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News Bytes


Selected and formatted by Michael Conry

Submitters, send your News Bytes items in PLAIN TEXT format. Other formats may be rejected without reading. You have been warned! A one- or two-paragraph summary plus URL gets you a better announcement than an entire press release.

 January 2002 Linux Journal

[issue 93 cover image] The December issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on networking, has an interview with Costa Rica's Minister of Technology (they use Linux!), and has that great picture of Linux-on-a-wristwatch on the cover (it's a prototype). Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe.

All articles through December 1999 are available for public reading at Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at

Legislation and More Legislation

 Sklyarov's Charges Dropped

Good news for all those following the story of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov. It looks like Dmitry will not have to face charges under the DMCA for speaking publicly in the US about software to circumvent Adobe e-book encryption. The press release from the US Attorney's Office can be found here. Basically, the agreement means that charges against Dmitry will be postponed for one year, or until the case against Elcomsoft (Dmitry's employers during the development of the contested technology) concludes, whichever is longer. During that time, Dmitry can return to Russia (as he did, happy news for both himself and his family). He will be "prohibited from violating any laws" (aren't we all!), and will have to testify truthfully in the US case against Elcomsoft (to do otherwise would be perjury). If he fulfills these obligations, then at the end of the deferment the charges will be dropped permanently.

Although this development is welcome, and has made headlines throughout the computer press (e.g. in The Register, in Wired and in Planet PDF ) as well as in the mainstream press (e.g. in USA Today), this story is far from over. Richard Stallman was quick to comment on the initial news (which was somewhat confused: it appeared the charges had been unconditionally dropped), cautioning that the DMCA was still a real threat to freedom. He also made a renewed call for active resistance and protest against the DMCA and its supporters. Later, under the impression that a plea bargain had been made, Stallman was quite critical of Dmitry, accusing him as a defector. Following clarifications Stallman apologised for earlier comments (which many felt were unwarranted, though well intentioned). Indeed, there seemed to be generally quite a lot of confusion surrounding the whole affair, apparently due to som unclear issuings from the State Attorney's Office. Some clarifying statements from Dmitry, his employer, and the defence team can be found here.

At the end of the whole episode, what has come out as the most important point is that the DMCA is still there. The US DOJ case against Elcomsoft should be a crucial test of the legality and applicability of this law, but as RMS keeps pointing out, it is important to follow every avenue and opportunity available in the fight for freedom (hopefully that is not too melodramatic!). The Electronic Frontier Foundation have an excellent page of resources on the Sklyarov case (and other DMCA related matters). Be sure to keep informed.

In other news, reported by The Register, it appears that copyright-enforcement happy Adobe is in hot water itself. A judge issued an injunction for Adobe to stop selling InDesign, its Quark-killer program, pending trial. Trio Systems has sued Adobe, claiming Adobe illegally used Trio's code in InDesign.

 MS Links

Christian Loweth mailed us a link to his website: The Microsoft Collection. This site contains quotes and links from many sources which address Microsoft's role in respect to monopoly activities, consumer privacy, legal issues, internet, systems interoperability, web standards, corporate ethics and more. This is probably of some interest given the legal negotiations Microsoft is involved in at the moment.

The recent Microsoft Antitrust settlement is still a bone of contention. Nine dissenting states and certain industry groupings are holding out for more punitive conditions, such as forcing MS to opensource Internet Explorer. Among the involved industry figures is Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik who recently testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee on the settlement. He argued that the 9 dissident states' remedies were more appropriate and potentially effective than the current arrangement. The Register has given a lengthy analysis of the various remedies, but as John Lettice vividly wrote, the dissenting states `...probably are just flinging themselves in front of a speeding train'. Certainly, Microsoft is pulling no punches in defending the position of the original settlement.

An interesting commentary on the proposed settlement can be found in Lawrence Lessig's testimony before the Senate Committee hearing. Lessig's main focus is on the inadequate enforcement provisions. He also makes the point that Microsoft is not the only enemy of competition out there (very true) and he even has some kind words on the .NET strategy. This is worth reading.

There was also a Slashdot discussion of these issues which included a useful link to some Linuxplanet advice for those who want to register their opinion on this matter (there is a 60 day comment period from Nov. 28).

A more recent cause of concern regarding Microsoft's intentions is the patent claim [] that it has been granted for a `Digital rights management operating system'. This is an operating system which has certain features to make it easier to protect `rights-managed data'. For example (taken from patent abstract) if you are running a trusted program using such data, no untrusted programs will be allowed to run. There are various other features along the same general idea. This story was reported by The Register, following the publication of the patent claim. Operation of the scheme would require a database of the particulars of users PC's:

"the content provider would have to maintain a registry of each subscriber's DRMOS identity or delegate that function to a trusted third party,"

Seth Johnson of the Committee for Independent Technology (C-FIT) posted a very bleak assessment of the situation to the software patents mailing list (also here). The MS DRMOS is seen as a large part in an overall movement to deprive the public of the power to work with and control information, with the ultimate aim of rendering them nothing more than passive consumers. This contribution builds on an earlier (and also pessimistic) article by David Winer which speculated on the nature of the deal done between Microsoft and the DOJ. Certainly, a patent on a DRMOS is worrying, in particular with legislation like the SSSCA doing the rounds which could make such technology mandatory.

Linux Links

LinuxFocus articles:

The Duke of URL has a review of the Pogo Linux Altura Athlon XP Workstation. Sadly, this is the Duke's last article, because the site is going +down. Another victim of the it's-so-much-work-and-I'm-not-getting-paid-for-it +syndrome. We'll miss the "concise and accurate information on Linux hardware and software" on the site. For now, the archives are available. Contact the Duke (Pat) if you want to make a $$ contribution toward putting the archive on CD-ROM, or +if you can donate webspace to host the archive.

Google's relaunched usenet archive received recent press both in an article in Wired and in a story on The Register. In particular there is a Google archive of historic announcements including Linus and his pet project, Tim Berners-Lee's announcement of what would become WWW, Microsoft's first mention in the media, and so on. Good nostalgia, especially at this time of year.

NewsForge have a story on Ximian's release of Evolution 1.0. Also covers the release of Ximian's proprietary MS Exchange client for Linux. Although some may have qualms about Ximian releasing such a proprietary extension, there are compelling reasons for this course of action, not least of which is staying in business! In any case, it should be a good asset to Linux users who are forced to operate in a MS Exchange environment. Story also covered here and here. have a review of Linux on Playstation 2 ( courtesy Slashdot).

O'Reilly Net have some pieces which might be of interest, including

The following links found on Linux Weekly News are worth checking out:

The Register have the following links

Newsforge recently took a look at whether one of the biggest problems with Linux usability is that the people teaching newbies are just too good. Interesting reading. Also at The Register.

Slashdot have the following links worth noting

Linux Journal article on perceptions of Linux among undergraduate sysadmin students.

Upcoming conferences and events

Listings courtesy Linux Journal. See LJ's Events page for the latest goings-on.

Consumer Electronics Show (CEA)
January 1-11, 2002
Las Vegas, NV

Bioinformatics Technology Conference (O'Reilly)
January 28-31, 2002
Tucson, AZ

COMNET Conference & Expo (IDG)
January 28-31, 2002
Washington, DC

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (IDG)
January 30 - February 1, 2002
New York, NY

The Tenth Annual Python Conference ("Python10")
February 4-7, 2002
Alexandria, Virginia

Australian Linux Conference
February 6-9, 2002
Brisbane, Australia

Internet Appliance Workshop
February 19-21, 2002
San Jose, CA

Internet World Wireless East (Penton)
February 20-22, 2002
New York, NY

Intel Developer Forum (Key3Media)
February 25-28, 2002
San Francisco, CA

COMDEX (Key3Media)
March 5-7, 2002
Chicago, IL

BioIT World Conference & Expo (IDG)
March 12-14, 2002
Boston, MA

Embedded Systems Conference (CMP)
March 12-16, 2002
San Francisco, CA

CeBIT (Hannover Fairs)
March 14-22, 2002
Hannover, Germany

COMDEX (Key3Media)
March 19-21, 2002
Vancouver, BC

March 19-21, 2002
Washington, DC

SANS 2002 (SANS Institute)
April 7-9, 2002
Orlando, FL

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Malaysia (IDG)
April 9-11, 2002

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Dublin (IDG)
April 9-11, 2002
Dublin, Ireland

Internet World Spring (Penton)
April 22-24, 2002
Los Angeles, CA

O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (O'Reilly)
April 22-25, 2002
Santa Clara, CA

Software Development Conference & Expo (CMP)
April 22-26, 2002
San Jose, CA

Federal Open Source Conference & Expo (IDG)
April 24-26, 2002
Washington, DC

Networld + Interop (Key3Media)
May 7-9, 2002
Las Vegas, NV

Strictly e-Business Solutions Expo (Cygnus Expositions)
May 8-9, 2002
Minneapolis, MN
8-9, 2002
Minneapolis, MN
PC Expo (CMP)
June 25-27, 2002
New York, NY

USENIX Securty Symposium (USENIX)
August 5-9, 2002
San Francisco, CA

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (IDG)
August 12-15, 2002
San Francisco, CA

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Australia (IDG)
August 14 - 16, 2002

Communications Design Conference (CMP)
September 23-26, 2002
San Jose, California

Software Development Conference (CMP)
November 18-22, 2002
Boston, MA

News in General

 Linux and Viruses ran a recent article reporting that Linux would be the next virus target (in the mould of the various email worms currently circulating the Windows world). It featured quotes from representatives of Trend Micro and McAfee which were surely well intentioned but at times sounded a little suspect. For example, did you know that `In fact it's probably easier to write a virus for Linux because it's open source and the code is available.' As Don Marti commented in his Aspiring to Crudeness newsletter: `How many damn "The Linux viruses are coming! Virus checkers are still relevant!" articles are we going to have to read until even the Mainstream Media starts ignoring the anti-virus vendors?.' Don also links to a good article by Rick Moen explaining why Linux is not such a likely target as some people believe. Roaring penguin also have a page covering various myths regarding Linux and viruses, which specifically addresses points raised in the article.

Perhaps the most imminent impact of viruses on Linux lies in the fact that if the current rash of virus outbreaks continues, it seems likely that many more security conscious customers will seek alternatives to the current market leaders. Secure (or at least more secure) software is bad news for anti-virus software makers.

 Quake 2 Source Code Released Under the GPL

John Carmack has released the sources to the fabled action shoot-em-up game: Quake 2. From Carmack's .plan file at id Software (
`However, all in all this may spur the development of many new (free) Linux games and may encourage some hackers who are not "just" coders (musicians, graphics artists, and others) to create new games by creating, compiling and plugging in new data sets.'
Fine sentiments indeed.

 Practical PostgreSQL PDF Now Available

Command Prompt, a developer of Linux and PostgreSQL custom development and managed services solutions, has announced the pre-production release of Pratical PostgreSQL. Practical PostgreSQL is a publication co-produced between Command Prompt, Inc. and O'Reilly & Associates covering the PostgreSQL ORDBMS. You may retrieve a pre-production PDF from the following URL:

 Special Event of Linux User Club India

Gitesh Trivedi mailed to point out that the Linux User Group of India is arranging an event for its users. The subject of the day is System Administration on Linux. It will be held on 13th January,2002. 10.00 A.M to 6.00 P.M at 26,Jagganathpark,Nr.Malav, Talav,Jivarajpark, Ahmedabad-380051 Gujarat INDIA. Further details here.

Distro News


Linux Today report the availability of Mandrake Linux 8.1 for Intel Itanium Architecture. The Itanium 64-bit architecture is a high-performance platform commonly used for servers.

The Register recently reviewed Mandrake 8.1, from the point of view of ease of install, and found it "easier than Win-XP". Overall, a very positive endorsement of the distro (particularly following the ordeal which ensued during an earlier Red Hat install).


SuSE Linux, has announced a version of "SuSE Linux Firewall on CD" available for "Virtual Private Networks" (VPN).

SuSE Linux, has announced the availability of SuSE Linux 7.3 for Sun Microsystems' SPARC architecture. The new version is available for download. SuSE provides Linux Kernel 2.2.20 for deployment in Sun4c and Sun4m series 32-bit machines and Kernel 2.4.14 for Sun4u series 64-bit systems. Among other features, Kernel 2.4.14 offers an extended range of drivers and USB support for new UltraSPARC models. SuSE Linux 7.3 for SPARC is based on the program library glibc 2.2.4 and includes XFree86 4.1.0.

 Yellow Dog have a report on Yellow Dog Linux and future directions the distribution could take (courtesy Linux Today).

Software and Product News

 Opera 6.0 for Linux Technology Preview

Opera Software has released Opera 6.0 for Linux, Technology Preview 2 (TP) for download with new features, including the ability to display non-Roman characters, a completely new and customizable user interface, as well as a range of different improvements that increases the speed and enjoyment of Linux users' browsing sessions.

 Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns Now Available for Linux

TimeGate Studios and Loki Software have announced that the fantasy and real-time strategy game, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, shipped for the Linux platform on Saturday, August 25.

Kohan has an MSRP of $49.95 (USD) and is now available for order from the Loki webstore. A listing of resellers is also available. Linux gamers are welcome to sample Kohan by downloading the free demo at

Proving again that good taste is no substitute for good gameplay, developer Running With Scissors announced that they will join forces with Loki Software to bring the long-awaited Linux version of POSTAL PLUS to Windows-weary gameplayers, everywhere.


Jim Watkins mailed to draw our attention to OpenFly: an open souce game engine for Flight Simulator toolkit that is Linux Compatible. He says "this looks like an awesome project and would be linux's first true Combat Flight Simulator".

 McObject Linux-based Benchmark Paper

McObject's have released a new white paper (pdf): "Main Memory vs. RAM-Disk Databases: A Linux-based Comparison". This paper addresses performance and availability implications of different approaches to database management in embedded systems running on Linux. It looks at databases running in embedded applications on hard-disks, on ram-disks, and in memory only operation.

McObject's benchmark tests the company's MMDB against a widely used embedded database, which is used in both traditional (disk-based) and RAM-disk modes. Deployment on RAM-disk boosts the traditional database's performance by as much as 74 percent, but still lags the memory-only database in this test (performed on Red Hat Linux version 6.2).


VMware has announced the launch of VMware Workstation 3.0. VMware Workstation enables multiple operating systems to run on physical computers in secure, transportable, high-performance virtual computers. Workstation 3.0 provides support for the latest operating systems including Microsoft Windows XP and the latest Linux distributions, supports additional peripheral devices, and provides significant enhancements in networking and overall performance.

 Tommy Hilfiger is Dressing Up Linux and Other IBM News

IBM have announced that Tommy Hilfiger has turned to IBM and Linux for an e-business infrastructure designed to expand the company's reach to its specialty retailers, factories and employees.

Tommy Hilfiger is creating three innovative new web portals using IBM eServer xSeries running Linux, IBM eServer iSeries running Java, DB2 Universal Database and a suite of software products from IBM Business Partner eOneGroup.

IBM has started shipping its first Eclipse-based tool for Linux -- the WebSphere Studio Application Developer for Linux beta. This follows IBM's earlier announced strategy, when it donated $40 million of software -- codenamed Eclipse -- to the new independent open-source community. Developers working on WebSphere Studio and other Eclipse-based tools use a common, easy-to-use interface that provides a consistent "look and feel," regardless of vendor, which cuts training costs for customers. Eclipse will also enable customers to integrate business processes used to create electronic-business applications, such as those for Web services. 150 software vendors, including IBM, Red Hat, TogetherSoft and others are already working together on Eclipse software. Downloads here.

As part of an initiative to stimulate the development of new Linux solutions specifically for the small and medium business market, IBM is announcing a "virtual Linux server" for independent software vendors. The eServer iSeries Linux "Test Drive" uses IBM's mainframe-inspired partitioning technology to give software vendors internet access to their own iSeries server, where they can write, port and test Linux applications for eServer iSeries. IBM believes Linux running on eServer iSeries is a combination that can reduce cost and complexity by consolidating onto a single, easy-to-manage, mainframe-class server.

 Project Management Software for Linux

The Project Management Software AUX RDP for Linux has been developed by SYSI GmbH Software Systeme. AUX RDP is a multiuser software tool for planning and control schedules, resources, costs, results and risks with numerous text and graphic reports. Additionally, AUX RDP includes a generator of Web-based Project Information System for creating project information within Intranet/Internet automatically. AUX RDP is available as Shareware and can be downloaded at

 Linux System Administration Course

Training etc wish to publicise their Linux system administration course This course equips participants with the tools to insure the well being of a LINUX system. Lab sessions include the installation, troubleshooting, and maintenance of a LINUX system

 Texas Instruments, RidgeRun and DSP

Extending a joint commitment to enable the rapid development of real-time applications, Texas Instruments and RidgeRun have announced the availability of an end-to-end embedded Linux development suite for TI's new system-level digital signal processors (DSPs). The combination of the RidgeRun DSPLinux operating system and Board Support Package (BSP) with TI's power-efficient, programmable DSPs should "reduce cost, power consumption and board space by 40 percent for designers of real-time embedded applications".

Copyright © 2002, Michael Conry and the Editors of Linux Gazette.
Copying license
Published in Issue 74 of Linux Gazette, January 2002
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