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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

boltVirtual Headaches

It all started with the announcement that Microsoft Corp. and XenSource would cooperate on interoperability between Xen-enabled Linux and Microsoft's planned hypervisor technology for its Windows Server virtualization. With the next version of Windows Server, code-named "Longhorn," Microsoft will provide powerful virtualization across hardware and operating system environments for cost-saving consolidation of Windows, Linux, and Xen-enabled Linux distributions.

The joint efforts between the two companies will deliver interoperability, secure virtualization, and, most noteworthy, Microsoft technical support for interoperability issues with Xen-enabled Linux guest operating systems through standard Microsoft technical support processes.

Following Microsoft's surprise embrace of XenSource technology for hosting virtual Linux hosts, VMware's 'Executive Blog' critiqued the Microsoft line-up with open source virtualization developer XenSource in mid-July. Written by Brian Byun, VMware Vice-President of Products and Alliances, the 7/18 blog entry accuses XenSource of betraying its open source roots and called the arrangement a 'one-way street' that would ultimately only favor Microsoft.

Byun complains that the Xen "...arrangement will allow Linux to run on future Microsoft hypervisors through translated calls to the hypervisor when Windows is controlling the hardware, but not the other way around..."
[See http://www.vmware.com/vmtn/blog/console/2006/07/.]

Those and other comments have damaged the working efforts between XenSource and VMware on producing open-source standards for virtualization hypervisors. VMware has already circulated an initial proposal for Linux kernel support of various hypervisors.

Byun wrote, "XenSource, in diverging from its open-source and Linux virtualization roots, is enabling the commercial interests of Windows and building to proprietary Windows API layers. It stands to reason that, in order to protect Windows from GPL contamination, XenSource will need to undertake a lot of non-GPL development to translate and buffer the Linux kernel from Windows hypervisor interfaces; and nothing that Microsoft licenses to, or develops with, XenSource is GPL and can be used directly by the Xen or Linux communities and commercial distributions". These comments have angered XenSource representatives.

The blogshere has rattled and ranted about this situation, but Ilya Baimetov's comments at http://virtuozzo.livejournal.com/6606.html are very astute. First, he notes that the technology in Xen was developed at Cambridge University with support by Microsoft; not surprisingly, Microsoft's virtualization technology has many similarities with Xen. Then, he asks some rather important questions about what, if anything, XenSource gets, other than exposure:

"With this partnership, Xen loses its advantage as the only platform for running paravirtualized Linux. Now, why would channel partners invest in training their staff to sell and support Xen, if they can just wait until Microsoft releases its hypervisor, which they will need to adopt anyway? Is Xen[Source] just desperate? Is it trying to get acquired by MS? No? Then, please, explain to me how Xen[Source] is going to make money if its core technology is free and its management tools are way behind VMware?"

All this controversy heightens the need to have rival virtualization approaches use some common standards before being included in Linux distros. SuSE 10 is out now with customizations to support Xen, and IBM, as a SuSE partner, will be supporting that Xen implementation. Meanwhile, VMware announced the general availability of VMware Server after a five-month beta program with more than 700,000 downloads. VMware Server is now free and replaces its former low-end GSX Server product.

At LinuxWorld, working relationships did not seem strained, and vendors and partners of both VMWare and XenSource made a point of being cordial. When questioned at a virtualization panel with representatives of VMware and Microsoft present, XenSource representatives expressed a continued interest in working with both companies and developing standards for hypervisors. However, in separate presentations by members of VMWare, they emphasized running Linux as a fully equal OS vs. the Xen and Microsoft approach where Linux was not equal to the Windows host.
[So they are still sparring, only more politely.]

boltWhere was Red Hat? [a no-show at LinuxWorld]

The halls of the SF Moscone Center were without a significant Red Hat presence. No booth, no sponsorship, no Red Hat partner pavillion [and no Red Hat-wrappered chocalate bars for tired conference attendees!] At the same time, the Internet rumor mill contained a flush of reports about Oracle pursuing a Linux distro, perhaps even Red Hat itself.

Red Hat did hold an exclusive fete at a nearby hotel for special customers, press, and partners, but this Linux Gazette reporter was not invited. Red Hat personnel also presented at technical sessions and panels, but this seemed like a retreat for a company so central to the world of Linux.

Red Hat executives considered their no-show a no-issue, but conference attendees were surprised and unhappy. There were no scarlet baseball caps this year at the Expo, no Red Hat training discounts, no booth presentations.

Some speculation -- unsubstantiated so far -- suggested that Red Hat was preparing itself for purchase, and so allowed Oracle a more prominent role. But even Oracle's presence at the show was a bit more subdued. The annual Oracle installathon was not mentioned in the show guide or in the morning keynote introductions. However, the installathon did occur in a corner of conference center, with only a single sign in front of its door. Oracle could offer attendees only older SUSE 9 and Red Hat 4 packages at the installathon, unlike the up-to-date offerings at previous LinuxWorlds.

Ellison has stated in a recent interview with Forbes magazine that Oracle is considering use of Fedora Core OSS: "...any company can take Red Hat Linux and use it at no cost, so long as they are willing to support themselves... Well, that includes us. We could take Red Hat Linux, as long as we're willing to support it. In fact, we can redistribute it to others and provide support."

Such a purchase would allow Oracle to offer a complete "stack" of OS, DB, Oracle apps, and helper middleware. At LinuxWorld two years ago, Ellison said Oracle would like offer such a stack to its customers. Subsequently, Oracle purchased OSS database vendors Sleepy Cat Systems and InnoBase.

See the links below for more info on the Oracle-Red Hat buyout speculation. Thumbnail summary: Oracle can pay billions to roll their own Linux and market it -- or Oracle can pay even more billions to acquire Red Hat [$4-6 billion by one estimate]. Perhaps Ellison is trying to beat down Red Hat's share price and market cap for such a purchase or other 'strategic' ends. Red Herring magazine cautions that Oracle will be quiet until it reports quarter earnings in October or at its next analyst meeting on October 26.

Also see:

boltLinuxWorld San Francisco 2006 Debuts Two New Developer Sub-Conferences

IDG World Expo has announced that its 2006 summer event in SF will feature two new one-day conference options for attendees: Novell's Best of BrainShare and the PalmSource Developer Day. These one-day conferences will offer attendees the latest in open enterprise computing and mobile Linux applications, respectively, and are free to attendees who purchase a conference package. Single-day tickets can also be purchased separately for $95 for each conference.

The Novell Best of BrainShare conference consists of three top-tier technical sessions on various aspects of software for the open enterprise, and will be offered on both Tuesday, August 15th, and Wednesday, August 16th. The topics for the program were extremely well received at Novell's BrainShare Salt Lake City 2006, and have been updated to reflect the latest technologies.

The PalmSource Developer Day will take place on Wednesday, August 16th, and is targeted towards Linux application developers who are interested in taking their applications mobile. Attendees will get an overview of the components of the new leading platform for mobile devices -- the ACCESS Linux Platform (ALP) and deeper insight into ALP extensions. They also will receive early access and hands-on experience building applications for this new platform. Topics for this one-day event will be presented by Tom Chavez, Sr., Product Manager for PalmSource, and Keithen Hayenga, Licensee Services Engineer for PalmSource.

The following details the topics that will be presented at Novell's Best of BrainShare:

"High Availability Storage Foundation," presented by Richard Jones, Novell, Inc. Novell's High Availability Storage Foundation components and strategy are laid out in this session. The HA Storage Foundation includes file systems, volume management, and cluster resource management integrated into a robust solution.

"Xen Technical Insight - SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10," presented by Dr. K.Y. Srinivasan, Distinguished Engineer, Novell, Inc. Virtualization is a key enabling technology for addressing the computing needs in enterprise data centers, and this session previews Xen virtualization technology, an open source project. Topics covered will include the Xen 3.0 architecture, the Xen technical roadmap, and integration of Xen technology into Novell products. This is an advanced technical session, suitable for an experienced audience.

"Systems Management Roadmap," presented by Bryan Cardoza of Novell, Inc. Using enterprise Linux and related products as a case study, this session will review the factors that affect creation of a consistent and cohesive set of system management tools. The session will also explore Novell's plans and opportunities for building a federated Web-based management tool set.

For more information on these sessions, or to register, visit http://www.linuxworldexpo.com/sf.

boltAJAX Bringing Web 2.0 to Web Services - Survey Results

According to Evans Data Corp's latest Web Services Development Survey, Web Services with Web 2.0 interfaces are surging. Evans Data finds this in the rising use of AJAX, a key component option of the Web 2.0 architecture. Close to half of developers surveyed say they are already working with AJAX, or plan to do so in the coming year. REST (Representational State Transfer) use is rising as well. The Evans Data survey found a 37% increase in respondents implementing or considering REST, with one out of four surveyed saying that they are considering REST-Based Web services as a simpler alternative to SOAP-based services.

"Consistent with the increasing adoption of Web services, we are also seeing the same for AJAX", stated John Andrews, President of Evans Data. "This framework, now more than ever, is allowing developers the means to make Web-based applications function more like desktop ones."

Other findings from the Spring 2006 survey of almost 400 managers and developers:

-- Reuse is rising. Three out of ten survey respondents are saying the ability to reuse a service is the greatest cost advantage to Web Services. The number of respondents sharing Web services with two or more business units is up 20% since the last survey.
-- Despite industry speculation to the contrary, the adoption of the Java platform is poised for a significant increase. Three out of four companies expect to be working with the Java platform by next year, a 12% jump.

Evans Data Corporation (www.evansdata.com)

boltIDC Predicts Open Source Software Will Grow Fastest in Government Sector

According to recent analysis conducted by market research firm Government Insights (an IDC company), open-source software will gain momentum faster within the government sector than it will in other markets. Government Insights predicts government information technology will most likely see the most substantial growth in the use of open-source software over the next five years, with rapid growth in the five- to ten-year time frame. This study also predicts a 'value shift' for software within the government community, citing the initial shift driven by state and local governments sharing their custom-developed solutions.

"Government software needs are unique because governments perform a unique function - service to the citizen," says Shawn P. McCarthy, head of vendor programs at Government Insights. "Unlike the private sector, when governments help coordinate the open-source development process, they greatly benefit from the code that is created, even if the code is freely available to others. State governments in particular will benefit from the approach of keeping software value within a community; an application created for one state can easily be used by other states."

In this report, Government Insights estimates a 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of open-source software as part of total IT spending, as well as forecasts the growth of open-source software within the government IT market through 2009. The forecasts are divided into three categories, including Application Development and Deployment, Applications, and System Infrastructure Software.

"This is the same kind of aggressive growth that we saw in the early days of Linux", adds McCarthy. "There is reason to believe that this growth will continue past 2010, making both traditional and government coordinated open-source projects a force to be reckoned with in the next decade. Government agencies are now developing their own open code repositories."

The study, entitled "The Long Term Impact of Open Source Solutions on Government IT Spending" (Doc # GI201795), is available at http://www.idc.com.

boltLinux fastest-growing Operating System in the industry according to Gartner, IDC

In May, Gartner Group reported that Linux experienced an 84% market share leap in the Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) market.

According to a February 2006 report from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, Linux servers generated $1.6 billion in 2005 quarterly revenue, the fourteenth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, with year-over-year revenue growth of 20.8%. For the full year, Linux server revenues were $5.7 billion, placing it in third place for the first time from an operating system perspective, as customers continued to expand the role of Linux servers into an increasingly wider array of commercial and technical workloads.

boltAMD, Intel continue chip war, price cuts

It's a little bit like Xmas in July, but AMD and Intel embarked on a second round of price cuts -- of up to 60% -- to make room for new dual-core X86 chips and to push out older inventories. The high ground is also being staked out, with both AMD and Intel talking up and coming 4-core systems.

At the end of July, AMD showed off a prototype high-end gamer system that it called a '4by4'. VP Pat Moorhead suggested it will price out in the $1000 range, depending on final configuration. According to reghardware.co.uk: "It's essentially a two-CPU motherboard, rigged for ATI's CrossFire and Nvidia's SLI dual-GPU technology twice over to support four GPUs. Each CPU slot will hold a dual-core Athlon 64 FX processor, so that's four cores. Each chip gets 2GB of dedicated memory, for a total of 4GB."

Both chip makers had originally planned to release quad-core chips in the first half of 2007, but Intel now hopes to begin offering some quad-cores at the end of this year.

AMD's strategy continues to include partnering with other chip makers to reduce the total system cost, and to allow board builders to choose the parts they want. They modified that approach in July by offering to buy graphics chip maker ATI, with the aim of moving graphics processors into the the main CPU.

AMD will also be launching a new version of its Opteron server chip in mid-August. Called "Rev F", the new Opteron has support for faster DDR2 memory and AMD's in-chip virtualization technology ["Pacifica"]. It will also sport an updated on-board memory controller and requires the new 940-pin AM2 socket.

The on-going problem for AMD is that the new Intel 'Core 2 Duo' [C2D] architecture can match and even surpass AMD's offerings on performance and power consumption, at least for the Athlon chip family. Intel's Conroe family implements an architecture that steals a few pages from AMD's and does it a turn better. Results from PC Labs investigation into C2D chips show Intel chips with a 10-30% advantage, depending on the benchmark used. These tests are primarily while running the Windows OS, but even scientific benchmarks modestly favor the Intel C2D processors in most cases except RAM access, where AMD's on-board memory controller shines.

For all benchmarks see PC Magazine Special Report: Intel Core 2 Duo Conroe.

How does the C2D gain an edge on AMD? In both small and large ways. First, Intel has pooled its L2 cache with the expectation that both CPU cores will want some of the same objects. AMD has dedicated L2 cache for each of its cores but intends to add an extra L3 cache that Athlon and Opteron cores can share. Second, Intel has widened the execution unit to 128 bits, allowing extra-wide 128-bit instructions to exec in a single clock cycle; where the Pentium D family required 2 clocks. Third, Intel has a 14-stage pipeline compared to AMD's 12 stages, but this is still shorter and easier to manage than the 31-stage Pentium D. Fourth and most important, regular instructions can be processed 4 at a time vs. 3 at a time for Pentium and AMD Athlon.

It looks like the Empire is stiking back... but AMD says it has been preparing for this moment, and has announcements of its own in the next few months. One area it may pursue is improving the benchmarking of power consumption for long-running processes, where AMD believes its chips are still superior. AMD has been building up its chip fab capacity and production yields to supply lots of low-cost chips for the coming battle. It's Ragnarok, the battle of the Gods!

boltCollabNet and O'Reilly Team to Deliver Global Software Developer Networks

CollabNet and O'Reilly Media announced in July a partnership to market and sell a joint software development solution for distributed developer networks and communities. CollabNet and O'Reilly have already partnered to support some of the largest open source development communities such as java.net, owned by Sun Microsystems, and global development projects for BEA. The formalized partnership will allow both community and enterprise customers to create and expand global development communities that drive product innovation through efficient collaboration.

The partnership's offering features the first distributed software development solution in the market that combines an open source platform, a collaborative project workspace, and a customizable collection of information and learning resources in a low-cost and easy-to-implement on-demand solution. CollabNet will provide its collaborative development platform and professional community management services, and O'Reilly will provide its content management system and editorial management of blogs, forums, wikis, technical articles, and certification. The offering blends these services and products together seamlessly, to enable easy implementation and rapid scalability.

"I've long advocated the competitive advantage of what I call the architecture of participation", said Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO at O'Reilly Media, Inc. "Now, through this partnership, we're helping companies tap the tremendous value it unleashes by maximizing user contribution and collaboration. We've created an alchemical mix of technology, processes, and information that is a culmination of the vision Brian Behlendorf and I shared when we co-founded CollabNet seven years ago."

CollabNet and O'Reilly customers will be able to drive continual product innovation and customer self-service by establishing communities of developers, customers, and partners that can share information and enhance products. In addition, the solution will offer the proven benefits of the on-demand model, including low cost, faster time-to-market, and easy implementation and scalability, without having to compromise enterprise needs for high security, reliability, and data privacy. CollabNet and O'Reilly will also jointly market and resell the new offering, which is available immediately.

CollabNet is a widely used on-demand collaborative development environment, with more than 800,000 developers and IT projects managers collaborating on-line. Using CollabNet Enterprise Edition, project members can work as one team throughout the lifecycle of a project, regardless of their location. Founded upon open-source principles, CollabNet is also the primary sponsor of the Subversion(™) open source version control system.

boltLenovo and Novell Unveil Linux-based ThinkPad Mobile Workstation

At just an inch thin and 4.7 pounds, the new Linux ThinkPad T60p balances between productivity and portability, giving electronic design engineers the processor speeds and memory requirements necessary for industrial-strength applications such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD). Developers now have a secure alternative to traditionally desk-locked advanced design engineering.

With its new offering, Lenovo for the first time brings Help Center assistance to Linux customers who purchase select models of the ThinkPad T60p. The Help Center will offer support for select Lenovo ThinkVantage Technologies, drivers, basic Linux configuration, and hardware issues. Novell will continue to support core operating system questions and issues.

"The ThinkPad T60p is a milestone for our collaboration and shared commitment with Novell to develop innovative and powerful workstation solutions," said Marc Godin, vice-president of marketing for Lenovo's Worldwide Notebook Business Unit. "Engineers running intensive based applications can now leverage these enhanced features while working remotely in the Linux environment."

boltApple adds more Open Source to its Sauce

Apple is becoming more interested in the power of open source development to create value for its products and its developer community. Following August's Apple Developer Conference, open source developers on the Mac platform had four news items:

-- Intel Kernel Sources

New buildable kernel sources are available for Intel-based Macs, alongside the usual PowerPC (and other Intel) sources, starting with Mac OS X 10.4.7. This is at: http://www.opensource.apple.com/darwinsource/tarballs/apsl/xnu-792.10.96.tar.gz

-- Mac OS Forge for Community Projects

Mac OS Forge, a new community site hosted by Apple, has been created to support WebKit and other open-source projects focused on Mac OS X, especially those looking to transition from OpenDarwin.org. Please visit http://www.macosforge.org/ for more info.

-- New Open Source Calendaring Server can replace Exchange

In order to encourage community participation, source code to the new iCal Server in the Leopard OS Server is now available on Mac OS Forge under the Apache License. Speculation at Slashdot and other forums is that Apple has opened the code for iCal Server to help establish it as a FOSS alternative to Exchange Server. Windows users [and, in some shops, Linux users] in Active Directory shops can set up Xservers and iCal for calendaring and use existing AD user authentication without buying new Microsoft CALs [Client Access Licenses] to use Exchange. See: http://collaboration.macosforge.org/

-- Apache-Licensed Bonjour and Launchd sources

To further enable and encourage adoption on other, non-Mac platforms, the Apple Public Source License [APSL] sources for Apple's Bonjour networking and service discovery SW and Launchd process management are being re-released under the Apache License and hosted on Mac OS Forge. Launchd has already had a successful FreeBSD port.

The launchd daemon is intended to replace init, rc, the init.d and rc.d scripts, SystemStarter (Mac OS X specific), inetd and xinetd, atd, crond, and watchdog, all in one centralized daemon. Visit these sites for more info:


Conferences and Events

==> All LinuxWorld Expos <==
Sept. 6-8, 2006, Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Mass
SD Best Practices 2006
September 11-14, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA
GridWorld 2006
September 11-14, Convention Center, Washington, DC.
Digital ID World Conference
September 11-13, 2006, Santa Clara Marriott, Santa Clara, CA.
StoragePlus 2006
September 12-13, 2006, Marriott San Francisco Airport Hotel, Burlingame, Calif
USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation [OSDI '07],
November 6-8, 2006, Seattle, WA
April 11-13, 2007, Cambridge, MA.

Open Source Conference -- postings

The O'Reily Network folks have compiled an extensive list of articles and blogs on the recent Open Source Conference [OSCON] in Portland. Follow the link: http://www.oreillynet.com/conferences/blog/oscon/

There are stories on Google's rewrite of Subversion for open source projects at its Google Code site, the 10th annual Perl Conference, Django Web Development, Computerworld: Open Source on Windows, and lots more.

They are also posting some of the presentations at: http://conferences.oreillynet.com/pub/w/46/presentations.html

Free Commercial Events

BEA's "Dev2Dev" site now features several presentations made at JavaOne 2006 by BEA developers.

Included are such topics as running the JRocket JVM in a virtualized environment, JSR 235 Service Data Objects (SDOs), using Subversion with the Subclipse plugin, and the benefits and issues of migrating to Java 1.5.


Distro news

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

boltLinspire Releases Freespire 1.0 Desktop Linux OS

Linspire, Inc. announced its Freespire 1.0, free Debian-based desktop Linux operating system. Freespire optionally combines open source software with legally-licensed proprietary drivers, codecs, and applications in its core distribution. Freespire licenses available 3rd-party software where there are no viable open source alternatives.

Linspire announced the Freespire community project at the Desktop Linux Summit last April, with a projected release date of September 1st. Released ahead of schedule, Freespire 1.0 offers users the ability to choose what software they want installed on their computers, with no limitations. Freespire has included several 3rd-party proprietary drivers and codecs, and is able to provide better out-of-the-box hardware, file type and multimedia support, such as MP3, Windows Media, RealMedia, QuickTime, Java, Flash, ATI, nVidia, fonts, WiFi, and modems. [This includes pre-built NdisWrapper for most wireless chips.] Freespire also provides optional one-click access to legally licensed DVD playback software, games, Sun's StarOffice, Win4Lin, CodeWeaver's Crossover Office, etc.

"Users should be free to easily and legally choose what software they want to install and use on their computers", said Kevin Carmony, CEO of Linspire, Inc. "Freespire provides a free marketplace for any and all Linux software, including proprietary, open source, free, and commercial products."

Immediately available for free download through the Freespire.org Web site, Freespire is a community-driven, Debian-based Linux distribution designed to be powerful enough for sophisticated Linux users and developers, yet easy enough for someone new to Linux. Freespire was created specifically for use on desktop and notebook computers and designed to offer a new level of polish, attention to detail, and ease-of-use in a free Linux distribution. For software management, Freespire comes pre-installed with Linspire's CNR (Click and Run) application management system, as well as 'apt-get' or 'synaptic'.

"The pragmatic world view of the Freespire project - that everything should just work without endless tinkering - is truly refreshing," said Ian Murdock, founder of the popular Debian Linux system. "Freespire will open the door to many more potential Linux users who want to experience the many benefits of open source without having to become an expert in how it all works. CNR is truly a work of art."

Also available is the Freespire 1.0 OSS Edition, a special version of Freespire that does not include any proprietary software. This version can be used by those who wish to build upon Freespire, without any of the 3rd-party licensed components included in the core OS.

At LinuxWorld, Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony was a featured panelist on the OSDL Desktop Linux Workgroup panel. Linspire personnel also handed out thousands of live CDs for Freespire and occasional full commercial packages of Linspire to interested LinuxWorld attendees.

boltNetBSD 3.0.1

NetBSD 3.0.1 is now officially announced: "NetBSD 3.0.1 is the first security/critical update of the NetBSD 3.0 release branch. This represents a selected subset of fixes deemed critical in nature for stability or security reasons; no new features have been added. NetBSD 3.0.1 runs on 57 different system architectures featuring 17 machine architectures across 17 distinct CPU families, and is being ported to more. The NetBSD 3.0.1 release contains complete binary releases for 53 different machine types, with the platforms amigappc, bebox, pc532, and playstation2 released in source form only. Complete source and binaries for NetBSD 3.0.1 are available for download at many sites around the world."

boltSLAX Standard Edition v 5.1.7b

SLAX Standard Edition v 5.1.7b is now available for download, including 2 customized editions. The SLAX KillBill Edition is a pocket operating system with the ability to run many Windows applications natively in Linux. It contains KDE, WINE, dosbox, and qemu. SLAX Server Edition a pocket operating system with many Internet services ready to use. Includes DNS, DHCP, HTTP, FTP, MySQL, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and SSH.

boltFedora Core 6 Test 2 / EOL FC 1, 2

Fedora Core 6 Test 2 is set at the end of July or in early August. Xen required some more effort to get to working, so there was a temporary freeze of FC6 Test2.

After much discussion on fedora-legacy-list, the Fedora community has decided to end-of-life Fedora Core 1 and Fedora Core 2 releases when FC6 Test2 is released.

boltSimplyMEPIS 6.0 Released

MEPIS has released SimplyMEPIS 6.0. This is the first public release of SimplyMEPIS to incorporate an Ubuntu foundation. Based on the Dapper LTS package pool, 6.0 is designed for stable long-term use and support. Also, MEPIS LLC has finally released its distribution source code under the GPL.

Security News

boltDebian.Org Server restored after Security Compromise

One core Debian server at debian.org had to be reinstalled after a compromise. On July 12th, the host gluck.debian.org was compromised using a local root vulnerability in the Linux kernel. The intruder had access to the server using a compromised developer account.

Due to the short window between exploiting the kernel and Debian admins noticing, the attacker hadn't had time/inclination to cause much damage. The only obviously compromised binary was /bin/ping.

The compromised account did not have access to any of the restricted Debian hosts. Hence, neither the regular nor security archive were compromised. An investigation of developer passwords revealed several weak passwords, and those accounts have been locked in response.

The kernel vulnerability used for this compromise is referenced as CVE-2006-2451. It only exists in the Linux kernel 2.6.13 up to versions before, and 2.6.16 before The bug allows a local user to gain root privileges via the PR_SET_DUMPABLE argument of the prctl function, and a program that causes a core dump file to be created in a directory for which the user does not have permissions.

The current stable release, Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 alias 'sarge', contains Linux 2.6.8 and is thus not affected by this problem. The compromised server ran Linux [Plan on an upgrade if you are running a vulnerable version...]

Software and Product News

boltKomodo 4.0 Previews at OSCON 2006

ActiveState Software Inc. announced the technical pre-release of Komodo 4.0, introducing advanced support for Web 2.0 technologies to its award-winning IDE for dynamic languages. The release is available for download at: http://www.activestate.com/komodo/.

Komodo 4.0 builds on a rock-solid support for dynamic languages such as Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, and Tcl, by introducing first-class IDE support for JavaScript, enhanced project tracking and deployment capabilities, and support for editing files on secure servers. This release also adds custom language syntax definition, allowing for easy support of Web-centric templating languages such as Rails's RHTML.

"Increasingly, Web 2.0 development requires users to spend as much time in the design layer as they do in back-end business logic", says David Ascher, CTO at ActiveState. "With advanced support for Web scripting languages, and the addition of high-value tools for managing, testing, and debugging client/server interactions, Komodo 4.0 allows developers to manage the complete Web-dev process within a single, feature-rich workspace."

In addition, the 4.0 release adds vi bindings, enabling vi users to enjoy familiar, keyboard-driven commands while enjoying the advanced capabilities of an IDE.

Komodo 4.0 was showcased at O'Reilly's Open Source Convention (OSCON) in July. In addition, ActiveState is previewing a beta release of PPM4, the updated Perl Package Manager for downloading and installing pre-compiled versions of most CPAN modules; and new self-help user forums. Users can register to be notified of all ActiveState releases at: http://listserv.activestate.com/mailman/listinfo/announce.

bolt nworks Plug-in for VMware ESX Server Integrates With HP OpenView

nworks announced that its nworks Smart Plug-in (SPI) for VMware has achieved certified integration with HP OpenView Operations for both Windows and UNIX. nworks provides a solution for integrating VMware ESX Server performance, event, state, and configuration into HP OpenView Operations without installing any software on the ESX Servers. The integration of VMware VirtualCenter events into HP OpenView Operations software helps to monitor a strategic piece of the VMware virtual infrastructure.

The integrated solution of nworks SPI and HP OpenView Operations software helps to reduce the costs of IT operations and enable real-time service impact analysis of incidents and faster problem resolution for a VMware ESX Server virtual infrastructure. nworks's solution has real-time virtual machine discovery, by mapping virtual resources to physical resources and physical to virtual resources for a complete view of an enterprise's virtual infrastructure.

"As ESX Server is deployed throughout enterprises, it is critical to have a holistic picture of the virtualized machines and ESX Servers supporting the business services provided by IT", said Greg Stephens, founder and president of nworks. "Automating ESX Server Discovery and gathering performance information regarding virtual machines as well ESX Servers themselves enables organizations to make faster, more intelligent decisions regarding the virtualization of the data center."

For more information on nworks's integration with HP OpenView Operations, please visit: http://nworks.com/vmware

boltMindTouch Simplifies SOA Development for the Mono Community

Developers can now create powerful service-oriented architectures (SOA) with unprecedented ease through MindTouch Dream, an open-source framework for building Web 2.0 services on the Novell-sponsored Mono platform. MindTouch is a leading provider of Intranet wiki solutions.

With MindTouch Dream, developers can use their existing skills and tools to create Web 2.0 services without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. Developers can now use MindTouch Dream to create new applications for Linux platforms.

"The Mono project is focused on helping developers bring their Microsoft .NET applications to a Linux platform and speeding the delivery and development of new applications," said Miguel de Icaza, maintainer of the Mono Project and vice president of developer platforms at Novell. "With the release of MindTouch Dream, Mono developers can more easily take advantage of service-oriented programming options for creating flexible Web 2.0 architectures."

MindTouch Dream manages all aspects of interactive Web services, such as providing storage locations, database connections, event notifications, automatic data conversion from XML to JSON, and short-circuit communication for co-hosted services. The platform enables developers to create enterprise-ready service architectures that meet the changing needs of IT organizations.

For developer support on MindTouch Dream, visit www.opengarden.org.

bolt New Class of Semiconductor Devices; Multi-Core Processing Solutions

CPU Technology Inc.(R), a supplier of System-on-a-Chip (SoC) -based computing systems, announced a new class of semiconductor devices called Field Programmable Multi-core Chips (FPMCs). In collaboration with IBM, CPU Tech is integrating multiple PowerPC(®) cores into the Acalis(™) product family. Acalis devices facilitate the migration of microprocessor-based systems to multi-core computing, while preserving the investment in existing software. The collaboration also ensures onshore fabrication of the new devices using IBM's Trusted Foundry.

"Size, power, and throughput limitations associated with microprocessors are driving the adoption of multi-core computing," said Edward King, CPU Tech's CEO. "SoC technology can effectively solve these problems. However, transition to the multi-core era presents the additional challenge of software compatibility. Acalis, the world's first FPMC product line, can directly execute unmodified legacy application software and simultaneously execute IBM PowerPC multi-core software on a single chip device."

This new generation of programmable semiconductor devices combines the flexibility of FPGAs with the speed and capacity of ASICs. The Acalis family is applicable to a broad range of general-purpose and embedded computing systems. Customers can exploit the functionality, performance, and compatibility characteristics of a single FPMC across multiple product lines.

bolt UModel R2 provides affordable Modeling

Altova, creator of XMLSpy(®) and other data management and Web services tools, now has version 2006 release 2 of UModel(®), the company's Unified Modeling Language(™) software development tool. The latest UModel adds support for three new UML-2 diagram types -- activity diagrams, state machine diagrams, and composite structure diagrams -- as well as a number of usability enhancements.

As the starting point for successful software development, Altova UModel 2006 allows developers to visually design application models and generate Java or C# code. Developers can also reverse-engineer existing programs into UML 2.1 diagrams, then amend and fine-tune the designs and complete the round trip by regenerating code. Not just for elite software architects, UModel makes visual software design accessible and practical for code-writing developers everywhere.

"With the addition of these new capabilities, UModel has evolved to become a well-rounded and highly competitive UML tool," said Tim Hale, Director of Marketing for Altova. "But the real advantages lie in UModel's usability and cost-effectiveness when compared to other products on the market. We offer an advanced, feature-rich, and interoperable UML tool that developers find easy and enjoyable to use, at a fraction of the cost of legacy UML applications."

UModel 2006 release 2 adds dozens of additional UML 2 element icons -- many available in multiple orientations at a single click, new diagram-specific toolbars, more context menus, extended properties, window direct-entry fields, expanded example files, tutorials, and help features, and the following three additional diagram types:

-- Activity diagrams - Chart the flow of actions and illustrate trigger mechanisms and decision points as well as sequential, parallel, and alternate flows based on internal or external conditions
-- State machine diagrams - Identify various states and transitional conditions of an object as it proceeds through its life cycle
-- Composite structure diagrams - Document the design or runtime architecture of a system or an architectural pattern, or represent a class graphically as opposed to simply listing its properties as in a class diagram

In addition, numerous usability refinements throughout UModel 2006 R2 enhance auto-creation of association connectors, reverse-engineering functionality, copy/paste operations, and lots more. Detailed information on all features of Altova UModel 2006 release 2 can be found at: http://www.altova.com/products_umodel.html

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

boltSpiceworks Launches Free IT Management Software

Spiceworks is the David amid software Goliaths and - to get noticed - it is offering a free, browser-based IT monitoring station. Free as in beer? Yes, if you don't mind being in the commercial. Why? Because its ad-ware supported.

Spiceworks promises to be a turnkey, install-and-run solution that lets small and medium size organizations easily:

It claims its software takes less than 5 minutes to get up and running; there are no agents and no scripts.

Spiceworks also makes searching for relevant IT information on the Internet easier by allowing users to automatically feed Google relevant information throughout the IT management process. [Of course, that may help hackers find out your company's vulnerabilities...'-) ]. In addition, it provides direct links to vendor support sites and to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles.

When in operation, the free software displays activity-related ads on 20-25% of the management console. The user agreement requires users to agree to allow ads, using Google AdSense, to appear on their management console screens.

"You don't need to pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees, drown in endless user manuals, or get lost in countless tools to manage your company's hardware and software," said Scott Abel, CEO of Spiceworks. "By creating a browser-based IT management desktop that's as simple to use as surfing the Web, buying a book, or managing your digital music, we're helping to simplify the daily tasks of everyday IT managers, so they can better do their jobs."

For more information on Spiceworks, or to download the free Spiceworks beta software, visit www.spiceworks.com.

boltNeural Sensing Technology Highlighted in Nature

The Cyborgs are coming... Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, Inc. announced preclinical results reported by a team of researchers from Stanford University's Schools of Engineering and Medicine in the July 13, 2006, issue of the journal Nature. Scientific findings from the first participant in the company's ongoing pilot clinical trials of the BrainGate Neural Interface System (BrainGate) were featured on the cover of the same issue. The Stanford team used Cyberkinetics's research products line of neural interface technology to demonstrate the ability to obtain accurate, high-speed neural recordings that can immediately be translated into a prediction of intended movement. This research underscores the feasibility for using neural signals as the basis for brain-computer interfaces (BCI) that could be developed to enable those with nervous system injuries or diseases to operate external devices that require fast, accurate selections, such as typing.

In the study, published in "Letters" to Nature, the authors describe a significant advance in discrete, high-speed, high-accuracy neural decoding in a preclinical model using Cyberkinetics's electrode and data acquisition technology. These findings include the ability to voluntarily generate signals in the dorsal pre-motor cortex, the area of the brain responsible for the planning, selection and execution of movement. While accuracy levels have been previously published, the current study reveals unprecedented speed in retrieving and interpreting the neural signals that can be applied to the operation of external devices that require fast, accurate selections, such as typing. The researchers also found that, by locating the Cyberkinetics neural sensor in this area, they were able to immediately translate neural activity into a prediction of the intended movement in order to place a computer cursor directly on an intended target.

According to John Donoghue, Chief Scientific Officer of Cyberkinetics, and a co-inventor of the BrainGate technology, "The results achieved from this study demonstrate the utility and versatility of Cyberkinetics's neural sensing technology to achieve very rapid, accurate decoding - about as fast as humans ordinarily make decisions to move when asked. The contributions of complementary research with our electrode and data acquisition technology should enhance our development of the BrainGate System in its ability to, one day, enable those with severe paralysis or other neurological conditions to lead more independent lives."

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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.

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 130 of Linux Gazette, September 2006

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