British Linux Users, This ISP's for You

by David Penn

Offering unlimited Internet access and no subscription charges, the United Kingdom's first Linux/open-source ISP, UKLinux.net, is now on-line. Available only within the UK, UKLinux.net offers up to 128Kbps ISDN connections, MySQL and PostgreSQL facilities, and local mirrors of the most popular Linux distributions.

In addition to bringing Linux-friendly Internet service to the UK, UKLinux.net also aspires to be a major Linux portal site for open-source/free-software projects, organizations and individuals. The UKLinux.net support area provides online assistance and discussion forums. The ISP also indexes UK Linux User Groups in its LUG section.

Said Jason Clifford, a spokesperson for UKLinux, "Most ISPs here are run by companies with little or no interest in providing technical support to their users beyond the usual 're-install Windows' nonsense ... they tend not to be very friendly toward users of Linux, FreeBSD or any other non-MS platform."

UKLinux.net is supported by Definite Linux, the leading UK Linux distribution. Through UKLinux.net, Definite Linux has released their patches to the Cistron Radius Server, which are geared toward improving sendmail functionality by providing for secure relaying to UKLinux.net users in a shared network environment.

"In fact, UKLinux.net would not have been technically possible without open source/free software" said Clifford, who is also part of Definite Linux's development and technical support team. "We had to rewrite the Radius server in order to implement a new scheme of sendmail relay authentication. Cistron Radius server is licensed under the GPL so we were able to rewrite it to add some extra functions to the accounting code and, with the addition of a very small extra rule to sendmail's configuration, we were able to authenticate our users to relay via our mail servers while preventing the users of other ISPs on the same network from doing so."

"Of course, our updates are also available under the GPL."

All profits made by UKLinux.net are slated to be re-invested in the UK Open Source/Free Software community through sponsorships of open-source developers and their projects.

"More and more UK corporations are considering Linux as a serious server platform and several large companies here have publicly announced that they are undertaking pilot schemes to evaluate Linux as a desktop operating platform," Clifford added. "With such initiatives as the Linux Centre--a coming together of many of the UK's leading Open Source/Free Software consultants into a single company to provide enterprise class support and consultancy services--most of us believe that the UK is now ready for a major explosion in corporate Linux usage. So do most of the trade publications here."

"(UKLinux.net) seems so obvious now that I wonder why no one else ever thought to offer such a service here in the UK," said Clifford. "It certainly seems to be popular ... in less than a week we've had over 500 people sign up--and that's before any real publicity has been done!"

email: david@ssc.com

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