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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@lists.linuxgazette.net

Legislation and More Legislation

 Software Patents

Following the European Council of Ministers' decision to discard Parliament's amendments, the legislative process continues. The FFII has reported the publication of the report by Michel Rocard, European Parliament rapporteur, on software patents. The findings and recommendations in the report have been welcomed by FFII president Hartmut Pilch. FFII has also published a recording and some transcripts from the JURI meeting at which the rapporteur's findings were presented.

Although, currently, campaigning for the European Constitution referenda is dominating European politics at the moment, the importance of contacting your MEPs on this matter should not be underestimated. Only by paying attention to their actions, and calling them to account for them (whatever your personal views), can citizens begin to reduce the democratic deficit manifest in EU institutions.


gpl-violations.org has been granted a preliminary injunction against Fortinet UK Ltd., a company that produces and distributes firewalls. Granted by the Munich district court, the injunction follows claims by gpl-violations.org that Fortinet have included various GPL software, including the Linux kernel, into their firewall offerings. Harald Welte, the Linux kernel developer involved in this case, also claims that Fortinet attempted to conceal their appropriate of the relevant code by using cryptographic techniques. Fortinet have admitted that GPL code was included in their product, but have so far failed to satisfactorily resolve the issue.

Linux Links

Using Python on the Nokia S60 mobile phone.

Userspace filesystem encryption with EncFS.

O'Reilly article on Sound editing with Audacity, and meanwhile Linux Journal has looked at Csound.

Comparison of Microsoft Visual Studio and KDevelop.

Ongoing history of open-source software by Peter H. Salus.

Are free-software developers the glimmer of hope for software quality?

Creating a custom Linux LiveCD With PCLinuxOS.

Linux Journal has published A Reading List for Linux in the Classroom, covering topics like OpenLDAP, Samba, and more.

IBM developerWorks has an interesting article that discusses running GNU/Linux or NetBSD on Apple's new Mac mini.

Groklaw's Pamela Jones argues that the SCO case has been good for Linux

Slashdot discussion of Linux laptop compatibility, while OSnews has Linux on A Laptop: A Tinkerer's Journal.

NewsForge has published a brief review of the UseMod Wiki.

The challenges of analysing GNU/Linux use.

The maturation of 64bit free OSs.

Has acquisition by Novell hurt SuSE on its German home turf.

Volvo are now doing crash simulations on GNU/Linux, in partnership with IBM.

Lawrence Lessig tells Flash developers how how he believes their work and technology is perceived in the open-source community.

News in General

 Who's The Git?

Over the years we've seen a number of heated arguments among the members of the Linux kernel project. Favourites among these have included the debates over preemption strategies and discussions of how to manage memory most effectively. A repeated focus for acrimonious discussion has been Linus's choice of source-management tool: BitKeeper. The selection of a proprietary piece of software for this fundamental part of the development infrastructure has rankled many of the more idealistic open-source/free-software purists in the development community.

This issue came to major prominence in the past month, as Andrew Tridgell publicly revealed that he had reverse engineered the BitKeeper protocol to allow developers to obtain project meta-data from the repository. On seeing this, the lead-developer of BitKeeper, Larry McVoy, responded by revoking the free BitKeeper licences that have been used by kernel developers since the tool was adopted by the project.

This sequence of events drew the ire of Linus Torvalds, who accused Tridgell of acting irresponsibly and jeopardising an effective and working system without offering any alternative. Others in the free software community, such as Bruce Perens, see these criticisms as unjustified, and point out that Tridgell was essentially engaged in the same type of activity that allowed him to develop Samba.

Nonetheless, in spite of these travails, Linux kernel development has not been stopped in its tracks. An alternative tool, git, to manage the kernel source (advice for beginners). Following the successful import of kernel source into git, the 2.6.12rc3 release is the first to be built up completely using git.

An interesting aside to consider is the response of the Subversion project to discussion among users that Subversion might be a suitable BitKeeeper replacement. Highlighting the difficulties in achieving a compromise between Linux development practice and the current Subversion feature-set, attention was instead briefly focussed on three new version control systems that have emerged in the past year or two Monotone GNU Arch and SVK. All three of these support the use of distributed repositories, and have recently been gaining popularity.

 Linux Kernel

The newest iteration of the stable 2.6.x series of Linux Kernels is now available. Linux, released on April 7th, includes a collection of fixes. In line with the new kernel numbering scheme, post 2.6.11, this release should only include minor fixes to the original 2.6.11 release.


Debian Weekly News has reported the availability of a HURD Live CD. This is a great opportunity to try out the long (long!) awaited HURD kernel.

Distro News


Archie is a complete live Arch Linux system (v0.7) that can be run from a CD/USB. OSDir has a screen-shot tour of the distro.


Debian stable (Woody) has been updated with the release of Debian GNU/Linux 3.0r5. The complete list of accepted/rejected packages in this release can be seen at http://people.debian.org/~joey/3.0r5/

Branden Robinson has been elected as the new leader of the Debian Project. He has given an interview where he outlines some of his plans.

From Debian Weekly News, Hanna Wallach has written an essay about making Debian a friendlier place for both men and women. Apparently, a significant number of men participate in the Debian Women project because it offers of a much more positive, welcoming, and friendly atmosphere than other Debian fora.


LinuxTimes.net has a review of Kanotix, a Debian Sid based live CD.


OSnews has a review of Linspire. Linspire is a GNU/Linux distribution aimed at providing an easy-to-use environment for users migrating from Windows.


Mad Penguin has taken a look at SuSE 9.3 Professional.


Ubuntu has released a new edition of its popular, Debian-based, GNU/Linux distribution. Ubuntu 5.04, (The Hoary Hedgehog Release) is in the wild and ready for download. In parallel with this, The Kubuntu project has released Kubuntu 5.04 (Ubuntu combined with the latest KDE goodness).

Linux Journal has recently taken a look at this rapidly growing distro.

Software and Product News


The Apache Project has announced the release of the newest version of its omnipresent web-server software. Apache HTTP Server 2.0.54, now available for download, is principally a bug fix release.


Those more familiar with the interface used by Blender, the popular open-source 3D modelling package may be interested in instinctive Blender. This fork has been profiled at NewsForge.

 Mastering *BSD Security

Not directly Linux related, but surely of interest to most Unix-like system admins (or should that be admins of Unix-like systems!), O'Reilly has recently released a new title focussing on security issues and techniques on BSD systems: Mastering FreeBSD and OpenBSD Security.


Mick is LG's News Bytes Editor.

[Picture] Originally hailing from Ireland, Michael is currently living in Baden, Switzerland. There he works with ABB Corporate Research as a Marie-Curie fellow, developing software for the simulation and design of electrical power-systems equipment.

Before this, Michael worked as a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University College Dublin; the same institution that awarded him his PhD. The topic of this PhD research was the use of Lamb waves in nondestructive testing. GNU/Linux has been very useful in his past work, and Michael has a strong interest in applying free software solutions to other problems in engineering.

Copyright © 2005, Michael Conry. 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 114 of Linux Gazette, May 2005

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