Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Distributions page.
Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.
World Politics enter into the Linux vs Windows debate. As long predicted by pundits such as Jon "Maddog" Hall and this editor, at least one foreign government has taken a look at the issue of using an operating system whose source code is closed to you and come down, with heavy-hands, on the side of using Linux, particularly a version of it whose development is in the hands of your own Nationals.
According to several articles this week, China may have issued an official statement that Windows 2000 will be banned from use in the Chinese government, in favor of Red Flag Linux, a Chinese-based distribution that we discussed a bit in our August 12th, 1999 Distributions Summary. We still don't have a download site for this distribution, nor an internal contact, but if you want to follow the current furor, you've got your choice of:
It appears that both Microsoft and some Chinese officials are denying these reports, according to this article entitled Microsoft Under New Media Attack in China. Nonetheless, while the original article was likely overstated, this article still outlines reasons why a more moderate reality may be true. "The official with the Ministry of Information Industry said a ban on Microsoft was not very likely in the near term. ``But the government is advocating that users buy domestic software,'' he added."
It finishes with comments on concerns that Windows might have a backdoor in it. Microsoft has categorically denied this, but it is an accusation that a proprietary, closed-source solution can never perfectly defend itself against. (Thanks to Jay R. Ashworth and Jussi Torhonen).
People have asked if Red Flag Linux is real, and if so, what distribution is it based upon? We have no true answer to either of those, but remember, the XLinux distribution we mentioned last week is a real project, with real code, the "Chinese Linux Extension" is a well-known, volunteer project that has been around for a while. In other words, "domestic software" based on Linux does exist in China and people using it within the Chinese government are likely receiving at least lukewarm support to do so.
So what about comments and concerns posted on Slashdot that a distribution within China could fork, choose not to regard the GPL and refuse to contribute back to the community? It could happen. If they do so, however, they will eventually pay the penalty of being cut off from the prosperity that active involvement in a free software project brings, the ability to benefit from changes made by other people, to educate your developers through interaction with their peers, etc. Free software will survive and, eventually, the benefits of free software will be understood there as well. We have no time schedule on World Domination.
Lunar Penguin. Jo A new distribution project has been started. The Lunar Penguin Project is looking to produce an RPM-based distribution geared specifically for "ISP's, powerusers and e-business concerns". No beta is currently available, but development is ongoing both on the Lunar Installer and on modifying Red Hat packages to fully conform to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard.
The future of this project is currently unknown; it could introduce a distribution solely for the developers current use and education or a commercial distribution. Certainly, their work on the RPM conversions is work that Red Hat may also be (or at least should be) working on.
Il Team Caldera Systems Italia. Two Italian Companies, Wnet s.r.l. and Wizard s.r.l., have announced (in Italian) the formation of "Il Team Caldera Systems Italia" - seemingly the official Caldera Systems presence in Italy. They offer the usual set of services, ranging from OpenLinux-installed systems through to training and consulting. More information on www.caldera.it.
Debian GNU/LinuxDebian Weekly News. This week's edition indicates that the Debian freeze is just a few days off (knock on wood). Another minor release of Debian may come out to cover security issues and a few small Y2K bugs, while the process of moving from the freeze to a real release takes place.
Kerberos support. Bear Giles, who is working on a security-enhanced version of Debian GNU/Linux, dubbed "Coyote Linux" (and easily confused with the "Coyote Linux" floppy-based distribution, based on the the Linux Router Project), dropped us a note to mention that he is making progress working with the Kerberos Domain Controller, with most of the critical bugs found and fixed. He has also released Kerberos and S/Key packages for Debian GNU/Linux (and S/Key packages for the PalmOS).
Red Hat Linuxi686-optimised Red Hat. A new project has formed to produce a version of Red Hat optimized for the i686 platform. They tell us that they've got 80% of the packages recompiled already, with optimisations. They are available for public comment, etc., at RevHat (name currently under consideration due to legal concerns). This is a volunteer project, not sponsored by Red Hat, and all developments from the project are intended to be released under the GPL.
Spiro LinuxSpiro Linux RC2 review (GeekNews). GeekNews reviews SPIRO Linux. "You will see a couple of very different things at this stage of the install that help establish the uniqueness of SPIRO Linux. Firstly, you may notice that they have the option to install a Zope Server. As I touched on previously, this is a rather novel option that I have not seen in any other distributions..."
Pre-registration has been announced for the upcoming official release of Spiro Linux.
Production problems with the French version of SuSE Linux 6.3. The French SuSE webpage contains a notice at the bottom warning people of the existence of some packages with faulty CDs in them, in some cases just CD2, in other cases, CDs 2, 3 and 5. We confirmed with SuSE that these problems only impacted the French version, not the German or International versions. If you find you have a bad CD or CDs, contact SuSE for replacements.
SuSE announces reiserfs availability. On a more positive note, SuSE has announced that it is providing the ReiserFS filesystem - which provides journaling, among other things - for the 6.3 distribution. This is a welcome addition, particularly for sites with strong needs for stability and fast recovery.
SuSE ISO images now available. Lenz Grimmer has informed us that ISO images of SuSE have been made available: "We now have ISO images of the SuSE Linux 6.3 evaluation CD on ftp.suse.com. In addition to that, there are ISO-Images of the 6.2 and 6.3 live filesystem CDs and an ISO image of our current PPC Beta release."
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (MacAddict.com). MacAddict.com celebrates the SuSE PowerPC distribution (announced last week). "...this is very good news indeed, as it helps make the Mac seem like a more legitimate platform from a businesswise standpoint. In turn, it also helps make the Mac a more viable option for Linux-positive administrators who are considering new server hardware."
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
January 13, 2000