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News Bytes
By Michael Conry

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. Submit items to gazette@linuxgazette.net

 February 2002 Linux Journal

[issue 106 cover image] The February issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on enterprise computing. Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe.

All articles older than three months are available for public reading at http://www.linuxjournal.com/magazine.php. Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/.

Legislation and More Legislation

 You win some...

Jon Johansen, a Norwegian programmer who has been facing criminal charges as a result of his involvement in the creation of the DeCSS computer code for playing CSS encoded DVDs, has been acquitted on all counts. Jon was charged under a law that relates to breaking into other people's property, a law usually invoked in cases where attackers have attempted to break into another party's computer system. The law had never before been applied to prosecute a defendant for breaking into his own property, and in this case the Norwegian court ruled against the prosecutor on all charges, citing Norwegian law protecting a consumer's rights to use his own property. An English translation of the judgement has been made online by EFF.

The war is not over yet, however, and Norwegian prosecutors are set to appeal the verdict. If the request for an appeal is granted, the case will be heard again before the Norwegian appeal courts. Film industry lawyer, Charles Sims, was keen to assert that a US resident would have been breaking the law if they did what Jon Johansen did.

 You lose some

The United States Supreme Court has ruled to support the 20 year extension of copyright terms that was granted two years ago. The balance of opinion went 7-2, with dissenting opinions coming from Justices Stevens and Breyer.

The constitutional challenge began when Eric Eldred, who distributes public-domain books online, found that he would have to remove some of these works as their copyrights had been reactivated by an extension granted by the US Congress. There is a large amount of information on the case available at eldred.cc. Lisa Rein has also compiled a selection of reports and resources related to the case.

The issue at stake in the Eldred case was whether it was constitutional for Congress to extend copyrights in this way. There are compelling arguments on both sides of this argument (with some more compelling if you own billions of dollars in copyrighted works and want your business to be subsidised by the public), but the court has ruled that Congress had (and has) the right to make this extension. This does not mean that the all is lost. Governments in democratic countries are supposed to be responsive to the desires of citizens, and to act accordingly. Thus, it is important for citizens to make their opinions on these issues apparent to their elected representatives. Simply because a government can pass a law, does not mean that they will pass the law, especially if they can expect to pay a steep price at the ballot box next election time.

This is particularly relevant to European readers. European copyrights last for 50 years. What makes this significant is that about 50 years ago was the beginning of the modern era music recording, so from now on, a steady stream of high quality recordings by still-popular artists will be entering the public domain. Industry bodies are lobbying to have the terms of copyrights extended and are bandying words like piracy around to cloud the waters. As pointed out by Dean Baker, extending copyrights retrospectively on works does nothing to encourage creativity or "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Instead, it " raises costs to consumers and leads to increased economic inefficiency". This straight-forward truth will not stop industry monopolists and their quislings from attempting to steal the labour of humanity from the public commons, and then telling us it was all for our own good.


Your monthly serving of DMCA madness this time involves garage doors. It would appear that at least one firm believes that making universal garage door remotes is a breach of the DMCA and is prepared to spend some legal money on the idea. That wasn't enough? Well, here's a second helping: Lexmark is invoking the DMCA in an attempt to hobble the printer cartridge remanufacturing industry. Edward Felten has concisely explained that a major issue here is the whole principle of interoperability. Interestingly, the European Parliament has voted in a new law banning such "smart" printer cartridges as they make recycling more difficult and expensive. Bruce Schneier predicts a trade war, but even if it does not come to that, it will be interesting to see where the story goes. Also highlighted by Bruce, and worth reading, is the EFF's guide Unintended Consequences: Four Years under the DMCA.

Linux Links

Linux Magazine article on journaling filesystems.

Linux Planet article discussing basic Linux network security.

Some links highlighted by Linux Today:

Linux Job Market.

Lawrence Lessig discusses whether derivative works are always a bad thing for the owners of the original work. Japanese experience indicates they may be beneficial.

The Register has a report on businesses gathering to fight Hollings' copy controls

Some links from NewsForge:

Dave's Desktop is one Linux user's quest to share information on some of the helpful apps for Linux he has come across recently.

Howard Wen at O'Reilly is on a quest to find good Linux games. On the way, he found Falcon's Eye and talked to the game's creator

Linux Server Hacks: Backups

Both Linux Journal and DesktopLinux have dealt with Linux's relevance to senior citizens.

Some links from Linux Weekly News:

The Chinese Linux Documentation Project (CLDP) has included LDP's and Gnu's documents, translated them into Chinese. It also involve the Linux Gazette.

Some links from Slashdot:

Wikipedia, the free, contributor-maintained on-line encyclopedia, has reached its second birthday and 100,000 articles.

Upcoming conferences and events

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

O'Reilly Bioinformatics Technology Conference
February 3-6, 2003
San Diego, CA

Desktop Linux Summit
February 20-21, 2003
San Diego, CA

Game Developers Conference
March 4-8, 2003
San Jose, CA

March 7-11, 2003
Austin, TX

March 12-19, 2003
Hannover, Germany

Software Development Conference & Expo
March 24-28, 2003
Santa Clara, CA

Linux Clusters Institute (LCI) Workshop
March 24-28, 2003
Urbana-Champaign, IL

4th USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and Systems
March 26-28, 2003
Seattle, WA

PyCon DC 2003
March 26-28, 2003
Washington, DC

Linux on Wall Street Show & Conference
April 7, 2003
New York, NY

April 7-9, 2003
New York, NY

April 8-10, 2003
Washington, DC

LinuxFest Northwest 2003
April 26, 2003
Bellingham, WA

Real World Linux Conference and Expo
April 28-30, 2003
Toronto, Ontario

USENIX First International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (MobiSys)
May 5-8, 2003
San Francisco, CA

USENIX Annual Technical Conference
June 9-14, 2003
San Antonio, TX

CeBIT America
June 18-20, 2003
New York, NY

The Fourth International Conference on Linux Clusters: the Linux HPC Revolution 2003
June 18-20, 2003
Las Vegas, NV

O'Reilly Open Source Convention
July 7-11, 2003
Portland, OR

12th USENIX Security Symposium
August 4-8, 2003
Washington, DC

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
August 5-7, 2003
San Francisco, CA

Linux Lunacy
Brought to you by Linux Journal and Geek Cruises!
September 13-20, 2003
Alaska's Inside Passage

Software Development Conference & Expo
September 15-19, 2003
Boston, MA

PC Expo
September 16-18, 2003
New York, NY

September 16-18, 2003
Toronto, Ontario

LISA (17th USENIX Systems Administration Conference)
October 26-30, 2003
San Diego, CA

HiverCon 2003
November 6-7, 2003
Dublin, Ireland

November 17-21, 2003
Las Vegas, NV

News in General

 MEN Micro's New M-Modules

Two new digital input M-Modules from MEN Micro have been released. They have been designed to meet tough environmental and safety specifications and were developed specifically for railway applications, but they can be deployed in a broad range of industrial systems where shock, vibration, temperature and harsh environments are a concern.

The M-Modules, which are designated M31 and M32, each provide 16 binary channels to a control platform. Because they conform to the ANSI-approved M-Module standard, they can be installed in a number of standard bus-based systems, including CompactPCI, PXI, VMEbus and PCI, or they can be used in small busless systems.

Software drivers for the M31 and M32 are available for Windows, Linux, VxWorks, QNX, RTX and OS-9.

Distro News


Ark Linux is a new distribution, led by former Red Hat employee Bernhard Rosenkraenzer. It is based on Red Hat 7.3/8.0, and free alpha downloads are available.


Debian Weekly News reported the announcement by Steve McIntyre that he has created a set of update CD images that contain new and updated packages from 3.0r1.

Also from Debian Weekly News is a report on the availability of an RSS feed of new Debian packages.

Bdale Garbee, current Debian project leader, has been interviewed by Australian newspaper The Age.


Eagle Linux is a how-to based Linux distribution offering full open source documentation assisting users in creating personal embedded, floppy, and CD based bootable distributions.


Gentoo Linux has announced the second release candidate for the upcoming 1.4 version of Gentoo Linux. New in 1.4_rc2 is the Gentoo Reference Platform: a suite of binary tarballs that allow for faster initial installation. Currently X, GNOME, KDE, Mozilla, and OpenOffice,org are available as binary installations for x86 architectures and ppc architectures with others to follow.


Mandrake 9.0 has been reviewed recently by The Register/NewsForge and by Open for Business.

It has been widely reported in the past month that Mandrake is currently experiencing acute financial problems. This has lead company management to apply for Chapter-11 style protection. The purpose of this is to give the company some respite to allow it to reorganise its finances without pressure from creditors. The French courts have approved the plan and hopefully the company will in a better position to make positive progress after this period.


The SCO Group have announced plans to work with Wincor Nixdorf to provide Linux-based retail point-of-sale (POS) solutions to retailers in North America. This relationship gives retail customers an economical, reliable choice by combining the functionality and flexibility of Wincor Nixdorf hardware with the stability and reliability of SCO operating systems. The joint retail solutions will rely on Wincor Nixdorf's BEETLE POS family and SCO's Linux POS solution, SmallFoot.


SuSE Linux has annnounced the availability of a desktop Linux product that gives users the full functionality of the Microsoft Office suite of applications. SuSE Linux Office Desktop, available from January 21, is intended for small companies looking for an easy, preconfigured desktop -- as well as for personal users with little or no Linux experience.


UnitedLinux has announced plans to integrate the full OSDL Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) 1.1 feature set for UnitedLinux 1.0, delivering enhanced abilities to develop and deploy carrier-grade applications in a standardized Linux environment.

Developed by UnitedLinux integration partner SuSE Linux with HP, IBM and Intel, the features -- targeted initially for use on Intel-based hardware platforms -- enable telecommunications providers to develop and deploy new products and services on standards-based, modular communications platforms.

LPI a professional certification program for the Linux community, and UnitedLinux LLC have signed a cooperative agreement to market a UnitedLinux professional certification program.

Software and Product News


KDE 3.1 has been released.

 Understanding the Linux Kernel, 2nd Edition

O'Reilly & Associates has released a new edition of Understanding the Linux Kernel which has been updated to cover version 2.4 of the kernel. 2.4 differs significantly from version 2.2: the virtual memory system is new, support for multiprocessor systems is improved, and whole new classes of hardware devices have been added.

 Aqua Data Studio 1.5

AquaFold has announced the release of Aqua Data Studio 1.5, a free database tool supporting all major database platforms, including Oracle 8i/9i, DB2 7.2/8.1, Microsoft SQL Server 2000/7.0, Sybase ASE 12.5, MySQL, PostgreSQL and generic JDBC drivers. Aqua Data Studio also supports all major Operating Systems designed to run Sun Microsystem's Java Platform such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, OSX and Solaris. Aqua Data Studio is designed to speed up the development of database and application developers by providing them with an elegant and consistent interface to all databases on all platforms. Free downloads and screenshots of Aqua Data Studio are available online.


OpenMFG is a company using open source software to bring enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications to small manufacturers, has welcomed the first ten members of the Open Partners Program.

Copyright © 2003, Michael Conry. Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 87 of Linux Gazette, February 2003

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