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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.

 March 2002 Linux Journal

[issue 95 cover image] The March issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on web scripting. Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe.

All articles through December 2001 are available for public reading at Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at

Legislation and More Legislation


At risk of sounding like a broke record, there are a couple of links we would like to bring to your attention regarding the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), the law used to imprison Dmitry Sklyarov. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has produced an extensive FAQ about the Dmitry Sklyarov & ElcomSoft Prosecution. The information is of course relevant to a wider range of circumstances than this particular case, and details the DMCA, fair use, eBooks and the EFF's role in the case. This is a good resource for anyone who wants to get the whole crazy story straight (if that is even possible!).

A recent story on Slashdot highlighted how bad this law really is. Apparently it turns out that serial cables might be illegal. The story submitter, Colin McMillen, related how US Customs rejected entry of a PC-Sega Dreamcast serial cable into the US, even though the cable had a legitimate academic use.


The New York Times has reported [registration required] on a legal challenge to the Copyright Term Extensions Act 1998, which extended copyrights another 20 years. The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenge, which is being brought by a coalition of interested parties (publishers, etc.,) who depend on using material in the public domain. It will be interesting to see how this challenge progresses, as the original law was the result of extensive lobbying by powerful players in the media industry, notably Disney who would lose control of Mickey Mouse in 2003 under the original law which gave 75 year protection. The challenge is being backed by at least one lawyer most readers will be familiar with: Lawrence Lessig. Various news and information resources are available on the Openlaw website.

In related news, Slashdot reported that Canada is to hold public hearings on digital copyright. There are various locations and dates, and it would be great if people from Canada with an interest in the Free Software movement were able to make their points of view heard at these meetings.

Linux Links

Linux Focus
The following articles are in the March issue of the E-zine LinuxFocus:

The Register have featured the following stories which might interest you:

The O'Reilly stable of websites have published various articles which might be useful or interesting to you:

The Dillo web browser. Still pretty basic, no frames or style sheets, but it is VERY FAST! This is worth supporting.

Mike Orr's Linux Journal report from the Tenth International Python Conference.

Slashdot story on CodeWeavers CrossOver plugin 1.1 which plays Windows Media 6.4 under Linux.

The LinuxBIOS project. have taken a look at three Linux firewall products: SuSE Firewall on CD, Mandrake Single Network Firewall and Coyote Linux. has a guide to configuring Postfix.

Newsforge reports on Fluxbox, an evolved version of the Blackbox window manager.

IBM article on clustering with MOSIX.

Linuxtoday with a Boston Consulting Group report on the mind of the average Open Source community member.

US-Patent on perfect machine translation. Quoting a little from a post by Hartmut Pilch to the European Patent Office mailing list:

"The description is very voluminous and explains a whole new cosmology, comprising insights about Buddhism illumination, androids, perpetuum mobiles, subject-object dichotomy and much more. Based on this cosmology, a solution to the above-claimed problem seems to become possible. At least it should be difficult for an examiner to refute that it does. He could ask the inventor to provide a working reference implementation, but that is not adequate, because only a key idea of a huge complex system is claimed."

Some more patents links ("What's it?") is a reference site for information on various file formats.

Upcoming conferences and events

Listings courtesy Linux Journal. See LJ's Events page for the latest goings-on.

COMDEX (Key3Media)
March 5-7, 2002
Chicago, IL

BioIT World Conference & Expo (IDG)
March 12-14, 2002
Boston, MA

Embedded Systems Conference (CMP)
March 12-16, 2002
San Francisco, CA

CeBIT (Hannover Fairs)
March 14-22, 2002
Hannover, Germany

COMDEX (Key3Media)
March 19-21, 2002
Vancouver, BC

March 19-21, 2002
Washington, DC

Game Developers Conference (CMP)
March 19-23, 2002
San Jose, CA

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Singapore (IDG)
March 20-22, 2002

Software Solutions / eBusiness World
March 26-27, 2002
Toronto, Canada

SANS 2002 (SANS Institute)
April 7-9, 2002
Orlando, FL

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Malaysia (IDG)
April 9-11, 2002

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Dublin (IDG)
April 9-11, 2002
Dublin, Ireland

Internet World Spring (Penton)
April 22-24, 2002
Los Angeles, CA

O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (O'Reilly)
April 22-25, 2002
Santa Clara, CA

Software Development Conference & Expo, West (CMP)
April 22-26, 2002
San Jose, CA

Networld + Interop (Key3Media)
May 7-9, 2002
Las Vegas, NV

Strictly e-Business Solutions Expo (Cygnus Expositions)
May 8-9, 2002
Minneapolis, MN

Embedded Systems Conference (CMP)
June 3-6, 2002
Chicago, IL

June 9-14, 2002
Monterey, CA

PC Expo (CMP)
June 25-27, 2002
New York, NY

O'Reilly Open Source Convention (O'Reilly)
July 22-26, 2002
San Diego, CA

USENIX Securty Symposium (USENIX)
August 5-9, 2002
San Francisco, CA

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (IDG)
August 12-15, 2002
San Francisco, CA

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Australia (IDG)
August 14 - 16, 2002

Communications Design Conference (CMP)
September 23-26, 2002
San Jose, California

Software Development Conference & Expo, East (CMP)
November 18-22, 2002
Boston, MA

News in General

 Linux, Microsoft and the Bundestag

A group of German citizens concerned that Germany should both exploit the advantages of free software, and avoid some of the perils of proprietary software have been lobbying for the introduction of free software into the German parliament, the Bundestag. The (English and Deutsch) calmly makes the case for free software in the Bundestag (and indeed in all government), and provides the opportunity to submit your contact details in support of the sentiments.

The Register reported that this civil activity was received with hostility by Microsoft Germany, who felt they were unjustly being labelled as: "undemocratic and a hindrance to democracy". The consultants report released later on basically divided the spoils [The Register] between Microsoft (recommended for desktops) and free software (recommended in server/groupware roles). Microsoft's poor email client security was noted, but was not sufficient to tip the balance.

 W3C Climbdown

Linux Weekly News has reported that the W3C appears to have backed down on the issue of incorporating royalty governed technology into its standards. This is a significant victory for people speaking out on issues that upset them. LWN also notes that there is another comment period leading up to the final review, for those who still have something to say or contribute.

Also on the topic of open standards, The Register reported on the Free Standards Group, which has currently completed two standards, the Linux Standard Base (broadly covering system layout) and the Li18nux standard (covering internationalization). Happily, this initiative seems to have widespread support, and should be a significant boon to the whole Free Software movement.

 Linux Weekly News

Linux Weekly News (LWN) is becoming independent again. Tucows, which had acquired it, has spun it off. "As of the beginning of February, LWN will operate, once again, as an independent publication of Eklektix, Inc., which will be owned by the current LWN staff. All of our financial issues remain, and they have only gotten more pressing over time, but we will have more freedom in how we try to address those issues." LG has long been a supporter of LWN (after all, we get some of our best links from them!), and we were saddened in November to hear of their difficulties. We wish the LWN staff the very best of luck.

Distro News


Distro News is based on the information sent to us by the publishers/authors of Linux distributions. This does not necessarily give a broad view of the Linux scene. One excellent resource for anyone interested in choosing a distribution or just in the state of the business is which has profiles and comparisons of almost every distribution under the sun. Another resource is the distribution section of Linux Weekly News (for example, here) which covers news regarding new distribution releases, changes/updates to existing distros, and distribution releases.


LynuxWorks have announced BlueCat 4.0 Linux and VisualLynux Integrated Development Environment (IDE) support for the for the new ARM920T processor. Developers will now be able to develop embedded Linux software applications for the ARM920T processor, which features high-performance and low-power characteristics for handheld devices, network computers, smart phones and other processor-intensive applications. LynuxWorks' BlueCat 4.0 Linux distribution is based on the 2.4 Linux kernel. With VisualLynux, developers have access to an integrated and tested cross development environment to facilitate development. VisualLynux is an extension of Microsoft Visual Studio, developed for Windows-hosted development, with the added benefit of all the commands and standard GNU tools needed to streamline the design and creation of applications targeted to run on BlueCat Linux.


Debian Weekly News reported that a new revision (r6) of Potato is in preparation, and is expected to arrive early March. Looking to the next release, it seems Woody is beginning to take shape for its ultimate release. Unofficial Woody CD's have been available for a while, but recently Ho-seok Lee has released a mini CD image suitable for 3.5" mini CD's.


SuSE has announced the implementation of on "SuSE Linux Enterprise Server". Since the beginning of this year, SuSE Linux has been utilising SAP's enterprise resource planning tool on Compaq hardware for the company's business operations. SuSE has also announced the availability of "SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 for iSeries and pSeries"

Software and Product News

 Graphics Muse Tools CD V1.0.0 for GIMP 1.2

In response to the growing demand for off the shelf products for desktop Linux systems, the Graphics Muse is now offering The Graphics Muse Tools CD, an easy to install package of plug-ins, scripts, and data for use with the latest version of GIMP. The Graphics Muse Tools CD V1.0.0, a suite of Plug-Ins, scripts and data designed specifically for use with GIMP 1.2 and Red Hat 7.x was released on Feb 7, 2002. This release includes 4 original plug-ins and 84 plug-ins and Perl scripts from the GIMP Registry, all compiled for use on Red Hat 7.x. This includes 16 programs that had not previously been ported to GIMP 1.2. Additionally, the CD includes over 125 new brushes and 125 new patterns.

The Graphics Muse Tools CD is available for Red Hat Linux 7.x systems and can be purchased for $12, plus shipping and any applicable sales tax, from the Graphics Muse Tools CD web site. (Should also work on SuSE 7.2 and Mandrake 8.1)


CryptoHeaven offer a set of tools and services aimed at bringing encryption technologies to a wider audience. The tools deal with such tasks as encrypting/signing emails, secure instant messaging and chatting, online encrypted file storage, key management, etc., with the emphasis on ease of use. Available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X. Free download, with charges for some services, consult website for details.

 OmniCluster SlotServer

OmniCluster Technologies is an IBM spin-off that has created a plug-n-play server blade products that fit within the PCI expansion slots of existing hardware. Since SlotServers are built on an industry standard PCI architecture and are compatible with virtually all operating environments -- including Windows 2000, Windows NT, RedHat Linux and FreeBSD. Users can run applications tuned for an operating system, regardless of the host server's operating system. For example, users can run a Linux-based firewall within a Windows-based host, on an isolated server. SlotServers range in cost from $499 - $1,199.

 Zend Studio 2.0

Zend Technologies have released Zend Studio 2.0: an environment for developing, debugging, and deploying PHP applications in one integrated package. Zend Studio 2.0 is intended to allow people with intermediate computer skills to develop, de-bug and deploy PHP-based applications ranging from e-commerce to Web hosting.

 New Release of Motif

In cooperation with The Open Group, ICS have just released an update to the Motif GUI toolkit. Open Motif 2.2 includes 10 new user interface controls and universal tooltip support. A roadmap has also been defined that defines availability for additional functionality including anti-aliased fonts, improved imaging support (png, jpg, etc.) and canvases.

More details are available at


Fake is a utility, released by Verge Systems, that enables an IP address to be taken over by bringing up a second interface on the host machine and using arp spoofing. This can be used to switch in backup servers on a LAN during periods of both unscheduled and scheduled down time.

 QuickHelp and QuickUML Linux

Excel Software have announced the availability of two new packages for Linux. QuickHelp is a development tool for quickly creating and distributing online help for Linux applications with support for the Linux KDE and GNOME desktops. QuickHelp consists of a QuickHelp Builder for creating help systems and a QuickHelp Viewer for deploying them to end-users. The help information resides in a single XML file distributed with the QuickHelp Viewer.

QuickUML for Linux is an object-oriented design tool that provides extensive integration and ease-of-use for a core set of UML models. An entire project is accessible through a tabbed window with smooth integration between use cases, class models, object models, dictionary and code. The project is saved as an XML file that is compatible with QuickUML Windows so design work can be shared between platforms.

 Team ASA Releases Dual Gigabit Ethernet NPWR Linux Engine with 733 MHz XScale CPU

Team ASA have today announced the latest release in the NPWR single board networking computer series. NPWR, a first single board networking computer (SBNC) designed for manufacturers and OEMs in the Network Attached Storage (NAS), RAID, and Personal Server marketplaces, is now available with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. The NPWR is powered by the Intel XScale processor and the standard configuration includes a 160 Mbytes per second (LVD) SCSI port, 8 Mbytes of FLASH ROM, 128 Mbytes of SDRAM and Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.


VariCAD have announced the recent release of its MCAD - VariCAD 8.1. This CAD package features many tools for 3D modelling and 2D drafting: libraries of mechanical parts, surface development (unbending), calculations of standard mechanical components, tools for working with non-graphical information (BOM), and more. VariCAD 8.1 can also import and export common CAD file types such as DWG, DXF, and IGES.

Copyright © 2002, Michael Conry and the Editors of Linux Gazette.
Copying license
Published in Issue 76 of Linux Gazette, March 2002
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