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By Howard Dyckoff

News in General

Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" Released

As promised, Ubuntu 7.10 server and desktop were released on 10/18. It offers new server and desktop features, including better hardware and driver support, especially for printers and wireless devices.

Mark ShuttleWorth, CEO of Cannonical, noted that "...this is the 7th release of Ubuntu and the thing we are most proud of... we were with a day of schedule on all releases." Shuttleworth added, "We are delivering what we consider to be an enterprise-class operating system, and we expect these will be used immediately in production environments."

Among the innovations in this edition are "tracker", a hard drive indexing system with the ability to search the entire desktop, "I believe we are the first distro to deliver this capability," Shuttleworth said.

The server package adds more standardized configuration templates, to speed deployments and aid rollout scalability. Configurations are included for Web servers, databases, LAMP applications, file and print servers, etc.

This is a non-LTS release of Ubuntu. The next release, targeted for April 2008, will be a Long-Term-Support [LTS] release for those on support contracts. LTS releases are planned for annual or biannual release.

This latest Ubuntu version also includes the following new features:

Ubuntu Links

Laptop, thin client, and server:

To coincide with the Ubuntu 7.10 launch, Canonical Ltd. announced updates to Edubuntu, Kubuntu, and Xubuntu derivatives, including advanced thin client capabilities and a KDE 4 beta tech preview. Additional information is available at http://www.ubuntu.com/news/ubuntu-family710.

OpenAjax Alliance Promotes InteropFest, Security for Mashups

At the September AjaxWorld conference, the OpenAjax Alliance, which is dedicated to open and interoperable Ajax-based Web technologies, revealed new initiatives for secure mashups and mobile AJAX.

AJAX is the technology behind the increasingly popular "mashup", a Web site or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience. As AJAX and mashups continue to gain widespread acceptance under the Web 2.0 umbrella, it is critical for organizations to understand these technologies and to avoid possible problems by adhering to best practices.

The alliance prepared a new white paper titled "AJAX and Mashup Security", itemizing the ways in which AJAX applications could be attacked, and providing a set of best practice techniques to address each vulnerability. Available at www.openajax.org, the white paper represents the collaborative efforts of AJAX security experts, and was a joint effort with the Marketing Working Group.

"ICEsoft has long recognized that security for enterprise-class applications is a critical requirement," said Robert Lepack, VP of Marketing for ICEsoft Technologies. "We view the publication of the Open Ajax white paper 'AJAX and Mashup Security' to be an important step in the ongoing need to both educate customers on the potential security risks of AJAX applications, and the best practices described in the paper to be a key step toward developing much needed standards."

In addition to a strong focus on security, the OpenAjax Alliance held InteropFest 1.0, which is the final integration testing phase of OpenAjax Hub 1.0. OpenAjax Hub is a small JavaScript library that allows multiple AJAX toolkits to work together on the same page. The central feature is a publish/subscribe event manager, which enables loose assembly and integration of AJAX components. OpenAjax Alliance will deliver both an open specification and a reference open source implementation. Standards are the key to interoperability, and allow the true possibilities of AJAX and Web 2.0 to be realized.

"To further advance the AJAX ecosystem, OpenAjax Alliance members together are developing a standard way to describe AJAX controls and their programmatic interfaces so that it becomes easier for developers to use AJAX libraries with development tools," said Kevin Hakman, director, TIBCO Software Inc. and Chair of the Alliance IDE Working Group. "We're on pace to have an AJAX control description specification ready for early 2008."

With finalization activities on OpenAjax Hub 1.0, the alliance has begun work on OpenAjax Hub 1.1, which will add support for secure mashups and to enable mediated Comet-style client-server messaging. As with OpenAjax Hub 1.1, the alliance will deliver both a specification and a commercial-quality open source reference implementation. The secure mashup features of OpenAjax Hub 1.1 will isolate mashup components in secure "sandboxes" and use the OpenAjax Hub's publish/subscribe features to achieve mediated cross-component messaging.

Also a part of InteropFest 1.0, interoperability certificates were awarded to the following member organizations for their participation: 24SevenOffice, Apache XAP, Dojo Foundation, ILOG, Getahead, IT Mill, Lightstreamer, Microsoft, Nexaweb, Open Link, Open Spot, Software AG, and Tibco. The interoperability event required integration of an organization's AJAX toolkit with the OpenAjax Hub and at least one other AJAX component, where cross-component messaging is accomplished using the OpenAjax Hub. Interestingly, Microsoft's ASP.NET AJAX, formerly called Atlas, passed the interoperability tests: http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3701966

About 90 companies have joined the OpenAjax Alliance since it was formed in 1990. The mashup security white paper is available at http://www.openajax.org/whitepapers/Introducing%20Ajax%20and%20OpenAjax.html

Sun Opens More Open Source

Sun held a developer summit of sorts, Oct. 15th, on its Santa Clara campus, for many of Open Source projects it supports. Besides a report on Java and the OpenJDK project, Sun engineers who are principals in the Postgres project and their Glassfish application server project also reported on progress.

Mark Reinhold, a member of the OpenJDK project's governing board, confirmed that more of Java is now open source, with only about 4% still requiring what he called "binary plugs" for sound and image drivers. He explained that Sun still does not have the rights to make that code available, but is pushing the code owners to release the necessary items or face a "name and shame" initiative from Sun and other contributors to the OpenJDK.

The OpenJDK interim governance board was formed at JavaOne, last spring, and has met in teleconference twice and face-to-face only once before the Sun Summit. According to Reinhold, the plan is to have a draft constitution written by this December, and to get it ratified by Spring 2008. As this independent infrastructure is being built up, Sun is providing leadership and support. Reinhold said that Sun would mostly act as "a benevolent dictator", until OpenJDK could run on its own.

Version 2 of the Glassfish application server, based on Java 5, was released in mid-September. It featured substantial performance improvements, especially in clustering, and billed as enterprise-ready. Sun will develop this Glassfish release as a product for its customers.

GlassFish Version 3 is already under development, and will be a major change in project architecture. It will become fully modular, based on a 100kB kernel, and will also feature multiple class-loaders. The micro-kernel and JVM will have extensions to efficiently run major scripting languages, such as PHP and Ruby.

Josh Berkus, both a long time Sun engineer and a long time contributor to the PostgreSQL project, discussed the coming version of Postgres, as well as its history going back to the 1980s at UC Berkeley.

There are an estimated 15 million "embedded" users of Postgres and over 200 active developers. Postgres is now distributed with Solaris & OpenSolaris.

The presentations concluded with an Open Source Worldwide Panel led by Ian Murdock and attended by developers from Europe, India, and Latin America, including Suvendu Ray and Bruno Souza, among others. One issue discussed was the twin problem of localization and de-localization: not only efficient translation of language, but also mechanisms for sharing back the work of developers collaborating in their local languages. A video of the panel is available from Podtech here:
Open Source Worldwide Panel.

On October 22-23, in parallel with InterOp NY, Sun will host the Start-up Camp event in New York City. The goal of Start-up Camp is to bring entrepreneurs and vendors together to network, share advice, and learn from the experiences of other startups. The event will continue to be a face-to-face, collaborative event, with the agenda determined during the event. Start-up University will kick off Start-up Camp, and provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about various topics in an educational format.

Gphone due in November

The long-rumored Google answer to the Apple iPhone will make its debut in early November, probably on November 5th, according to blogs and Google watch sites. It will be a data-driven, Linux mobile device hosting Google desktop gadgets and Google Web apps.

Unlike Apple, which tried to restrict developer access to its proprietary iPhone platform, Google has been building developer communities for its varied applications, and will probably leverage that support to enhance the new platform. The Google Gears framework allows developers to create widgets and gadgets that can be intermittently connected. And Google already has a partner relationship with Samsung for putting Gmail and Google Search on 3G phones. Google also recently purchased the Finnish social-networking company Jaiku, which helps "friends" find each other via their mobile devices. Perhaps this was the missing piece to Google's vision.

What is uncertain is whether Google will partner with the wireless carriers or compete with them. And will it partner with one or more music services? Also to be determined is if there will be an ad-supported version of the messaging and voice services. Maybe 2008 will be the year of free Mobile Linux.


VMworld 2007 Winners Announced

The Best of VMworld Awards, presented by SearchServerVirtualization.com, recognize the best products shown during VMworld 2007. The overall Best of Show award was given to IBM and VMware, jointly, for the recently announced IBM System x 3950 M2 with VMware's new embedded hypervisor, ESX Server 3i.

In this first year for the Best of VMworld 2007 awards, judges awarded a Gold award and Finalist awards in each of the six award categories. Go here for complete details:


The judges also awarded a New Technology award to Onaro, Inc. for VM Insight, which monitors and manages both physical and virtual machines; to Marathon Technologies Corp. for its everRun FT for XenEnterprise; and to InovaWave, Inc. for the InovaWave VirtualOctane for ESX Server. In addition, Green Storage to AMD for its quad-core processor technology.



NY Technology Forum
November 1-2, New York, NY

2007, November 3-9, Washington, D.C.
at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.

Interop Berlin, Nov 6-8, 2007

Executive Forum 2007
November 7-8, Millennium Broadway Hotel, New York City.

QCon San Francisco conference
Nov 5-9, 2007, Westin Market Street
Discount code: devtownstation_qconsf2007

OpenWorld San Francisco
November 11-15, 2007,
San Francisco

Supercomputing 2007
Nov 9-16, Tampa, FL

MemCon Tokyo
Nov. 13-14, 2007
Attendance is free for industry professionals

Certicom ECC Conference 2007
November 13-15, Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto
(focused on the use of Suite B crypto algorithms in the enterprise)

Mobile Internet World
November 13-15, 2007, Hynes Center, Boston

IT Governance Compliance Conference
November 14-16, 2007, Boston, Mass.

Large Installation System Administrators (LISA) Conference
November 14-15, 2007, Dallas, Texas, USA

Gartner Identity & Access Management Summit
14-16 November 2007, Los Angeles, CA

Gartner 26th Annual Data Center Conference
November 27-30, Las Vegas, NV


Agile Development Practices Conference
December 3-6, 2007, Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, FL

Gartner Enterprise Architect Summit
December 5-7, Las Vegas, NV


SPIE Photonics West 2008
19 - 24 January,
San Jose, CA

MacWorld Conference and Expo
January 14-18, San Francisco


PostgreSQL beta 1 for version 8.3

A new version of the venerable Postgres database went into beta in October. Among the features in the new version are:

... and many others. See the release notes here for a more complete list of new features.

In September, EnterpriseDB announced a new version of its EnterpriseDB Postgres, the professional-grade distribution of the open source PostgreSQL database. The new version of EnterpriseDB Postgres is based on Postgres 8.2.5.

The latest release includes a MySQL-to-PostgreSQL Migration Toolkit and a Procedural Language Debugger. The Migration Toolkit, previously available as a proprietary component of EnterpriseDB Advanced Server, the company's flagship commercial database offering, has been re-released under the Artistic License, an OSI-approved open source license.

OpenOffice.org 2.3 Released

The new OpenOffice includes new features in addition to improvements to stability, performance, Microsoft Office compatibility, and accessibility. Some new features are available as free extensions that increase OpenOffice.org functionality.

New Chart: OpenOffice.org 2.3 introduces an all new chart with a new chart wizard for complex charts. The 3D charts include several new charts types, for example:

Also improved is the data source handling where data ranges for columns and rows labels can be separated from the data source range for the chart values, and the ability to select different x-values for different series. There is enhanced automatic logarithmic scaling. Finally, there are performance improvements and an enhanced import and export of Microsoft Office charts.

OpenOffice.org 2.3 is available for download here.

New Feature: OpenOffice.org Extensions are independent add-ons to enhance OpenOffice.org functionality. Sample extensions are:

Sun Report Builder: Now availible for OpenOffice.org 2.3 is the Sun Report Builder for creating stylish and smart database reports. The flexible report editor can define group and page headers as well as group and page footers and even calculation fields are available to accomplish complex database reports.

The Sun Report Builder uses the Pentaho Reporting Flow Engine of Pentaho BI. This Extension is available for free on Sun Report Builder.

Send and receive faxes with the OpenOffice.org eFax Extension:

Replace your fax machine with the eFax extension for OpenOffice.org, an online fax service that eliminates the need for a fax machine. You can continue to use your existing fax number or use a new number for free. When someone faxes to your selected number, the fax is displayed in the eFax Messenger solution on your computer, or the fax is converted to a file that is emailed to you as an attachment.

eFax is a service of J2global; for more information see the eFax web page. This Extension is available for free on OpenOffice.org eFax Extension.

Mandriva Linux 2008.0 Now Out

The 21st release of Mandriva Linux was released in October and includes three editions: "One", "Powerpack", and "Free". Versions "One" and "Free" can be downloaded free of charge from official Mandriva mirrors and via BitTorrent (visit this page for downloads). "Powerpack" is a commercial edition available by purchase from the Mandriva Store. For information on the differences between the editions, visit Mandriva's Choosing the right edition page.

A recent development snapshot of KDE 4 is available as a preview in Mandriva Linux 2008, and NTFS write support is also included. The Mandriva Linux 2008 Errata list known issues with 2008 and how to fix or work around them.

KDE 4 Beta 3 is out, Fedora 8 coming soon

This late-stage beta was available in mid-Oct. and also marks a freeze of the KDE Development Platform. New educational features and enhancements are included with further polishing of the KDE codebase. The aim of the 4.0 release is to put foundations in place for future innovations.

However, KDE 4.0 will probably not be ready for the first release of Fedora 8 in early November. The October Fedora 8 beta included a completely free and open source Java environment called IcedTea, which is derived from the OpenJDK project.

Elpicx 1.1 helps prep for LPI exam

The elpicx 1.1 live DVD was released in mid-October. Elpicx is a Knoppix and CentOS-based Linux system that helps students prepare for the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) certification exam, by providing test emulators and a number of LPI reference cards, study notes, preparation guides, and exam exercises.

Version 1.1 is based on Knoppix 5.1.1 and CentOS 4.3. Visit the project's home page to read the complete release announcement.

MEPIS 7 and its Anti-X due by November

MEPIS 7 RC Beta 5 was released in late September, and another RC is expected around November 10. Then it is on its way toward final release of version 7, at the end of November or early December.

The 7.0 RC 1 release of "antiX", a lightweight derivative of MEPIS, was out in late September. AntiX is built and maintained by a MEPIS community member as a free version of MEPIS for very old 32-bit PC hardware. The antiX Web site is at antix.mepis.org, and an antiX forum is hosted at www.mepislovers.org

AntiX 7.0 RC 1 is like AntiX 7.0 Beta2, except that the look and the packages have been updated to be in sync with MEPIS 7.0 Beta 4. There are also fixes for reported bugs that are unique to AntiX.

AntiX is designed to work on computers with as little as 64MB of RAM and Pentium II or equivalent AMD processors. ISO images and deltas are available in the "testing" subdirectory at the MEPIS Subscriber's Site and at the MEPIS public mirrors.


ASUS Launches Low Cost Eee PC

ASUSTeK will be offering a new low-cost laptop PCs to consumers for as little $250, by year end. These laptops are targeted at non-power-users in markets that are nearing saturation. They will function as personal as opposed to business computers, and may be adopted by teens and tweeners.

Called Eee PCs, the new line of notebooks will initially be available in English and classical Chinese versions, the latter for sale in Taiwan. Other languages may be supported in 2009. Prototypes were shown at Intel IDF in San Francisco.

These low-cost PCs will run both open-source Linux and Windows (but that was a change for the prototypes shown in SF). Windows versions of the computer would cost only about $50 more than Linux versions, about $300, suggesting that Microsoft had offered the Windows operating systems at a big discount in order to play on the Eee. But this still should provide a Linux incentive to consumers.

The Eee will be first laptop to carry the ASUSTeK brand, rather than being OEMed for other companies.

Zpower innovates Laptop Batteries

A safer, lighter, smaller and recyclable battery for computers and phones is poised for production.

ZPower, formerly known as Zinc Matrix Power, has developed advanced, rechargeable silver-zinc batteries. Initially targeted for notebook computers, cell phones, and MP3 players, ZPower batteries currently have 30% greater energy density than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Intel is interested in promoting the technology, and has made a 10% equity investment in the firm.

ZPower showed its wares at the recent Intel IDF conference in SF. This included working silver-zinc batteries for laptops that were half the thickness of current lithium-ion batteries. When in full production in 2008, these batteries will get 20-30% more battery life on a charge. Production goals for 2009 are 20-30% weight reductions and a target of 30-50% greater battery life.

In addition to the performance benefits, ZPower batteries are inherently safer. The technology features a water-based chemistry that, and is not flammable or toxic. The battery contains no lithium or flammable liquids and is therefore free from the problems of thermal runaway, fire, and danger of explosion. Silver-zinc batteries are not subject to airline restrictions.

The new batteries also environmentally friendly. The primary elements used to produce the batteries can be 100 percent recycled and re-used. The raw materials recovered in the recycling process of silver-zinc batteries are the same quality as those that went into the creation of the battery. The company plans to offer cash incentives to consumers recycling the batteries.

Dr. Ross Dueber, a scientist at ZPower, told Linux Gazette that the first production silver-zinc batteries will be about 10mm thick but about the same weight as current batteries. Weight reduction will come from better use of the materials and manufacturing efficiencies. The first manufacturing partner will be Tyco Electric. ZPower is currently working with other leading manufacturers of notebook computers and cell phones to incorporate silver-zinc technology in next generation products.

ZPower won Intel's "Technology Innovation Accelerated" (TIA) Award in the Mobility category at the 2006 Fall IDF conference. The company was also recently named a "GoingGreen 100" winner by AlwaysOn.

Troy Renken, Vice President of Product Planning and Electronics at ZPower Inc. was a featured speaker in the Extended Battery Life panel at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Taipei, Taiwan on October 16th. The panel, titled "Realizing the Vision of All Day and Beyond Battery Life for Mobile PCs," discussed industry initiatives underway to extend battery life.

IBM and Linden Labs Partner on Open 3D Standards for Collaboration

IBM and Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life (www.secondlife.com), will work with a broad community of partners to drive open standards and interoperability to enable avatars -- the online persona of visitors to these online worlds -- to move from one virtual world to another with ease and support applications of virtual world technology for business and society in commerce, collaboration, education and more.

As more enterprises and consumers explore the 3D Internet, the ecosystem of virtual world hosts, application providers, and IT vendors need to offer a variety of standards-based solutions in order to meet end user requirements. To support this, IBM and Linden Lab are committed to exploring the interoperability of virtual world platforms and technologies, and plan to work with industry-wide efforts to further expand the capabilities of virtual worlds.

"We have built the Second Life Grid as part of the evolution of the Internet," said Ginsu Yoon, vice-president, Business Affairs, Linden Lab. "Linden and IBM shares a vision that interoperability is key to the continued expansion of the 3D Internet, and that this tighter integration will benefit the entire industry. Our open source development of interoperable formats and protocols will accelerate the growth and adoption of all virtual worlds."

IBM and Linden Lab plan to work together on issues concerning the integration of virtual worlds with the current Web; driving security-rich transactions of virtual goods and services; working with the industry to enable interoperability between various virtual worlds; and building more stability and high quality of service into virtual world platforms. These are expected to be key characteristics facing organizations that want to take advantage of virtual worlds for commerce, collaboration, education and other business applications.

More specifically, IBM and Linden Lab plan to collaborate on:

  • Security-rich Transactions: Collaborating on the requirements for standards-based software designed to enable the security-rich exchange of assets in and across virtual worlds. This could allow users to perform purchases or sales with other people in virtual worlds.

IBM has hosted discussions on virtual world interoperability, the role of standards, and the potential of forming an industry-wide consortium open to all. Linden Lab has formed an Architecture Working Group that describes the road-map for the development of the Second Life Grid. This open collaboration with the community allows users of Second Life to help define the direction of an interoperable, Internet-scale architecture.

For more information about the Second Life Grid, visit http://secondlifegrid.net/.

IBM Introduces its "Virtualization-Ready" System X Server

IBM has previewed the fourth generation of its virtualization chipset technology, X4, to be available in a high-end, scalable server leveraging the latest in quad-core processing technology from Intel. The System x3950 M2 server will debut with a new embedded hypervisor capability, enabling clients to easily deploy virtualized server applications right out of the rack.

X4 chipsets mark significant advances in performance, availability, and processing efficiencies for the IBM System x line of servers. X4 will enable x86 server configurations to fuel virtualization on high-end systems. Several other new features will allow clients to easily adopt virtualization.

The new server will be ready for virtualization right out of the box by eliminating software setup and installation time. An internal USB interface will accommodate chip-based or "embedded" virtualization software preloaded on a 4GB USB flash storage device. The new system offers double the memory slot capacity. Also, four times the amount of memory can be hosted on a single chassis compared to the previous system, enabling more virtualization workloads.

IBM has developed and released three generations of X-Architecture chipsets since 1997, and remains the only top-tier vendor in the industry to incorporate its own chipset in Intel-based servers. The third generation chipset, X3, introduced in 2005, was optimized for server consolidation and enterprise application software.

Sun Intros Smallest Enterprise-Class Four-Socket Quad-Core Server

In late September, Sun Microsystems introduced its first quad-core x64 systems, which deliver up to twice the expandability and compute power as other servers at half the size. The Sun Fire X4450 and Sun Fire X4150 servers, powered by Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors, solve critical problems in the datacenter by offering more performance, higher density, and better power efficiency than do competing systems. Both servers also can run Solaris, Linux, Windows, or VMware.

The Sun Fire X4450 server is smallest four-socket 16-way rackmount server in a 2U form factor, and saves as much as 50 percent of the energy consumption tof other servers, resulting in lower energy and cooling costs. The Sun Fire X4150 server, powered by the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series, is a two-socket 1U system with up to twice the memory, internal storage, and networking connectivity as competitive two-socket 1U servers. With more than 1 terabyte of high-performance internal disk storage, it is a good solution for database and other disk-intensive applications.

The Sun Fire X4150 server has entry-level pricing starting at $2,995. The Sun Fire X4450 has entry-level pricing starting at $8,895. For more information on the Sun Fire X4450 and X4150 servers, please visit: http://www.sun.com/X4450 and http://www.sun.com/X4150

A video of the server announcement is available here: http://sunfeedroom.sun.com/linking/index.jsp?skin=oneclip&fr_story=FRsupt215388&hl=false

--and all video segments here:

http://sunfeedroom.sun.com [...]

At the announcement, Pat Gelsinger, Senior Vice-President and General Manager for Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, spoke about Intel-planned developments at the 45 nm level. Sun also announced new Solaris features, including a graphical installer, and enhancements to its famous D-Trace, including integration with its NetBean Studio developer tools.

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Bio picture

Howard Dyckoff is a long term IT professional with primary experience at Fortune 100 and 200 firms. Before his IT career, he worked for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine and before that used to edit SkyCom, a newsletter for astronomers and rocketeers. He hails from the Republic of Brooklyn [and Polytechnic Institute] and now, after several trips to Himalayan mountain tops, resides in the SF Bay Area with a large book collection and several pet rocks.

Howard maintains the Technology-Events blog at blogspot.com from which he contributes the Events listing for Linux Gazette. Visit the blog to preview some of the next month's NewsBytes Events.

Copyright © 2007, Howard Dyckoff. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 144 of Linux Gazette, November 2007