Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Back page page.
Linux Today has launched its counter-FUD site, intended to be a repository of responses to typical attacks on Linux. It thus joins The Linux FUD factor FAQ and fud-counter.nl.linux.org in the anti-FUD business.
DocBook.org is the home site of the O'Reilly book DocBook: The Definitive Guide. The entire book is available from the site, as are errata, a DocBook FAQ, and more. Just about everything you need to get started with this growing standard for technical documentation is there.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
December 9, 1999
Letters to the editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: "Allan Pointon" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: raccoon roti Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 23:28:08 -0000 Q : what was the last thing that went through a certain recently deceased raccoon's mind ? A : Hummmm.........
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1999 23:20:02 -0800 From: Pascal Martin <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Linux demo at Microsoft's Comdex booth ? Hello. I wanted to share with you some funny news I just discovered. Axis (http://www.axis.com/) is a company provided innovative Internet Appliances, including an exciting Internet camera. .. so exciting indead that they claim Microsoft made a demo at their Comdex booth: http://www.axis.com/news/us/comdex.htm The funny thing is that Axis also claims that this Camera is based on Linux: http://www.axis.com/news/us/2100.htm So, here we are, with some possibility that Microsoft might _really_ have done a Linux demo at Comdex !!!. And we get the ultimate pleasure of seing together on the same web pages these two related news (enjoy !): http://www.axis.com/news/ What do ya think ? :-D ------------------------------------------------------------------ Pascal F. Martin.
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 06:29:42 -0900 From: "Tony Taylor (ISD)" <email@example.com> Subject: LinuxToday Zope Review To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Mr. Reichard, In your review of the Zope application server, you raised many valid and important points. However, one criticism was completely unfair and irrelevent. The strawman you erect is in this paragraph: "In addition, the application-server market has largely settled on Java and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) as tools that can be deployed on any application server, allowing for different servers from different vendors to interoperate on a useful level. There's no hint at all within Zope or the Zope documentation that Java/EJB support was ever considered, much less implemented. This is a major drawback within Zope; you can argue all day and night that Python is superior to Java, but one simply can't ignore the realities of the marketplace." Only two years ago, the marketplace insisted MS-Windows NT was the dominant applications platform. In spite of this market reality, Linux has grown in popularity not by embracing NT, but by its simple technical superiority. I will not argue the superiority of one language over another; I personally dislike much of the Python syntax. But to declare a product unfit simply because it does not follow popular market trends is myopic and unimaginative. Java is not a standard, and is apparently never going to be a standard. Some of the other criticisms are spot-on; I only disagree with arguments like, "A is popular; B doesn't support A; therefore, B is bad." If popularity were any measure, Budwieser would be a good beer, and NT would be a decent operating system. - Tony
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 01:06:17 -0500 From: Derek Glidden <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Sun, Java and Linux Today on the Java-linux mailing list there started a flame-fest because today Sun announced that they, jointly with Inprise (nee Borland), have released the Java2 JDK v1.2.2 Release Candidate 1 for Linux, coincedentally on the same day the Blackdown team announced their Java2 JDK v1.2.2rc3. The flame-fest comes from the fact that Sun's press release conveniently doesn't mention the Blackdown group who have been hacking away at the Java2 source code since pre-release versions to get it running successfully on Linux. I follow java-linux development more than I follow linux-kernel development, but from the way I understand things, a good deal of native/kernel thread development and stability on Linux is due to the Blackdown team working with the kernel and glibc teams to find and track down threading bugs in the kernel and glibc. Without the work Blackdown has done, a full Java2 JDK on Linux that could take advantage of native kernel threads just might not have been possible at all. Without Blackdown pushing, it's also possible that Linux kernel hackers might not have had impetus to implement native kernel threads at all by now. Linux has more to thank the Blackdown team for than just the JDK port. Adding insult to injury, when you download the "Sun/Inprise" JDK from Sun, you find READMEs and CVS messages left in several of the files left over from the Blackdown port. In other words, Sun took the work the Blackdown team has been doing on Java2 for *at least* the past year, handed it to Inprise, said "Here, get this running" and turned around and claimed it as their own. In their defense, Inprise says they've done a lot of independent work on the JDK to get it to "release quality" but it's still founded on man-years of work done by Blackdown. (And the Inprise port doesn't support native threads and actively discourages running it on SMP boxen, while the Blackdown port does both just fine, so...) Unfortunately, Sun's "Community Source License" gives them every right to do exactly that and screw Blackdown and screw their porting efforts in the process. The Blackdown team has been working on the JDK in good faith, and against nearly overwhelming apathy from Sun, knowing full and well that Sun's source license gives Sun the exclusive right to any and all patches to the JDK source that Blackdown might generate, under the assumption that the Blackdown port would be Sun's "semi-official Linux JDK" port. For their effort, Sun turned around and said, "Screw good faith and screw you too, we're gonna get some good press out of this and pretend again like we're an 'Open Source' company and 'Pro-Linux' just like when we bought StarOffice. We're Sun, you're a bunch of nameless, faceless programmers. Who's spin do you think the public will believe?" Not only that, but the press release goes so far as to say (paraphrased) "Java and Linux fans have asked for Sun to support Java on Linux and we listened". This after SEVERAL YEARS (ever since JDK 1.0) of "native Linux support from Sun" being the most demanded feature on Sun's "JDK wishlist" by SEVERAL ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE over ALL OTHER DEVELOPER REQUESTS COMBINED and Linux users getting nothing but the finger from Sun. Sun - Your license stinks. Your concept of "community" stinks. The way you treat (use) developers trying to support your products stinks. Forget your mouth, this time you've stuck your foot all the way up your a** after having shot it nearly clean off and there's no one to blame but yourselves. Hopefully the tone of this letter will give you some understanding of the bad feelings ("bad feelings" isn't strong enough, but I'm trying to remain more or less polite) you've generated in the Java-Linux community. Good luck trying to regain our trust. On the very dim bright side, a member of the Java development team from Inprise is also (unofficially) frequenting the java-linux list and is (again, unofficially) trying to let the world (or at least the java-linux world) know that, at the very least, Inprise developers know full and well the effort Blackdown has already put into the work and that Blackdown has Inprise's full and complete respect for it. That and a buck and a half will get the Blackdown team a cup of java down at Starbucks and big fat moon from Sun. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- With Microsoft products, failure is not Derek Glidden an option - it's a standard component. http://3dlinux.org/ Choose your life. Choose your http://www.tbcpc.org/ future. Choose Linux. http://www.illusionary.com/
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 23:09:23 +0000 From: Alain Williams <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Comment on No FUD suggestion by Linuxtoday First let me say that I am supportive of what they are doing. I have a suggestion that, at first, may seem strange and counter to what you are doing but which, in the long term, may make the arguments much more powerful. What they are setting out to do is to ``dispell the shadows of doubt with the clear light of truth''. If this isn't exactly what they are about then maybe this is what they should do. What is the difference ? *Honesty*. If we are completely honest no one can trip us up. How will honesty change what they are doing ? Basically it means that faults/problems/... with Linux have to be openly pointed out. If faults are pointed out it makes the good points talked about have much more credibility. This is the antithesis of much marketing where a veil is drawn over deficiencies in whatever they are talking about, techies/hackers distrust marketing people for exactly this reason: techies are (by & large) a pretty honest bunch. So what do I think NoFUD should be doing ? Also have anti FUD pages about other operating systems: anything from Big Blue's VM to Microsoft's offerings. Why will that help ? 1 It will improve the credibility of the NoFUD web site. 2 It elevates NoFUD from a ``Linux Site'' to an ``Industry Reference Site''. 3 It will be visited by many more people, people who are after genuine insight into advantages/disadvantages of the various platforms that are discussed. How will this help Linux ? It will show people where Linux performs well (or badly) in relation to the other OSs that are out there. The places where Linux can do with improvement will he high-lightened and (hopefully) attract more effort from the Open Source community. -- Alain Williams
Date: 3 Dec 1999 01:30:26 -0000 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Fahrenheit, SGI, Microsoft, Linux, D3D, OpenGL I'm an experienced game developer. I read this story about Microsoft quietly dropping OpenGL support in Windows 2000: http://www.theregister.co.uk/991129-000007.html It also details the failed alliance intended to draw Direct3D and OpenGL together... After reading it I was inspired (incensed?) enough to write down the events in this sordid affair as I remember them. The Linux reference near the end of the article makes the timing of this move obvious, but I've always felt that Fahrenheit was smoke and mirrors to keep game developers away from vendor-independent OpenGL and using a standard Microsoft could control. See if you feel the same way after you see my (admittedly biased) list of the facts in order: Despite WinNT supporting OpenGL happily from near its inception, Microsoft wastes the first three versions of DirectX trying to come up with a usable 3D API for Win9x, claiming the OpenGL API is not suitable for game development. Apple announces that they will provide Game Sprockets for the Mac, a suite of game development libs similar to DirectX. Rave3D is incorporated as the 3D API. Microsoft claims that they will be supporting DirectX across every operating system they can, including their own, MacOS, HP-UX, Irix, Solaris, etc. They say they expect DirectX to become a standard, and that developers shouldn't worry about compatibility because wherever they want to take their games, DirectX will be supported. Therefore, there's no point in programming to Rave3D. OpenGL vs. Direct3D debates rage across the industry for months, with many of the harsher criticisms of D3D centering on the fact that the API makes optimization of drivers nearly impossible. D3D provides only capability bits to test for features, and guarantees none. OpenGL is criticized for being slow, large, and unsuited to consumer-level cards, as well as inflexible due to the pool of vendors who develop it by committee. Microsoft says it will stop debate by supporting both standards. Soon thereafter it supplies its implementation of OpenGL for Windows 9x, a ridiculously slow and incomplete version that breaks the number one promise of OpenGL: all features are available, even if they are only implemented in software. It's even slower than their software-only D3D implementation. Supporting this version of OpenGL is more difficult than supporting software D3D since there aren't even capability tests to provide workarounds. Many developers throw up their hands and go for D3D since their games have to ship someday. Around this time, Quake goes hardware accelerated with an OpenGL wrapper on the 3dfx chipset, utilizing 3dfx's glide library. John Carmack's considerable influence over the industry and strong cross-platform stance makes waves, and with GLQuake as the poster child, the debates start having conclusions: OpenGL *can* be lightweight enough for game development, and provides much more opportunity for optimization to card vendors. SGI steps into the fray by offering a free fully-compliant and even well-optimized software OpenGL replacement for Windows 95, with an attendant architecture that makes it possible to write installable client drivers for hardware acceleration fairly easily. Apple, losing money fast and on the brink of death, seeing the already dwindling Mac game market shrink even further, stops supporting Game Sprockets and redirects the Sprockets developers to their OS. They go silent for a while. However, 3dfx ships a PCI version that supports glide on the Mac. GLQuake is ported to the Mac using the 3dfx OpenGL wrapper, and runs great! Microsoft makes dramatic "updates" in the shaky D3D API. It drops its poorly conceived and executed retained mode (a very poor imitation of SGI's Performer functionality), and focuses exclusively on duplicating the functionality that OpenGL has had all along (discouraging raw vertex buffers, adding DrawPrimitive, etc.) This isn't enough for developers, who have all that plus the added bonus of portability when they use OpenGL. Microsoft and SGI start making lots of noise and lawsuits start flying. Coincidentally, many companies (such as Intergraph) have been steadily eating away at SGI's hi-end market share over the last few years as they make OpenGL workstations running OpenGL on Windows NT that rival mid-range SGIs. In a sudden turnabout, SGI announces that they'll turn their OpenGL and ICD implementation over to Microsoft to incorporate and support in place of Microsoft's shoddy version. The two companies announce that they'll work on a next-generation hybrid API called Fahrenheit that incorporates the best features of D3D and OpenGL and adds Performer functionality. Note that ONLY Microsoft and SGI are involved... The million other companies in the OpenGL Architecture Review Board are left out in the cold. Shortly thereafter, SGI announces that it will be making WinNT workstations as well. Peace is declared for a while as developers sit through DX5, DX6, and DX7, waiting for an announcement any day that the first version of Fahrenheit is ready for testing. Developers prefer OpenGL due to the caps bit issue, but ship versions that run with both OpenGL and D3D so that they're supported by as many cards as possible. (Many don't even support D3D until the game is done, then spend the rest of their time on compatibility issues in their D3D support.) Meanwhile, the OpenGL ARB starts moving much faster with the addition of companies such as NVidia and 3dfx whose core hardware engineers used to work at SGI, and whose excellent products are dominating the consumer market. Extensions to the standard start churning out at a pretty good clip, keeping pace with new features coming out in consumer graphics cards such as multitexturing. Quake becomes something of a performance benchmark for these leading consumer cards, and companies such as ATI suddenly have to support OpenGL in order to be able to compare apples to apples. Suddenly every card vendor for the PC is supporting OpenGL. Apple announces that the iMac will incorporate ATI's 3D cards and support OpenGL. The new machines are zippy and suddenly the Mac looks like a great game platform, especially if you're doing OpenGL development on the PC anyway. For these amid other reasons, Apple is back on top of its game again. Microsoft encourages hardware vendors not to ship OpenGL installable client drivers, saying that their effort would be better spent writing drivers for the Windows Driver Model architecture, the unified driver standard for Windows NT and Windows 2000. Companies would of course love to support one driver only, so their ICDs are shipped but without much optimization. Many say "wait for Win2K, where our driver support will be great!" (eg. Matrox) Mesa (a free software OpenGL implementation) and Linux have been behaving well together for a while, with some hardware acceleration based on a Linux version of the glide library from 3dfx. Linux makes a couple of usability leaps that give Microsoft pause. In early 1999, NVidia and 3DFX announce custom binary-only X servers that support their cards. SGI suddenly announces massive support for Linux, and open sources it's GLX library for the purpose of incorporating Mesa into the free X server, XFree86. NVidia, now the market leader, says it will have fully accelerated OpenGL support for all of its cards under Linux by the end of 1999. Microsoft finally tries ditching OpenGL altogether in Windows 2000, as detailed by the article. We all know how roughly Microsoft plays in the industry, but watching this progression has really upset me. OpenGL has always been a cross-platform standard carefully supported and developed by multiple vendors. The various attempts on Microsoft's part to wrest control are pretty obvious: Bring out a competing standard, though inferior to the existing one. Claim to be providing a standard for the entire industry, not just themselves. Bad mouth the capabilities of the competing standard. Claim to support both, but provide crappy support for OpenGL. Desperately try to incorporate the features they lack into their own standard. Bully beleagured SGI into giving them control over the better version. Get driver writers dependent on their ICD arch, then sandbag driver development. Drop the Fahrenheit architecture carrot that got everyone moving their way in the first place. Quietly drop support for the competing standard at the last second, just when it's again obvious why OpenGL is the industry standard. No one should be surprised at this maneuver after all of Microsoft's other activities, but it makes me wonder why ANY company is still willing to work with Microsoft after seeing the way they attempt to eat not just their competitors, but their allies as well. Is it any wonder hardware vendors are fleeing to Linux as sanctuary from the ravening beast? email@example.com