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...making Linux just a little more fun!
News Bytes
By Michael Conry

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. Submit items to bytes@linuxgazette.com

 November 2003 Linux Journal

[issue 114 cover image] The November issue of Linux Journal is on newsstands now. This issue focuses on System Administration. Click here to view the table of contents, or here to subscribe.

All articles in issues 1-102 are available for public reading at http://www.linuxjournal.com/magazine.php. Recent articles are available on-line for subscribers only at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/.

Legislation and More Legislation

 European Patents

Last month we reported on an upcoming vote in the European Parliament regarding the future of software patents in Europe. According to many Free and Open Software advocates, the proposals in front of the parliament would, probably permanently, establish the practice of software patenting in Europe. This, they argued, would lead to a reduction in innovation and give an unnecessary and crushing advantage to large software companies who could use their greater resources to legally elbow smaller competitors out of the market. You can read a cogent and well-argued discussion of these views in the open letter addressed by Linux Torvalds and Alan Cox to the members of the European Parliament

There are many people out there who were not content simply to complain about the direction events were taking. Instead, they lobbied, and lobbied hard, to get the concerns of financially small (though numerically large) interest groups onto the agenda. An initial sign that these efforts might be having an effect was the announcement of a further postponement of the vote on the proposed directive. Though no reason was given for the delay, the first postponement was the result of widespread confusion regarding the issues at stake, and a feeling that the directive was being forced through with undue haste. It seems likely that similar sentiments lead to this second deferment.

The ultimate, and welcome, result of this concerted lobbying process was that amendments were proposed to the directive which removed many of the most objectionable proposals. This amended directive was approved by the parliament with a margin of 364 votes to 153 with 33 abstentions. LWN have helpfully reproduced the directive online in a readable HTML format.

It is important to learn lessons from this success and to apply them in future struggles. Many Free Software enthusiasts have learnt valuable lobbying skills in the course of their advocacy, and these skills must be developed and shared. A particularly interesting account of this lobbying process has been published by NewsForge, and it gives useful information both on how to lobby, and on what level of understanding can be expected of politicians and their staff. Additionally, it is important to follow up on politicians who have been lobbied and to check how they actually voted. As pointed out by NTKnow, the UK Liberal Democrats made very positive noises, but ultimately voted in favour of patents. Of the UK parties, only the Greens and the UK Independence Party voted against software patents. If politicians realise that Free software advocates pay attention (and draw attention) to their voting records, they will be far more likely to heed future representations. These skills will be especially important since pro-patent interests are likely to try to get their way through the alternative route of national parliaments.

For more information on this story, if you are interested in an anti-patents, pro-free-software point of view you should look at FFII.org. Their account of the final amendments and vote is worth reading.

Linux Links

A comparison of four Linux Office suites and how well they handle random MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint doucments.

Some links from NewsForge:

Bellevue's Linare sees Linux future, launches $19.95 operating system.

The age of corporate open source enlightenment

Some links from Linux Weekly News:

And since they generate so much media noise, lets list a few relating to SCO:

Some links from O'Reilly:

Some links via LinuxToday:

IRC Linux Help for beginners.

Upcoming conferences and events

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

IDUG 2003 - Europe
October 7-10, 2003
Nice, France

Linux Clusters Institute Workshops
October 13-18, 2003
Montpellier, France

Coast Open Source Software Technology (COSST) Symposium
October 18, 2003
Newport Beach, CA

Enterprise Linux Forum
October 22-23, 2003
Washington, DC

Media Advisory/Open Source Software Chicago Forum
October 23, 2003
Chicago, IL

October 24-26, 2003
Nasheville, TN

LISA (17th USENIX Systems Administration Conference)
October 26-30, 2003
San Diego, CA

Linux Open Alternative Days
October 30-31, 2003
Bucharest, Romania

O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference
October 27-30, 2003
Santa Clara, CA

HiverCon 2003
November 6-7, 2003
Dublin, Ireland

November 17-21, 2003
Las Vegas, NV

Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE)
November 22, 2003
Los Angeles, CA

Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC)
December 8-12, 2003
Las Vegas, NV

Linux Clusters Institute Workshops
December 8-12, 2003
Albuquerque, NM

Storage Expo 2003, co-located with Infosecurity 2003
December 9-11, 2003
New York, NY

Consumer Electronics Show
January 8-11, 2004
Las Vegas, NV

January 12-17, 2004

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
January 20-23, 2004
New York, NY

O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference
February 9-12, 2004
San Diego, CA

March 12-21, 2004
Austin, TX

SD West
March 15-19, 2004
Santa Clara, CA

CeBit Hannover
March 18-24, 2004
Hannover, Germany

March 24-26, 2004
Toronto, Ontario

2004 USENIX/ACM Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI)
March 29-31, 2004
San Francisco, CA

RealWorld Linux
April 13-15, 2004
Toronto, Ontario

CeBit America
May 25-27, 2004
New York, NY

Strictly Business Solutions Expo
June 9-10, 2004
Minneapolis, MN

USENIX Annual Technical Conference
June 27 - July 2, 2004
Boston, MA

O'Reilly Open Source Convention
July 26-30, 2004
Portland, OR

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
August 3-5, 2004
San Francisco, CA

USENIX Security Symposium
August 9-13, 2004
San Diego, CA

USENIX Systems Administration Conference (LISA)
November 14-19, 2004
Atlanta, GA

News in General


In the final roll of the dice for Mobilix, (a site providing information on mobile Linux systems), the highest German civil court has found in favour of Les Edition Albert Rene and has dismissed the appeal brought by Werner Heuser. The work that formerly took place under the Mobilix banner will still continue, thankfully, under the new name Tuxmobil

Distro News


Debian Weekly News reported that The Debian project has received full access to a Dual Opteron machine for porting efforts to the new amd64 architecture.

Also from Debian Weekly News debian-installer team have put together a HOWTO which guides through the process of installing sarge.


Prakash Advani conducted an interview with Alex de Landgraaf, the founder and the lead maintainer of the Morphix project. [via DWN]


Mandrake Linux is planning to sell advertising space in the upcoming release of Mandrake Linux 9.2. There is further information in the NewsForge story.

Software and Product News

 Python 2.3.1

The Python Software Foundation has announced the release of version 2.3.1 of the Python programming language. This minor release introduces a number of enhancements based on two months of experience since release of version 2.3.

 Scribus 1.1.0

Franz Schmid has announced the release of Scribus 1.1.0 - Linux Desktop Publishing, which builds upon the recently released Scribus 1.0, as well as the launching of an integrated Scribus Web site at www.scribus.org.uk.

 GNOME-Office 1.0 Released

The GNOME-Office team has announced the immediate availability of GNOME-Office 1.0. GNOME-Office is a suite of Free Software productivity applications that seamlessly blend with the GNOME Desktop Environment. GNOME-Office includes the AbiWord-2.0 Word Processor, GNOME-DB-1.0 Database Interface and Gnumeric-1.2.0 Spreadsheet."


MuNAS is a piece of software which addresses the problem that the X Window system does not support the handling of audio data. It allows the thin-client/server computing model in Linux to handle multimedia applications: the audio data generated by Open Sound System (OSS/Free) compatible audio applications which are executed in the terminal server can be transferred to X-terminals. Thus, with MuNAS installed, you can execute multimedia applications in the terminal server and listen to the sound from your X-terminal. Currently, several manufactures of windows terminal are planning to install the MuNAS in their X-terminals.

 XFce 4.0

The XFce Project has announced the release of version 4.0 of their desktop environment and development platform.


Mick is LG's News Bytes Editor.

[Picture] Born some time ago in Ireland, Michael is currently working on a PhD thesis in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University College Dublin. The topic of this work is the use of Lamb waves in nondestructive testing. GNU/Linux has been very useful in this work, and Michael has a strong interest in applying free software solutions to other problems in engineering. When his thesis is completed, Michael plans to take a long walk.

Copyright © 2003, Michael Conry. Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 95 of Linux Gazette, October 2003

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