UPFRONT

LJ Index, diff -u and more.
upFront

AeroMail

A good choice for a spartan web-based mail agent is AeroMail. It has no frills, like address books, but it does allow you IMAP access to your mail server. It sports folders for storing and classifying mail. You can reply, forward and compose mail messages. All the important functions are present, but not a lot else. Perfect for road warriors who use a regular mail client when they return. Requires: web server; PHP, compiled with IMAP support; IMAP server.

—David A. Bandel

diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

The FUSE (filesystem in user space) Project has reached version 1.0. One of the basic ideas of UNIX is to provide tools that perform fundamental operations in generic, interoperable ways. These tools typically work on streams of data stored in the filesystem as files. But some tools, including SSH, FTP and compression tools, interfere with this, because they either convert the files into a difficult-to-use state or they interact with systems located elsewhere on a network. Still other tools insist on providing all control internally to themselves, so none of the basic UNIX tools are of any use. FUSE allows the user to layer the appearance of a filesystem over any or all of these programs, so all operations can be done as file manipulations, taking advantage of the great wealth of basic tools available in UNIX.

The virtual memory (VM) subsystem in 2.4 now has some good documentation, courtesy of Mel Gorman. Once upon a time, Linus Torvalds dropped an entirely new VM subsystem into the Linux kernel, smack dab in the middle of a stable release series. This was tremendously controversial among developers, one reason being that Andrea Arcangeli, the author of the new code, provided virtually no documentation of any kind. Mel put in six months of work, much more than he originally thought would be necessary, resulting in a solid explanation of the workings of the entire VM, along with specific commentary on the source code itself.

The Kernel Bug Database has been documented extensively by its creator, John Bradford. Intended as an improvement over the current Bugzilla database used by a number of developers, the Kernel Bug Database rejects a generic approach, providing features based on the specific needs of the Linux kernel, such as the ability to search based on options in the .config file.

Dynamic kernel module support (DKMS) has come from a developer group at Dell. A GPLed project, it aims to allow device driver source code to reside anywhere on the filesystem, not only in the kernel source tree. This makes it easier for vendors to release new versions of their drivers and for users to recompile those drivers. As of March 2003, DKMS is 2.4-specific, and it doesn't take account of some of the massive reworkings appearing in 2.5, especially with the module code itself.

Several groups are working to implement IPSec for IPv6. The IPSec suite of protocols presents a framework for providing privacy and authentication support at the IP address layer, while IPv6 attempts to expand the number of available IP addresses. Although IPv6 is not yet in widespread use, it is important to continue to build the infrastructure to one day migrate away from the ailing IPv4 standard. Kazunori Miyazawa, Kunihiro Ishiguro, Hideaki Yoshifuji and Mitsuru Kanda recently joined forces to produce working IPv6 IPSec support in the 2.5 kernel tree.

—Zack Brown

Furball

Here's a fun game for the kids, but you can edit it and make it suitable for anyone. It's a game to learn about others, with questions and more. Think of it as a truth-or-dare game. Requires: web server, web browser, Python.

—David A. Bandel

LJ Index—June 2003
  1. Forecasted global percentage increase in IT spending for 2003: 4

  2. Server growth percentage forecast: on top of a 50%-plus growth rate in enterprise servers in 2002, a 40% growth for Linux servers in 2003.

  3. Forecasted 2003 percentage growth rate for Linux in Asia: 24

  4. Forecasted 2003 percentage growth rate for Microsoft Windows in Asia: 6

  5. IBM's claimed Linux revenue, in billions of dollars: 1

  6. HP's claimed Linux revenue, in billions of dollars: 2

  7. Damages in billions of dollars sought by SCO in a lawsuit against IBM for disclosing trade secrets in SCO-licensed AIX source code: 1

  8. Percentage cost-savings range experienced by Merrill Lynch since deploying Linux on IBM mainframes: 40-50

  9. Projected minimum yearly savings in millions of dollars for Merrill Lynch by fully deploying its Linux-on-mainframe strategy: 100

  10. Number of Linux boxes currently in production at Morgan Stanley: 400

  11. Number of Linux boxes currently “in the pipeline” at Morgan Stanley: 300

  12. Price/performance increase multiple Morgan Stanley experienced on six new four-way Linux boxes: 13

  13. Percentage improvement in cost experienced by Lehman Brothers with Linux: 50

  14. Percentage improvement in performance experienced by Lehman Brothers with Linux: 20

  15. Percentage bandwidth capacity of ordinary phone wire to households currently utilized: 1

  16. Percentage of IBM's servers currently sold that are Linux-driven: 15-20

  17. Percentage annual growth in Linux users over the next few years, predicted by Sun CEO Scott McNealy: 30

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