmms 0.1 An xmms control epplet.
ext2resize 1.0.6 Resizes ext2 filesystems
fdupes 1.1 Tool to list duplicate files.
file-utils 0.01 A collection of tools to make a sysadmin's life easier.
FileTraq 0.2 A system file monitor.
FindHosts 2.0 A CGI-based dhcpd log parser.
FlyStats 0.9-3 IRC statistics server.
for2html 1.1 A FORTRAN-to-HTML translator and cross-references generator.
fphdb 1.0.0 Printing Business Job, Ordering, and Inventory Management Application
FreeBSD-Uptime Client 4.03 Publish your uptime online and compare it with other hosts.
freemed 0.1 (Laika) Free medical management software in a web browser
FreeVet 1.1.1 A Y2K ready Animal Clinic System
FreeWRL 0.22 Free VRML browser for Linux
freq 0.4.7-pre7 A lastlog analyzer.
Fresh:: Modules 0.01 A freshmeat-like database with moderation.
FriBidi 0.1.8 A free implementation of the Unicode Bidi algorithm.
ftctl 1.0 An ELV FS 10 PC/FS 10 FT control program.
Fusion GS 1.2 Telnet BBS-like system.
Gamma Flux distributed client 1.01 Distributed computing client for DCypher.Net Gamma Flux project.
gbox_applet 0.3.1 mbox watcher
GCompte 0.3.7 A program to keep track of your finances
Getleft 0.7.7 Tcl/Tk site grabber powered by Curl
getmail 0.94 A fetchmail replacement with reliable Maildir delivery, written in Python.
getpg / UW-IMAP 0.52 A patch for UW-IMAP to authenticate users against a PostgreSQL database.
GHX 3.20 GTK clone of the Hotline software
gLife 0.1.2 An artificial life simulator that tries to emulate an artificial society.
glTron 0.51 tron-like game with a 3D view
GMatH 0.1 Computer Algebra Environment
gnewt 0.02 A Newt-compatible, GTK+-based library.
Gnofract 4D 1.0 A fractal-drawing program.
GNOME Particle Simulator 0.05 A multi-particle simulation server and client.
gnome-o-phone 0.5.1 Internet telephone with a gtk interface
gnomeching v0.2 GNOME I-Ching hexagram interpreter
GnomePM 0.8.0 GNOME equivilent of the Yahoo! (C) Java Portfolio Manager
GNU GRUB 0.5.93.1 GRand Unified Bootloader
GNU parted 1.0.3 A partition editor, for creating, destroying, resizing and copying partitions.
GNU Pth 1.3a2 GNU Portable Threads
GOB 0.92.0 Preprocessor for building GTK+ Object
Graphtool 0.08 Create graphs from Gnumeric files
gravy 1.2 An HTML-generator for tree-structured content.
GREED .8+ BETA 5 A utility that can get and resume files from a web site.
Groff 1.15 The GNU troff text-formatting system.
GROUP.lounge 0.2000b1 A tool for collaborations over the WWW.
gsi 0.8.7 A network audio system.
gtaskman 0.09 A process manager for X using GTK+
GTK+XFce 3.2.3 Easy-to-use and easy-to-configure environment for X11
Gtk-- 1.1.6 C++ interface for the popular GUI library gtk.
GtkGraph 0.6.0 Graphing calculator for X
GtkTiLink 0.52_2.04 A TI calculators <-> PC communication program using a GTK interface
GUMP 0.1b A console source distribution package.
gView 0.1.13 GTK/ImLib Image Viewer
Hellenic Fortune Cookies 1.9.00 Fortune cookies in Greek.
Heyu 1.28f Controls powerline remote control interface (CM11) made by X10 corp.
Hitchhiker 2000 0.2 (alpha) An astronomy program which shows the planets and their orbits
HSX 3.20 Hotline Server clone for Unix
HTMLDOC 1.8.4 Converts HTML to indexed HTML, PostScript, and PDF
IA 2.00 A little AI program.
ICCLIB 1.23 An ICC color profile read/write/color-conversion library.
ImageMagick 5.1.0 Package for display and interactivemanipulation of images for X11
jake 0.3.2 Facilitates management of and linking between eresources for librarians.
Java MD3 Model Viewer 1.2.2 An OpenGL-accelerated Quake III MD3 model viewer.
Java Napster 0.5.5 Java GUI clone of the Napster client for downloading MP3s.
KAppTemplate 0.5.1 The KDE Application Generator.
KFinance 0.2.0 Financial Manager.
Kgutenbook 0.4.9.5 KDE port of the perl app gutenbook, to download, and read etexts from Gutenburg
KImap 0.1.2 An IMAP email client for KDE.
KisoCD 0.5.2 KDE frontend for mkisofs and cdrecord
koala 0.9.2 GUI postgres backend 4GL object database.
Koala Complete MUD Server 0.0.3a A complete MUD server.
Koch 0.2 A Koch curve generator.
KOPI 1.4C A completely open-source Java compiler and development environment
kruiser 0.4 Win95-like file manager for KDE with many features
kwintv 0.7.5 Watch TV in a window on your PC screen
KWvDial 0.5 Graphical Re-Implementation of WvDial PPP Dialer Command Line Interface
LANdb 0.80 Provides network managers with a means of cataloging network connections.
Lazy Port Forwarder 1.0 A frontend for IPMASQADM.
LCD::MatrixOrbital 0.92 A Perl module for writing to Matrix Orbital LCDs.
libbgrab & webcam 1.7 bttv framegrabber library + webcam application
libcache 1.0.0 Library for parsing and accessing tab- and space-delimited strings.
libcdaudio 0.99.4 A versatile multiplatform CD player library supporing CDDB and CD Index
libconfig 0.2 A simple, powerful configuration-file parser.
libiconv 1.0 Character set conversion library, portable iconv implementation
libirc 0.2 A C-library for the IRC protocol.
Linux Facile 1.0.0 An Italian Linux manual for entry-level users.
Linux for Windows 9X 0.0.1 A small, Windows 9X-friendly version of Linux.
Linux Napster Client 0.9 beta Application that locates and downloads MP3s.
localscan 2.0 A Perl-based frontend for filtering and automating nmap scans.
log4j 0.7.2 Fast and flexible logging tool written in Java.
Magick++ 0.9.1 Object-oriented C++ API to the ImageMagick image-processing library.
makefaq 0.2 Script to generate an HTML FAQ page from a text file.
mdate 1.0.3 A freely-available mayan date program
memtester 2.88 Userspace memory-testing application for Linux/Unix.
Metapixel 0.3 A photomosaic generator.
Midi2C25 0.0.2 A MIDI file to Siemens C25 cell phone ring tone converter.
mifluz 0.11.0 Full text indexing C++ library
MIT Photonic-Bands 0.9 Software for computing photonic band structures.
mminstance 1.7 Makes single-master PostScript fonts from multiple master fonts
mod_cgisock 0.4.0 A CGI interface over a Unix Domain socket
mod_pcgi2 0.2.0 An Apache module for Zope/PCGI.
moodss 8.8 Modular Object Oriented Dynamic SpreadSheet
mount.app 2.7 Window Maker dock app for managing storage devices
Mp3 Commander 0.6 A tool to search and play mp3 collections and generate playlists
MP3 Player Upload/Download utilities 0.0.2 Upload tools for MpMan portable MP3 players
Mp3Maker.app 1.1 Window Maker enhanced CDDA grabber and MP3 encoder frontend
Mserv 0.30 A centralised local music server for MP3s.
MuX2d 0.1.1 WYSIWYM editor for MusiXTeX.
mwForum 0.9.0 Web-based discussion forum
myiporg 0.0.2 The full source code tree for the myip dynamic DNS service.
MySQL 3.22.29 SQL (Structured Query Language) database server
nep 2.0.0 An interactive plot program base on BLT
Nessus 0.99.3 A free, open-sourced and easy-to-use security auditing tool
NetTraf 1.0 Network traffic monitor
newq 0.2 Snarfs realtime quotes from datek to display on the console.
News Peruser 5.0 alpha 1 An offline newsreader for Linux and X11
newslog 1.1.0 Yet another Web page news generator.
NiL Isn't Liero 991230 A violent game, a lot like worms, a bit like quake, but in 2D.
nmap 2.3BETA12 Full featured, robust port scanner
NNTPcache 2.4.0b2 Caching proxy for NNTP servers
Nutcracker 1.0 Simple, fast password cracker/checker.
oa 1.0.1 A tool to play sound wave forms, experiment with them, make music.
OpenMerchant 0.7 pre4 E-commerce Internet application based on Perl.
OpenNaken 1.00 Tcl/Tk client for Naken Chat
OpenSSH Unix Port OpenSSH UNIX Port 1.2.1pre23 Port of OpenBSD's free SSH release to Linux
PaintLib 0.2.1 A graphic library for Qt.
pardiff 0.9.1 A program to display diff output in a parallel (side-by-side) format.
Penguin Spirit SRCG Alpha 1 Character generator for Shadowrun RPG.
Perl Shell 0.006 Simple interactive Perl shell
pgp4pine by Marcin Marszalek 3.3 Bash script that allows using PGP under PINE
Phorum 3.0.8 Phorum is a web based discussion software written in PHP
PHP 3.0.13 HTML-embedded scripting language
PHP MailStats 0.5.2 Sendmail statistics application in PHP.
Phyle 2.1b1 IRC bot written using the Net::IRC module.
Planet-Intra 2.2 Instant intranet portal
Plucker Bookmark Assistant 0.1.8 Parse Netscape bookmarks into Plucker-compatible entries.
Postfix 19991231-pl02 The Postfix MTA
PowerShell 0.1 A GTK-based terminal emulator with support for many terms in one window.
PRepS 1.2.0 The Problem Reporting and Tracking System.
psftp 0.15 An FTP client that uses ssh 1.x.
Pygasm Python RAD IDE 0.0.0-2pre A RAD IDE based on wxPython.
python DAVserver 0.5 A generic WebDAV server written in Python.
QDMerge 0.5 A utility to generate documents from a template and data files.
QextMDI 1.0beta1 cross-platform GUI library extending Qt with MDI functionality
Qpopper 3.0b28 POP3 server
QpThread Library for C++ 0.8 Thread library for C++ with support for signals, exceptions, timer etc.
QuoteGrabber 2.0-beta14 A stock market monitoring Java client.
Qvwm 2.000 pre-alpha 1 Windows 95 like window manager for the X Window System
RADB 0.3 Reunion Address DataBase
rdial 0.05 Dial-up connection server and clients.
read-edid 1.2 Gets modelines for XF86Config from monitor (using DDC, EDID).
readISO 1.3beta Read and compare images of ISO9660 file systems.
Reptor 0.95 An analysis and reporting tool for Axent/Raptor firewall logfiles.
reXgrep 1.2 Graphical interface to grep.
rhlupdate 0.72 Connects to a FTP server with RHL on it, checks for updates, and installs them.
ripperX 1.9 GTK program to rip and encode mp3 files
roaming.pl 0.02 Program to parse maillog and update btree for remote sendmail relaying
RPGD 1.0.7 A multi-user, medieval-fantasy role-playing game
SableCC 2.11 An object-oriented compiler framework.
saCASH 0.1.0 A Web-based financial package.
Saint 1.4.1 Security Administrator's Integrated Network Tool
Sarien 0.4.10cm1 Play Sierra AGI version 2 and version 3 games like Kings Quest and Space Quest.
SCREEM 0.2 Site CReating & Editing EnvironMent
scribe 0.1 A C prototype-generator.
ScryMUD 2.0.9 Original MUD Server and Java Client
Setedit 0.4.41 An editor for C/C++ programmers with a nice text interface.
setippp 0.95 An automated PPP-dialer for seti@home.
sfront 0.51 Translates MPEG 4 Structured Audio to C
SFS 0.4a A secure, global file system with decentralized control.
ShowEQ 1.2 A packet analyzer for Everquest.
signature 0.10 a dynamic signature generator for e-mail and news
SimpleFont 1.0 A small program similar to banner but better in some ways.
Sirobot 0.11.10 A Web fetch tool similar to wget.
Sirofront 0.0.1a A GTK frontend for Sirobot.pl.
Skill Literature 0.0.1 Learn to work with shapes.
SkySOUND 0.61 Free demo or game oriented MP3 Library
SMiaB 1.0.1 System Manager in a Box (SMiaB)
SMPEG 0.3.2 SDL MPEG player with sound
snmpup 0.3.2 An SNMP-enabled client for the Uptimes Project.
Sodipodi 0.15 A vector-drawing application.
SPIRO-Linux EZ-Way Firewall .01 A Linux distribution aimed at building a firewall.
spliff 0.1 A GUI mail watcher inspired by TkRat's Watcher utility.
SplitFire 1.26 Complete IRC script for IRCII-EPIC.
Sportal 2.2b A file watcher with a GTK frontend.
Sporum A better web-based dicussion board software
Squidtaild 2.1a4 Squid Ipchains monitoring program that is uniqe in its sort
SquirrelMail 0.2 A PHP4 Web-based email reader.
SSH Buddy Beta1.05 An expectk wrapper for ssh that saves connections and passwords.
star trek ency reader 0.7.5 Reads the star trek encyclopedia under linux
Str 0.9.0 A generic string library.
Strip v0.5 Secure password and account manager for Palm Pilots.
swim 0.3.1 Package administration and research tool for Debian
syslog-ng 1.3.11 A portable syslogd replacement with enhanced, flexible configuration scheme.
Tallyman 2.03 Open source ecommerce site management software.
taptunnel 0.22 Ethernet-tunnel over TCP/IP using the new Linux-2.2-ethertap-device
tclPov 0.2.2 R2 POVRay frontend for rendering POVRay scenes.
TextTools 1.0.2 ncurses development package for Ada
TimeIsMoney 0.03 An ncurses-based timesheet.
tin 1.5.1 Curses based threaded NNTP and spool based UseNet newsreader
Tiny Beat Watch 0.1.3 Clock displaying the Swatch NetBeat
TinyMAZE 2.1b An online game server.
TIP 0.7.2 Pico editor clone with enhancements
tixinfo 0.6.5 Get some information about your system.
Tk 42 0.1.5 A networked 42 (dominos) game.
tkMOO-light 0.3.23 Powerful cross-platform chat client.
TkUsr 0.30 A Tcl/Tk app for managing the Self-mode of a USR/3COM MessagePlus modem
ToutDoux 1.1.5 A project manager.
tpctl 0.8.0 ThinkPad configuration tools for Linux.
transfig 3.2.3-beta-2 Graphics Conversion Tool
TT-News 0.9.2 A headline-news ticker for various news-sources.
Tube R7-20000104 A Hotline client written in Java.
UdmSearch 2.2.1b Fast WWW search engine for your site
UltimateIRCd 2.7.10-DarkSide Advanced IRC daemon based off the DAL DreamForge daemon with many new features.
umodunpack.pl 0.4beta Unpack umod files for Unreal Tournament.
USBView 0.7.0 USB device and topology viewer
User-mode Linux 0.3-2.3.36 User-mode port of the Linux kernel
vii-ppp-scripts 20000101 Yet another set of PPP scripts.
VP Toolkit 0.1 An Internet client/server C++ library.
vsa 0.9.7 Visual Sound Analyzer
VTun 2.0 Virtual Tunnels over TCP/IP networks.
waterfall spectrum analyzer 0.9 XMMS visualization plugin
WebAlbum 0.41 A perl script which produces html photo albums.
WebCharts 7.31 Stock charting Java applet for brokers or banks.
WebCit 2.11 Web front-end to the Citadel/UX BBS package
webnotebook 0.1 A Web application to keep track of pieces of information.
WinDriver 4.20 Device driver development tool. Same driver will run on Linux, Windows, Unix.
Winux 1.2.5 Graphical configuration interface for LOADLIN
Wizard Watchdog Light 2.0b07 A High Availability system for Linux.
WMFstatus 0.3 General purpose LCD monitor dockapp for WindowMaker.
WorldIRCD 1.0 An IRC daemon for WIRCnet.
X Interface Monitor 1.4 Monitor any network interface, and view traffic, load, and statistics.
X-Chat 1.3.10 GTK+ based IRC client, similar to AmIRC (Amiga).
X/RTA 0.30 Audio Real Time Analyzer for X
XBoard 4.0.5
XCounter 1.0.3 A simple IP traffic monitoring program.
XDBM 1.0.0 Database Manager designed specifically to hold XML data
xfig 3.2.3-beta-2 Drawing Program
Xmahjongg 3.2 Colorful X solitaire Mah Jongg game
XML::XSLT 0.16 First Perl XSL-T Parser.
XMLtp 1.2 Tiny XML parser
xpuyopuyo 0.3.1 Tetris-like puzzle game with AI
XShipWars RPMs Space oriented highly graphical network game system.
xSMBrowser 2.2.6 Tcl/Tk Samba GUI that emulates Network Neighborhood
Xterminal 1.0 Object Oriented User Interface with a client-serverarchitecture
Xwrits 2.10 Reminds you to take wrist breaks
xxdiff 1.0.0 A graphical file comparator and merge tool.
Y2KWA 2.2 A workaround for non-Y2K-compliant CMOS clocks.
Yams 0.5.6 An e-commerce package written in Perl and utilizing a MySQL database.
Yet another Mp3 Tool 0.1 A GTK program to manage your MP3s.
YIFF Sound Server RPMs Sound server with multi-client and network-transparent io library.
Zope 2.1.2 Web application platform used for building high-performance, dynamic web sites.
ZZplayer 0.3 An MPEG-I video player.
 

Our software announcements are provided courtesy of FreshMeat

   

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See also: last week's Back page page.

Linux links of the week


Linux-SRT is a project developing a "soft real-time" extension to the Linux kernel; it appears to be oriented toward multimedia applications. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this system is that it is designed to not require any application changes at all - "quality of service" parameters can be set outside of the application itself. (Thanks to Martin Keegan).

StepByStep is a different approach to providing Linux help and documentation. The StepByStep guides do not attempt to provide any sort of comprehensive coverage of a topic; instead, they are intended to be concise, quick guides to making something work.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet


January 6, 2000

   

 

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.
 
   
From: Larry McVoy <lm@bitmover.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 18:08:22 -0800
To: editor@lwn.net
Subject: you might want to read this
Cc: lm@bitmover.com

[hold]

It appears to directly contradict what you are saying in

    http://lwn.net/2000/features/ncm-dvd.phtml

The following court case,

    http://www.law.emory.edu/7circuit/june96/96-1139.html

upholds shrinkwrap licenses, overturning a lower court's claim that
shrink wrapis not enforcable.

The basic summary is that the vendor can't do stuff like put a license
inside that says "because you opened the box, you now owe us another
$10,000, and paying us now is your only choice.  Ha ha, gotcha.".
However, the vendor _can_ put in the box, "your right to use this software
is conditional on you obeying the following rules (spell out the rules).
You can either agree to these rules or return your software for a full
refund."

In other words, a vendor can list rules, the court showed multiple
examples - from insurance policies to prescription drugs to software -
where such rules are listed and are expected to be obeyed.  In addition,
the court found that shrinkwrap does _not_ violate the UCC, as stated on
your web site.  The lawyer that OKed that web page appears to be sadly
misinformed about the state of the law.  And this isn't a recent case,
this is from '96.

--lm
   
To: letters@lwn.net
From: ncm@nospam.cantrip.org
Subject: Shrinkwrap Licensing

This is an update to my feature on shrinkwrap licensing,

  http://lwn.net/2000/features/ncm-dvd.phtml

in response to the LWN editors' and Larry McVoy's comments. 
LWN introduced the feature with a statement:

  Should the court rule on the validity of these licenses, it will be
  interesting to consider how free software licenses differ legally-- 
  if at all--from the commercial shrink-wrap variety.

Free Software licenses are based firmly on international copyright law.
The UCC (Uniform Commercial code) doesn't apply, because the copyright 
holders aren't selling you anything.  Red Hat doesn't own the copyright 
on (most of) the code in their box.  The UCC places obligations on 
Red Hat, but not anybody who is not party to the transaction, so the 
UCC doesn't weaken the GPL.

Larry McVoy introduces a more troublesome issue: the U.S. 7th Circuit 
Court overturned a district decision and upheld a shrink-wrap license:

    http://www.law.emory.edu/7circuit/june96/96-1139.html

The decision is troublesome because its reasoning is very sloppy, reading 
more like an undergraduate business-school essay than a serious legal 
document.  It dismisses the difference between a license and a contract  
in one line.  It similarly dismisses the very real practical problems of 
actually getting a refund after a product box is opened.  The examples 
the court takes as valid shrink-wrap licenses are drawn not from legal 
cases, but from other recent attempts at the same trick which happen not 
(yet) to have been fought all the way to a court decision.  The judges
note there is little case law, taking it to indicate that the public
implicitly accepts shrink-wrap licenses, despite that (as noted earlier)
software companies have routinely avoided trying to enforce such licenses
for fear of producing such case law.

Its basic argument is expediency: because it would be inconvenient for 
vendors to obtain agreement from customers to give up their rights under 
the law, it is sufficient (according to that court) for the vendor simply 
to assert that customers don't have those rights:  Not trying to return 
the product for a refund constitutes "agreement".  A customer who prefers 
to retain those rights has no recourse other than to try to get a refund 
(and good luck!).  The decision doesn't go so far as to say that a failed 
good-faith attempt at a refund might negate such an "agreement".

Fortunately for the DVD case, the 7th Circuit decision is (I believe) 
not binding in the 9th Circuit, where the DVD case is being tried.  
Furthermore, Norwegian law, which has jurisdiction where the 
reverse-engineering is said to have occurred, does not (according to 
Otto Skrove Bagge) allow a license to eliminate reverse-engineering 
rights.  Even if a contract-o-matic is held to constitute a valid 
contract, legally-invalid parts of such a contract are not binding.  
(Similarly, paragraphs common in real-estate title deeds in Los 
Angeles, forbidding sale to non-Causasions, are legally meaningless.)

The 7th Circuit precedent cries out for well-reasoned contradiction.
The DVD case might be an opportunity to evoke one, if only in passing.

I am not a lawyer, and the above has not been reviewed for legal accuracy.

   
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 20:14:13 +0000
From: ruth@innocent.com
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: GPL as shrinkwrap license?


[HOLD]

As I understand it, the significant difference between say, the GPL and a
typical EULA shrink-wrap license from a major proprietary vendor is that
the GNU GPL is *not* an end-user license at all.

Only distributors and software developers need to agree to the GNU GPL,
the license itself says, in paragraph zero, "The act of running the
Program is not restricted (...)" because the architects of the GNU GPL
explicitly wanted everyone to be able to USE their software.

This means that for the purposes of the UCC, GNU GPL software does not
have any licensing restrictions applied to it. Purchasers of Gimp CDs
are free to use them as frisbees, install and use them on as many
machines as they like, and then re-sell the CD without any restriction.

Similarly, purchasers of a book are free to read it, use it to prop
up a table, discuss the plot with friends, then lend it to those same
friends and finally sell it second hand. Other rights are reserved to
the publisher, and there are extensive license agreements in place,
but like the GNU GPL they DO NOT MATTER to end-users.

   
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 02:21:59 -0800 (PST)
From: Juergen Weber <weberjn@no-spam.yahoo.com>
Subject: Buffer overflow protection
To: letters@lwn.net

Hello,

in the security section of Dec,30,99
you write:

> But Linus's main point has always been that a
> non-executable stack is a band-aid solution which 
> does not fix the real
> problem - poorly written applications. 

In an ideal world where there are only wizards
like Linus you could fix the poorly written
applications problem.

The great inventions of computer science
made programming more error-prove.

Of course memory leaks are signs of poorly written
applications, but humans will always make mistakes.
So the java approach of freeing the programmer of
memory allocation was the way to go.

So the real solution is to disallow the execution code

on the stack.

Juergen


(please make my email address "anti-spammed")

   
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 07:16:35 -0700
From: Ray Whitmer <ray@xmission.com>
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: GNU/Linux

I read your recent item on the name of:  GNU/Linux versus Linux.  At
first, it sounded to me like a silly dispute.  But after reviewing the
GNU's page on this topic, I find that GNU's claims warrant
consideration.  Most developers understand that GNU has for years
supplied many pieces, and Linux was "only" a plugged-in kernel,
predating the Linux kernel by many years.  I believe GNU claims 28% of
the current size versus 4% in the Linux kernel, although it is not clear
to me which pieces they count.  There are also many other large valuable
parts of the combined O/S without which the kernel would be much less
useful -- I think especially of the XFree project.  It is not easy to
make sure everyone receives due credit as things evolve over time.
Calling it just Linux may seem to trivialize those other efforts.  While
it is not clear how to make this fair to everyone, perhaps in the future
multiple kernels will become available to plug in, and it will become
even more obvious than ever that the Linux kernel itself, while quite
important today, is only a small part.  I have friends who value FreeBSD
and other OS's -- there could be value in joining compatible parts of
various movements under a more-generic banner.

Ray Whitmer
ray@xmission.com


   
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 12:34:02 -0600 (CST)
From: Dave Finton <surazal@nerp.net>
To: info@auroradev.com, stevef@auroradev.com, letters@lwn.net
Subject: Comment on your white paper


I do disagree with your assertions about Linux vs. NT.  In fact I will
highlight a few "innacuracies" in your white paper
(http://www.auroradev.com/whitepapers/open_source.htm) that need
to be addressed.  These aren't minor hiccups, but serious drawbacks to
what I was hoping would be a serious commentary on open source vs. NT

You said:

Since Linux is a network operating system, Linux may be a threat to
high-end NT, but not to desktop Windows: Microsoft Access, Office, and VB
development will continue to flourish independently of the network
architecture.

I reply:

NT *will* continue to flourish... even in the high-end and well as the low
end.  But you've seemed to miss the point that Linux is already
flourishing at all these levels as well.  Over 30% of all web servers use
Linux.  Linux is being taken seriously in our university (U of
Minnesota Duluth) ITSS department, which has always been staunchly
Netware-, Solaris-, and NT-centric.  Linux is around you in all
levels; you simply fail to see it.

Also Linux is booming on the desktop.  People who I didn't even think
would consider using it (i.e. the "average joe") are telling their friends
they've installed Red Hat or Mandrake Linux on their machines and really
like it.  And guess what?  They're *using* it too, in increasing
numbers.  Frankly, your hypothetical situation does not exist in the real
world.

You said:

The Palm Pilot was the last great hope in the anti-Microsoft
camp. Microsoft responded with Windows CE, a lean and mean operating
system designed to run on handheld computers, palm devices, car radios,
and cell phones. This great new OS supports color screens (where is that
color Palm Pilot?) and much superior handwriting recognition. There are CE
versions of all your favorite Office Products, and a Visual Basic
developer?s kit for CE. I could not tell you how to wirte an application
for Palm Pilots (not even Java with its Write once Run many fame can run
on a Palm without major modifications to the core language.), however, I
can create a Pocket Access or VB application for the CE in minutes.

I reply:

Ah, so that's why Palm Pilot still is beating CE in virtually every market
I know of, and has been doing so for *years*.

Portability of apps to the CE devices cannot overcome Windows' flaws on
the handheld devices.  Palm is simply better.

You said:

Most Linux installations in production are UNIX shops that run $160,000 +
SUN servers. You can get the same power, scalability and performance with
Microsoft Cluster Services and NT for one third the price!

I reply:

Uh, Linux is free, and it comes with the same power, scalability, and
performance with Beowulf Cluster services and Linux comes at zero thirds
the price!

Linux is making *serious* inroads into many markets, particularly in
formerly NT-centric shops where Microsoft has disappointed IT managers one
too many times.  NT is simply not a cure-all.  Mind you, neither is Linux,
but I can't agree with your premises here.

I find your "white paper" technically misleading and innacurate, and
cannot take it seriously as such.  I have to implore you to take a serious
look into the marketplace.  The results may surprise you.

                          - Dave Finton

p.s.  On a final note, you're probably assuming that Microsoft is
unbeatable.  Remember when they said the same about IBM and DEC?  Nobody's
glory years last forever.

---------------------------------------------------------
| If an infinite number of monkeys typed randomly at    |
|   an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite   |
|   amount of time, they would eventually type out      |
|   this sentencdfjg sd84wUUlksaWQE~kd ::.              |
| ----------------------------------------------------- |
|      Name:      Dave Finton                           |
|      E-mail:    surazal@nerp.net                      |
|      Web Page:  http://surazal.nerp.net/              |
---------------------------------------------------------

   
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 08:17:56 -0500
To: letters@lwn.net
From: "Gregor N. Purdy" <gregor@focusresearch.com>
Subject: Fwd: An idea

LWN--

I sent the following to the FSF after reading about the Amazon.com
boycott.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Someone else has to have thought of this, but I haven't run across
it anywhere in my "travels" yet.

As long as the current PTO stance remains uncorrected, things like
this will happen. If the past is any guide to the future, any
correction to this will take a long time. Therefore, while pursuing
a correction to the policies and practices of the PTO is vital, we
should be looking for ways to relieve some pain in the interim.

I suggest that we seek out "Angels" in companies that are making
money from free software, such as Red Hat and VA Linux, and via
fundraising through LPF and GNU to fund a legal entity that will
file for and defend patents with automatic free license granting
similar to the provisions of the GPL.

So, we can put together patent applications for important techniques
that we fear will be stolen from the community by companies through
inappropriate PTO usage. Once patents are granted, usage of the
techniques will fall under the license agreement mentioned above,
which will state that no entity holding software patents that are
not licensed under this license may use the technique (not even for
a fee).

As the portfolio builds, and hopefully with a lot of help from the
commercial folks who live by free software both in funding and in
generating patents, we can start to carve out some free territory.
And, by setting an example, hopefully we can pull in other companies
that *want* to play with the free software folks, convincing them
to either (a) transfer their patents to this other entity or (b)
retain official ownership, but permanently license them according
to the GNU Intellectual Property License (GIPL), or whatever the
thing is called.

Stop software patents! But, in the mean time, take some defensive
action. Besides, this would probably bring a lot of attention to
the issue...

If companies are creating the patents in order to get recognition
of their achievements (an idea which fails for the "simple and obvious"
category), then there shouldn't be any issue subsequently licensing
them this way or transferring ownership. The free software community
has always been big on giving credit where credit is due (and only
where due). For those companies doing it for the purpose of protectionism
(weak) or extortion (evil), hopefully we can create an uncomfortable
environment for them between now and when the problem is fixed.

--Gregor N. Purdy
Focus Research, Inc.
gregor@focusresearch.com

   
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 12:29:07 -0500
From: atorrey 
To: letters@lwn.net
Subject: Thoughts on the Amazon boycott

 This is likely to get me flamed, but I have serious doubts about the
potential effectiveness of the Open Source community's call for a
boycott of Amazon.com over the One Click software patent. 

 While we like to tell each other how 'special' we all are, the
practical hard fact is that the Open Source world, even if we include
all our friends, is not all that big a percentage of the world.  Even
the most successful boycott is unlikely to have a major impact on
Amazon's bottom line.  (A similiar logic could most likely be applied to
other calls for boycotts of other companies for S/W patents)  Indeed,
Amazon is big enough that there are often few on-line alternatives,
especially if one also finds Barney igNoble obnoxious.

 While I am not saying to dump the boycott, to me it is not using our
talents to their best advantage.  Amazon is a marketting specialist, and
a boycott is trying to beat them at marketing, why tackle them on their
own turf?  If you want to beat someone, it is best to work from your
strongest position.

 Why not let Amazon keep their patent, just like we let another major
corporation keep it's O/S, and go for 'world domination' with our
strongest skill set.  Go to Barnes & Noble, and offer to help them
develop a non-patent infringing, improved, equivalent to One Click. 
(One possible idea - how about if the system enabled a single checkout
from an entire shopping session, involving multiple e-stores?)
Obviously it would have the string attached that it would be Open
Source, perhaps with a limitation in the liscence that it was only open
to companies that did not use software patents to limit competition...

 Which idea would you think would make Jeff Bezos more nervous - the
thought that a few hundred geeks might take their business elsewhere? 
Or that those same geeks, who include some of the worlds best
programmers, are going to go help the competion build a better website?

 ART

  (Please do not include my E-mail address, if you must, please
anti-spam it...)
   
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