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News Bytes


Selected and formatted by Michael Conry

Submitters, send your News Bytes items in PLAIN TEXT format. Other formats may be rejected without reading. You have been warned! A one- or two-paragraph summary plus URL gets you a better announcement than an entire press release.

Linux Journal 81 cover

 January 2001 Linux Journal

The January issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on Multimedia. Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe. All articles through December 1999 are available for public reading at http://www.linuxjournal.com/lj-issues/mags.html. Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/.

Vendors: Linux Journal's 2001 Buyer's Guide wants your product listings! Listings are absolutely FREE of charge, however you must register your products by January 15, 2001. The deadline is firm so make certain to get your free listings in today. http://www.linuxjournal.com/bg/.

Distro News


OREM, UT-December 19, 2000- Caldera Systems, Inc., announced that they have contracted with Richard Sharpe of the Samba team to create a client library that will make Linux and Microsoft integration easier for developers. The Caldera-funded project includes the development of library source code, associated reorganization and reuse of Samba code and documentation of the library API. The library and documentation will be available under the General Public License (GPL). Caldera's engineering group will work with the Samba team to complete the project by February 2001.

"Richard Sharpe is perfectly suited for this project," said John Terpstra, vice president of technology and Open Source strategist for Caldera Systems, "We believe this library built with Samba code will become the standard for developers writing software that integrates with Microsoft networks."

Developers interested in more technical detail on the project can visit the Samba Web page.


CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, USA (December 4, 2000) - Integrated Computer Solutions, Inc. (ICS), the leading supplier of commercial OSF/Motif products and support, and MandrakeSoft, publisher of the Linux-Mandrake operating system, announced the immediate availability of Open Motif optimized for the Linux-Mandrake operating system. More details are available in the press release

Open Motif optimized for the Linux-Mandrake 7.2 operating system is available for free downloads at the MotifZone, ICS's Motif portal site (www.motifzone.net). Open Motif is also bundled with the Linux-Mandrake 7.2 PowerPack Deluxe.

 Red Hat

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--December 11, 2000-- Red Hat, Inc. today announced that Cradle Technologies, Inc., is leveraging a broad set of Red Hat's embedded technologies and services as part of its strategy to supply a revolutionary silicon platform for stream processing applications.

The Cradle contract includes consulting services and porting of Red Hat's GNUPro embedded development tools, eCos and embedded Linux operating systems, to Cradle's Universal Microsystem platform (UMS). Cradle's UMS platform will make it possible for new embedded systems to be developed simply by redesigning software, rather than by constantly rebuilding the entire chip hardware.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--December 13, 2000-- In further embedded Linux developments, Red Hat announces a deal with Rymic Systems that will put Red Hat Linux (uClinux) behind as many as 50,000 Army trucks and fighting vehicles. These vehicles will run a next-generation Rymic appliance that assesses, in real time, the likelihood of vehicle failure.

The device will monitor dozens of specific variables on an array of military vehicles, and provide decision-makers with additional information when considering which forces to deploy, which fighting vehicles to pull back from the battlefield and which vehicles require immediate maintenance and repairs.

For more information on Red Hat Embedded Linux please visit www.redhat.com/embedded.


Oakland, Calif., USA (December 1, 2000) -- SuSE Linux announced a new strategic alliance with SGI. Under the alliance agreement, SGI will make an equity investment in SuSE Linux and will co-operate on the development, deployment and support of the Linux operating system and infrastructure code.

Earlier this year, the companies successfully introduced Linux FailSafe, a scalable and modular high-availability solution based on IRIS FailSafe system software developed for the SGI IRIX operating system. Linux FailSafe offers advanced clustering capabilities to Linux. SuSE, SGI and others also cooperated in the highly regarded IA-64 Trillian Linux effort.

SuSE have also brought it to our attention that there is integrated backward-compatible Pentium 4 recognition in the standard Linux kernel 2.2.16 included in SuSE Linux 7.0. A boot disk image of the kernel can be downloaded from their ftp site

News in General

 Upcoming conferences and events

 SSH/SSL Vulnerability

There have been a few articles going around regarding possible security risks associated with the use of SSH and SSL. Kurt Seifried has written several times on this subject, as far back as September 1999. More recently he has returned to the topic in an article on www.SecurityPortal.com, and a follow up article responding to some of the feedback he got from readers. This topic seems to have stirred up quite a reaction, and has been further discussed by the contributors to Slashdot.

Without wanting to repeat too much of the discussion that has gone before, the issue basically boil down to one of key exchange and trust. The only real risk to SSH security is in the initial contact with a machine when you do not know whether it is in fact the host you think it is. This is not an SSH problem, as such, but rather is a difficulty with any public key encryption system. The trick is to find a secure way to distribute your public key that does not inconvenience your users too much.

Also, the largest risk to security is not, in general, software problems. Many problems actually originate from users who ignore or do not understand warning signs that something is wrong. The problems with software highlighted in these articles are the extent to which they leave themselves open to poor use.

It is certainly worth pointing out that none of these links highlight any NEW flaw in the SSH/SSL system or implementation. The main reason for the recent focus on these issues is the release of a new piece of software: dsniff, which makes easy interception of SSH traffic more convenient for a wider number of people. This is not because it exploits any weakness, rather it provides some handy tools to automate the interception process. However, wide availability of these tools does increase the chance of casual attacks on systems.

The take-home message is that the best way to keep a system secure is by educating yourself your boss and your users about security. It is only by understanding what is going on that you have any chance of keeping your system healthy (hardly earth-shattering news, but true none-the-less).

 Linux Clusters Powering Genome Research

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, Dec. 14, 2000 - Linux NetworX, Inc., a provider of large-scale clustered computer solutions announced that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley Calif., has selected a Linux NetworX cluster computer system for its Drosophila Genome Project.

Using the Linux NetworX cluster system with 40 processors, Berkeley Lab is analyzing and sequencing the Drosophila (fruit fly) genome. The Drosophila's 15,000 genes are similar to a human's 100,000 genes and have been used extensively in the past as a model organism for research studies.

"The Linux NetworX cluster is much more cost efficient than the systems we've used in the past," said Erwin Frise, systems manager and biomedical scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Frise also explains that because clusters are highly scalable, Berkeley Lab will in the future be able to add additional compute modules to the system to keep it up to date, something not feasible with a supercomputer.

 New look for ShowMeLinux

Vancouver, British Columbia. December 1st, 2000 - LuteLinux.com, a Canadian-based Linux developer announces the unveiling of ShowMeLinux's exciting new look. LuteLinux had previously announced the addition of ShowMeLinux to their family of services, LuteLinux is hosting all future issues and has taken over as publisher of ShowMeLinux. The new look was created by Adam Puchalski, a welcomed new addition to both LuteLinux and ShowMeLinux, as their Graphic/Web designer, and co-editor of ShowMeLinux.

ShowMeLinux is published with the goal of helping readers develop an in-depth understanding of the Linux movement through rich, beginner friendly content. It explores practices for configuring, deploying and maintaining the latest Linux technology.

 HP and Sprint PCS Form Wireless Email Alliance

PALO ALTO, Calif. and KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 19, 2000 -- Hewlett-Packard and Sprint PCS announced an agreement to jointly market and sell the HP Openmail Anywhere solution as part of the Sprint PCS Wireless Web for Business. The solution enables business customers to wirelessly access their corporate email on Sprint PCS Internet-ready Phones. Openmail is HP's strategic business messaging and collaboration solution for Linux and UNIX(R) systems, based on Internet standards. More information about Openmail is available at http://www.hp.com/go/openmail.

 Linux based BizRelations Inc. Announces First Fully Functional Wireless Email in time for Holidays

Dec. 14, 2000 8:30am - BizRelations Inc. ( WEB and WAP), has announced Canada's first FULLY functional and FREE Wireless Email system. From any digital mobile phone equipped with wireless internet data services users will be able to Send and Receive emails, access their wireless addressbook, check their email folders, and use the unique Quick Reply Messaging function.

BizRelations have largely based their IT infrastructure on an Open Source Linux foundation. BizRelations has successfully been using the Linux Virtual Server (LVS) along with RedHat's Piranha clustering tool to provide high availability and scalability for web, email and SQL services. Sybase ASE for Linux was the SQL server chosen by BizRelations, while the email solution chosen was qmail Another core function is monitoring the availability of systems and networks. To fill this requirement NetSaint was used. "If there are any problems, an email gets sent to the support cellphone stating the nature of the problem." says Patrick Petersen (President of BizRelations). After running with RedHat Linux for over a year, even if Windows 2000 was a free alternative, BizRelations would willingly shell out the money for Linux.

 Linux Links

Salon take a look at free wireless TCP/IP networks in the US. The originators see it as an extension of the Open-Source/Free-Software ethos.

ZD-Net take an in-depth look at running Linux on laptops. (For anyone wanting to turn their shiny new toy into a real computer!)

Newsforge comment on Bruce Perens' move to HP as head of the company's Linux and open-source strategies. This is being touted as the first Open-Source foray into the upper echelons of Big Business

East Bay Express looks at a life in a TelCo call centre. Makes you look a bit differently at those frustrating periods on hold.

Some links courtesy of Slashdot:

The Duke of URL has some new reviews that may be of interest to you:

The Linuxcare support Database is available online if you have some problems you need solutions for.

OS Opinion take a look at the difficulties with complicated software, in particular the ramifications of OSX's UNIX/BSD heritage.

Some highlights from Linux Weekly News:

Finally, for the fashion conscious (or cold ;-), Tuxwear has a range of Linux apparel (perfect treat to cheer one up in the post-Xmas season!).

Software Announcements

 KDE 2.0.1

KDE have announced release of KDE 2.0.1. The official announcement is available here.

There is also a KDE Beta available for download.

 XFree86 4.0.2

XFree86 have released XFree86 4.0.2, and the Duke of URL has posted a review . Highlights include ATI Radeon support.

For the official news, refer to the XFree86 news section. Before you actually download or use this you will also probably want to check out the Release Notes

 Smart Batteries

SoftTools Technology, Inc. has announced their new Linux Smart Battery System Software Suite (Linux SBS3). The Linux SBS3 is a complete software solution for Portable systems that provides support for systems that incorporate Smart Battery System components under Linux. A User Friendly applet with a GUI for multiple smart batteries and/or regular batteries that read and provide accurate information to the user is also available.

 Free Download of Configuration Management System Elego ComPact

The establishment of elego Software Solutions GmbH has been announced in Berlin. The new company specializes in software configuration management (SCM), and offers a wide range of support, service, and general consulting in the area of configuration management (CM).

Elego ComPact is a full-featured configuration management (CM) system based on the well-known and reliable version control system CVS. Elego ComPact extends CVS capabilities by adding new functions and concepts, including build management and component model. Elego ComPact may be used freely for all non-commercial purposes; commercial users must obtain a license.

Elego ComPact claims to add missing features and concepts to the basic CVS system:

You may download a current development snapshot of Elego ComPact for evaluation purposes or free private use via FTP or HTTP from their download page.

For more information see www.elego-software-solutions.com

 VMware Enters Server Market

PALO ALTO, Calif., December 5, 2000 - VMware, Inc.. For the latest VMware press releases, check out: www.vmware.com/news/.

VMware have made a number of announcements around two new server products:

Rather than give all the details here, I will point you to the news. section of VMware's website where you can get the full stories.

 WARP Aim to Improve Web Performance

NEW YORK, NY * November 1, 2000 * WARP Solutions, Inc., providers of Web infrastructure software for the area of optimum performance of Internet applications, have launched the WARP Performance Suite, initially consisting of WARP Intelligent Content Distributor, WARP Global Load Balancer and WARP Load Balancer. Additional products - - WARP Dynamic Content Director, WARP Cache Master and WARP Secure - - are being rolled out on an individual basis during the fourth quarter and early next year. This suite of modules aim to enhance web-server performance with emphasis on "performance, reliability, scalability, security, speed and interoperability". WARP's initial launch will run on Solaris, Compaq Tru64 and Linux platforms.

 ACCESS Introduces Linux-based Browser Development Kit

MILPITAS, Calif./TOKYO, Japan - December 11, 2000 - ACCESS Co., Ltd. introduced a NetFront 2.6 Linux Software Development Kit (SDK) for the worldwide market. This should speed the integration of ACCESS' popular NetFront browser into Linux-based Internet appliances and other non-PC applications.

Since its introduction in 1995, NetFront browsers have been shipped in over 18 million embedded devices from 40 manufacturers. NetFront is an ideal browser for Internet TVs, PDAs (personal digital assistants), set-top boxes, car navigation systems, smart phones, web/screen phones, vertical Internet terminals, video game consoles and Internet kiosks.

The browser kernel is less than 270 KB of code and fits in 1.3 megabytes of ROM and 2 megabytes of RAM. It supports the full HTML 3.2 specification and selected portions of HTML 4.0. It supports frames, JavaScript, cookies, web printing and multilingual capabilities.

This SDK lets developers customize the user interface to their desired look and feel and add plug-in applications tailored for specific applications. NetFront version 2.6 SDK for Linux will be available as a full source code package. The SDK includes the NetFront version 2.6 browser kernel, a sample user interface module and PIM suite, the Internet mail module, a sample library for peer interface layer and graphics layer (GTK/SDL), and documentation. An SDK with five-seat development license is available for $40,000 including three months support.

 Linux-Based Intranet Broadcast Solutions

San Jose, CA- 2netFX, a provider of streaming solutions for intranet and broadband Internet media delivery, and Zapex Technologies, Inc. an industry leader of MPEG-2 compression products, are in alliance to design and deliver innovative hardware and software broadcast solutions to be used in the IP distance learning market.

The first system offered by the alliance is a Linux-based server solution, providing users a viable means to stream broadcast-quality transmissions. It includes 2netFX's StreamRider client and ThunderCast/IP server software and Zapex's ZL-330 encoder with Dolby digital audio and MPEG-2 video. It is the first encoder of its type to achieve Dolby certification for Linux operating systems, and it eliminates inherent lip-sync issues by providing Transport Stream multiplexing within the Zapex encoder.

The ZL-330 produces high quality video images at low bit rates. "The resulting low-bandwidth video stream from the ZL-330 permits an unlimited number of users to access a multicast video," says Gary Marsh, Zapex vice president of sales and marketing. "Coupled with the 2netFX software, PC users can interactively select which programming they wish to view, then capture and store the video locally. Effectively, customers can select their own viewing schedules, depending on application."


Eric Vogel has brought his new site Linux2Order.com to our attention. He describes it as "dedicated to offering the largest collection of Linux applications available on the Internet". A wide range of distribution methods are available. In addition to the standard free download, the user can have a custom CD burned or register for a priority download subscription.

 Fox On Linux

Fox on Linux is a commercial Linux application, providing businesses with a sophisticated, graphical software package to deal with their core financial accounting needs. Fox on Linux can be integrated with other corporate front-end applications and comes with online support and training. Flexible in its operation, multi-user, and with a 12KBS low bandwidth requirement it can be accessed over the Internet. Installation is claimed to be easy, so a system can be up and running in a very short time. For further briefing or a chance to trial Fox on Linux software go to www.foxonlinux.com.

 Other Software

Steak: the Dictionary is an English-German translation program with GUI dialogs. (GPL)
Anyone interested in Electronic Design Applications, you might like to check out yaEDA. It is available with sourcecode.
PROVEN SOFTWARE, INC. have announced the release of their new internet shopping cart for linux, eCHOICE. This new feature will allow easy integration with PROVEN CHOICE Accounting Systems. Full details are here, and an evaluation copy is also offered.

Copyright © 2000, Michael Conry and the Editors of Linux Gazette.
Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 61 of Linux Gazette, January 2001
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