On the Desktop
Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Linux History page.
Three years ago (April 9, 1998 LWN): All Things Considered, a premier news program on the United States' publicly funded National Public Radio (NPR), broadcast a report on Linux, Wednesday, April 8th. The program spotlighted Linus Torvalds and the work he's done. It also touched on the Beowulf clusters at NASA and spoke with Richard Stallman. Overall, the piece was very positive and as technically correct as any newspiece trying to explain Linux to a mass audience is likely to be. It did indicate that Linux was primarily for highly technical people, "for now".
Many leaders of the free software movement met on April 7th at a free software summit sponsored by O'Reilly. Participants included Linus Torvalds, Eric Allman, Phil Zimmerman, Guido Van Rossum, Paul Vixie, and others.
A number of articles resulted from Mark Andreessen's claim that Mozilla+Linux will be the platform that defeats Microsoft. ZDNet ran one titled The next battleground: Linux vs. Windows? and an opinion column as well. C|Net said Linux is a top priority for Netscape, talks about challenges to NT, but raises the old support issues.
"Linux is great, but what kind of support is there?" asked Joel Graves, director of client solutions at the biopharmaceutical division of Chiron. "It makes managers nervous when there's no 1-800 number to call."
There was also an article in TechWeb News.
Andreessen outlined a scenario in which Mozilla, as the Communicator code is called, becomes the GUI that runs on top of a Linux operating system.
Within 15 hours of the release of the source code for Netscape 5.0, the Mozilla Crypto Group made available "cryptozilla", a mozilla (free netscape) with SSL enabled. A Wired News article on this work can still be found here.
The XFree86 project announced that it would not follow The Open Group in its attempt to impose a more restrictive license on X11R6.4. XFree86 won - The Open Group backed down.
The announcement of the 2.1 feature freeze brought a number of proposed additions out of the woodwork. Some of the things that people wanted to see included before 2.2 were: Plug and Play support, compression in the ext2 filesystem, and a BSD-like securelevel capability.
There were also a few people that requested that the 2.3 development cycle be rather shorter than 2.1 had been. There seemed to be universal consensus on that point; Linus stated that he would try for a shorter period ("half the length or less") before 2.4 comes out.
Debian leader Ian Jackson officially appointed Brian Bassett as Project Secretary, who was assigned the task of counting exact number of Debian developers. Brian numbered them at 313, using the Debian PGP keyring.
Linux Focus got its own domain: linuxfocus.org. This site still produces a high-quality, multi-lingual Linux magazine.
Two years ago (April 8, 1999 LWN): Mozilla's one-year anniversary celebration was marred by the resignation of Jamie Zawinski from the project. For Jamie, the fact that Netscape 5.0 had not shipped after an entire year meant that the project had failed.
Dell made an investment in Red Hat, announced new (Red Hat) Linux-installed systems and announced that they would deliver 1250 (Red Hat) Linux-installed systems to the Burlington Coat Factory for deployment in their stores. Dell's Linux offerings are still difficult to find from the company's main web site. People who want to buy factory installed Linux systems from Dell need to go to www.dell.com/linux/ instead.
Al Gore's presidential campaign staff announced that his web site was "open source".
Cygnus announced an open source Java compiler, complete with a set of class libraries.
Salon Magazine reworked itself as Salon.com. In their press release they announced that their new setup was running on Linux.
"...Linux will provide a solid technical backbone to support Salon's move from a magazine-based model to a network of web sites. The site redesign needs the versatility and power of Linux to keep pace with its growing business and e-commerce needs."
A publication called "Windows NT Systems" published an article on Linux. They didn't like it.
"The problem with Linux is that it is just another unadulterated version of Unix. Your choices of graphical user interfaces are the Unix command shell or X Window, a primitive windowing system designed more than 15 years ago."
April foolery brought us the Tuxissa Virus Report. It's still good for a chuckle or two.
For more foolery, LinuxWorld gathered up all the Linux-related April Fool's Day pranks that they could find.
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Microsoft had violated the Sherman act.
Miguel de Icaza made this statement on the Microsoft ruling.
"Microsoft has held a proprietary grip on the software industry both economically and developmentally. As a result every 18 months hardware doubles in speed and drops in price while the complete opposite is true of the software that runs on top of it. Very simply, consumers will always lose with proprietary software."
Cryptographic freedom scored some good news when the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit published their decision regarding Peter Junger's challenge to the Export Administration Regulations.
"Because computer source code is an expressive means for the exchange of information and ideas about computer programming, we hold that it is protected by the First Amendment."
Wichert Akkerman took over as Debian Project Leader. For those of you who like gory details, here are the final election results.
Linux-Mandrake for Alpha was announced. This was the 7.0 distribution for the Alpha processor. The port was "not intended for production use yet."
Slackware had just added its Support section to the website.
In the April Fool's Day tradition, Yellow Dog Linux announced "Yellow Dog Linux adds Klingon support".
Netscape 6 preview release 1 was announced.
"Netscape 6 reverses the trend of continuously increasing the size of software with new releases. The new Netscape Navigator browser is a light 5.5MB download, about half the size of Navigator 4.08. Also, because Netscape 6 is based on Netscape Gecko, which speeds up the browsing experience for users, tables display much faster, pages resize instantly, and text information appears more quickly so users can start reading content on the page sooner."
Mozilla had just turned two, so MozillaZine posted a Mozilla timeline, complete with screenshots and photos.
Pliant - release 34 was announced. One year later, the 2nd Annual Symposium on Pliant Implementation and Concepts is coming up on 20 April, 2001.
Rackspace.com had filed for an initial public offering of stock. Rackspace is still a large-scale web hosting provider. They provide a dedicated box for every customer and most of those boxes run Linux. However Rackspace withdrew its registration statement for IPO on March 19, 2001, citing: "current unfavorable conditions in the public equity market."
Atipa Linux Solutions had just acquired DCG Computer Corp. At the time Atipa expected DCG to enhance Atipa's line with the addition of high-performance and clustered systems. Note that this week Atipa sold its hardware division (covered on the commerce page).
Apple released Darwin 1.0, the predecessor of Mac OS X. This release also included an open source version of its QuickTime streaming server software.
Alta Technology announced the founding of LinuxNetworX, a company which specializes in high performance, Linux-based systems.
The New York Times claimed Linux's Open-Door Policy Could Let Hackers Right In and they dug up some security experts to support the notion that security through obscurity is a better bet.
"'This is a double-edged sword,' says Scott Hissam, a member of Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute. 'The bad guys have access to the same code as the creators. They can use that information to exploit the code and make it do what they want it to do.'"
(Registration is required to access the article).
Internet Stock News reported on the recent downturn in Technology and Internet stocks.
"... a significant amount of money was taken out of the technology and Internet sector and placed back into the "old economy" stocks of the Dow."
The LWN Stock Page showed that our index had dropped below 100 for the first time since November, 1999. Of course, 100 looks pretty good now...
April 5, 2001