December 20, 2006

Debian developers delay over funding

Link: Debian developers delay over funding

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Programming, Linux, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

The latest Debian release has reportedly been delayed because volunteer developers are being snubbed over funding.

Debian versions 4 - named Etch - was due to be launched on December 4th. Although already delayed, the Debian files are apparently ready for release - but with no set launch date.

According to Debian release manager, Andreas Barth, a recent experimental funding move has rankled volunteer coders.

Under the funding experiment, called Dunc Tank, key coders would be paid for their time, while other vounteers would receive nothing.

Seventeen coders, led by Joerg Jaspert, previously issued a statement of dissatisfaction, indicating that a the funding had introduced a two-tier system.

This had led to a demoralisation of Debian developers, with the result that many have either already, or are in the process, of moving to other projects.

While Debian has a long history of delayed releases, the loss of key developers raises questions about Debian’s future as a Linux distro.

December 5, 2006

Open XML support grates on Linux critics

Link: Open XML support grates on Linux critics

Filed under: Microsoft, Open Source, Programming, Linux, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

Linux users have voiced concerns about Novell’s planned support for Open XML in Open Office.

Since Novell signed an agreement with Microsoft, there has been a general perception that Novell have sold out.

The main accusation from vocal critics is that the agreement simply turns Novell - and their Linux Suse products - into a way in which to funnel open source users into Microsoft’s proprietary systems.

The recent announcement by Novell that they will be releasing a new edition of Open Office - and provide support for Microsoft’s Open XML - has helped amplify these criticisms. This is especially as Microsoft apparently have no plans to support ODF and OOXML in Microsoft Office - even though both are used in Open Office.

However, despite this, other Linux users simply ask what’s so wrong with supporting OpenXML. After all, isn’t cross-platform compatibility to be embraced?

Overall, it shows the high degree of distrust of Microsoft Corp, but it remains to be seen what the advantages of the Novell-Microsoft relationship are by its fruits, rather than disadvantages through speculation.

November 12, 2006

Linux saved from US anti-trust laws

Link: Linux saved from US anti-trust laws

Filed under: Open Source, Linux, Legal, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

A legal battle in the US has concluded that Open Source software does not violate anti-trust laws.

It centers on a case brought by a Daniel Wallace against IBM, and Linux developers Novell, and Red Hat.

He claimed that the provision of free open source software by these companies undermined the ability for proprietary software developers to enter niche markets.

The claim had already been rejected by a lower court, and upon appeal was quickly rejected.

The court papers of the judgement point out that even where there are direct challenges to proprietary software by open source releases, proprietary software is often able to claim major market share.

November 3, 2006

Microsoft joins forces with Novell

Link: Microsoft joins forces with Novell

Filed under: Microsoft, Open Source, Linux, Software by Brian Turner


Microsoft and Novell have joined together in a strategic alliance.

Both companies aim to promote interoperability between Microsoft’s Windows applications and Novell’s Suse Linux.

Novell is currently developing Xen as a method of running multiple operating systems on the same machine, whereas Microsoft were previously working on their own project, named Veridian.

The move will see both companies and projects coming together.

Microsoft will also protect Novell against potential patent infringements previously claimed by Microsoft.

While the move by both companies to see a working partnership between proprietary and open source development between Microsoft and Novell can only be good for users, there remains a possible ulterior motive in the partnership.

By working with Novell, Microsoft almost certainly undermines Red Hat - currently the dominant linux distro, especially in the server market.

However, it remains to be seen what actual results come from this partnership in the long-term.

November 2, 2006

Retraction & apology

Link: Retraction & apology

Filed under: Open Source, Linux by Brian Turner

Earlier this week Platinax News reported that Ubuntu, Trustix, and Suse made it difficult for subscribers to their email lists to opt out.

Key issues raised were that there was no clear unsubscribe option, and the unsubscription process was user-unfriendly. This could lead to disgruntled subscribers perceiving themselves to be be subject to unwanted emails.

However, it’s fair to say the item was clumsy in its language, and might have created the perception that it was reporting Ubuntu, Trustix, and Suse as responsible for spam.

For this reason, the item has now been retracted.

Platinax would like to apologise to those involved in the projects at Ubuntu and Trustix for any discomfort caused by the item.

Platinax would especially like to apologise to Novell and users of Suse, for incorrectly reporting that there was no obvious email opt out, when this was plainly incorrect.

Platinax News is intended to cover issues that may be of interest to small businesses in the UK, and the issue of usability to be covered in the original item was believed to be a newsworthy item.

However, Platinax wholly accepts that the manner in which this item was originally covered was not acceptable, and failed to cover the story in the best manner.

While Platinax does strive to reasonable standards in its reporting, and has done so for over two years, it’s fair to say the original item was something of a cock-up.

I hope readers continue to enjoy the site, and that Platinax can continue to bring an “open source” mentality to helping UK business online.

In the meantime, a more considered approach will be taken on how items are reported in future.

- Brian Turner, site admin & director of Platinax Internet Ltd.

February 22, 2006

Windows Servers sales beat Unix

Link: Windows Servers sales beat Unix

Filed under: Internet, Microsoft, Unix, Linux, Hardware by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

According to Server Tracker as reported at CNet, Windows Servers accounted for $17.7 billion in sales over 2005, while Unix servers accounted for $17.5 billion.

Linux server sales were third at $5.3 billion.

While these figures mean that Microsoft now leads the server market, this shouldn’t be confused with server use - according to Netcraft, Linux servers on the internet still account for over 60% of use, with Windows servers at less than half that figure.

February 10, 2006

Ericsson mobiles flawed as Microsft and RIM add protections

Link: Ericsson mobiles flawed as Microsft and RIM add protections

Filed under: Security, Microsoft, Technology, Mobile, Linux, Legal by Brian Turner


Security companies in France and Denmark have warned that a flaw in how bluetooth operates in some Sony Ericsson mobile phones, could make them vulnerable to attacks.

While the flaw is rated as low risk, it continues a disturbing trend in mobile phone technology that leaves handsets and the software they use as vulnerable to attack.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has decided to extend its patent disputes and IP litigation protection to manufacturers and distributors of mobile devices running Windows.

This comes at a time when Windows and Linux are being touted as the future platforms in mobile computing.

While Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) holds a leading market share in the USA, the company is undergoing crippling legal action after being found in violation of patent protections.

RIM were forced to release a software patch this week, which attempts to circumvent use of patents already in its system, in order to avoid being entirely shut down by the US courts at the end of the month.

The mobile computing market is expected to be a key consumer platform for service provision in future, but the stories illustrate some of the vulnerabilities at present.

February 7, 2006

Linux competes to keep with graphics developments

Link: Linux competes to keep with graphics developments

Filed under: Microsoft, Technology, Open Source, Linux, Apple, Software by Brian Turner


Novell is trying to keep pace with new graphics developments on Windows and Apple, with the release of its Xgl graphics software.

Novell operates Suse, one of many “flavours” of the open source Linux operating system.

Linux is traditionally seen as less graphics-friendly, and it used to be the case that users would have to perform basic coding tasks to operate software - something that has previously kept Linux as the choice for “geeks” rather than general consumers.

However, more recent packaging of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI’s) - in imitation of Windows - to Linux flavours have helped bring it wider appeal, and the Novell Xgl software that extends the abilities of graphics processing is bound to help with that.

It may not be enough for major consumer markets, though - Apple’s already rich GUI has already seen innovations in its OS X operating system. Windows Vista, Microsoft’s follow-up to Windows XP, is also using a superior graphics engine, known as Windows Presentation Foundation (aka, Avalon).

While it would be easy to see Linux as still lagging behind on graphics development, it shows that Linux can still keep in the race, which is especially important for an operating system seeing a larger and larger market share - especially in developing countries.

January 31, 2006

Google Operating System: Goobuntu

Link: Google Operating System: Goobuntu

Filed under: Technology, Google, Linux, Companies, Hardware by Brian Turner


Google has reportedly developed a new Operating System of their own, based on the open-source Linux software.

If it saw general release, it would directly compete with Microsoft Windows.

Affectionately named Goobuntu, it’s based on the Ubuntu Linux fusion of Debian and Gnome graphical interfaces.

While there’s rife specualtion of Google releasing this - and that certainly remains a possibility in the long-term - it would be unlikly to exist outside of Google offices for some time to come.

Aside from the extensive testing and software compatibility that would be required for them to release a direct competitor to Windows, Google have shown more interest in a future where Google has a dominant market position on the provision of internet services.

April 6, 2005

Windows vs Linux

Link: Windows vs Linux

Filed under: Business, Internet, Microsoft, Technology, Webhosting, Open Source, Linux by brian_turner


Microsoft today launched a report claiming that Windows offered a more stable platform than Linux.

As described by Ina Fried at CNet:

Microsoft commissioned Veritest to create a scenario in which Linux and Windows administrators had to undertake a variety of tasks, such as provisioning servers and replicating data while responding to various failures and outages.

The Windows administrators completed 21 percent more of the proactive tasks, according to the study

However, the findings are controversial because the research was paid for by Microsoft, rather than an impartial third-party.

Also, the report fails to address whether the conditions of outages and failures would affect each operating system equally.

This is important, because anecdotal evidence suggests that Microsoft Windows provides a less stable environment to work with for online development.

Also, Windows machines are more likely to suffer security breaches, not least because of the much larger number of incompletely patched systems.

Also there are are a larger number of exploits against Windows machines, with nearly 250 trojans, viruses and worms already released against Windows this year to mid-March, and none reported for Unix operating systems.

Research by the Yankee Group, released earlier this month, found a faster recovery time for Windows servers after a security breach - at 13 hours recovery as opposed to 17.5 for Linux.

However, the study does not compare actual downtime of Windows and Linux machines in a live environment, which would be a more reliable basis for making comparisons.

Nevertheless, a report by the Register found that although a large number of smaller firms are turning to Linux and open source solutions for their businesses, the better development of Windows applications - not least graphics packages - was seen as a winning feature for Windows desktop machines.

Microsoft also today announced the delay of a planned version of Windows, intended to work with high performance server clusters, and emulate existing high performance computing requirements that Linux already handles. The launch of Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition is now expected in the second half of this year.

March 28, 2005

Gentoo release and Linux repackages

Link: Gentoo release and Linux repackages

Filed under: Linux by brian_turner


Gentoo Linux today launched its Gentoo Linux 2005.0 release, which aims to bring added functionality to the popular Linux software distribution.

While some people use Microsoft Windows as their operating system environment, Linux remains an increasingly popular alternative. Gentoo Linux is already one of the most popular free Linux distributions,

As well as added media compatibility, the Gentoo Linux 2005.0 release also includes a “complete security rebuild”.

Additionally in the Linux world, Autopackage has been released, which is intended as a big step towards making it easier to install and use Linux software packages across different versions of Linux. As a rough analogy, it is like an equivalent to Windows Installer, and should simplify the process of using Linux for less experienced users, especially where software needs to be used across different “flavours” of Linux.

As stated on the Autopackage FAQ:

For users: it makes software installation on Linux easier. If a project provides an autopackage, you know it can work on your distribution. You know it’ll integrate nicely with your desktop and you know it’ll be up to date, because it’s provided by the software developers themselves. You don’t have to choose which distro you run based on how many packages are available.

For developers: it’s software that lets you create binary packages for Linux that will install on any distribution, can automatically resolve dependencies and can be installed using multiple front ends, for instance from the command line or from a graphical interface. It lets you get your software to your users quicker, easier and more reliably. It immediately increases your userbase by allowing people with no native package to run your software within seconds.

March 20, 2005

Giants stand behind open source

Link: Giants stand behind open source

Filed under: Webmaster, Google, Open Source, Programming, Linux, IBM by brian_turner

IBM and Novell are pushing on the development of SUSE linux applications to run on IBM’s eServer platforms.

The companies are seeking closer working ties, in terms of “consulting support and technical expertise” to help them develop applications for SUSE Linux on IBM platforms.

The move is part of a wider push by IBM to move Linux into the forefront of business technology, and has already spent years developing Linux for wider mainstream use.

Linux is an open source operating systemm developed from Unix, and comes in a number of “flavours”, with SUSE Linux being a particular flavour developed by Novell.

Also this week, Google announced the opening of Google Code, which seeks to use programming languages such as C++ visual basic, and Python, for development of internet applications that could benefit the company.

This follows the earlier unveiling by Yahoo! of the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is intended to focus on development of products that utlise Yahoo! Search technology.

February 20, 2005

Red Hat: red face

Link: Red Hat: red face

Filed under: Webhosting, Linux by brian_turner

Red Hat have acknowledged that in its push for mainstream markets, it has likely left behind crucial developer support - an issue it is now trying to correct.

Its problems center specifically on the restrictive development of the Fedora core for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and how developers were left with little else to do but submit bug reports, rather than offer coding solutions.

The issue first came to a head in January as reported in Red Hat tries again with Linux enthusiasts. Now at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, the company admits its prior failings to engage developers, and is trying to draw them back in to the company, as reported in Red Hat: Fedora will engage customers.

This comes at a time of increasing competition in the open source movement, with Sun Microsystems planning on open source development of OpenSolaris.

Within Linux itself, there have been projects created as alternatives to Fedora, such as Ubuntu Linux, Whitebox Linux, and more established Linux distros, such as Gentoo, are enjoying an increasingly high profile.

Red Hat are planning on releasing Fedora Core 4 this year, which offers increased accessibility to IBM open source software, as well as allowing multiple operating systems to run with it.

February 18, 2005

IBM pushes Linux with $100 million

Link: IBM pushes Linux with $100 million

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Linux by brian_turner

IBM has earmarked $100 million to fund a variety of technical, research and marketing initiatives to boost Linux use.

The initiative’s are especially intended to help increase use of its open source Workplace software.

In 2001 IBM invested $300m into a 3-year Linux program, which included producing Linux versions of most of its available software.

January 26, 2005

Linux Mandrake patches released

Link: Linux Mandrake patches released

Filed under: Security, Linux by brian_turner

A raft of patches for Linux Mandrake and its software applications, including a kernel fix, have been released today by Mandrakesoft.

The patches include no less than 5 deemed “highly critical” to prevent remote user access to a vulnerable machine.

However, despite the need for the patches, Linux machines remain better protected than Windows machines.

According to security firm Secunia, as many as 25% of PC’s running Windows XP Home Edition remain unpatched, while less than 1% of Linux Mandrake machines are unpatched.

Fig. 1, Unpatched machines: Windows XP Home Edition

Windows machines - unpatched statistics

Fig. 2, Unpatched machines: Mandrake 9.x

Windows machines - unpatched statistics

January 16, 2005

IBM: offers free patents, offers to rebuild Linux kernel

Link: IBM: offers free patents, offers to rebuild Linux kernel

Filed under: Technology, Linux by brian_turner

Computing giant IBM last week announced plans to offer around 500 patents to the open source community, in a planned investment of open source development for industry.

As reported in IBM offers 500 patents for open-source use, the company does still retain vast number of patents by volume, suggested to be as many as 10,000. Crucially, however, the 500 includes an important set of 60, which were believed compromised by the development of Linux operating systems.

Following that announcement came a report from Linux Business Week, which claimed in Linux Kernel To Be Re-Written To Counter Microsoft FUD that a consortium of companies - including IBM and Intel, and starring Linux founder Linus Torvalds - will fund a project to rewrite the Linux kernel so that it is free of an estimated 283 patent infringements - specifically, 27 suggested related to filings by Microsoft, which has long been expected to launch patent-infringement suits on the developer community.

January 10, 2005

Linux security draws heated discussion

Link: Linux security draws heated discussion

Filed under: Security, Linux by brian_turner

On Friday, iSec reported in Linux kernel uselib() privilege elevation of a serious vulnerability, which sees local users able to gain root privileges via binary format loaders’ uselib() functions in Linux kernels 2.4 to 2.6.

Now Brad Spengler, of Linux Weekly News and the linux security development project GRSsecurity has launched a strong attack on the development of the Linux Security Modules development project.

In his LWN article grsecurity 2.1.0 and kernel vulnerabilities and Why doesn’t grsecurity use LSM?, he attacks what he sees as a narrow approach to security, and especially to what he sees as the critical failure of the LSM to tackle the very security issues it is designed to actually deal with.

This comes at a critical time when many businesses are now looking beyond Microsoft’s string of public failings on security issues to possible open source alternatives. And while open source has always suffered from a perception of being disorganised and lacking accountability from a business perpsective, the threat of current and future security problems already being compiled into the kernel may yet make companies think three times before investing in an IT framework on linux distros.

Until the row over security implementation on the linux kernel are addressed to the satisfaction of the linux developer community, it is hard to see how this latest development can instill business confidence in alternative options to Microsoft.

December 23, 2004

Redhat reports profit

Link: Redhat reports profit

Filed under: Internet, Linux by brian_turner

Red Hat sold over 132,000 subscriptions to its Red Hat Enterprise Linux release, generating a Q3 profit of $10.8 million. Although a significant proportion of these licences discounted on price for large volume sales to purchasing businesses, the company had set itself higher sales targets. However, the revenue reported shows a company maturing, with over 6cents per share being returned to investors.

Interestingly enough, in Red Hat pulls out a profit, Chief Executive Matthew Szulik apparently:

preferred to tout deferred revenue–the subscription money that customers have pledged to pay but that Red Hat hasn’t yet recognized. Deferred revenue increased to $121.4 million in the quarter, a 22 percent increase of $99.7 million from three months earlier and a 170 percent increase from $45.1 million from the year-earlier quarter.

Either way, a company finding its feet and growing healthily.