Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Linux in the news page.
Upside looks at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act from a critical point of view. "So, for example, while the 'anti-device' provision makes the distribution of the DeCSS utility illegal, the 'anti-circumvention' provision would make the very act of cracking the DVD encryption illegal. Of course, that's assuming you agree with the MPAA when it claims that the CSS encryption is an 'effective' technological copyright protection."
Bill Joy, Bob Fabry, Ken Thompson, Eric Allman, Kirk McKusick, John Gage and others involved in and responsible for Berkeley Unix, the legacy that has become FreeBSD, OpenBSD and more, are the topic of this Salon article, which is the next installment in Andrew Leonard's "Free Software Project" book. It is long, but full of fun, historical facts. "Unfortunately for AT&T, the version of Unix that the company was then pushing, System 5, turned out to incorporate large chunks of code originally written by BSD hackers -- including the TCP/IP stack. Berkeley released all its code under an extraordinarily liberal license -- basically, users could do anything they wanted with BSD code as long as they retained the University of California copyright. But AT&T had stripped the UC copyrights and begun marketing the software as its own. Hackers like McKusick were peeved. "
O'Reilly editor Andy Oram has written a pair of articles on Gnutella and Freenet. This one on the O'Reilly Network concentrates on the technology behind the two systems. "Freenet seems more scalable than Gnutella. One would imagine that it could be impaired by flooding with irrelevant material (writing a script that dumped the contents of your 8-gig disk into it once every hour, for instance) but that kind of attack actually has little impact. So long as nobody asks for material, it doesn't go anywhere."
A companion article on Web Review, instead, looks at the social and policy issues. "If you check my biography, you will see that I make my living selling content. I do not extend knee-jerk sympathy to systems publicized as ways to circumvent copyright enforcement. But investigating Gnutella, Freenet, and Napster, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that they're intriguing innovations in the best tradition of the Internet heroes."
Salon's Andrew Leonard reports on the Microsoft/Slashdot confrontation. "In contrast to other disputes involving copyrighted information -- such as the Napster controversy -- this particular tangle cannot easily be painted as one in which hackers are ripping off corporations or depriving artists of revenue. Instead, Microsoft is attempting to co-opt a popular public technology and, after having been confronted about that, is attempting to control the transmission of information revealing its actions."
CBC considers Corel's future after the failure of its merger with Inprise. "During and after a morning conference call with Corel officials, rumours swirled about the company's possible financing schemes and whether they would send Corel into a 'death spiral.'"
Upside looks at the demise of the Corel/Inprise merger. "To make matters worse, said Tera Capital's Stewart, Corel's options for raising short-term cash have grown exceedingly slim. Although the company has made an aggressive push into the Linux distribution business, Linux sales have actually fallen for the last two quarters as the company faces competitive pressure from established players such as Red Hat (RHAT) and Caldera (CALD)."
LinuxStockNews has a Rant and Rave column about Corel, followed by an interview with Dr. Cowpland. Dr. Cowpland was interviewed before the Corel/Inprise deal was cancelled. "Dr. MC - We are continuing to port our flagship products to Linux - including CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT. The CorelDRAW Graphics Suite will be ready to ship in July ..."
Here's an article in Upside about OpenBSD and its mission to produce the most secure system possible. "Like craft brewers, [OpenBSD leader Theo] de Raadt and the OpenBSD development team prefer to let the software age a little, offering only two updates per year. As for graphic user interfaces and other user-friendly bells and whistles, de Raadt sees such decorative trimming as the cracker's best friend."
From Salon comes this history of 386BSD, the earliest of Intel-based BSD systems. "The Jolitzes had a very different style. Like Torvalds, they placed a premium on quality control, but unlike him, they seem to have tried to control quality by doing most of the work themselves. This inevitably made their release cycle slow, but it was also an implied snub to would-be collaborators -- who took their contributions elsewhere."
Here's an article in Upside about Slashdot's recent difficulties. "Nevertheless, the content deemed objectionable by Microsoft does walk the fine line between free speech and copyright violation, say some legal observers."
Wired News covers recent events at Slashdot. "The response from Slashdot regulars was fast and furious. In the first hour, hundreds of readers weighed in, many condemning Microsoft's action as another example of the company's desire to crush free-wheeling discussion in general, and the Linux community in particular."
Here's News.com's take on Microsoft and Slashdot. "Regardless of whether Microsoft is successful in getting the information removed from Slashdot, legal analysts say material that found its way on to the Internet may no longer be entitled to trade secret protections."
The Los Angeles Times talks about Slashdot. "The boys mix up an addictive blend of high tech and low culture. They might print a riff on robots you can build with Legos, or mourn the passing of Shel Silverstein, the grade-schoolers' poet laureate. But they devote their most obsessive attention to Linux, the computer operating system that was first written by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds and continually improved by armies of volunteers around the globe."
AsiaBizTech has run this interview with TurboLinux CEO Cliff Miller. "As far as I can see, Japan has a 'boom culture' in which as soon as something becomes popular, it spreads very rapidly. That observation can be applied not only to Windows NT, but also to Macintosh products. At one time, Mac grew to command a whopping 15 percent to 20 percent share of the market here. I think there's a possibility that Linux will suddenly take off in a similar way. We can probably look forward to faster growth here than in the United States."
EE Times reports on the new SGI systems. "The SGI workstations will support Red Hat Linux 6.1, and SGI plans to also announce support for versions of Linux from SuSE GmbH and TurboLinux Inc."
The Ottawa Citizen follows up on the Puffin Group, which was acquired by Linuxcare late last year. "Sixty employees lost jobs, the chief executive was fired and a stock offering that would have made him a millionaire has been yanked. But Linux developer Christopher Beard says he and partner Alex deVries are not discouraged at the rapid fall from grace of Linuxcare Inc., a San Francisco-based company."
LinuxNews looks at Rackspace.com and its new office in Hong Kong. "The Asian office is a natural step in Rackspace.com's expansion outside the U.S. and London, where it established an office in January of this year."
EE Times talks with Michael Tiemann, Red Hat's CTO and founder of Cygnus. "'We're the largest company in Linux, but by no means do we have a majority of the market,' Tiemann said. 'The development of Linux is a little like a coalition government: You need 50 groups to cooperate, or the coalition collapses.'"
Here's an Upside article about Intel's interest in Linux. "Given Linux's enormous momentum in the server marketplace, however, Intel has taken steps to shake off its image as Microsoft's perpetual hardware sidekick. In addition to being one of the first companies to invest in Red Hat (RHAT) back in 1998, Intel has also forged partnerships with VA Linux (LNUX), TurboLinux and SuSE to give Linux engineers a sneak preview at the IA-64 architecture." There is also a piece about MontaVista's new office in Paris.
Tim O'Reilly has posted a followup to his article about Linuxcare after a conversation with Linuxcare CTO Dave Sifry. "Just as a man who wandered in a desert immediately sates his thirst upon finding an oasis, it is only after he has drank his fill that he realizes he is hungry. Our customers have begun to sate their thirst and are recognizing that open source software and the open source process can do a lot more for them than just email, file, print, web, and DNS! They are deploying open source solutions in datacenters, in telco closets, in ERP systems, and in embedded systems, to name just a few."
This IT Week column looks at Linuxcare and the changing face of Linux support. "One reason for Linux's popularity is that it can be much cheaper than alternatives. Linux is estimated to be up to 15 times cheaper than NetWare or Windows NT solutions in applications such as departmental file and printer serving. But lack of support can be a drawback."
on Dell's recent higher-than-expected reported earnings per share has
a couple of interesting points ... particularly if you tie them
together. First, in explaining the higher earnings: "Dell
attributed the strong quarter to sales of servers, storage and PCs
associated with use and construction of the Internet."
The New Zealand Herald looks at a Linux deployment by the New Zealand government. "The Government's rental housing agency, Housing New Zealand, is about to shift one of its core financial applications to run on the open source Linux operating system. The change will bring possible savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars." (Thanks to Ian McDonald).
Information Week looks at Linux on the desktop and concludes that it's not quite there yet. "There are some incentives for moving Linux to the desktop. First, the price is attractive. IT managers can acquire the open-source operating system for little or no cost. Also, IT departments can modify or customize the open-source code of Linux to meet their users' needs. Perhaps most significantly, IT managers are seeing clear value in Linux's performance and stability."
ZDNet's John Taschek has returned with another inflammatory article. "Bob Young, chairman and founder of Red Hat, launched a personal attack that could only come from a person who has seen nearly $1 billion of paper wealth disappear in a matter of weeks. Perhaps I was wrong, and this industry is being beaten into a defensive trench by monopolies that push their agendas down everyone's throat, stifling nascent, struggling startups. No. What we have here is enormous hypocrisy."
Internet.com's ISP Planet offers this introduction to SSH. "If you're still administering *NIX servers over the Internet using rsh or telnet, stop. OpenSSH is an inexpensive improvement well worth the minimal effort required to install and configure it." (Thanks to R. McGuinness).
The latest in the series of tutorial articles on LinuxPapers is this one on dealing with syslog. "Even if you are only running your own Linux box at home, sooner or later you will face the task of having to solve some strange problems (PPP has stopped working, X is not starting anymore, and so on), where the only hint is some messages left in a log file. To prepare yourself for this, you should start peeking into log files right now, even if everything is working correctly (or, at least, that's what you think...)."
Here's an article in Test & Measurement World on writing data acquisition device drivers for Linux. "Linux gives you access to device drivers as if they were files. Linux users are accustomed to controlling a driver through shell commands and scripts. Therefore, your driver should include a minimal set of functions accessible using read() and write() operations at the Linux shell command." (Thanks to Jay R. Ashworth).
Brian Despain explains the importance
of open standards and open source for anyone building an
e-commerce system. "Not having the source code to your
company's internal e-mail client isn't that important. Not having
the source code to your e-commerce solution can prove
devastating. For example, in June 1999, ICat, a division of Intel
and at that time a leading e-commerce solution, informed its entire
customer base that ICat would no longer be supported. ICat also
informed these customers that they would be bound by the terms of
their license and no source code would be forthcoming. For the
IT managers and CEOs who bet the safe on closed source, lost. For
this reason, access not only to source code, but the ability to
change source code is paramount.
For the IT managers and CEOs who bet the safe on closed source, lost. For this reason, access not only to source code, but the ability to change source code is paramount."
Here's an article on LinuxNews on the Linux Internationalization Initiative's (Li18nux) Globalization specification, and its recent merger with the Linux Standard Base (LSB). "The group's efforts are designed to be open to everyone, and serve as formal proposals to the Free Standards Group (FSG), which announced its incorporation earlier this week. The FSG is a mind meld of sorts between LI18NUX and the Linux Standard Base (LSB), which are combining efforts toward creating a unified Linux specification."
The Wireless Developer Network interviews Eric Raymond. "Linux will be everywhere, in thicker or thinner disguises. Turnkey versions will run the appliances (and your cellphone and the web browser on your refrigerator door). Your 64-bit-monster PC will boot with a penguin logo into a desktop you won't easily be able to tell from Microsoft Office (except that it doesn't crash). You probably won't know how to get to the Linux underlayer on the PlayStation VI in your TV room -- but your kids will."
Monty Manley talks about why he's made the choice to spend his personal time actively developing on Linux, even though his day job is spent in the Corporate IT world, developing on NT. "As a programmer, I enjoy myself much more when I'm programming in Linux. There is no helpless sense of fatality as there is in Windows; in Linux, when a library or component breaks or does not work as expected, I can simply go in there and fix it. In Windows-land, I must live by the Band-Aid and the workaround. In Linux I can be assured that my software sits on a robust and well-tested base; in Windows, I can only pray that the system will stay stable for more than a week at a time."
John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Grateful Dead lyricist writes about Napster.com. "There's plenty of action in this zone, and since one of my current missions in life is to kill the music business and midwife the birth of the musician business and audience business, I'm keeping plenty busy."
The New York Times has run this John Markoff column on distributed network file distribution programs and the threats they pose to copyright protections. "Many computer industry executives contend that if the recording industry's suit against Napster succeeds, it will simply lead digital-music enthusiasts to use alternatives, like Gnutella and Freenet, which are even less open to copyright enforcement." The New York Times is a registration-required site. (Thanks to Paul R Hewitt).
This osOpinion columnist tells us what remains to be done for Linux to take over. "Please don't open the World Domination champagne before I can explain to my boss how to get things working himself."
Jerry Pournelle describes his experiences setting up a Linux server in this TechWeb article. "Outfits like Red Hat and Corel do try to develop documentation and user manuals, but they're always a few steps behind. It's hard to get bright people to work on things that don't interest them much. This problem is built into the open software movement and little can be done about it. Linux will always have more people working on code than documenting it."
From Terra in Brazil comes this anti-Linux column (in Portuguese). It brings out a lot of the old "no support" issues and such that were mostly dealt with years ago. Oh, by the way, it's written by Hélio Azevedo, the Windows 2000 marketing manager in Brazil. English text is available via Babelfish. (Thanks to César A. K. Grossmann).
Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol
May 18, 2000