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News and Editorials
Coyote Linux rethinks revenue model. We have been following and reporting on Coyote Linux since December of 1999. Coyote Linux is a single floppy distribution that turns a PC into a simple masquerading router/firewall in order to share an Internet connection among computers on a LAN.
In August of 2000, Coyote Linux Pro was announced. This version of Coyote Linux came with a configuration tool that ran under Windows, to allow for easy configuration of Coyote Linux for non-Linux users. This tool, Coyote Windows Disk Creator, was closed source and proprietary. While Coyote Linux itself continued to be freely available with source, Coyote Linux Pro cost $50. The money was then used to pay for the bandwidth and co-location costs for the Coyote Linux website.
This week, the Coyote Linux website reported that sales of Coyote Linux Pro had been terminated, due to the constant, repeated receipt of bogus orders, to the point that the revenue from the sale of Coyote Linux Pro had been destroyed, prompting discontinuation of its sale. The future of the entire Coyote Linux project was also in doubt as a result.
It seems likely, though it will always be unprovable, that the bogus orders were specifically generated in order to punish the author from choosing to bundle a proprietary tool with their product. Although we're well-known advocates against the inclusion of proprietary tools, the idiocy of campaigning against them by using bogus credit card orders is simply astonishing. Anyone that didn't like the inclusion of the proprietary configuration tool had plenty of good alternatives: choose not to use the software, choose another software package to do the same job, or, if none of them met your criteria, develop one yourself that did.
Those are all acceptable methods of supporting Free Software. Lying and cheating are not acceptable. Anyone who has done this owes Coyote Linux author Joshua Jackson an apology and some money.
Of course, perhaps there really are that many dishonest people who wanted the Windows configuration tool but were unwilling to pay for it. That would also be sad and pathetic, but would reflect less on the morals of some Free Software advocates.
Meanwhile, Coyote Linux is not gone. Any project that can generate 2GB of traffic per day has a lot of supporters and those supporters have managed to convince Joshua to keep going. Check this description of his plans for the future. Revenue generation will come, instead, from expanding the number of sites hosted by his small company, Vortech.net. If you need a place to host your own site, consider them. You'll have the satisfaction of also supporting a free software project. Let's hope this method will produce the revenue that he needs.
Oh yes, the Coyote Wizard source code has also now been released. However, since it is written in Borland Delphi, you'll need to use that proprietary tool in order to work with it.
Debian prepares to freeze. Debian is a distribution in search of the perfect freeze process. So far, they haven't found one. Debian freezes tend to start early, but end late, in spite of large amounts of effort. In addition, the length of a freeze has meant that the final product, once released, contains old versions of many popular applications (newer ones weren't allowed in due to the freeze).
We're pleased, though, to see that they are continuing to examine the problem and look for innovative solutions. This time, Anthony Towns, the Woody release manager, posted to debian-devel his plans for the upcoming freeze. "So, what I've been thinking, and what I'm (belatedly) proposing, is to roughly invert the test cycles and the freeze itself, so that instead of freezing everything then doing test cycles to work out where we're at, we instead choose some part of Debian to test, test it, and, if it's good enough, freeze it. Once everything's successfully tested and frozen, we release."
The estimated length of the freeze cycle is still five months (and that is considered highly optimistic). We certainly wish them luck; we'd certainly enjoy announcing a new Debian distribution in July or August, only a year after the previous one.
Slackware News. Slackware modified its installation defaults for XFree86 this past week, now choosing to follow the XFree86 defaults. Those, in turn, have been approved as part of the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS). The upgrade script for the next version of Slackware will be responsible for converting from the old style install to the new. Slackware admins will have to remember not to look under /var for the actual install, but will gain more compatibility when using/supporting non-Slackware systems.
glibc2.2.2 was installed under the Intel and Sparc platforms, resulting in a few minor changes. XFree86 4.0.2 was also installed (on Intel), with 4.0.1 getting removed and XFree86 3.3.6 being moved to a new directory called "/pasture".
Jesper Juhl also posted an article on upgrading from KDE 1.1.2 to 2.0.1 on Slackware.
Linux-Mandrake News. MandrakeSoft has announced that it will be supporting the PHP-Nuke project. PHP-Nuke is a PHP-based system which makes it easy to create online community sites. MandrakeSoft's support would seem to take the form of hiring the PHP-Nuke team.
SmoothWall News. The SmoothWall team made it out to this year's Open Source and Free Software Developers' Meeting (OSDEM). They've published a news item about the event and their attendance. Team members sported the first-ever SmoothWall T-shirt. "The theatre started filling until they were around 270 people seated ready to listen to the SmoothWall talk (available in media streaming format on www.opensource-tv.com - go watch :) ). It seemed to go well. We had an hour to fill and we overran with question and answer sessions with attendees from as far as Russia who were using SmoothWall."
SmoothWall is a GPL Linux distribution specifically designed to be a router and a firewall. SmoothWall is based on VA Linux 6.2.1 "which is an optimised RedHat 6.2 build customized in the labs at VA Linux". Note that SmoothWall is not a VA product, just based on one.
Trustix News. Trustix, a general-purpose Linux distribution out of Norway that has an emphasis on security, announced this week plans to jointly develop a Linux training program with IBM. This adds Trustix to the list of distributions with which IBM is currently working: Caldera, Red Hat, SuSE and Turbolinux. It also appears to be a new entry into the certification wars, "IBM and Trustix are planning to take the co-operation in a direction where joint seminars are being offered, and new training packages as well as a certification programme are developed".
Debian News. The latest list of packages needing work has been distributed. This is where you'll find packages that have been offered up for adoption or orphaned.
With the announcement of the planned Debian freeze also comes the renewal of the party season -- the bug-squashing party season, that is. Here is your invitation for the first of this round of frivolity.
For more Debian news, check out this week's Debian Weekly News. In it, you'll learn why the boot-floppies team is looking for help and hear concerns that Debian doesn't have enough hardware to handle all of its auto-builds, particularly for the m68000 platform. Got any old hardware you want to donate?
Minor Releases. Released this week:
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
February 22, 2001