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News Bytes

By Howard Dyckoff


Please submit your News Bytes items in plain text; other formats may be rejected without reading. [You have been warned!] A one- or two-paragraph summary plus a URL has a much higher chance of being published than an entire press release. Submit items to bytes@linuxgazette.net.

News in General

Will Oracle buy a Linux OS provider?

"I don't see how we could possibly buy Red Hat... I'm not going to spend $5 billion, or $6 billion, for something that can just be so completely wiped off the map," Ellison was quoted as saying in the FT. He also said that he had considered making an offer on Novell.

Ellison did mention supporting or buying a small distro and building it up for the Oracle user community. Ubuntu and Mandriva are possibilities cited by commentators.

"At some point we could very well choose to have Linux as part of the Oracle database server. We certify it, we test it. We could have JBoss as part of our middleware. It costs us nothing. We can do that, IBM can do that, HP can do that - anyone with a large support organization is free to take that intellectual property and embed it in their own products."

And: "Why didn't we buy JBoss? Because we don't have to. If it ever got good enough we'd just take the intellectual property - just like Apache - embed it in our fusion middleware suite, and we're done."

The full Financial Times story is here: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/5f7bdc18-ce85-11da-a032-0000779e2340.html

Will Sun Open Source Java?

The rumor mills are reporting internal debate at Sun over how far to go with its ongoing Open Source initiative, up to and including fully Open Sourcing Java. This is all motivated by need to make some statement of direction for the upcoming JavaOne conference in May.

With Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz newly settled in after the departure of Scott McNealy, the pressure to go the OSSw way is mounting. But the real issue is helping Sun's bottom line.

Sun has historically tried to prevent forking within the Java source tree to maintain its 'run everywhere' goal. On the other hand, Microsoft's C# borrows heavily from Java and is a major alternative. Also the work on Eclipse plugins and IDEs for scripting languages like PHP may be undercutting the position of Java in the developer community.

Introducing MySQL Forge

MySQL AB has introduced MySQL Forge, a new Web site and community directory designed to support active MySQL-related open source development. Located at http://forge.mysql.com, MySQL Forge is a central online resource for all MySQL users and developers to communicate, collaborate and share MySQL code and applications.

MySQL now also supports Ubuntu, a popular version of Linux. In a keynote address at the 2006 MySQL Users Conference, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project, outlined the new partnership. Shuttleworth said, "The new partnership and technology support between MySQL and Ubuntu will make it much easier for our joint communities and customers to build and use everything from Web 2.0 applications to large, business-critical software, on the Ubuntu-MySQL platform."

Linux Desktop goes to LSB 3.1

At the recent Linux Desktop Summit in San Diego, the Free Standards Group announced support of the current Linux Standard Base (LSB) 3.1 standard for desktop applications by 14 Linux vendors. This is the first version of the LSB to include portable Linux desktop applications. The initial group, which is sure to grow, included Ubuntu, Xandros, Red Hat and Novell and system vendors Dell, HP and IBM.

LSB 3.1 also incorporates the recently approved ISO standard LSB Core (ISO/IEC 23360) into the standard.

Greater participation of Linux distribution vendors and upstream maintainers in the LSB development process will make it easier to synchronize roadmaps and improve binary compatibility. This initiative will be kicked off at the FSG Summit on June 1 and 2, 2006 in Boston with participants from major distributions, upstream maintainers and ISVs.

"LSB 3.1 is a big step forward for the Linux desktop. freedesktop.org is looking forward to working closely together with the Linux Standard Base to drive even more desktop related technology into the next revision of LSB," said Waldo Bastian, a senior software architect at freedesktop.org.

"LSB-compliance is very important for Ubuntu," said Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu founder and chief developer. "We believe that Linux offers the world freedom of choice, freedom to innovate and freedom to localize. The Linux Standard Base is a crucial enabler of those freedoms, creating confidence in the standardization of the core platform while still preserving the ability of the platform to evolve and improve."

SuSE flaws in KDE

Several flaws and vulnerabilities in the desktop KDE environment have been discovered and patched in the latest release of SuSE. These could exploited by attackers to access sensitive information or run arbitrary code on an affected machine.

READ MORE at http://www.networkworld.com/weblogs/alerts/2005/008545.html and http://www.novell.com/linux/security/advisories/2005_22_kdelibs3.html

Novell buys security monitoring firm e-Security

Novell has bought e-Security, a security information management and compliance monitoring firm, in a deal worth $72 million. e-Security's key product is Sentinel 5, a total-enterprise view of attacks and policy violations. Novell said this software provides "...Automated Compliance Monitoring and Reporting."

Novell estimates a positive revenue impact from the acquisition of roughly $20 million in the coming 12 months. Their webcast on the acquisition is available here.

Read more at http://www.novell.com/news/press/item.jsp?id=579

Conferences and Events

==> All LinuxWorld Expos < ==
SecuritySolutions 2006
May 1-4, Tampa, FL
SecureWorld Expo
May 2-3 2006, Atlanta, GA
CardTech/SecurTech 2006
May 2-4, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
JavaOne Conference
May 16-19 2006, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
Red Hat Summit
May 30 - June 2 2006, Nashville, TN
SOA Web Services Edge Conference & Expo and Enterprise Open Source Conference [co-located]
5-6 June, New York, New York
21st Int'l Supercomputer Conference
June 27 - 30 2006,Dresden, Germany
O'Reilly Open Source Convention 2006
July 24-28, Portland, OR
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo -- SF
August 14-17, 2006 -- in foggy San Francisco, dress warmly!!
June 26-28 2006, Chicago, IL
Dr. Dobb's Architecture & Design World 2006
July 17-20, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Conference Center, Chicago, IL
August -- 01 September, Birmingham, U.K
SD Best Practices 2006
September 11-14, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA
GridWorld 2006
September 11-14, Convention Center, Washington, DC.
Rules Technology Summit
November 5-9, 2006, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC

FREE Commercial Events of Interest

Sun MicroSystems will host a free NetBeans Software Day concurrently with the 2006 JavaOne Conference tutorial day. James Gosling and other Java luminaries will present at this pre-JavaOne event. Register now for your chance at free books, USB RAM giveaways, and more. Attend Monday, May 15, 2006 at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco. Details: http://enews.sun.com/CTServlet?id=106665198-988673072:1146175386207

In addition, Sun has just added a free bonus evening course, "Exploring Ajax & JavaServer Faces (JSF)". This evening course is only available to those attending one of the four Java University tutorial courses held during the day on May 15. Details are here : http://enews.sun.com/CTServlet?id=106665198-988673072:1146175386215

Distro news

The latest stable version of the Linux kernel is: [ http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/patch- ]

The latest test version Linux kernel tree is: 2.6.17-rc3-git3 [ http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/testing/patch-2.6.17-rc3.bz2 ]

SUSE Linux 10.1 Beta

SUSE Linux 10.1, code name 'Agama Lizard' RC3, is availabile with fixes for the majority of bugs from RC2. Please read the Most Annoying Bugs for RC3 here before you decide to download it. [ http://en.opensuse.org/Bugs:Most_Annoying_Bugs#SUSE_Linux_10.1_RC3  ]

Debian AMD64 port

Debian GNU/Linux: the project's Debian AMD64 port is now officially included in the Debian unstable branch and will soon be added to the testing tree. As a result, users of the unstable and testing branches of the increasingly popular 64-bit platform should update their sources list file to point to the new tree, rather than to amd64.debian.net, which will no longer be updated. Users of the stable Debian AMD64 port can continue to use the original FTP server and can obtain security patches from security.debian.org.

CentOS 3.7

CentOS 3.7 has been released: "The CentOS development team is pleased to announce the availability of CentOS 3.7. Major changes in this version of CentOS include: Added Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) functionality to CentOS-3. IPMI is a standard for controlling intelligent devices that monitor a system. It provides for dynamic discovery of sensors in the system and the ability to monitor the sensors and be informed when the sensor's values change or go outside certain boundaries. To use IPMI, you need an interface to an IPMI controller in your system (called a Baseboard Management Controller, or BMC) and the IPMI software."

SimplyMEPIS 6.0 Beta

The first beta of the new Ubuntu-based SimplyMEPIS 6.0 has been released for public download and testing: The KControl system configuration shell has been replaced with the SystemSettings shell from the Ubuntu Project. This was in response to suggestions from the MEPIS user community. Also reliability has been enhanced by a delay on logout to prevent disk sync problems and an automatic fsck on login. [BTW, "Ubuntu Linux" is now officially just "Ubuntu"]

Said MEPIS founder Warren Woodford, "We've released 2 alphas and we are ready to do a beta." Get SimplyMEPIS 6.0-beta1 here [http://ftp.wustl.edu/pub/linux/distributions/mepis/ ] The final release is scheduled for around June 1, 2006. Beta2 is planned for approximately May 3.

Software and Product News

HP Simplifies Management for Linux on Blades

HP's new Control Tower software simplifies the management of Linux on blade servers with technology gained through HP's acquisition of RLX last year. In addition, HP Control Tower can work in conjunction with HP Systems Insight Manager to provide simplified lifecycle management of blade servers running Linux by using familiar open-source tools.

The management features of HP Control Tower are :

-- Simple set-up -- Less than 30 minutes required to install and configure the management server
-- Management -- Tightly integrated package delivers hardware monitoring and deployment functions in one console. HP Control Tower uses a secure management network to ensure reliable monitoring and simplified remote management for HP BladeSystem
-- Linux-friendly -- Intelligently packages open-source tools familiar to Linux users

HP Control Tower is expected to be available in May for $199 per license. More information on HP Control Tower is available at www.hp.com/go/controltower .

SCO include mobility services

SCO has been seen on the conference circuit demonstrating two new mobility services they call VOTE and SHOUT. With Shout you can send a 60-second custom audio message to any number of people through a Web browser. Vote is an easy polling service that lets you gather instant opinions and manage feedback in a mobile environment. Both were demonstrated at recent conferences, including the MySQL user conference, as part of its 'Me, Inc.' initiative. [I picked up a free CD, but its trialware that times out in 60 days.] This also shows that they are still developing software.

IBM and the X Factor

IBM has unveiled System X to replace its eServer X Series. The new x86 line includes the System x3800, x3850 and x3950 servers, will have virtualization switched on by default [previously it was off]. So the machines are 'virtually' the same as its xSeries 260 and up models.

IBM polled its customer base and learned that the majority of them would pursue data center virtualization projects with planned hardware projects. These servers will work with VMWare and Xen hypervisors.

Magical Realism... (non-Linux news of general interest)

Virus threatens both Linux and Windows

Hackers have released proof-of-concept code for a virus that can infect both Linux and Windows systems. The virus, which was given the symmetric name 'Virus.Linux.Bi.a/ Virus.Win32.Bi.a', was reported by security firm Kaspersky Lab. While it does not carry a malicious payload, security researchers there worry that this malware is part of a trend of viruses that can run on Windows and other operating systems. In this case, code infects both PE (Portable Executable) and ELF (Executable and Linking Format) file types.

Although this is worrying, it is not entirely without precedent. In 2001 the "ELF/Winux.2784" virus was also able to infect both Linux and Windows platforms.

Read more here : http://www.techweb.com/wire/184429692 and http://www.networkworld.com/nlvirusbug29990

[ Considering that writing to a Linux system executable requires root privileges, the above "threat" has exactly zero effect on the security profile of Linux. As always, the requirement for damaging a Linux system continues to consist of "first, get root access..." -- Ben ]

Beta test new AJAX-ified Yahoo! Mail

AT&T Inc. and Yahoo! beta test new AJAX-ified Yahoo! Mail

Highlights of the beta version of AT&T Yahoo! Mail include a faster [AJAX-based] web interface and:

-- Fast and easy-to-use interface that functions like a desktop client application.
-- Drag-and-drop message organization.
-- Reading pane to view messages instantly.
-- Ability to view multiple e-mails at the same time, using tabbed navigation.
-- Integrated RSS reader, providing access to breaking news, blog entries and other feeds directly in the Web mail experience.
-- Automatic check and delivery of new mail.
-- Keyboard shortcuts and right-click menus.
-- Ability to scroll through all message headers in a folder, rather than page by page.

Samsung Develops 3D Memory Package

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a leader in advanced memory technology, has developed a small-footprint, wafer-level stack package (WSP) of high density memory chips using 'through silicon via' (TSV) interconnection technology. WSP reduces the physical size of a stacked set of semiconductor chips, while greatly improving overall performance. The next generation in package technologies, WSP can be applied to memory and processors to deliver higher speed and higher density packaging.

Using this technology, mobile device and consumer electronics manufacturers can make slimmer, high-performance handsets with longer battery time.

Samsung's industry-first WSP is a 16Gbit memory solution that stacks eight 2Gb NAND chips. The WSP generates a much smaller multi-chip package (MCP), which is the current mainstream solution for designing miniaturized, high-capacity memory devices. Samsung's eight-chip WSP prototype sample, which vertically stacks eight 50-micrometer, 2Gb NAND flash dies, is 0.56 millimeters in height.

Samsung's WSP technology reduces production cost by using a tiny laser to drill the TSV holes. WSP also reduces the length of the interconnections, resulting in an approximately 30-percent increase in performance from reduced electrical resistance. This makes it attractive for applications requiring lower power consumption, higher performance and higher density, such as today's slimmer handset designs. Samsung will apply its WSP technology to mobile applications and consumer electronics in early 2007.

Restraining Order Against the Geek Squad

The Feds granted a request by Winternals Software for a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring that Best Buy Co. and its Geek Squad subsidiary to stop using unlicensed versions of Winternals' software.

The lawsuit alleges that Best Buy and Geek Squad used illegal copies of ERD Commander 2005, a system repair and data recovery tool that boots a dead computer into a Windows-like environment for rapid system recovery. The software helps restore deleted data, reset passwords, copy files to and from unbootable systems, edit the registry, and access Restore Points on a dead Windows computer. The software is regarded as the most complete set of administrative system tools available for the Windows professional.

In its lawsuit, Winternals claimed that Best Buy and Geek Squad contacted Winternals in October 2005 about purchasing a license that would allow their 12,000 employees to use Winternals' software in their jobs. The licensing would have covered most Geek Squad employees at a cost of several million dollars.

The lawsuit alleges that during the next three months, Winternals and the defendants entered into a trial-and-test agreement. The complaint contends that, in February 2006, the defendants abruptly informed Winternals that they were no longer interested in pursuing a licensing agreement but still continued to use Winternals' software.

Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

[BIO] 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.

Copyright © 2006, 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 126 of Linux Gazette, May 2006

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