Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Linux in the news page.
The Linux press was busy, as always, but with few overriding themes this
time around. So let's go right into this week's recommended reading:
- A Fairfax IT columnist who predicted that Linux would not go
anywhere has put out
a new column documenting his changing his mind. "I now
believe that Linux will be very big, and that it constitutes the
biggest threat to the established order since the Windows NT boom
began about four years ago....We are witnessing a significant
change in the centre of gravity in the IT industry. Commercial
interests may not end up dominating the IT industry, and that is no
bad thing. Rarely have I more happily admitted I was in error."
- Hotwired's "WebMonkey" has
a lengthy article on The GIMP. "Even though GIMP has its own
manual, it's almost unnecessary if you're familiar with Photoshop
3.0. But the GIMP does have some unique features that are big
improvements over Photoshop."
an article in Forbes about embedded systems, and Cygnus's hopes
for their open-source embedded operating system Ecos. "While
Cygnus gives Ecos away, it has kept for itself the trademark and
control over new releases. That means Cygnus will always know more
about it than anyone else. Knowledge being power, the way the
company plans to turn a buck is by selling programming tools for
- Phil Agre
discusses the success of Linux on his Red Rock Eater list (you'll have to
scroll down several pages). "The peer-review institutions of
open source software, long stereotyped as the territory of lonely
geeks, should be seen in their proper historical light as another
chapter in the march of human knowledge. And they should be
supported publicly, just as we support the production of other
kinds of public goods. Of course, public support might lead us to
another big government boondoggle such as the Internet, but if the
alternative is Windows 3000, perhaps it's a chance we can take."
- Last week's LWN contained a reference to
this Italian article about efforts within the Italian National
Research Council (CNR) to promote free software development in
Italy. Now Kevin Reardon has sent us a translation of that article for those who do not read Italian.
Worth a read. "Open source could be the key: a robust offering
of italian freeware could help both to reduce our software trade
deficit and to help the birth (in Italy) of new competitive
initiatives that could produce significant returns..."
- Peter Link pointed out
this article in CIO magazine that we somehow missed this week. It's
actually a good article about how Linux appears to corporate CIO's.
Worth a read. "IS personnel who have had firsthand experience
with freeware at these and other companies say that while open
source software is indeed passing the tests of corporate computing,
it requires a change of mind-set and new procedures, particularly
in the area of service and support."
Interviews were big this week. Here's a sampling:
Red Hat drew a few articles once again this week.
- LinuxPower has put up
an interview with Sam Ockman of Penguin Computing. "We have no
fears about IBM, Dell, Compaq; in fact we welcome them to the
market, and are glad to give them help when they ask us. We're
going to sell more systems running Linux then any of these guys
interviews Red Hat's Bob Young. "The problem with other, smaller
commercial Linux vendors is they look at Linux and they see a
broken economic model. Great technology, but a broken economic
model. So what they do is, they take Linux and surround it with
proprietary tools. The problem is, from a support and bug tracking
issue, you've effectively just bought another proprietary
- Inter@ctive Week also
interviews Red Hat's Bob Young. "When we started shipping in 1995-96,
Unix programmers represented 50 percent of our sales. Today, 90
percent of our users are coming to us from Windows."
- In contrast, PC World
interviews Caldera's Ransom Love. "We've actually downsized Linux to
where it can fit on a floppy, with a graphical browser. You'll see
some announcements in that vein from us."
- LinuxWorld has put up
another interview with Linus Torvalds.
Then, there were a few introductory pieces:
- VAR Business
looks at Red Hat's increasingly dominant role. "As large
technology corporations line up to support Linux vendor Red Hat
Software Inc., some VARs are worried the company will set de facto
standards just as industry titan Microsoft Corp. did for the PC
- The Deseret News
covers Novell's investment in Red Hat. "From a competitive
standpoint, Novell chose privately held Red Hat for its size when
buying into a Linux developer, instead of putting its equity into
Linux developer Caldera Systems in Orem. Caldera is a Novell
spinoff backed financially by former Novell CEO Ray Noorda."
another article about Red Hat, this one in the Charlotte Observer.
"Analysts said the big-name investors also could help extend Red
Hat's market lead over Caldera Systems, based in Orem, Utah,
Germany's SuSE and other private firms that sell Linux
packages." (Thanks to Mike McLoughlin).
- Computer Shopper put out
a positive introductory article. "...it's the commercial
deals like those spearheaded by Red Hat that have done so much to
elevate Linux's profile and make it a viable alternative to OSs
like Windows NT. That may go against the free-spirited nature of
Linux, but it does make a cool technology available to more
- The San Jose Mercury has put out
a lengthy introductory article in two parts. The first is a not
entirely accurate piece about Linux as a whole; then it delves into
installation difficulties. "At this point, I wimped
out. Although several people told me Red Hat and other Linux
installation programs often automatically identify and configure
hardware, I didn't have the fortitude to attempt the process. But
I'm not going to be hard on myself, or Linux. No one buys a PC
today without an operating system already installed. Putting
Windows or the Mac OS onto a blank PC would probably be just about
as difficult as installing Linux." (Thanks to Jay Ashworth).
an article which appeared in the National Law Journal. It serves
as an introductory Linux piece with special attention to what may
happen to the careers of intellectual property lawyers.
"...lawyers who have spent the past 20 years struggling with the
issues of intellectual property protection for software might in
the future find themselves all dressed up with no place to go."
- The Village Voice has run
a long, highly nontechnical article about Linux and GNOME.
"Publicly released two weeks ago, Gnome is a conscientious
objection to the greed, inefficiencies, and tyranny of the
technology industry as we know it, packed into an executable
file. From the heart of the capitalist technopoly, Gnome is a free
software alternative to the Windows desktop- free to download from
the Net, to copy, to alter." (Thanks to Jen Matson).
A few belated LinuxWorld reports:
a LinuxWorld piece from PC Week. "Although I'm certain that
there were corporate IT decision-makers at LinuxWorld, they were
few and far between--and that's what surprised me because I think
corporations are talking the talk but not walking the Linux
walk. Come on, corporate IT, where were you?"
- InfoWorld ran
another article about the cluster system that IBM demonstrated at
LinuxWorld. "Using a subset of the Beowulf clustering
technology, 17 of IBM's Netfinity servers containing 36 Pentium II
chips and running an off-the-shelf copy of Linux matched the
scalability and performance of a Cray supercomputer."
- The Irish Times
covers LinuxWorld. "...while the large software corporations'
stands stood half-empty, programmers flocked to a small corridor at
the back of the hall known as The Ghetto. There, the founder of
the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, awed fans with
insightful witticisms and Rob Malda, the 22-year-old founder of
www.Slashdot.com 'news for nerds' website, sold T-shirts and
baseball caps. It was the only money changing hands at the
show." (Thanks to Mark O'Sullivan).
Here's a few pieces in the non-English press:
- For those of you who read Norwegian, here's a couple of articles
that got sent our way.
This one in Aftenposten appears to be of an introductory nature.
this other in PC World Norge is "about why Linux will win on the
Internet." Too bad Babelfish doesn't do Norwegian. (Thanks to Ole
Kristian, Hans Peter Verne, and Pål Larsson).
- If instead you read Danish: here's
a Linux article put up by DR, the major Danish TV and Radio
network. (Thanks to Morten Welinder).
an article (in French) in Libération about Linux in the French
schools and how it competes with Windows in that environment. It
even includes a relatively conciliatory quote from a person at
Microsoft France. English translation available
via Babelfish. (Found in
There were a couple of GNOME reviews:
- PC Week
reviews GNOME 1.0. "Initial tests of the GNOME 1.0 Desktop
Interface for Linux show that the operating system doesn't
necessarily have to be a tool for geeks. However, you might need a
geek to set GNOME up."
- There's no place like GNOME says Information Week. It's a high-level
overview of the 1.0 release. "Some Gnome developers I talked to
complained of a lack of focus, and that current development was
going off in every direction. That could change, however, if the
vendors now supporting Linux start throwing some of their
development talent (and money) at the project. And based on the
reaction that the interface is already getting, they're bound
And the rest is kind of hard to categorize, so here it all is...
- MSNBC is running
the Associated Press article about Apple's moves. "The so-called 'open
source' method also is used for Netscape's browser software and the
Linux operating system for business computers. In contrast,
companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems
Inc. jealously guard blueprints to their software to surprise
rivals with improved features."
a story in InternetNews.com about the growing use of Linux in
India. "According to sources, petrochemical giant Reliance
Industries is working on implementing certain mission-critical
applications on Linux-based solutions. Besides web-based
applications and intranet, the company is also planning to install
Linux-based networks for its internal communication and messaging
a ComputerWorld article which says that non-Intel ports of Linux
are not necessarily all that interesting to corporations.
"Information technology managers and consultants are concerned
about the availability of drivers, the ability of commercial
vendors to cooperate with the open-source community that develops
Linux, the preference of many Linux users for low-cost Intel-based
hardware and the potential that Linux could fragment as it expands
to proprietary platforms."
- This Wired News article is about PC Free and their plans to ship
some of their systems with Linux installed. "Beginning in
April, the company will roll out 500 Linux-based PCs in a New
Hampshire test market."
a long article in PC Week about the slow nature of Linux's drift
into corporate networks. "How close is Linux, really, to being
ready to run mission-critical applications? The answer, according
to many IT managers and experts, is that Linux is close, but it's
not there yet. It still needs a strong support infrastructure, the
backing of enterprise application vendors and an easy-to-use GUI at
the desktop before it's ready to either compete with Unix and
Windows NT on the server or appeal to the typical end user."
- An Information Week editor
writes about the Linux bandwagon. "Nearly one-third of IT managers
surveyed by InformationWeek Research earlier this month say they're
either using or planning to use Linux."
- Computer Reseller News
ponders the question of how to make money from Linux. The answer:
services. "For now, distributors ought to keep a vigilant eye
on the progress of Linux applications and a finger on the pulse of
their VAR customers to gauge interest in the operating system and
related products. Service opportunities soon should become part of
Linux's appeal, considering the service-intensive environments
where the operating system fits."
- This Wired News article is supposedly about Apple's decision to open
up the low-level part of MacOS X, but the bulk of the text is spent
talking about Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, and problems with various
large companies. The article is also marked by a "free beer"
interpretation of free software. "The effect of the
disagreements is pooh-poohed by many open source software
developers. As a large, opinionated community, most aren't willing
to designate an omniscient spokesmen."
- PC Week has
an article about Caldera's upcoming release, which, according to
the article, will be called OpenLinux 2.2. Even though they have
skipped over a "dot-zero" version, this release looks surprisingly
bleeding-edge for Caldera. "This flagship program will include
the new 2.2x Linux kernel, the glibc2.1 libraries and the latest
version of the popular KDE (K Desktop Environment) 1.1 graphical
- Also in PC Week:
this article about SAP's upcoming release of R/3 for Linux. It
dedicates most of its space to corporate nay-sayers. "But ERP
customers are not sure whether they are ready to take that
step. One SAP user said he was committed to Microsoft Corp.'s
Windows NT platform, adding that Linux is only making news as the
trend of the moment."
- CNN has
an article about Sun's approach to Linux. "While IBM and HP
have been working to place themselves in the front seat as Linux's
popularity soars, Sun has yet to commit to a comprehensive service
or development agreement with any of the major Linux vendors."
- LinuxWorld has
an article about the recent TCP Wrappers trojan attack and the
reviews Samba on an SGI Origin server. They were pretty well
impressed. "In fact, after putting a Wandel & Goltermann
Inc. Domino protocol analyzer on the wire to decode some of the
CIFS traffic, we found that Samba supports some aspects of
Microsoft Corp.'s CIFS protocol better than Microsoft does"
(Thanks to Jeremy Allison).
- This Microsoft article in the Australian Financial Review wanders
off into the speculations that Office may be ported to Linux.
"According to stories appearing on the internet, many Microsoft
software engineers are keen Linux users in their spare time, and
are determined to get Windows software working on it."
- News.com has
a brief article about the Empeg MP3 player. "Empeg has
started production on Empeg Car, according to the company's Web
site. Empeg Car, which runs on the Linux operating system, is
powered by a 200-MHz StrongARM processor." (Thanks to Conrad
- This (UK) Computing article is a lengthy piece about the 2.2 kernel.
"By making the
kernel so scalable, it is possible to compile a version suitable
for tasks as simplistic as controlling a thermostat to running a
network the size of, say, the National Grid."
- Also in Computing: the Gartner Group once again
tries to lower Linux expectations. "Announcements of support from
IBM and Hewlett-Packard have not changed Gartner's view that real
commercial support for Linux will not appear before 2000..."
Also also in Computing:
Is Linux worth the leap? which is mostly a set of
case studies. "Companies that opt for Linux could in a few
years time be building enterprise computing systems for a lot less
money. And for those that don't make the switch, Linux has at least
begun to change the way software vendors think about licensing and
(Thanks to David Killick for all three of the above links).
- Will they still love Linux tomorrow? worried Web Review. "With
all the hype about Linux I worry that the wrong people will be led
to choose the Linux option and be disappointed with its ease of use
and the application software currently available."
speculatesthat Microsoft may be porting its Office suite to Linux. "Last
week, Unix expert and technical author Simson Garfinkel mentioned
on a radio talk show broadcast in the Boston area that he had
corresponded with developers with inside knowledge of Microsoft's
Office Linux porting efforts." (Thanks to Bryan Wright).
- Next Generation Online
claims to have confirmed that Sony will be using Linux as the
development environment for their Playstation 2 game console.
"The announcement that the company will make its development
tools run in a Linux environment does not necessarily mean that the
machine itself will use any sort of Linux implementation...
However, Harrison's comments during last week's press conference do
not rule out the possibility of a modified Linux kernel being used
for the PlayStation 2's OS."
an article in OS/2 E-Zine which argues the point that OS/2
software developers should switch to an open source model.
"...I do think that the only chance for OS/2 to survive is that
at least the freeware developers who are writing software today
must switch to using an OpenSource license, no matter how ugly the
sources are." (Thanks to Rob Landley).
a confusing article in the San Jose Mercury (seemingly
republished from SiliconValley.com) which appears to claim that
Linux is pushing out Windows because Linux is smaller...
"...many of us were a bit surprised that tiny, free Linux made
such a sudden and heady inroad into today's personal computer
- Wired News
reports on Dell's offering of Linux-installed systems. "Despite the
fact that Dell didn't even issue its own press release announcing
Red Hat Linux installation and support for its servers and
workstations, response was tremendous."
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
March 18, 1999