Linux Product Insider

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the "Linux Product Insider", keeping you on the cutting edge of new products and services in Linux and Open Source.

Here is what is new and interesting this week.

Panopta's Monitoring & Outage Management Suite

In today's complex Web infrastructures, "it is no longer sufficient to just monitor port 80 on your Web server" says Panopta, developer of the Panopta Monitoring & Outage Management Suite. The platform, says Panopta, a suite of advanced monitoring services and outage-management tools designed to give online businesses the ability to immediately detect service outages and coordinate a response by their operations team. The technology is based on Linux and open source and utilizes proprietary algorithms to check all services once per minute. Target customers are online service providers, content providers, Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and companies whose online presence is critical to their business operations. Panopta also provides custom timelines for multi-level outage notification rather than a single email or SMS notification. A 30-day free trial is available at Panopta's Web site.

VariCAD 2008

We'll skip the rant on AutoCAD for its lack of Linux support and talk up the new VariCAD 2008 instead. VariCAD is a 3D/2D CAD system intended for use in mechanical engineering design. Core features include: tools for 3D modeling and 2D drafting and dimensioning; libraries of standard mechanical parts (ANSI, DIN); calculations of standard mechanical components; and tools for working with bills of materials (BOM) and blocks. This new version adds new features like support for 3D threads (e.g. on bolts, screws and nuts), improvements in shells and surface development, new 3D kernel capabilities (e.g. Boolean intersection, improved 3D chamfer tool), a new tool for spherical solids, new BOM and title block features, improved STEP file compatibility and others. A free 30-day trial version is available for download.

Protecode Inc. Pre-announces Protecode Solution, Joins Eclipse Foundation

Gearing up for the forthcoming EclipseCon 2008 in mid-March, the firm Protecode made two recent announcements. First, Protecode will release a still-to-be-named software-development solution that will utilize "protecoding", a methodology to ensure software pedigree tracking. Protecode says that the solution will be "the first preventative intellectual property management solution". Protecode's CEO Mahshad Koohgoli commented that he expects the product "to change the way developers track, monitor and log content in software." In its second announcement, Protecode announced its joining the Eclipse Foundation, a not-for-profit, open source community, whose projects are focused on building an open development platform that cultivates an open source community and an ecosystem of complementary products and services. EclipseCon begins on March 17th, 2008 in Santa Clara, California.

ESI Group's PAM-CEM Solutions

Yes, we are all stellar geeks, but the ESI Group's new PAM-CEM Solutions software package takes today's übergeek cake. The newly upgraded PAM-CEM performs realistic and predictive electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) simulations in various industries including aerospace and defense, electronics, transportation, and telecommunications. ESI states that when dealing with industrial models, conventional strategies usually rely on either global (with standalone full-wave Maxwell modeling) or local approaches (with specialized tools focusing on induced effects on wiring). Meanwhile, PAM-CEM Solutions can mix both with 3D time domain simulations well suited to reflected or diffracted phenomena and CRIPTE, and offer a dedicated Transmission Lines tool for cable networks. Key new enhancements include improved management of large STL models and NASTRAN files, full interactive addressing of cable networks and more efficient management of large-scale, fully equipped models. Supported platforms include Linux, Unix (HP, SUN and IBM) and Windows XP.

OpenedHand Poky Platform Builder 3.1

Featuring not just two memorable names, OpenedHand recently released v3.1 of its Poky Platform Builder, an open-source platform for designing, developing, building, debugging, and testing Linux platforms for consumer embedded devices. The freely available tool further incorporates the X Window System and GNOME Mobile-based application frameworks for both ARM and x86 platforms. The new release adds features such as stand-alone SDK creation, a plug-in for the Anjuta IDE, new machine support (Compulab EM-X270, Marvell Zylonite, ST Nomadik and others), improved documentation, WebKit-based browser and more. OpenedHand further claims that the new features in Poky "go beyond the product development life cycle and enable
an integrated solution for device manufacturers to stimulate independent development for their platform".

Promise Technology's SuperTrak EX8658 and SuperTrak EX8654 SAS/SATA RAID Controllers

Cigars all 'round everyone, for the firm Promise Technology has added two new siblings, the SuperTrak EX8658 and SuperTrak EX8654, to its SuperTrak EX family of host-based SAS/SATA RAID controllers. Promise stresses that the new additions, as well as others in the SuperTrak EX line, are built on a unified code base that spans both SuperTrak and VTrak product lines and are presented under a consistent management environment. Furthermore, the firm's WebPAM Pro allows administrators to manage RAID storage attached to the SuperTrak EX RAID controllers or integrated into the Vtrak E-Class RAID subsystems from anywhere on the network. The SuperTrak EX 8654 and 8658 support RAID 5 and RAID 6 and are designed for data protection for entry-level and midrange server platforms running all popular Linux distributions and Windows. Both the EX8658 (8 external ports) and the EX8654 (4 internal and 4 external ports) will be available through distributors and resellers by late March, 2008.

To send feedback on this article, or to send product news, please contact Products Editor, James Gray at

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James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.


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The Crushing Truth.....

TaZMAn's picture

Oh I don't know..........????
Seems many users that I have helped move to Linux, specifically Ubuntu, have had very few problems transitioning from Windows. Even the over 60 crowd.

Windows is installed on major PC builder computers because they get kick backs from Microsoft.
The incentive is money back in their pockets.

Many people choose and prefer Linux over Windows because they no longer want to be a slave to Microsoft or be owned by their future OS's. Read the Windows EULA in full some day and honestly say you agree to all of it.

I'm not sure what version of Linux you are using or what version of Microsoft you are using but there are some inaccuracies in you comments.

Both Linux and Windows need to install the Flash plugin to view Flash content in the browser.
Installing Flash in Linux is no harder then Windows.
Listening to Mp3's, Wavs or other formats requires the user to click on the Yes and enter his password to install the codecs needed to listen to these formats. They automatically download and install. That probably requires the user to have a Phd to complete that task.

There is a unified package installer that is already available to several distros of Linux and will be the standard for all major Linux branches. This will alleviate the supposed confusion by new users as to what they need for installing software although the Synaptic Package Manager provides more then enough software options for the average user.

To the untrained eye the Linux community may seem chaotic or spread thin but in reality the numerous distros fall under one of the few major base versions. The diversity adds creativity, additional functions and stronger code to all of the Linux community.

Vista 64 bit is seriously limited by the fact that many software titles available for it are still written in 32 bit code. Therefore your high speed CPU is now relegated to the 32 bit crawl.

I also had a good laugh about your rant that Eclipse needs 2 Gigs of Ram to run efficiently.
Did you ever try running Vista efficiently on anything less then 4 Gigs of Ram? Now that's a resource hog!

Granted, there are some deficiencies in Linux but it is making up that ground at a very good pace. I look at Linux today as compared to just 2 years ago and say WOW! It's becoming polished and more refined while not requiring bleeding edge hardware every 2 or 3 years.

But more then anything else, I enjoy the freedom that Linux provides.
The freedom from viruses and spyware.
The freedom of productivity by not having to run anti-virus scans, spyware scans, defrags and all the other nonsense Windows has you do just to keep it functional.
The freedom to fully administer all other users on this computer and the local network it's attached to.

As for games? Buy an X-Box, PS3 or a wii. That's what a dedicated gaming system is made for.

And finally I must ask this question. Why is it that everyone feels that it always has to be a Linux versus Microsoft war?
Seems people think it's Us against Them when in fact it's more about choice.
Choice of what works best for you.
Choice of Proprietary software versus Open Source.
Choice to have software and an OS that suits the needs of the user or corporation.

I once was a Windows power user but one day I made a choice to switch to Linux.
That is freedom and that matters more then anything else.

The Crushing Truth: Linux

Anonymous's picture

Althouth I really like Linux and the free software, I think that we all have to accept the crushing truth.

In these times it really doesn't matter if is launched KDE 35.0 or Gnome Vista, because while both environments (and others with less weight as IceWM) were worrying in confusing the user with a completely different aspect, Microsoft was consolidating his position as leader in the field of the operating systems of office, first with the operating system Windows XP (that have approximately 90% of the client operating system market) and with its advanced successor, the recently Windows Vista, that offers a new form to interact with its PC. Is faster, friendlier, and more secure.

The reality is that Linux has little to offer to the inexperienced user. The same novice that is seen disconcerted by the impossibility to do a simple one copy-paste between QT and GTK applications. Go out and ask to the people how they install a program that does NOT have packages for its distribucción (because each one has its own packege system, completely incompatible with the others and that requires the use of complicated commands). Still the packages of the same format as RPM, they cannot be installed equally in Mandriva or Suse.

Then what we suggest to this user (that is just beginning in the Unix Word) is that he need to download the source code, go to the console, decompress it and compile it. How many they managed to do this? One of each a million, I have to say. We persist in THAT is the normal thing. ..nothing more further from the reality.

Explain him why in his Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Fedora cannot see many web pages: he must download the Flash and the Java plugin, in order then to install them with complicated commands. Also make him know that he won't be able to listen its MP3, WMA and WMV files. Tell to the flaming buyer of a new AMD64 how he can play flash games.A shit.

And the gamers? Obviously they'll return to windows, because even God can't use the hardware acceleration of the most modern graphics cards (besides, the drivers don't come in the distributions. ..becuase of the fucking freedom) and that games...just a few ones. By each Linux videogame we have 500 that run on Windows. And the few ones that run on Linux...Oh! Surprise!...Just Windows binaries on the CD, and you have to download the Linux version from a website. Finally the user return to the best option, the OS most used on home (all we know what OS is).

The proof of the free software failure is seen also in the professional world, either in areas like electronic design (doesn't exist anything similar to Protel), architecture (the standard CAD -all we know wich one-only works on Windows), web design (something similar to Dreamweaver? Don't mention something like NVU, that not only is full of bugs, but also just have the 5% of the Dreamweaver features. Neither Bluefish, Quanta or one would face a complex project with such a primitive tools). DTP? Scribus is a good try (very immature) but Quark or InDesign are far batter. Flash content creation (A standard, and a flash player installed in the 99% of PCs)? It cannot be done on Linux.

In the software development industry there's not a single decent RAD tool. Gambas seems to promise but for now is shit, Eclipse is a RAM eater (thanks Java) that only can be used with 2GB RAM, Kylix promised give the potential of Delphi to Linux, but it was discontinued because the developers hate to pay for licenses and they prefer to use a primitive tool, like KDevelop. And now that we talk about Borland tools, is not rare that programming gurus like Ian Marteens abandoned Delphi and C++ Builder and now prefer the most powerful system for software development: Microsoft Visual Studio.NET.

A computer game developer would never develop free (as in free spech) games, because they have to eat and there's not a business model compatible with free software. The Linux users don't want free (as in free spech) games, they just want commercial quality without pay a single buck.

Administritive management? In Linux? There's not software in this area. The businessman wants to have something standard, something friendly, something mature. He doesn't want to be fighting with a console, compiling sources for in the end (if he finally get it compile) obtain a half-finished application.

If Linux is free (in both senses)...Why the high computers-makers don't preinstall it (just a 1% make that)? Or at least dual-boot? Others, in other hand, opt for FreeDOS.

The PC Battle is loss...because it never exist. Linux with it's chaotic development (instead of boost existing applications or create new ones to supply the lacks, we have thousand clones of each one but without finish or that directly just make us laugh) just has dug it's own tomb. The user don't want a degree in Computer Science: He wants to insert the Game CD, make a few clicks and have all installed and running. He doesn't want headaches. He wants visit XXX sites and watch the video correctly. He wants to install his webcam without recompiling the kernel.

Keep defending the console. Keep defending LaTeX as if it was something that a secretary or a lawyer have to use with the same simplicity of Microsoft Office. Keep defending Vi as the best tool for software developmnet a web site design.Keep believing that new users need to get close to Debian or Gentoo, taking days to configure a USB modem. Keep insulting distributions like Ubuntu or SuSE because are trying to be friendly. Keep just like this and in the end there will be just three frikis using Linux, while the rest of the world will be using what is already mature and functional: Windows.

And You? Where do you want to go today?

Thanks for you attention.

Sadly, most of what you say

ciprian's picture

Sadly, most of what you say is true.

Vi is great, just as LaTeX is. But they are not for trivial users.

Tell the truth, linux is not for trivial users. And if you want my humble opinion, is not for humans, also. Not that windoze is, but no matter how miserable windoze is, linux is still a failure.