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News Bytes

By Howard Dyckoff

News Bytes


Please submit your News Bytes items in plain text; other formats may be rejected without reading. [You have been warned!] A one- or two-paragraph summary plus a URL has a much higher chance of being published than an entire press release. Submit items to bytes@linuxgazette.net.

News in General

lightning boltA higher standard [of security]

At the RSA2006 Security Conference, both Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 4 and Novell's SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 9 [on IBM eServers] were cited for achieving the Controlled Access Protection Profile under the Common Criteria for Information Security Evaluation, known as CAPP/EAL4+. Sun also revealed plans to apply for CAPP/EAL4 and also for the Labeled Security Protection Profile (LSPP).

Rather than release another Trusted Solaris compilation, Sun will leverage its Solaris 10 OS with the release Solaris Trusted Extensions [a beta is due in April or May], which enhance the security features of 10 to EAL4 levels.

lightning boltScott McNealy to HP's Mark Hurd: Merge HP-UX with Solaris 10?

In a March 1st memo to HP CEO Mark Hurd [and sent by Sun to the media and posted on its web site], Sun CEO Scott McNealy said HP should commit to converging HP-UX with Sun's Solaris 10 Unix. This would allow HP customers to use X86 servers with Intel's Xeon and AMD's Opteron processors.

HP currently uses Linux and Windows on its industry-standard X86 servers but has only committed to supporting HP-UX on the 64-bit Itanium architecture. McNealy pointed out that HP supports 64-bit Solaris 10 on its Proliant servers.

McNealy called the move of HP-UX to Intel's Itanium system "...an expensive and risky transition with an uncertain future."

See the full text at: http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/media/features/converge.html.

lightning boltDB Wars...

Oracle recently bought up its second Open Source DB engine by acquiring the SleepCat Software and its Berkeley DB barely 3 months after snapping up InnoDB, the innovative and highly touted transactional engine in MySQL 5. Broad reaction in the MySQL user community was down, dour, and damning [see links].

In response, MySQL is closing a deal to purchase Netfrastructure, the company behind the famed Firebird DB. This means DB guru Jim Starkey, creater and developer of Interbase and co-creator of Firebird, will become a MySQL employee. MySQL will continue to support Netfrastructure customers during a transition period. Prior to this, Oracle held purchase discussions with MySQL officials. [specifics were not released]

The Oracle purchase deftly controls key components of MySQL's offerings and introduces uncertainty about future offerings from MySQL. The InnoDB transaction engine was important because it is ACID-compliant. Hiring Jim Starkey means MySQL will probably create a new transaction engine, perhaps forking from the existing InnoDB source code.

Rumors abound that Oracle is also considering purchasing JBoss and Zend Technologies. PHP-developer Zend featured prominently at the Oracle World mega-conference this fall and Oracle held sessions at the much smaller PHP Conference, clearly positioning itself as a major DB in the LAMP [or LA-Or-P] stack. This is consistent with Oracle's pursuit of Linux and LAMP as a platform independent of its competitors, especially Microsoft.

MySQL announced on Feb. 27 its hiring of Starkey, and also the hiring of a new chief technology officer, Taneli Otala, the former CTO of SenSage.

lightning boltComing Soon -- Oracle rootkits??

"It's not about the infrastructure; it's about the data", says a worried Shlomo Kramer, CEO of Imperva, a database security company in California, about threats to DBs and data integrity. Alexander Kornbrust, of Red Database Security GmbH, is developing rootkit-like technology that uses the DB's system functions to mask and manipulate processes and data changes. Worse still, such DB rootkits would be OS independent.

Check this link for more details: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1914465,00.asp

lightning boltOpenVZ Project Introduces Virtualization Website

The OpenVZ project now hosts a website to freely distribute its OpenVZ virtualization software, provide installation instructions, plus additional documentation as well as access to different support options, including online chat. OpenVZ.org also provides a participation platform for feedback, shared experiences, bug fixes, feature requests and knowledge-sharing with other users.

OpenVZ is operating system level virtualization technology, built on Linux, that creates isolated, secure virtual private servers (VPS) on a single physical server. OpenVZ, supported by SWsoft, is a subset of the Virtuozzo virtualization software product.

lightning boltOpen-Xchange Offers Free Live-CD

Open-Xchange, Inc., the vendor of open source collaboration software, made news in several ways this January.

Open-Xchange, Inc. now offers a free, fully functional 'Live-CD' of Open-Xchange Server 5 that gives users a cost-free way to test all the attributes of the Open Source alternative to Microsoft Exchange.

Built on KNOPPIX Linux, the Live-CD contains a complete edition of Open-Xchange Server 5 that boots directly from the CD-ROM, ensuring that the host computer is not modified in any way. Frank Hoberg, CEO, Open-Xchange Inc, explained, "This is not a polished, pre-run demo, but the real live product that will give everyone who uses it a good idea of what we offer."

It also announced hiring former IDC System Software Vice President Daniel Kusnetzky as Executive Vice President for Marketing Strategy. Kusnetzky is a noted expert on the Open Source industry, and has been a staple as a keynote speaker at industry trade shows. He spent 11 years at IDC doing research on the worldwide market for operating environments and virtualization software and, previous to that, 15 years with the Digital Equipment Corporation.

Finally, Open-Xchange announced that Systems Solutions Inc. of New York, has joined them as a strategic system integration partner. Systems Solutions helped in developing the SUSE Linux OpenExchange collaboration platform for the Americas.

Open-Xchange Server 5 was launched in April 2005 as a commercial product, and supports both Red Hat and SUSE Linux. The GPL version of Open-Xchange Server is downloaded more than 9,000 times each month. The Live-CD can be downloaded from www.open-xchange.com/live.

lightning boltAppArmor Now Open-Source

Novell announced the creation of the AppArmor security project early this year, a new GPL Open Source project dedicated to advancing Linux application security. AppArmor is an intrusion-prevention system that protects Linux and applications from viruses and malware. Novell acquired the technology in 2005 from Immunix, a leading provider of Linux security solutions.

AppArmor limits the interactions between applications and users by watching for possible security violations from a tree of allowed interactions. Unexpected behaviors are blocked. AppArmor builds its application profiles by working with a system administrator; another version includes predefined profiles for applications such as Apache, MySQL, and Postfix and Sendmail email servers.

Novell AppArmor is already being shipped and deployed on SUSE Linux 10.0, Novell's community Linux distribution and its SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) 9 Service Pack 3.

lightning boltFireFox wins Technical Excellence Award

CNET has awarded Firefox 1.5 its Editor's Choice award, and Firefox has received two awards from PC Magazine: the Technical Excellence Award for Software and the Best of 2005 Award. Firefox also garnered international recognition from UK-based PC Pro and received the publication's Real World Computing Award, and was chosen as the "Editor's Choice" by German-basedPC Professionell magazine.

And, to accelerate adoption of Firefox, Mozilla has recently unveiled the second phase of "Firefox Flicks," its community-driven marketing campaign for the browser. The Firefox Flicks Ad Contest encourages professionals, students, and aspiring creatives in film and TV production, Web design, advertising and animation to submit high-quality 30-second ads about the browser. This new contest builds on the first phase of the campaign, which encouraged Firefox users worldwide to submit video testimonials about their experience with Firefox. More information about Firefox Flicks is available at www.firefoxflicks.com.

Conferences and Events

==> All LinuxWorld Expos <==
RSA Security Conference -- Feb 12-17, 2006 (just finished)
TechTarget summary:
OSBC San Francisco 2006 -- Feb 14-15, 2006 (just finished)
Presentations [Username: conference / Password: attendee]:
O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference
March 6-9, 2006, San Diego, California
Semantic Web Technology Conference 2006
March 6-9, 2006, San Jose, California
2006 March 19-23, 2006, Las Vegas, NV
EclipseCon 2006
March 20-23, 2006
Santa Clara Convention Center
Santa Clara, California
Gartner Wireless Mobile Summit
March 27-29, 2006, Detroit, Michigan
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
April 3-6, 2006, Boston MA
MySQL Users Conference 2006
April 24-27, 2006, Santa Clara, California
MySQL Certification is offered at $75 (a $200 value) if pre-registered
Desktop Linux Summit
April 24-25, 2006, San Diego, CA
JavaOne Conference
May 16-19, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
Red Hat Summit
May 30 - June 2, 2006, Nashville, TN
21st Int'l Supercomputer Conference
June 27 - 30, Dresden, Germany
O'Reilly Open Source Convention 2006
July 24-28, 2006, Portland, OR
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
August 14-17, 2006 -- in foggy San Francisco, dress warmly!!

FREE Commercial Events of Interest

BEA Dev2DevDays
March-April, 2006, US/Asia/Europe
Sun Participation Age Tour
March 30 - April 11, 2006, visiting Phoenix, Seattle, Santa Clara, Los Angeles

Distro News

lightning boltLinux Kernel

User Download [ ]: ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/linux-
Dev Download [ 2.6.16-rc5 ]: ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/testing/linux-2.6.16-rc5.tar.gz

lightning boltGentoo Linux

Gentoo Linux 2006.0, the first release this year, came out in February and boasts many improvements since the 2005.1 version. Major highlights include KDE 3.4.3, GNOME 2.12.2, XFCE 4.2.2, GCC 3.4.4, and a 2.6.15 kernel.

lightning boltSUSE Linux

SUSE Linux 10.1 Beta 5 was released in February. Check here for downloads: http://en.opensuse.org/Welcome_to_openSUSE.org

lightning boltLFS 6.1.1 Released

The Linux From Scratch community has announced the release of LFS 6.1.1. This release includes fixes for all known errata since LFS-6.1 was released. A new branch was created to test the removal of hotplug. This branch requires a newer kernel and a newer udev than what is currently in the development branch. Anyone who would like to help test this branch can read the book online, or download to read locally. If you prefer, you can check out the book's XML source from the Subversion repository and render it yourself:

svn co svn://svn.linuxfromscratch.org/LFS/branches/udev_update/BOOK/


lightning boltNovell - XGL and hardware acceleration

ZDNET reported that Novell is releasing a new graphics package for its SUSE Linux distro into the Open Source world. The package makes fuller use of advanced computer graphics chips to manage desktop windows and the use of 3D and semi-transparent objects. Based on the widely used OpenGL libraries, XGL updates the interactions between XWindows software and modern graphics hardware.

XGL makes better use of video memory for overlaps and screen redraws and also supports vector graphics, which could replace many of the font bitmaps used in most Linux distros. The source code was originally released in January, but Novell is also adding a development framework for graphics plugins. [The Fedora project has a similar effort underway called AIGLX for 'Accelerated Indirect GL X'.]

The code and future releases will become part of the X.Org source tree and thus could be used by any *nix in the future. It will premier in the next release of SUSE, expected in the early summer.

This link shows XGL in action -- http://news.zdnet.com/i/ne/p/2006/transparency1_400x250.jpg

Software and Product News

lightning boltJBoss Acquires and Open Sources ArjunaTS Transaction Monitor

JBoss(R) Inc. has acquired the distributed transaction monitor and web services technologies owned by Arjuna Technologies and HP and will Open Source them for the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS(TM)). This allows enterprise-quality middleware to be freely available to the mass market.

The acquisition includes Arjuna Transaction Service Suite (ArjunaTS), one of the most advanced and widely deployed transaction engines in the world with a 20-year pedigree, and Arjuna's Web Services Transaction implementation, the market's only implementation supporting both leading web services specifications -- Web Services Transaction (WS-TX) and Web Services Composite Application Framework (WS-CAF). This implementation is also one of the few that has demonstrated interoperability with other industry leaders such as Microsoft and IBM. The core Arjuna transaction engine will be the foundation of JBoss Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

As a co-author of the WS-TX and WS-CAF specifications, Arjuna has developed an industrial-strength web services implementation that uniquely supports both specs. In the web services area, a line is being drawn between the specifications, with WS-TX supported by companies like Arjuna, Microsoft, and IBM and WS-CAF supported by Arjuna, Oracle, and Sun among others. With Arjuna's Web Services Transaction implementation as a core product, JEMS bridges the gap between these two camps and remains platform-independent.

JBoss expects to release ArjunaTS and Arjuna's Web Services Transaction implementation as open source JEMS offerings in Q1 2006 backed by JBoss Subscription services, training, and consulting. Like all JEMS products, these offerings will run independently as free-standing products or on any J2EE application server. For more information, visit www.jboss.com/products/transactions.

lightning bolt IBM Readies 9-way compiler for SPS-3

IBM is readying a special compiler for the new Cell Broadband Engine chip in the forthcoming Sony Play Station 3. That chip has a 64-bit PPC core and 8 additional synergistic processor elements, or SPEs, for real time processing of gameplay. Each SPE has 256 KB of local cache and can read data into a 128-bit register, for single instruction, multiple data tasks.

The Cell BE chip was developed in partnership with Sony and Toshiba and is well adapted to running immersive simulations and also in scientific and signal processing applications. IBM is offering the Cell as a processor option on its BladeCenter H chassis later this year.

The Cell compiler currently runs on Fedora Linux installations on 64-bit x86 computers. Porting Linux to Cell based computers is an unconfirmed option.

The Cell BE compiler implements SPE-specific optimizations, including support for compiler-assisted memory realignment, branch prediction, and instruction fetching. It addresses fine-grained SIMD parallelization as well as the more general OpenMP task-level parallelization. The goal is to provide near super-computer performance in commercial and consumer computers.

A report on the compiler and benchmarking the Cell is at this link : http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/451/eichenberger.html and information on the project is at http://www.research.ibm.com/cell/.

lightning boltNext generation open-source XML parser

XimpleWare recently announced the availability of version 1.5 of VTD-XML, for both C and Java. This is a next generation open-source XML parser that goes beyond DOM and SAX in terms of performance, memory usage and ease of use.

XimpleWare claims VTD-XML is the world's fastest XML parser, 5x-10x faster than DOM, and 1.5-3x faster than SAX, using a variety of file sizes. VTD-SML features random access with built-in XPath support. Its also uses a third of the memory of a DOM parser. This allows for support of large documents, up to 2 GB.

For demos, latest benchmarks, and software downloads, please visit http://vtd-xml.sf.net.

lightning boltAJAX IDE Released As Open Source

ClearNova's AJAX-enabled ThinkCAP JX™ rapid application development platform is now available as Open Source under GPL license for non-commercial distribution. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a set of programming techniques that allow Web applications to be much more responsive and provide usability on par with traditional client/server applications.

At the core of ThinkCAP's AJAX framework are two popular Open Source AJAX projects: prototype and script.aculo.us. These libraries provide excellent base functionality and are the two projects driving the AJAX functionality of the Ruby-On-Rails project.

ThinkCAP JX allows 4GL developers to rapidly build web-based applications without having to become JAVA, XML and JavaScript experts. ThinkCAP JX is available for download at the www.thinkcap.org.

ThinkCAP JX runs on any operating system and Java application servers such as IBM WebSphere, BEA Weblogic, JBoss, Tomcat, Jetty, and Resin, among others.

lightning boltLexar and Google Offer USB Flash Drives with Web Applications

Lexar Media, Inc., is bringing Google applications directly to customers by including Picasa, Google Toolbar and Google Desktop Search applications on its line of popular USB flash drives. The offering is the first time consumers will be able to install Google applications from a USB flash drive directly to their desktop.

Customers purchasing a Lexar JumpDrive simply have to plug the device into the USB port and be prompted with instructions to easily install the free applications. If the user accepts installation, Google products automatically install to their computer and are then removed from the USB flash drive.

lightning boltFirst WiMAX products get certified

In January, the WiMAX Forum began issuing certifications for products meeting the 802.16-2004 IEEE standard. If fully implemented, WiMax supports a range of several miles and speeds of up to 40Mbps. The standard for mobile WiMax is 802.16e and was ratified in December of 2005.

Some last minute changes to the standard in late 2005 delayed these first certifications for products in the European-designated 3.5GHz radio frequency band. Certifications for the 2.5GHz radio frequency band used in the US will start in the middle of 2006. Equipment makers seeking certification include Redline Communications, Sequans Communications, and Wavesat. Find more WiMAX info here: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1912528,00.asp

Also See: Silicon Valley eyes wireless network - Partnership sets goal: 1,500 square miles of broadband access

Magical Realism... (non-Linux news of general interest)

lightning boltQuantum Computation is... no computation?

[from: www.physorg.com/]

By combining quantum computation and quantum interrogation, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found an exotic way of determining an answer to an algorithm... without ever running the algorithm.

Using an optical-based quantum computer, a research team led by physicist Paul Kwiat has presented the first demonstration of "counterfactual computation," inferring information about an answer, even though the computer did not run. The researchers reported their work in the Feb. 23 issue of Nature.

Quantum computers have the potential for solving certain types of problems much faster than classical computers. Speed and efficiency are gained because quantum bits can be placed in superpositions of one and zero, as opposed to classical bits, which are either one or zero. Moreover, the logic behind the coherent nature of quantum information processing often deviates from intuitive reasoning, leading to some surprising effects.

"It seems absolutely bizarre that counterfactual computation - using information that is counter to what must have actually happened - could find an answer without running the entire quantum computer," said Kwiat, a John Bardeen Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at Illinois. "But the nature of quantum interrogation makes this amazing feat possible."

"In a sense, it is the possibility that the algorithm could run which prevents the algorithm from running," Kwiat said. "That is at the heart of quantum interrogation schemes, and to my mind, quantum mechanics doesn't get any more mysterious than this."

lightning boltPaul G. Allen Launches PDPplanet.com Site

Investor, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft Paul G. Allen unveiled a new Web site, www.PDPplanet.com, as a resource for computer history fans and those interested in Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) systems and XKL systems. From a PDP-8/S to a DECSYSTEM-20 to a Toad 1, Allen's collection of systems from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s preserves the significant software created on these early computers.

Via the new Web site, registered users from around the world can telnet into a working DECsystem-10 or an XKL Toad-1, create or upload programs, and run them -- essentially stepping back in time to access an "antique" mainframe, and getting a sense of how it felt to be an early programmer.

Along with Allen's Microcomputer Gallery being at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque (opening later this year), and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, PDP Planet provides an important exploration of early computer technology.

lightning boltBounty on MS Windows critical flaws

Its MS bug season! IDefense has offered a bounty of $10,000 for uncovering major Windows flaws, but only if MS will identify them as critical. Previously, TippingPoint offered bug 'bonuses' of $1,000-20,000 as part of its Zero Day Initiative [http://www.zerodayinitiative.com/benefits.html].

In an email made public, MS was critical of offering any compensation for efforts now undertaken by computer security companies. "Microsoft believes that responsible disclosure, which involves making sure that an update is available from software vendors the same day the vulnerability is first broadly known, is the best way to protect the end user."

lightning boltHow to Build WIMAX Networks

NetworkAnatomy, a Northern California wireless communications company, has taken the lead, on-line, in providing a low-cost [USD$175] reality engineering education series via its monthly OnLine-CTO emagazine. The goal is to overcome the lack of practical WiMax training in the US, where very few WiMax projects have been initiated and there is only a small pool of experienced engineers.

NetworkAnatomy's effort offers "how to" installments, with reference material and skill tests. Click the blinking "New Service -- OnLine-CTO", at the www.networkanatomy.com website, subscribe, and dive into the WIMAX engineering series. NetworkAnatomy can also be contacted by email through onlinecto@networkanatomy.com.

lightning boltI, Robot....

Robotics Trends and IDG World Expo announced in January that Carnegie Mellon University's Robot Hall of Fame will hold its 2006 induction ceremony at the 3rd annual RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition, the international business development event for mobile robotics and intelligent systems.

The conference and exposition will be held in Pittsburgh, PA on June 20-21, 2006. The event website is http://www.robobusiness2006.com

According to Dan Kara, conference chairman and President of Robotics Trends, Inc., "We are extremely pleased to announce that the 2006 Robot Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be part of the RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition. The Robot Hall of Fame induction adds a great deal of excitement, energy, prestige and glamour to the RoboBusiness event. Past inductees to the Robot Hall of Fame include some of the most significant and well known robots in the world including Honda's Asimo, NASA's Mars Pathfinder and Unimate, the first industrial robot arm that worked on the assembly line. The Robot Hall of Fame jurors are an equally distinguished collection of international scholars, researchers, writers, and designers including Gordon Bell, Arthur C. Clarke, Steve Wozniak, Rodney Brooks and others. With the addition of the Robot Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the RoboBusiness event becomes even more impactful, and certainly more entertaining."

Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

[BIO] Howard Dyckoff is a long term IT professional with primary experience at Fortune 100 and 200 firms. Before his IT career, he worked for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine and before that used to edit SkyCom, a newsletter for astronomers and rocketeers. He hails from the Republic of Brooklyn [and Polytechnic Institute] and now, after several trips to Himalayan mountain tops, resides in the SF Bay Area with a large book collection and several pet rocks.

Copyright © 2006, Howard Dyckoff. Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 124 of Linux Gazette, March 2006

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