Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Back page page.
No household should be without the After Y2K Geek Action Figures. Run right out and collect the whole set.
Tigris is an ambitious project to create a new set of collaborative development tools. It almost looks like they are building the structure to make the next generation of SourceForge-like sites. Projects that are well underway include a bug tracking system, an access control package, a UML editor, and more.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
August 31, 2000
Two years ago (September 3, 1998 LWN): The world was trying to figure out what to make of Corel's jump into Linux.
"I expect Corel to making tens of millions of dollars in the Linux space within the next 12 months," says Robert Young, president of North Carolina-based Red Hat Software Inc., a leading distributor of Linux software. "It's got some very well known software brands and there is a lot of demand among Linux users for more advanced software," he adds.
Salon Magazine, meanwhile, talked with Richard Stallman:
Never mind that Stallman started the free software movement, or that thousands of lines of code that he personally authored are an integral part of what most people today call "Linux." To the new generation, Stallman is an embarrassment and a hindrance who must, at all costs, be trundled into a back room before he scares off the investors.
The kernel developers were working on 2.1.120 and the 2.0.36 stable kernel prepatches. Multistream files were a topic of hot debate - something that has changed little in the intervening years.
The Debian Project released "Hamm-JP", its first shot at a Japanese version of its distribution.
Caldera split into two companies: Caldera Systems and a thing called Caldera Thin Clients, which handled the DR-DOS/embedded systems business. Caldera Thin Clients would eventually rename itself Lineo.
But the big news, of course, is the LWN adopted a new, multi-page format, leaving behind the "one big page" except for the hard core that refused to do without it....
One year ago (September 2, 1999 LWN): Red Hat parted ways with a company called LASER5, which had been doing all of Red Hat's localization work in Japan. LASER5 stated its intent to go into the business on its own and dominate the Japanese Linux market. A year later the company is still around, but is not quite the market force it had hoped to be.
Sun's purchase of StarDivision was made official. Sun also announced plans to release StarOffice under the Sun Community Source License, which did not raise a great deal of enthusiasm. A year later the SCSL is (almost) history, and one doesn't hear much about the "StarPortal" plans...
The development kernel was at 2.3.16; there were rumors that a 2.3 feature freeze was imminent. The stable kernel release was 2.2.12, which turned out to be a little less stable than some might have hoped.
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.
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 21:21:57 -0400 From: "Eric S. Raymond" <email@example.com> To: Tom Cowell <firstname.lastname@example.org> You wrote: > ESR should not abuse = > his position as a celebrity among users of the Linux kernel by = > publicising his views on other issues. FYI, I fully intend to `abuse' my position in this manner as often as the demands of effective publicity will allow. There are two reasons for this: (1) Tactical. Yanking peoples' chains just a little is an excellent way to get their attention. And authenticity is terrific PR <evil grin>. (2) Principled. You fight for freedom in your way, I'll do it in mine. -- <a href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a> The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this. -- Albert Einstein, "My First Impression of the U.S.A.", 1921
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 08:31:53 -0500 From: [withheld by request] To: email@example.com Subject: Geeks with Guns Concerning "Geeks with Guns" you write: "If you're not offended by the nature of this gathering, have a look to see what went on." Actually I am offended by the nature of this event, but more importantly I think this event has a lot to do with guns, a little to do with geeks, and nothing to do with Linux. Associating Linux with an extremely controversial minority political group does a great disservice to the Linux community. I am a regular LWN reader, and a fan, but this was a very poor editorial choice.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 08:04:27 -0700 From: " " <lkollar@my-Deja.com> Subject: Re: "Let's move towards easier software installations" A *very* timely piece. I had this very thing hit me in the face earlier this week, when I managed to install Gnucash 1.4.4 from a source RPM onto my PPC Linux system. What a hassle! I had trouble from the very beginning. While Gnucash does not require Gnome, the developers sure don't make it easy on those of us who prefer something else. I had to install several packages on my system, some of which conflicted with other packages, before I could even start compiling. Then I had to get a tarball of g-wrap and compile that. While none of this was particularly difficult, it was much more tedious than it had to be. Testosterone get the better of me and I fought on until I got it installed -- but a less technical user would have simply given up. Aside from my belief that an important user app like Gnucash should be WM-agnostic anyway, I got a fresh look at what Linux must be like to new users. Before I continue, I have to say the Gnucash developers don't deserve all, or even most, of the blame. LinuxPPC has some serious problems with their package organization (which may in turn have been inherited from RedHat). Maybe Debian's package system would have made things easier. And perhaps if I'd used the binary RPM at linuxppc.org, I'd have had a better time of it. Or maybe I expect too much. But non-technical users expect even more, and most of them just want to get something done with their computers that doesn't involve low-level administration. A good package design should eliminate file conflicts. A good package manager should at least look for (and install?) packages needed but not installed. And if you release a source package, make sure you have packages for everything it depends on. A little effort goes a long way toward making users happy. -- Larry "Dirt Road" Kollar
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 13:35:15 -0400 (EDT) From: Joseph J Klemmer <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: FUD response -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 Your comments about responding to FUD are right on target. For the last few years I have been responding to FUD with the complete contempt of silence. It has become obvious, especially in the last few years, that Linux and Open Source Software are winning (just like you mentioned). The only reason articles like Mr. Moody's are published are to attempt to provoke a backlash from the "Linux Zealots". I now simply ignore the articles and use calm, real-world examples when anyone asks me about Linux or comments on the article. Flaming Mr. Moody does no good. Helping the people who don't know understand the facts about Linux, what it can and especially what it can't do, does more to offset the FUD in the long run. Yours, Joe - --- Don't ask me, I took the blue pill. -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.0.1 (GNU/Linux) Comment: pgpenvelope 2.8.9 - http://pgpenvelope.sourceforge.net/ iD8DBQE5pVzyHeWRPx8OIHARAo82AJ9ZH3JPA9ltm7NwXNzeQKVebv2MJQCgnTPY XPnn1eh67+F20L80gWLSINg= =BAXf -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 08:18:17 -0600 From: Bruce Ide <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Lunatic Fringe zealots who would start flaming at the slightest provication (In the form of a negative article or posting on a message board.) These people were the reason IBM kept Team OS/2 at such a distance. They represented probably around 1 percent of the OS/2 using community but the press and flame mongers in the forums took no end of delight in baiting them and then trotting their messages out as a sample of the "scary" OS/2 community. If I recall correctly, there was a similar group associated with the Amiga and you probably wouldn't have to go too far to find one associated with Windows, too. Well things never change and the Linux Community has its own Lunatic Fringe, which writers like Fred Moody are tapping in to. There's not a lot you can do about the Lunatic Fringe. Fortunately the writers who like to go kicking up ant hills when they've nothing better to do quickly show the quality of their work and most people discount what they have to say anyway. The Linux press and the OS/2 press before it seemed to be more responsible than to go looking for the Lunatic Fringe of the competition. I suspect that the relatively low distribution of reporters for those OSes has something to do with it. As more writers join the Linux press, the quality of articles will no doubt go down. Not much you can do about that either. My advice is to ignore both parties and get on with writing better software and better articles. -- Bruce Ide email@example.com http://www.paratheoanametamystikhood.net
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 08:47:03 -0700 From: Tim Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: LinuxWorld Expo Awards .... What Do They Mean? I was witness to a most amazing thing at LWCE in San Jose -- a backup utility manufacturer won an award for best development tool. In fact, when I voted, I discovered that I could vote for every vendor in every category. Imagine, I could award Loki with "Best of Show," but I could also award them with "Best Database," or "Best Office Suite." This lack of categorization lessens the impact of the awards that do fit. Since any vendor could win any award, do the awards mean anything outside of a few users' (the number of actual votes weren't released, but I wasn't witness to any huge crowds trying to vote....) having fun with the voting software? While I enjoy the opportunity to impart awards upon deserving companies, I find the lack of logistical planning on the part of the voting software designers to be unbelievable. Awarding a company in an environment that they are not part of is absolutely worthless. When Lonestar/Cactus won "Best Development Utility," the assemblage didn't applaud, they laughed nervously. I'm certain the Lonetar authors found that to be most rewarding. The user awards are important; they allow plain folks to say thank you to Linux vendors for dedication and support. But, let's be a bit more careful in future voting to ensure that the awards are actually something that apply, rather than another geek floor event to see how ludicrous we can be as users. In New York, let's assign categories to each vendor's true offerings so that things like this don't happen again. Congratulations to the real award winners like Loki and Sun. Thanks for helping make Linux a great place to be! Tim Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Aaron King <AaronK@4-Serv.com> To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: "The first round of the DVD case is over" Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 11:46:22 -0400 I wasn't around in the 60's so I have never had anything to really fight for! I'm 18 and I think this is something worth fighting for. We are talking about rights for ourselves AND the rights which will passed down to our children. We should be doing something, not merely reading the news and sending angry email. WE SHOULD get out there and protest! Why does no one push for that type of movement here? If we leave technology decisions up to judges who use computers to browse the "interweb" then we will never win in a fight like this. These judges see "Windows" as "a computer". They don't understand how computers work, how closed source and patents HURT technology development. So far no one has said, "Hey, computers are NOT like the rest of the American Industry". WHY? Something needs to be done and I want to help. What do you think? Please send reply to email@example.com, this is my work email. Aaron King 4th Generation Services 248-680-9400 x 112 firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 17:53:43 -0700 (MST) From: "M. Leo Cooper" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Libelous statement in DeCSS case Dear LWN editor, I'm sure you are already aware of attorney Jonathan Shapiro's libelous statement in a legal brief against the Open Source movement. It was, after all, discussed at length on Slashdot. ...the so-called "open source" movement, which is a dedicated to the proposition that material, copyrighted or not, should be made available over the Internet for free... The full text of the brief is available on-line at http://cryptome.org/dvd-v-521-opq.htm. I have been pondering appropriate responses to this. After all, most Open Source developers, such as myself, depend on a trust relationship with employers or clients for a livelihood and this could actually cause us financial damage. I probably don't have the resources to actually file a libel suit in a local court, but others might. What I suggest is sending reasonably polite and literate letters to the law offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges L.L.P., 767 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10153, complaining about Shapiro's conduct. Likewise, e-mails to the New York State Bar Association Ethics committee, email@example.com, might do some good. I'm hoping Red Hat, VA Linux, Caldera, and all the rest do not let this go unchallenged. After all, they were libeled, too. Mendel Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 12:13:14 -0700 From: Seth David Schoen <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Base-64 code (is code with no license open source?) Dave, The copyright law is clear that works of authorship are copyrighted by default upon creation -- with or without a copyright notice -- and that making copies legally requires the permission of the copyright holder in most circumstances. Cf. Brad Templeton's copyright FAQs, where this point is covered in detail. If you publish an article of your own -- with no copyright notice, and no license -- bearing perhaps your name and the date, put it up on your web site, and somebody reprints it without asking you, or puts it on a different web site: - You can send a cease and desist letter. - You can then sue, and win (if the letter is ignored), and perhaps recover profits. The situation is exactly the same with a piece of software. That's why the Debian Free Software Guidelines and the derived Open Source Definition refer to "the license" and why the OSD had to make a specific exception for source code "explicityly placed in the public domain". You see, I raised the question a while back of why public domain source code should be excluded by the phrasing of the OSD; the conclusion is that we'd definitely still need an explicit statement _proving_ that the code is in the public domain. Many people do not understand this, but some day somebody will be sued for including a random source code fragment found on a web site in a GPLed package, and then people will get the idea. Already the OSI is quite clear that "open source doesn't just mean access to the source code" (but must also include clear legal authority to use, modify, and redistribute it in compliance with the OSD, etc.), and the Free Software Foundation, even mindful of software copyright law even in the face of its opposition to most of that law, requires clear and explicit statements about copyright permissions from prospective contributors of code to the FSF's free software projects. I don't want to disparage Tim O'Reilly's answer to the question. Here is the basic problem: Tim is 100% right about the tradition that publishing code means it's OK to re-use it. This is true since before I was born, and no doubt Tim, like the guy in the epigram, knew that before I was born. And open source _should_ be about attitudes and community expectations. The problem is that, in the mad state of copyright law, when we rely on attitudes, traditions, and community expectations, we get sued, and judges laugh at us, and we lose. No? Thus the disagreement between programmers and lawyers which you mention. Many software authors who publish code without a copyright notice do intend for it to be in the public domain. Oops! It's definitely not, unless they have explicitly said so. I could sue people for re-using the little Python number-theory experiments on my web site in a book about combinatorics, because I've granted no license -- so I'm guilty of the same mistake. Or maybe the copyright law is guilty of ballooning wildly so that everyone's intuitions about what is reasonable are eventually overthrown... but I was going to try not to get too partisan here. :-) -- Seth David Schoen <email@example.com> | And do not say, I will study when I Temp. http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/ | have leisure; for perhaps you will down: http://www.loyalty.org/ (CAF) | not have leisure. -- Pirke Avot 2:5