Week of April 3

by David Penn
April 7

Vocalizations! "Thus, the open source community ... is sustained not by government regulation, or even by contract law, but by essentially voluntary norms founded in enlightened self-interest. And that's the way we in that community want to keep it. We experience Microsoft's attempts to monopolize and the government's attempt to regulate as equally threatening, equally disruptive, equally evil." Eric S. Raymond, from an on-line debate, "Should Public Policy Support Open-Source Software?", sponsored by The American Prospect.org.

Linux Slavery is Freedom, Linux Wars are Peace: Bill Henning writes in to let the Rookery know about his "LinuxWars: Distribution War III.3" comparison review of some of the main Linux distributions going around, including Caldera OpenLinux 2.3, Red Hat 6.1 Deluxe, SuSE 6.3, Corel Deluxe, Mandrake Linux 7.0. Bill, who's an editor for both CPU Review and AboutLinux.com, covers comparison areas such as printed documentation, best desktop, networking configuring and more. What's most reasonable about Bill's review (compared with most) is that he doesn't seek out a distribution uber alles, but instead points users toward distributions that may suit their needs best, whether a user demands maximum ease of install or simply wants to get his or her hands on as much software as possible.

Red Hat Powers Up Dells PowerApp: We've told you before that Dell servers increasingly were wearing red hats (in the article of the same name). Well, we've recently learned that Dell Computer Corporation and Red Hat have teamed up to put Red Hat Linux 6.2 on Dell's new line of PowerApp.web appliance servers. According to Michael Lambert, senior VP for Dell's Enterprise Systems Group, the PowerApp.web for Linux appliance server "removes the complexities of installing, configuring and supporting" Linux-based Web infrastructures. How so? In part, due to Dell's PowerApp Kick-start Utility, a network configuration tool that provides for easier input of basic network information, and Dell's PowerApp Admin Tool, a "unified management interface" operators can use to configure, deploy and manage the appliance servers. Red Hat will also provide technical support for the PowerApp.web for Linux appliance server.

"Oh, What Will Ya Do with a Drunken Hacker ..." Have no fear ... Die Linuxbierwanderung 2000 is here! Well, not quite here yet. But for any hacker who thinks he or she may find him or herself in England this summer, the Linux Beer Hike 2000 may be something to put near the top of the itinerary. The Linux Beer Hike is scheduled for July 30 through August 6 and, last year, about 60 came from around the world to gather in northeastern Bavaria for days of hiking, evenings of Linux discussion and plenty of food and beer in between (for those who are interested in such things as sustenance and inebriation). This year, the Linux Beer Hike 2000 will be held in Coniston in the Lake district, an area allegedly rhapsodized by such Romantic poets and William Wordsworth and others. Accommodations will be in hotels, youth hostels, B&Bs and camp sites. No registration fee is required and all participants pay their own way. "You do not have to go on any of the hikes,"says the Die Linuxbierwanderung 2000 Web site, "drink beer or even know much about Linux.". Visit their Web site for more information. By the way, the event is co-supported by Cyber Ware and SuSE.

Clued-in/Clued-out "Now, a couple of bad months erases neither the huge returns Linux stocks have run up since their IPOs in 1999, nor the operating system's genuine technological merit. But Linux's winter of discontent may serve as a reminder that its market power is finite." David Orenstein, in his article "Linux Salvation?", from Upside.com

April 6

Vocalizations! "The Internet's exponential growth is due in part and parcel to the access to linked information. Once you start applying the ability to police where links go, then it's going to have major negative ramifications on how the Internet will grow in the future." Daniel Harris, an attorney with Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison, defending the practice of "deep linking" in an article at Salon.com.

Why Windows Can't Dance: To be honest, Windows can dance. It just takes more than a little participation from its partner--in this case, the Samba.org group who has had to release an upgrade (2.0.6) so that its open-source implementation of Microsoft's Server Message Block protocol can continue to provide file-sharing between UNIX or Linux systems and the Server Message Block that is a part of Windows 2000. According to a story posted at Information Week, changes to the Windows Remote Procedure Call when W2K was released, resulted in temporary interoperability problems with Samba 2.0.5. Because the Samba team is more concerned with ensuring interoperability between UNIX/Linux and Windows NT 4.0, the group of volunteer hackers has avoided working on compatibility issues between Samba and the Active Directory that is one of Windows 2000's new features. To make matters, at the least, more difficult, Samba team members are suggesting that "Microsoft hasn't been particularly interested in Samba implementations", unsurprisingly enough. All the same, Samba version 2.0.6 is available for those whose Windows will open, but won't let UNIX/Linux through.

I-Opener Closes on Linux: We reported on the recent hack of Netpliance's I-Opener last month, a hack that turned the $99, flat-screen Internet appliance into a $99, flat-screen Linux machine. Well, apparently Las Vegas engineer Ken Segler's ingenuity has Netpliance reconfiguring their I-Opener to prevent the installation of a hard drive, keeping Linux or any other operating system from being loaded onto their appliance. The I-Opener otherwise runs on its own customized operating system, and has received commendable reviews in some publications, when compared to similar Internet appliances from Sega, Philips, InfoGear and EchoStar.

Asia to Linux: We Still Love You!: When word came out that the Communist Chinese were seriously digging Linux--perhaps even to the point of making it the "official operating system" of the People's Republic--there was quite a bit of grumbling from some of the more liberty-minded in the Linux community. For some of these folks, having the "damn Reds" hyping Linux seemed to send a variety of commentators into virtual apoplexy. However, love Linux they do--and they aren't alone, according to a new story on the subject from IDG.net. There isn't a great deal more here that isn't covered elsewhere (including our stories here at the LJ web site). The most valuable distinction made in the IDG piece is the fact that poorer Asian nations such as China, Korea and India are especially interested in Linux, though the cost benefits of the software (combined with the possibilities for cultivating top-notch indigenous talent) may entice some of the wealthier nations in Asia to give Linux a nod, as well.

Clued-in/Clued-out "How can I explain XF86 Config to someone whose computer experience is largely limited to 'plug and pray' equipment? It's a matter of finding a way to translate the language we've cultivated over the years into one that people who are new to Linux, or even new to computers, (will understand). We must also be careful that our words are not condescending while attempting to make sense of an operating system that can be confusing even to experienced users." Jessica Sheffield, from her article "Be Sure to Have Your Oil Checked Regularly," from Linux.com.

April 5

Vocalizations! "We put something on there that people will pay for, not necessarily because they have to, but because they want these things and they're willing to pay for them. And it's anything from bundling and integrating third-party software, to developing our own software that goes beyond the infrastructure and it really gives certain features that users are looking for and willing to pay for. But they may not necessarily need them to be open-source software." Cliff Miller, President and Co-founder of TurboLinux, in an interview with E-Commerce Times.

Some Speech is Freer Than Others: In the same week that the 6th Circuit Court found that source code was a form of expressive, as well as functional, speech, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, (EFF), filed an appeal to remove a preliminary injunction levied against over 70 Web site operators who've posted DeCSS code on the Internet. The EFF is joined in this battle by lawyers from the First Amendment Project, who see the fight to defend DeCSS as a "battleground over the First Amendment ... in cyberspace." At this point, no trial date has been set for the appeal, filed in Santa Clara County. As you may recall, Linux Journal has weighed in heavily on the DeCSS matter, with articles from Technical Editor, Jason Kroll ("Crackers and Crackdowns" and "Return of the Hacker") and our Web columnist, Bryan Pfaffenberger ("Linux and DeCSS: What the MPAA is Really After".)

Free? Embedded? Linux? Cool!Coollogic, makers of Internet appliances running embedded Linux software, have announced their new "vendor-neutral", community development site for embedded, real-time Linux downloads. The Web site, www.rtkernel.org, will offer the most recent version of Coollogic's real-time (RT) Linux kernel as a free, immediately available download but, as Eric Powers, vice president of software engineering for Coollogic says, "the new website will continue to support the concept of free Linux software for the benefit of embedded systems developers, and software and hardware product managers worldwide." As such, it is no surprise that www.rtkernel.org supports the GNU Public License for all source code development.Content at www.rtkernel.com will include real-time kernel source code, documentation, mailing lists, as well as links to other Linux websites.

If Ya Got 'Em, Sell 'Em: For those of you keeping track, IBM has set aside another 250,000 shares of Red Hat for sale as of yesterday. This brings the total number of Red Hat shares ear-marked for sale by Big Blue up to a staggering 750,000. Two earlier 250,000 share blocks were valued at a combined $29.2 million when IBM registered them for sale. SEC filings to date, Form 144, note only the intention to sell shares. A separate filing indicating the details of the transactions will need to be made by IBM when the actual sales are made.

Clued-in/clued-out "Because computer source code is an expressive means for the exchange of information and ideas about computer programming, we hold that it is protected by the First Amendment." The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in their decision in Junger v. Daley, defending the right to post cryptographic code on the Internet.

April 3-4

Vocalizations! "In his arrogance, Gates treated the whole matter like a little insect buzzing around his head. True, a single mosquito bite won't do much damage. But a thousand mosquito bites will. And now that he's opened the tent flap, he'll have thousands of pests sucking time and money out of his company. He had the repellent in his hand years ago--but was too proud to use it." Jesse Berst, from his article, "Biggest Business Blunder Ever? Why MS Shareholders Should Hate Bill Gates." From ZDNet.

Texts-R-UsAndover.Net, one of the leading information destinations in the Linux/Open Source universe, and ibooks.com, an online reference book publisher, are teaming up to build the first Linux/Open Source online digital bookstore. Said Bruce Twickler, president and CEO of Andover.Net: "Our goal is to provide Andover.Net users with the most complete and up-to-date repository of Linux and Open Source related information. ibooks.com's unique digital format for online reference books and full-text searching capabilities are a fantastic addition to the Andover.Net network ..." What will be stocked on this online digital bookstore's cybershelves? Among many digital books published by outfits like John Wiley, O'Reilly and Sybex, Linuxbooks.com will also offer 12 free texts including the Linux Documentation Project (LDP), the GNU/Linux operating system user guides and HOWTOs. (Note: these resources are also available at Linux Journal's "Linux Resources" page.)

Caution! Linux@work: Roberto Zicari of Linux@work writes to let us know about the upcoming month o' conferences Linux@work is sponsoring throughout Europe. The series begins on Monday, May 8 in Copenhagen and ends Friday, May 19 in Zurich, with stops in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and London in between. The focus, says Roberto, is on "Linux solutions in business" but, more importantly, all conference/exhibition events are free and open to the public. Visit the Linux@work Website for more information on the conference series, as well as to register in advance.

"I've Got a Motive Which is Murder and a Body Which is Dead!" Thus spake Rod Steiger as the feisty (and somewhat red about the throat and neck) Southern sheriff in the 1967 social thriller, In the Heat of the Night in a fit of law enforcement pique. And though Federal judge Thomas P. Jackson's stinging rebuke of Microsoft yesterday--charging the software giant with anticompetitive practices which have "trammeled the competitive process through which the computer software industry generally stimulates innovation and conduces the optimum benefit of consumers"--shows the good judge to be no Rod Steiger, his point is well taken. (Besides, how many observers have managed to fit "Microsoft", "innovation", and "benefit" in the same sentence, in any context?) Settlement talks broke down last week--amidst a flurry of charges and counter-charges ranging from greedy states looking to strip the very meat from Microsoft's bones, to an increasingly chippy, Chief Software Architect Bill insisting that Microsoft did nothing wrong (or, if they did, nothing more wrong than anybody else). No end is immediately in sight, either, with Microsoft pledging to appeal Jackson's decision. (Here is an analysis of the ruling from CNN. The complete text of Judge Jackson's opinion is here.) One thing most everybody agrees on (and, no, the inevitable rise in value of any post-breakup Microsoft stock is not a part of the consensus) is that there will be very little in the way of short-term effects that computer end users or developers will be able to notice. Part of the strategy for Microsoft is apparently to drag out the proceedings as long as possible, so that the impending change of the judicial guard (which is virtually inevitable after the new president is sworn in ten months from now) might result in a kinder, more sympathetic federal treatment.

Clued-in/Clued-out "The class-action lawsuits will not distract at all from our appeal. We think they're misguided. Consumers haven't been harmed. We're a company that's created consumer benefits. We're a company of incredible integrity. We're a company that's competed hard and that's what we're supposed to do. I don't think the law, nor consumers, not the industry would be better served if we didn't do that."  from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, in response to Monday's federal court ruling that Microsoft violated anti-trust law. As quoted in Wired.

Linux Flashback!  The April 1995 edition of the Linux Journal, issue 12, featured "Building Shared Libraries" by Eric Kasten, a Linux port tour by Joseph L. Brothers, and Terry Dawson's article on "Ethernetting Linux."

Wanna let everybody know? Send your announcements, thoughts, comments, rude gestures and flattering remarks to: rookery@linuxjournal.com

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