At long last, Jeff Dike's User-Mode Linux has been accepted into the 2.5 kernel tree. Now users may invoke the Linux kernel as a user process on a running system. Or to put it another way, users may invoke any number of concurrent virtual Linux systems, which may be Beowulfed together or clustered in some other way, or else used for testing new drivers and other invasive patches that can result in crashed systems. No more lengthy reboots when your new toy blows up—start another instance and keep hacking!
SGI's journaling filesystem XFS has also been accepted into the 2.5 tree, having finally met Linus Torvalds' requirements. For a long time, XFS made some fairly violent changes to areas of the kernel that Linus felt really shouldn't be touched. These have been cleaned up, and the code is in. Users desiring journaling filesystems can now choose between ext3, ReiserFS, IBM's JFS and now XFS.
Threading scalability has just made a huge jump. Now you can start 100,000 threads and run them all concurrently. This came as such a shock to kernel developers that Linus thought he misread the announcement. Ulrich Drepper and Ingo Molnar have been leading this charge, which brings threading scalability far, far above what anyone could reasonably need on a home system. Still, as one developer put it, if nothing else, this shows we're doing something right.
There is currently an ongoing debate that will have a strong impact on virtually all users. The ability to unload a given module from the kernel may be going away. Apparently, the code to handle modules has become too complicated; one proposal is that this can be simplified if modules, once loaded, are simply grafted permanently onto the running kernel. The problem with this is the ability to unload modules is seen as a really useful feature many developers want to keep. So far, the debate looks as though it could swing either way.
Some new code for handling crashes has come to light. One such is a patch to control core-dump filenames. When a program core-dumps, instead of simply producing a file in the current directory called core, it can produce a file in another directory with a name specified by the user. Another bit of code for crash handling is kksymoops, an OOPS handler that decodes the kernel symbols before dumping the OOPS. Previously, OOPS output had to be run through a separate program in order to produce data that would be meaningful to kernel developers. With kksymoops, more and better information is available. This makes it easier for users to report system crashes and easier for developers to debug them.
CheckBook Tracker tony.maro.net
If you've been waiting for a replacement for Quicken, this might be the ticket. I don't have Quicken, so I downloaded my bank files as QIF, and they imported flawlessly into CheckBook Tracker. The interface is clean, efficient and has a number of display modes. This is probably the most intuitive checkbook I've used recently. Requires: libXi, libXext, libX11, libm, libgtk, libgdk, libglib, libgdk_pixbuf, libgmodule, libdl, glibc.
—David A. Bandel
This is a simple curses-based typing practice program. It won't teach you to type (you already need to know how to do that), but it will help improve your speed, using either an xterm window or a VT. You can practice on different keyboards (QWERTY or DVORAK) and alternate hands to give either hand more practice. Requires: libncurses, glibc.
—David A. Bandel
Number of Linux-based Sicom Systems point-of-sale systems being installed in Burger Kings in Puerto Rico: 160
Number of Linux-based PDAs: 16
Billions of searches per month on Linux-based Google: 5
Millions of Linux users: 18
Position of Linux Professional Institute (LPI) on Computer Reseller News (CRN) fastest-rising certification list: 1
Position of Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) on Computer Reseller News (CRN) fastest-rising certification list: 2
Percentage of retail Red Hat Linux customers who use the OS at home: 34
Percentage of retail Red Hat Linux customers who use the OS at work: 13
Percentage of retail Red Hat Linux customers who use the OS both at home and at work: 50
2001 salary in dollars of Hilary Rosen, president of the RIAA: 1,163,729
2001 salary in dollars of Jack Valenti, president of the MPAA: 1,030,000
Average payola in dollars paid by record companies to US commercial radio stations to add a song to a playlist: 1,000
Payola in dollars paid per week by the US record industry: 300,000
Amount paid by US radio stations to record companies or artists to play music: 0
Range of percentage of revenues that will be paid by small webcasters to artists via the RIAA's collection arm: 8-12
Percentage of TV commercials that don't get watched in households using the Linux-based TiVo: 88
Factor by which the cost of processing a single bit declines every 20 years: 1,000
4: Linux Counter
5, 6: Computer Reseller News
10, 11: Washington Business Forward
12, 13: Salon
14, 15: MediaPost
16, 17: Martha Rogers, Peppers & Rogers Group
Infomart's Kaii (www.kaii.info) has joined Sharp's Zaurus in the growing field of Linux-based PDAs. Like Zaurus, Kaii will run Lineo's Embedix Plus Linux kernel v. 2.4.2, Trolltech's Qt/Embedded and Qtopia environment and Insignia's Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Unlike Zaurus, it runs on a 160MHz Hitachi SH3 CPU (Zaurus runs on a StrongARM) and uses an on-screen keyboard.
Kaii comes with a choice of color or monochrome 320 × 240 screens, up to 128MB RAM, 32MB masked ROM or Flash, USB interface, RS-232C serial port, IrDA port, CompactFlash Type II slot and an MMC slot.
It also comes with the Opera browser, the Hancom Mobile Office suite and sync software for Linux desktops, OS X, Windows and “PIMs like Outlook”.
Its size is 137 × 73 × 17mm or 5.39 × 2.87 × 0.67in, which is nearly identical to the Zaurus without its keyboard exposed.
Infomart is positioning Kaii as a “low-cost alternative computer or corporate special purpose workstation in cost-sensitive markets like India, China, Eastern Europe, Africa, etc.” Infomart is headquartered in India.
Programs that use treacherous computing will continually download new authorization rules through the Internet, and impose those rules automatically on your work. If Microsoft, or the US government, does not like what you said in a document you wrote, they could post new instructions telling all computers to refuse to let anyone read that document. Each computer would obey when it downloads the new instructions. Your writing would be subject to 1984-style retroactive erasure.
—Richard Stallman, on why “trusted” computing shouldn't be
The record companies hold all the cards; if you want to be famous, you have to go the mainstream route. If you want huge success, you have to go the mainstream route. If you want worldwide success, you have to go the mainstream route. And until we see our first Internet & Live Shows Only artist sell a million CDs without a label deal, the major labels will be the only mainstream route available. Don't quote Grateful Dead statistics to me—they're the exception, not the rule.
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I think ultimately we will look for an open-source desktop. I think that's eventually where the industry will go.
—Richard Thwaite, director of IT and ebusiness infrastructure for Ford Europe (which controls 33,000 desktops)
Typically people think about things such as BIND and Sendmail, which are very important; but there is a much more practical sense in which both free and open code helped spread the birth of the Internet. That's the decision made in architecting the browser that reveals source. The source is constantly available. People didn't learn HTML just by buying Tim (O'Reilly)'s books first. What they did was steal each other's web pages, made the tweaks they wanted and then bought Tim's books so they could figure out how to do it better the next time around.