Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Linux in the news page.
LinuxPlanet ran this review of Napster clients for Linux. It's a good discussion of why more openness would be good for the music industry in general. "...without bootlegs, the Grateful Deal and Phish would be playing the blues in some dumpy bar in South San Francisco. Indeed, with the band's official support of sharing performances, it could be argued that the real source of everything Open Source is the Grateful Dead."
The Atlantic writes about software quality or the lack thereof. "The current version of GNU Emacs, version 20.5, comes with many, many additional features -- you can more or less run your computer with it. But -- this is a key point -- you can remove the bells and whistles without breaking the program. By contrast, Microsoft's purpose in expanding Windows is to clamp the new pieces and the old into a seamless whole. Indeed, an important issue in the Microsoft antitrust trial is whether Internet Explorer can be extracted from Windows without crippling the rest of the operating system" (Thanks to Phil Austin).
The American Prospect has run a special issue with several articles on open source. These include Storming the gates by Nathan Newman and Innovation, Regulation, and the Internet by Lawrence Lessig. "The law in open code means that no actor can gain ultimate control over open-source code. Even the kings can't get ultimate control over the code. For example, if Linus Torvalds, father of the Linux kernel, tried to steer GNU/Linux in a way that others in the community rejected, then others in the community could always have removed the offending part and gone on in a different way. This threat constrains the kings; they can only lead where they know the people will follow."
Here's USA Today's take on the Caldera IPO. "Industry watchers say that while the market for Linux is still strong, the field is getting crowded, and most Linux companies are unprofitable and have meager revenues. Investors are growing cautious about the prospects for companies that sell what is essentially a free operating system."
News.com looks at Caldera's IPO. "Despite the performance differences, Caldera plans to follow in the footsteps of other publicly traded Linux companies that have used their high stock valuations to acquire other firms in an effort to expand as quickly as possible..."
Here's another News.com take. "While those prices represent an 80 plus percent increase, the company's share price has yet to jump in initial trading like shares of rival Red Hat, the first Linux seller to go public, or fellow Linux companies Cobalt Networks, Andover.Net and VA Linux Systems. Whether or not this means the investor momentum behind Linux is fading, there likely will be a great deal of speculation and analysis over the stock's performance today."
ZDNet chimed in with this article about the delay in Caldera's IPO. "The raised range of Caldera's five million shares signals strong demand for the offering, which may enjoy the Linux euphoria that vaulted Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) and VA Linux (Nasdaq: LNUX) shares."
Here's an Upside column which is skeptical about many current IPOs, and Caldera in particular. "Caldera could have a great future eventually, once it proves itself. Right now, I don't think Caldera is ripe for an IPO. It was really formed in its current state in late 1998 and still has not finished building its management team. If it didn't have the Linux buzzword behind it, I sincerely doubt it would be going public now."
News.com reports on Caldera's IPO process. "That schedule means the IPO likely will take place the same day Caldera releases a new version of its desktop edition of Linux, called eDesktop. The version is part of a two-tier strategy Caldera is taking with its software, aiming one version at servers and one at client computers."
Here's the Deseret News' take on the Caldera Systems IPO. "David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com, an IPO newsletter for individual investors, said Caldera is 'at the upper end of the stocks we expect to do well at the beginning.' But, industry insiders agree Caldera will have to do more than make a good first impression."
ZDNet UK sneers at the Caldera Systems IPO. "Put simply, there's nothing terribly distinguishing about Caldera, which is why we're in for a potential so-so IPO. VA Linux and Red Hat have gobbled up much of the mind share, and there may not be room for many more players. Caldera said growing a brand is one of its biggest priorities. And it will need a strong brand to rise above the noise."
Upside takes a look at MandrakeSoft. "MandrakeSoft, the company Duval, Lemarois and a few other inside developers built up to take advantage of this phenomenon, has followed a similar trajectory, adding 50 employees in the less than a year. If anything, the company's quick ascent is a sobering indication that the Linux operating system market may be the easiest online marketplace to crash since amateur pornography."
LinuxMall.com looks at the new BSDi. "While highly complimentary, [BSDI marketing director] Rose takes a more challenging tone; he hopes to see BSDI supplant Linux as an operating system by 2001. He gave away no plans to 'steal' people from Linux and acknowledged that many developers write code for both. Instead, he wants to present a 'more compelling case' than Linux in terms of higher visibility, technical support and better services."
Here's News.com's take on the Los Lobos cluster. "Though UNM and its partners in the National Computational Science Alliance intend to use LosLobos for scientific purposes, IBM has its own, more commercial agenda. It believes LosLobos will help researchers adapt this 'cluster' approach to running IBM software for business tasks such as email, database hosting, instant messaging or e-commerce..."
News.com looks at the Netpliance Linux hack. "Netpliance didn't appear to be too worried about the hacks, either. Instead, they're thinking about tapping into the kind of engineering expertise that's hard to hire at start-up companies. 'We are interested in putting together a program to collaborate with the Linux community that essentially harnesses their knowledge,' said Munira Fareed, a spokeswoman for the company."
Here's an article on LinuxMall.com looking at a new Internet TV product. "This year, the Irish can witness every minute of the fashion atrocities Americans commit in their name, thanks to a company based in France called NetGem. NetGem uses a Linux-based open software platform and a thin-client access device to bring the Internet, email, and all the news fit to post to Irish consumers through a box they already have in their homes--the television."
The Ottawa Citizen looks at Corel's latest results. "[Corel CEO Michael Cowpland] urged analysts and shareholders to be patient while waiting for revenues from new Linux-based products, though he admitted the timing 'is not easy to nail.' 'It's not really affecting the values of all the other companies in Linux so I don't see why we should be the only company that has to be currently profitable when none of the others are.'"
News.com looks at VA's latest acquisitions. "VA Linux plans more acquisitions to bolster its Linux computer line, its services and its programming talent, [CEO Larry] Augustin said. Linuxcare, a seller of technical support and consulting services for Linux planning an initial public offering next week, would make sense as an acquisition, but 'I don't think we've had any detailed discussions,' Augustin said."
Here's a TechWeb article about Linux in electronic business applications. "In a CRN survey of 200 solution providers, 49 percent said they will be deploying more e-business solutions on the Linux platform. Forty-one percent said their Linux deployments will stay the same, 8 percent said they were not sure and 2 percent said they expect to deploy fewer e-business solutions on Linux."
For those who haven't already seen it, here's the New York Times article about IBM and Linux. "Yet IBM's strategy can succeed only if Linux, which is distributed free, does become a genuine alternative to Windows or Solaris, thereby putting real pressure on their prices. And Linux has a long way to go.... Even IBM, which plans eventually to use Linux as its unifying Unix platform (shelving AIX), says Linux's true ascendance may not come for five years or so -- until Linux is built up to become more powerful and reliable." (The New York Times is a registration-required site). (Thanks to Marty Leisner).
This osOpinion column sees some potential pitfalls ahead for Linux. "In the United States, a manufacturer of a product ultimately assumes liability for the product that it sells. But in the case of GPL'ed software, no one can be held accountable for the case in which the use of the software results in the loss of life or damage to property or goods. A court might well decide that the use of Open Source software is illegal in the U.S. since no one can be held accountable."
The geeks are taking over, according to this Andover.Net column. "Money begets power and power begets money...and money begets money and power...well, you get the idea. But what of character? Geeks have always been outcasts, tormented, approached with everything from disdain, to fear, to indifference, to not approached at all. Now, suddenly, praise and power fills the void forever left by a lack of nurturing." (Thanks to Cesar A. K. Grossmann).
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued an alert for further comments on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). "The US Copyright Office in the Library of Congress has the job of ensuring that implementation of the DMCA does not negatively impact legitimate activities that should remain exempt from DMCA's prohibition on 'circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.' The Copyright Office is asking for public comments on its proposed rules and, in this instance, for 'reply comments' on previous comments submitted in an earlier round of testimony." The comment deadline is March 31, 2000. Check it out and help if you can. (found on Slashdot)
AboutLinux did a followup on Microsoft's "seeUthere case study", which profiled a company that had a hard time with Linux. "While I am certain that they had reasons for the design decisions they made, I believe the major portion of their delays would have been eliminated by a different choice of tools, and were not per se a result of choosing Linux; but more due to design and implementation decisions."
ZDNet UK suggests that Microsoft may start giving away Windows CE given all the pressure they are feeling from Linux in the embedded arena. "Microsoft needs to tread cautiously, however. If the company were to claim that making Windows CE available to embedded licensees for free is equivalent to making it open source, then it would incur the wrath of open source advocates. Microsoft rival Sun Microsystems found this out the hard way when it initially attempted to equate its Sun Community Source Licence with the GNU public licence."
As quoted in Wide Open News: in an answer to a question from the audience at Esther Dyson's PC Forum, Steve Ballmer managed a little praise for Linux. "Without elaboration, Ballmer said Microsoft sees Linux as a serious competitor. 'We'll meet in the marketplace,' he said. 'And that will be a better thing for both us and for the Linux community.'"
Here's an article (in German) in MSNBC.de about the German Koordinierungs-und Beratungsstelle fur Informationstechnik, a governmental advisory panel, which has recommended the use of Linux in the German government. English text is available via Babelfish. (Thanks to Berthold Seidel).
Here's a Wired News article about AOL's shutdown of the "Gnutella" project's web site. "After installing the program, users would connect to other 'servant' computers, creating a chain of participating users. This architecture would allow for one-to-one or many-to-many connections, and makes it difficult for administrators to block the software, which occurred recently with Napster on college campuses."
Here's an article on the LinuxMall.com site about the use of Linux in the Beacon School in New York. "There are still other benefits to using an Open Source program. [Beacon School admin Chris] Lehmann says the kids at Beacon learn much more from Linux than computer programming. The Open Source philosophy seems to be contagious."
Doug Loss and Pete St. Onge of SEUL talk about using Linux in education in this Freshmeat editorial. " One of our big dreams is that LUGs around the world will create educational outreach programs where they adopt local schools or school districts and provide the maintenance and support the schools will need. This would be beneficial to the LUGs too, of course, since they'd be creating enthusiastic new users by making Linux work smoothly for the schools. A local LUG/school relationship could make for both stronger LUGs and stronger schools, besides making Linux advocacy easier."
This week's Linuxcare "Dear Lina" column is about automatically starting up programs at boot or login time. "Debian calls the ~/.xsession file when startx, xinit, or xdm is launched, so you can have a consistent X environment. Kudos to the Debian folks for this one!"
LinuxMall.com has put up this article on getting a Linux-related job. "Don't expect to get a job using Linux in a bank, a manufacturing company, or a major retail chain. While you might get lucky, the market isn't quite there yet."
Jesse "I always said Linux would be successful" Berst now talks about the skeleton in the Linux closet. He raises the fragmentation attack again, and talks about declining stock values as well. "Now come rumblings that Linux may not be able to sustain that momentum. That it may become another niche OS like Unix, from which it is derived. Incompatible versions -- or forking -- may jeopardize its standing in the IT community. Wall Street is already retreating."
Here's one of those Linux will fragment articles; this one is by ZDNet's Charles Babcock. "Linux advocates, such as evangelist Chris Dibona at VA Linux, and some analysts, say these doubts are unfounded. There are hidden disciplines working beneath the sometimes anarchic surface of the open source code movement to keep Linux from forming competing branches."
LinuxPlanet reviews ThinkFree Office. "ThinkFree's service premise is simple: give users free software that runs on any platform and provide free Internet-based storage. Now a user can run the application on almost any PC and files can be stored and downloaded from the Internet. This means that users of any operating system--including Linux, which is explicitly supported by ThinkFree--can access office applications remotely without having anything installed locally." (Thanks to R. McGuinness).
A potential poetic epitaph for our current age? Thomas Scoville presents a poem, "Howl.com". "I saw the best minds of my occupation destroyed by venture capital, burned-out, paranoid, postal, dragging themselves through the Cappuccino streets of Palo Alto at Dawn looking for an equity-sharing, stock option fix ..." (Found through EGR.)
Silicon.com has found some "experts" to say that Linux is not secure. "Clive Longbottom, strategy analyst at Strategy Partners, agreed with his analysis, saying the problems are preventing its adoption in secure areas. He said: 'Security needs to be built into the architecture of the operating system. This cannot happen if your source code is publicly available.' He added that the issue could lead to proprietary versions of Linux being developed."
Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol
March 23, 2000