2000 11 2

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, November 2, 2000


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

StarOffice Source Released
RedHat and Sound?
Micro$oft buying into Linux?
PHP 4.0.3 released

3) Linux Resources

  Signal 11
  Journal File Systems
  3COM 3C509 help
  93 Watt Processor?

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1) Sean's Notes
Welcome to the issue zero of the Brainbuzz Linux newsletter!
(if there is one thing you learn from this, let it be that
most things in Unix are zero indexed).  This weekly
publication is for those who want to keep on top of Linux
news, and pick up some great resources along the way.

There's been a lot of hoopla in the news lately about
RedHat 7.  Comments from "2500 bugs", to "binary
incompatibility", and even foul language like "Microsoft
tactics" are being thrown around.

If you're thinking that RedHat 7 is representative of Linux
as a whole, it's simply not true.  First, Linux isn't
RedHat.  RedHat is one out of several distributions of
Linux.  It's a good one, IMHO, even though it has a history
of shipping buggy point-oh releases.  It's just the price
to be paid to ship the latest code.  Furthermore, a
distribution ships the Linux kernel along with the software
to run on it.  Can Linux itself be blamed for someone
shipping bad client software?  That's a little like saying
Windows is bad because my spreadsheet crashes all the time.

Second, upgrades aren't as big a deal in the Unix world as
they are elsewhere.  The basic theory is "if it works,
don't touch it".  I've still got a 2.0.36 kernel on one
machine simply because it does the job it's needed for.
Upgrading to the latest version of the distribution
(Slackware in this case) would mean upgrading *every* piece
of software. That's like moving your Windows 95 machine to
Windows ME, along with upgrading your office suite, all the
games, and everything else you're running.  So if you're
running RedHat 6.2, you may not want to make the immediate
leap to 7.0.  Setting up a new system?  7.0 may be for you.
The machine I'm typing this on is RedHat 6.1, using the
X-Windows from 6.2, and GNOME from Helix.

A difference between Windows and Unix upgrades is that
software in Unix is very compartmentalized.  Want to upgrade
Microsoft Exchange to the 2000 version?  You'd better upgrade
your OS to Windows 2000, right?  Want the latest sendmail on
your Linux 1.2 machine?  Go ahead, just install it.  There
are some instances where this isn't the case, like when you
get into the system libraries.  However, there is a clear
distinction between the OS and the user in Linux.  Even the
GUI runs as a user!  This is the biggest reason that Linux
is able to obtain such high uptimes.

Back to RedHat.  They've got a long history of shipping the
latest code in their distributions.  If you've ever looked at
the source for the kernel that they ship, you'll see that
it's got a lot of extra patches that haven't made it to the
current kernel yet.  It helps to promote open source by
getting the software into people's hands.

Being on the bleeding edge comes at a price.  Sometimes
software just isn't ready.  One of the more serious issues
with RH7 was the inclusion of GCC 2.96, which is a snapshot
release.  A snapshot release is one that has been pulled
right out of the development tree.  Compare this to a
formal release, where the developers have decided that the
code is at a point where it is ready for widespread use.
Alas, 2.96 creates object files that are not compatible with
current versions, nor will be compatible with future
versions.  The GCC steering committee thought that this was
a stupid move, so they issued a release about it:


Bob Young, Chairman of the Board of RedHat responds:

LinuxToday provides some balanced comments:
http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn 00-10-09-005-21-NW-CY-RH

On the subject of binary incompatibilities, support for the
old libc5 has been dropped.  RedHat has been using glibc2
for some time now, so I can forgive them for shedding some
deadweight.  People with legacy binary packages may find
their applications broken, but installing libc5 shouldn't
be a big problem.  RedHat was one of the first distributions
to move over to glibc2, and at the time there was some
discontent about it.  Now, there is little dispute that it
was a good move for the Linux community.  glibc2 allowed
improvements and design fixes to enter the system libraries.
On that thought, maybe shipping a snapshot compiler wasn't
a bad idea?

Some other notable bugs in RedHat 7:

RedHat 7 crashes after 3 weeks due to a file descriptor bug:

RedHat 7 security errata (7 packages):

RedHat 7 package fixes (9 packages):

Bugs aside, RedHat 7 includes some great new features, such as:

- OpenSSH for secure telnet and file copying
- SSL for secure web transactions and sockets
- XFree86 4.0, the latest X servers for better performance
- GNOME updates.

I am quite happy to see the inclusion of strong cryptography
into a popular distribution.  In case you didn't know, until
recently companies couldn't export cryptographic software
from the States without a license (or back door).  These
restrictions have since been relaxed.

RedHat is also using 7.0 to publicize their new update
service, called the RedHat Support Network:


So what's your opinion on RedHat 7?  Let me and others know
on the Brainbuzz RedHat board:

On a closing note, even though I'm in Canada, I know the
Americans in the audience are coming up to election time.
Out of interest, I checked out what OS the candidates chose
to host their website:

www.algore2000.com: Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) PHP/4.0.1pl2 secured_by_Raven/1.5.1
www.bush2000.com: Microsoft-IIS/5.0

Long live the penguin,


2) Linux News

StarOffice Source Released
SUN StarOffice is a pretty nice office suite that runs on
Solaris, Linux, and Windows. It's goal is to be a functional
clone of Microsoft Office, and let me tell you that it's not
doing too badly. SUN recently put the source under the GNU
license and posted API and file format documentation so
that the community can direct and improve the project.
Brilliant move or cheap marketing ploy? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, enjoy the free office suite.


RedHat and Sound?
windfall has a Creative Vibra 128 and can't get it to work
on his RedHat 6.2 box. Sound isn't my forte (I've got an
SB 16 -- works on everything!), but maybe it's yours...
Can someone give this fellow a hand?


Micro$oft buying into Linux?
Tell me it's not true! Microsoft recently pumped $135M into
Corel. Now, Corel is a good \[Canadian!] company and can use
the money, but the only thing they have to offer is Linux!
So why would Microsoft want to talk to them?  From a M$ SEC
filing: "Corel hereby grants Microsoft an option for Corel
to Port some portion or all of the .Net Framework from the
Windows Platform to the Linux Platform." Ahhh.


PHP 4.0.3 released
PHP is a server side web scripting language, much like ASP.
It'll run on UNIX and Win32, using IIS, Apache, or most
other web servers. If you've never used it, take a look.
If you run it, you'd better upgrade because some security
related bugs were found in the older versions.


3) Linux Resources

Signal 11
Signal 11, otherwise known as a Segmentation Fault (or
violation), is the Unix equivalent of GPF. When a process
accesses memory that it hasn't been allocated, the kernel
sends it signal 11 and stops it. Usually this is the result
of sloppy programming, but can sometimes indicate bad or
misconfigured hardware. The Sig 11 FAQ explains what causes
this condition, and how to diagnose what's causing it.


Journal File Systems
Ever turned off a busy Unix box without properly shutting
it down? They don't power on very well, do they? That's
because some of the filesystem was in memory waiting to be
flushed to disk, so now there are inconsistencies that must
be fixed. A journal file system logs the changes to a
journal file, much like a database. After a crash, the
system just replays the log file and the file system is
good as new. There are also some performance enhancements
that you get out of this.


3COM 3C509 help
BrainBuzz member GuitarLynn has posted a how-to on the
3C509 network card. It's a good, cheap ISA card that is
quite popular with older PCs. The problem is that ISA cards
don't always get detected on bootup, so you've got to give
Linux a hint. This document will fix you right up. (Watch
out for the URL, it's going to wrap!)


93 Watt Processor?

This is a good article on power consumption in CPUs. The
author also shows how a P4 CPU can consume up to 93 Watts
of power! My soldering iron is 30 Watts! How much longer
before the cooling and power needs of PCs will make them
unattractive to the home buyer?


(C) 2000 BrainBuzz.com. All Rights Reserved.


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