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...making Linux just a little more fun!
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

 November 2002 Linux Journal

[issue 103 cover image] The November issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on internationalization and energing markets. 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

 Cryptography in South Africa

Debian Weekly News has reported on developments regarding Cryptography in South Africa. There have been efforts by the South African government to regulate the distribution of "cryptography products". The law (pdf) will require providers of "cryptography products" to register their details with, and pay a fee to, the government.

 Eldred V. Ashcroft

Slashdot reported in mid October on the oral arguments in the Eldred vs Ashcroft Supreme Court case challenging the most recent extension of copyright terms. Linux Weekly News has links to pictures from the day. As reported by The Register, this will definitely be an uphill struggle. A decision is not expected till spring, but you can inform yourself of the issues (from the point of view of Eldred and his co-plaintiffs) at their website.


It was reported last month that Dmitry Sklyarov and his boss, ElcomSoft's CEO Alexander Katalov, are having difficulty obtaining visas to return to the U.S. to testify in their own trial. The case results from alleged violations of the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. ElcomSoft produced a product which facilitated readers' access to Adobe eBooks. The result of this is that the trial has been further postponed

In further DMCA madness, RedHat have made a security patch available in full only to those who certify that they are outside of the US Jurisdiction for fear of DMCA violations. Alan Cox followed a similar line before, censoring changelogs for US consumption.

Hopefully moves such as Rick Boucher's DMCRA will alleviate some of the most crippling aspects of the DMCA. The recently reported public consultation on these issues is also welcome, though it looks to have very limited terms of reference.

 Fritz's Hit List

Professor Edward Felton has started posting a device a day on his list of devices that would be banned under Senator Disney's CBDTPA bill. Among the devices in the past few days are cockpit voice recorders and the TinkleToonz Musical Potty, talking dog collars, talking pill bottles, traffic speed cameras (maybe not a loss to some people), digital sewing machines, and more.

Linux Links

 Linux Focus

The E-zine LinuxFocus: has in the November/December issue the following articles:

Some links from the O'Reilly websites:

Some links from The Register:

A few links found via LinuxToday:

Two game tips from Don Marti's Aspiring to Crudeness newsletter: Liquid War and Crimson Fields.

MindGuard offers thought protection for Linux, essential in these paranoid times.

LyX Quickstart. How to get the most out of LyX, a GUI front-end for LaTeX, or in other words, a word processor that's "smarter than your average bear".

An article at Linux Devices examining the catastrophes that Digital Rights Management can create.

Some links from Slashdot:

Research paper by Avaya Labs (pdf) studying the open-source development process, in particular Apache and Mozilla. Explores the difference between the development of software that was always free vs that with a proprietary history.

Jonathan Corbet at Linux Weekly News keeps a cool head and talks about the actual impact BitKeeper is having on Linux kernel development. Also discussed on Linux and Main, with quotes from RMS.

Some links from Linux Journal:

Upcoming conferences and events

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

Southern California Linux Expo
November 2, 2002
Los Angeles, CA

USENIX 16th Systems Administration Conference (LISA)
November 3-8, 2002
Philadelphia, PA

Kiblix IT Linux Festival
November 7-9, 2002
Maribor, Slovenia

Regina Open Source Expo
November 8-9, 2002
Regina, SK, Canada

SuperComputing 2002
November 16-22, 2002
Baltimore, MD

November 18-22, 2002
Las Vegas, NV

SD East
November 18-22, 2002
Boston, MA

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

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

 Linux and the UK Police

Police in West Yorkshire, England, are reported by ZDNet to be testing a fleet of Linux workstations secured by smart cards. If the test is successful, the force expects to roll it out on 3500 desktops and save UK L1 million a year. And if *that* is successful, other police units in England may join in, for an potential total of 60,000 Linux workstations. This was also reported by The Register.

 Linux in India

It has been reported that India is planning to promote Linux country-wide over "proprietary" operating systems. However, as Linux Journal has reported, India's move may not have been all it appeared. Fred Norhona surveys Linux users groups in India and says many of them are sceptical that the announcement was timed so closely to Bill Gates' upcoming visit to India in November. But, the article notes, many people in India are turning to Linux anyway, no matter how sincere the government is or isn't.

 Linux Programmer Training Offered For No Fees

Since Jan 2002 iCanProgram.com has been offering its online Linux programmer training courses without fees in return for a voluntary donation to Cancer research in memory of one of the founders.

So far in 2002 over 1300 students worldwide have availed themselves of this service. For more info and online registration forms you can visit the website at: http://www.icanprogram.com.

 SIMPL Open Source Project Needs Developers

The SIMPL open source project aims to bring the simplicity of Send/Receive/Reply messaging first pioneered by OS's such as QNX to the Linux platform. The project is now 4 years old and has produced a stable and usable system which has been successfully deployed in several commercial ventures. This project needs developers to extend the network transparency to include a "plug-in" capability. We want to expand beyond the current support for TCP/IP to UDP, SSL, RS232 and other protocols.

If you are interested in helping out you can visit the project site at: https://sourceforge.net/projects/simpl/


Openchallenge.org calls programmers to publish their "spare-time code" for everybody's pleasure and challenges organisations to seek an answer to their information technology related problems by using open source methods. Openchallenge aims to be a catalyst for materialising creativity and for channelling open source potential into tackling real world problems and doing public good. By delivering quarterly awards to two selected contributors we wish to encourage individuals into materialising and publishing the results of their creativity under open source license and principles.

For more information, consult the Openchallenge website at http://www.openchallenge.org/.

 GLUE, Calling ALL LUG'S

GLUE, Groups of Linux Users Everywhere now offers free membership listings to user groups. Benefits include a 20% discount to Linux Journal, 20% off all BRU[tm] Product Purchases from TOLIS, archive cds of Linux Journal (1994-2000), T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. A Group-of-the-Month wins free T-shirts for everyone in their group (up to 50) simply by providing a group photo by the end of each month. We offer advice regarding establishing a group, considerations for meeting places, trade show attendance, etc. Visit http://www.ssc.com:8080/glue for more details, or email glue@ssc.com.


Sitescooper automatically retrieves the stories from several news websites, trims off extraneous HTML, and converts them into formats you can read on your Palm computing device for later reading on-the-move. It maintains a cache, and will avoid stories you've already read. It can handle 1-page sites, 1-page with diffing, 2-level and 3-level sites, and it's very easy to add a new site to its list. Even if you don't have a Palm handheld, it's reportedly still quite useful for simple website-to-text conversion, and off-line HTML reading. The Linux Gazette, and some other very useful Linux news sites are always available in the pre-generated area.

Distro News


Debian Weekly News reported that Josselin Mouette has announced a public todo list for Debian tasks. This page tries to keep track of which tasks and groups in the project need help.

In a recent review of Debian several criticisms were made of the ease of installation and the quality of the desktop. Well, free software being what it is, this got people interested in doing something about it. Debian Weekly News has linked to a very verbose installation walkthrough, and also highlighted the availability of new Progeny Graphical Installer Images. Additionally, a Debian Desktop Subproject has been initiated. This development has also been noted by ExtremeTech.


A Linux Journal review of Libranet, a Debian-based distribution. LinuxOrbit has reviewed the distribution also.

 Linux From Scratch

After a very long wait, LFS-4.0 has finally been released. You can download the files from the main LFS site - www.linuxfromscratch.org, and also from mirrors.

 Red Hat

OS News have an interview with two guys from Red Hat, mostly about graphical interfaces. OS News have also recently reviewed Red hat 8.


Patrick Volkerding of Slackware is interviewed by the Australian newspaper, The Age. The paper notes that Volkerding was somewhat intimidated by the bigger booths of the other Linux distributions at tradeshows during the dot-com boom, but notes that now they're gone but Slackware is still here, and it's still running a profit.


The Register reviewed SuSE 8.1, and believe it illustrates MS' fear -- its ease of use is close to Windows XP, and the reviewer predicts it will surpass XP in the next version. Nonetheless, there were a few significant bugs that a seasoned Linux user can work around but will cause problems for newbies.

SuSE Linux, have announced the launch of SuSE Linux Openexchange Server to be available on November 4th. The Openexchange Server combines the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system, an e-mail server, and extensive groupware functionalities; the result is an all-in-one communication and groupware solution for companies of all sizes.

SuSE has also announced a global technology partnership. SuSE is the first Linux enterprise operating system to enable SAP clients worldwide to run SAP's leading e-business applications on Linux and the first Linux provider to become "SAP Global Technology Partner". More information on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server on mySAP.com systems can be found at http://www.suse.de/en/business/certifications/certified_software/

Software and Product News


The SixTRAK IPm Open DCS controller is the latest edition to SIXNET's line of open LINUX based industrial control products. SixTRAK IPm's communications (5 Ethernet and 3 serial ports) and programming capabilities make it an ideal solution for process control, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), or Distributed Control System (DCS) applications. SIXNET IPm products are modular and scalable LINUX based automation solutions that combine installation-ready industrial hardware with a wealth of software solutions that are ready to use right out of the box.


Team ASA Inc., a manufacturer of products for the Networking and Storage industries, has announced the newest member in the NPWR Single Board Networking Computer (SBNC) family, the NPWR-FC. The NPWR-FC is the first SBNC implemented with the Intel XScale 80321 CPU, Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, Dual Fibre Channel ports, and four Serial ATA (SATA) ports on a single card.

Every NPWR-FC includes either a Linux or a NetBSD CDROM. The NPWR CDROM also includes all tools, documentation and sources needed to make any NPWR-based product an immediate success. NPWR-FC is factory-configured with a Flash ROM disk running Linux or the NetBSD O.S. to ensure expedited product development.

 Spectra Linux Bundles McObject's eXtremeDB

McObject and Probatus Technologies have announced a bundling partnership that pairs an innovative in-memory database system (IMDS) with a comprehensive, professional-grade Linux development and operating environment. In addition to certifying McObject's eXtremeDB as compatible with its Spectra Linux 1.2 distribution, Probatus now includes eXtremeDB with every copy. The arrangement offers Linux developers and systems integrators worldwide a data management solution that overcomes the performance and footprint constraints of disk-based database systems.

 Patchlink Update 4.0

PatchLink Update 4.0 claims to have taken a difficult to deal with factor out of patch management by automating its vulnerability assessment and deployment software for all major network operating systems including Linux, UNIX, Microsoft and Novell. PatchLink Update addresses the need for a comprehensive patch management system by giving those responsible for their organization's computer systems the ability to instantly detect day-to-day, software-related security breaches, and a fast and efficient method for immediately correcting them across all platforms and enterprise boundaries.

 VariCAD Update Released

VariCAD has launched a new update of its 3D/2D mechanical CAD package for Windows 98/NT/2000/XP and Linux (RedHat, SuSE, Mandrake). The latest VariCAD includes tools for 3D modelling, 2D drafting, libraries of mechanical components (ANSI, DIN), calculations, BOM's, and many others. The software is available "fully-loaded" for only $399 per license worldwide. Free evaluation copies can be downloaded from http://www.varicad.com.

 New SSI M-Module supports Linux

A new Synchronous Serial Interface (SSI) M-Module mezzanine card from MEN Micro, Inc., simplifies the monitoring and controlling of shafts and other moving parts in machine tools, automation systems, test and measurement equipment and other industrial systems. The new M-Module from MEN, which is designated the M47, has four, 32-bit, RS422, SSI channels, each capable of Gray and binary decoding. In addition, all four channels are optically isolated from each other. Driver software for the M47 is available for the Windows, Linux, VxWorks, QNX, RTX and OS-9 operating environments.

A digital photo of the product featured below is available for download at http://www.men.de/products/press

 Linux Game Publishing

Applications for Beta Testers for Majesty Gold are now open. If you wish to join the beta, please go to http://betas.linuxgamepublishing.com and sign up.

 Virtutech Releases Version 1.4 of Simics

The Simics simulation platform allows you to build your own virtual computer system for hardware or software design. In terms of performance, on a 2 GHz Pentium 4 workstation running Red Hat Linux 7.2, for example, it is claimed that Simics delivers the following: Linux will boot in two minutes on a simulated 4-processor Itanium system. Red Hat Linux 6.0 boots in 5 minutes on a simulated Hammer system; Virtutech Simics is now available from http://www.virtutech.com/ at $1500 for a single license.

Copyright © 2002, Michael Conry. Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 84 of Linux Gazette, November 2002

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