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
Leading itemsAll 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.
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Linux in the newsHere'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.
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
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.
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.
DebianThe 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!
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 HatRed 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.
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.
AlphaWhat 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.
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
Having problems using threads with Xlib? Check out Tristan Savatier's solution, a simple patch to linuxthread-0.71.
ResourcesThe Czech monthly magazine, "Linuxove noviny" ("Linux News" in english), announced its fourth issue, available via ftp.
Events12TH Systems Administration Conference (LISA '98), December 6-11, 1998, Boston Massachusetts.
Web sitesPARD, comprehensive information source for software packages, resources, distributions.
MicroEMACS, provides MicroEMACS binaries and documentation.
New user groupsArizona State University Linux Users' Group.