They Said It, diff -u and more.
Garbage Subtractor

Students at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science (www.lcs.mit.edu/news/harddrives.html) recently looked into 158 disk drives obtained from eBay. Among other data, they found 5,000 credit-card numbers, numerous medical records and gigabytes of personal e-mail.

Graduate student researchers found a “widespread lack of awareness about how to remove sensitive data from hard drives effectively before recycling or discarding them.”

Phil Howard created a simple Linux-based solution to the problem: DiskZapper, a bootable Linux distribution, wipes all drives connected to the computer (diskzapper.com). It's free software, or you can order it on floppy or CD-ROM. Proceeds go to LinuxLobby.org.

—Doc Searls

NYFairUse Protests EGOVOS Conference

New York City's fair use activists, costumed as the American Founding Fathers, left the warm comfort of their homes at 4:00AM on March 17, 2003, to attend the EGOVOS conference at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

The conference was supposed to be a showcase for free and open-source software in government. Instead, organizer Tony Stanco turned it into a platform and photo opportunity for Microsoft. Microsoft threatens free speech and fair use by taking control away from users with Digital Rights Management and with its upcoming Palladium “trusted computing” platform.

We are fortunate to have associates working on Broadway, and they introduced us to costume designers who dressed us as patriots of 1776. At the conference, I personally had the pleasure of speaking about the problem with European Union Minister Philip Aigrain, whom I met in Bordeaux last year.

After our trip to George Washington University, we made a trip to Capitol Hill while still dressed in our costumes. We got big smiles all along the halls of Congress, especially at Congressman Weiner's office. He's a member of the subcommittee on Intellectual Property and the Internet. We have a handshake deal to install a GNU/Linux system in his office, so stay tuned.

—Ruben Safir

Top row: Adam Kosmin (Windows Refund Day), Ray Connolly (Free

Software Chamber of Commerce Chair) and Tim Wilcox (CEO of Linux Force Beowulf Cluster Expert). Bottom row: Ceasar Vargus (NYLXS Member), Sunny Dubey (Poly Tech Student and NYC Board of Ed IT Manager) and Ruben Safir. All are members of New Yorkers for Fair Use (fairuse.nylxs.com).

LJ Index—July 2003
  1. Height in centimeters of Wakamuru, a Linux-based Japanese robot designed to care for the sick and elderly: 100

  2. Size in words of Wakamuru's vocabulary: 10,000

  3. Percentage of IT budgets spent on maintaining existing systems: 79

  4. Percentage range of Linux cost savings relative to UNIX, running Oracle: 45-80

  5. Billions of yen Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will dole out for open-source development in the next year (2003): 1

  6. Millions of yen budgeted in the next fiscal year to study possibly switching Japan's government computers to open source: 50

  7. Cost in US dollars of an SGI mainframe replaced by a cluster of 12 PCs running Red Hat Linux at the Johnson Space Center in Houston: 1,600,000

  8. Annual maintenance costs in US dollars of the SGI mainframe: 50,000

  9. Cost in US dollars of the 12 PCs and their OSes: 25,000

  10. Number of the top ten hosting locations that run Linux: 9

  11. Percentage drop in IT spending during 2002, according to IDC: 4.1

  12. Percentage of companies planning to increase IT spending in 2003, according to IDC: 85

  13. Percentage decline in average business spending on computer hardware and software in 2003, according to Goldman Sachs: 1

  14. Percentage increase in IT spending forecast for 2003, according to Forrester Research: 1.9


1, 2: Linux Devices3, 4: Oracle5, 6: Associated Press7-9: Information Week10: Netcraft11, 12: International Data Corp.13: Golman Sachs14: Forrester Research

In Memoriam

Mike Jackson, Linux Shadow Password HOWTO author, passed away on Friday, March 28 at the age of 38. In addition to maintaining the LSPH all these years, Mike was also a Navy sonar instructor, Reserve police officer, president and founding member of TSCNet, treasurer and founding member of the Kitsap Peninsula Linux User Group and contributor to projects such as the PHP SNMP module and the Sharp Camera package for OpenZaurus.

The last update of the Linux Shadow Password HOWTO was in 1998. This isn't because Mike lost interest, but because the HOWTO convinced everyone to start including shadow password support in their distribution by default.

When Mike took on a new project, he dove in headfirst. When he found bugs, he'd fix them and contribute the patches back to the project. When he found a lack of some feature, he would add it himself. He set an example for what a true hacker ought to be, demanding excellence and openness from software and improving it where there were flaws.

Mike's passing has deeply affected all of his family and friends; we will miss him greatly. We have gathered together the pieces of his home page and reassembled it along with other links at www.kplug.org/~mhjack. If you have memories of Mike you would like to share, please e-mail them to bcl@brianlane.com, and I'll add them to his home page.

—Brian C. Lane