2001 09 06

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, September 6, 2001
       Read By 7,000 Linux Enthusiasts Weekly!


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

Party Like It's 999,999,999
SUN to Break Mold on Star Office
RHCE Exam Discount
Is Linux good for UNIX?

3) Linux Resources

Linux and UNIX, Together?
Forgot your root Password?
PostgreSQL vs. MySQL
Demand for Security Administrators on the Rise
Only 72 Hours?

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes

A common question I hear is, "Do I want to learn Linux or
UNIX?"  To answer that, it would be a good idea to define
UNIX, and take a bit of time to examine its past.  Don't
worry, this history lesson will be entertaining.

UNIX started out as a pet project of a couple of fellows by
the names of Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie.  You see, they
got their hands on a PDP-7 (from DEC), and Ken wanted to
play a game that existed on an operating system called
Multics.  Being the OS hacker he was, he wrote a small
kernel for the machine that would allow him to run the game.
Later on, he and Ritchie got a PDP-11, and wanted to port
their work from the PDP-7.  Alas, his work was all in
assembly, so it wouldn't move over.

Thompson, Ritchie, and a chap named Brian Kernighan decided
the best way to attack the problem was to develop a high
level language that could be compiled to any architecture.
Thus, C was born by Ritchie and Kernighan (otherwise known
as K&R C), and Thompson was able to rewrite his operating
system using this language, allowing it to work on both the
PDP 7 and 11 (and to be easily ported in the future).  In
most respects, this is when UNIX was born.

AT&T, the employer of these hackers, was in a situation where
it wasn't allowed to make money off of it.  So, it was
licensed very cheaply to universities, who really took a
shining to this operating system.  Soon, courses were offered
using UNIX as the backdrop, with books being published with
the source code and commentary.

"Stop the presses!" said AT&T in the mid '70's.  "It may be
cheap, but it's still our licensed code!".  This action only
served to drive UNIX development underground, and to promote
the hackish spirit that exists even today.

Around this time, Berkeley University had made many
extensions to the operating system, including TCP/IP sockets
and signals.  This spawned more legal wrangling, ending up
in a Berkeley derived version of UNIX known as the Berkeley
Systems Distribution, or BSD.

So, at this point in time, we've got a couple different
strains of UNIX with multiple paths ("flavors"), hackers
developing like crazy, and lawyers suing anyone they can lay
their hands on.  The network that would later become the
Internet was hitting Universities, and UNIX made a great

Around 1991, AT&T spins off a company called "Unix Systems
Laboratories", which owns the UNIX trademark.  1993 comes,
and the rights to UNIX are sold to Novell.  Novell turns
around and transfers them to X/Open.  Some time later, they
get moved off to SCO.  Quite recently, Caldera and SCO merge.

X/Open is a group created to standardize APIs and such, and
to protect the UNIX trademark.  They are the ones that
define what can be called UNIX (TM), and drive development
of newer standards.  Because of this standardization, most
software can be easily ported between various flavors.

At the moment, the following mainstream UNIX-like operating
systems are registered as UNIX (TM):

\* SUN Solaris
\* HP-UX
\* SCO Unixware (from Novell)
\* Digital UNIX/OSF/Tru64 UNIX
 (this one has gone through many name changes)

What does it mean?  Practically, it means that the companies
have paid a whack of cash to have it certified that their
work adheres to the standards put out by X/Open (who are now
called "The Open Group").

Yep, you'll notice Linux isn't on that list, nor are the
BSDs.  What's stopping them from being called "UNIX (TM)"?
Not much.  Most of the development is geared around all the
appropriate standards anyway, so all it would really take
would be that whack of cash.

Does it matter?  Not really.  Will it ever happen?  Maybe.
Linux and the BSDs have succeeded on their own merits thus
far, being able to legally call them UNIX (TM) probably won't
help.  However, with the merger of Caldera and SCO, the coin
is still in the air.

So now you know what UNIX (TM) is, and how it differs from
Linux.  Which should you learn?  It really doesn't matter.
Unless you have a strong preference, or immediate need to
learn a different flavor such as Solaris, Linux provides a
good foundation for further UNIX knowledge.  Through my
experience, I've noted that:

 - 60% of what you need to know is common to all UNIX-like

 - 15% is the same, it's just called something different or
   is in a different location.

 - 25% is specific to the flavor, such as administration
   tools or hardware

Not only does Linux run on cheap hardware, there are tons
of people that can help you out.  Besides, this is a Linux
newsletter.  I'd probably get fired if I told you to run

Long live the Penguin,


Learn more about the history:

2) Linux News

Party Like It's 999,999,999
UNIX keeps time by counting the number of seconds since
January 1, 1970, the date otherwise known as "epoch".
On September 9 at 01:46:39 UTC, this number will hit
1,000,000,000, which by most people's reckoning would make
UNIX one billion seconds old.


SUN to Break Mold on Star Office
If you, like myself, run Star Office, you're probably annoyed
at the way it takes over your desktop. It isn't the speediest
thing going either, no matter how much RAM I throw at it,
I'm always waiting for it to load libraries from disk. 6.0
promises to lighten it up a bit and move everything to its
own window. Preview releases are available, the link is in
the article.


RHCE Exam Discount
The Red Hat Certified Expert is a hands on exam that tests
for proficiency in Red Hat Linux. Red Hat strongly encourages
people to take one of their various courses before attempting
the exam, going so far as to offer different packages for
people with different skill levels. If you take one of their
courses in September, and pass the exam before the end of
October, they'll pay you back for the cost of the exam. I'm
confused as to why the refund amount is different depending
on which course you took, given that the exam is the same,
but hey -- a freebie is a freebie.


Is Linux good for UNIX?
This article by SUN Microsystems examines the impact of
Linux on UNIX, and if SUN considers Linux to be a friend or
foe. Linux drove SUN to give away non-commercial licenses
of Solaris 8, so you know it weighs heavily in their plans.


3) Linux Resources

Linux and UNIX, together?
Yes, I know I just finished an article saying I didn't think
they'd come together, but this free whitepaper discusses
their vision of unification -- a UNIX kernel (SCO) with
Linux utilities. That doesn't count in my books, but it's
still worth a read.


Forgot your root Password?
It happens to the best of us: maybe we inherited a machine,
or just plain forgot, but we can't log in as root. Here's
the quick way to get back in, and also how to lock down the
console so that bad guys can't use the trick.


PostgreSQL vs MySQL
Two of the more popular free SQL database platforms out there
are PostgreSQL and MySQL. Each has their advantages over the
other, and this article points them out.


Demand for Security Administrators on the Rise
Security can be a challenging job, though it is stressful.
Even with the slowdown in IT jobs, the security industry
is still steaming ahead. If you're looking for that next
step in your career, this may be it.


Only 72 Hours?
The Honeynet project monitors machines in order to determine
the tactics used by hackers to break in. They also publish a
monthly challenge, inviting you to try your hand at figuring
out what the hacker was doing. This one is worth noting,
though, if only for the comment in the introduction "The
expected life expectancy of a default RedHat 6.2 server is
less then 72 hours. The last time we attempted to confirm
that, the system was compromised in less then 8 hours."
Ouch. Lock down those boxen!


4) App o' the week
Stored procedures are pieces of code that can be executed
within the server itself. Usually, they'll be in the form
of a shared library that gets linked in at runtime, and is
called via SQL commands.

This nifty little application lets you run PERL code right
out of the SQL server, either from a row or directly from
a SQL query.


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