Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Linux in the news page.
The San Jose Mercury has put up this look at Linus Torvalds. "'Without rivalry -- at least the potential for rivalry -- you don't get anything done,' Torvalds says. `So we've often had cases where there's been two people maintaining very similar kinds of things, and what ends up happening is that I often accept both of them . . . and see which one ends up getting used.'"
Here's an article in MacUser about Eazel. "When not one, but four, key members of the key team that helped create the original Macintosh operating system regroup in a company dedicated to a new user interface, it's worth taking notice. When the four declare that their aim is to produce a GUI for Linux that will be easier to use than either Windows or even the Mac OS, it's definitely worth finding out more." (Found in Portalux News).
Eazel continues to make headlines this week. In Prettying Up Linux, Wired reports that although the progress on a more user-friendly interface for Linux is very promising, it may take some time to get there. "Eazel's president and CEO Boich readily acknowledged a lot of the hurdles, estimating it will be between 12 and 18 months before all the pieces of a Linux consumer-friendly system fall into place."
Salon's take on Eazel is complete with a picture and has poked for the business model planned behind Eazel's involvement with free software. "Eazel has a two-pronged plan that includes not only providing a friendly interface for mainstream computer users, but also making a business out of facilitating easy software installation and automatic updates of the rapidly evolving operating system and the applications that run on it. Its business model is to offer these services on a subscription basis, says Christensen, general manager of online services. "
On the other end, they got a few more examples of what Eazel would like to bring to the end-user: "'Right now if I want to install a given package, it has to ask me lots of technical questions,' says Hertzfeld. 'Instead, it should be asking you these kinds of questions: What are your interests? What is your career? -- "I'm a math teacher," not "I'm a user of GLib 1.3.7,"' he adds."
News.com reports on VA Linux Systems' quarterly results. "Analysts expressed concern over the company's plan to acquire Andover.Net, a Linux and programmer information site, for approximately $1 billion. 'It's a company with very, very small revenues, and you put a lot of money into it,' Lehman Brothers analyst George Elling told VA during the conference call."
Also from News.com: this look at the disappointing performance of VA Linux Systems' stock after its high-profile IPO. "The turn of events can be seen as both a possible harbinger of circumspection about the future of the Linux operating system among investors, as well a cautionary example of market excess. All initial public offerings with the best first day gain have largely tanked since 1994, according to Richard Peterson, an IPO analyst with Thomson Financial Securities Data."
The Motley Fool ran this column about VA Linux Systems' first earnings announcement. "If you questioned the company's valuation, however, this result validates the notion that their business model doesn't have sufficient income-producing potential to justify the $4.5 billion market cap, especially with the Linux market as crowded as it is. At about 225 times sales and 30 times book value, this baby's still got plenty of room to fall."
The Kansas City Star reports on the investments in Atipa. "[Atipa CEO Jason] Talley said the $30 million investment would allow the company to go into a 'hypergrowth' mode and hire top industry professionals. In addition, 'strategic acquisitions are very important to us, and this will allow us to pay in cash if we have to,' he said."
News.com also looks at the $30 million investment in Atipa. "But perhaps the most important new support site will be in Silicon Valley, an office that will be run by Marc Torres, formerly head of SuSE's North American operations. In the next three to six months, Atipa hopes to have 20 people in the Silicon Valley office."
Here's a ZDNet article on the opening up of Tripwire. "The three Linux powerhouses [Caldera, Red Hat, and SGI] are partnering with TripWire to incorporate tightly the open-source TripWire into their server Linux operating-system lines. Expect to see TripWire security in each company's fall Linux release."
PC Week looks at Novell's upcoming announcements. "After nearly two years of talk, the Provo, Utah, company plans to pull the trigger on a broad Linux strategy at its BrainShare user conference in Salt Lake City next month. The centerpiece will be Novell's release of NDS (Novell Directory Services) eDirectory for Linux. The company plans to open some of that code base for the Linux community under its own open-source license, according to sources familiar with the plans."
Here's an article in the Arizona Republic about Red Hat; it's a fairly general piece. "The Red Hat name is now among the most recognized in the world of Internet software. Meanwhile, other companies, from giants like IBM to struggling start-ups, have discovered 'the Red Hat effect': Merely mentioning the North Carolina company's name in a press release can turn investors' heads and boost your stock price."
Upside looks at Cobalt Networks and the network appliance market in general. "Although industry analysts have long pegged appliance servers -- low-cost, single-purpose devices such as Web servers, file servers and database servers -- as the most natural growth area for the Linux operating system, [Cobalt CEO Steve] DeWitt is the rare businessman willing to bet his entire company on that premise."
Tucked away in this article in The Register about Corel, was this interesting tidbit: "Ventura Publisher - the grandpa of desktop publishing packages - was acquired by Corel in 1993 and has languished somewhat, although it still has its devotees and particular strength for handling large documents. It has not been a great money spinner in its own right, and was first tucked away as a module in Corel Draw, although a stand-alone version was subsequently produced. Cowpland said it has now been decided to release a Linux version, which could bring it to greater prominence."
Here's a column by Lawrence Lessig in The Industry Standard about Jack Valenti, the MPAA person behind much of the DVD mess, among other things. "Courts seem eager to grant the entertainment industry perfect control, quick to deny any space for fair use. It is apparently irrelevant that Linux users will lose access to DVD movies that they have lawfully purchased, or that Canadians will lose access to broadcasts to which their law grants them a right."
This Andover.Net column looks at the future of Linux in the light of the Windows 2000 release. "Increasingly, that high valuation will subject these firms to intense pressure to perform miracles. CEOs at these firms will be forced to try and grow at rates few firms have ever managed even in the most expansionary economic periods in history. Add to this the unique demands of the open source community and the stridency of many of that movement's advocates, and you have an almost unprecedented management problem. Few of the present pioneers look to have the kind of skills needed to handle a challenge of this scope." (Thanks to Cesar A. K. Grossmann).
MSNBC ran this introductory article which is surprisingly positive (if perhaps overly focused on the "free beer" aspect of Linux). "Windows 2000 has all the press, but the free operating system may be better for you."
MacDiscussion.com ran one of those columns criticizing Linus Torvalds for working at Transmeta. "Oh, did I just use the word 'capitalist' and 'Linux' in the same sentence? Apparently our good comrade, Linus Torvolds, decided that proprietary work is not such a bad thing after all. He may even make a little money. So we have the man in one hand shoving Linux code in your face, and in the other hand, which he holds tight to his chest, the blueprints of Crusoe. Is the man wrong or did he just discover what capitalism is all about?"
LinuxSecurity.com has interviewed David A. Wheeler, author of the Secure Programming for Linux HOWTO. "As far as development goes, currently one of the biggest security problems are buffer overflows. Thus, from a security point of view I'd suggest using a programming language that prevents buffer overflows; Python, Perl, Java, Ada, Eiffel, LISP, and lots of others fit that bill. [Otherwise] be sure to use libraries that defend you against buffer overflows and be especially careful with every line of code."
The O'Reilly Network interviews Matt Welsh. "I mean when I started writing documentation there was some pretty inconsistent documentation out there already, some Read Me's and FAQ's -- one of the most famous early documents was somebody had printed out a whole directory listing of every file on a working Linux system. He said, 'Well, I finally Linux to work, so here's the listing of where every file is on the system,' and it printed out to like 40 pages, right, of listings of just where the files were."
Upside has this interview with Steve DeWitt. "We think Linux is great. It's incredibly reliable. It's been an enormous enabler for us, but our vision for open source is much bigger than any particular operating system. We might see in the near future one of the major operating systems that is currently proprietary going open source. We think that would be a great thing."
Linuxcare has put up this article on the SuSE 6.3 upgrade. "It's fairly stylish, but for the life of me, I can not understand this fetish for graphical installation programs. Installing operating systems from scratch isn't trivial. Making it look easy, doesn't make it easy. This is why almost no computer users install from scratch... If Linux was being installed by mainstream computer factories, maybe we wouldn't need our installation programs to be all dolled up like a street walker on a Saturday night."
LinuxPower reviews TurboLinux 6.0 Workstation. "TurboLinux has ditched their old AfterStep based Turbodesk solution and adopted GNOME with Enlightenment 0.16 as their default desktop instead. This I think is a wise choice, since TurboDesk was beginning to show its age. I do think however that TurboLinux should have included the latest Gnome-compliant release of AfterStep in order for people who used TurboDesk under earlier releases to be able to keep the windowmanager they had gotten used to."
The O'Reilly Net has put up this review of Red Hat's 'Certified Engineer' course and exam. "Overall, I see the RHCE program as thorough, detailed, and concise, but not overly difficult. To their credit, Red Hat doesn't use tricks to mislead students, even on the debugging portion of the exam where subtle problems could have been inserted. The exam ensures that RHCEs are competent, informed, and thoughtful system administrators. As a hiring manager (which I've been) I would look on the RHCE certificate as a significant positive indicator of performance ability."
Linuxcare has inaugurated an application of the week column; the first one looks at Pan 0.7.6. "Pan is an open source, graphical newsgroup client for Linux. It is loosely modeled after Agent, a comparable application for Microsoft Windows."
ZDNet at CeBIT:
ZDNet UK has put up a series of articles inspired by events at CeBIT. They include:
Freshmeat is carrying an editorial on how to report bugs by Simon Tatham. "Users like this are like a mongoose backed into a corner: with its back to the wall and seeing certain death staring it in the face, it attacks frantically, because doing something has to be better than doing nothing. This is not well adapted to the type of problems computers produce. Instead of being a mongoose, be an antelope. When an antelope is confronted with something unexpected or frightening, it freezes."
This week's Dear Lina from Linuxcare looks at managing accounts with ssh.
MS Office for Linux?:
MS Office for Linux is not likely according to this ZDNet article. Rumors had been circulating at CeBIT that such a move was being planned. "But a company spokeswoman today poured cold water over the idea. 'Developing Linux for Office is still not in our plans,' she said. 'Linux is still not viable and robust enough for what users need.'"
This osOpinion piece takes exception to the idea that Microsoft might release Office for Linux. "Perhaps more than anything else is the fact that if Microsoft made a Linux version of Office, they'd have to eat their own words. For quite a while, Microsoft has said that Linux isn't robust enough to replace Windows. If Linux could run Microsoft Office, that would be considered plenty robust for most people."
Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol
March 2, 2000