Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Linux in the news page.
Free programs with strings attached (Financial Times). Here's a Financial Times article which covers (overblown) worries about the GPL. "This last condition is particularly controversial, as it means the GPL can 'convert' proprietary software into open source software - since any company incorporating licensed code into its own software products is obliged to open up its code too." (Thanks to Thomas Blankenhorn).
Microsoft Loses Courtroom Battle Over Windows Trademark. Lindows.com has won a court battle with Microsoft concerning the name of their company and LindowsOS distribution. "In a strongly-worded ruling, a Seattle court has denied a request by the Microsoft Corporation to block a San Diego software company from branding themselves as Lindows.com and their Linux-based operating system, which will run popular Windows-based programs, as LindowsOS."
News.com also covers the story.
Microsoft 'killed Dell Linux' - States (Register). There have been several articles in the press about the nine states that are pushing for remedies in the Microsoft anti-trust trial. The Register focuses on Dell's decision to drop desktop Linux from its computing solutions. "The States' remedy hearing opened in DC yesterday, and States attorney Steven Kuney produced a devastating memo from Kempin, then in charge of Microsoft's OEM business, written after Judge Jackson had ordered his break-up of the company. Kempin raises the possibility of threatening Dell and other PC builders which promote Linux." (Thanks to David Killick)
Sour Note (TechWeb). This article looks at webcasting, and the legal threat to Internet radio. "There are a couple of issues here. One of them is the specific concern about Internet radio Webcasting. (And, in case you're as interested in this as I am, I'll include resource links at the end of this column.) The larger problem, though, is that the music industry hasn't managed to wrap its hands around the Internet, and it doesn't look like it's getting smarter anytime soon. Do I need to mention DMCA? Napster? MP3? I didn't think so."
Grey market likely if big MP3 fees imposed (National Post). The Canadian National Post covers proposed legislation that would create new charges for blank compact disks, disk drives and other data storage equipment. "The fees are intended to cover the losses to the recording industry that occur when people record music from an existing copy rather than buy their own." (Thanks to doks)
Morpheus auditions for new Net music role (News.com). News.com looks at StreamCast Networks' incorporation of anti-copying technology in its Morpheus software. "With its new technology, the company is moving down a path well worn by Napster. As that file-trading service came under fire by the recording industry for allowing illegal trades of copyrighted works, it too mounted a campaign to solicit support from independent artists who used it to distribute their work."
A Tale of Three Cultures (Linux Journal). Doc Searls travels from the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas to the ESC in San Francisco, and thinks about clashes of culture along the way. "The geeks built the Net and want to keep it free. Hollywood wants to control it. That's the basic conflict. Since the beginning, the geeks have had resolute faith in the Net's ability to resist control by government and commercial interests. Geeks interpret attempts at control as mere problems the Net will naturally route around. The same goes for Linux, which has proven handy for extending the Net upward into the operating system and outward into the world."
Is Linux an operating system or a political platform? (IT-Director). IT-Director looks at anti-Microsoft sentiments within the Linux community. "But as Linux increases in popularity the question must be asked -- why are people selecting Linux? Is it simply a vote against Microsoft or is it because of superior functionality available within the open source product and how many more organisations will change their allegiances when it comes to upgrade time?"
North Carolina Open-Source Technology Center Closes. The Open-Source Technology Center in Durham, North Carolina is closing its doors. "The Center for the Public Domain, founded in 1999 as the Red Hat Center for Open Source when the Linux company's stock was still on the rise, has called it quits with an e-mail message to friends of the center stating: 'Our job here is done.'" The center's last action involved donating money to three pro-open-source organizations.
Commentary: Toward a successful Linux desktop install (NewsForge). Don Goodman suggests some ways to make Linux more attractive to those desktop users. "Without an easy-to-use, universally accepted setup for Linux programs, Linux remains relegated to the server room. Building a successful future for Linux on the desktop begins with..." For a slightly different view of the same issue, check out Paul Tatham's writings from last month.
Users get a grip on one-handed Linux PDA (ZDNet). Reporting from CeBIT, ZDNet takes a look at the Linux-based Filewalker PDA. "Filewalker, which runs on the Linux operating system, lets users enter text by way of three buttons on the left side of its case, and a scroll wheel on the top. When held in the right hand the buttons are under the fingers, and the scroll wheel sits below the thumb."
Linux consortium slows to a waddle, critics say (EE Times). EE Times covers complaints about the Embedded Linux Consortium, and its lack of progress so far. "The IPA [intellectual property agreement], which addresses such issues as licensing, patent and trademark infringement, and disclosure agreements, apparently became a bone of contention for some of the board members who disagreed over its structure. Some reportedly wanted to move quickly and not worry about the consortium's ownership issues, while others wanted to ensure that the ELC essentially owned the specification, and no other organization could build on it."
Linux digs in at embedded systems show (InfoWorld). InfoWorld reports from the Embedded Systems Conference. "As the millions of smart computing devices in the world turn into billions, analysts say operating systems designed for particular devices are losing ground to general-purpose software that can be adapted more easily for use in different types of products."
BT Linking Suit Dealt a Blow (Wired). WIRED covers recent developments in British Telecom's suit against Prodigy over the use of hyperlinks. "The most damaging point in U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon's ruling is a question about whether BT's patent can legitimately be said to apply to an Internet-based technology, since the patent specifies the use of a single computer terminal. 'In this patent, the computer is a single device, in one location,' McMahon wrote in her ruling. 'The term ''computer'' is the only structure described in the specification, and there is no indication that ... the term ''computer'' means to be broader than ''a computer.'' If the term ''computer'' does not tell us what the computer is, then the claim would be indefinite." (Thanks to Marty.)
AOL testing new, improved Netscape (ZDNet). ZDNet looks into AOL's efforts to switch to the Mozilla browser. This gem of a quote was included: "However, while Jupiter Media Metrix analyst David Card said it was likely AOL was testing different software, he thought the company would likely stick with Internet Explorer for the time being. ``If they did it, they could pull it off, though I don't see any benefit to it,'' Card said. ``But it would be difficult. It is a big technology investment.'' He said it was unlikely a serious software company would use alternative open-source software for its final products. ``Serious software companies don't ship open source. They may start with it but they build products on it,'' Card added. ''You just have to be serious about the business and I don't think they are serious (about Netscape).''"
AOL 7.0 tests Netscape browser (News.com). AOL is considering a switch from the Internet Explorer browser to a Mozilla based Netscape browser. "Launching new versions of the AOL service without Microsoft's IE, long AOL's default browser, could cause an enormous rift between the two technology giants. For years, the companies have fiercely battled in the marketplace and in the federal courts, but they have maintained a business relationship. Now, there are signs that AOL and Microsoft are gearing up for a cold war."
AOL Takes Another Look At Netscape Browser (TechWeb). Here is TechWeb's take on AOL's possible browser change. "AOL spokesman Jim Whitney confirmed that the company has already shipped a Netscape browser in some test software for its discount Internet service, CompuServe. The browser is powered by Gecko technology that was developed through an open-source project called Mozilla."
AOL Looks at Netscape Gecko; What Are You Looking at? (TechWeb). TechWeb takes another look at AOL, as the company looks at changing browsers. "Security is the third reason you should watch what happens in this case. Have you calculated IE's total cost of ownership lately? If you're applying all the security patches Microsoft puts out, the investment is huge. If you're not applying them, are you sleeping at night? I'm not claiming that Netscape has no security issues -- every piece of software has bugs that can be exploited to breach your security. But Netscape is not tied into your operating system. Therefore, it's arguably less risky and certainly requires less patching."
IBM Unveils New Server Based on Intel Chips. NewsAlert reports on IBM's new xSeries 440 server, which uses Intel processor chips. "IBM and Unisys both have packaged those chips with sophisticated features such as self-healing systems, which detect and repair potential problems. Their respective machines also are equipped with partitioning, the ability to run different operating systems at the same time within the same machine. Both run Microsoft programs, and IBM's version works with the Linux operating system. "
Lineo swallows another bitter pill, cuts staff to under 80 (LinuxDevices). LinuxDevices.com covers the latest bad news from Lineo. "Citing 'the impact of the economic downturn that has prevailed since March', Lineo reduced its headcount again this week and continued the process begun last Fall of narrowing its focus to three key target markets. According to CEO Matt Harris, the company is reducing its size from 138 employees to between 75 and 80."
MandrakeSoft adds Office to Linux (ZDNet). This ZDNet UK article covers the release of Mandrake Linux 8.2, with a focus on the software that will be added to the boxed sets. "When the boxed product ships in April, version 8.2 will be the first Mandrake Linux version to include the office suite StarOffice 6.0 and the Outlook clone Evolution 1.02, both of which are considered to be significantly improved over earlier editions."
MandrakeSoft, here we go again (NewsForge). Here's a NewsForge article criticizing MandrakeSoft and its pleas for donations. "This really wouldn't be a problem if MandrakeSoft was a little more like National Public Radio. No one ever figured that NPR would become self sufficient. Likewise, MandrakeSoft was originally set up as a non-profit. It began its existence as a volunteer project to upgrade and localize Red Hat's version of Linux, combined with the KDE user interface. Almost from the day the company declared itself a profit-seeking corporation, observers have had trouble figuring out how the firm expected to make money, although MandrakeSoft leaders keep insisting they are going to try."
Novell in talks to bundle eDirectory on Linux servers (Register). The Register reports that Novell is in talks with IBM and Red Hat about bundling its eDirectory services with Linux servers. "The network software and services firm already supports Linux, so the deal - which is still at the discussion stage - would involve expending Novell's commitment to the platform that boosts the availability of directory services for Linux, CRN reports."
SuSE goes 64-bit with IBM zSeries (ZDNet). SuSE's Enterprise Server 7 will be available for IBM's eServer zSeries by the beginning of May according to this article. "The software also allows 32-bit and 64-bit applications to run at the same time, within the same Linux instance on the mainframe, so that 32-bit applications can be retained where they are needed."
SuSE gets ready to pick up Hammer (ZDNet). ZDNet looks at SuSE's work with the AMD Hammer processor and other SuSE business operations. "SuSE is pushing to have its server software ready in November, in time for the launch of Hammer late in the year, according to product manager Stefan Werden. 'As soon as Hammer is officially available, our operating system package will be too,' he said."
Making free software pay (BBC News). The BBC News goes to CeBIT and takes a look at open source business models. "Like its European competitors Caldera and SuSE, US-based Red Hat charges not for the Linux software but for the documentation and helpline support that goes with it." (Thanks to Dave Killick)
Insurer Seeks Cost Savings With Server Switch (TechWeb). TechWeb reports that the Wisconsin Physicians Service Corp. is dumping their Intel servers in a move to Linux (on a new IBM z900 mainframe). "The apps, running on mainframe partitions, will run in parallel with the Intel servers until April 1. By October, 40 servers will be switched to Linux partitions. The goal of the switch is to save time and money. Jim Hwang, director of enterprise network systems at WPS, says it takes him two to three minutes to configure an app on a partition on IBM's z900 mainframe. A comparable configuration on an Intel server would take two to three days. The apps also run two to three times faster than they do on the Intel-based servers, he adds."
Running a corporation in an open source world. Shawn Gordon, founder and president of theKompany.com discusses his reasons for discontinuing the use of the GPL on future products.
"We sell one product that is GPL. On at least a weekly basis we get someone telling us that we have to give them the source code because it is GPL. Some of them become verbally violent and abusive when I point out that the GPL provides for us to charge for the source code, we just have to make it available, and this we have done. Some of these people even tried to hack our system to get the code because they thought it was their God-given right to have it. These are also typically the people who contribute nothing to the community." (Thanks to Simon Cozens.)
Pay Dirt (TechWeb). TechWeb examines the role that Linux clusters are playing in the oil industry. "As oil companies outsource more seismic processing, especially the commodity depth-migration algorithms that smooth out noisy data, low bids and quick turnaround are king at companies such as WesternGeco, Halliburton, CGG, and Veritas DGC. That's where Linux clusters come in--they've reduced processing costs more than tenfold, Venkataraman says. 'You don't want to tie up expensive computing cycles or storage on stuff they don't need to do,' he says. "
German parliament to use Linux (Heise.de). This article (in German) confirms that the German Parliament will replace approximately 150 Microsoft based servers with Linux servers. Here is the Babelfish translation. (Thanks to Werzinger Lothar)
Realtor group houses all kinds of Open Source projects (NewsForge). NewsForge reports on the development of Open Source software for the real estate industry. "The more than 800,000 real estate professionals who constitute the membership of the National Association of Realtors the largest trade association in the United States and the tens of millions of commercial and residential customers they serve probably won't realize it, but many will soon be benefiting from Open Source software, thanks to projects being done by the NAR's Center for Realtor Technology."
Support still a problem for open source (IT-Director). IT-Director looks into the issue of support for open-source software users: "Explaining that the shortcoming could be overcome in a number of ways, Taylor said: 'There's an opportunity for integrators such as IBM to provide support, irrespective of where the original open source products came from.
Smaller support companies could also take on product support in this area. There is a golden opportunity to be in this market space.'"
AbiWord: Open Source's Answer to Microsoft Word (OreillyNet). The O'Reilly Network looks at AbiWord. "Although the AbiWord development team is currently working towards their milestone Version 1.0, the beta releases already come with a number of useful features: support for plug-ins and scripts, a spell checker, 2- and 3-column text formatting, and image importing. For other languages besides English, multilingual spell checking is in place, as is bidirectional text for languages that are written from right to left."
Want a Windows alternative? Take a look at BSD (ZDNet). Here is a look the BSD operating systems, as an alternative to Windows. "If you're investigating and evaluating Unix-style OSes, don't pick Linux just because of the buzz. Take a good look at FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD as well, and make the most informed decision."
Roxen WebServer 2.2 (Linux Journal). Linux Journal reviews the Roxen web server. "Although Apache dominates the internet web server market, it has some weak points: it lacks a built-in SQL database backend, flexible administration tools and easy SSL certificate management. All of these features can be found, however, in the Roxen WebServer."
Revolution OS: Movie Review (Linux Orbit). Linux Orbit reviews Revolution OS. "When we walked into the theater, lo and behold.... Geeks. I suppose it?s hard to be objective when my wife uses the same term to describe me (in the nicest possible way), but for every filled seat, there was a second seat with a laptop propped up on it."
Langa Letter: Exploring Windows Alternatives (TechWeb). InformationWeek looks at Windows alternatives, saying that it is a matter of "self defense." "And sadly, some of the more rabid Linuxophiles add a needless social tension to the already challenging technological task of switching operating systems. These Linux "fanatics" (as opposed to the sane enthusiasts) assume that anyone with lesser Linux skills, or anyone who forms an opinion contrary to theirs, must be an idiot."
IT pros learn to beat hackers at their own game (CNN). CNN reports on a class called "Extreme Hacking: Defending Your Site". "Using dual-bootable NT/Linux laptops and an accompanying network setup for practicing subversive attacks, attendees were taught a new bag of tools and tricks to help them understand how hackers identify IP addresses, collect information about the systems they want to compromise and exploit weaknesses without being noticed."
Interview: Linus's latest lieutenant (developerWorks). developerWorks is running an interview with Marcelo Tosatti, 2.4 kernel maintainer. "Something about Linus that is a problem is that a lot of things come from his mood. He'll just say, 'Oh, this is good: Apply. This is good: Apply.' He should not accept some of the patches he does. He accepts some patches too early, without thinking too much about them. He does not have the time to really care about some stuff." (Thanks to Frank Carlos).
Navigating a PC sea change (News.com). News.com interviews Compaq's Mike Winkler, and discusses the proposed merger with HP as well as Compaq's business directions. "One of Michael's key initiatives has been to make Compaq a stronger player in the enterprise. That means the server business, not just the industry standard server business, but also continued presence and growth in the Linux and Unix (segments), high-performance technical computing and the very high end of the Tandem mission critical system--and then storage, of course, which is a really big and good growth business for us."
Miguel de Icaza on just about everything (Linux and Main). The Man of Pure Energy (Miguel, of course) is back in the press with this interview by Linux and Main. "[In this interview] he discussed his belief that .NET and Mono are the wave of the future, his view of Microsoft Corp., his explanation of how there can be times when selling closed-source software is jus tified, as well as the .GNU project, the importance of making sure Linux and its desktops can run on the machines found in poorer nations, the future of Linux in both the business and consumer spheres, and even the things that motivate programmers."
Interview with Dr. Karl-Heinz Strassemeyer (SSLUG.dk). SSLUG's Ole Tange interviews Dr. Karl-Heinz Strassemeyer from IBM in Böblingen, Germany. The above link contains links to additional information and to this interview in a variety of formats; including Ogg Vorbis, RealPlayer and text.
GNU-Friends Interview Arnold Robbins. Arnold Robbins, author of GNU awk and several related manuals, is interviewed by GNU-Friends. "The strchr, memset, and so on routines were shipped with gawk for portability. At the time, Unix systems varied more widely than they do now. We found it easiest to code to "standard" interfaces and then include replacement versions of routines, instead of using lots of #ifdef goo to take advantage of whatever a system had locally."
New devices bypass the PC (CNN). CNN.com covers several announcements from last week's Embedded Systems Conference. "InfoMart, based in Bangalore, India, has developed a device called the Kaii with the Embedix Plus PDA operating system, according to Lineo. Using a processor from Hitachi, the Kaii will run at 160 MHz and will be equipped with 64MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM. "
Back Orifice for Unix flaw emerges from obscurity (Register). This Register article looks at another possible security problem. "This flaw appears to affect all versions of Sun Solaris and versions of Linux Mandrake up to 8.1, though Red Hat Linux is believed to be immune to that attack. The jury is out on IBM's AIX and HP/UX."
Old Morpheus still works for unhacked users (Register). The Register reports that older version of Morpheus still work. "Earlier this month Music City Morpheus ditched support for the P2P stack supplied by developer FastTrack and embraced the open source Gnutella protocol, with the launch of Morpheus Preview Edition."
Microsoft fear over zlib flaw (vnunet). Vnunet reports that Microsoft has confirmed that the zlib software-compression library flaw could affect Office, Explorer, DirectX, Messenger, Windows XP and Front Page. "The open-source compression project, Gzip, has identified more than 600 applications which use the zlib code, including some from Microsoft."
Open-source flaw threatens MS code (ZDNet). ZDNet reports that Microsoft may also have vulnerabilities related to the recent zlib double free() hole. "On Thursday, researchers reported that at least nine of Microsoft's major applications--including Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, DirectX, Messenger and Front Page--appear to incorporate borrowed code from the compression library and could be vulnerable to a similar attack."
Section Editor: Forrest Cook
March 21, 2002