| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 59, 26 July 2004
Welcome to this year's 29th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. Apologies this week for a temporary DNS failure which had DistroWatch running flaky for a couple of days (including emails and user feedback piling up in the queue). The gremlins have been excised from the server, so now on to more relevant news below.
Linspire vs. Microsoft - Time to Bury the Hatchet
After a legal slugfest that lasted more than two years, Linspire (formerly Lindows) and Microsoft have reached an out-of-court settlement putting the trademark dispute to rest. As is usual in such situations, both parties have stated that the exact terms of the agreement remain confidential, but most of details nevertheless leaked out quickly.
Linspire has agreed to give up the name "Lindows" as well as "Lindoz" or "lindows.com" or "lindowsinc.com" or "Lin---s.com" or any other term which includes "-indows" or "indoz". Lindows will assign all related web domains to Microsoft. A secondary issue involves an alleged copyright infringement violation concerning certain Windows Media Files in Linspire. Under the terms of the agreement, four Windows Media Files (wma9dmod.dll, wmadmod.dll, wmspdmod.dll, wmv9dmod.dll, wmvdmod.dll) must be removed from Lindows within the next 90 days.
In exchange, Microsoft will pay US$20 million to Lindows (erh, Linspire) and halt all legal actions against the company. Likewise, Linspire will halt its counter-suit against Microsoft (Linspire was suing to have the Windows trademark revoked since "windows" is a generic English word, which theoretically cannot be trademarked).
Both sides can claim victory. Linspire, which (to say the least) has far less money than Microsoft, could not sustain the mounting legal bills of the court case. And Linspire - which has yet to make a profit - could certainly use the US$20 million cash injection. For Microsoft, US$20 million is chicken-feed, and there was concern that Linspire might actually prevail in court.
Linspire's colorful CEO Michael Robertson (founder of MP3.com) announced, "We are pleased to resolve this litigation on terms that make business sense for all parties". Tom Burt - representing Microsoft - chimed in, "We are pleased that Lindows will now compete in the marketplace with a name distinctly its own". So both sides are, apparently, happy happy.
The agreement comes at an auspicious time for Linspire, as the company is readying itself for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of more than four million shares. With its legal troubles behind it, Linspire should find it easier to attract buyers for its stock, and no doubt obtain a better price (now estimated at between US$9 to US$11 per share).
Recalling an old saying about hypocrisy ("It's like the pot calling the kettle black"), a mere 2-1/2 years ago Michael Robertson told Reuters, "All I know is that I'm being sued for unfair business practices by Microsoft. Hello pot? It's kettle on line two." He also added that, "The chances of customer confusion over Lindows and Windows are zero per cent." So predictably, some are now accusing Linspire of "selling out" to Microsoft. More pragmatic minds have commented that perhaps it was time for Microsoft and Linspire to put this pointless legal brouhaha behind them and get on with the business of making and selling software.
No doubt the legal case has earned Lindows/Linspire plenty of free publicity. And it would be hard to argue that the name "Lindows" just coincidentally rhymed with "Windows". So who was right and who was wrong? And was it all really worth it? That is something I'll leave our readers to debate.
Setback for SCO
It's been a busy week for trial lawyers. No sooner had the ink dried on the Microsoft-Linspire agreement than another legal earthquake rumbled through geek websites, blogs and chat rooms. On Wednesday, July 21, in a hearing that lasted just 18 minutes, Judge Rae Lee Chabot of Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan granted most of automaker DaimlerChrysler's motion to dismiss SCO's case against it.
SCO originally filed the lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler in March, 2004, claiming that the automaker did not respond to SCO's demand in December, 2003 that Unix licensees certify that they haven't moved Unix technology to Linux. DaimlerChrysler - which licensed SCO software in 1990 but later abandoned it for Linux - says they have not used SCO products for the past seven years. Lawyers for SCO claim that no matter how long ago DC got rid of their SCO servers, they are still bound by SCO's contract terms. However, Judge Chabot dismissed all of SCO's claims against DaimlerChrysler except one (that DC failed to file SCO's requested certification within 30 days). Although the case could theoretically continue based on the issue of whether or not 30 days was a reasonable time to respond to an unreasonable request, most legal experts see SCO's case against DC as all but lost.
Of all the various lawsuits that SCO has filed, the one against DaimlerChrysler was the most flaky. SCO's complaint was that once a company signs a Unix license agreement for a given number of servers, they are then in violation of that agreement if they add any servers running Linux since Linux code supposedly "belongs" to SCO.
At the same time SCO started legal action against DaimlerChrysler, the company also filed suit against auto-parts maker AutoZone, alleging that by using Linux, AutoZone was using shared libraries that SCO claims to own. This was SCO's first real attempt to sue a company simply for using Linux without purchasing a license from SCO. SCO has in the past demanded a licensing fee of US$699 per server from any company using Linux. However, the case against AutoZone has been stayed by the courts (at AutoZone's request) until the copyright case against IBM is resolved. The next hearing for SCO vs. IBM has been scheduled for August 4, 2004.
Just before SCO started its legal action against IBM, SCO stock hovered around the US$2 level. By September, 2003, SCO stock passed the US$20 level, but after Wednesday's loss in court it dropped to US$4.24, a new 52-week low. Anyone interested in how SCO's stock has been doing should take a look at this page this page or this one. It's rather interesting to see how SCO's stock price corresponds the the company's history.
But It's My Job...
The ever buoyant chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, spent much of mid-July conducting a whirlwind tour of Asia, speaking to audiences and warning them of the dark dangers of open source. His basic premise was that Windows creates jobs, while open source destroys them.
Speaking to an audience of 3000 IT professionals in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Gates waxed euphoric over the great contributions that Microsoft has made towards creating jobs in Asia. "Windows has opened up opportunities for computers and chips to be built in Asia. This will continue to be true for [such] software in providing high-paying jobs," he said.
When it came to the topic of open source, the chairman pulled no punches. "If you don't want to create jobs or intellectual property, then there is a tendency to develop open source. It is not something you do as a day job. If you want to give it away, you work on it at night".
No doubt terrified by the prospect of massive job layoffs and economic ruin, the Malaysian government reacted immediately by announcing a "Masterplan" for government IT procurement. Under the new rules, 60% of all new servers able must be able to run open source operating systems; 30% of office infrastructure (e-mail, DNS, proxy servers, ect) must run on open source; and 20% of school computer labs will have open source applications (office suites, browsers, etc) installed. On June 1, Malaysia established an Open Source Competency Centre (OSCC) to coordinate all open source software related activities in the nation. OSCC will now help to implement the Masterplan.
Malaysia has been working hard to establish a vigorous IT industry. The country has carefully crafted its own "Silicon Valley" (named Cyberjaya) close to the capital city Kuala Lumpur. Rather than using the nation's precious foreign exchange reserves to buy Microsoft licenses, Malaysia appears to be well on its way towards building its own software industry based on open source.
Find a job you love, and you will never
have to work again.
Vote With Our Feet?
The above news raised my curiosity, and I began a search of web hosting services in Malaysia. To my delight, I found that quite a few companies were offering hosting on machines running either Linux or FreeBSD, at competitive rates. I am actually giving consideration to moving my own web site (not Distrowatch) to a Malaysian server in the event that Europe passes software patents (I currently have a site hosted in the UK). Perhaps if more of us threatened to take our business elsewhere, the European Parliament would reconsider the wisdom of allowing software patents, which at the moment look all but inevitable in the EU.
Should we vote with our feet? I'd be interested to know what others think.
|Released Last Week
SLAX Live-CD version 4.1.3 has been released. Changes: "
added kernel 2.4.27-pre3 with SATA support; released development module
allowing to compile source codes under SLAX; added
/usr/bin/slax-install script, finally working in textmode; added "gui"
boot option to skip textmode login and autostart X with KDE; added
kolorpaint (mspaint alternative, standard part of KDE 3.3); added 4
very nice themes to FluxBox; firewall is disabled as default, it caused
problems with browsing local LAN; XFree replaced by X.org..." The full changelog. Download: slax-4.1.3.iso (177MB).
Feather Linux 0.5.4
Linux is a Linux distribution which runs completely off a CD or a USB
pen drive and takes up under 64Mb of space. Version 0.5.4 has just been
released: "The changes in this release are as
follows: This release adds a script to download Apache, MySQL, and
PHP4, includes lrzsz and rdesktop, and fixes various bugs involving
permissions, readability, and corrupted files. The XFCE script is now
also more economical with memory usage." Download: feather-0.5.4.iso (61.7MB) and feather-0.5.4-usb.zip (60.7MB).
minutes' changes adding Arch Linux's latest developments, caused some
delay in this new AL-AMLUG Live CD release. XFree86 changed to Xorg and
a new device system was added. The users have now an option to run
either Devfs (e.g. /dev/discs/disc0/part1) or Udev (e.g. /dev/hda1).
Also chose kernel 2.6.6 with devfs or udev, or kernel 2.4.24 with devfs." The detailed package list and the full announcement. Download: al-amlug-livecd-0.5.1.iso.tar.bz2 (477MB).
Navyn OS 2004.07
this version there aren't many changes but one of them is very
important. Navyn OS was firstly livecd with an option for installing on
hard drive, now it has user friendly installer with GUI, and it could
be used as a main operating system in your computer. Now you can have
system like gentoo and you don't have to be linux expert."
Changes also include kernel 2.6.7, fluxbox 0.9.9, newly added nedit,
new graphic design, and support of modem segam. The full changelog,
download links and other information about the project can be found on
the distribution's home page. Download: navynos-2004.07.iso.bz2 (361MB).
Hakin9 Live 2.0.1
2.0.1 has been created from scratch, based on Aurox Live 9.3. This way
we could clean some artifacts from early, experimental stage of Hakin9
Live. We have also fixed some problems with booting h9l on some
hardware. If you had problems with booting Hakin9 Live 1.5.0 on your
machine, try this new version... This version has most of tools that
were in previous version, and some more." New window manager xfce4 was included, which is much more nice in the developers' opinion. Download: hakin9live-2.0.1.iso (610MB).
Development and unannounced releases
|Web Site News
Linux On The Road
The ever elusive Ladislav Bodnar sent an email from a McDonald's in Vienna, Austria. "Keep up the good work," he typed in between scarfing down a large order of fries and a milkshake. As a connoisseur of geek cuisine, I personally prefer Pizza Hut (and don't forget, they deliver), but I'll respect Ladislav's tastes. However, during this week of legal landmark cases, I couldn't help but be reminded that even more so than Microsoft, McDonald's has been a vehement defender of its trademark, quickly calling in the legal Dobermans anytime they catch a business with a "Mc" in its name.
Examples abound. McDonald's threatened legal action against the owner of a UK sandwich bar called "McMunchies". Another case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Denmark, which ruled against McDonald's claim that a sausage stand called "McAllan's" violated the McDonald's trademark. McDonald's had more success in South Africa, where a court ruled that competitors had to stop using the McDonald's name and symbolic golden arches. Most interestingly, in 1994 McDonald's threatened legal action against a topless restaurant in Australia called "McTits".
But I give McDonald's credit - they have really nice rest rooms (always clean), plus they're generous with the air-conditioning. And offering WiFi really was a coup. How much longer before they start serving McGeekburgers laced with caffeine?
DistroWatch database summary
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 315
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 7
- Number of discontinued distributions: 32
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 84
|Tips, Tricks and Hints
This week's featured open source program is Mailfilter, a superb tool for controlling UCE (unsolicited commercial email), otherwise known as spam. There are other, better known programs for killing spam (SpamAssassin, for example), but Mailfilter has certain features which have endeared it to me. Indeed, I typically run it several times daily (just before checking my email), and it successfully cleans out about 90% of the garbage from my inbox. To run it, all you need to do is type "mailfilter" on the command line (or in an Xterm).
If you're running a Debian-based distro, installing Mailfilter is as simple as this:
apt-get install mailfilter
If there isn't a binary package available for your distro, you can just install Mailfilter from source. You can find download links on Sourceforge. I've found that the source compiles without issues on every Linux distribution I've tried, but it's not so clearcut on the BSDs. For FreeBSD, there is a port, though it's called "Filtermail" due to the fact that there was a previous port named Mailfilter (this may change, as the old port was recently removed). There is, as yet, no port of Mailfilter on OpenBSD (though if somebody would like to make this port, I'd be eternally grateful).
One great feature of Mailfilter (or Filtermail) is that it will delete unwanted mails from the server without forcing you to first download them. Most other spam scrubbers require that you first download the digital refuse, and only then will they go into action and send it to the trashcan. If you have broadband, this might not matter so much, but Mailfilter is perfect for anyone using a dial-up modem. While dial-up modems will hopefully soon become a thing of the past, I am currently forced to use one when I'm at home (because I live in a rural area not yet served by broadband).
But even if you do have broadband, Mailfilter can still perform some neat tricks that make it superior to other spam killing tools. For example, it can be configured to delete all emails over a specified size (great if Aunt Ethel likes to email you 20 digital photos of her French poodle everyday). You can also use it to kill duplicate emails while preserving the original (a common problem if you subscribe to mailing lists).
A feature of Mailfilter is that different users on the same machine can configure it differently. That can be nice, because one person's spam is another's SPAM (the latter kept me alive during my starving student years). As mentioned above, one user might want to kill Aunt Ethel's poodle pictures, but another user might want to receive emails with large file attachments. One user might want to kill all emails from a particular ISP, but another user won't have this requirement. Mailfilter gives you plenty of latitude to decide what you define as "spam".
Each user defines his/her spam rules in a hidden file named .mailfilterrc (or in the case of FreeBSD, .filtermailrc). Simply typing "man mailfilterrc" (or "man filtermailrc") will give you a good explanation of what this file must look like. You create the file with a text editor, and you should set the permissions level of this file to 600 since it contains your email passwords. Start by configuring which accounts you want filtered:
SERVER = example.org
USER = aardvark
PASS = armadillo
PROTOCOL = pop3
PORT = 110
Most filter rules take the form of "regular expressions", so it would behoove you to learn what that means. You actually needn't become an expert on regular expressions to write good filter rules - the most important expressions to know are the caret ^ (which signifies the beginning of a line) and dot asterisk .* which signifies any group of characters on the same line. Knowing that, you can write a simple rule, for example:
DENY = ^Subject:.*Viagra
This rule will delete any email that has the word "Viagra" in the subject line. Actually, it will do more than that. Enable the setting "NORMAL = yes" - if you do this, Mailfilter will "normalize" words that spammers try to disguise, so ";V`I`a,G;r,A" will be correctly interpreted as "viagra".
You should enable "REG_CASE = no" so your filters will be case-insensitive. However, you can still specify individual lines to be case-sensitive, like so:
DENY_CASE = ^Subject:.GUARANTEED
You can filter on any mail header, not just the subject line. For example, this rule will get rid of most messages with file attachments:
DENY = ^Content-Type:.*multipart/report;
The way to learn how to write rules is to spend some time examining the spam messages you receive. Make all headers visible when doing this (email clients hide most of the headers by default).
So far so good, but what if you create filter rules that are too stringent, resulting in the loss of mail from your friends who are actually not sending you spam at all? Fortunately, Mailfilter provides the ability to create a "white list" - people who are totally exempt from the rules and thus can send any message they like. You would add someone to the white list like this:
ALLOW = ^From:.*firstname.lastname@example.org
I've noticed that a lot of attached viruses are about 130 to 150 kbytes in size. One way to zap these is to set a maximum size limit (measured in bytes) for email messages. Anything larger will be rejected:
MAXSIZE_DENY = 120000
People on your white list will be exempt from the MAXSIZE rule, but you can optionally put a different size limit on your white-listed friends as well:
MAXSIZE_ALLOW = 500000
If you set the above value to "0", then there will be no limit on the size of messages you can receive from white-listed friends.
If you enable "DEL_DUPLICATES=yes", then all duplicate emails will be deleted whether or not they are spam.
Mailfilter will create a log file of messages it has deleted. This is useful, since you can examine the log to see if your rules are too tight and thus inadvertently deleting wanted mail. You set the location of the log file thus:
LOGFILE = /home/robert/logs/mailfilter.log
One important thing to keep in mind - from Mailfilter version 0.6 to 0.7, there was a change in the syntax of the .mailfilterrc file. If you try to use an older file with the newer version, you will probably see an error message similar to this:
mailfilter: Error: Lexicographical error in line 29
of your main rcfile.
mailfilter: The term 'm' could not be interpreted.
This is not a disaster - you can modify the old .mailfilterrc to fit the syntax of the new version. As you can see, Mailfilter even tells you on which line the error occurred, making it easy to locate the problem. In fact, the only difference between the versions is that from 0.7 on, rules have to be enclosed in quotes. For example, an old rule...
DENY = ^Subject:.*Viagra
...would be written this way under the new system:
DENY = "^Subject:.*Viagra"
The above should be enough to get you started with Mailfilter. Writing rules is some work, but very educational. I've learned a tremendous amount about spammer tricks just by making the effort, and I've found the learning process to be surprisingly entertaining.
That's all for this week.
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|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
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|• Issue 676 (2016-08-29): Korora 24, Fedora 25 to use Wayland by default, Linux turns 25, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, finding software licensing information|
|• Issue 675 (2016-08-22): Gentoo LiveDVD "Choice Edition", moreutils, Ubuntu improves terminal convergence, MATE packaged for Openindiana, FreeBSD improves video support|
|• Issue 674 (2016-08-15): Zenwalk Linux 8.0, Ubuntu phone follow-up, Lubuntu transitioning to LXQt, Steam running on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
|• Issue 672 (2016-08-01): Ubuntu Phone 15.04, Solus embraces rolling release model, interview with Jane Silber, FreeBSD Quarterly Report|
|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
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|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
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|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
|• Issue 660 (2016-05-09): Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Mint's xapps, FreeBSD Quarterly Report, Debian updates 32-bit support, addressing GPL violations|
|• Issue 659 (2016-05-02): Ubuntu 16.04, compiling custom kernels, Cinnamon 3.0, Sabayon launches ARM build, Devuan ships Beta release|
|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
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|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 652 (2016-03-14): ReactOS 0.4.0, Debian swaps Iceweasel for Firefox, Fedora moving forward with Wayland, Verifying ISO files|
|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
|• Issue 650 (2016-02-29): Haiku in 2016, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, 30 years of MINIX, Fedora plans Atomic Workstation|
|• Issue 649 (2016-02-22): Zorin OS 11, openSUSE launches new editions, Linux Mint website compromised, sandboxing applications using Firejail|
|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
|• Issue 647 (2016-02-08): Tails 2.0, KDE project launches Neon, Manjaro unveils ARM support, FreeBSD's quarterly report|
|• Issue 646 (2016-02-01): deepin 15, Mint plans X-Apps, FreeBSD to support boot environments, logging into the desktop as root|
|• Issue 645 (2016-01-25): Linux Mint 17.3 "Xfce", Chromixium changes its name, Ubuntu tablets coming soon, Linux vs BSD comparision|
|• Issue 644 (2016-01-18): Kwort 4.3, Sabayon tests ARM images, Slackware adopts PulseAudio, running Linux without GNU software|
|• Issue 643 (2016-01-11): Solus 1.0, Mint provide upgrade path to 17.3, Fedora developers work on stability, running the LXQt desktop|
|• Full list of all issues|
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