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Open-source brouhaha: Missing the point (ZDNet). Collab.net founder Brian Behlendorf offers an commentary on how the meaning of open source may have been lost recently. "What the open-source community has proven is that individuals--and, by extension, companies--can work together on a much more discrete, iterative level...It may seem chaotic at times; for programmers, balancing the requirements of their employers with that of the other participants may be a constant challenge. But it can work."
mySQL vs. mySQL (VarLinux). Nicholas Petreley looks at the NuSphere/MySQL disagreement. "Now, if I -- as a fan of mySQL -- am tempted to replace mySQL with PostgreSQL, don't you think a lot of other folks are, too? Well, what do you think would send them packing for the PostgreSQL hills faster than Fear Uncertainty and Doubt? That is exactly what is produced by an ugly court battle and a contentious fork of the mySQL database."
DMCA and Dmitry Skylarov
Congress No Haven for Hackers. Wired is carrying a story on the DMCA which quotes the chief sponsor of the act as saying it was working as they'd hoped. "As far as I know there have been very few complaints from intellectual property holders," Coble, the chief sponsor of the DMCA, said in an interview Tuesday. "I am also encouraged by the Department of Justice's actions in this matter to enforce the law."
Computer scientists boycott US over digital copyright law (New Scientist). New Scientist reports on the Sklyarov affair, and, in particular, the concerns that many hackers may now have about going to the U.S. "[Alan] Cox is not alone in his concerns. The organizers of one conference that concentrates on testing the security of data protection systems, the International Information Hiding Workshop, have already decided to no longer hold the event in the US."
FBI Arrest of Russian Software Developer May Trigger Copyright Fight (law.com). Law.com is running an article about the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov. "But the controversy has caught the attention of some in Congress. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., has said he intends to introduce legislation to modify the [DMCA]. His office did not return phone calls seeking comment. But [EFF attorney Robin] Gross said Boucher has talked about making it legal to circumvent blocking devices when one owns the material that is being blocked."
Free Dmitry Sklyarov! (Linux Journal). Here's a look at the DMCA and how it has turned the life of Dmitry Sklyarov into a nightmare. "Let's say you're having a nightmare. You're living in a dictatorship, a police state. The Leader's younger brother runs a State-owned factory that makes nails and screws. However, the State's engineers have been unable to figure out how to make nuts and bolts that, as fasteners go, are technically superior. To protect his younger sibling from nuts-and-bolts competition, The Leader announces a new Law that makes nuts and bolts illegal. Of course, this is stupidity writ large, because The Nation's economy needs nuts and bolts. But The Leader and his sibling could care less. They're out to enrich themselves, not the people."
Boycott Adobe campaign launches (Register). The Register covers the Dmitry Sklyarov case. " The affidavit in the case states that Advanced eBook Processor would allow anyone to read an eBook on any computer without paying the fee to the bookseller. ElcomSoft denies it is involved in facilitating copyright piracy and said its program only increases a purchaser's control of legitimately purchased eBooks."
Hacker Arrest Stirs Protest (Wired). Wired looks at the protests following the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov. "In San Francisco on Wednesday evening, campaigners met at the home of one outraged activist to plan strategy. Some cypherpunks have created BoycottAdobe.com, which blames Adobe for "abusing U.S. copyright law to protect their cash-flow," and others are hunting for San Francisco-area natives who can vouch for Sklyarov's character -- so he can be released on bail."
Nailing shut the cyber back door (News.com). C|Net's NewsMakers Q&A this week talks with Bastille Linux leader Jay Beale. "What the penetration testers will tell you is that as soon as any of them get a password, they immediately try them everywhere they see the person using machines. If I can steal the password from your toaster one day, I am going to try that on your top-secret machines at work."
Apache avoids most security woes (ZDNet). This eWeek analysis says that last serious remote vulnerability to Apache was reported in 1997, with lesser problems in 1998. Since then few serious security problems have been exposed, while IIS remains a constant problem. "Going over Apache's security advisories back to the server's Version 1.0 days shows that the secret-in addition to solid coding and scrutiny-lies in a minimalist design, careful attention to detail and a configuration process that makes it easy for administrators to know what's going on."
White House Web site moves to Linux (Register). To avoid effects of a DoS from the Code Red worm, administrators at the White House moved their server to a Linux box. "The move onto Linux is interesting but should be seen as the incidental consequence of moving the site so that it is hosted by a peering firm, not a ringing presidential endorsement of the open source operating system."
SSH hits the fan for Unix admins (Register). Problems in SSH Secure Shell 3.0.0 can allow remote root access to systems, according to this report from The Register. Note that this vulnerability only affects systems that have installed the proprietary SSH Secure Shell from SSH Communications. The Open Source OpenSSH program is not affected (and is shipped by default with most recent Linux distributions).
"Because of weak password authentication to the SSHD2 daemon it's been discovered that accounts with password fields consisting of two or fewer characters can be compromised using any password, including an empty password. Only Unix systems are affected by the vulnerability, which could be exploited by hackers to take control of servers."
Building a Droid for the International Space Station (Science@Nasa). Now all we need is the lightsaber. "This 15.2 cm (6 in.) robot will fly autonomously around the shuttle or space station, floating effortlessly in orbital free fall and propelling itself with 6 small ducted fans." And yes, it runs Linux.
Meet Isamu, the humanoid robot (LinuxDevices). LinuxDevices.com looks at Isamu, the Japanese robot project. "The onboard computer, equipped with dual 750MHz PentiumIII processors running RTLinux, provides real-time servo and balance compensation, and coordinates the robot's 3D vision and motion-planning software modules."
An animated BusyBox mini-tutorial (LinuxDevices). LinuxDevices has a Flash-based animated tutorial on using BusyBox. "BusyBox includes the functions of many common UNIX utilities within a single small executable. It thereby provides a fairly complete command environment for small or embedded systems."
IBM wants Linux to get down to business (Reuters). Reuters has put out (via NewsAlert) an article covering IBM's new support for Linux on its mainstay iSeries servers, aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. "Including Linux on its eServer iSeries will likely further IBM's efforts to get more businesses using Linux, according to Salomon Smith Barney analyst John Jones. "It is the most prolific application machine," he said. Some 700,000 of the iSeries are already installed, according to IBM, which counts about 250,000 active customers for the iSeries".
Sun to back new open-source project (ZDNet). Sun intends to announce a new open source project at the upcoming O'Reilly open source conference. The project, known as the Grid Engine Project, will fall under the Sun Industry Standards Source License. "Tollefsrud said there were three main reasons for making the Grid Engine software open source. First, Sun believes the open-source model is the way to spur development of the evolving technology."
Major Caldera shareholders may sell (News.com). Caldera investors Tarantella and MTI Technology will soon be eligible to sell their shares, according to a recent SEC filing. "What this will allow is for them in an orderly way to sell their shares if they want and when they want in the future," Caldera Chief Financial Officer Bob Bench said in an interview. "That way we can work with them in placing those shares with institutions that like our space now."
New hires at Open Source Development Lab (News.com). The Open Source Development Lab has hired two prominent Linux programmers according to this brief News.com article.
SuSE Linux cuts jobs, hires new CEO (ZDNet). According to this ZDNet report, SuSE has cut 10% of its workforce while promoting its former CFO to CEO. The cuts appear to affect only the nontechnical sector of the company.
Lineo reduces workforce by 13 percent (LinuxDevices). Last week Lineo cut its staff by 42 people worldwide, leaving its workforce at 280 members. "Lineo is starting out the current quarter with greater than five times the contracted pipeline (backlog) as there was at the beginning of the last quarter." The layoff was due to the fact that Lineo "had hired based on higher growth projections, prior to the market downturn,"
French Linux company braves IPO waters (News.com). C|Net covers MandrakeSoft's IPO plans. ""When I look at the consolidation of the Linux market, I think MandrakeSoft is one of the few companies that will survive, even though Red Hat has become the de facto standard for enterprise," said Giga Information Group analyst Stacey Quandt. MandrakeSoft's Linux still is popular with programmers and others who are looking for desktop software rather than the types of products offered by the server-oriented Red Hat, she said."
Is a New Wave of Linux-Based Wireless Coming? (NewsFactor Network). This editorial says Linux on the PDA needs applications but its open nature is more suited to bringing those applications to market. "Now, with high-speed wireless data services about to hit the market, it is likely that if new Internet applications are developed for Linux first, the OS could gain an edge over its stodgy competitors. Rudy Price, chairman and chief executive of Linux technology company RidgeRun, said he believes that is exactly what will launch the success of Linux embedded on PDAs."
Gnome gets Mono (InfoWorld). Nick Petreley thinks Mono is designed to rein in GNOME developers gone wild. "De Icaza may assume the common-language run time will live up to his expectations, but to bet on it now sounds to me like the kind of compulsive decision-making that caused Gnome to be built on the haphazard architecture that created the problems Mono is supposed to solve."
Linux Takes On Big Jobs (ZDNet). Rubbermaid went from $6000 per month to manage its routers to a one time charge of $180 for SuSE's mainframe Linux distribution. "Rubbermaid previously outsourced the same function and paid $6,000 per month. Watkins said he spent about 200 hours getting the Linux system up and running, but that it's now "pretty much self-sustaining." Rubbermaid purchased mainframe Linux for $180 from SuSE."
Embedded Linux Newsletter for July 19, 2001. The Embedded Linux Newsletter for this week covers a new Palm-based Linux OS and editorials on the future of Linux/Java and the nature of MP3.
The Agenda VR3 PDA (Linux Journal). Linux Journal reviews the Linux-based Agenda VR3 personal digital assistant. "The VR3 comes with more applications than a standard Palm-based PDA, including the things that you would expect such as Contacts for an address book, Schedule for appointments, Notes for scribbling, Calculator and Expenses. Plus there are lots of games."
Review: a Linux Programming Book for Beginners (Linux Journal). Linux Journal reviews the Osborne McGraw-Hill published Richard Petersen text for beginning programming on Linux. "New comers to Linux programming will find the book suitable, with all the example code annotated and commentary that points to the particular technique illustrated. Besides, the book is targeted as a learning tool for teaching programming concepts."
Durham, N.C., Technology Executive Discusses 'Open Source' Programming (The News & Observer). The Raleigh, North Carolina, based News & Observer interviewed Michael Tiemann in anticipation of this week's planned debate between Michael and Microsoft's Craig Mundie. "From my perspective, the true way of evaluating what's best is evaluating what's best for the customer".
An interview with Lineo's COO, Matt Harris (LinuxDevices). Lineo's COO Matt Harris talks with LinuxDevices about philosophy and practice in the embedded Linux world. "With all of the FUD generated by Microsoft (the GPL is a "cancer") and Wind River, this issue has become more important. Our plan is to assemble a trade association of companies interested in supporting Linux, with the FSF an active organizer and participant. Through this association, our hope is to establish a compliance program to give companies the assurance they need that they have complied with the GNU GPL."
Open-source challenge to the musical status quo (News.com). Ogg Vorbis team leader Christopher Montgomery is interviewed by C|Net News.com about that project's goals to replace MP3. "People had been worried for years that MP3 looked free, but there were all these scary, looming patents. Unisys had lowered the boom on GIF a few years earlier. Suddenly, it stopped being academic when (Fraunhofer) did the same thing with MP3. Some hackers went looking for legal loopholes to keep working on the MP3 standard. I decided to just replace it."
Microsoft releases Windows CE code (News.com). Microsoft is releasing Windows CE as so-called "shared source", with all the legal implications that may have to those who use it. "There are strings attached to sampling the Windows CE source code, though. In addition to the prohibition on using or distributing modified versions of Windows CE for commercial purposes, people must sign up for Microsoft's Passport service before getting access."
Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol
July 26, 2001