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Welcome to the LinuxFocus March/April 2004 issue

more fun every day
LinuxFocus, more fun every day!
It is not the first time that XFree86, the X11 implementation for Linux, is under heavy discussion. Sometimes you hear that the networking support in X11 makes it too slow. The is not true at all. X11 is not slower at all because of it's networking layer. What is sometimes slow is the driver technology. Until today it is important to choose the right graphic card to get really fast and good 3D graphics. This is because not every driver is equally well developed. Many people wanted to see faster and better driver development. This has however not really happened until now because XFree86 was mostly good enough.

In the end of January XFree86 announced a new license which might change this forever.

The license review was prompted by a desire to ensure that XFree86 and its contributors are receiving due credit for their work.

The license is unfortunately incompatible with the GPL. The change may have given XFree86 public attention and credit for the moment but it may also drive the project into irrelevance. Some bigger distributors like Mandrake, Gentoo, Debian,... have already responded to this change by not using the 4.4.0 release. The new "advertising clause" is at the heart of this license dispute. Any distribution of XFree86 software must now explicitly mention that XFree86 is included. What is so special about XFree86 to mention it explicitly on the box? After all Linux comes with many other great software packages such as KDE, Xfce, Gimp, Qt, Gtk, ... The list would be endless. Further more XFree86 requires now written permission when you use their name in any advertisement. The pure mentioning of XFree86 on a box might be already a form of advertisement. In short you might be forced to ask for written permission every time you distribute XFree86.

What do we learn from this? Well, true free software lives on. A better X11 might soon be available from http://freedesktop.org/ . And don't fiddle around with the license. If you need a license then take one from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html or http://creativecommons.org/

-- Guido Socher

LinuxFocus.org Articles

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Articles at Linux Gazette


Software Development


The LinuxFocus Tip

Here is an easy solution to check the temperature of your remotely hosted server. New motherboards have some sensors which you can read out but even if you have slightly older machines there is a chance that you can monitor the temperature without additional hardware:
Harddisks with "S.M.A.R.T." support have a built-in sensor which you can read out with the command "smartctl -a /dev/hda" (for the first ide disk). No kernel changes are needed to do that. So if you know what the temperature of the disk under normal conditions is, then you can detect a failing air-conditioning or a congested power supply fan because the temperature will also increase in the disk:
193 Load_Cycle_Count       0x0032 253 253 000 Old_age Always -    379
194 Temperature_Celsius    0x0032 253 253 000 Old_age Always -    45
195 Hardware_ECC_Recovered 0x000a 253 252 000 Old_age Always -    0

The command smartctl is part of the smartmontools package: http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/

There is also a small tool which reads only the temperature (not all S.M.A.R.T. parameters as smartctl):
#hddtemp /dev/hda
/dev/hda: ST94011A: 45 C

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