UpFront

by Staff

by David Bandel

Next to adventure, this game or a variation of it has to be about the oldest computer game. I remember playing a game like this years ago in which two artillery guns lobbed crude-looking bombs at each other. But even before that, in the days when I was using punched paper tape and an acoustic 75-baud modem to connect to a mainframe, I remember playing a game where you input gravity and wind, then set angle and round velocity and tried to hit a computer gun before it hit you. Although light-years beyond either of those primitive games, Atanks is basically the same, only with more and better weapons and shields. Requires: liballeg, libpthread, libXext, libX11, libdl, libstdc++, libm, libgcc_s and glibc.

diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

by Zach Brown

Bryan O'Sullivan has produced Netplug, a dæmon that monitors whether network cables are plugged in and responds by bringing up or shutting down the system's network connection. This is useful for laptops and other systems that move around a lot or that are part of a Beowulf or other cluster. Netplug performs a similar task to the existing ifplugd Project by Lennart Poettering and others, and there may be some movement toward integrating the two projects.

The /proc/kcore interface to system memory may be going away in 2.6 because of the difficulty in maintaining it across the range of architectures and even across multiple versions of a single architecture. Linus Torvalds feels that few people actually use the interface, judging from the lack of complaints whenever it breaks; he believes it may be more trouble than it's worth. It turns out, however, that some developers do use the interface for debugging purposes, although they all agree a much better solution would be to include a proper debugger in the kernel itself. Linus always has been reluctant to do this, because he feels it lowers the quality of developers' debugging efforts.

Several developers have lodged complaints with Linus Torvalds, because he occasionally modifies changelog entries for patches that already have been accepted into the BitKeeper repository. Some developers call this censorship, some say it could lead to legal hassles, and some say it avoids proper version control because the history of the changelog entry is lost. But Linus feels it is good practice to make sure all changelog entries are well formed and accurately describe their corresponding patches. And, it was he who asked Larry McVoy to add the bk comment command, which easily allows such modifications.

NFS behaves a bit differently in 2.6 from the way it behaved in 2.4, resulting in a true incompatibility between the two stable series. The problem seems to boil down to a #define NFSEXP_CROSSMNT expression that always had a slightly inaccurate meaning, one that was corrected in the 2.6-test kernels. Changing it back would mean re-introducing the inaccuracy, so it looks as though the incompatibility will stick around. The incompatibility occurs when third-party code includes the header file containing the affected #define. A simple workaround exists to fix all affected source code.

Junio C. Hamano brought Phillip Lougher's SquashFS compressed filesystem code from 2.4 up to the 2.6-test tree. SquashFS appears to be the most promising compressed filesystem currently available for Linux, although it still provides only one-time write access; thereafter only read access is available. Full read-write access may be added in the future, however. Meanwhile, its predecessor, CramFS, is looking for another maintainer. Daniel Quinlan remains the official maintainer, but he would prefer to step down if a suitable replacement can be found.

Asymptopia Flash Card: www.asymptopia.com

by David Bandel

Want to study while you're working at your computer? This program puts flash cards up at predetermined intervals so you can practice while you're waiting for downloads or browsing the Web. Making new cards does require knowledge of LaTeX, but you can follow the example cards. Requires: libXm, libXpm, libXext, libXt, libSM, libICE, libX11, libasymptopia, libm, libstdc++, glibc, libgcc_s, libXp, libdl, libtiff, libpng12, libjpeg, libz and latex.

LJ Index—December 2003
  1. Fine, in Euros, charged by the city of Munich against The SCO Group for making unsubstantiated claims about Linux: 10,000

  2. Number of PC Club stores expected to stock computers with LindowsOS preinstalled: 51

  3. Number of years ibiblio.org has been distributing and hosting with Linux: 12

  4. Percentage of surveyed UK Web surfers who would rather give up mobile phones than the Web: 40

  5. Estimated amount in billions of dollars of the Linux server market in 2002: 2

  6. Estimated amount in billions of dollars of the Linux server market in 2007: 15

  7. Projected Linux installation percentage on PCs sold in India by March 2004: 10

  8. Indian percentage of the offshore IT services market: 60

  9. Estimated annual size in billions of dollars of the offshore IT market: 16

  10. Rupert Murdoch's predicted approximate price for a personal video recorder (such as a TiVo) within one year: 0

  11. Price Echostar (DishTV) says it plans to charge for its PVR if customers sign up for two years, plus certain programming packages: 0

  12. Average annual earnings (EBIT) percentage growth target for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.: 20

  13. Billions of dollars in worldwide B2B transactions in 1999: 145

  14. Projected trillions of dollars in B2B transactions in 2004: 7.29

  15. US percentage of B2B transactions in 1999: 39

  16. Projected US percentage of B2B transactions on the Net in 2004: 39

  17. Percentage of all developers surveyed who expect to write Linux applications in the next year: 59

  18. Percentage of Linux developers who say the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit will affect their plans: 6

  19. Microsoft's projected Linux server growth percentage from July 2003–June 2004: 24

  20. Microsoft's projected Windows server growth percentage in the same period: 9.5

Sources

1: Heise Online

2: Lindows.com

3: ibiblio.org

4: the inquirer

5, 6: Giga Information Group, via Veritas

7: Red Hat

8, 9: Gartner Group

10–12: Reuters

13–16: Gartner Group

17, 18: Evans Data Corp.

19, 20: Jupiter Research

by Doc Searls

by David Bandel

Krystal Drop is a game similar to Tetris in that you line up several krystals in a row. However, the alignment is vertical, and you have to pop all the similar colored crystals around the vertically aligned krystals. This is more difficult than it sounds. My games last only about a minute, but maybe I need a lot more practice. Requires: libSDL, libpthread, libSDL_image-1.2, libSDL_ttf-2.0, libGL, libSDL_mixer-1.2, libxml2, libz, libstdc++, libm, libgcc_s, glibc, libX11, libXext, libdl, libjpeg, libpng, libfreetype, libvorbisfile, libvorbis, libogg and libsmpeg.

They Said It

by Doc Searls

They are smoking crack.

—Linus Torvalds, referring to The SCO Group's claim that Linux contains a million lines of code copied from UNIX.

Linux is not a product. Rather, Linux is a collection of software components, individually crafted by thousands of independent hands around the world, with each component changing and evolving on its own independent timetable.

To think of Linux as a product is to freeze an inherently dynamic thing in time and to close something that is inherently open. It cannot be done without losing something–and something significant at that.

No, Linux is not a product. It is a process.

—Ian Murdock, news.com.com/2010-1071_3-5057321.html

When I was in 5th grade, an argument about personal calculators broke out in the Letters to the Editor column of my local newspaper, an argument conducted with religious fervor. On one side were those who felt that calculators were, on the whole, a good tool and that students should be taught to use them. On the other side were those who felt that calculators were a crutch, that their use would pollute the minds of impressionable youth and that their appearance was a sure sign of The End Times.

What both optimists and pessimists believed, however, deep down, was that their opinions mattered. “Someday”, each of them thought, “someone is going to ask me what we should do about these here calculators.” What the adults didn't understand, but me and my 5th grade posse did, was that calculators, having arrived, were never going away.

—Clay Shirky, www.corante.com/many/20030701.shtml#46771

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