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News Bytes

By Howard Dyckoff


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

New Fedora Core 5 is OUT!

And worth the wait with loads of new features including: new desktop applications, advances in security, better localization tools, improved software installation and management facilities, and strong Java integration help.

"Bordeaux" boasts GNOME 2.14 [the latest], KDE 3.5.1, OpenOffice 2.0.2, Mozilla Firefox, and Xen Virtualization. GCC improvements offer increased stack protection.

Here's a screen movie showing off the desktop.... http://linclips.crocusplains.com/index.php?page=clip&id=30

By the way, only CD1 and CD2 are required for the default installation, so just download those if your connection to a mirror is running slow.

Fedora Core 5 contains a preview of forthcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization technology. In the summer of 2006, Red Hat plans to make Virtualization Migration and Assessment Services available along with an Enterprise Virtualization beta. Red Hat Enterprise Linux v.5, scheduled for general availability by the end of 2006, will feature fully-integrated virtualization. These plans were announced in a March presentation which included participation by XenSource, AMD, Intel, and Network Appliances.

Get your ISO image here:
From BitTorrent:
The i386 version
The x86_64 version

Enterprise Grid Solutions Showcase at LinuxWorld, Boston

If you are going to the expanded LinuxWorld in Boston during the first week of April, you might want to include a visit to the first-ever Enterprise Grid Solutions Showcase, sponsored by the Enterprise Grid Alliance (EGA) and the Global Grid Forum (GGF) in conjunction with Intel Corporation and other companies. The EGA/GGF organizations champion architectures, specifications, and best practices supporting adoption of grid services for business, engineering, and science worldwide. The new showcase will offer LinuxWorld attendees a first-hand look at the business value of Grid technology. The Enterprise Grid Solutions Showcase will be at LinuxWorld Expo, April 3-6, 2006.

SpikeSource and Novell Certify Open Source Solutions on SUSE

SpikeSource, a provider of certified and business-ready Open Source software, announced that as part of its participation in the Novell Market Start Program, it is 'YES'-certifying its infrastructure stacks and will provide Spike™ Certification for Open Source solutions running on the Spike Stack and SuSE Linux. Spike Certification includes interoperability testing of Open Source infrastructure and applications running on SUSE Linux through its automated test harness. Through this combined certification program, customers will be able to safely bring a wide variety of Open Source solutions into their production environments.

"SpikeSource is an important part of the Novell strategy to deliver safe, smart Open Source and Linux solutions to customers of all sizes," said John Beuchert, Global Director of Open Source Marketing Programs at Novell. "They have automated a critical area of Open Source software management - the testing of many combinations of software to ensure they work together as promised and deliver significant value."

SpikeSource will partner with Novell to ensure that recommended applications have been rigorously tested and are ready to be deployed into production environments. EnterpriseDB has also recently joined in the Novell Market Start Program.

The Novell 'YES' certification program ensures compatibility with SUSE Linux. SpikeSource is extending that by incorporating Novell's stringent 'YES' certification requirements into the SpikeSource testing and certification process. Novell-compatible applications will be tested for compatibility on an ongoing basis, and SUSE interoperability issues will be identified and resolved before they create issues for customers. This will be done under the umbrella of the Spike Certified Solution program (more information at http://www.spikesource.com/partner/spikecertif.html).

BEA to Open Source KODO

BEA is preparing to Open Source most of the technology it acquired in its purchase of SolarMetric in late 2005.

As part of its larger effort to 'blend' OSSw and its own technologies in a 2-way process, BEA will donate much of Kodo's source code to start an Open Source project named Open JPA [Java Persistance API]. The goal is to provide an Open Source persistance framework.

Open JPA will include a significant portion of the Kodo code base, specifically the Kodo kernel and the technical preview of the EJB 3 Persistence specification. Once the EJB 3 specification is approved [by the Java Community Process], Open JPA will be an Open Source implementation of the EJB 3 Persistence standard available under an Apache software license. Java developers will have a free, Apache-licensed implementation of the EJB 3 Persistence specification.

BEA has been barnstorming around the US in its recent Dev2Dev developer workshops, explaining its support of OSSw frameworks like Spring, Hibernate and, eventually, JDO [and these sessions are worth taking in]. Although company representatives say the amount of SolarMetric code to be released supporting Open JPA is still to be decided, this link to an interview with SolarMetric co-founder Neelan Choksi in February suggests significant parts of JDO code will remain proprietary. [http://dev2dev.bea.com/pub/a/2006/02/interview-kodo-opensource.html]

An early access of Kodo 4 can be downloaded from the Dev2Dev Persistence Technology Center [http://www.solarmetric.com/Software/beta/4.0.0EA/]

Sparc hardware and software now Open Source

At the Santa Clara, Calif., Multi-Core Expo in March, Sun Microsystems released both the hardware design point and the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS) porting specifications for the new multi-core UltraSPARC T1 processor, formerly called Niagara. With this release, developers gain access to the chip multi-threading (CMT) technology unique to the UltraSPARC T1 processor under the GNU GPL. This new Open Source version of the UltraSPARC T1 design will be called "OpenSPARC T1" and is a 64 bit, 32 threaded processor design - available at no charge.

Sun released the Verilog source code, a verification suite and simulation models, the Sparc architecture spec, and Solaris 10 OS simulation images.

This follows Sun's recent move to release its Hypervisor API specifications -- which allow companies to port Linux, BSD and other operating systems to the UltraSPARC T1 platform [should they wish] -- and allows developers to create hardware, software, tools and applications for the Sparc multi-threading eco-system. This is a first in that such a complex hardware design has been released under the GNU GPL.

Intel gets cooler... and faster

[see: http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i=2713 ]

[updated: http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i=2716&p=4]

Back in early March, Anand Tech published an early evaluation of the unreleased Intel Conroe dual-CPU chip. They took equal systems, one with a stock Athlon 64 FX-60 overclocked at 2.8 GHz, and compared it to similar hardware using a sample Intel dual-core Conroe E6700 2.66 GHz processor, The gaming and media benchmarks show a 20-30% perf edge going to Intel. [My, how the tables have turned!]

This type of performance may go a long way toward explaining why Apple chose to roll out its new line on Intel Dual Cores rather than AMD. Although there have been performance complaints from the Apple faithful on the new iMacs and MacBooks, the numbers coming from AnandTech provide evidence that Intel will match and surpass the AMD architecture. Of course, Intel did have a few years to plan its comeback and sort out a new CPU and memory architecture. And its older Pentium Netburst microarchitecture had been heating computer desks and the knees of laptop owners for several years now, so its promises to provide a real alternative to high wattage have been finally fulfilled.

Following AMD's example, Intel has put data throughput on the performance throne, not clockrate. And it seems there will be real competition for the CPU and chip set crown. And that's good for all of us.

Here's a link to Anand Tech's review of Intel's roadmap presentation at IDF: http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i=2711

Both AMD and Intel have announced that they would have quad-core processors in 2007 [That's doubling the doubling....]

The Linux / Grid Relationship

Thats the title of the current on-line issue of the Globus Consortium Journal, and it features insights from Grid and Virtualization professionals from IBM, Novell, OSDL, and others. Find out why Linux is well-suited for clustering, Grids and virtualization; also, if the delay in the Xen patch for Linux kernel support has left the door open for VMWare.

Access the issue here: http://www.globusconsortium.org/journal/20060330/index.php

Conferences and Events

==> All LinuxWorld Expos <==
Sun Participation Age Tour
March 30 - April 11, 2006, visiting Phoenix, Seattle, Santa Clara, Los Angeles
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
April 3-6, 2006, Boston MA
InfoSec World Conference
April 4-5, Lake Buena Vista, FL
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

Free InterOp conference sessions

The upcoming InterOp conference and expo will offer Free Sessions to Expo attendees, including:

Running Scared: Intrusion Protection Vendors and Performance Testing

Network World is benchmarking the performance of as many as 10 high-end IPS devices. However, that represents only a third of applicable products on the market, so what happened to the others? This session will cover the ins and outs of public IPS performance testing, and why it has some vendors running scared.

Speaker - David Newman, President, Network Test

Web Ops Summit

Look in any modern data center or a mission-critial NOC and you'll find a new breed of operations specialist that's both web-savvy and network-fluent. Someone who's as at home with URLs and applications as they are with packets and throughput. They're part of a vital new IT discipline -- web operations -- and you may already be one of them. WebOps deals with the performance, availability, scalability, and security of web-based applications. It spans both big, public Internet sites and the internal, web-based intranet. And it looks at the application lifecycle, from design and deployment to monitoring, repairing, and reporting. The WebOps Summit brings together technology leaders and hands-on web experts for a half-day of updates and thought-provoking discussion. It's free to web operations personnel. If you're responsible for running production-grade web applications in B2B, B2C, or enterprise environments, you can't afford to miss this.

Speaker - Alistair Croll, VP Products, Coradiant
Speaker - Chris Loosley, CTO, Keynote

Full details are here: http://www.interop.com/lasvegas/event-highlights/free-sessions.php

Distro News

Linux Kernel

User Download [ ]: ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/linux-

Fedora Core 5

(See article above)

New MEPIS Linux Version Uses Ubuntu Base

We were told by MEPIS founder Warren Woodford that a test release of SimplyMEPIS 6.0, incorporating software from the Ubuntu Dapper package pools, is now available. This marks a break from the Debian Core group which was announced at LinuxWorld - SF last summer.

Ubuntu has a 6 month stable release cycle that will enable MEPIS to offer its customers a dependable release schedule. Woodford stated "The switch to the Ubuntu pools was made to provide our users with a more stable underlying system."

"This release is a sneak peek, if you will. There are integration issues and new features that have not yet been addressed for SimplyMEPIS 6.0 and the Dapper pools are still being improved. However, we want to make it available to our subscribers now, so we can get their feedback before proceeding any further."

Woodford also said, "MEPIS is no longer involved with the DCC due to 'creative differences.' We wish Progeny, Xandros, and Linspire the best of luck in their mutual endeavors."

The DCC Alliance had been controversial within the Debian community.


Dev-X's Joshua D. Drake has authored a matrix of the leading distros, which emphasizes installation and ease-of-use criteria.

Find out who his winners are at: http://nl.internet.com/ct.html?rtr=on&s=1,2azz,1,8d0f,dsl1,dtbn,qor

OpenOffice.org 2.0.2 is available now...

....in English; check with the Native Language projects for other languages. This release contains new features, fixes many small bugs and resolves numerous issues. For instance, spellcheck dictionaries are now directly integrated into OpenOffice.org and are immediately available after installation without need for extra downloads. Also added are:

import filters for Quattro Pro 6 and Microsoft Word 2 [for history buffs??].

OpenOffice appearance has also been enhanced, and there are new icon sets for KDE and GNOME.

Get OpenOffice.org: http://download.openoffice.org/2.0.2/index.html

Rails 1.1 and RJS released

The Ruby on Rails community has released both Rails 1.1 and 'RJS', which enables JavaScript calls in Ruby code and simplifies AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML)-style programming. Tasks that previously required more extensive coding and server calls can now be handled more concisely with RJS.

For a full description of Rails 1.1's new features go to the Rails Web site. Get it here: http://www.rubyonrails.org/down

Rails has had a long test history and a conservative release history (it finally moved to 1.0 in December, after a year of widespread use), and this 1.1 encompasses fixes and initiatives previously released.

Scribus layout OSSw updated

The Scribus Team is pleased to announce the release of Scribus 1.3.3 - "Printemps" - with new features:
* The EPS importer has better text import with improved pair kerning.
* The PDF exporter has enhanced PDF presentation effects and controls.
* A new barcode plugin allows easy creation of barcodes within Scribus.
* A new MS Word doc importer allows Scribus to import MS Word doc files.
* Scribus now has a Palm PDB importer.
* On systems with CUPS installed, Scribus can detect printer margins with the currently selected printer. Similar functionality for Windows has also been added.

Scribus is a cross-platform, Open Source page layout application providing commercial grade PDF and PostScript export. Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation. Scribus was the first page layout application to directly support the ISO PDF/X-3 output standard.

Originally developed on Linux, Scribus also runs on Windows 2K+ and MacOSX.
Windows 2000/XP: http://windows.scribus.net
MacOS X: http://aqua.scribus.net
Source, RPMS and debs:
Debian Repository http://debian.scribus.net

Xandros Desktop 3.1 released in EU

At the CEBIT show in Hannover, Germany, Xandros released their Desktop OS 3.1 which includes built-in support and drivers for universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS) and 3G network hardware. This version includes software for authenticating to Windows-based networks with Active Directory, allowing better integration with enterprise resources.

Also included are a Windows emulation environment to run Microsoft Office and document management programs such as Acrobat and Photoshop. The platform supports the OpenDoc format for StarOffice and Microsoft Office document sharing. DVD burning and file-sharing tools are included as well.

Xandros 3.1 is only available in Europe so far, but should be released in North America before summer. CompUSA, incidentally, is now selling the Xandros Desktop 3.0 product in all of its stores, offering home and business users a stable and secure alternative to Windows. It's essentially free, after instant savings and rebates.

WalMart has been carrying Xandros since the end of 2005.

The upcoming Xandros Server will also be demonstrated at Xandros' booth #932 during the upcoming LinuxWorld Expo, April 4-6, in Boston. This product is a current LinuxWorld Product Excellence Award Finalist.

Software and Product News

JBOSS extends support for SOA

JBoss strengthened its Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS™) for service-oriented architecture (SOA) with two new offerings: JBoss Messaging and JBoss Web Server (JBoss Web).

JBoss Messaging 1.0 implements a high-performance messaging core designed for SOAs, enterprise service buses (ESB), and other integration needs. Key features of JBoss Messaging include:
-- Java Message Service (JMS) 1.1 and 1.0.2b standards compatibility. For users of JBossMQ, the JMS technology embedded within JBoss Application Server, JBoss Messaging supports JMS applications currently running on JBossMQ without any changes.
-- JMS Facade, the JMS personality of JBoss Messaging, enabling a JMS client to connect to a JBoss Messaging server, send and receive messages, and interact with queues, topics and other key elements of a messaging platform.
-- JBoss Messaging Core, a transactional and reliable distributed messaging foundation, supporting transactional ACID semantics and other messaging protocol facades.

JBoss Messaging is currently available as a standalone product and will be the default JMS technology in JBoss Application Server 5.0, as well as the foundation for JBoss ESB 1.0--both targeted for release later in 2006. For additional information about JBoss Messaging, visit http://www.jboss.com/products/messaging.

JBoss Web Server 1.0 Community Release is an enterprise-class deployment platform for Java Server Pages (JSP) and Java Servlet technologies, Microsoft ASP.NET, PHP, and CGI. It uses a hybrid design incorporating Open Source technologies for processing high volumes of data.

JBoss Web is built on Apache Tomcat--the de facto OSSw standard JSP/Servlet container--and incorporates the Apache Portable Runtime (APR) and a Tomcat native layer. Additional JBoss Web Server features include:
-- Support for the HTTP, HTTPS, and AJP (Apache JServ Protocol) protocols;
-- OpenSSL for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) support;
-- On-the-fly URL rewriting with a flexible URL manipulation engine supporting an unlimited number of rules and conditions;
-- Support for both in- and out-of-process execution of CGI and PHP scripts, as well as ASP.NET applications; and
-- An advanced application load balancer for both high-availability and application segmentation of remote process.

JBoss Web 1.0 is currently in a community release, with a final production release targeted for June 2006. Licensed under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL), JBoss Messaging and JBoss Web are free to download and use. For more information about JBoss Web, go to http://www.jboss.com/products/jbossweb.

Predict your security future with beSTORM

Beyond Security has announced the launch of a new automated security analysis solution, beSTORM. The result of three years of R&D, beSTORM changes the way security assessment is conducted by uncovering unknown vulnerabilities in network-enabled software applications during the development cycle. Automatically testing billions of attack combinations, beSTORM ensures the security of products before they are deployed, saving companies the huge costs associated with fixing security holes after products are shipped.

Aviram Jenik, Beyond Security CEO. says, "Security certifications are becoming a requirement of vendors by many companies. This is because too many products have been deployed that are vulnerable to attacks and too much money has been spent on fixing the problem after the fact."

beSTORM arms developers, quality assurance teams and security professionals with a tool to test for security holes while still in the development phase. Unlike the current assessment tools, beSTORM doesnt look for specific attack signatures or attempt to locate known vulnerabilities and it does not require the source code (like source-code audit tools). Rather, beSTORM focuses on network-enabled applications and models the protocols used to communicate with them. beSTORM exercises the protocol with technically legal but functionally erroneous cases. beSTORM then performs exhaustive protocol analysis in order to uncover new and unknown vulnerabilities in network products. As an example, beSTORM automatically tries every protocol combination possible until a buffer overflow is triggered. It can generate over 2,000 different attack combinations per second on a single CPU server.

"Fuzzing tools are probably the closest in comparison to beSTORM. Fuzzing tools take an existing network protocol and 'fuzz' it, which means it sends malformed requests and analyzes the results," said Jenik. "Fuzzers are usually limited in bandwidth trying hundreds or millions of different attack combinations where beSTORM can try billions."

beSTORM runs on Windows, UNIX and Linux.

Beyond Security provides network security solutions including their Automated Scanning product for penetration testing. Beyond Security is also the founder and operator of www.securiteam.com, an independent security portal.

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

U.S. Navy Awards iRobot Additional $26 Million for Robots

iRobot will deliver an additional 213 iRobot PackBot(R) Man Transportable Robotic Systems (MTRS), plus spare parts to repair robots in the field. The new award of $26 million marks the third round of funding by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), bringing the total value of the orders placed to date to more than $43 million.

The PackBot MTRS robots are customized for NAVSEA and are based on iRobot's combat-proven PackBot Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots. PackBot MTRS robots are equipped with advanced tools and sensors that enable EOD technicians to identify and disrupt bombs from a safe distance. The U.S. military's dual-sourced MTRS program has requirements for up to 1200 robots through 2012.

These PackBot MTRS robots will be deployed in Iraq and elsewhere. Currently more than 300 PackBot robots are deployed worldwide where they are used extensively to disarm IEDs.

And from ComputerWorld's Marc L. Songini:

An Army of Cyborg Bugs?

The U.S. Department of Defense is considering fielding an army of remote-controlled insect-cyborg scouts.

The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) program is the responsibility of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is soliciting research proposals on the technology.

The insects would be outfitted with sensors and a wireless transmitter designed to enable them to send data on conditions in places inaccessible to human troops. The goal of the program is to produce a sensor-enabled insect with a 100-yard range that could be placed within five meters of a target using electronic remote control and, potentially, Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies.

full article is here: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,125107,tk,cxanws,00.asp

Oracle loses database exec to Open Source

Senior developer switches sides
from Tom Sanders in California, vnunet.com 20 Mar 2006

Ingres Corporation has hired Bill Maimone as its chief architect. A 20-year veteran of the database industry, Maimone previously worked for Oracle as part of a small team steering the development of the vendor's technology stack.

Ingres was created last year when Computer Associates spun off its Ingres database. The company currently has about 180 employees.

In a game of corporate tease, the announcement was timed to coincide with Oracle's earnings release.

While Ingres is not positioned to compete head-on with Oracle, the company expects to gain business from disgruntled customers and partners, Ingres' chief technology officer Dave Dargo told vnunet.com in an interview.

Hard Disk Drive Organization goes to new lengths... and standards

IDEMA, the International Disk Drive, Equipment, and Materials Association, has released a new and longer sector standard for future magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs). An IDEMA committee recommended replacing the 30 year-standard of 512 bytes with 4096 byte sectors.

"Increasing areal density of newer magnetic hard disk drives requires a more robust error correction code (ECC), and this can be more efficiently applied to 4096 byte sector lengths," explained Dr. Martin Hassner from Hitachi GST and IDEMA Committee member. It will also help lower storage costs.

The IDEMA Long Data Block Committee was composed of members representing the major hard drive developers, as well as electronics and software companies. Microsoft participated in this Committee and plans to include a 4K-byte sector capability in their upcoming Windows Vista operating system.

IDEMA foresees the first hard drive products becoming available later this year or in 2007.

Linux in Sandals, stepping on itself?

According to a ZDnet Australia report from LinuxWorld down under:

They interviewed the former CIO of the great state of Massachusetts, Peter Quinn, regarding his stand on the OpenDocument debacle. He states that the "sandal and ponytail set" may be inhibiting the adaption of Linux. He also notes the pressure to conform in goverment agency IT departments and the significant marketing efforts of the enemies of Open Source. "Open source has an unprofessional appearance, and the community needs to be more business-savvy in order to start to make inroads..."

Google Lego cabinetry

Would you build a storage cabinet out of Legos? Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin did just that and used it when they started their search services.

Now a relic of computing history, the cabinet was donated to the Stanford University. This and other early computing wonders are visible online here: http://ct.zdnet.com/clicks?c=1833478-1968508&brand=zdnet&ds=5&fs=0

Lego robots NXT

Speaking of Legos... robotics enthusiasts can place advance orders for the new Lego MINDSTORMS NXT sets due for release this August. A limited quantity of Lego MINDSTORMS NXT robotics toolsets will be available for pre-order through participating online toy, discount merchandise, and consumer electronics retailers, while supplies last, at the suggested retail price of USD$249.99.

Confirmed online retailers participating in the pre-sell program include:
http://Legoshop.com, http://toysrus.com/http://amazon.com, http://target.com, http://walmart.com, http://compusa.com, http://etoys.com, http://bn.com, http://fao.com, http://discoverystore.com, http://frys.com and http://mindware.com.

Lego MINDSTORMS NXT is a robotics toolset for armchair inventors and Lego builders ages 10 and up. Building upon the success of the original MINDSTORMS Robotics Invention System, the next generation of Lego MINDSTORMS makes it quicker and easier for robot creators to build and program a working robot -- in as little as 30 minutes.

Brain Cells Fused with Computer Chip

No, not a hoax. Researchers at University of Padua in Italy have commingled neurons with a 1 mm square silicon chip. They are reading the activity of the nerve cells and experimenting with stimulating them. Special proteins found in the brain were used to glue brain cells to the silicon.

The full article is here: http://livescience.com/humanbiology/060327_neuro_chips.html

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 125 of Linux Gazette, April 2006

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