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News Bytes

By Deividson Luiz Okopnik and Howard Dyckoff

News Bytes


Selected and Edited by Deividson Okopnik

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

lightning boltSUN Approves Oracle Merger, Cancels "Rock"

At a special meeting on July 16, 2009, Sun Microsystems stockholders adopted the merger agreement with Oracle Corporation, under which Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share (or $7.4 billion). Approximately 62% of Sun shares outstanding voted for the deal.

The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. For more informawtion regarding the proposed transaction, please visit http://www.sun.com/third-party/global/oracle/.

Recently, Sun has been reported as cancelling its multi-billion dollar "Rock" program, which was based on a new third-generation SPARC architecture for high-end systems. Sun had said the next SPARC processor was part of its plan to compete with PowerPC and x86 chips.

Rock was designed with 16 cores, each of which had two software threads. Rock used hardware-based dynamic parallelization of the instruction stream, and would have been the first processor to use transactional memory in hardware.

lightning boltNY Times Releases Thesaurus to Linked Data Cloud, FOSS Data Converter

At a keynote presentation at the 2009 Semantic Technology Conference, in San Jose, California, staff from the New York Times made a significant announcement regarding use of the NYT Annotated Corpus and the NYT Index in the "Linked Data Cloud".

For nearly 100 years, the staff at the New York Times have maintained a thesaurus for use with its content. The thesaurus consists of more than a million terms organized into five controlled vocabularies: subjects, personal names, organizations, geographic locations, and the titles of creative works (books, movies, plays, etc).

At the June Semantic Technology Conference, Rob Larson and Evan Sandhaus announced their intention to publish the New York Times thesaurus under a license that will allow the community to both use it and contribute back to it. The results will, in time, prepare the New York Times to enter the global linked data cloud, by releasing its thesaurus in linked data format.

Releasing the Times thesaurus is consistent with their developing TimesOpen strategy. In a blog entry at the Times's "Open" site, Larson and Sandhaus wrote, "We want to facilitate access to slices of our data for those who want to include Times content in their applications. Our TimesTags API already makes available our most frequently used tags, the 27,000 that power our topics pages. But the new effort will go well beyond that. We plan to release hundreds of thousands of tags from the corpus back to 1980, and, later, in a second phase, hundreds of thousands more, going back to 1851."

Their plan is that user and Semantic Technology communities will begin to link the NY Times thesaurus to new and existing taxonomies, and eventually help standardize the use of those terms on the World Wide Web.

The specific license details remain to be worked out, but will be based on one or more existing open source licenses.

Also, in June, the NY Times released a PHP framework called NYT_Transformer. This is a flexible open source data converter that can be customized for various input and output types.

NYT_Transformer accepts records from an input source, passes them through filters, and sends them to an output object. It can also perform further data manipulation, such as changing the data in the resulting records or discarding records based on criteria specified. It was originally developed to convert XML data for storage in a MySQL database. NYT_Transformer uses the Apache 2.0 license.

Find more info on NYT_Transformer at http://code.nytimes.com/projects/nyt_transform.

Conferences and Events

USENIX Security Symposium
August 10–14, 2009, Montreal, QC, Canada

Join us at the 18th USENIX Security Symposium, August 10–14, 2009, in Montreal, Canada.

USENIX Security '09 will help you stay ahead of the game by offering innovative research in a 5-day program that includes in-depth tutorials by experts such as Patrick McDaniel, Frank Adelstein, and Phil Cox; a comprehensive technical program, including a keynote address by Rich Cannings and David Bort of the Google Android Project; invited talks, including the "Top Ten Web Hacking Techniques of 2008: 'What's possible, not probable,' " by Jeremiah Grossman, WhiteHat Security; a refereed papers track, including 26 papers presenting the best new research; Work-in-Progress reports; and a Poster session. Learn the latest in security research, including memory safety, RFID, network security, attacks on privacy, and more.

http://www.usenix.org/sec09/lga Register by July 20 and save! Additional discounts available! http://www.usenix.org/sec09/lga

OpenSource World (formerly LinuxWorld)
August 10 - 13, San Francisco, CA
VMworld 2009
August 31 - September 3, San Francisco, CA
Digital ID World 2009
September 14 - 16, Rio Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
Ajax Experience 2009
September 14 - 16, Boston, MA
SecureComm 2009
September 14 - 18, Athens, Greece
1st Annual LinuxCon
September 21 - 23, Portland, OR
SOURCE Barcelona 2009
September 21 - 22, Museu Nacional D'art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
2nd Annual Linux Plumbers Conference
September 23 - 25, Portland, OR
European Semantic Technology Conference
September 30 - October 2, Vienna, Austria
Adobe MAX 2009
October 4 - 7, Los Angeles, CA
Interop Mumbai
October 7 - 9, Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai, India
Oracle OpenWorld 2009
October 11 - 15, San Francisco, CA
Germany Scrum Gathering 2009
October 19 - 21, Hilton Munich City, Munich, Germany
Web 2.0 Summit 2009
October 20 - 22, San Francisco, CA
1st Annual Japan Linux Symposium
October 21 - 23, Tokyo, Japan

Distro News

lightning boltRHEL 5.4 Beta Now Available

Early in July, Red Hat released the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 beta (kernel-2.6.18-155.el5), with versions for x86, x86/64, Itanium, IBM POWER, and System z. This RHEL beta release includes a variety of new features and capabilities, combined with enhancements in virtualization, storage/filesystems, security, and developer tools.

The most exciting new capability in the RHEL 5.4 beta is the incorporation of KVM-based virtualization, in addition to existing Xen-based virtualization. RHEL 5.4 provides the first commercial-strength implementation of KVM, which is developed as part of the upstream Linux kernel. Xen-based virtualization, of course, remains fully supported for the life of the RHEL 5 family. Red Hat also announced the availability of the beta release of the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization portfolio, which includes Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops, and the standalone, KVM-based Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor.

An important feature of any RHEL update is that kernel and user APIs are unchanged, so that RHEL 5 applications do not need to be rebuilt or re-certified. This situation extends to virtualized environments: with a fully integrated hypervisor, the application binary interface (ABI) consistency offered by RHEL means that applications certified to run on RHEL on physical machines are also certified when run in virtual machines. The portfolio of thousands of certified applications for RHEL applies to both environments.

Here are some additional highlights:

Virtualization Enhancements

  • KVM hypervisor;
  • Hardware support (SRIOV, IOMMU, VT-d):
    With this release, Red Hat is introducing support for SRIOV (Single Root I/O for Virtualization). This feature aims to improve transaction throughput performance in virtual environments, by taking advantage of PCI cards that can be shared by multiple virtual machines at one time without creating a throughput bottleneck. These throughput improvements combine with previous CPU and memory performance enhancements to allow customers to further consolidate workloads to lower their costs. SRIOV works with either IOMMU or VT-d, in AMD and Intel platforms, respectively;
  • VDI SPICE protocol enablers:
    This software, unique to Red Hat, offers better response times for graphic/screen rendering by adaptively taking advantage of either client or host capabilities. This leads to better CPU usage, enabling improved VDI consolidation ratios, without the need for expensive special hardware;
  • Libvirt:
    perl interface for libvirt (new);
  • Kernel:
    Improved clock management when RHEL is deployed on a VMware platform.


  • New Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) utilities for management of FC instances on Ethernet;
  • Clustered Samba (Technology Preview.)


  • RHEL 5.4 is a FIPS-140 certification target.


  • Kernel tracepoints (Technology Preview), coupled with tracepoint support in SystemTap. This release provides user-space backtrace support, complementing kernel-space backtracing that was provided in previous releases. SystemTap provides a powerful, comprehensive performance troubleshooting tool;
  • New CIM support for DHCP services.

For full details on the new features in the RHEL 5.4 beta release, check the Release Notes, available at http://press.redhat.com/?s=itanium.

Software and Product News

lightning boltTopQuadrant Offers Free Semantic Web Modeling Tool

TopQuadrant, a major player in Semantic Web application development technology, released TopBraid Composer Free Edition, a professional editing and querying tool for Semantic Web technology that allows users to view, share, and query RDF data. TopBraid Composer Free Edition is a starter version of TopBraid Composer, a leading commercial Semantic Web modeling tool.

Technical users can build enterprise-class semantic models, design and edit semantic queries, create semantic business rules, and share their creations with others for free. Users can also import RDFa markup used to publish machine-readable data on the Web. TopBraid Composer Free Edition simplifies the process of linking business logic to domain models by providing an object-oriented rule model.

"There is fast-growing interest from all industries to understand the unique data quality, data integration, and dynamic discovery benefits that Semantic Web technology has to offer," said Holger Knublauch, VP of product development at TopQuadrant. "But we recognize that unfamiliarity with W3C Semantic Web standards and cost are two obstacles prohibiting many organizations from starting a Semantic Web project. By offering a free version of our modeling environment, we are removing these barriers." Knublauch is a co-creator of Owl, and joined TopQuadrant a few years ago.

TopBraid Composer Free Edition shortens the learning curve for starting Semantic Web projects by using Eclipse, a popular open source development environment that is familiar to a broad set of developers. In addition to support for W3C standards such as RDF, OWL, and SPARQL, TopBraid Composer Free Edition also includes SPIN (SPARQL Inferencing Notation), the first Semantic Web language with an explicit object-oriented rule model that can link business logic and domain models. SPIN eliminates the need to learn OWL to link RDF resources with associated queries or to reuse queries.

TopBraid Composer Free Edition offers all of the functionality needed to view, share and query RDF data in an enterprise-class Semantic Web project. Users can:

  • Load, edit and save RDF files in RDF/XML, N3 and N-triple files;
  • Define ontologies using form-based editors;
  • Create and execute SPARQL queries;
  • Create and execute SPIN rules;
  • Import RDFa markup from Web pages.

NASA recently announced it is using TopBraid Suite 3.0 as a semantic application platform to model, organize, integrate, and exchange data within and across the multi-decade Constellation Program. NASA's use of TopBraid Suite is a significant commitment to using a semantic data architecture in the full "engineering-through-operations" lifecycle to achieve the Constellation Program's ambitious planetary exploration goals, which include manned travel to Mars.

More specifically, NASA will use TopBraid to develop and manage NExIOM - the NASA Exploration Initiatives Ontology models. NExIOM formalizes the way machines and people specify NASA Exploration systems, related work activities, and their interrelationships.

To download TopBraid Composer Free Edition go to: http://tinyurl.com/tbc-fe.

lightning boltKeynote Releases New Monitoring Services

At the Velocity 2009 conference in June, Keynote announced Keynote Transaction Perspective 9.0, a much enhanced version of the company's Web site monitoring service, for "Next Web" applications.

Umang Gupta, CEO of Keynote, announced the new SaaS-like solution in front of 600 people at the O'Reilly event. A video of his short announcement and demo is available here: http://velocityconference.blip.tv/file/2280364.

Transaction Perspective 9.0 includes new support for interactive Flash and Silverlight, composite Web transactions, and 3rd party online ad tracking.

In April, Keynote Systems introduced LoadPro 2.0, which enhanced its load-testing tools in support of user metrics or Quality of Experience (QoE). Keynote has already established strengths in QoE-related testing with a strong "human face," including insights into business competitiveness globally, as well as domain and consulting expertise in how consumers interact with Internet services.

EMA (http://www.enterprisemanagement.com/), a leading market research analyst firm, wrote a very positive note on Keynote LoadPro 2.0. The new version includes a new end user portal, an expansive overview dashboard, precise visibility into real time tests as they execute, and comprehensive enterprise-level account management. The new functionality is built on top of a dedicated load testing network that can deliver up to one million concurrent test users across multiple Internet backbones.

Recent research from EMA in December, 2008, established that 79% of the 207 respondents view QoE as becoming more important to their business or organization. QoE demands a focus on the "human consumer" in all his or her complexities, rather than on more convenient, but far less relevant, component-centric technology metrics.

lightning boltSourcefire Releases Virtual Appliances for Physical and Virtual Environments

Sourcefire, creator of Snort, announced Sourcefire 3D System 4.9, with the new Sourcefire Virtual 3D Sensor and Sourcefire Virtual Defense Center. These new virtual appliances enable users to deploy the company's security solutions within their virtual environments. Available during the second half of 2009, the Sourcefire 3D System 4.9 also features the industry's first policy layering capabilities that deliver increased customization for large or multi-organizational networks, including cloud or virtual implementations.

As part of the Sourcefire 3D System 4.9, the new virtual appliances allow organizations to inspect traffic between virtual machines, while also making it easier to deploy and manage sensors at remote sites, where resources may be limited. They also enable Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) and cloud computing companies to easily implement Sourcefire's leading security solutions for increased protection. MSSPs can configure multiple Virtual Defense Centers to support multiple customers from a single VMware server, increasing the efficiency of management efforts.

Users can deploy Virtual 3D Sensors on VMware ESX and ESXi platforms to inspect traffic between two or more virtual machines (VMs), while also using physical Sourcefire 3D Sensors to inspect traffic going into and out of a VMware virtual environment. Deployed as software running within VMs, the Virtual 3D Sensor also makes it easier for users to inspect traffic on remote segments of the network where local IT security resources may not exist (e.g., retail stores, remote offices) or where little rack space remains in the datacenter.

The Virtual 3D Sensor will provide simultaneous execution of Sourcefire IPS, RNA (Real-time Network Awareness) and RUA (Real-time User Awareness) functions. Customers can deploy the Virtual Defense Center to monitor any combination of up to 25 virtual or physical 3D Sensors. They can also opt to monitor their Virtual 3D Sensors from the same physical Defense Center they use to monitor their physical 3D Sensors.

lightning boltSourcefire 3D System v4.9 Will Be Available in Second Half of 2009

The new Version of VNC Enterprise provides cross-platform remote printing. In June, RealVNC launched the latest version of its enterprise VNC solution for remote desktop control. VNC Enterprise Edition 4.5 offers fully cross-platform remote printing, enabling users to print documents from the remote machine to the local default printer on the VNC Viewer. Other new features include enhanced cross-platform chat, support for international characters, and more robust performance.

Designed and built by the original inventors of VNC, VNC Enterprise Edition 4.5 has a wide range of applications - from desktop support and assistance in a business environment to delivering Linux and Unix applications to Windows or Mac users. Also, because it is designed specifically for the enterprise, it includes multiple configurable security mechanisms, and is backed up with full technical support and maintenance.

Cross-platform remote printing means that when a connection is made, documents printed by the remote computer running VNC Server will automatically default to the local printer attached to the computer running VNC Viewer.

VNC Enterprise Edition 4.5 also supports cross-platform chat, creating a quick and simple channel of communication between users, which can be initiated from either end. VNC Server can now notify users of incoming connections for added security.

VNC Enterprise Edition 4.5 includes tools for wide-scale distributed deployment, configuration, and management, and supports more operating systems than any other remote access software, including Windows NT 4, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, and Windows 7, along with Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX.

The cost of VNC Enterprise Edition 4.5 starts at $50 for a single VNC Server licence, with discounted volume pricing starting at three copies, quickly reducing the unit price. In addition, there are generous academic, governmental and non-profit discounts available on request.

lightning boltHP Ships Workstation with Dual 6-core 'Istanbul' Opteron CPUs

HP is now outfitting AMD's six-core "Istanbul" Opteron processor into its high-end HP xw9400 workstation, aimed at 3-D digital content creation, and science and engineering applications.

HP officials say the troubled economy is putting pressure on businesses to quickly get a return on their IT investments, which the new AMD Opteron chips enable due to new virtualization, performance, and efficiency enhancements. Each new Opteron chip has up to 34 percent more performance per watt over AMD's previous quad-core processors.

The HP xw9400 workstation can seat two of the chips, for a total of 12 cores.

HP also announced in June that of seven ProLiant G6 servers would be powered by new AMD six-core Opteron processors, which were officially released June 1.

Other Features Include:

  • Enabling up to 4 3D displays, the HP xw9400 provides scalable visualization capability. Native PCIe x16 dual ports support high-end graphics and SLI-enablement. The 2 PCI-X 100 slots can be configured as a single PCI-X 133 slot to meet some Independent Hardware Vendors' (IHVs) requirements;
  • Large SCSI/SAS HDD capacity - The HP xw9400 offers 8 channel Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), the latest, highest performance disk subsystem. The 8 channels provide dedicated bandwidth to each SAS hard drive allowing for an optional external SAS connection to support external storage arrays, while still providing maximum internal storage capability;
  • With integrated SAS or SATA RAID controllers, the HP xw9400 provides RAID 0 (disk mirroring for fault tolerance) and RAID 1 (disk striping for high data bandwidth to and from a disk array) support. Optional RAID 10 (striping + mirroring) and RAID 5 (striping + parity for additional data integrity) is available through an add-in PCI card.

AMD HyperTransport 3.0 technology (HT3) increases interconnect rates from 2 gigatransfers per second (GT/s) up to a maximum 4.8 GT/s, allowing the entire system to provide superior performance. Additionally, the HP xw9400 can be configured with the ATI FirePro V7750 3-D workstation graphics accelerator.

The HP xw9400 Workstation starts at a U.S. list price of $1,899, and is available at: http://www.hp.com/go/workstations.

lightning boltCisco Launches Linux WiFi Router with Media Sharing

In June, Cisco announced a new Linux-powered router, a Linksys Wireless-N Router, model WRT160NL. The new model is essentially the next generation of the popular WRT54GL.

The design of the product is similar to other Linksys/Cisco N-routers, but has integrated connectors for external antennae. Consumers that prefer external aerials can enjoy the new router design because of the integrated R-SMA antenna connectors. The integrated Storage Link functionality lets consumers connect their USB storage device to the router to create a powerful media sharing solution for video, photo, and music sharing through the integrated media server.

"In the past we have had many successful Linux powered devices, with the WRT54GL and NSLU2 being great examples. The WRT160NL is the logical next step combining Linux, 802.11n technology, and USB storage functionality. We see the WRT160NL as a possible successor of our WRT54GL as the market transitions to 802.11n," said Aaron Marinari, senior product manager, Cisco Consumer Business Group.


  • The Storage Link port lets users connect USB storage devices to the router. The media server can stream to PCs orUPnP AV digital media adapters and supports FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS file systems.
  • Although most Linksys routers feature internal antennae, the WRT160NL also has external antennae to be more flexible in antennae choice and placement.
  • The new packaging provides a 40% reduction in waste materials and is made from 80% recycled content.

    The WRT160NL has a 400Mhz processor, 8 Megabytes of Flash memory, and 32 Megabytes of DDRAM. It will retail for $119.99.

    For more infomation, go to: http://www.linksysbycisco.com/US/en/products/WRT160NL (See photos at: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090623/LA3667).

  • Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

    Deividson Luiz Okopnik


    Deividson was born in União da Vitória, PR, Brazil, on 14/04/1984. He became interested in computing when he was still a kid, and started to code when he was 12 years old. He is a graduate in Information Systems and is finishing his specialization in Networks and Web Development. He codes in several languages, including C/C++/C#, PHP, Visual Basic, Object Pascal and others.

    Deividson works in Porto União's Town Hall as a Computer Technician, and specializes in Web and Desktop system development, and Database/Network Maintenance.

    Howard Dyckoff

    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.

    Howard maintains the Technology-Events blog at blogspot.com from which he contributes the Events listing for Linux Gazette. Visit the blog to preview some of the next month's NewsBytes Events.

    Copyright © 2009, Deividson Luiz Okopnik and 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 165 of Linux Gazette, August 2009