2002 04 25

                    LINUX NEWS
        Resources & Links From CramSession.com
             Thursday, April 25, 2002


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

"GPL Evil, BSD is OK" Says Bill
SuSE 8.0 Includes SUN's Grid Engine
More of "Linux in the Movies"
Dear SUN: Linux and Mainframes Don't Suck!

3) Linux Resources

Who Are Linux Friendly Vendors?
Reading Your Firewall Logs
Solaris to Linux - A Porting Guide
While You're At It, Port MFC Apps!

4) App o’ the Week

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1) Sean's Notes

It wasn't too long ago that SUN Microsystems announced that
they'd be charging for the next version of Star Office. This
wasn't really shocking news, at one point they had hoped to
make money off of it by selling it as a web application.
After all, isn't it reasonable to expect a company to want
some sort of return on a $70+ million investment?

So, Star Office is going to cost somewhere between $50 and
$100 US according to this article:


I don't see this move as a bad thing. Quite often, "free" is
associated with "bad". By making the product available for a
fee, rather than a free download, the hope is that corporations
will see it as a viable challenger to Microsoft Office, and
consider a migration. Charging for it also strengthens the
idea that the company is in for the long haul.

What about the home user? First of all, I don't see any problem
paying for an office suite, if I plan to use it. After all, I
remember buying different versions of Word Perfect at various
points in my life. If the product provides some value to me,
why should I complain about paying for it?

As good as Star Office may be, there are free alternatives.
Open Office is the first that springs to mind. Openoffice.org
is a project started by SUN that opened up the Star Office
source code. Unfortunately, important chunks of the code could
not be opened due to third-party licences that SUN held
(printing being one). However, Open Office has bounced back and
turned the code into a functional system, including printing
(both to printer and PDF).

Some more information about the SUN <-> Openoffice relationship
can be found here:


Openoffice.org recently released build 641, which is a release
candidate for 1.0. I've been running it the past month or so,
and have been impressed. The bugs I've found in the Star Office
6.0 beta are gone, and all the features I need have been
implemented. In fact, unless SUN comes out with a really good
reason that I should buy Star Office, I'm going to stick with
Open Office.

There are only a few functional differences between Star Office
6 and Open Office. The database component has been removed from
Open Office. Some of the filters and fonts aren't there, nor are
clip art and templates.

They both share the same interface. If you threw away Star
Office 5.2 in disgust over it taking up your whole desktop,
that has been fixed. Each document opens in its own window.
They both use XML for file storage, ensuring you'll always be
able to access your documents. They both offer Word Processing,
Spreadsheets, Drawing, and Presentation.

In terms of stability, neither's word processor or spreadsheet
has crashed on me. I've had my share of trouble with the
presentation package in Star Office, but since the bugs are
fixed in Openoffice, I'm assuming they'll be fixed in the Star
Office release. Response has been quick, though loading either
of them for the first time takes a while. One difference I noted
between Star Office and Open Office is that the former takes over
all virtual desktops while loading, while the latter lets me move
to another desktop to let it load in the background.

While there are other productivity applications out there, both
commercial and free, Open Office is a definite leader in my mind.
It is easy to use, and well supported. In the next little while
I'm going to try to show you what else is out there; hopefully
it will help you decide on a package that suits your needs.

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

"GPL Evil, BSD is OK" Says Bill
At a Government Leaders Conference, Bill Gates took the
opportunity to take some more shots at the GNU Public
Licence. No surprise there, but he had a few good things to
say about BSD. He'd better, since Windows makes use of BSD-
licenced code.


SuSE 8.0 Includes SUN's Grid Engine
I've seen the product's name tossed around before, but I've
never taken a look. Wish I had, as it looks like some pretty
interesting cluster technology. SuSE's taking some strides
to get it out there by bundling it into Version 8.0 of their


More of "Linux in the Movies"
"In late May, DreamWorks' new animated film "Spirit: Stallion
of the Cimarron" will hit theaters and mark a major milestone
for the studio, as well as for the Open Source community at
large. "Spirit" was created entirely on Linux. While "Shrek"
and other movies including "Lord of the Rings" have used
Linux to power server farms, the creators of "Shrek" also
used IRIX on SGI workstations. So "Spirit" is DreamWorks'
first animated feature using Linux both on the front and
back ends."


Dear SUN: Linux and Mainframes Don't Suck!
A while back, Scott McNealy, head cheese at SUN, made a
speech that said "SUN Loves Linux". A few weeks later, SUN
made some statements targeting IBM that contradicted Scott's
statement. A prominent Linux developer wrote an open letter
to SUN. Sanjay has posted the letter on the Linux-General
board: not only does it have some good laughs, but it brings
up many good points. Give it a read, and post your comments.


3) Linux Resources

Who Are Linux Friendly Vendors?
Finding supported hardware has always been a big problem
with Linux, though it has become much better recently. Some
companies refuse to help, leaving people to reverse engineer.
Some companies actively help, either by writing drivers
themselves or releasing the appropriate documents so that
others can. So, who are the Linux friendly vendors?


Reading Your Firewall Logs
It's one thing to set up a firewall, but if you don't read
the logs, how do you know if it's working? This document
gives a very good explanation of common things you'll find,
and doesn't require you to know all the ins and outs of TCP/IP.


Solaris to Linux - A Porting Guide
Though many things are standard across UNIXes, there are some
tricks when moving between flavors, especially as far as the
programmer is concerned. This article from IBM gives a good
methodology for porting your Solaris applications to Linux,
so that you can give your users the best of both worlds.


While You're At It, Port MFC Apps!
The last item showed you how to port Solaris apps to Linux.
What about your MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes) based
Windows apps? wxWindows is a library that helps out here.


Not only does Linux makes a great gaming platform, but it
makes a great game serving platform. The requirements for
a game server are much less than those of the gaming machine,
so your older machine might still have some life in it!


4) App o' the Week
This one came my way in a Perl newsletter. Seems the author
has a clock that uses vegetables instead of numbers, and to
help out his 4-year-old daughter, he wrote a module to convert
regular time into "Veggie time". Thus, Acme::Time::Asparagus
is born. The practical applications are dubious, but it's
fun to run a couple of test cases through it. It also goes
to show what a versatile language Perl is, and how sad some
of its users can be!


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