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Selected and formatted by Michael Conry

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 July 2002 Linux Journal

[issue 99 cover image] The July issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on interoperability. Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe.

All articles through February 2002 are available for public reading at Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at

Legislation and More Legislation


Back in January, we mentioned that Microsoft had been granted a patent claim for a `Digital rights management operating system'. It appears their plans are developing further. A recent article at MSNBC/Newsweek provides an "exclusive first look" at the new technology. It begins:

"An exclusive first look at Microsoft's ambitious-and risky-plan to remake the personal computer to ensure security, privacy and intellectual property rights. Will you buy it?"
Frankly, I don't buy it! The article is almost entirely uncritical and does not raise any of the many legitimate concerns surrounding such a technology.

The Register has published a some excellent articles on Palladium, by John Lettice, Richard Forno and Thomas C Greene. The third of these focuses specifically on what effect Palladium could have on the Linux community, and the indications are not good (unsurprisingly, given that it would mean a large part of the hardware industry could end up dancing almost exclusively to Microsoft's tune). Indeed, as Robert Cringely has written, Palladium could be bad news for the entire infrastructure of the internet.

If you want more information on Palladium, and DRM (digital rights management) technology in general, cryptome has some useful links along with the text of the original MS DRM OS patent. Of particular interest is Ross Anderson's TCPA / Palladium Frequently Asked Questions (TCPA=Trusted Computing Platform Alliance).

 Governments and Linux

The BBC has reported that Germany has signed a contract with IBM and SuSE for a large public sector Linux-based computer contract. Among the reasons for the decision given by German representatives were cost and security. The BBC article gives quite a nice background to the story also, which is worth reading. Also of interest is SuSE's press release, and other reports of this news at The Register and at Slashdot.

In other good news, it has been reported by and by LinuxToday that Finnish MP's have signed a bill requesting national and local agencies to migrate their IT systems to the Linux operating system. This could be part of a trend. Slashdot has reported a similar development in Taiwan, which "...will start a national plan to jump-start the development and use of Free (libre) Software". has published a survey of countries which making moves toward open-source software and attempting to reduce dependence on Microsoft.

Linux Links

Linux Focus
The following articles are in the July/August issue of the E-zine LinuxFocus:

Article at on installing and configuring CVS for Linux.

Interview with RMS. Among other topics, this deals with UnitedLinux.

Salon describes how FCC decisions are allowing a few big ISPs (the ones owned by the cable companies and telcos) to squeeze out all the little ones. Gives an analysis of what this will mean for the market.

Some stories from the The Register related to the Linux world:

Links from the O'Reilly stable of websites

Some Linux Journal web article that might be of interest:

The Linux Buyer's Guide is a service provided by Linux Journal; it lists software (both commercial and free), hardware, distributions, books, etc. There are ten major categories and dozens of subcategories, and a search page for searching names, descriptions and price ranges. The service is always free to users, and vendors likewise can list their products for free. (Vendors can also sign up for paid premium services; e.g., banner ads.) Entries are added by the vendor through the web, so they reflect which vendors have visited the site and chosen to list their products. Free software developers are invited to register as "vendors" and list their software, so that the public can comparison shop between free and commercial items. Just designate one person to be the Buyer's Guide contact, who will update the product listing as the product changes. (All listings must be updated or verified at least once a year or they will be dropped; this prevents stale listings from remaining.)

Some links from Slashdot that should appeal to you:

Joel Spolsky has written a well thought out article outlining his theories on the economics underlying open source software. This was discussed on Slashdot. While on the theme of economics, Linux Journal have an article entitled A Successful Linux/Open-Source Business Model which might be worth looking through.


Linux Weekly News has a new look, "making light use of style sheets", which you should take a look at. There are further changes and enhancements including a more dynamic front page, login-preferences, and article talkbacks (which you will see at the bottom of the announcement of the new look). The old LWN site and content is available as

Of course, not only does LWN have a new and attractive style, it also has lots of good content! The following are some highlights of the past month that might interest you:

Upcoming conferences and events

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

O'Reilly Open Source Convention (O'Reilly)
July 22-26, 2002
San Diego, CA

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

IBM eServer pSeries (RS/6000) and Linux Technical University
October 14-18, 2002
Dallas, TX

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

News in General

 Simile.D have reported on a virus that can affect both Windows and Linux. Called Simile.D, it is only a serious risk to a Linux user if she reads email attachments as root. Security risk is therefore relatively small. If you want more information, you can see further details on Vnunet's website, and also on Symantec's website

A better bet is to read Robin "Roblimo" Miller's article at NewsForge: "One of the great defects in Linux compared to Windows is that it is not infected by cool viruses."

 HP, Oracle and Red Hat Combine Engineering Expertise to Further Develop Linux Solutions for the Enterprise

HP have announced that it has combined engineering resources with software company Oracle, and Red Hat, to certify and deliver Red Hat Linux Advanced Server on an 8-Node Oracle9i Real Application Clusters environment running on ProLiant DL580 servers from the new HP.

More information on HP's Linux initiatives is available at

This move has had some press coverage. Siliconvalley has interpreted it as a move to unseat IBM as the dominant Linux vendor. IDG has characterised the development as a reaction to the UnitedLinux development. Don Marti has also commented on the role Oracle's favouring of RedHat will have on the distribution market.

 United Linux

One of the biggest earthquakes in the Linux Distribution landscape in a long time was the announcement by Caldera, SuSE, Turbolinux and Conectiva that they were going to team up to form UnitedLinux. Speculation about what exactly this development will mean for Linux began even before the announcement was formally made. RedHat, which would be an obvious target of the newly formed UnitedLinux, has made little comment on the development and is reported to be cautiously optimistic. However Dennis Powell, writing at Linux and Main, sees this as the beginning of a larger battle between UnitedLinux on one side and Dell Red Hat and Oracle on the other.

Among the features of UnitedLinux which have attracted attention are the refusal to distribute free binaries, and talk of per seat licensing. It would appear that not all details in these areas have yet been worked out.

 Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

One of the most contentious happenings of the past month was the release by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution of a whitepaper entitled Opening the Open Source Debate. Among the points made in this document was that

Terrorists trying to hack or disrupt U.S. computer networks might find it easier if the federal government attempts to switch to "open source" as some groups propose.'
Unsurprisingly, this led to an outcry among many associated with open source software.

Happily, for those of us who believe free and open software is a good thing, it appears that these contentions are not being blindly accepted. Indeed there have been some very well considered rebuttals of the whitepaper's theories. David F. Skoll at the Sydney Morning Herald has made detailed arguments (also at Roaring Penguin) against the specific points raised as has Thomas C. Greene at The Register and Karl O. Pinc at NewsForge,

Some commentators such as Michelle Delio at Wired have suggested that Microsoft may have paid to have the paper written. Whoever were the original funders of the paper, if you want to read it, you will have to stump up $5.29, as reported by NewsForge. It is possible to download the original version from a non-ADTI server, which was linked from the Slashdot report on this story. Apparently, the main differences between the different versions of the document are in spelling and grammar (Anthony Awtrey at Linux and Main goes through them in detail).

For a more positive analysis of the role of open/free software in government and military applications, you could look at the MITRE paper on the subject. Finally, for the ultimate irony, NewsForge had the pleasure of reporting that the ADTI's own website runs Apache.

 MobiliX wins Against Obelix

In a recent court hearing in Germany, the owners of the name Mobilix have defeated a challenge brought against them by Les Éditions Albert René, owners of the popular Asterix comic book series. The Asterix comic features a character named Obelix, and it was the contention of lawyers representing Les Éditions Albert René that the name Mobilix was a violation of their trademarks. Mobilix is a website devoted to Mobile Unix (in particular Linux and BSD on laptops, PDA's, cell phones, etc.,). The court eventually ruled that there was little chance of the names being mixed up, especially given the very different markets they are aimed at.

The documentation of the case is available online (also in German), and includes letters from MobiliX lawyers Jaschinski Biere Brexl.

Distro News


Debian Weekly News have reported the availability of preliminary XFree86 4.2.0 Packages. Branden Robinson and Ishikawa Mutsumi's announcement is available here. Werner Heuser has set up a Mini HOWTO about Debian-XFree86 v4.2. Download from a mirror if possible.

Also reported by DWN was the availability of updated Woody MiniCD images for alpha, i386, m68k, and PowerPC.


Gentoo Linux 1.2 was released June 10.


The fourth release of Phat Linux has arrived on FTP servers. It includes updates such as Ximian GNOME and a 2.4.18 kernel. Phat aims to be installable on a Windows computer without repartitioning.


Slackware has announced the release of Slackware 8.1. Highlights of this release include KDE 3.0.1, GNOME 1.4.1 (with new additions like Evolution), the long-awaited Mozilla 1.0 browser, support for many new filesystems like ext3, ReiserFS, JFS, and XFS, and support for several new SCSI and ATA RAID controllers. You can buy it at, or download it from one of many mirrors. The new release has been reviewed by Linux Planet, and also reported by Slashdot.


SuSE plans a developers' release of UnitedLinux, and won't have a per-seat license. This does not directly affect the other distributions participating in UnitedLinux.

SuSE Linux have announced the mid-June availability of SuSE Linux Pro-Office CD with Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 6.0. Additionally, the Pro-Office CD for SuSE Linux 8.0 features the latest edition of the ultimate desktop environment KDE 3.0.1, as well as important patches for the SuSE Linux 8.0 operating system. With the Pro-Office CD, SuSE Linux users can equip their home computers with state-of-the-art Linux desktop technology.

SuSE Linux have also announced the release of an updated version of the SuSE Linux Groupware Server. The interweaving of the Linux operating system with the newly released Lotus Application Server 5.0.10 makes the SuSE Linux Groupware Server a powerful Lotus solution for Intel and AMD 32-bit processors.

Software and Product News

 Mozilla 1.0

Few can have missed this particular piece of news, but just in case you have been living under a rock all June, Mozilla 1.0 has been released.

Note that there are a few contributors to the project who still need to be contacted before Mozilla can be made 100% GPL. Maybe you can help track them down.

 Linux Game Publishing: Majesty

Linux Game Publishing have released the first screenshot from the Linux version of Majesty. Majesty is a real-time strategy game currently in development at LGP.

 Faximum Announces New Fax Software for Linux and Windows

Faximum Software, a developer of fax server software, has announced a major new release of its Fax Messaging Server (FMS) product. FMS 2 runs on Linux, integrates with an organisation's existing email server, and enables Windows, Mac, and Linux users to send and receive faxes as easily as (and using the same tools as) email. It is possible to try out the software running on one of Faximum's servers at

 Mammoth PostgreSQL Free Evaluation Now Available

Command Prompt, Inc. is pleased to announce the immediate availability of an evaluation version of Mammoth PostgreSQL for RedHat Linux 7.2/7.3. The release contains a 5 connection Mammoth PostgreSQL, LXP the XML application server for PostgreSQL and Mammoth Browser a GUI based data management application.

The product is available for immediate electronic distribution by visiting the Command Prompt, Inc. website at

 Cylant IDS Upgrade Announced

Cylant, a provider of host-based intrusion detection and rejection systems for the Linux and FreeBSD server platforms, have announced the release of version 1.2.3 of CylantSecure. CylantSecure applies a preventative, behavioural approach to security, utilising kernel monitoring to detect attacks without needing continual signature or rule-set updates.

Benefits of CylantSecure's new version 1.2.3 include:

 Reliaty Announces New Data Protection Product

Reliaty, a provider of advanced data protection, have introduced Reliaty Backup, a data protection software developed on a Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) foundation. This allows backup and recovery of data from any point within a storage environment to any device, regardless of the server and storage platforms or location of the connections. Reliaty Backup offers this seamless methodology for multiplatform environments, creating a new level of cost savings, ease-of-use, and faster data recovery. This standards-based software can be used with Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, and also with UNIX, Linux, and Windows systems even if NAS is not present.

Pricing for Reliaty Backup starts at $2500. The software will be available in July.

 IBM Linux Center

In response to growing customer demand for Linux solutions, IBM have announced the opening of the first center in New York City to help the financial services industry deploy Linux. The Linux center, which will be based in Manhattan, will include hardware, software and services from IBM as well as its partners, designed to help financial services customers evaluate and plan Linux implementations. SunGard, JD Edwards,Veritas, and Sybase are among the premier partners whose technologies will be available in the IBM Linux Center.

 Arkeia Announces Plasmon Tape Library Certification

Arkeia Corporation, a Southern California-based supplier of the Arkeia network backup software, has completed compatibility tests with Plasmon automated data storage libraries. Arkeia 4.2 tested compatible with Plasmon V-Series devices, as did the Beta version of the soon-to-be-released Arkeia 5. Philippe Roussel, CEO of Arkeia Corp. said that this "...brings to Plasmon libraries new perspectives in the Linux and Unix environments."

 Plug `n' Play Security Blade Appliance

Developed by OmniCluster Technologies of Boca Raton, Florida (an IBM spinoff), the SlotShield 1000 and SlotShield 3000 blade servers are redefining the security appliance market. OmniCluster has partnered with Check Point Software Technologies, to develop a security appliance integrating Check Point's VPN-1/FireWall-1 with OmniCluster's SlotShield appliance blade technology. Both products are plug n play security solutions that are PCI compatible and can be installed within minutes inside any industry standard server system. The SlotShield 3000's plug-n-play capabilities enable installation as easily as replacing a server's Network Interface Card. The SlotShield 3000 supports any server running Windows NT service pack 6, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Linux kernel 2.2x and 2.4x.

OmniCluster currently offers three variations in its blade security appliances. They include:

 New PXI Systems from MEN Micro

MEN Micro; a company that designs, manufactures and sells board-level industrial real-time and embedded computer products; has announced the release of two new PXI systems. MEN's new PXI systems come in two sizes, a 19-in. 7U rack with as many as 21 PXI slots and a 4U high rack with seven PXI slots. Pentium-based 6U and 3U MEN F7 PXI controllers are at the heart of the processing platform for these PXI systems. By the end of 2002, MEN plans to release a Pentium IV-based PXI system controller. The MEN product lines support the most widely used operating systems, including Windows NT, VxWorks, OS-9, QNX and Linux.

 Wolfram Research Announces Release of Mathematica 4.2

Wolfram Research, have released Mathematica 4.2. New packages, XML functionality, and Java connectivity have been added in this release.

 Other software

The Samba Team is proud to announce the release of Samba 2.2.5, the latest stable release of Samba

Galeon 2.5 was released on June 8. Features Mozilla 1.0 compatibility.

Copyright © 2002, Michael Conry and the Editors of Linux Gazette.
Copying license
Published in Issue 80 of Linux Gazette, July 2002