Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Back page page.
Information on a project to create a generic Linux subsystem for memory devices, especially Flash devices, now has its own website. They've also got information on M-Systems' Disk-On-Chip 2000 which has some serious problems with its current driver, including a possible GPL violation.
Over a year ago, in February of 1998, we mentioned the SANE project as one of our first "Links of the Week". SANE, or Scanner Access Now Easy is still an essential resource for anyone wanting to use a scanner with Linux. They are up to version 1.01 and are due major kudos for the service they've done for the community.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
July 8, 1999
Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com. 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: Brett Viren <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 18:13:06 +0900 (JST) To: email@example.com Subject: Difficulty of installation. LWN mentions a Detroit Free Press article. I requote your excerpt: "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." This got me thinking. In my experience it is quite trivial to install Linux on a blank PC (especially with our modern day distributions' install methods). What is the most challenging part is actually installing Linux on what was previously a Windows only machine such that Windows is kept around. It is ironic that one of Linux's largest criticisms is due to trying to play nice with one of Linux's largest competition (using that word loosely). It would be nice if the folks in Microsoft would give as much consideration to Linux and create an OS which doesn't, for example, heavy handedly overwrite the MBR (LILO's usual resting spot) in order to install. -Brett.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 10:52:00 -0600 Subject: Assorted Benchmarks In the midst of all the howling about the assorted benchmarks from Mindcraft and PC Labs, I think people have missed something rather important. The benchmarks are highlighting several areas where Linux could be better. We're getting a lot of excellent information on how to make this OS faster and better. I propose that we need more benchmarks, not less. We don't want benchmarks because we're playing Microsoft's game. We want benchmarks to highlight potential kernel and server issues. Issues that, once they come to light, will be fixed in a matter of hours. I propose also that we need to implement different types of benchmarks for things that aren't normally measured today. Things like stability. We don't want increases in speed if the trade off is a decrease in stability. So we need some good stability benchmarks. Say, beat on the servers over the network and see if they can survive. That sort of thing. -- ---------- Bruce Ide firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 13:54:41 -0700 From: Tim Hanson <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Mindcraft I take exception to your paragraph on the Microsoft / Mindcraft fiasco. Your introspection is admirable I suppose, but it brings to mind the finding of purpose and meaning and important lessons to be learned after an attack by a Great White. Why do you suppose Microsoft advertizes for people who know Linux to lead Linux strike teams, to make the best gosh darn products with which to compete? I don't think so. It wouldn't surprise me that M$ knew all along how Linux would do best case, with the guys from Red Hat doing the tuning, and staged the whole thing, including the first tests to get us making noise for them. We just followed their script. Maybe Linux advocates aren't up to dealing with one of this century's most egregious commercial predators, the product of an individual agnostic to any principle except maintaining his personal power over our society, Bill Gates. The Linux community, as it gets more under the skin of Gates and those he promoted to positions of power, can expect to be baited like this over and over again. Don't expect M$ to cooperate with any other benchmarks; Gates will never use a deck he hasn't stacked. All this discussion by Linux advocates about the unfairness of the tests and the call for more balanced measures is irrelevant. Gates got to the audience he wanted; leaving us talking to ourselves is no concern. And that's where we're left. Talking to ourselves.
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 1999 14:03:59 -0600 From: Scott Marlowe <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: lead page I would have to take an exception to the statement made on your opening page about the Mindcraft results. You say: BEGIN QUOTE The Mindcraft rerun. The results are in; as expected, NT still beat Linux strongly, though not so strongly as before. For this particular set of tests, NT just performs better. For details, see the PC Week article that first made the results available. There are a few things to note about these results. First, perhaps, is that much of the Linux community (including this publication) reacted a little too strongly to the initial results. Certainly there were numerous problems with how the first test was done, and it was right to bring those to light. But, in the end, fixing the problems did not change the ultimate results of the test. END QUOTE In fact, the results changed drastically in one regard: stability under load. While http accesses per second is a fairly worthless number to grade a web server by, stability under load is a very important metric. Apache/Linux as a web server was shown in the original test to be very unstable under load, and worse yet, it did not recover after the load was removed, it stayed in a crippled state and had the httpd server had to be restarted to fix the problem. The reason for this is simple, they compiled apache with the -O4 option, when it is known to be unstable with any optimization over O2. To this day, Mindcraft has NOT retracted their statement in the initial survey that showed Apache / Linux to be unstable. I still hear from people who think Linux / Apache is unstable because of this test, and your saying that the ultimate results did not change does not help things. We, the Linux / Apache community need to address the issues raised by Mindcraft about performance, yes, but the issues of stability have been almost totally ignored, when in fact, they are a much more important point. Linux / Apache is stable under heavy load, even if a bit slow on a multi-NIC machine.
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 15:32:49 -0400 (EDT) From: Kristofer <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: GNU Cobol > Converting Cobol to C would do nothing to improve the control flow of > the programs, while making its data handling completely unreadable. > > Unless the only human resource one has available is C programmers, I > would strongly discourage such a conversion. > > What the world needs is a free Cobol compiler - if this is the way to > get one, even if it is not within the framework of the GNU Compiler > Collection (which would make it retargetable to other architectures than > the Intel ia32 model, among other benefits), then so be it. Converting Cobol to C, while not improving the control flow, wouldn't hurt it either, and the major advantage of C that justifies such a project is that C already has a free optimising compiler for several different architectures. If you don't want the C code, you can still do all your work in Cobol, and forget about the time it spends as C code the same way we all forget about how our C code spends time as assembly code when we compile it. Instead of wasting our time reinventing the wheel, we should be solving the real problem, which is giving the compiled software proper debugging symbols that can be recognized by gdb as Cobol symbols, and making sure the C layer is as transparent as the assembly layer. Kris Coward, Math Student/RA, SysAdmin Univ. of Toronto
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 15:41:23 -0400 (EDT) From: Kristofer <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: MS Linux > Amidst all the speculation and rumors about Microsoft coming out with > their own proprietary Linux distribution, it seems that no one has > considered a much more likely scenario. When the Red Hat IPO hits the > market, MS could buy up virtually all the offered stock for $100,000,000 > or so (Bill could take it out of petty cash) and thus acquire a name > brand Linux, not to mention the services of the Red Hat sales and > service staff and their engineers and developers. IIRC the shares of Red Hat being issued for sale will constitute only a small ortion of the total wonershil of Red Hat.. certainly not enough for MS to push any sort of agenda it may have.. of course, this doesn't rule out their buying a whole lot of shares, they own a whole lot of Apple after all. Kris Coward Math Student/RA, SysAdmin Univ. of Toronto