2001 01 04

                    LINUX NEWS
             Thursday, January 4, 2001


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

10 Questions With Miguel de Icaza
Loki's QA Team Talks
IBM Claims Fastest Unix Workstation
Beat 'em to the Punch

3) Linux Resources

802.1q VLAN Patch
The Sendmail Boys Have Been Busy...
Solaris-Style Performance Monitoring
BASH Cheat Sheet
The Case For Centralized Computing

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes

When will Mom use Linux? Will she ever? Should she?

I was reading an article asking the first question, when
the second and third ones came to mind:


This article asks if Linux is ready for the novice who just
wants a computer that works. Not one with a web server,
database, and enterprise directory, but one that you can
plug your hardware into, load up your software, and get

It seems that people are willing to pay a huge price for
this convenience. It's no secret that Windows isn't the
most stable thing going, yet people are more than happy to
reboot constantly. What good is an operating system that
can run for a year without a reboot if it doesn't work with
the latest hardware and play the latest games?

The hardware is probably the hardest problem to solve.
There are a lot of tools out there to reverse engineer
software, but to figure out how a device works without the
specs is difficult. Opening vendors' eyes to Open Source is
difficult. Many put access to specs under NDA, which
prevents Linux drivers from being written. What competitive
advantage can there be to prevent technical people from
using your products? It baffles the mind.

Native ports of software are rare. Some big names like Word
Perfect are available under Linux, but when will titles like
Quicken start appearing? Compatibility layers like WINE \[0]
and Trans Gaming \[1] are trying to build compatibility
layers into Win32 and DirectX/Direct3D respectively, but it
will be a long time before they're at the "Double Click to
install" phase.

This brings me to the questions I posed...Do we want this?
Can't we be content with an operating system that serves our
needs? I'm willing to sacrifice some usability in order to
obtain stability, reliability, and speed. Shouldn't we
dedicate our resources to improving the kernel and
developing better server applications?

On the other hand, "dumbing down" (for lack of a better
term) the operating system could have benefits across the
board. More users mean more vendor support. Widespread
acceptance makes it profitable for vendors to target Linux
for their applications. Failing that, companies like
Loki \[2] can make a decent living porting other people's
software. Maybe then hardware vendors will devote some
resources to publishing Linux drivers the way that
Adapsys \[3] does.

So, do we want wide-spread Linux use? I'm not hell-bent on
world domination, but I can't stand to see the technically-
better solution being beaten out by a better looking but
inferior one. Seeing the latest hardware supported by Linux
at Day 1 would be a bonus.

There isn't one strategy that can accomplish this though.
The WINE team is starting to look at issuing "Works with
WINE" stickers to vendors whose applications run under
WINE. People like you and I are bringing Linux into our
workplaces to do a better job for a fraction of the cost.

It's going to be a long time until Linux sits on a large
fraction of the desktops out there. Until then, don't lose
sight of what we have.

What are your thoughts on the future of Linux for the masses?


Finally, feel free to email me with your thoughts and

Long live the Penguin,


\[0] http://www.winehq.com/
\[1] http://transgaming.com/
\[2] http://www.lokigames.com/
\[3] http://www.connectcom.net/downloads/software/os/linux.html

2) Linux News

10 Questions With Miguel de Icaza
Miguel is one of the core GNOME developers, and one of the
founders of Helix Code. In this interview, he talks about
the future of Helix GNOME, a packaged desktop, and some of
the products his company will be coming out with. He also
explains why Helix GNOME has been behind in keeping up with


Loki's QA Team talks
Loki Software focuses on porting Windows games to Linux.
Titles include Q3 Arena, Heretic II, and Soldier of Fortune.
Linuxpower had an interview with some of the QA team, and
asked them what's involved in the porting and testing of a
new game. Must be a tough life...Playing video games for a
living :)


IBM Claims Fastest Unix Workstation
IBM has come out with a new RS/6000 model, the 170. Boasting
a 450MHz CPU, it has some impressive graphics capabilities.
This doesn't come cheap, however... $30K US for the top of
the line, but that gets you 2GB of RAM and a really nice
graphics card. You probably won't see Quake running on this
bad dog though; it's made for high-end engineering


Beat 'em to the Punch
Who is going to support Itanium first...Windows or Linux?
I'll give you a hint...Who already runs on more platforms?
According to this article, Windows isn't expected to have
an Itanium-tailored version ready for the chip's debut. On
the other hand, even though the Linux distributions haven't
caught up, the kernel is ready.


3) Linux Resources

802.1q VLAN Patch
802.1q is a method of tagging Ethernet packets so that VLANs
can be trunked. This patch allows normal NICs to speak
dot1q, so you could have your box sit on several VLANs to
speed file server access, or act as a router between VLANs.


The Sendmail Boys Have Been Busy...
Sendmail 8.11.2 was recently released. The 8.11 series
has some pretty advanced features like LDAP lookup, TLS
(Transport Layer Security), multiple queues, better virtual
hosting support, and a whole whack more. Got a simple, one
domain setup? 8.9.3 is probably still OK for you. Anything
more advanced and you may want to give this a look.


Solaris-Style Performance Monitoring
If you're coming from the Solaris world, you'll be familiar
with tools like sar and iostat for checking on the status
of your system. You quickly found out that Linux was a lot
different! This fellow has developed some performance
monitoring tools, including Solaris-style sar/iostat. It
produces some detailed reports, and the documentation is
very good.


BASH Cheat Sheet
Shell scripting is one of the more powerful weapons in the
administrator's arsenal. Unfortunately, it can be a tad
arcane at times, which is why a good reference can help.
I've always relied upon my "Unix in a Nutshell" book, but
now I've found a more concise source.


The Case for Centralized Computing
Thin clients: love 'em or hate 'em, they're out there. This
commentary from freshmeat.net takes a look at some of the
options out there (Microsoft, Sun, Linux) and shows how
they could fit into a school environment. With the power of
computers today, it's a bit absurd that a secretary doing
email and word processing has the latest and greatest, when
the same box could serve a few of them just as well.


4) App o' the week

Since it's the holiday season, this week's app is yet
another game. Call this one "Asteroids on crack".  Great
graphics, sounds, and fast action make this a fun game.
There are even add-ons, like a Star Wars theme.


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