...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

 April 2003 Linux Journal

[issue 108 cover image] The April issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on Desktop Environment. Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe.

All articles older than three months are available for public reading at Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at

Note to the Reader

Dear Reader,
The News Bytes you see before you was prepared in mid-March. As you might expect, some of the news may not be quite as current as it ought to be, especially regarding the SCO vs IBM lawsuit which is changing rapidly as we write. Check with the daily news sources for the latest updates.

Legislation and More Legislation

 Jon Johansen Will Return to Court

It has been reported [The Register] that Jon Johansen will have to return to court once more in connection with his involvement in the creation and distribution of the DeCSS computer code. As is well known, the DeCSS code is used to circumvent a primitive technique used by DVD producers to obstruct users in their enjoyment of the DVD movies they have purchased. Norwegian prosecutors argued that to play a DVD in this manner was a form of theft, similar to cracking somebody's web server. Though the ruling was in Johansen's favour, leave for an appeal has been granted, so the whole business will have to be repeated once more, probably in the summer.

Such is the duration of this case that one wonders if prosecutors are hoping that when Jon gets older he will lose public sympathy. As Jon is now 19, headlines like "Norwegian Teen Harassed by DVD STASI" have a limited shelf-life.

 Lexmark and the DMCA

Lexmark's attempt to ban recycling of ink cartridges received an unsettling boost as an injunction has been issued against the company producing the environmentally beneficial products. SCC has hit back by bringing an anti-trust case against Lexmark. Though the case is far from over, it highlights some disturbing potential outcomes of the DMCA. Wired asked the question (and not rhetorically, this is a real possibility) how much more would it cost to maintain your car if manufacturers put computer chips in all the important components.

Don't mention it to anybody, but at Linux Gazette we have long suspected that some users print out articles from time to time: circumventing the CRT/LCD encryption we use to manage access to our content. Though our lawyers are still preparing the brief, it would appear Lexmark printers are often used in this circumvention scheme... lets get us some of those DMCA dollars.

 Life's Not a Bed of Rosen

Hilary Rosen of the RIAA has been commenting on the issue of P2P networks again. It seems her son Tristram managed to track down a very rare recording of Edith Piaf singing Knees Up Mother Brown, a recording that Hilary had been hoping to find for a very long time. Though Hilary was initially ecstatic to hear the tune she had for so long sought, her ecstasy soon turned to agony as it emerged that Tristram had not taken care to clear up the thorny copyright issues before downloading and playing the track.

It was with a heavy heart that Hilary phoned the cops to have Tristram arrested.

"Though it hurts to see my son doing hard time, it is nothing compared to the pain he was causing through his criminal actions. I want to set an example for all the parents of America, and the world. What my son did was despicable. Even though I love him, he has to be made to pay for terrorising the music industry."
When pressed further, Ms. Rosen replied by quoting another lyric from her favourite songstress "Je ne regrette rien". It is unclear at time of press whether or not she had arranged permission to use the lyric.

 SCO and IBM

If you read any internet linux-news sites, you must be aware that SCO, the company formerly known as Caldera (more or less), have sued IBM. This followed several weeks of speculation regarding SCO's recent hiring of some top legal talent. There has been much analysis and discussion of this development, so I am not going to go through the details of the case. Linux Weekly News has a good overview and discussion of the substance of the claim. A major plank in their argument is that IBM used knowledge of UNIX technology it gained from intellectual property owned by SCO to benefit Linux development. This was allegedly an attempt by IBM to kill commercial UNIX and build-up Linux, though given that there is some debate about many of the "facts" on which these claims are based, a healthy dose of scepticism may be in order. Doc Searls at Linux Journal has also cogently analysed the story, and says that with this action SCO has finally made clear which side of the open-source/closed-source divide it truly stands. I have to say that this does not entirely surprise me having seen a "partners-presentation" given by staff from SCO a few months ago in Dublin. Further discussions can be read in the Slashdot thread.

 Every Day's a Hollings-day

Senator Ernest "on the Fritz" Hollings has proposed an interesting new initiative to improve the working environment for his fellow politicians. In Fritz's vision, members of congress would have the opportunity to attend in any one of a range of Disney inspired costumes. Capitol buildings will also be re-worked to bring them more into line with the spirit-lifting aesthetic popularised at Disneyland. Hollings is unapologetically evangelical regarding the proposal:

"Nothing in the world is as magical as a holiday in Disneyland, it is the pinnacle of our great civilisation and must surely be the finest place to work. What we are doing is bringing that magic into the every day lives of our Senators and Congress-folk. Now, even a Senator can live every day in the joyous glow of Disney magic."
This initiative is sure to gladden the hearts of the hard working men and women of the government. Fritz was quick to point out that this endeavour would have the additional advantage of raising the profile of the much loved entertainment conglomerate.

To facilitate the promotion and introduction of this measure, Ernest is sub-contracting his job to Michael Eisner, Disney CEO. Eisner declined to comment at length. "It will be business as usual", he purred.

This is seen as a very progressive manoeuvre by Hollings, and is typical of the visionary and principled leadership of the man who brought us the CBDTPA. Indeed, the CBDTPA itself had an origin rooted in Disney culture. Taking inspiration from the Disney slogan "Where the magic comes to you" this much-misunderstood act was intended to put a little bit of Disney "magic" into every commonly used electronic device.

Upcoming conferences and events

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

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

MySQL Users Conference & Expo 2003
April 8-10, 2003
San Jose, CA

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

ClusterWorld Conference and Expo
June 24-26, 2003
San Jose, CA

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

LinuxWorld UK
September 3-4, 2003
Birmingham, United Kingdom

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

 Sony, IBM and Activate Linux-Based Computing Grid

Sony, IBM and Grid pioneer announced the activation of a Linux-based computing grid that makes it easier and cheaper to run Sony PlayStation 2 games on the Internet. It is claimed that the massive "Butterfly Grid" can support millions of concurrent PlayStation-online users around the world, with no limit to the number of players who can be on the Grid at one time.

 Film Gimp becomes Cinepaint

The Film Gimp team has changed the project name to Cinepaint. The decision was made during the recent Film Gimp panel discussion in Los Angeles during the Linux Movies conference track.

 Appro HyperBlade

The Appro HyperBlade B221X cluster is designed for the High-Performance Computational (HPC) market and provides a fully integrated Linux cluster solution for large-scale complex computations. It achieves high-density architecture by using commodity x86 components in a single cluster. With support for up to 80 compute blades, Appro HyperBlade architecture doubles the current rack density using 1U servers.

Distro News

 CollegeLinux interviews Prof. David Costa, Dean of Robert Kennedy College in Switzerland about his school's recently released GNU/Linux offering: CollegeLinux.


The Debian project has announced new licencing terms. Beginning April 1, 2003, software upgrades will now be on a pay-as-you-go scheme. This will initially affect users of Debian mirrors who will have to buy prepaid blocks of access via the new Debian online store iDebian. Starting with the next stable release there will also be a pay-per-install scheme which is expected to be very well subscribed. Each installation will have an administrator program DebiWin which will continuously audit the system and make sure that the user has not innocently installed twice from a single installation medium. Uniquely in the default Debian install, DebiWin is a closed-source application. This is to maintain the "unique qualities" of the application.

Though initial reactions have been mixed, many users are non-plussed:

"...We already pay in blood, sweat and tears installing Debian, so what's a few dollars. You only install it once you know! What's that, you have to pay for upgrades... d'oh!"

A verbose guide to updating and compiling Debian kernels.

Anthony Towns is looking for volunteers to help with Release Manager work for the forthcoming release of Sarge.


Guardian Digital has announced the availability of the Guardian Digital Secure Mail Suite, which is available with Guardian Digital's EnGarde Secure Linux v1.5, also released today.


SCO has announced the availability of a new education program, updated Linux, UnixWare and OpenServer courseware, and a new UnitedLinux certification program.


In a surprise announcement, the Slackware project has announced the removal of any console-based install tools in the upcoming version 9.0. Daringly, installation will now be completed using installation tools running on the 3DWM platform. Minimum graphics requirements have not been announced yet, but if you were saving up for a new card to play Doom 3 with, you're on the right track.

The Slackware Linux Project has a brief anouncement on their site about their latest release Slackware 9.0-rc1.


Ximian, Inc., a provider of desktop and server Linux solutions, and SuSE Linux have announced a partnership concerning SuSE's corporate business. As part of the agreement, SuSE will resell Red Carpet Enterprise from Ximian - enabling customers to centrally deploy and manage software on servers and desktops running SuSE Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. The companies will also offer Ximian Connector software to integrate the popular Ximian Evolution groupware suite for Linux with the SuSE Linux Openexchange server. In addition, the companies will pursue opportunities to collaborate on future Linux desktop offerings incorporating Ximian Desktop technology.


UnitedLinux has announced that it has completed certification of UnitedLinux Version 1.0 with both Oracle9i Database and its database clustering technology, Oracle9i Real Application Clusters.


Yoper (Your Operating System) has released version 1.0 of their distribution.

Software and Product News


XFree86 version 4.3.0 has been released. The new release includes many new graphics card driver improvements, automatic PS2 mouse protocol detection, run-time root window resizing, support for alpha-blended and animated cursors, and an improved font server.


TextMaker for Linux beta now available. TextMaker for Linux is a a word processor that is claimed to read and write Microsoft Word 6/95/97/2000/XP files without losing formatting or content.

 McObject - MontaVista partnership

McObject, developer of the eXtremeDB small footprint, in-memory database, has joined with MontaVista Software to offer a GNU/Linux-based technology combination for intelligent devices ranging from consumer electronics to carrier-grade communications gear.

With eXtremeDB, McObject offers a new type of database to meet the unique performance requirements and resource constraints of intelligent, connected devices. With a footprint of 100K or less, eXtremeDB spares RAM and CPU resources while delivering critical data management features. eXtremeDB's ultra-small footprint and exceptional performance enables device manufacturers to deploy less expensive hardware, providing a key economic benefit through reduction of BOM (Bill of Material) costs. Similarly, by choosing MontaVista Linux tools and platforms, companies gain significant savings over proprietary real-time operating systems (RTOSes). Together, McObject and MontaVista lower development and deployment costs, enhancing customers' positioning in the marketplace.

This page written and maintained by the Editor of the Linux Gazette,
Copyright © 2003, Michael Conry. Copying license
Published in Issue 89 of Linux Gazette, April 2003