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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@ssc.com

 December 2002 Linux Journal

[issue 102 cover image] The December issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on System Administration. 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


Finding bizarre implications of the DMCA with which to ridicule it is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. The Register recently reported that four major retailers (WalMart, Target, Best Buy and Staples) had invoked the DMCA to prevent FatWallet.com from disseminating information about sales and price comparisons. The argument runs that sale prices are copyrightable information (and not just simple facts). FatWallet has had to comply to avoid the risk of a very costly legal battle.

In other DMCA related matters, Security Focus reported that hardware manufacturers producing games console mod chips have found themselves under pressure, applied through the device of the DMCA, to cease such production. The argument hinges on whether the non-infringing uses legitimise the chips, and its a criterion which can vary substantially from country to country.

Finally, there is a very interesting DMCA article by Adam C. Engst at TidBITS. It provides a good overview of the issues arising from the law, and the stakes the "content industry" is playing for in its long-term strategy. Related to this is another article at TidBITS (by Cory Doctorow) entitled Can the Digital Hub Survive Hollywood?. It does a fine job of highlighting the tensions between the content/media industries versus the interests of the technology industry at large (as opposed to the welfare of sectoral interests within the tech industry who might do very well if their technology is used for protecting "content"). Particular attention is paid to the BPDG (Broadcast Protection Discussion Group).


In a reversal of an lower court's decision, a German court has ruled that the name Mobilix is sufficiently close in sound and appearance to Obelix to cause confusion. Mobilix is a website dealing with the area of Unix on mobile devices. Obelix is a character from a French comic book. The final implications of this decision are not clear. You can follow the entire story on the Mobilix website.


Slashdot recently reported on the ACM Digital Rights Management Workshop. Among those present was Ed Felten whose brief commentary can be read here. It was reported that there was some scepticism that DRM was truly a panacea for the copy-protection worries of Hollywood info-hoarders. In a not unrelated story, The Register reported on the future of Microsoft's Palladium and the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA). Even proponents of the system admit it is not totally secure and potentially vulnerable to intelligent hardware attacks.

Linux Links

Some links from Linux Weekly News:

Some links from the O'Reilly websites:

DesktopLinux.com have an article about Film Gimp. Film Gimp is a motion picture frame-editing tool. The article has some technical details and reports on its use in the film industry.

Linux Journal have an article explaining how to train mutt to catch spam using ESR's bogofilter.

News.com have reported on IBM's plans to build two new machines which would be the fastest supercomputers to date. The Blue Gene/L, the faster of the two, will be Linux powered, and 10 times faster than the current title-holder, NEC's Earth Simulator.

A survey of some open source multimedia projects which might be of interest.

Some links from Linux Today

The Inquirer has run a series of articles describing the Linux install process in a way designed to help beginners. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

IBM Developerworks have an article on open source scientific software, being used increasingly by those involved in scientific research.

A report at Linux and Main on the path to the next major kernel release.

From Debian Weekly News, a link to an interview with Klaus Knopper of Knoppix. Particular comments on hardware detection implementation.

Some links of interest from The Register:

Some links from Slashdot which may interest you:

Upcoming conferences and events

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

December 3-5, 2002
Bangalore, Inda

USENIX 5th Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI)
December 9-11, 2002
Boston, MA

Consumer Electronics Show
January 9-12, 2003
Las Vegas, NV

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
January 21-24, 2003
New York, NY

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

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

March 7-11, 2003
Austin, TX

March 11-13, 2003
Vancouver, BC

March 12-19, 2003
Hannover, Germany

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

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

PyCon (the first "low budget" Python conference)
Note: This is the first low budget Python conference, so if you've been avoiding Python conferences due to the cost, this one is for you! Another conference, the main International Python Conference, will be held in July as part of O'Reilly's OSCON (Open Source Convention).
March 26-28, 2003
Washington, DC

April 7-9, 2003
New York, NY

SD West
April 8-10, 2003
Santa Clara, CA

COMDEX Chicago
April 15-17, 2003
Chicago, IL

Real World Linux Conference and Expo
April 29-30, 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

O'Reilly Open Source Convention
July 7-11, 2003
Location: TBD

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

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

News in General

 MySQL, NuSphere and the GPL

MySQL AB has settled its dispute with NuSphere corporation. MySQL AB had claimed that NuSphere violated the GPL and misused the MySQL trademark. (NuSphere includes MySQL with NuSphere's enhancements in its product.) NuSphere has assigned to MySQL AB the copyrights for its contributions to MySQL. Not so coincidentally, MySQL AB has just donated $25,000 to the Free Software Foundation's GPL Compliance Lab, which helps companies offering GPL'd software follow up on GPL violations. According to the FSF's Executive Directory Bradley Kuhn, almost all GPL violations are mistakes rather than wilful infringement.

Distro News


Debian Weekly News highlighted a LinuxOrbit HOWTO on installing and configuring ALSA. The piece describes the correct "Debian way" to perform the task.


Debian Weekly News Reported that people from the Debian-Med subproject have started a Knoppix-Med project. The aim is to include particular pieces of medical software into the Debian Based Knoppix distribution. Details of the procedure are available online.


SuSE Linux has announced a multi-stage product campaign for the corporate desktop deployment of SuSE Linux. Starting January 2003, small and medium-scale enterprises will be able to migrate to Linux on desktops using the "SuSE Linux Office Desktop". "SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop", a Linux version optimised for desktop deployment in large-scale enterprises, is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2003.

SuSE Linux has also announced that the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) has proved itself as a powerful Linux platform for IBM`s DB2 Version 8 database software with SLES latest certification for DB2. SuSE Linux Enterprise Server is the first distribution to be validated on all hardware platforms supported by DB2 for Linux (including IBM zSeries mainframes) and validated to run DB2 Enterprise Server Edition. More information on IBM's DB2 for Linux Validation Program is available online.


The UnitedLinux group have announced the release of Version 1.0 of its UnitedLinux product, a standards-based Linux operating system targeted at the business user. UnitedLinux is the result of an industry initiative to streamline Linux development and certification around a global, uniform distribution of Linux. Founding companies of UnitedLinux are Linux industry leaders Conectiva S.A., The SCO Group, SuSE Linux AG, and Turbolinux, Inc.

Software and Product News

 New kernels

A new stable kernel 2.4.20 has been released. A new ancient kernel 2.2.23 has also been released if you're still living in the medieval ages. Get your update at a kernel mirror near you.

 Mathematica Ported to NEC's Itanium Linux Platform

Wolfram Research and NEC have collaborated to port Mathematica to NEC's Itanium Linux platform for the upcoming release of Mathematica 4.2.

 Appligent Alliance Program

Appligent has unveiled a new Alliance Program designed to help integrators and consultants develop more powerful electronic document management applications for their clients. Appligent's main product is a range of PDF-related software which supports, among other operating systems, Red Hat Linux.

 Updated Opera 6.1 for Linux on Intel and PowerPC

Opera Software have released Opera 6.1 for Linux for Intel and PowerPC users. The PowerPC version is the first released on this platform since the tentative Opera 5 for Linux Beta in May 2001. In addition to several bugfixes, this release features better support for fonts in the new version, with font anti-aliasing enabled by default and improved support for Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters. The changelog documents all the new developments in this release.


Pygame is a cross-platfrom library designed to make it easy to write multimedia software, such as games, in Python. Pygame requires the Python language and SDL multimedia library. A major advantage is portability, games based on Pygame can run on Windows, NT4, MacOS, OSX, BeOS, FreeBSD and IRIX, as well as Linux.

 Cylant Secure

Cylant has ported the management console for its Linux Intrusion Prevention system to Windows. The Windows console allows administrators to managed CylantSecure server agents from their Windows workstations.

Copyright © 2002, Michael Conry. Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.com/copying.html
Published in Issue 85 of Linux Gazette, December 2002

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