Linux Weekly News

Bringing you the latest news from the Linux World.
Dedicated to keeping Linux users up-to-date, with concise news for all interests
Published January 29, 1998

Linux articles
Kernel news
Software Development
Linux Resources

Leading items

All the newsgroups and mailing lists are abuzz with the news of Netscape's release of source code for Communicator for 5.0. Scheduled for release at the end of March, exact license details are not yet known. Rumours are that Microsoft has responded on NPR by indicating that Internet Explorer will follow the same example. What other software might follow? Suggestions from comp.os.linux.development.apps include Corel's software, Sun's WABI, IBM's OS/2 and even Motif.

The main joy expressed over the decision is the ability to go in and fix bugs in Netscape, though other visions involve GTK, other Window managers than X and more.

Has Apple ripped off the Linux penguin to advertise its Quicktime products? A substantial amount of discussion on the net indicates that many people think so. Check out their Quicktime site and judge for yourself. This writer thinks the whole thing is a bit overblown, even if there is a bit of resemblance there...

One of your editors was much amused to run across the Stampede Linux distribution. One might think that we don't really need yet another distribution, with its own package format and everything. But they disagree, and they're going for it. Their main point seems to be that they'll use a pentium-optimized version of gcc to build the system; they claim a 10-30% improvement in performance that way. Ease of installation will evidently be another of their selling points. They have a web site, so it must be real. There's even an open logo contest.

Peruse the LWN Archives.

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Linux in the news

Here's a good one: A Titanic Challenge to Microsoft. In MSNBC, no less. They talk a lot about Netscape, but in the context of the success of the Linux system.

There was also an article on Linux in SunWorld Online. It is reasonably complementary, though it does focus a bit on limitations. "Linux isn't Solaris". Well, we knew that, but not everybody thinks it's a disadvantage.

[Security] A recently reported problem in ssh enables users to mis-use RSA credentials belonging to other users. ssh versions through 1.2.21 have this or a similar problem. To fix, upgrade to ssh 1.2.22 or later. Full details from linux-security.

A problem has been found with the gzip package, and the 'gzexe' program in particular. Sloppy use of temp files allows for overwriting exploits. Fixed versions are in circulation, check with your distribution for an update.

The (wonderful) MH mail agent has some buffer overflow problems, allowing for compromises by local users. Patches are available from the distributions, or you can use the "nmh" package instead.

[Kernel] The current development kernel version is 2.1.82. It fixes a number of the difficulties encountered with 2.1.80 and 2.1.81, and continues to incorporate fixes leading up to the 2.2 release. Some people are encountering networking and module related problems; it is running nicely for this writer, however.

Work continues in resolving various difficulties with the new NFS implementation. Some bugs apparently remain, and there is still the difficulty that a client can not mount "/foo/bar" if the server has exported "/foo" - subdirectory mounts still do not work. Assuming they get the remaining problems ironed out, 2.2 can be expected to have a top-quality NFS implementation.

Numerous people are trying to track down the problems with gcc 2.8.0 and the kernel. The problem seems to be an obscure, optimization-related thing. For now, compile kernels with a 2.7.2 release of gcc, or use egcs.

The debate on naming of SCSI devices in the new devfs file system is slowly dying down, with some remaining disagreement on how to handle "slices" and other types of strange subdevices. Meanwhile Richard Gooch is up to version 14 of his devfs patch (against 2.1.79). It's available from his web site.

Will the MTRR patches go into the 2.2 kernel?. This patch, by Richard Gooch, claims to speed up some video operations by a factor of 2.5. There is pressure to put in the kernel, but Linus has some reservations. Stay tuned.

A new PCI NE2000 (ethernet card) driver is available from Donald Becker, the source of so many such drivers. He's looking for testers; go to his site for more information.

One more release (2.0.34) of the current stable kernel is in the works, with a big pile of patches being coordinated by Alan Cox. A number of bugs and a couple of security holes will be fixed. Release date is unclear at this point.

Asked in linux-smp: just how multithreaded is the linux kernel now?. The answer from Linus: the 2.0 kernel hides behind a single global lock, and is thus not multithreaded at all. In 2.1 the task of multithreading the kernel began, and significant parts have been converted. However, much of the kernel, in particular the file system and network code, remains single-threaded. Fixing this is evidently a big job; it's highly unlikely to be done by 2.2.

The beginnings of a FAQ for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) is in the works. See the initial outline to see where they are going.



The Debian Release Roadmap and Debian 2.0 Release Requirements have been posted to debian-devel. This is a part of the push to move Debian 2.0 out the door, still high quality, but soon!

Debian will be at Linux Expo North Carolina and the Atlanta Linux Showcase. They will have talks at both and a table at the Atlanta Linux Showcase.

Some recent discussion on the debian-devel list indicates unhappiness with the current support of /etc/crontab, which makes it difficult to obey the rules and yet run cron jobs more often than once a day. Various solutions, from moving /etc/crontab file into /etc/cron.d/* or using a .mc file to build the crontab are being discussed.

Red Hat

Red Hat announces FAQ additions, primarily thanks to their new on-line submission form. In addition, you can now add a Request for FAQ to the list, to suggest ideas for additional FAQs that need to be written. Check out the Red Hat Linux User's FAQ and submit your ideas!

A laptop-kind alternative to cron, qss, is being discussed on the redhat-devel-list. qss is intended for Linux systems that are not up 24 hours a day and therefore cron-scheduled administration or maintenance jobs are not reliably performed. Check out the initial proposal.

[Ports] Would you believe in a port of Linux to the Nintendo 64 platform? According to IX magazine it has been done. You, too, can obtain record-breaking X performance on your TV set.

Of course, do check the date of the issue before trying to FTP the distribution yourself...

The most enthusiastic response to Netscape's freeing of their source code was in the various newsgroups and mailing lists for the non-Intel variants of Linux. Most of these folks have not been able to get a working Netscape for their system, or had to rely on emulation and vendor-specific libraries. All see a native Netscape in their near future, and are most pleased.


What is the difference between the LX and SX motherboards? The discussion on this topic was long; but it seems to boil down to the sort of cache that is provided; see this post for a good summary, and this one for some additions.. Consensus seems to be that the LX will provide better performance, but that you'll have to pay extra for it.

There was some concern raised about DEC's new NT-only alpha chips. (See the the Computerworld article on the subject). Some posters wondered if Linux would run on these chips; consensus seems to be that it would.

This discussion was quickly overwhelmed, however, when the news of Compaq's purchase of Digital was announced. There is some concern (and also optimism) about the future of the company and the Alpha line, but it's almost completely speculation at this point. One calm voice was that of John 'maddog' Hall, in his "Let the dust settle" and More dust settling posts.

[Software Development] Sergey Nikitin responded to developer-reported problems with jdk1.1.5-glibc2 in a recent post on java-linux. Seems he used a binary release of XFree86 different from RH5. The dynamic distribution is okay and the next release will be RH5-compatible.

Having problems using threads with Xlib? Check out Tristan Savatier's solution, a simple patch to linuxthread-0.71.



Package Version Description
Aegis 3.1 Software configuration management system
COLD 0.1-betaConvert old lyx documents to the new format
defrag0.73 Ext2 file system defragmenter
diald-config 1.2.1 demand dialing made easy
dialmon 0.3 a diald monitor
distribute1.1 Perl script to distribute jobs across machines
ipfwchains 1.2.2 Kernel patch (2.0.33) for an improved IP firewall implementation
jTcl 3.00 tcl toolbox for designing Web server applications
kpilot 1.1 KDE-based Hot-sync software manager for 3Com Palm Pilot and IBM Workpad
link pre-alphaWord processing and desktop publishing system
lpr 1.0.1 Bugfix release of line printer daemon and client
man 1.5 The familar "man" command; check with your distribution site if you want to upgrade.
mergemem Merge memory of running processes
minos third alpha Forth-based rapid GUI development environment
mon 0.37g a general-purpose resource monitoring system
MpegTV 1.0Play video CD's (Commercial)
muffin 0.6A filtering proxy server for the web.
Multitrack 2.0multitrack recorder for Linux.
mserver 0.23 A network modem server
nasm 0.97 a free 80x86 assembler available on Red Hat's ftp site
NetStreamer 0.12 A streaming audio system
procinfo 12Gather and print system information
resq 1.5.0 Rescue disk creator
SDL 0.3 Simple DirectMedia Layer (games library)
spectemu 0.91 Sinclair ZX spectrum emulator
ssmail beta Encrypted version of sendmail
streams 1.12 A streams implementation for 2.0 kernels
XSuSE 3.01An X11 driver for Permedia 2 video cards from the SuSE folks.
U-Net 2.1 Fast, protected network access
webmin 0.4 web-based interface for system administration
WipeOut 1.1h C++/Java development environment
xirc 2.2p1 X11-based IRC client
yaccviso 1.0 a tool for visualizing yacc/bison grammars


The Czech monthly magazine, "Linuxove noviny" ("Linux News" in english), announced its fourth issue, available via ftp.


12TH Systems Administration Conference (LISA '98), December 6-11, 1998, Boston Massachusetts.

Web sites

PARD, comprehensive information source for software packages, resources, distributions.

MicroEMACS, provides MicroEMACS binaries and documentation.

New user groups

Arizona State University Linux Users' Group.
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