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LXF Website Newsletter -- #2, July 2005

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 10:54 am    Post subject: LXF Website Newsletter -- #2, July 2005 Reply with quote





1. Welcome!

2. Sneak preview of LXF 70

3. In the news...

4. This month on the forum

5. Special newsletter feature

6. Coming up next issue

7. Receiving this newsletter

8. Contact details

1. Welcome!

Pull up a chair, grab a coffee/beer/high-caffeine beverage (always
great for an all-night coding session), and enjoy this second
newsletter from LXF Online. If this is the first one you've
received, each month a copy will arrive in your Inbox, containing
news from the Linux world, highlights from our forums, previews of
upcoming issues and exclusive content too. Hurrah!

There've been two gigantic developments in the Linux and wider
Open Source communities this month. Everyone's favourite yapping
dog, SCO, looks confined to the pound as crucial evidence was
revealed. Yes, it turns out that even the researcher they hired
couldn't find any copyright infringements -- yet SCO decided to
press ahead regardless. Still, hopefully this'll restore some
normality, and IBM can get back to slamming SCO's head in the
fridge door repeatedly.


2. Sneak preview of LXF 70

Issue 70 of LXF will hit the shelves tomorrow, but to cure the
unbearable anticipation, here's a sneak preview. Take care when
opening the DVD case -- it's utterly bulging with software, as
we've managed to cram on BOTH Debian 3.1 and Fedora Core 4 (by
making it double-sided). This long-awaited Debian release is also
the focus of our cover feature; Rich Drummond investigates the
history of the hugely respected distro and looks into its future.

Elsewhere, we have a guide to installing Beagle, the desktop
search engine that's gaining a lot of popularity. Our What on
Earth examines distributed file transfer system PDTP, and as
always we have a bumper selection of tutorials -- this month
covering Gnome 2.10, Emacs custom buffers, and some thoroughly
bizarre stuff from Paul Hudson involving goats. Many, many goats.

Well, perhaps Paul was just exhausted from his trip to France,
where he and Graham interviewed Gael Duval, the founding father of
Mandrakesoft. Here's a sample of some of the questions asked;
you'll find his responses on our website in a few days.

# Whose decision was it to merge with Conectiva? Was it a
number of people's?

# Do you think Linux is ready for the desktop yet?

# Why is Mandriva behind SUSE in terms of numbers? Mandriva
has always had all the latest software and now suddenly it
doesn't. What happened there?

For the full interview, grab a copy of LXF70 -- Gael talks about
the Lycoris deal, competition with SUSE, and Mandriva's future.

As per usual, we have our regular HotPicks section in issue 70
where we trawl the Net for the best new and updated apps, giving
them some well-deserved coverage. A highlight this month is
Anyterm -- a curious little app which could prove to be a
lifesaver when you're down on connectivity luck...

# Anyterm 1.0.0 -- Web-based terminal (

One of the worst nightmares that server admins face is not being
able to log in to a box. And it's doubly frustrating when it's
not the server at fault, but the lack of tools - eg a restricted
installation on a desktop box, where you can't install Putty or
the like. Or if such traffic is blocked. In such a scenario,
Anyterm could be a lifesaver: it provides a terminal embedded
into a web page, acting like a regular shell on the server.

Unlike other efforts which involve Java applets or are limited
to single commands, Anyterm is just built with JavaScript and
some behind-the-scenes trickery. Installation is fairly
straightforward: you'll need to compile the ROTE terminal
emulation library, then build Anyterm's own Apache module (only
Apache2 supported) before dropping the files into place. A quick
hack of the httpd.conf and you're ready to go - just point the
browser at the main HTML file.

Anyterm presents an unfurnished page containing a terminal
emulation window, which for the most part behaves like any
standard terminal. It's not the fastest thing in the world, but
colours are displayed and most ncurses-based apps run as
expected - so it handles the vast majority of tasks with ease.
Indeed, the author's own demo site shows a Tetris variant in
action which is more than playable. In most cases it's likely to
be used for admin chores - nothing to fault here.

All this is achieved by JavaScript on the Web page, an XmlHTTP
channel to the Web server, and the Anyterm's Apache module which
passes on requests to an emulated terminal. You can even run
several terminals at once - with tabbed browsing it's very
effective. Naturally, there are various security issues involved
with such a design, but Anyterm supports SSL encryption to give
this aspect a boost.

It's all delightfully compact and easy to set up; there's no
lengthy configuration (you can alter the terminal's dimensions)
and the end result is much lighter than a Java equivalent. Best
of all, it'll work just about anywhere - and the author plans
WAP support in the development version!

An Anyterm session logged into a laptop far, far away...

As usual, there're five and a half more pages of HotPicks in 70,
including a funky panel that mimics Mac OS X's Dock, and a merry
megalomaniac romp where invading countries is officially cool.

3. In the news...

Big developments in the SCO/IBM scuffle this month, and promising
news on the Software Patent front. Here're the highlights:

# SCO advisor claimed Linux was clean

After quite a wait, one of the sealed documents in the SCO vs IBM
case has been allowed to open, and you can see why one of the
party might have wanted it left unexamined. A memo from the
company's pre-Darl McBride time details the four to six-month
effort external contractor Bob Schwartz undertook to find
similarities in UnixWare and Linux source. He said that evidence
of copyright violations were comparatively straightforward to
prove where they existed. Yet "At the end, we had found absolutely
*nothing*. ie no evidence of any copyright infringement whatsoever."

# European Software Patent Law REJECTED!

In a 648-14 vote (with 18 abstentions), the European Parliament
has voted against the controversial 'Computer-implemented
Inventions Directive' on its second reading. EU lawmakers stated
that software patents could limit innovation, cause difficulties
for businesses and that human knowledge cannot be patented. This
is a great win for open source advocates, many of whom have
campaigned against the directive, and the EU Commission (which had
drafted the bill) has no plans to produce a new version. Click the
above link for the full story.

# Firefox update plugs security holes

Mozilla Firefox 1.0.5 has just been released, plugging a number of
security holes and fixing a few stability glitches on the way. See
the Release Notes for more info. Most distros should provide
updated packages shortly; in the meantime, you can grab the new
release now:

4. This month on the forum

Fedora Core 4: was our review in the magazine fair? In it, Andy
Hudson pointed out the lack of progress in the config tools, and
general absence of revolutionary features. Others around the Net
have stumbled across bugs and glitches too. So was the 4/10 score
justified? An intriguing debate broke out, with the Hudson
Brothers(tm) explaining why it received a below-average rating. If
you're running FC4, let us know what you think at [1].

"Ghosting" Linux -- is it easy to copy an entire Linux install
from one hard drive to another? A number of software suggestions
appeared thanks to the help of forum regulars, along with a
discussion of why plain old 'cp' doesn't always cut the mustard. A
worthwhile read if you're planning to back-up or clone a box. [2]

Early July saw the Live8 events, where bajillionaire Bill Gates
made an appearance. Naturally, this sparked off plenty of
discussion: is Gates' philanthropy genuine? Is it good money if it
was acquired by monopolistic means? 'Flea' suggested it was all a
publicity boost for the man, and 'jlarue' noted that rich men of
yore, such as Carnegie, are remembered for their philanthropy more
than anything else. [3]




5. Special newsletter feature

Each month we have a special mini-article just for the newsletter:
a review, interview or feature, or maybe something else entirely.
This month: an overview of emulating Windows, and running Windows
or DOS apps directly under Linux.


By far the most famous software in this field is WINE -- standing
for WINE Is Not an Emulator. That's not as perplexing as it sounds
though, as the Open Source WINE supplies a Windows API on top of
Linux, rather than providing a system in which to emulate it. When
you run your Windows apps under Linux, via WINE, the system calls
are intercepted and processed through the WINE layers rather than
the actual Windows libraries.

Confusing? It's can be difficult to grok at first, but it makes
sense. WINE provides replacements for most common Windows .DLL
files -- as a result, you can run many programs with only a few
minor glitches. Some work perfectly. WINE's website maintains an
exhaustive database of apps known to work; you may have troubles
with the very latest programs, but many oldies run flawlessly.
Most distros provide WINE in some form -- if not, grab it from the
project's website:

Virtual machines

Instead of running your program with replacement Windows
libraries, as above, you can opt to run the whole caboodle of
Windows itself. This is achieved by a virtual machine -- a PC
emulator that has virtual hard disks, network cards and so forth,
but passes the meat of the processing onto the real CPU. In this
sense it's very fast for business apps, although you won't get
much performance in 3D games.

VMware ( is a proprietary commercial product
allowing you to run full installations of Windows 9x/NT/XP in a
window on your Linux desktop. It'll also run many other PC OSes,
including the BSDs, so it's also a good way to try other distros
and systems without repartitioning your own system. Everything
lives in virtual filesystems, represented as files on your drive.

DOSEMU is a free virtual machine geared towards MS-DOS -- again,
it doesn't emulate the CPU, instead running the instructions on
the host processor, but it emulates a number of devices. As with
VMware, you'll need real copies of the OS before you install.
DOSemu doesn't see much development thesedays yet it'll still
happily run many old games and apps. See


QEMU is half CPU emulator, half virtual machine. It's free, Free
and brilliant. With the latest release, you can load a kernel
module which passes CPU instructions onto the native machine,
giving the performance boosts of a VM. Those on non-x86 systems
can choose a fully emulated CPU -- slower but guaranteed to work.

DOSBox ( goes all-out to run DOS games/apps
via an emulated CPU and devices. Consequently it's not the fastest
performer, but on the upside it comes with its own version of DOS
so you can double-click and go. In DOS you can mount a Linux
directory as the C: drive. We've tried various golden oldie
classic games with DOSBox, and it runs charmingly.

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 71 -- on sale Wednesday 24th August

# Bulletproof security -- We reveal all the exclusive tools and
techniques you need to know to keep safe in the information age

# The LXF Interview: Mark Shuttleworth -- We ask the Ubuntu
founder about space travel, Open Source, and why he doesn't
want to be Debian Project Leader

# Linux off the desktop -- Every year since 1991 people have said
that it's the year Linux will rule the desktop -- so why hasn't
it happened?

# What on Earth is Cairo? -- New vector toolkit designed to beat
Longhorn to the punch, and also a very nice place to visit if
you like pyramids

(Exact contents of future issues are subject to change.)

7. Receiving this newsletter

If you've been forwarded this newsletter from someone else, and
want to sign up for future issues, just follow the steps below.
Each month you'll receive a sparkling new LXF Newsletter straight
in your Inbox, and the 30-second sign-up process is easier than
taking candy from a particularly carefree baby.

1. Go to the website forums and log in (or sign up first):

2. At the top of the main forum page, click on 'Usergroups'

3. Join the 'Newsletter' group, and you're done!

If for some reason you no longer wish to receive this newsletter
(and it'd better be a good reason!) you can opt-out by removing
yourself from the Newsletter group as above.

8. Contact details

Any questions or suggestions, please send them to me (Mike) at the
address below:

Newsletter Editor: Mike Saunders (

Letters for the magazine:

LXF website:

Subscriptions: 0870 837 4722 (overseas +44 1858 438794)
Website subs page:

(C) 2005 Future
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