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By Aditya Nag, Howard Dyckoff, and Samuel Kotel Bisbee-vonKaufmann



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News in General

thunderboltOpen Source Development Labs and Free Standards Group Merge; form the Linux Foundation

The big news in January was the merger of Open Source Development Labs and Free Standards Group. The new organization hopes to accelerate Linux growth by providing a comprehensive set of services to compete effectively with proprietary platforms. Founding platinum members of Linux Foundation include Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Novell, and Oracle. Jim Zemlin, Free Standards Group's former executive director, leads the Linux Foundation. Other members include every major company in the Linux industry, including Red Hat, as well as numerous community groups, universities, and industry end-users.

Of course, Linus Torvalds need not fear, since the new foundation announced that it will continue to sponsor his work. The Foundation's major goals include protecting Linux by sponsoring key Linux developers, and providing legal services. The press release states: "It is vitally important that Linux creator Linus Torvalds and other key kernel developers remain independent. Linux Foundation sponsors them so they can work full time on improving Linux. Linux Foundation also manages the Linux trademark (http://www.linuxmark.org) and offers developers legal intellectual property protection through such initiatives as the Open Source as Prior Art project (http://www.osapa.org), the Patent Commons http://www.patent-commons.org), and sponsorship of the Linux Legal Defense Fund."

Other major goals are standardizing Linux and improving it as a platform for software development, and providing a neutral forum for collaboration and promotion.

The merger is pending ratification by the two organizations' respective memberships, and is expected to be completed in early February. For more information, please visit http://www.linux-foundation.org.

thunderboltFedora Summit Offers Road Map for Community-Wide Changes

The Fedora Group recently held a three-day summit to establish short- and long-term plans for future Fedora Projects. The summit drew 10 top Red Hat and Fedora team members to the table, including Jesse Keating, Fedora's release engineer; Fedora developer Jeremy Katz; engineer and original Fedora Project founder Warren Togami; Greg DeKoenigsberg, community development manager for Red Hat; and Fedora Project Leader Max Spevack. The meeting was also transcribed live to an IRC channel, where more that 100 members of the community contributed.

The summit resulted in a road map that will lead to changes for the community as a whole. The most important change is the merging of Fedora Core and Fedora Extras. It is hoped that this will lead to lowering a barrier for community involvement, and increase the contributions made by Red Hat and members of the Open Source community as a whole.

Linux.com has a detailed write-up on the summit here.

thunderboltJeremy Allison Resigns From Novell

The legendary Jeremy Allison (of Samba fame) has resigned from Novell in protest over the Microsoft-Novell patent agreement. He felt that the deal was "a mistake" that will be "damaging to Novell's success in the future." His main issue with the deal, though, was "that even if it does not violate the letter of the licence, it violates the intent of the GPL licence the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally." He was quickly snapped up by Google, and has begun working there in the new year.

Groklaw has more details, as well as the entire text of Jeremy's letter to Novell.

thunderboltMicrosoft Hands out 16,000 SUSE Linux Subscriptions

Undeterred by harsh criticism over their controversial interoperability and patent protection agreement, Microsoft has managed to hand out over 16,000 subscription certificates for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Several large enterprise customers such as Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse, and AIG Technologies have been amongst the first to take advantage of the new-found interoperability between Windows Server and SUSE Linux.

As part of the deal between the two companies, Microsoft said it would distribute 70,000 coupons a year for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, so that customers could benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage, as well as the collaborative work between the two companies.

According to eWeek, some of these seats might have come at Red Hat's expense. The Forrester Research group had earlier suggested that this might be the case, and, if these reports are true, Red Hat might be getting worried.

thunderboltWill Sun's Solaris Trump Red Hat Support?

Sun Microsystems is following Oracle in attacking Red Hat, claiming that the leading open source Linux company is under-serving customers, and that Solaris can do the job better. "The big take-away is that it is not just the [Solaris] technology," said Rich Green, executive vice-president of software at Sun. "There is a vacuum that is not being served by Red Hat or served by Microsoft. We are well positioned and fully intend to fill the gap."

Sun offers free access to Solaris 10 as well as support that the company claims is 20 to 50 percent cheaper than Red Hat support, and is priced competitively with Oracle Red Hat support. Sun has always said that Solaris is superior (more robust, secure, and supportable) to Red Hat Linux or other distributions for enterprises as well as smaller businesses and startups, and there is some evidence of this.

Sun's attack on Red Hat might sound good on paper, but the actual success of this campaign will only be seen in a few months. Yahoo Finance has a write up on this.

thunderboltEU Commission Study Finds OSS Saves Money

The EU Commission's Final Report on its "Study on the Economic Impact of Open Source Software on Innovation and the Competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU" has just been released. The study was done by an international consortium, led by the United Nations University/University of Maastricht's department of innovation. The 287 page report is freely available.

This study categorically debunked the idea that total cost of ownership will rise if a company or a government switches to open source software. Section 12.7 of the study states: "Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports of savings on the long term -- costs of ownership of the software products." Of course, training costs and other costs are a factor, but the study has taken these into account before coming to this conclusion.

This study should give an added impetus to the attempts of various EU members to switch to open source software.

thunderboltAudi engineering luxury cars on Linux

Over the past several years, Audi AG, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, has been migrating its engineering systems to Linux. The company has been upgrading to 64-bit Linux for its Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) servers, whose simulation software allows designers to craft automobile components, engineers to run crash-test simulations, and other 3D visualizations. The move to X86_64 and Itanium 2 has allowed for better runtimes for CAE's power-hungry processes, using the architectures' larger caches.

Audi's migration is not limited to its servers, using Linux for its workstations, WebCenter intranet and Web applications, and public and private servers, using the array of publicly available packages. By cutting the number of operating systems employed, Audi cut IT costs. However, because machines became cheaper to employ, the number of machines grew, causing operating costs to remain relatively the same.

These considerations and others are outlined in the original article, along with quotations from Florian Kienast, Audi's spokesman.

thunderboltFab@Home: Another Mainframe to PC Story?

Fab@Home is an open source project that provides a low-cost solution to desktop manufacturing. This self-assembled device fabricates 3D objects by layering liquid or powdered material, a process that was previously not feasible for individuals due to its high cost. Unlike many commercial machines of its kind, Fab@Home's fabricators can use different building materials: everything from silicone to chocolate. The fabricator is plugged into the user's computer, using software to control its mechanical functions.

Users of Fab@Home have contributed basic and advanced 3D designs to the community, allowing new users to climb a potentially steep learning curve more quickly; a catalog of these designs is hosted on Fab@Home's web site. Users of the fabricator are also encouraged to modify the design, hopefully contributing their ideas to the community.

Even the software client, which interfaces between the user and the fabricator, is open source; the source code was posted on 1/17/07.

NewScientist's article: http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn10922-desktop-fabricator-may-kickstart-home-revolution.html

Fab@Home's web page: www.FabAtHome.org
Fab@Home's Source Forge page (for info on their software client): http://sourceforge.net/projects/fabathome/

Conferences and Events

RSA Security Conference
February 5-9, 2007, San Francisco, Ca (http://www.rsaconference.com/2007/US/)
Use code EXH7ORC or EXH7SYM for a free expo pass until Feb 2nd

Gartner Wireless & Mobile Summit
5-7 February, 2007, Grapevine, TX (http://www.gartner.com/2_events/conferences/ra10.jsp)

AJAXWorld 2007 (East)
March 19 - 21, 2007, New York City (http://www.ajaxworldexpo.com)

Software Development West
March 19-23, 2007, Santa Clara, Ca (www.sdexpo.com)

Web 2.0 Expo
April 15-18, 2007, San Francisco, CA (http://www.web2expo.com)

The RoboBusiness Conference
May 15-16, 2007, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA (http://www.roboevent.com.)

SEMANTIC Technology Conference
May 20-24, 2007, Fairmont Hotel, San Jose, California

CardTech-SecurTech Conference
May 15-17, at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

Gartner IT Security Summit
June 4-6, 2007, Washington, DC (www.gartner.com/us/itsecurity )

Distro News

thunderboltGentoo/FreeBSD on Hold Due to Licensing Issues

Flameeyes (a Gentoo/FreeBSD developer) recently discovered serious licensing issues in the various *BSD projects who use BSD-4 licensed code. In a post on his blog, he states how he discovered the license problems with libkvm and start-stop-daemon. "libkvm is a userspace interface to FreeBSD kernel, and it's licensed under the original BSD license, BSD-4 if you want, the one with the nasty advertising clause." The good news is that the University of California/Berkeley has given people permission to drop the advertising clause. The bad news is that libkvm has code from many other sources, and each of them needs to give their permission for the license to be changed.

Linux.com has an article on this, and Slashdot has its usual blend of informative, funny, and off-topic comments on the subject. The problem seems to have been temporarily resolved, but could crop up again in different code.

thunderboltSun To License OpenSolaris Under GPLv3?

Sun Microsystems is set to license OpenSolaris under the upcoming GNU General Public License Version 3 in addition to the existing Common Development and Distribution License, according to a story in eWeek. OpenSolaris currently is licensed only under Sun's CDDL. The article quotes sources as saying that this is very likely to happen after the release of that version of the GPL, which currently is being rewritten and is expected to be made final soon.

The article contains a lot of details about this possible switch.

thunderboltFedora 6 Zod Live CD Released

After lots of feedback, bug fixing, and testing, the Fedora Project is pleased to announce the first official Fedora live CD. This live CD is based on packages from the Fedora Core 6 and Fedora Extras package collections, and comprises 100% free software. The live CD features ver 2.6.18 of the kernel, GNOME 2.16, AIGLX and Compiz, and the usual plethora of desktop applications. Some notable features are the inclusion of VPN connectivity through vnpc and OpenVPN, a R/W filesystem that allows you to install software on the running live CD, and the ability to run completely from RAM, if you have 1GB or more.

The CD can be downloaded here. Currently, the CD is only available for i386 architectures, but support for PPC and x86_64 is planned.

thunderboltLinspire opens up CNR

Linspire announced plans to expand its popular Click 'N Run digital download and software management service to support several of the most popular desktop Linux distributions in 2007. Previously available only for Linspire and Freespire desktop Linux users, the CNR service will begin providing users of other desktop Linux distributions a free and easy way to access over 20,000 desktop Linux products, packages, and libraries.

Initially, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu will be supported, using both .deb and .rpm packages. More distributions will be added, later this year. Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony goes into more detail about this in an interview with DesktopLinux.com.

Software and Product News

thunderboltFlash Player 9 for Linux Arrives

Adobe Systems has released the long-awaited Adobe Flash Player 9 for Linux. This version of Flash Player was meant to be feature-comparable to Adobe's latest Windows and Mac OS versions, and is the first version of Flash on Linux that is just as fast as the Windows and Mac OS versions.

Over at DesktopLinux.com, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reviewed the new version, and was rather pleased with a three-fold increase in performance.

The binary-only download is available directly from Adobe

thunderboltEvergreen: an Open Source Library Solution

Evergreen, an enterprise open source library management system, released version 1.0 in November. Also known as open-ILS, which stands for Integrated Library System, it catalogs and tracks a library's circulation of materials. Written in C, Javascript, and Perl, it provides client platforms for library management and a Web interface for public use. GPLed, Evergreen runs on Linux, Apache, PostreSQL, Jabber for messaging, and XUL for client-side software, using only open protocols. Furthermore, due to the technology used and the way it is written, Evergreen can be easily used on clusters.

The Georgia Public Library Service's (GPLS) network of libraries, PINES (Public Information Network for Electronic Services), is powered by Evergreen. GPLS consists of 44 public library systems, or 252 libraries, across multiple counties, encompassing nearly all of Georgia.

Linux.com article: http://enterprise.linux.com/enterprise/06/12/04/1538214.shtml?tid=101

Project page: www.open-ILS.org
GPLS's page: www.GeorgiaLibraries.org
PINES's page: www.GeorgiaLibraries.org/public/pines.html

thunderboltAsterisk 1.4.0 Released

The Asterisk dev team has released Asterisk 1.4.0, the first in the 1.4 series. The Asterisk project releases a major version about once a year. This series includes T.38 Fax over IP passthrough support, HTML manager, a new version of AEL (Asterisk Extension Language), IMAP storage of voicemail, Jabber/GoogleTalk integration, a jitterbuffer for RTP, whisper paging, and many other new features.

You can read more about it, and download the tarball.

thunderboltMySQL Falcon Storage Engine Open Sourced

The code for the Falcon Storage Engine for MySQL has been released as open source. Jim Starkey, known as the father of Interbase, is behind its creation; previously he was involved with the Firebird SQL database project. Falcon looks to be the long-awaited open source storage engine that may become the primary choice for MySQL, and along the way offer some innovation and performance improvements over current alternatives. This is an alpha release for Windows (32-bit) and Linux (32- and 64-bit) only, and is available only in a specially forked release of MySQL 5.1.

Downloads are available.

thunderboltOpen Source OpenVG Implementation Released

OpenVG is a standard API for hardware accelerated vector graphics. It's meant to accompany OpenGL on the road to a fully hardware-accelerated rendering framework. The first open source implementation was released by developer Zack Ruskin. Details are still sketchy, but there is some information on his blog and in a posting to the Khronos OpenVG forum.

The implementation is licensed under the GNU GPL v2 license, and depends on the cross-platform Qt library. The OpenVG implementation, along with the mandatory animated gears example, is available as a tarball at http://ktown.kde.org/~zrusin/dev/openvg.tar.bz2. A Git repository is available from http://gitweb.freedesktop.org/?p=users/zack/openvg.git;a=summary

thunderboltProject Looking Glass 1.0 Released

Project Looking Glass is a free software project under the GPL to create an innovative 3D desktop environment for Linux, Solaris, and Windows. It is sponsored by Sun Microsystems. Version 1.0 was recently released, with this statement from the developers: "This release is the culmination of 3 years of work, starting with Hideya-san who originally conceived of a bold, new type of window system, through the initial shake down of the proof-of-concept demo by an internal Sun community, followed by the open sourcing of the technology, which generated such enormous interest that it brought down the java.net servers several times. From that point on, many people from around the globe have contributed to the project; contributing to the core, contributing applications, performing testing, writing and translating documentation, etc. The project owners (Hideya, Paul, Krishna and I) are very grateful for all of the great contributions we have received from you, the LG community."

You can download the build here.

thunderboltCodeWeavers Releases CrossOver 6 for Mac and Linux

CodeWeavers announced the new version of Crossover 6. Jeremy White, the CEO of CodeWeavers, highlighted the most important features of this new release in the following words:"...highlights are: Outlook 2003 and support for games, notably World of Warcraft and Steam based games. I can attest that World of Warcrac...er craft is the most well tested application we have ever supported."

So now you know what you need to get your WoW fix. Download here. This is a proprietary application, but they do have a trial version available.

thunderboltMotorola to ship Linux-based RAZR Z6

In the same month in which Apple turned heads with its iPhone, Motorola made news with its RAZR Z6. This is Moto's first Linux-based smartphone for the US market, and also features a single-processor design for cost savings. For many smartphones, one processor runs a near-real-time OS for signal processing, and a separate application processor runs the GUI and PDA features. Here, RT extensions to the embedded Linux OS allow for all operations to run on a single processor.

The RAZR Z6 has a 2-megapixel camera, 64MB of memory, and a microSD slot plus USB 2.0 and Bluetooth. It is expected to ship by the summer.

thunderboltNew Tresys Brickwall Security Suite Makes SELinux Easier

Tresys, a primary contributor to Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux), today announced the commercial release of the Tresys Brickwall Security Suite, a powerful enterprise solution for using and managing SELinux. SELinux provides rich set of security functions, but IT administrators often lack the expertise needed to effectively configure these capabilities. Tresys Brickwall builds upon leading open-source technologies to control SELinux security functions without requiring special knowledge of the SELinux policy language.

Tresys Brickwall Security Suite includes three editions: Standard, Professional,and Enterprise, to meet varying levels of end-user needs. With the Enterprise edition, the first-ever network management console for SELinux, administrators can apply enhanced security across an entire enterprise, allowing administrators to configure SELinux for groups of systems and apply and monitor this security remotely. Key features of the suite include the ability to define network access settings for individual programs, built-in protection for many applications and services, customization of resource and file protection settings, and ability to create custom policy targets for new applications. The Standard Edition is a free version, while the Professional and Enterprise Editions provide scalable security for any size organization.

More information on the Tresys Brickwall Security Suite is available at www.tresys.com/products. Tresys-sponsored open source projects are available at http://oss.tresys.com.

thunderboltEmulex Expands Support for Customers of Oracle's Unbreakable Linux Support Program

Emulex Corporation announced plans to expand support for customers of the Oracle UnbreakableLinux support program across its LightPulse HBA product line. Working in close partnership, Emulex and Oracle intend to provide their joint customers a robust, fully supported solution. Emulex and Oracle continue to provide drivers and other key solutions to the Linux upstream kernel and the open source community. Both companies will continue their coordination to provide enhanced security, data protection, and connectivity solutions to the Linux developer and user communities.

More information at www.emulex.com.

Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

Aditya Nag


Aditya was bored one day in 1997 and decided to take a look at this "linux thing". After installing Red Hat 5, and looking at the blinking cursor, he promptly removed it and went back to Windows. And then reinstalled a few days later, determined to figure it out. So far, he's figured some stuff out, but he's still trying, and he's still having fun.

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.

Samuel Kotel Bisbee-vonKaufmann


Samuel Kotel Bisbee-vonKaufmann was born ('87) and raised in the Boston, MA area. His interest in all things electronics was established early as his father was an electrician. Teaching himself HTML and web design at the age of 10, Sam has spiraled deeper into the confusion that is computer science and the FOSS community, running his first distro, Red Hat, when he was approximately 13 years old. Entering boarding high school in 2002, Northfield Mount Hermon, he found his way into the school's computer club, GEECS for Electronics, Engineering, Computers, and Science (a recursive acronym), which would allow him to share in and teach the Linux experience to future generations. Also during high school Sam was abducted into the Open and Free Technology Community (http://www.oftc.org), had his first article published, and became more involved in various communities and projects.

Sam is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science at Boston University and continues to be involved in the FOSS community. Other hobbies include martial arts, writing, buildering, working, chess, and crossword puzzles. Then there is something about Linux, algorithms, programing, etc., but who makes money doing that?

Sam prefers programming in C++ and Bash, is fluent in Java and PHP, and while he can work in Perl, he hates it. If you would like to know more then feel free to ask.

Copyright © 2007, Aditya Nag, Howard Dyckoff, and Samuel Kotel Bisbee-vonKaufmann. 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 135 of Linux Gazette, February 2007

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