2000 12 21

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, December 21, 2000


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

Wholesaler Rolls Out Linux
SUN Completes Acquisition of Cobalt Networks
Slow Progress to the Desktop
Shell Oil to Use Linux For Exploring
Corel Sells Linux Arm

3) Linux Resources

PHP + MySQL = E-Business Backend
Don't Forget Your Pants!
More on Reiserfs
Cisco's Printing Solution
Learn PERL!

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes

The Open Source movement is a great thing.  In essence, you
have talented people working on a project not for monetary
reward, but for a common goal.  Take for example the folks
developing the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a
Photoshop quality imaging tool.  Do they sell it?  No.  What
you get though is a group of people that have a need for
such a tool developing it themselves, with the freedom to
make changes and implement requested features.  The Internet
itself is based on this philosophy, the old mantra of the
IETF was "Rough consensus, and working code".  We may not
have the ideal solution (TCP/IP instead of OSI, OSPF instead
of IS-IS), but it is a working solution, one that can be
quickly adopted and fixed.  Get the code in the hands of
the people and let them work with it, and submit changes
and suggestions.  It's the Open Source way, and has made
such great things as the GIMP and Linux itself.

Not every great coder is a great systems administrator,
nor will they have a dedicated connection to host mailing
lists, CVS servers, and bug tracking databases.
Recognizing this, VA Linux has created SourceForge, a
service that provides all this and more, so that talented
programmers can open their projects to the world.

Any project under an Open Source license is allowed to host
on SourceForge.  This means that they'll give you your own
CVS tree to keep your code and changes, the ability to
create discussion lists for announcements and discussion,
a web page to display your project, and much more.
Furthermore, you can post your need for developers on the
main page, as there are lots of people out there that may
be looking for a project to code on (of course, help isn't
limited to coding, there is formal testing, documentation,
and user assistance that is critical to any project's
success).  It's really a slick system, and - surprise,
surprise, is a SourceForge project of it's own.

You don't have to be a starving programmer to make use of
this either. Later on in this newsletter, you'll see how
Cisco Systems has developed their own printing architecture
based on Linux.  Realizing that others may benefit (and the
potential for growth) they have turned it into a public
project on SourceForge.  If you have some software that you
use at work that you developed, this may be a good way to
improve it.

As a side note, Open Source doesn't have to mean free labor
either. Many projects are released under the GPL or a like
license, but have paid staff working on it in addition to
people working for free (WINE, SNORT, SourceForge).
Situations like this show that the industry is catching on
to the usefulness of opening up their software.

I encourage everyone to look at SourceForge:


Browse around, and maybe you can find a project that can
help you out at work or at home.  Find it useful?  Lend a
hand.  Submit a bug report.  Add a new feature if you can
code.  Write some documentation if you can't.  Resolve to
make a difference in that project.  Open Source is more
than Free software.  It's about building a community.

Speaking of communities, BrainBuzz is the place to talk
about Linux and ask your questions:


Finally, feel free to email me with your thoughts and

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

Wholesaler Rolls Out Linux
300 Linux boxes rolled out over six-and-a-half weeks. The
need to grow in the B2B area, and the low cost contributed
to this company's choice of Linux for their branch office
business applications. Companies like this (and Home Depot)
are really starting to embrace Linux for mission critical


SUN Completes Acquisition of Cobalt Networks
SUN Microsystems gained a strong foothold in the network
appliance market by buying out Cobalt Networks, makers of
the RaQ and the Qube. Yah, you know 'em, the 1U Linux boxes
that do pretty much everything? I know SUN is going to get
a lot out of this deal, but hopefully not at the cost of
replacing the Linux OS with Solaris on these devices. I'll
sure be watching SUN on this one...


Slow Progress to the Desktop
No one said it would be easy, but Linux is slowly making
inroads to the desktop. The latest release of KDE 2 (K
Desktop Environment), a GUI interface for Linux, should
go a long way towards making the desktop more usable. This
article also has some comments from ID Software, makers of
the Quake series, and some observations on why progress in
this area has been less than stellar.


Shell Oil to Use Linux For Exploring
Another victory in the large scale computing area for Linux.
Shell is using a 1024 node Linux cluster powered by IBM
servers to run seismic and other geophysical applications.
This is one area where Linux is going to clean up in the
next few years. Who wants to buy big iron when you can
build a super cluster out of commodity hardware?  When
you're done with it, you've got a lot of nice desktops!
(Maybe not, but you can still see the advantages!)


Corel Sells Linux Arm
I really hate to see this good (Canadian!) company get
pounded, but it's recently started work on selling off its
Linux arm. Corel has put together its own distribution, and
has been putting a lot of resources into WINE (a Windows
compatibility layer) for their office suite and for other
uses. However, the buyer is Linux Global Partners, who have
an interest in Helix Code, WINE, and GNUCash. Hope it's for
the best.


3) Linux Resources

PHP + MySQL = E-Business Backend
I've given out a few links in the past on how to use PHP,
but this one really stands out. Using the example of an
online coffee mug selling web site, a basic database and
order system is created. Just another example of the tools
that are out there for the using. Did I mention they're
free? :)


Don't Forget your Pants!
This SYSV init script will "Make sure you're wearing pants
when you go multi-user." I know I face this challenge
constantly, much to my embarrassment.


More on Reiserfs
Hmmm...I seem to be on a roll with the links on journaling
file systems. This article walks through some of the
benefits of Reiserfs, and how to compile, install, and use
it. For those that are new to them, journaling file systems
allow for faster and more reliable recoveries after an
unclean shutdown.


Cisco's Printing Solution
I remember reading an article in a Linux magazine a couple
of years ago on how Cisco started using Linux to manage all
of their enterprise printing. It's a really slick system for
distributed management. They've released this to SourceForge
under the GPL, and VA Linux has picked up on it. If you have
a medium-to-large company, maybe this software can help.


Learn PERL!
I think every UNIX administrator should learn PERL. Problems
have obvious solutions when you can code around them. Reports
are easy to write, statistics a breeze to collect. Laugh at
the mere mortals who have to import data into spreadsheets
and manipulate. Anyway, here's a good intro to the language.
Don't forget that BrainBuzz has some good PERL hackers that
read the PERL board.


4) App o' the week

Any Cisco PIX users out there?  (A PIX is Cisco's firewall).
The logging is interesting on them, eh? It's either quiet,
or filling up your disk with everything it sees. Have no
fear, this PERL script interacts with syslogd and generates
HTML reports of activity. I've been looking for something
like this for a while!


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