Linux in the news
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Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.
News and Editorials
Red Hat 7 is out. Red Hat has announced Red Hat 7 - the latest major release of its flagship operating system. A few things have changed with this release - starting with the missing ".0". Evidently somebody in marketing has decided that it looks better that way. The distribution has also grown. Red Hat has been a one-CD installation since the beginning; this time around there are not only two software disks, but the documentation has been booted off onto a disk of its own as well.
So what's new in this release? There's a lot of updated packages, including the 2.2.16 kernel (presumably with some patches) and XFree86 4. MySQL has been thrown in, as have utilities for digital cameras and the latest development compilers. Perhaps most significant for many will be the addition of OpenSSH - a utility that was often the very first add-on for many administrators. Red Hat also claims that the default install is more secure, which is certainly an overdue step.
Strangely, you have to buy one of the more expensive versions if you want StarOffice in the box.
In case you're worried about being able to buy a system with Red Hat 7 installed: we have already seen announcements from VA Linux Systems, Penguin Computing, and Dell that they will be installing the new distribution. That these companies had to rush out releases expressing their support shows the degree of importance that the Red Hat distribution has attained. Not too many other distributors get that sort of response to their releases.
A project to create a multimedia-oriented distribution is starting up. The force behind this effort is Curtis Lee Fulton, the author of an upcoming book on Linux video editing, and the producer of a video documentary about Linux.
According to his announcement, the new distribution is intended to serve as the standard desktop for people using multimedia applications. It will be based on Debian, but will have the vast bulk of the packages hacked out of it. They will be replaced with a large collection of multimedia tools, the ALSA sound drivers, low-latency patches, etc. The hope is to end up with a CD image of 100MB or less.
This project is in an early stage, and Mr. Fulton is looking for people who are interested in helping out.
The project highlights what is still a strangely unpopulated territory. A tremendous number of distributions exist, but very few of them address domain-specific tasks. Where is the scientific distribution, the packet radio distribution, or the AI hacker's distribution? In each case, a specialized distribution could provide a depth of tools and domain-specific configuration that the general purpose distributions would be hard put to match. There may well be more activity in this area in the future.
The beginnings of a distro NHF (LinuxNewbie.org). LinuxNewbie.org has put up a help file comparing several distributions. "Just for the record, the distro you should buy is the one that comes with the big fat book you are gonna go out and buy. As far as book recommendations, I recommend Slackware Linux Unleashed (isbn# 0672317680) or Redhat Linux Unleashed (isbn# 0672319853), both from Sams."
Tom's Root Boot reviewed in NTK. NTK.net has put up a brief review of the tomsrtbt distribution. "Oh sure, you've got your fancier picoLinuxen and your Linux Router Project derivatives elsewhere, but only Tom's distribution manages to combine a 2.0.37 kernel, network card mods, pcmcia, ftp/wget'ish downloader, and more rescue utils than you really want to think about right now." There's also coverage of Demon's decision not to shut down a customer site carrying the DeCSS code.
Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 (DukeOfUrl). The DukeOfUrl reviews Debian 2.2. "Unless you were lucky enough to grab a copy at Linux World, Debian 2.2 will cost you at least two CDs and the download time. Of course, you can probably purchase a copy, but who wants to do that, these days?"
Timpanogas announces Ute-Linux and Ute-Cluster-Linux. The Timpanogas Research Group has announced Ute-Linux and Ute-Cluster-Linux. Both are based on TRG's NetWare file system; the cluster version, of course, adds clustering capabilities. Availability is October 1 for Ute-Linux, and October 15 for the cluster variant.
What little information that is currently available on these distributions can be found on the TRG web site. UTE-Linux is an RPM-based distribution assembled, according to CEO Jeff Merkey, from packages taken from both Red Hat's and Caldera's distributions. It's sold on a per-server basis; that's because one of the important components (the M2FS clustered NetWare filesystem) is proprietary to Timpanogas.
The bet Timpanogas is making, essentially, is that there is a market in companies that are trying to move to Linux while not disrupting their large, NetWare-based networks. UTE-Linux is part of their plan to service that market.
Accelent Systems introduces acceLinux. Here's today's new distribution: Accelent Systems has announced the availability of "acceLinux," an embedded distribution oriented toward the StrongARM platform.
Debian dropping support for 2.1. Here's a message from the Debian Project confirming the phaseout of support for the 2.1 distribution. They have decided to extend that support through the end of October for the i386 and m68k architectures, for security patches only. All the rest goes away as of September 30.
Debian Weekly News. The September 26 Debian Weekly News is out. It covers a set of problems in the "unstable" distribution that make it earn its name, Debian support of IPv6 and capabilities, and more.
SuSE cryptographic packages available. SuSE has announced the availability of a set of cryptographic packages for the 7.0 release. These packages were omitted from the U.S. version of the distribution for the usual crypto law problems. If you want them, grab them now; they will be removed from the FTP site in a few weeks time.Have you seen your Caldera Linux Technology Preview rebate? Evidently, not too many others have either. The word from those who have done Caldera's rebate deals in the past is to be patient - it can take up to three months to get the promised money back. In this case, the first of the LTP rebates are just beginning to trickle in.
Caldera's OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 Traditional Chinese Edition a top seller in Taiwan. Caldera Systems has put out this press release proclaiming it's top-three position in a survey of retail software sales for August in Taiwan.
Where are the LinuxPPC security updates?. Some LinuxPPC users have begun to ask about the lack of security updates for LinuxPPC. After all, LinuxPPC's security updates page says that there are currently "no known issues" with the distribution. Readers of the LWN Security Page know that quite a few security incidents have gone by recently. Are the LinuxPPC folks really so good that they managed not to be hit by those problems?
LWN asked that question of LinuxPPC's Jason Haas, who responded "We RULE!"
The truth of the matter, though, is that Jason's automobile accident set the company back in a serious way; it also has not helped that the person in charge of security updates left to pursue other opportunities. Jason is now back on the job and doing better every day, and the various customer service problems noticed by LinuxPPC users are being dealt with. Security is on their list, and will be addressed shortly. See this page on the LinuxPPC web site for an explanation of the situation.
Meanwhile if there is anybody who is interested in coordinating LinuxPPC security updates on a volunteer basis, they are encouraged to contact the company.
NTT selects TurboLinux. TurboLinux has announced that NTT Communications, said to be the world's largest telecom firm, has chosen TurboLinux for its information service systems platform.
TurboLinux Powers Fujisoft ABC's payroll system. In another in its series of success story releases, TurboLinux has announced that Fujisoft ABC Inc. will be running its payroll system on TurboLinux.
Embedded DistributionsEmbedix 3.0 is out. Lineo announced the release of Embedix 3.0 at the Embedded Systems Conference. It sticks with the current trend of providing hard real-time performance - they guarantee 30 microsecond response times. The announcement does not say so, but one assumes that the RTAI real-time extensions are being used to provide this level of response. This version of Embedix also includes enhanced debugging capability, and bundles the Linux Trace Toolkit as well.
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
September 28, 2000