On the Desktop
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See also: last week's Linux in the news page.
Census site makes quick work of stats (GCN.com). The Census Bureau is using Perl and Linux to generate statistical information, according to this Government Computer News story. "The bureau started developing QuickFacts based on users requests for a one-stop site with easy-to-decipher statistics about a particular state or county. Now, QuickFacts is becoming one of the chief pathways into the rest of Census data, Zeisset said."
Torvalds: Software subscriptions doomed (News.com). Linus Torvalds says software subscriptions are doomed according to this News.com article. "The subscription debate will likely emerge as one of the major flash points in the software industry. Although the exact terms vary, in most of these programs customers sign multiyear contracts that commit them to pay for new software on an ongoing basis."
Upside asks Did Torvalds dis Microsoft -- or Eazel? in reaction to the previous story. "At first brush, the comment seemed like a swipe at Microsoft (MSFT), which on Thursday began offering its Office productivity suite and Windows operating system via subscription. But it was also a perhaps unintended slight at Eazel, a company with an impressive technical pedigree that has poured $15 million into a crash program to develop an easy-to-use graphical shell for Linux."
In Search of a Sniffer (Linux Journal). Linux Journal discusses the ins and outs of network sniffers. "A sniffer is usually passive, it only collects data. Hence, it becomes extremely difficult to detect sniffers. When installed on a computer, a sniffer will generate some small amount of traffic, though, and is therefore detectable."
Worldwide Copyrights a Quagmire? (Wired). Wired reports on Richard Stallman's objection at a U.S. Copyright Office roundtable. "The treaty in question is a heretofore obscure proposal known as the Hague Convention, which European nations generally support, but the U.S. State Department has criticized. If countries agree to the convention, they'd be required to enforce judgments in certain type of civil lawsuits brought in another jurisdiction."
Linux scores benchmark victory over Microsoft (ZDNet). ZDNet covers the SGI benchmark results (see next item, below). "Linux has finally made it onto the business map in the area of database benchmarks, helping take the wind out of Microsoft Corp.'s continued contention that open-source operating systems don't make good business sense."
Runs great, sucks less (ZDNet). ZDNet talks about why you might want to use Linux as your desktop system. "Why bother making the switch and mustering up all that extra brain activity? For me, the most compelling thing about Linux is the pace of innovation."
Ulterior Motives (ZDNet). Coding simply to aid the human race may not be the only goal of open source programmers. "Just giving someone a copy of the source code isn't enough. Open source, to [Kevin] Burton, [Co-founder and primary developer, OpenPrivacy], is a process of sharing the source code with users in order to make them full partners. The open source projects he works on come with well-developed tools for knitting the community together and coordinating its moves. This infrastructure pays off."
Open Options (ZDNet). Linux and Apache aren't the only open source success stories, says this ZDnet analysis piece, though the article does use two Apache spinoffs in its listing of four other open source projects. "The Velocity template engine is another Apache Jakarta project that casts the services of JavaServer Pages, which are used primarily by skilled Java programmers, into a simpler template language for Web site designers and content authors."
Does Openness Help Or Hurt? (ZDNet). Peer review is beneficial, but not everyone thinks entire systems should be open to review, according to this ZDNet article. "'If you're talking about other administrative tools, such as authorization tables and procedures, then you wouldn't want an attacker to see it, and there is likely little benefit to source review,' said Jim Bidzos, chairman at VeriSign and vice chairman at RSA Security."
Gracenote under pressure (News.com). Gracenote is an online music database, which fell under fire when it threatened to sue an open source competitor, Roxio. "Most irksome for open-sourcers: Gracenote's efforts to put a fence around a database of CD songs and album titles, which were largely entered by the public, not the company's employees."
Is the GPL the weakest link? (ZDNet). The debate on which open source license makes more practical sense continues. This ZDNet article attempts to explain how a BSD license might be better for ISV's. "Besides, servicing insurance agents may not be that big of a profit stream, so I would like to make some money from charging for my binaries. For me, working off a BSD license makes more sense. The core of my code will be public, but the changes that give it added value will still be mine."
Opera finds footing in browser war (News.com). C|Net examines Opera's newly announced relationship with IBM and how it affects the company's browser battle plans. "The IBM contract to use Opera in its NetVista Internet Appliance and another device not yet disclosed 'is certainly something that the AOL folks would have liked to have,' said David Smith, an analyst with research firm Gartner. 'It sounds like Opera is muscling in.'"
Plug and Crunch: WhiteCross' Linux Story (Linux Journal). Doc Searls looks at WhiteCross, a company using Linux as the backbone of customized data analysis. "People usually hear about Linux as a file, print or web server. We're asking it to do a similar thing. Swapping memory, moving data on and off disk, parsing an SQL statement and a ton of computation. The OS does everything in the box. But the key advantage with Linux is that we can expand just by adding more racks. Plug and crunch."
Nokia to adopt Linux for the Media Terminal. In another report on the Nokia adoption of Linux for their Media Terminal home entertainment system, the BBC reports that the cell phone giant will use the linux software language (yes, lowercase "L") for their new consumer device. (Thanks to Douglas Gilbert)
Is Microsoft Engaged in an Information War Against Open Source or IBM? (Consulting Times). According to this Consulting Times piece, recent reports of Microsoft's attack against open source miss the real target of the Redmond giant's focus: IBM. "IBM's Linux initiative allows companies to retire their large server farms and use a single, smaller and more powerful zSeries system. Instead of a 40,000-foot data center, companies could replace those NT boxes with a single computer smaller than the company refrigerator. The .Net strategy becomes suspect as fewer Application Service Providers deploy NT and/or consolidate under IBM and Linux." (Thanks to Trey Tabner)
Transmeta branches out with Web tablet (News.com). SonicGear's Transmeta-based ProGear tablet is set for release this week, according to this C|Net report. "The company initially hoped to launch a consumer version of the Linux-based tablet but is instead pitching the machine at hospitals and other niche markets. Cost is a big reason. The unit, which resembles an Etch-A-Sketch, will be priced in the neighborhood of $1,500 depending on the configuration."
H-P Takes Middle Path In Linux World (ZDNet). This story from Reuters looks at HP's middle of the road approach to Linux adoption. "The total market for server computers running Linux grew 132 percent, to $1.7 billion last year, International Data Corp. reported. Hewlett shipped $180 million of Linux servers, the company quoted the research firm as saying."
HP settles on Debian Linux (News.com). C|Net's News.com covers HP's plans to focus on the Debian distribution of Linux. "While many companies have avoided Debian because it limits their ability to claim intellectual property, HP believes having a single official version that customers can use without licensing is good, Bruce Perens, a well-known Debian developer and HP's Linux advocate, said in an e-mail."
Opera set to unleash Linux browser (ZDNet). According to this ZDNet report, Opera is getting ready to make its Linux browser publicly available, ending the long beta cycle for this release. "Oslo, Norway-based Opera has been testing its Linux release for more than a year. Von Tetzchner said Opera has tested the Linux version with as many Linux distributions as possible and is confident the browser will support all of the main distributions, including Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE and Mandrake."
Love Your Enemy (ZDNet). ZDNet looks at Uprizer, Freenet founder Ian Clarke's new venture. "Clarke, 24, created Freenet in 1999 at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He got a B, he says, because he was unable to point to any prior research on which his work was based. The software got a more enthusiastic reception when Clarke released it online, turning it into an open source project."
Red Hat to go solely with Mozilla browser (ZDNet). ZDNet reports on Red Hat's intended switch from Netscape to Mozilla. "Mozilla has the exact same look and feel of the current Netscape browser, but officials said that the reason to go strictly with Mozilla is that its open-source development model has a better fit with Red Hat's philosophy."
Is Caldera the world's biggest Linux company? (ZDNet). ZDNet looks at the Caldera/SCO deal. "And the world's biggest Linux company is...Caldera Systems. While Red Hat would disagree and you could argue for IBM, with its broad Linux support, Caldera has its own case. Caldera's purchase of the Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO) Server Software and Professional Services Divisions gives it a combined Unix/Linux and reseller presence far greater than its pure Linux play competitors."
Caldera to introduce modified open-source license (ZDNet). ZDNet reports that Caldera does not like the GPL. "[Caldera CEO Ransom] Love said he thinks Microsoft was right in its claim that the GPL doesn't make much business sense. Consequently, Caldera is likely to add a non-GPL licensing mechanism -- most likely one based on the BSD license -- to its repertoire in the coming months."
Finding Profit In Partnership (ZDNet). According to this Interactive Week article, finding a business model for open source relies on finding a partnership between the community and the customers. "'The top line for desktop machines and the top line for server machines is going to be relatively flat for the next five years,' said Michael Tiemann, Red Hat's chief technical officer. 'I think that the data shows that the biggest growth is going to be in the post-PC market space.'"
Open source Zope creator Digital Creations says they work both ends of the market. "Digital Creations splits the work in every contract into two parts. Contributions to the core Zope code used by everyone may be shared, but new solutions developed for a customer are kept proprietary."
Open Source Code: A Corporate Building Block (ZDNet). ZDNet provides some real world experiences on switching from Microsoft to open source solutions. "In Eugene, Ore., a 15-year-old bicycle manufacturer, Bike Friday, ran into trouble getting its Microsoft Access database systems to scale up to its business needs. Instead of migrating to SQL Server and becoming dependent on proprietary Microsoft products, it decided to base its business on open source code."
A Book for KDE Enthusiasts (Linux Journal). Linux Journal reviews Programming KDE 2.0: Creating Linux Desktop Applications. "If you have a lot of RAM, like C++ and like creating desktop applications, Programming KDE 2.0 is quite an acceptable guide."
All Aboard! First Laptop Ships Out with Windows and Linux (NewsFactor Network). Here's a look at the new Casio sub-notebook which comes pre-loaded as a Windows/Linux dual-boot system. Casio wants to see if there is a market for Linux laptops. We at LWN have observed that the Linux laptop market is a tough place to be. Also the demand for a good Linux laptop cannot be easily gauged by sales of a dual-boot system. Still, this little machine could help turn a few Windows users into Linux converts.
Rob Savoye (ZDNet). The community nature of open source is what holds some programmers, according to this interview with Rob Savoye of Interact-TV. Savoye said he was attracted to open source because ". . . people were giving me stuff. They were helping me make my deadlines. I was paying them back by writing other software and giving that away for free. I kind of liked the community, we're-all-in-this-together kind of thing."
An Interview with Mark Lutz (O'Reilly). Here's an interview with Mark Lutz, author of Programming Python, on the O'Reilly site. "In fact, most of the people in the classes I teach these days are there because they've been told that they have to use Python at their job, not because they'd like to experiment with something new. That's a fairly radical user-base shift and it speaks volumes about how far Python has come."
Mac: Ripe for a Hack? (Wired). With the new OS based on a Unix core, is Apple's OS X more open to attacks than earlier versions? According to this Wired story, it depends on who you talk to. "But the security benefits of open-source software will apply to Mac users only if Apple works closely with the open-source development groups, something that few corporations have been able to do successfully."
Section Editor: Forrest Cook
May 17, 2001